The Sustainable Traveler's Guide To Spain’s Most Visited City!
While it used to be one of the favorite destinations for travel in Europe (and the #1 tourist spot in Spain), Barcelona has begun to fade from “go-to” lists and “travel guides” because of the influx of visitors in recent years. Especially in areas like La Ramba and Barceloneta Beach—both hotspots for tourists—the crowds during summer months have become unmanageable and have negatively impacted the city. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip it during your summer vacation though.
As advocates of sustainable and responsible travel, we do encourage you to plan your visit to Barcelona during the off-peak seasons (spring and fall) when possible, as this is better for the economy and the environment. But if you must travel during the summer months because of your allotted vacation time, we have put together a sustainable city guide which includes some of the lesser-known neighborhoods of Barcelona, as well as sustainable hotels, ethical shops, and local, organic eateries. Moreover, we always encourage travelers to walk and bike when possible, as well as practice cultural respect (read about our favorite apps for learning some Spanish before your trip)!
// Where To Stay //
Why We Love It | Hostal Grau in central Barcelona is a unique and eco-friendly accommodation option for conscious travelers. Every guest receives a survey and the hotel staff curates a list of things to experience in Barcelona specific to your interests and needs. A boutique hotel where health and environmental sustainability are of the utmost importance, travelers will find each guest room is furnished with organic bedding, eco-friendly paint, and all-natural bath amenities. In-house fragrances made with plant-based ingredients and all-natural products are also used for cleaning, and LED lights, recycling initiatives, and low consumption water taps help to reduce environmental impact. Hostal Grau also accommodates traveling families by providing stroller rentals and high chairs, as well as a bike rental service. Moreover, we love that Hostal Grau involves itself with various social impact organizations, such as Fudació Intermedia, a foundation that helps those experiencing social and employment vulnerability.
Where To Find It | Carrer de les Ramelleres, 08001
Hotel Neri Relais & Châteaux
Why We Love It | If you have ever wanted to stay in a medieval palace, now is your chance. Hotel Neri Relais & Châteaux, located in Barcelona’s old Jewish quarter, is an elegant boutique accommodation option housed partly in a restored palace from the 12th century. Aside from preserving a historic building (as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding), Hotel Neri is also committed to sustainability practices, such as using natural linens and non-toxic paint, controlling lighting with motion sensors, and maintaining a recycling and water waste program. Other elements at Hotel Neri include a gorgeous rooftop terrace, a cozy library, an upscale lounge and restaurant, and in-room massages. For conscious travelers looking to experience Spanish elegance while continuing to practice sustainability, Hotel Neri is the perfect accommodation.
Where To Find It | Carrer de Sant Sever, 5, 08002
// Where To Eat //
Why We Love It | Hetta, recommended for its Nordic aesthetic, open kitchen, amazing music, and casual ambiance, is one of Barcelona’s most recently opened sustainable eateries—and it is already receiving rave reviews. Opened by four accomplished chefs hailing from various countries in Europe and South America, the menu at Hetta allows diners to choose seasonal ingredients cooked at various temperatures (Ḧetta means ‘heat’ in Swedish). The chefs then create incredible dishes in front of guests, such as carrot and curry cream with orange wedges. A truly sustainable and ecological dining experience, Hetta is a wonderful restaurant for a special night out with friends, family, or your significant other.
Where To Find It | Passatge de Marimon, 5, 08021
BarCeloneta Sangria Bar
Why We Love It | It would be a shame to visit Barcelona without indulging in paella (a dish local to the city of Valencia) and copious amounts of Spanish tapas. While both foods are often made with fish and meat, our plant-based readers will love to hear that BarCeloneta (located steps from the beach) has created meat and dairy-free versions of Spain’s most beloved dishes. Vegan paella and Spanish tapas, anyone?
The restaurant also serves raw, dairy, and sugar-free desserts, as well as sangria made with local and organic wines!
