This page will give you a day's walking literary to see the best of the heart of Barcelona city centre. I spent a day walking around Barcelona doing all of the things that I feel make up a perfect day in the city centre. I walked from the Old Town's El Born district, along the Ramblas to the Boqueria Food Market, then on to El Raval and up to Passeig de Gràcia - covering a large percentage of Barcelona's city centre.
There are two ways to use this guide to Barcelona City Centre. Either you can follow the links on this page to the exact location you are interested in or you can follow the link to El Born. At the foot of all pages in this area guide you will find a link to the next area.
I have covered some of the essential sights, smells and sounds for a first time tourist to the city, as well as some more local gems that can be found off Barcelona's beaten track.
Click the links below each heading to read about my experience of each area in the city centre.
Barcelona is one of the top city break destinations in Europe. This is probably largely due to its mix of sunshine, sights and culture, with the added bonus of beaches on your doorstep. With a weekend break to the city you only have limited time to enjoy its highlights. Of course, you are likely to already know about sights such as the Ramblas and the Sagrada Familia. However, I feel that a truly "Barcelona" experience would not be the same without a morning coffee in a sunny plaza or a long lunch in a local restaurant. These moments are just as important as visits to the major sights - especially if you are coming back on your second or third visit.
|Passeig del Born|
Tourists to Barcelona are always keen to visit what is known as the 'Old Town' ('Ciutat Vella'). What you may not know is that this part of town is made up of areas ('barrios') other than the Gothic Quarter. My favourite barrio in the Old Town is El Born. This is the area closest to the port and is slightly less touristy and perhaps more affluent than the Gothic Quarter.
It is a ten-minute stroll from El Born to the Ramblas. If you go up Calle Argenteria you can cross Via Laietana and head up Calle Jaume I and take in Plaça St Jaume on your way to the Ramblas. This is the home of Barcelona's town hall. I love walking through this grand and busy square. During my tour it looked particularly beautiful in the early afternoon sunshine.
|A classic Ramblas street performer|
Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona's most famous tourist attractions. Some people love it, some people don't. But one thing is for sure - no trip to the city centre would be the same without it. This large street runs from the port to Plaça de Catalunya - right through the heart of the city centre.
|A Ramblas flower stall|
As you stroll up the pedestrianized centre of the street take some time to enjoy the many and varied street performers. Human statues are omnipresent, however there are also people displaying capoeira, break dancing or playing music. There are also stalls lining the street. From the port upwards artists and caricaturists lead to flower shops and then on to small pet shops - be warned that animal lovers may not be too impressed with the conditions at these stalls.
No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a trip around one of Europe's most famous food markets. This is a place to whet your appetite before lunch, with an awe-inspiring selection of stalls selling all foods, including the weird and wonderful.
For more information on what is available at the Boqueria Food Market please see my detailed tour of the Boqueria, with some advice on some of the less well-known places to visit
Rumour has it that the concept of the Menu del Dia is, in fact, the law in Spain. This comes from the notion that every man (or hungry woman) deserves at least one affordable meal each day. For this reason, at Spanish lunchtimes (normally around 13:00 - 15:00) nearly all restaurants offer a set meal. This typically consists of three courses, bread and a drink - all at a reasonable price.
Metro: Liceu (Green Line, L3) and Universitat (Red Line, L1)
After a three-course lunch you are likely to want to take a walk. Behind the Boqueria you will find the area of El Raval. This area forms one of the parts of the Old Town. It could be said to be the naughty younger brother of the El Born area - it is louder, dirtier and rougher around the edges, but a lot of fun.
For more information on the area of El Raval please see A Guide to the El Raval Neighbourhood in Barcelona - A Local Expert recommends some places that are off the beaten track.
|Plaça de Catalunya|
A walk down Calle Tallers will deliver you back to the top of the Ramblas - where the street meets Plaça de Catalunya. This is one of Barcelona's largest squares and is the gateway to uptown Barcelona. Conveniently, it is the home of Barcelona's main Tourist Information centre - definitely worth a visit with any questions that you might have. I have always found them to be helpful and efficient.
Placa de Catalunya, 17
08002 Barcelona, España.
|January - December||Monday - Sunday||08:30 - 21:00|
Closed: 25 December
How to get to Tourist Information Office in Plaça de Catalunya
Metro: Catalunya (Green Line, L3) and (Red Line, L1)
Hop on hop off sightseeing tourist bus stop
Nearest stop for Tourist Information Office in Plaça de Catalunya is "Plaça de Catalunya" with the Barcelona City Tour "hop on hop off" sightseeing bus
Plaça Catalunya: 24, 41, 42, 55, 67, 68, H16, Aerobús
|Loewe on Passeig de Gràcia|
Passeig de Gràcia is a wide and glamorous street leading off from Plaça de Catalunya. It is a beautiful place to take an afternoon stroll down its tree-lined pavements, past the designer shops and cafés. During my visit the sun began to set, casting a soft early evening light over the old and ornate buildings.
Tapaç 24 - A Tapas Bar on Passeig de Gràcia in the City Centre.
Having enjoyed a three-course Menu del Dia at lunchtime, I often find that evening time provides an opportunity to enjoy some tapas. As these are smaller dishes that are shared they can be as light or as filling as you wish.
On Passeig de Gràcia my favourite tapas bar is Tapaç 24. This laid back restaurant is the creation of Carles Abellan - a famous Spanish chef. It is a way to sample typically Catalan Spanish tapas prepared to a high standard.Tapaç 24
Carrer Diputacio, 269
08007 Barcelona, España.
Tel: +34 93 488 0977
Monday - Sunday: 09:00 - 00:00 Midnight
Once the day is over and it's time to rest your weary head and your full belly, take a stroll through Barcelona's streets and enjoy how they twinkle in the night-time. That's if you're not planning to hit the bars and clubs, of course! Barcelona city centre has something to offer everyone.