Barcelona has historically given its back to the sea. Most of the city’s best hotels are located in historical and heritage buildings and only very few are sea facing. It was only after the Olympic Games in 1992 that the Olympic Zone was developed creating a true sea embracing neighborhood beyond the traditional fishermen Barceloneta.
In the last couple of years the city has nurtured a beautiful selection of rooftop alternatives for a sunset drink or dinner and it is finally leveraging its warm weather and historical skyline. With very few buildings taller than 10 stories rooftops provide a magical way to see the city.
Here is the lowdown on the best rooftop terraces in Barcelona most of which are open from April till the end of October for those looking to extend summer.
1. Condes de Barcelona
Al Aire is the rooftop terrace of the 4* hotel on its way to 5* stardom. The rooftop is relatively bare and features white and grey plastic sofas and tall chairs and does not share the space with the hotel’s pool like in other venues but the views of La Pedrera are great.
The view: La Sagrada Familia to your right, La Pedrera in front of you this is the hotel with possibly the best landmark view
The menu: a large selection of food, snacks and drinks for a proper catch up or even a meal
When to go: the terrace is open all day so this is a good alternative to take a rest in between Gaudi’s golden triangle Pedrera-Sagrada Familia-Batllo tour
The terrace on top of the Hotel Omm on Passeig de Gracia is my favourite for the best combination of unusual views, fantastic live music, great food and beautiful surroundings. The rooftop has a few comfortable sofas, tables for dining in and a small pool all on a wooden deck with plenty of greenery.
The View: the terrace is on a side street off Passeig de Gracia and is facing La Pedrera’s back yard just one black away. In the summer months, you can hear and see the band playing on the rooftop of La Pedrera. The famous Gaudi landmark is beautiful at night.
The menu: a combination of sushi, freshly made by the onsite chef, as well as other classics such as the popular Pepito, a steak sandwich. But the star of the menu are a couple of dishes specially designed by the Roca brothers from Can Roca, the 3 Michelin star restaurant winner of the Best Restaurant in the World in 2013. The steak tartar with mustard ice cream is divine. The Roca brothers’ Rocambolesc ice creams are also available.
When to go: The terrace is only open after 7pm to visitors. Go on Wednesday and Thursday for live Sinatra style music, the singer is so real that I listened to two songs before I realized it was live and not a recording. His amazing voice with the background lights of La Pedrera felt like the most beautiful setting for a romantic dinner. It was the only rooftop where I saw a constant stream of Barcelonins donning scooter helmets coming to have dinner. A definite best kept secret
3. Majestic Hotel
The Majestic Hotel’s decorations are one of my most magical Christmas memories. A high-end hotel also on Passeig de Gracia the rooftop at the Majestic offers almost 360 degree views of the city. Slightly above the rest of the rooftops and higher up the street it is a great view point towering above the city. There are low tables lined up along the edge and larger sofas on one side for bigger groups or a more loungy feeling.
The view: La Sagrada Familia in the background and the sea on the other side. Watch Tibidabo and Montjuic mountains on either side. The small dipping pool is slightly elevated providing even more amazing city views
The menu: an assortment of local and international fare with a few lunch and dinner options. Wide drinks selection too
When to go: Since it is open all day the Majestic is a good spot for lunch or for an afternoon drink. Sunsets are incredible given its privileged 360 degree views. Most of the seats with the best views (closest to the edge) have no cover so careful with the mid-day strong sun rays
4. Ohla Hotel
Down at Via Laietana Ohla Hotel is a 5* alternative with an edgy feel. The rooftop is small and on 3 levels. It also contains a tiny raised glass pool and three cabanas reserved for hotel guests. Ohla’s main restaurant has one Michelin Star.
The view: tall above Ciutat Vella and the Gothic Quarter the rooftop faces the Cathedral directly. To the right you will also have a view of Montjuic and the Port. The many rooftops of the old part of town are all in plain view
The menu: mostly on the drink side with several alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The menu is designed as a newspaper highlighting the hotel’s, restaurant’s and rooftop’s accolades
When to go: the terrace is not open to visitors until after 7pm. Go there to see the sun set on the Cathedral for that old world medieval feeling
5. Hotel 1898
A newly refurbished hotel springing in Las Ramblas Hotel 1898 is the only colonial building in Barcelona. The hotel takes after the year in which the Spanish Empire vanished finally losing the only colonies left of the Philippines and Cuba. The building used to be the headquarters of the Philippine Tobacco Company and reflects the design of the 1800s colonial architecture. The interiors are dark with dimmed lights everywhere in the lobby, plush leather sofas, fire places, paintings and drawings remembering that era.
The view: the terrace of Hotel 1898, La Isabela, is the largest of them all and occupies almost the entire rooftop. Sadly it is slightly lower than Le Meridien Hotel above so the views of Placa Catalunya nearby are not possible. Prepare to see the sea, the port, Montjuic and Las Ramblas below from the dining area. Take a walk around the rooftop and you will see the slightly elevated pool facing Tibidabo and the Western part of the city. There are cabanas, tables and sofas available.
The menu: Hotel 1898 offers an incredible breakfast option from 9-11am that is possible the best brunch in town. Start with orange juice and an incredibly beautiful cut fruit selection including mango, papaya, watermelon, kiwi, passion fruit, pomelo, strawberries, etc. then follow with a filling bread and pastries board with jams and chocolate spread and end with a choice of a main dish between eggs, ham and smoked salmon or cheese platter. Water down with a glass of champagne, orange juice and coffee or tea. There is no better way to start the day
When to go: for breakfast, no doubt
6. Mandarin Oriental
I was very excited to visit this terrace. The Mandarin chain is known for unbeatable service and for beautiful hotels and the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is no exception. We have made it a family tradition to spend Boxing Day there enjoying a traditional Catalan meal at Moments, the 2 Michelin starred restaurant by Carme Roscalleda and after having seen the images of the rooftop I was sure it would be a highlight. The rooftop “El terrat” has a few large sofas and some small tables
The view: The hotel is slightly taller than other buildings in Eixample so I was expecting great views over Passeig de Gracia and the sea. However, the infinity pool is now flanked by overgrown bushes along the edge blocking the otherwise amazing view. So when you sit down your view will be that of Montjuic and the tips of the tallest buildings in town only
The menu: a large selection on drinks and some food options
When to go: the terrace is only open to visitors after 7pm. Go early as most of the tables are booked in advance so you may not find a spot. Try the tall tables by the edge for the best views
7. Gran Hotel Central
Unassuming and unpretentiously hosted in a rather grey and uninspiring building the Gran Hotel Central surprises once you walk in. Subtle and sleek the lobby is deemed and inviting. The terrace on the top floor is a gem. Facing the sea one can perfectly see the Mapfre Tower and Hotel Arts in the horizon seemingly blending into the hotel’s infinity pool, the most impressive in the city. Seeing the sun set from this vantage point is a great way to end the day and kick-off the night. Make it a must-see.
The view: Sea in the horizon, Olympic area with key landmarks and rooftops of the Gothic and Old Quarters.
The menu: snacks and drinks mostly. they make a large sangria sure to quench any thirst.
When to go: The terrace opens at 7,30 until which it is only available to hotel guests. In the summer go early if you want to grab one of the cabanas
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