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Once the home of Barcelona’s wealthy merchants, nobles and artisans, El Born is now one of the trendiest, liveliest and most creative neighborhoods in the city. Bounded by Barri Gòtic, Ciutadella Park, Eixample and Barceloneta, it’s a fabulous choice for those looking to balance bustling city life with relaxing beach days and easy access to essential sights.
But the real pleasure of focusing your trip to Barcelona around this charming area is really to wander around, admire the scene and discover those unique and hidden gems that make this place special. Lined with beautiful architecture and interspersed with cozy shaded squares, its cinematic lanes provide a delightful backdrop for a late morning or early evening meander – whether browsing cool shops and admiring colorful street art. or simply sipping specialty coffee with a slice of local life in a delightful medieval lane.
Why El Born
Part of Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old Town), this bohemian neighborhood is a 10-minute walk from the golden sands of Barceloneta or La Rambla Boulevard in the opposite direction. Even the elegant Passeig de Gràcia, home to Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, is within walking distance, with plenty to see along the way, while the Gothic Quarter is so close it can be difficult to say when you left one and entered the other.
The Picasso Museum, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, the magnificent Palau de la Música Catalana and the city’s largest urban park (Parc de la Ciutadella) are all located here, making El Born an obvious destination for first-time visitors and those looking to get a deeper sense of the city. Nonetheless, foodies will find something to write about in the neighborhood’s creative tapas bars, art lovers will adore all the workshops, galleries and eye-catching street art found throughout El Born, while night owls will revel in area’s vibrant nightlife.
Housed in an 18th century palace in the heart of the Born district, Chic&Basic Habana Hoose is the perfect place to bed down on a budget after a long day of sightseeing, shopping and tapas feasting in one of the liveliest areas of Barcelona.
True to its name, this mid-range themed hotel offers clean, comfortable rooms equipped with free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and powerful rainfall showers. Interiors are full of character and atmospheric, with funky design details throughout, and breakfast can be enjoyed in the beautiful on-site restaurant, Carmina, which resembles the patio of a grand Cuban colonial house, complete with characteristic archways , tall classical columns and a wrap-around interior balcony. covered with exotic plants.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, at one end of Passeig del Born, is one of the finest examples of Catalan Gothic architecture.
The Picasso Museum, spread across five Gothic palaces on Carrer de Montcada, houses one of the world’s largest collections of works by the 20th-century Spanish artist.
The Palau de la Música Catalana, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, is a true masterpiece of Catalan Art Nouveau. If you can, take the 50-minute guided tour or, better yet, attend one of the magical concerts held here throughout the year.
El Born has a colorful assortment of trendy cafes where specialty beers, freshly baked pastries and healthy vegan dishes are served until late afternoon.
Hidden Coffee BCN roasts its own beans in-house and serves a wide variety of pour-over and espresso drinks. There’s indoor seating if you’re looking to get some relief from the heat outside.
Funky Bakers is just across from Santa Maria del Mar on Passeig del Born and offers a selection of delicious sandwiches and pastries as well as a great cup of coffee from famous local roaster Nomad. Grab a babka and an espresso and sit on one of the stone benches that line Passeig del Born if you want to make it breakfast.
Nomad Cøffee Lab & Shop is easy to miss but worth discovering. Pioneers of the specialty coffee industry in Barcelona, they serve what is arguably the best cup of coffee in town in this stylish Scandi-esque space tucked away in charming Passatge Sert, a short walk from the Palau de la Música Catalana . Otherwise, you can find their expertly roasted beans in many other places in Spain and even Europe.
Cafés El Magnifico, Barcelona’s oldest coffee roaster, has been around since 1919 and enjoys a prime location on the bustling Carrer de l’Argenteria. Here, the beans are personally sourced from farms around the world after extensive tasting evaluation. You can buy them in bulk or enjoy them in all specialty formats.
Casa Gispert is a local institution. As one of Barcelona’s oldest specialty food shops, stepping inside feels like time has stood still: atmospheric wooden shelves filled with pots and jars containing all kinds of wonders, from dried fruits, exotic spices and local chocolates to caramelized nuts that have been roasting in the same wood-fired oven since 1851.
Naima Records is a nostalgic treasure trove of vinyl, CDs and cassettes (mainly jazz but also rock, indie and flamenco). They also offer a selection of collectible books and posters at excellent prices.
