You’ve marvelled at the Sagrada Família and soaked in the atmosphere of Las Ramblas. If you’re ready for a change of scenery on your next visit to Barcelona, head to the friendly district of Gràcia, just outside the city centre. Here’s our run-down of the top things to see and do here.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Just north of the main city centre, Gràcia has managed to keep its villagey feel, despite increasing interest in the area. The relaxed, bohemian atmosphere – it’s dotted with eco-shops, yoga studios and vegan-friendly cafes – makes it a great neighbourhood to explore.
See sculptures at Park Güell
Catalan industrialist and entrepreneur Eusebi Güell commissioned Antoni Gaudí to design this park in 1900, by which point the architect had already built a house, winery and church for his wealthy friend. Gaudí standouts include the 3D dragon mosaic at the entrance, the serpent-shaped bench on the main terrace and the colonnades and corridors carved from locally sourced stone. Its highest point is a stone hill featuring three large crosses, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Barcelona and spot birds such as parrots and eagles.
Catch a film at the Verdi
Most foreign-language films in Spain are dubbed, but the blockbusters and independent movies at the Verdi are shown in their original language. Viewer comfort is enhanced by big chairs, inexpensive refreshments and discounted tickets on Sunday evenings and Mondays. The cinema also runs opera matinees of legendary performances, kids’ programmes and themed festivals throughout the year. Post-film, there are plenty of places nearby to eat and drink.
Shop sustainably at Olokuti
The range of products available at Olokuti – a champion of ecofriendly, sustainable consumerism in the heart of Gràcia – makes it absolutely impossible to categorise. As well as kids’ and adults’ clothing, yoga gear and homeware, its colourful shelves contain books, woven baskets and organic ingredients. Drift towards the back of the store and you’ll find yet another surprise – a small, walled garden in which to enjoy a responsibly produced drink or participate in the frequently organised cultural events, discussions and workshops.
Marvel at Plaça de la Virreina
Plaça de la Virreina is one of Gràcia’s main squares and extends northwards, on a slight ascent, from Carrer de l’Or to the late 19th-century Iglesia Saint Joan. It was developed at the same time as the church, on the site of the 18th-century La Virreina mansion, the summer residence of a Catalan aristocrat and military leader. There are a few cafes with terraces out on the square and a fountain topped by a bronze statue of the biblical character Ruth by artist Josep Maria Camps.
Find some shade at Rabipelao
Featuring walls of psychedelic wallpaper decorated with FBI wanted posters, vinyl records and gothic candlestick holders, Venezuelan bar Rabipelao wears its Gràcia credentials proudly. Tuck into South American dishes such as empanadas, arepas (crispy discs of cornbread with a variety of fillings) and deep-fried cheese sticks known as tequeños. The bar’s also sought out for its cocktails, especially its powerful mojitos, and for its shaded garden out back – a rarity in densely packed Gràcia.
Watch live music at El Col.leccionista
Tiny El Col.leccionista is one of the best spots in Barcelona for live indie, acoustic and rock music. Artists perform their sets on a sparsely lit stage that would fit in your bedroom, surrounded by vintage fridges, typewriters and wall-mounted instruments. It’s a great spot for the midpoint of a Spanish night out – after dinner, but before the nightclub where you’ll stay until breakfast – and its reasonably priced beers and copas (spirits and mixers) draw in plenty of students and travellers on a budget.
Browse the shops on Carrer Verdi
If you’ve only time to stroll one street in Gràcia, make it Carrer Verdi. Running straight from south to north through the heart of the barrio, it’s lined with vintage clothing stores, independent bars, restaurants and second-hand bookshops. Must-visits include La Trini for tapas and vermouth (no 30), Taifa Llibres for new and used books across all genres (no 12) and the Mercat de Lesseps to browse some of Catalonia’s finest produce (nos 200-210).
Go to a yoga class at Yoga Con Gràcia
This non-profit studio is one of the top spots in Barcelona for learning and practising yoga, especially if you’re after pre- or postnatal classes. In light, airy rooms with polished wooden floors, a team of volunteer instructors also lead workshops in hatha (both fluid and classic) and yin styles, which can be adapted to all levels of experience. Once your session’s over, stay in the chillout zone with a stroll around Gaudí’s Park Güell, just a 10-minute walk away.
Get close to Gaudí at Casa Vicens
In 1883, Catalan businessman Manuel Vincens asked Gaudí, then 31, to build his family a summer residence in Barcelona. When it was completed two years later, the architect’s first house established itself at the vanguard of European modernism, displaying an audacious fusion of raw materials and a playful mixture of neo-mudejar and oriental features. In the second floor museum there’s a reproduction of a document in which Gaudí sketches his plans for Casa Vincens, as well as expressing his opinions on architecture and design.
Visit the Mercat de la Llibertat
Opened in 1883 and substantially renovated in 2009, the Mercat de Llibertat is Gràcia’s premier food market. Within a cavernous, echoing structure of exposed brick and iron, dozens of stall owners loudly tout goods such as cured and fresh meat, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and spices. Rather than just passing through, set yourself up with a small beer and fresh prawn tapas at El Tast de Joan Noi (no 111) and watch Gràcia’s street life at its very best.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Mirva Kemppainen.
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