A trip to the other side of town was once a reminder of a city’s diversity: from shops to accents to attitudes. A little charm, a little ugliness, all authentic.
So what happened to the true neighbourhood?
It may have been lost over the changes and the chains but Barceloneta, the Barcelona beach neighbourhood, is bringing it back.
From impromptu street football games to animated arguments between old ladies lunching out on the stoop there’s nothing more Barcelonian than this.
Let’s do this properly then: here’s my Barceloneta guide.
Where is Barceloneta?
In order to get to this area you’ll need to take metro line L4 (yellow) until the Barceloneta stop.
To walk start at the Columbus Statue at the bottom of the famous La Rambla. Take a left and head long Ronda Litoral along the Port Vell (‘old port’) until you reach Passeig de Joan Borbo. Take a right and follow it all the way.
For those interested in walking this is a great chance to take a mini tour of the city.
Why You’ll Like Barceloneta
- A true throwback neighbourhood with a local feel
- A great variety of classic seafood restaurants
- Home to a couple of Barcelona’s most legendary bars
- Proximity to Barcelona’s most popular beach
- Narrow, pedestrian-friendly streets with very little traffic
Barceloneta General Information
Barceloneta was built in the 18th century. The reason? Inhabitants of nearby Ribera had recently had their homes demolished by King Philip V to build the Ciutadella, a military fortress which later became the city’s biggest park in 1868.
The neighbourhood soon became a place for fishermen and mariners (and their many vices) and today it’s a neighbourhood that hasn’t yet lost the energy and mischievousness of its past.
You’ll recognize it by its narrow streets and colourful apartment blocks decorated with dangling clothes freshly washed and left to the afternoon air.
In short, you’re looking at arguably the most bubbly neighbourhood in Barcelona. The bars and restaurants ooze out of every block and the people inside them are as diverse as the quantity: you’ll find beach bodies of every shape and size, volleyball players, rollerbladers, and a true international vibe.
Slap on those sunglasses and get looking! The people watching here can’t be beat.
Things to Do in Barceloneta
Regardless of its history and relevance as one of Barcelona’s great neighbourhoods it’s actually quite short on monuments or attractions.
The beauty of Barceloneta is found wandering its streets.
That said, there are some mandatory stops for your Barceloneta visit.
Sant Miguel del Port
You should definitely stop in to visit the Sant Miquel del Port church: a space which has for centuries been a point of reference for sailors and fisherman about to head out to sea.
This baroque style church is found in Plaça de la Barceloneta, and on its central facade you’ll notice an angel that looks like it is skewering a snake.
The Catalan History Museum
History buffs should get off the metro at Barceloneta and look for the big brick building by the water.
The Museu d’historia de Catalunya is a great place to learn about Catalan history from pre-historic times to the various conquests of the Romans, Moors, and eventually the Spanish Crown.
This is a place with so many artifacts, videos, and interactive spaces that you could probably spend a whole afternoon on it.
If you’re easily sucked in by the sights, smells, and colours of the world’s markets then you can’t miss this stop.
The Mercat de la Barceloneta is found in Plaça Poeta Bosca, a typical gathering point for local residents where you’ll find children playing, grandmothers socialising, tourists snacking, and intense ping pong matches at the local tables – why not waste the afternoon away challenging a local?
Here you’ll find all sorts of fresh produce and high quality Spanish ingredients like serrano ham, saffron, and chorizo. The prices here are generally better than the famous alternative at La Boqueria Market so if you’re staying in the area this would be the place to stock up.
If you absolutely need to have a sit down lunch in the area there are good value Spanish lunch menus at El Guindilla Barceloneta – not to mention cheap beer for the area.
You can’t think of things to do in Barceloneta without thinking of the beaches.
If you’re looking for tranquility this isn’t your spot – check out my list of Barcelona’s best beaches for an alternative.
Barceloneta is the tourist beach. It’s very simple: everybody and their cousin goes to take a quick summer dip. If you’re looking to meet people and get in a party mood this is your beach.
The beachside promenade extending from the famous sail-shaped Hotel Vela all the way to the two towers and casino is a cluster of joggers, rollerbladers, rickshaws, promoters, and anybody looking to be seen with their new beach body.
In my opinion the area is best explored after renting a good value bike.
The Best Restaurants in Barceloneta
After a day at the beach there’s nothing better than a good fish feast – the specialty of the area.
The restaurants in Barceloneta are mostly throwbacks to another time before foodies, celebrity chefs, and picky TripAdvisor reviews.
If you need a bigger list make sure you check out my list of the best restaurants in Barcelona.
€€-€€€ | Passeig Marítim Barceloneta 1 | 1:00 pm to 11:30 pm
It’s tough to beat the view from this seaside restaurant.
