Gràcia is a neighbourhood that has become synonymous with Barcelona and it’s most likely that if this is your second or third trip to Barcelona, you’ve already fallen under its spell.
Located in the northern part of the city, a 20-minute walk from Plaça Catalunya along the city’s famous Passeig de Gràcia will take you into the heart of this charismatic district.
For those of you that are yet to discover its charm, we’ve put together this article explaining just why we love this area of Barcelona so much. From things to see and do, to its history and local traditions, this small guide will ensure that you won’t miss out on a thing.
Its village charm
Gràcia first emerged as a small rural community with three convents and a small population. It wasn’t until around the 19thcentury that Gràcia began to grow, becoming the most important village in the area thanks to its agricultural production.
In 1850 it was established as a municipality with 13,000 habitants, but it wasn’t until 1897, with almost 67,000 habitants, that it became part of Barcelona itself. Gràcia was flourishing yet it still lacked basic services and facilities. Over the years it has become the thriving hub it is today, boasting markets, cultural, sports and historical centres, medical services and schools.
Its cobbled streets and enchanting squares
Despite being located a stone’s throw away from the centre of Barcelona, the streets of Gràcia still conserve that charming allure often only found in small villages.
Stroll along its streets lined with flowering trees, take a break in one of its many squares with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, or explore the Plaça de la Vila square with its 19th-century bell tower and Plaça de la Virreina with its beautiful stone church.
The Festes de Gràcia
Every August the streets of Gràcia come alive with locals and tourists alike. The Festa Major de Gràcia constitutes a weeklong celebration in which the streets of this charming area are decorated with recycled materials in every colour.
Each community of neighbours chooses a different theme for their street in a fun-filled family-friendly event that cannot be missed. Read more about this tradition in one of our past articles here.
Alternative stores and independent boutiques
Gràcia is home to a plethora of shops that sell locally made products, ethical goods and gifts galore. With something for everyone, after exploring its streets, why not browse its second-hand book stores with faded armchairs, discover its designer boutiques with clothes designed in Barcelona or choose a custom-made piece of jewellery at one of its many workshops.
Opened to the public only a few years ago, many still don’t know that Gràcia boasts its very own piece of Gaudí. Constituting great architect’s first project, Gaudí was commissioned to build Casa Vicens as a summerhouse for the family of the same name.
This wonderful building will surprise you with its range of influences from far and wide, its varied palette of colours and its spectacular design.
The history beneath your feet at Plaça del Diamant
On first glance, Plaça del Diamant may appear to be just your normal square, however if you look a little closer you’ll discover the history it houses.
Underneath the square is a bomb shelter that was built during the Spanish Civil War with a capacity for 200 people. Tickets are only €3 and must be booked in advance.
We hope you love the area as much as us! Let us know, what’s your favourite thing to do in Gràcia?
North of Barcelona lies the sleepy town of Figueres. On first glance it may not seem that different to other Catalan towns, with its quaint squares and local cafés and restaurants. Yet this seemingly normal town is the birthplace of the master of surrealism: Salvador Dalí.
For visitors to Barcelona who wish to escape the crowds and delve into Dalí’s sublime mind, we’ve put together this small guide for a surreal day-trip for the whole family.
History of the Dalí Theatre-Museum
Dalí travelled the world as an artist, conquering Spain, France and the US, yet Figueres always held a place in his heart. It was this reason that he chose it as the home for his museum.
It was in 1974 that the town’s old theatre – which was destroyed in the Civil War – was reopened to showcase a large selection of his art. Dalí wanted a place where visitors could immerse themselves in his diverse range of work. He supervised the entire design and reconstruction to ensure his wishes were fulfilled, staying at a nearby hotel.
The result, as you will discover, was a flamboyant, indescribable space that goes beyond what any other local artist achieved. This is Dalí’s legacy as a surrealist and will surely be the most original and unique museum you ever visit.
Visiting the Dalí Theatre-Museum
From the famous eggs perched on the museum’s rooftops to Dalí’s very own black Cadillac where it rains, Dalí’s aim was to astound, amaze and amuse.
Every room and every piece proposes a question to the visitor and we are sure you will come up with your own conclusions about Dalí’s works. Discover the Mae West room designed with the actress’s facial features. Look out for pieces dedicated to Gala, the love of his life. Stare in wonder at the Oscar statues.
A ticket to the museum cost €14 for adults and are free for under 8s. We’d recommend saving 2–3 hours for the visit to ensure you make the most of this surreal experience. Museum opening times vary depending on the season (peak season 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.) and exhibition rooms close around 15 minutes before the actual closing time. There is also the option to book a guided tour with an expert guide, who will share stories about Dalí’s life, the inspiration behind his theatre-museum and its most eccentric and bizarre pieces.