Manuel Dreesmann, a minimalist leather workshop on Carrer Rec, sells contemporary accessories handcrafted in Barcelona, from wallets to laptop sleeves.
Etnia eyewear collections are inspired by the city of Barcelona and carefully crafted using the highest quality natural materials. You will find their beautiful flagship store right next to Santa Maria del Mar Church.
Stop by Honest Greens at Pla de Palau, which specializes in healthy and innovative dishes made with organic and local ingredients. Choose from a tasty and colorful selection of market plates, garden bowls and sharing items, or design your own meal by choosing your favorite vegetables, proteins, salsa and carbs.
The space is grand and beautifully designed, and there’s also outdoor seating lining the sidewalk for those who wish to watch the world go by. The food on offer is reasonably priced and mostly gluten-free, vegetarian, plant-based, and paleo, with a few happy exceptions like their delicious sourdough bread, goat cheese, and grass-fed beef. They’re open from breakfast to dinner and serve fantastic guilt-free cakes, as well as specialty coffee and cold-pressed juices, all day.
You’ll find some of the best croissants in Spain at Pastisseria Hofmann, just off Passeig del Born: there are raspberries, almonds, chocolate and even ham and cheese, but don’t leave without trying the famous mascarpone fillings, which are worth the trip on their own.
A brainchild of the late Michelin-starred chef and pastry chef Mey Hofmann, this lovely little spot also bakes stellar gourmet cookies and scrumptious mousse-filled creations that look too pretty to eat — no wonder it’s been voted down multiple times. best pastry shop in Catalonia.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of places to eat in Born. The area is full of fusion restaurants, trendy brunch spots and perpetually busy tapas bars, but none of them are as memorable as Proper BCN.
Transplanted from Buenos Aires to an illuminated alley in El Born, this intimate space with a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere was a regular feature on lists of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants. These days, it attracts a mix of Barcelona epicureans and savvy foreigners who come for Argentinian chef Augusto Mayer’s wood-fired cooking.
Start your dinner with their insanely delicious sourdough bread and olive oil and finish it off with the delicious dulce de leche flan with vanilla bean whipped cream – arguably one of the most epic desserts in Barcelona. In between, feast on succulent marinated sardines on a bed of roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes topped with a creamy oyster sauce or a perfectly cooked sauce iberian feather. The menu is small, seasonal and creative, accompanied by carefully selected organic wines. The service is excellent and the prices are relatively cheap for the quality.
Head to Dr. Stravinsky or Paraiso, two of the best bars in the world, both located in Born. The latter, a sleek speakeasy hidden behind the refrigerator door of a pastrami sandwich shop, serves up theatrically mixed concoctions in a surreal, dimly lit setting. It’s very popular, so expect a queue outside each evening.
Dr. Stravinsky, on the other side, looks like an old-fashioned pharmacy with backlit infusion pots lining the sultry red walls. Much like Paraiso, they take their craft cocktails seriously, crafting their own spirits in-house and constantly experimenting with intriguing flavors. Camp Nou, a refreshing drink made with dill, coriander, thyme syrup, lime, house distilled gin and dry sherry, is one of their bestsellers.
For wine lovers
There is no better destination than Bar Brutal. One of the few true natural wine bars in Europe, they source organic, additive-free wines from around the world and pair them with creative Italian-style tapas in a funky, laid-back setting right at the corner of the Picasso museum.
For an afternoon
Take a walk in the Parc de la Ciutadella, the largest urban park in Barcelona. Enter through the modernist-style Arc de Triomphe and stroll along its tree-lined walkways and sprawling flowerbeds for a slice of authentic city life. Among the many things to do and see: the playful Castell dels Tres Dragons by Domènech i Montaner, Barcelona Zoo and the Cascada Monumental – an ornate fountain and waterfall adorned with spectacular sculptures and designed by Fontserè with the help of Gaudí .
If it rains
Slip into AIRE Ancient Baths Barcelona for a few hours of pampering and relaxation amidst vaulted brick ceilings, twinkling candles and dazzling blue pools reminiscent of ancient Roman baths. Housed in a 17th-century warehouse on Passeig de Picasso, this luxury oasis also offers rejuvenating massages, steam rooms, a wine bath experience, and warm marble benches for resting between therapies.
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