Found right along the beach is this elegantly decorated restaurant specialising in fresh fish – but you also can’t go wrong getting their delicious paella.
Here a standard dinner menu starts at €19.50 with prices going up to €35.00 if you want multiple starters and a bottle of wine. All in all the quality price ratio is about as good as it gets for a restaurant on the water.
€ | Carrer de Baluart 12 | 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm (closed Sunday)
A so called ‘fish tavern’ that’s about as rustic as it gets,.
Here it’s about a super simplistic wall menu system straight out of the 70’s, hand written bills, drinks served in cans, and even some horribly translated paper place mats with the English wishes ‘good appetite!’.
It seems all the energy here goes into their classic Spanish fish dishes like fried cod, calamari, and sardines. You also have the choice of many meat tapas dishes starting for as little as €3.00. Value for money? Check.
€€-€€€ | Sant Carles 11 | Daily from 1:00 pm to 11:45 pm
If you want a little more creativity in your Spanish food head to this contemporary Mediterranean spot.
The charcoal mixed seafood platter is the go-to at this cosy, aroma-filled joint. Other highlights include the tempura eggplant with honey and duck with sweet potato and mango sauce.
Throw in some homemade vermouth and an ever-tasty catch of the day and you’ve got one of my favourite restaurants in Barcelona.
€€-€€€ | Carrer Doctor Aiugader 6-8 | Daily from 7:30 am to 3:30 am
A great place full of locals eating both grilled meat dishes and optimal seafood offerings.
Found just steps from the Barceloneta metro stop. Simple, elegant, no nonsense. You’ll know it from the delicious cuts of meat hanging in the window.
I opted for a delicious arroz caldoso con bogavante – a brothy rice with with lobster, clams, and more. My friend got a chuleton (€3.50/100 grams), a perfectly seasoned steak thick like Italy’s classic fiorentina.
Be prepared to spend about 25 euros each. Ideal for families, there’s tons of space. Also a place to watch football!
€€ | Carrer de Balboa 1 | Various hours depending on day
Here’s a hole in the wall place for locals looking for beer and honest tapas.
What separates this place here is the modern twist: expect to find a variety of dishes like their amazing ceviche (a classic Peruvian lime cured fish dish) or tuna tartare.
There are also some Spanish classics done here to a higher level, the patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy sauce) being a good example.
Aside from along the sea, the little terrace in the back may be the best place to eat in all of Barceloneta.
Bars in Barceloneta
Of all the things to do in Barceloneta going out for drinks isn’t exactly #1.
A lot of the bars target tourists looking for a quick (and expensive) cool off from the day’s beach festivities – my recommendation is to head up into the Born area if you’re looking for greater choice.
That said, there are some classics:
€€ | Sant Carles 34 | Daily from 12:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Without even one doubt this is the post-beach beer spot.
The humble Bar Leo is run by a woman barely tall enough to serve drinks on the counter. She’s pushing 80. She’s also obsessed with a Sevillian flamenco artist nicknamed ‘Bambino‘ – the memorabilia on the wall proves it.
Locals flood this place in the early afternoon and get plastic beer cups filled and stand out in the sunny streets socialising. On weekends you’ll find impromptu flamenco guitar sessions which give it some of the best vibe in the city.
Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria)
€ | Carrer de la Reina Cristina 7 | Mon-Sat 9:00 am to 10:30 pm (closed Sunday)
I’ve got an entire article dedicated to this Barcelona institution.
The skinny: a super cheap bar packed with locals and tourists. There are massive menus posted on the wall. Spanish fast food. Grilled items like chorizo and bottifara sausage stuffed in buns and served with table sauces. Ham and cheese platters.
The kicker? As long as you order a small tapas item they’ll give you a bottle of their classic sparkling rose wine for less than €4.00!
Café de los Angelitos
€€ | Carrer L’almirall Cervera 26 | Daily from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am
As far as cocktail bars near Barceloneta beach goes this is probably the top.
It may look a little dingy on the outside but have no fear – proceed! In an area of slick and pricey bars you’ll find good value here. It’s an intimate environment with fish bowl cocktails that gets a little crazier as the night gets old. Not uncommon to see people dancing on the tables.
The strawberry mojito is something everybody needs in their life.
You’re in luck if you’re looking to carry on the party after your post-beach beers.
Follow the Passeig Maritim all the way to the two towers. Right beneath them you’ll find the famous port area and its trifecta of house music beach clubs: Opium, Pacha, and Shoko.
If you’re looking for a fancy tourist night out with mostly foreigners these are your best bets.
For more of a local vibe make sure you check out my list of the best clubs in Barcelona.
Please Harass Me in the Comments
Still not satisfied with my list of things to do in Barceloneta? If you need any custom advice be sure to write me in the comments below.
And if you’ve already been let me know how it went: what advice do you have for travellers braving it for the first time?