Aside from the town’s top attraction, Figueres itself is also worth exploring. Look a little closer and you might be surprised – there is a little bit of Dalí to be found on every street corner. If you decide to stay a little longer after your surreal trip, take a wander through its cobbled streets and discover its emblematic churches, the Plaça de Gala y Salvador Dalí and the Rambla de Figueres, and the Toy Museum of Catalonia (where you will get 30% discount on entry with your Dalí theatre-museum ticket). You won’t be disappointed!
How to get there
Figueres is located close to the city of Girona and around 140 km away from Barcelona.
Getting there by public transport is relatively easy. Take the train to the Figueres-Vilafant railway station from Barcelona Sants station and, in a short journey of 55 minutes, you’ll be in Figueres. Return tickets start from €30 depending on the train service (Ave or Avant). The museum is about 10 minutes walking distance from the station.
If you prefer to take the bus, Sagalés coaches offer services from Barcelona El Prat Airport or Barcelona Estació del Nord, which take just under 3 hours. Tickets cost €20 each way and you’ll take either bus 602 or 603.
If you’ve hired a car, take motorway AP-7 towards France and take the Figueres exit. Then head towards Figueres city centre.
Check out the opening times and ticket prices, book online and find out all you need before you visit the Dalí theatre-museum here.
The Dalí museum is a flamboyant and spectacular experience not to be missed!
After almost a decade of work and 80 million euros worth of investment, the Mercat de Sant Antoni has finally reopened its doors, much to the excitement of locals. The renovated market, an iconic building within Barcelona, is almost its own small city. It totals an area of 55,388 square metres, which are distributed over five floors, four of which are underground.
This architectural wonder, originally built between 1879 and 1882 by the architect Antoni Rovira i Trias, is entering a new stage of its life under renovators from the architectural firm of Ravetllat Ribas, who have readapted it with a new modern twist. Below we will discuss the exciting developments you can look forward to on your visit to the newest market in Barcelona.
Fewer stalls, but larger
The new market will have a total of 235 different establishments, which is slightly less than previously, however, allowing more space in total with widened corridors and store spaces. In the very heart of the market you will now find 52 fresh produce stalls, which will include the likes of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meats amongst other things. Another 105 non-food market stalls will also be located in the interior, in the outer section, while the Sunday book market will be located fully outdoors.
You can also look forward to long visiting hours with the fresh produce market open from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm, the non-food market on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 8am to 8.30pm, and the Sunday book market – as indicated –open on Sundays.
Retractable canopies for Sunday
The famous Sunday market will be a permanent home for booksellers, selling books, postcards, stamps and trinkets alike. Running along the outer perimeters of the market, you will be able to find 78 stalls under their new modern retractable canopies, installed in the revamp to replace the old awnings.
Perhaps two of the most exciting features to come from the renovation are the new supermarket and gym that are now installed in the market’s basement floors.
The supermarket chain Lidl has announced its plans to make this new branch of their store the most emblematic in Barcelona. Located on the first underground floor of the market, the new store is spacious coming in at an area of 1300 square metres. The store is also doing its part to be eco-friendly, installing a 5-metre high plant wall at the entrance in a bid to help balance its CO2 footprint. As well as this, they have cleverly installed kinetic flooring, meaning customers help to generate electricity for the store simply by walking around it. The other new tenant, finished around autumn 2018, is a branch of the low cost gym Duet Fit.
The supermarket and gym are a first for this kind of market place, which will be a welcome addition for the neighbourhood.
An outdoor museum
The Mercat de Sant Antoni has always been historically important in Barcelona, having been built on the remnants of the fortress of Sant Antoni, part of the defensive system of the ancient medieval city. Aiming to retain the ancient historical importance of the market, the renovators have left parts of it as an open-air museum. Not only will the medieval wall from the ancient city of Barcelona be on view, but during the renovations parts of the fortress were able to be recovered in surprisingly good condition and will also be on display.
Additionally, you will be able to see the remains of the legendary Roman road Via Augusta, with plans to make it into a new museum space as part of the Museu d’Història de Barcelona.
For the neighbourhood
One of the main goals when renovating the Mercat de Sant Antoni has been to make sure the space is something that contributes to the neighbourhood. Whilst retaining the beautiful architecture and characteristics of the old market, the new market is a space where the local community can meet to drink, chat, eat and much more.
So, what are you waiting for? Go down and visit the new Mercat de Sant Antoni and experience all it has to offer!