Where To Find It | Carrer de Sevilla 70, 0800
Why We Love It | Blending the gastronomic traditions of Italy and Catalonia, the chefs at Due Spaghi are passionate about using sustainable and seasonable foods to create dishes that tell a story. Travelers can expect to feel at home in Nicoletta Acerbi and Toni Pol Tres’ restaurant—sipping a glass of natural, biodynamic wine and indulging in tapas made with local ingredients.
Known in Barcelona as a 0 KM restaurant, Due Spaghi prioritizes ecological peasantry, local and organic ingredients, and direct purchase from small producers and farmers. Located a fifteen-minute walk from the famous La Rambla, this eatery is the perfect place for a sustainable and delicious Cena (dinner) while visiting Barcelona.
Where To Find It | Carrer Sepúlveda, 151, 08011
Why We Love It | Open for dinner every night of the week (as well as breakfast and lunch on the weekends), Copasetic is a Mediterranean-inspired eatery serving some of Barcelona’s most delicious and sustainable cuisine. Sourcing organic and local ingredients for the menu, the chefs at Copasetic have created a diverse array of dishes, including soups, sandwiches, salads, and crepes. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free options available. Apart from the delectable menu and charming decor (the interior is has been crafted using eco-friendly materials), we especially love Copasetic’s passion for the social good in the community. Guests will find, upon leaving the restaurant, they are encouraged to donate one euro to purchase a suspended coffee or sandwich for someone in need.
Where To Find It | Carrer de la Diputació, 55, 08015
// Where To Shop //
Gallina De Piel
Why We Love It | For vintage, antique, and hand-crafted pieces for your home, we recommend stopping by Gallina de Piel in the charming Gràcia district of Barcelona. Whether you are searching for wall art and small prints or a large statement piece for your home (they sell beautiful, handcrafted dining tables), this shop is the perfect place to purchase upcycled and unique souvenirs, or solely to browse. We love that prices are reasonable as well, making this one of our favorite spots for unique items to remember our travels in Barcelona!
Where To Find It | Carrer de Verdi, 29, 08012
Velvet BCN Moda Sostenible
Why We Love It | Also located in the wonderful Gràcia district, Velvet BCN is a fantastic store selling sustainable and fair trade fashion for men and women, as well as natural and organic cosmetics. Opened by a local family a couple of years ago, the store’s mission is to offer the community products that are beneficial to society, the planet, and our health.
Velvet BCN is also committed to company transparency, equality in the workplace, and ethical finances. Stop by for a flowy, fair-trade dress or some organic tropical body butter—perfect after spending a few days on Barcelona’s beaches!
Where To Find It | Carrer de Verdi, 42, 08012
// Where To Relax //
Drop-In Yoga at MOB
Why We Love It | Traveling can take a toll on your body. Jet lag, walking in the sun all day, and eating your meals out means self care is essential when on an extended vacation. That is why we love the drop-in yoga classes at Makers of Barcelona (MOB). Founded by TEDx Barcelona speaker and former biologist/Harvard graduate Cecilia Tham, MOB was created to facilitate collaboration, host community, and unite makers across the city. And, with morning and evening drop-in yoga classes throughout the week at two locations in the city (mat rentals are also available), we highly recommend a visit for some self care, as well as to check out the incredible creative space!
Where To Find It | Carrer de Bailèn, 11, 08010 & Ronda de Sant Pau, 47, 08015
Spa Day at Vegere
Why We Love It | Vegere is the first vegan beauty salon in Barcelona, and we recommend booking an appointment during your travels to Spain. Whether you need a massage after the plane ride, a facial after all those days lying on the beach, or a mani/pedi just because, Vegere is the place. Using only all-natural, organic, cruelty-free, and sustainable beauty products, this darling salon is the most ethical and sustainable spot for self-care in the city!
Where To Find It | Carrer de Ramón y Cajal, 32, 08012
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.