Each barrio, or neighborhood, in Barcelona has its own look, feel, and character. One of the greatest things about living in the city is getting to know the areas that might not fall on the tourist radar, as they really give a feel for what day-to-day life is like. Here are a few of my favorite places in each barrio!
For morning coffee – My favorite cafe in Barcelona is called Le Petite Paris! It’s a really small French-inspired cafe right on Carrer Consell de Cent and Carrer de Calàbria. The decor is Parisian inspired and basically the cutest thing ever, the staff is so nice and friendly, and the coffee is AMAZING. They also have comfy outdoor seating. The female staff is so friendly, and I go there every morning as it’s in my neighborhood and they greet me with smiles and compliments in Spanish like, “Hola Bonita!”
These are the best morning words to hear, especially when you are in desperate need of coffee and look like you just woke up.
For working and having lunch – I fell upon Stampi, which is a cafe in Gràcia right in the corner of Placa de Sol, one day while I was out exploring solo. This is a great place to go with your laptop to do some work while having lunch, coffee, or a cocktail. The menu is vegan, the coffee is really good, and the prices are reasonable…for example, I got a coffee, a quesadilla, and a cocktail for less than 15€.
The interior is made up of brick walls and beautiful earth-tone furniture, and the shop has small plants everywhere which is a nice touch. Like many places in Barcelona, the waiters do not rush you so you can do some homework or read a book for hours. It’s a great place to end up after exploring Gràcias many local shops and soaking up some sun in Placa de Sol.
For mid-day cava and dessert – This what afternoons in Barcelona are all about! I accidentally fell upon Restaurant Santa Maria del Mar thinking I was at the well-known, yet expensive, La Vinya del Senyor wine bar. Funny story is, I did not notice I wasn’t there until I got the check…but it was a great accident because I absolutely loved this restaurant! Basically, both of these places are seated outside very close together with an amazing view of the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar, a beautiful church right in the neighborhood of El Born and Barceloneta. If you’re lucky, you’ll see locals building human towers called Castellers, and local musicians of all kinds playing music. It’s a great way to spend your time drinking Cava (Catalan Champagne), enjoying the church view, and listening to music….all while staying warm in their heated outside sitting area. Remember to try the small chocolate cake here – you WON’T regret it, I promise!
For live jazz and cocktails – I did my pre-birthday celebrations in Balius Bar, as they have the most extensive cocktails list in town. The vibes at this bar are so amazing, with older crowds and many locals. A perfect place to sit back in their comfy couches, stir up conversations, and listen to jazz. On Sundays they have live jazz performances as well, and it’s a great place to spend an evening before going back to work or school.
For an evening bar – Hands down my favorite bar so far in Barcelona is Bar Manchester. A British themed bar, with David Bowie posters and vintage decor, truly make this place an absolute gem. This is a perfect all-night destination or as a stop before the club, as this bar is full of locals and very non-touristy. Right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, drinks here are very inexpensive, and the bar is small but cozy. My favorite days to come here are Thursdays and Fridays. The area is within the many alleys of Barcelona so it’s important to always be attentive, but the evening vibe is very lively and lovely!
For brunch that is both tasty AND good for you – Many of us truly believe that brunching is a sport, and Barcelona’s new favorite pasttime is having brunch on weekends. On a lovely Saturday morning, my roommates and I headed off to Flax&Kale for a meal that is a combination of both breakfast and lunch dishes. I consider myself an avid critic of all things restaurant, fashion, and service (or so I think!) and my favorite dish was the avocado toast. It was super deluxe, super delicious, and under 5€ which was amazing. Right in the center of Universitat near Las Ramblas, this restaurant allows you to sit outside, on the terrace, or inside, and I give it a A+ score for brunch which is a newer concept in Barcelona.
For indulging in xhocolate con churros – Barcelona SAE took us to go see a Flamenco Show one night, but before the show, we enjoyed amazing churros with chocolate at Cafe Opera. The cafe is a great mix of locals and tourists, all in a very medieval-like location that showcases tons of history upon the walls. This cafe is right on Las Ramblas, and is the perfect treat for when you’re craving sweets.
For drinks with a city view – Barceloneta is beautiful, and the walk along the beach gives off Miami vibes (but much, much better!) One of my recent favorite places in this beautiful barrio is the rooftop restaurant at the Museu d’Història de Catalunya. I recommend visiting the terrace for a quick drink or tapas while taking in the views of the Mediterranean along the beautiful city lights and mountains in the distance.
For a movie night in English – I love going to the movies, as it’s a great way to spend a night and unwind. Although I speak Spanish, I still prefer to watch movies in English. My favorite movie theater in Barcelona is Icaria Yelmo Cineplex, as it offers the latest movies in English (with Spanish subtitles, so it’s the best of both worlds!) The theatre is inside of a shopping center called El Centre de la Vila on Carrer de Salvador Espriu. The shopping center has great places to eat dinner (try Ugarit, as it’s AMAZING Mediterranean food!) and you can do a quick shopping trip before or after your movie. At only 9€ a person, the movies are priced reasonably, plus a nice little bonus is that they tend to always give you a voucher for 5€ off your next movie!
Check out our scavenger hunt from the student perspective! This is one of the many weekly cultural activities at Barcelona SAE that provides exploration of local culture beyond the classroom.