Trencadís may not be a word that you’re not familiar with, but if you’ve visited Barcelona before, you will certainly have seen it around you in the streets, in buildings, in parks, in souvenir shops… These mosaics are an explosion of colour, each little piece uniquely different in shape, pattern and colour scheme, yet when pieced together they come and form one cohesive and magnificent artwork. Not to mention, Trencadís is absolutely captivating when glittering under the Barcelona sun, as the light bounces off the tiles and brings the vibrant colours to life. It is no wonder that this technique has become synonymous with Mediterranean culture and design.
What is Trencadís?
Trencadís is a Catalan term that literally means “chopped” and is the name for this artistic method that was popularised in 20th century Catalan modernism by artists like Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol, Trencadís is a mosaic-like effect, achieved by cementing together random shards and pieces of broken chinaware, piece by piece like a jigsaw. Sometimes other materials are used, like glass, buttons or shells. In French, this technique is known as “pique assiette”, which translates to “plate thief”, perhaps referring to the use of recycled or “scrounged” materials – in other words, materials that ceramic factories often discarded.
What is the origin of the Trencadís?
Well, legend has it that Gaudí was visiting the ceramics workshop of Lluis Bru, and when he saw how tediously slow he was putting the pieces together, the impatient Gaudí simply grabbed a tile, shattered it into a hundred pieces on the ground, and stuck them on by the fistful, exclaiming “We must do it like this or we’ll never finish!”. Whether or not the story is true, it is true that the Catalan architect certainly used the innovative craft extensively and transformed it into one of his most signature techniques, which he applied in many of his architectural creations in Barcelona.
Where can I find Trencadís in Barcelona?
One of the most famous examples of Trencadís is brought to life, in the form of the world-famous mosaic, affectionately known as “El Drac” that majestically lazes on the steps in Park Güell. Also, the pavilion seating area in Park Güell, where you can get a panoramic view of Barcelona, is adorned in multi-coloured mosaic tiles, and is a popular photography point for visitors of Barcelona. Throughout the park you’ll find the distinctive artform of Trencadís-covered spheres, columns, and buildings too. The colors that predominate in the work are blue, green and yellow, which for Gaudí symbolized Faith, Hope and Charity.
One of Gaudí’s other Trencadís masterpieces is Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia, which when illuminated during the nighttime almost comes alive with magic, glowing and shimmering in the dark. Even the stone benches that line the luxurious shops on Passeig de Gràcia are covered in the signature mosaic tiles.
In Sant Pau, mosaics were used everywhere to introduce floral motives into the hospital, and can be found in murals, on the ceilings, floors and walls. On the floor of Parròquia de Sant Pacià, a geometric design of marble mosaic lies on the floor, created by a young Gaudí.
With Trencadís found on many different architectural creations in Barcelona, just keep your eyes peeled while wandering around, and you’re sure to stumble upon another mosaic-covered beauty. Did you find any that we missed out? Let us know!
Visiting an English cinemas in Barcelona may just be the perfect downtime activity during your trip. As much as we love exploring the city, between sightseeing, tapas bar-hopping, or running all around Barcelona, it can be nice to rest your feet, sit back and relax while watching a film. Or perhaps there just so happens to be a rainy day during your trip (whilst it is rare in Barcelona but believe it or not, it does happen!!), you may be looking to stay dry indoors while still being semi-productive with your time. Or perhaps you so happen to be here in town while your favourite blockbuster film is about to be released.
You may be surprised to hear that we have English cinemas in Barcelona! Indeed most Western films, whether shown on television or on the silver screen, are dubbed over with Spanish or Catalan voiceovers – which could perhaps explain why generally speaking our English isn’t the best, as we never really get exposed to the language. But for those looking to hunt down the ‘V.O.’ ‘versión original’ of Western films, there are a handful of places you can check out. Keep reading for our recommended list of English cinemas in Barcelona!
These two sister cinemas are located right next to each other on the ever-popular Carrer Verdi in Gràcia, with many restaurants and cafes nearby, perfect for a post-cinema film discussion over a glass of wine and some tapas. They show many independent “art house” films in the language they were originally produced sobra including English and other languages.
Carrer de Verdi, 32, 08012 Barcelona
Carrer de Torrijos, 49, 08012 Barcelona
This cinema is located right near the beach on La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou, in El Centre de la Vila shopping mall. It’s well equipped with over 15 screens and it is perfect for having dinner on the beach after a film.
Calling all the cinephiles! If you’ve got a whole day to spare, why not head to watch films back-to-back at this cinema? You’ll definitely be getting the most bang for your buck with its unique pricing method, which charges by the day.
This modern and comfortable cinema is located in the upper part of the city and shows all the most popular films in their original language, with a full food bar for the essential snacks and drinks during the film.
