Being one of the last autonomous municipalities swallowed up by Barcelona, Gracia has maintained its identity as a quaint Catalan village while embracing big city changes.
And it’s right in the heart of the city.
Gracia (‘grace’ in English) was established in 1626 as a Caramalite convent called Nostra Senyora de Gràcia. It wasn’t until 1897 that it was annexed by Barcelona. It’s still that little village at heart though today there are over 120,000 residents in the area.
Why You’ll Like Gracia
- Quiet, wanderable, pedestrian-only streets
- A huge variety of quality bars and restaurants
- Picturesque squares right out of a movie
- A great mix of Catalan and international flavour
- Easily accessible, central
Where is Gracia?
Gracia is located just north of the famous Passeig de Gracia and is 15 minutes walking from the Sagrada Familia. Metro stops Fontana (best suggestion), Lesseps, Joanic, and Diagonal will all get you there.
Things to See in Gracia
At the north end of Gracia is Gaudi’s world-renowned Parc Guell. Another of his works (also a UNESCO Heritage Site) is the Casa Vicens, a massive 1,160 m² red brick and ceramic tile house.
The most famous attraction though is the Festa Mayor de Gracia – a massive week-long party where different stretches of the barrio compete to see who has the best-decorated street. Each street picks a theme and you’ll see anything from ice planets to the Roman Empire to Jurassic Park. Gracia transforms itself into a fantasy world! Throw in 47 different stages for live bands, homemade sangria, and 1.6 million annual visitors and you’ve got the best neighborhood festival in Spain.
The festival begins on August 15th. Check the official Festa Mayor de Gracia website for more information.
It’s not uncommon to wander around Gracia’s pedestrian only streets and suddenly come upon one of its 15 colourful squares. This is where locals come to socialize on the sunny terraces of popular bars over cañas, coffee, and vermouth.
Placa del Sol – The biggest square and a popular meeting place for young people. Crammed bar terraces compete with young, guitar-strapped hippy/punk/folk musicians doing botellon (drinking spirits from the supermarket) in the middle of the square.
Plaça Rius i Taulet – A charming clock-tower rises above this peaceful square where locals and tourists alike go for tapas (Bo Restaurant) and ice cream.
Plaça del Diamant – ‘Diamond Square’ gave its name to the famous book by exiled Catalan writer Mercè Rodoreda, chronicling a young woman’s struggles during the Spanish Civil War. Today it’s a bustling square full of bars, fruit shops, and even a children’s playground.
Restaurants in Gracia
With such a high concentration of quality restaurants it’d be hard to go wrong taking a stroll up (or down?) Calle Verdi. Here you’ll see Gracia’s unique ethnic offering, featuring cuisine from the Middle East and Asia.
In all though the entire barrio is known for its quality. Here are some of the best restaurants in Gracia:
KARAKALA. Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla, 136. Price: 20-30 euros. An informal, popular Lebanese restaurant. Try the grilled feta with apple or the minced lamb in cherry juice.
RESTAURANT NAMASKAR NEPAL. Carrer d’ Hipòlit Lázaro, 34. Price: less than 20 euros. A homey Nepail restaurant with great value for money. Get the Jhaneko Dal (lentils fried with nepali herbs) and the tandoori chicken.
CAL BOTER. Carrer Tordera, 62. Price: less than 20 euros. Very good authentic Catalan cuisine. Never miss the traditional buttifara sausages.
WASABI. Torrent de L’Olla, 8. Price: 15-20 euros. A reasonably priced authentic Japanese sushi bar (don’t go to the one next door!). When I walk by here at lunch time it’s always packed with a huge queue of people.
Bars in Gracia
With so much quality around, half the fun of Gracia is wandering about knowing you’ll find something good sooner or later. That would be my number one suggestion! But for you lazy people out there here some of the best bars in Gracia:
SONOTEK – Carrer de Rabassa 39. Drinks, tapas, and music to make you fly. There are storm-troopers in the toilet. Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth fight for airplay. Go here if you love rock music and gin and tonics. Basically, anything old and cool. Good lord, I’ve become a hipster.
BAR EL OTRO –Travesera de Gracia 167. A dive bar with good food, billiards, and friendly service. You can’t beat the drink and food prices here and the cozy atmosphere fits Gracia perfectly. The Italian owner takes his coffee very seriously, try one and find out!
L’ENTRESOL – Carrer Planeta 39. 35 premium gin brands with indie, funk, and groove music. Probably the best decorated bar in Gracia as well. It also hosts DJ sets from time to time.
If you find any great places in Gracia don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below. I’m always looking to make the site richer.