Finding a terrace to sit out on in Barcelona is easier said than done. There are sidewalk cafes where you can drink your cappuccino to the roar of passing traffic, and tourist-filled plazas lined with restaurants serving microwaved paellas. But a tucked-away garden, a tranquil terrace, or a hideaway by the sea -- that's another matter altogether.
The Café de L'Acadèmia, Calle Lledó 1 (tel. 93-319-82-53), is located on the one of the prettiest squares in Barcelona, Plaça Sant Just. It was on this square that the Romans executed the first Christians. Ghosts of the past aside, today it is one of the most peaceful and unspoiled plazas in the Old City. In the Born, the Tèxtil Café, Calle Montcada 12 (tel. 93-268-25-98), is an oasis of calm enclosed within the courtyard of an 18th-century palace. Providing you're not in a hurry (service is laid-back), it's an idyllic place in the inner city to fuel up on tea, coffee, or wholesome lunches in the shade of white parasols or the warmth of outdoor gas fires in winter.
Barcelona's seafront has restaurant terraces aplenty, but for something a little more clandestine, continue along to the Parc del Port Olímpic, which straddles two busy highways. Here, sunk from view and traffic noise, is the gorgeous Anfiteatro, Avinguda Litoral 36 (tel. 65-969-53-45) – a smart restaurant serving creative Mediterranean dishes with a spacious terrace that wraps around an ornamental pool. Another way to escape the crowds is to get up onto the rooftops at La Miranda del Museu, Museu d'Història de Catalunya, Plaça Pau Vila 3 (tel. 93-225-50-07), which has fabulous views over the yachts in Port Vell. Frustratingly, the terrace is for drinks only, so go in time for an aperitif before lunch or linger over coffee afterward.
Heading further out and halfway up the hill to Montjuïc, La Font del Gat, Passeig Santa Madrona 28 (tel. 93-289-04-04), is a secret garden and lunch spot chiseled out of the mountainside. The further out of town you go, the prettier the surroundings, and if it's real tranquillity and exclusivity you're seeking, the restaurants in the suburbs shine. In Horta, Can Travi Nou, Jorge Manrique, Parc de la Vall d'Hebron (tel. 93-428-04-34; www.gruptravi.com), is a converted 14th-century farmhouse with sprawling grounds, two or three ample terraces, and gardens for strolling. It's great for long Sunday lunches or evenings under the stars, and serves pricey roast meats, fish dishes, and paella.
If you're looking to treat yourself, head for the Restaurant L'Orangerie, Gran Hotel La Florida, Carretera de Vallvidrera al Tibidabo 83-93 (tel. 93-259-30-00; www.hotellaflorida.com). This fabulous spot is situated on the highest peak of the Collserola, with views over Barcelona, and its scented gardens and terraces make it one of the most spectacular dining destinations in the city.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.