The art, the food, the shopping, there are many reasons why Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. But despite its popularity, the city has managed to retain much of its independent spirit and cool streak – something you can easily notice if you spend any amount of time walking round the streets of El Born or El Raval. However, there are certain spots that stand out for their hipness, so much so that it’s practically contagious. Here’s our pick of the coolest places to hangout in Barcelona.
Outside MACBA: A Skater’s Paradise
You can easily find the MACBA (Barcelona’s museum of contemporary art) by following the noise of the skateboarders who regularly gather in their dozens. Renowned as Barcelona’s skater spiritual home, the square outside the MACBA, officially known as the Plaça dels Angèls, is the place to go if you’re in the mood for kicking back in the sun and watching the cool kids getting on with their kick-flips, ollies and tail-slides. If sitting on the floor isn’t your thing, there are a couple of bars by the square that offer all the same advantages. The square very much has a rough and ready atmosphere, and you can almost guarantee you’ll be asked at least once if you’re interested in the purchase of class A drugs. But if you’re willing to get your sneakers a bit dirty, it’s a great place to get a glimpse of the city’s edgier side.
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The Carmel Bunkers: A Hidden Hangout With A View
Long known as one of the city’s best kept secrets, the Carmel Bunkers are still rarely visited by tourists who dare not venture further afield from the city centre. And yet, they offer one of the best views of Barcelona in the city, with a clear 360º panorama spanning as far as the eye can see. The bunkers were built during the Spanish Civil War and served to warn the town’s inhabitants of oncoming air-raids. Today, they’re a popular hangout for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get a little perspective on life. This isn’t anywhere fancy and there aren’t any amenities on hand, it’s a gathering point for those who share the unspoken desire to escape the world for a moment and dream.
The Plaça George Orwell/Plaça del Tripi: An Iconic Barcelona Meeting Point
Once upon a time the Plaça George Orwell would have been a no-go area for anyone visiting the city. Constructed in the 1980s following the demolition of a block of buildings, the square soon became a popular hangout with those who enjoyed drug-fuelled all-nighters and outdoor parties. This inevitably lead to an ongoing confrontation between the square’s residents and those who came to enjoy the atmosphere at ‘plaça tripi’. The story goes that the square earned the nickname owing to the surrealist statue that was placed there and soon referred to as el tripi – this being a popular name for the hallucinogenic drug LSD. While today the square has by and large cleared up its act, there’s still something of the care-free spirit of its former self that lives on there. Grab a seat at one of the café terraces and flick through the pages of a magazine.
The Plaça del Sol: A Laid-Back Square With An Independent Spirit
Located to the west of the city, Gracià has long had a reputation for having a very different vibe to the rest of the city. In fact, it used to be an entirely separate town. Today, its independent spirit is still very much alive and kicking and you can get a taste of it if you wander round the streets in the old town (Carrer Verdi is one of the best) and make your way to the ever popular Plaça del Sol. This is one of the nicest squares in Barcelona, free from traffic noice and tucked away between many charming old buildings, it has a vibrant but laid-back atmosphere where friends and lovers come to enjoy a few cañas in the sun.
Poblenou: Converted Warehouses And Gritty Urban Renewal
This is fast becoming Barcelona’s answer to London’s Shoreditch or NYC’s Meatpacking District. The Poblenou was for a long time the industrial fringe of the city, home to many factories and work-houses. As the industrial belt moved further out of town, the neighbourhood is slowly undergoing the to-be-expected process of gentrification, with warehouse conversions and pop-up shops in disused factories an increasingly common feature of every day life. In fact, this younger, creative side to the area now has its own website and concept: the Poblenou Urban District. Book yourself on one of the open-day tours to discover the many artist workshops, design studios and quirky cafés that are giving Poblenou it’s second life.
The Carrer Joaquin Costa: Bustling Bars With A Too-Cool-For-School Vibe
Bars, bars and more bars in Barcelona. There’s mainly one reason people head to Joaquin Costa street, although, the area’s growing popularity has seen an accompanying surge in vintage shops, concept stores and other novelties. And while a stroll down Joaquin Costa during the day is sure to see you bump shoulders with a hipster or two, the street really comes to life when the sun goes down as it becomes one of the city’s favourite watering-holes. From the trendy 33/45 down the bottom end, to hip Betty Ford’s and the unasssuming Bar Almirall – there’s something here for everyone (everyone that’s cool enough obviously).
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