The Best Bars in Barcelona: From Local Dives to Rooftops and Cocktail Lounges

The glittering city of Barcelona is not short of stylish places to drink
The glittering city of Barcelona is not short of stylish places to drink | © Pere Sanz / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip Travel Team

The celebrated nightlife of Barcelona springs from a healthy love of partying and a broad array of places to party. For a debonair night out in Spain, there are cocktail lounges and swanky rooftop bars galore, while down-to-earth types frequent the ubiquitous tapas or dive bars found in practically every neighbourhood.

1. El Xampanyet

Bar, Charcuterie, Wine Bar, Spanish, Tapas, Pub Grub

Champagner-Bar El Xampanyet in the Born quarter in Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, Europe, EU. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.
© Oso Media / Alamy Stock Photo

While it’s certainly no secret, El Xampanyet is deserving of its wild popularity. The speciality here is cava, particularly the home-made El Xampanyet brand. The interior, if you’re lucky enough to find a space to sit inside, is chock-full of Catalan whimsy, including curios such as antique bottles and wine barrels, and artisanal blue-and-white tiles depicting historic pastoral scenes or witty sayings.

2. Gata Mala

Bar, Tapas

The number of places offering free tapas with a drink seem to be dwindling with the years – so when you find a place that still upholds the tradition, especially in Barcelona, you hold onto it. Gata Mala may mean “bad cat”, but there’s nothing bad about the quality of the food, with the same time and care put into the preparation of the free tapas as the main plates. The skirt steak is particularly popular here.

3. Marlowe Bar

Bar, Cocktails

Homemade Old Fashioned Cocktail with Cherries and Orange Peel
© Brent Hofacker / Alamy Stock Photo

Do you like a dash of theatrical whimsy with your cocktails? Well you don’t need to be a private detective to find Marlowe Bar, named after the novelist Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled, tough talking protagonist, Philip Marlowe. The cocktails are on another level – often twisting classics into something special, like the old-fashioned made with rum, or the oaxacanite, a mezcal margarita with a dash of honey. And if you fancy yourself a budding crime crusader, Philip Marlowe’s favourite cocktail, the gimlet, is also on the menu.

5. Psycho

Bar, Pub Grub, Beer, Spanish

Passeig Jean Nicolas Forestier,Parc de Montjuic. Barcelona.
© Juan Bautista / Alamy Stock Photo
For lovers of all things rock music, there is one dive bar that stands out above the rest: Psycho. Upstairs, the bar area is plastered with classic posters, from the Who to the White Stripes. The music covers everything from classic rock to punk – and its location, off the beaten track on the northern edge of Parc de Montjuïc, means that it’s a local hang-out. Live acts take to the stage downstairs and bring a raw energy to Psycho.

6. Ocaña

Nightclub, Bar, Restaurant, Spanish

People sat at tables on the terrace outside Ocana, with large stone arches at the entrance
© travelstock44 / Alamy Stock Photo

If you like a little cross-dressing with your cava, or a bit of drag with your dram, then LGBTQ-friendly Ocaña is the bar for you. Ocaña is named after painter, drag artist and counterculture stalwart José Pérez Ocaña. The interior design includes wooden-beam ceilings supported by Grecian columns, bare brick and naked-bulb lighting in an elegant pastiche of classical and 1950s New York sensibilities. Expect plenty of feathers, flowers and sequins.

7. Guzzo

Bar, European

Guzzo By_Rodrigo_Stocco
© Rodrigo Stocco

The Barcelona jazz scene is hopping, but there’s nowhere quite like DJ Fred Guzzo’s eponymous bar in the lively El Born neighbourhood. The interior has a cosy, living-room vibe punctuated by mural psychedelia and jazz-hipster curios – think trumpets and old TVs. Live acts and impromptu jam sessions fill the air with Latin, flamenco, funk and jazz rhythms, while the menu leans towards gourmet, with great vegetarian options including veggie ceviche.

8. Bar Bodega Quimet

Bar, Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas, Beer, Pub Grub

Many people arrive in Barcelona having never tried vermouth (spelled vermut locally). By the time you leave, you’ll be an expert. The fortified wine is very much in vogue here, and Bar Bodega Quimet specialises in it. The house vermouth is a great place to start, or the flights let you sample different types of vermouth from all over the Iberian Peninsula. If you’d like to pair your tipple with a bite to eat, the Galician octopus is delicious.

9. El Pinar

Bar, Spanish

Sometimes, all you want is a classic, no-frills bar with friendly staff and a decent selection of drinks, and El Pinar offers just that. This authentic little bar feels unchanged in decades, and the wood-panelled interior and marble-topped bar are an old-school sepia melange. People come for the simple sandwiches – ham, cheese or pork – and a couple of small beers (cañas), served with a bowl of olives, before plunging back out into the narrow, sprawling streets of the Old Town.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Adam David Turner.

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