Discover the best museums in Barcelona! No matter where you walk, it’s easy to see that art, culture and architecture form such a huge part in Barcelona’s cultural identity. It’s therefore no surprise that Barcelona is home to a dizzying number of museums, spanning a wide range of topics. For art, museums in Barcelona pay homage to some of the biggest names in art history, like Picasso, Joan Miró, Antonio Tàpies, and also to lesser-known modern day artists; styles ranging from contemporary to Modernism; exhibitions can be of massive large-scale productions of up to a hundred pieces shipped from all over the world, or just a smaller exhibition of a dozen carefully curated pieces. In the best museums in Barcelona, there’s a whole treasure trove of knowledge and culture waiting for you to delve into… Keep reading for our suggestions of best museums in Barcelona.
National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) Located in Montjuïc Palace, MNAC covers Catalan art from the 10th to the 20th century, has exhibitions of art from the Romanesque, Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau, amongst others. Just the building itself is a sight that will inspire – no wonder it is considered one of the best museums in Barcelona.
Opened in 1963, this museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist, and also reveals his deep intimate relationship with Barcelona, one that carried on until his death.
One of the best museums in Barcelona, it’s dedicated to Catalan artist and master of Surrealism – Joan Miró. The impressive collection of his work includes paintings, drawings, and sculptures of around a thousand pieces.
Born in Barcelona, Antoni Tàpies created abstract and imaginative contemporary art with a social message. Here you can view an extensive collection of the Catalan painter’s work during his formative years.
Travel through time and see how Catalonia’s heritage has changed, from back in the Stone Ages to the modern day. As you explore the exhibition, you’ll walk through the history narrative of the city too.
With over 20,000 square meters, here you can explore one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, back to the mystical time of grand pharaohs, mummies and jewels.
Gaudí House Museum Of course, it’s impossible not to mention Gaudí, one of the greatest and most well known names in Spanish culture. Walk down any corner of the city and you will see his artistic influence spread everywhere, from lampposts, to buildings, to floor tiles, to cathedrals… Come here to where the famous architect and designer called home, and for an intimate glance into his life and works.
Have you been to any of the above museums before? Which do you personally think are the best museums in Barcelona? Let us know!
Are you willing to find Street Art in Barcelona? Barcelona is certainly famous for its contemporary arts, especially modern street art. It is prolific throughout the city whether it’s illegal graffiti or commissioned pieces by some of the city’s famous artists like El Pez, who now tours the world painting large murals in every continent.
It’s not just spray-paint art though. Today’s street art uses anything and everything to display a message or communicate a feeling. The most common forms of Barcelona’s Street Art are just as likely to be mosaics or stencils and some even use recycled materials collected from the street’s refuse.
It changes every night too! The best place to view some of the best and more historic street art pieces on your Barcelona trip are actually on shop shutters. But they are normally only visible at night after the shops shut, or on a Sunday. Below we have suggested some areas in the city where you will see major pieces of Barcelona’s Street Art work… maybe even in action!
Barcelona Street Art in El Raval
If you take a trek through this district, Barcelona’s Street Art is everywhere. A good place to start is the MACBA – the Barcelona Contemporary Museum of Modern Art – but no need to go inside, just scout around the surrounding area to see really fantastic pieces of work! There are also a lot of older pieces as you move deeper into the Raval district.
Street Art in Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies
Easy to find, just head to the where you see the 3 big chimneys breaking the skyline on Avinguda del Paral-lel . Art creation is actually encouraged here, so you are allowed to paint, so you should be able to see and talk with some of the artists as they paint. Head further down Paral-lel where it meets Plaça de les Drassanes, you will find another public park space called Jardin Walter Benjamin. Artists can paint legally here as well and there are always new and interesting murals on display.
Street Art The Gothic & Born Quarters
Start at Carrer Ataulf (with Carrer Templars) and then head into Carrer Milans. By just walking along these two streets alone, you could potentially take hours to see all the art within them. There are also some old treasures by legendary Barcelona Street Artists El Pez, Kram & Bombzone. The Born is nearby. Just cross Via Laietana and head down to Carrer de l’Argenteria. The art is not only on the street, visit some of the local galleries that exhibit and sell work by Barcelona’s street artists.
Street Art Walking Tour
There is even a world famous Barcelona Street art walking tour – the Barcelona Street Style Tour. It has reviews by virtually every newspaper culture section on the planet. We highly recommend it! Also it’s free, but if you feel the tour gave good value, you can always donate when it ends. You would expect to pay about €8-10 for any informative and enjoyable walking tour. They even have an additional bicycle tour that takes you to Poble-Nou, where some of the city’s largest murals are.
Barcelona’s Street Art brings many visitors and artists to the city every year. To make your stay more enjoyable, why not see our selection of holiday rental apartments in the areas mentioned above to be right in the middle of all the action.