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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Mirva Kemppainen.