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El Poble Sec, located in the Sants-Montjuïc district of Barcelona, is one of the city’s most culturally diverse areas. Once known best as a good place to find a cheap drink, it has recently undergone something of a renewal, yet still maintains its bohemian feel. Expect the vibe to be quirky, creative and relaxed. Here are our ten must-dos for the neighborhood.
Arguably a must-see for the entirety of Barcelona, Caixa Forum, a renovated former textiles factory, maintains a top-notch program of art and culture – be it exhibitions, music, dance or theatre. Despite playing host to high-brow art installations, it makes an effort to appeal to younger minds as well. It’s recently shown an exhibition of Pixar’s creative process, and ensures that plenty of interactive activities are placed around.
Opening hours: 10am-8pm
Caixa Forum, Avenue Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 76 86 00
Once a traditional bodega, it has since been transformed into a stunningly eccentric bar. If the décor of figurines, stuffed animals and antiques aren’t enough to keep you entertained, the music probably will – it’s by request, making for a varied night. Leave your pretensions at the door and enjoy the cheap drinks and unique atmosphere.
Gran Bodega Saltó, Carrer de Blesa, 36, Barcelona +34 934 41 37 09
Serving traditional Galician food, Casa de Tapes Cañota shares its owner with the better known Rías de Galicia. The food is fairly expensive, the portions are fairly small – but expect it to be exquisitely cooked. It benefits from a very extensive menu and friendly, welcoming staff. If you’re after a true culinary experience this is a great option.
Casa de Tapes Cañota, Carrer de Lleida, 7, Barcelona, +34 933 25 91 71
El Rouge is a little known bar decked out in velvet, all colored red according to its name. The general ambiance, the range of events, the comfortable sofas, and possibly the best gin and tonics in the city, all combine to make this a favorite amongst locals. More than worth a visit if you’re in the mood for somewhere that is as authentic as it is quietly cool.
El Rouge, Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 21, Barcelona, +34 666 25 15 56
Learn about Catalonian history at the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia. Another little known destination, this museum has managed to stay entirely off the beaten track. It’s on the way to the popular Castell de Montjuïc, and is a good place to stop off. Expect all information to be in Spanish, and the place to be largely empty – yet it’s a beautiful building with items that trace back to the history of Catalonia.
Opening hours: Sun 10am-2.30pm, Tues – Sat 9.30am-7pm
The most famous theatre in the area, El Molino is located on the equally famous Parallel Avenue. Expect risqué yet largely tasteful cabaret and burlesque. Showcasing wonderful hosts and performers at the venue, the audiences are largely Spanish and as such, the shows are generally geared to them. However, this won’t make it any less enjoyable for tourists. It’s a good idea to get there early if you want to ensure good seats, and they normally have a few performers outside to entice people in.
El Molino, Carrer de Vila i Vilà, 99, Barcelona, +34 932 05 51 11
If you’re in the mood for a quick break from Spanish cuisine, Xemei is the stand-out option. Owned by two Italian twins, Xemei benefits from a good location, friendly staff, and a truly incredible Venetian-inspired menu. The simple yet exquisitely cooked Venetian haute cuisine means that the restaurant is normally full – it’s probably worth calling ahead if you intend on paying it a visit.
Xemei, Paseo de la Exposicion, 85, Barcelona, +34 935 53 51 40