You’ll see it before you even land.
That grid. The long stretch of buildings filled in neatly by isolated squares and cut up by grand avenues. The eccentric symmetry is as uniquely Catalonian as the Sagrada Familia.
This one of the world’s most unique neighbourhoods for its construction, tourist attractions, ravishing restaurants, and scintillating shopping.
Welcome to the Eixample district of Barcelona.
This just might be my biggest article yet! Skip ahead if you have something concrete in mind.
WHERE IS THE EIXAMPLE DISTRICT?
The most visited areas of the super-central Eixample district are just above Plaça Catalunya.
From Plaça Catalunya you’ll be able to head up Passeig de Gracia or head towards Plaça Universitat and the area of Sant Antoni.
At Passeig de Gracia take the purple line (L2) to the famous Sagrada Familia and then to the l’Hospital Sant Pau or the old bullfighting arena at Monumental on perimeter of the area.
EIXAMPLE GENERAL INFORMATION
The Eixample area is the largest, most central, and most populated neighbourhood in Barcelona.
The literal translation in English is ‘the Enlargement’.
Eixample is divided into six different sub-neighbourhoods: Dreta de l’Eixample, Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample, Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample, Fort Pienc, Sagrada Familia and Sant Antoni.
The History of Eixample
The fascinating story of the neighbourhood begins with visionary architect Ildefons Cerdá.
Barcelona was growing fast. Cerdá wanted a welcoming and egalitarian space where everybody had the same amount of space to live. And light was to be the protagonist.
At the time the Catalan bourgeoisie wasn’t too happy. The revolutionary proposal was eventually passed however and work began in the late nineteenth century.
The result was a network of spacious and neatly ordered streets flanked by 6-7 story buildings.
Present Day Eixample
Today the Eixample area is a natural habitat of international boutiques, bars, hotels, roof terraces, fantastic restaurants, and museums.
You’ll find all of Gaudi’s top works, the high fashion of Passeig de Gracia, the hipster bars of San Antoni, exhibitions at great museums, and trendy cocktail stops of Gayxample and the university district.
Put on some comfy shoes, get your trendy side out, and get ready to make some memories.
THINGS TO DO IN EIXAMPLE BARCELONA
Passeig de Gracia
This is the city’s second most famous street after the legendary Rambla.
Barcelona’s most expensive street is a 42 meter wide thoroughfare that was built to connect the old town of El Gotico to the village of Gracia. The ornate benches, street lamps, and Art Nouveau architecture make this fashionable street truly unique.
Many argue it’s Spain’s most important commercial avenue and those who would beg to differ I ask you this: on what other street in the world can you combine world-class shopping with the admiration of architectural gems like the Casa Batllo and La Pedrera?
This marine-inspired Art Nouveau mansion would be anybody’s dream house.
It rises 32 meters above the street and stands out for its jaw-shaped balconies, glazed coloured tiles, and dragon’s-back roof. Every detail down to the doorknobs was designed by genius architect Antoni Gaudi.
It’s one of Barcelona’s most visited attractions at over 700,000 yearly visits.
La Pedrera (Casa Milá)
Just up the street from Casa Batllo you’ll find another jewel in Gaudi’s crown.
This undulating and jello-like modernist apartment block made of limestone is said to have no straight lines. It’s actually two buildings put together in an asymmetrical 8 surrounding a light-giving courtyard.
What attracts tourists most are the twisting, haunting chimneys nicknamed ‘the Garden of Warriors’.
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is the most iconic building in Barcelona and the most visited monument in all of Spain.
The 18 towering Gothic spires cut like a knife, the mysterious Nativity Facade stops pedestrians in their tracks, and the brightly lit aisles of the inner naves are unlike any church ever made.
Going to Barcelona without getting yourself a Sagrada Familia tour is sacrilegious.
Other Things to do in Eixample
Maybe it’s your second time through Barcelona and you want to go off the beaten path.
Here are three great Eixample area alternatives:
The Hospital de Sant Pau is a hospital (still open) designed by world-famous architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. After checking out the impressive Gothic facade you’ll swear you’ve never seen another hospital like it.
The Palau Robert (Passeig de Gracia 107) was once the neoclassical home of an influential aristocrat. Today it counts three exhibition halls, a wonderful garden area, and the city’s tourism bureau. Here you’ll find a variety of photography, art, and illustration exhibitions.
The Antoni Tapies Foundation is a museum for the artist of the same name, sharing the greatest collection of works of the most well-known contemporary Catalan artist.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN EIXAMPLE BARCELONA
If the Eixample district’s architecture is eccentric and grandiose then the food isn’t far behind.
The first rule when looking for the best restaurants in the Eixample area is to get away from the tourist attractions – especially Sagrada Familia.
To fill your stomach without emptying your wallet I recommend the following:
€€-€€€ | Rambla de Catalunya 18 | Metro: Passeig de Gracia (various) | 8:00 am to 1:30 am
A Barcelona tapas institution and one of my favourite places to eat in Eixample.
The huge crowds at this restaurant mean you’ll often have to wait for a table but let me tell you: it’s worth it!
Here you’ll find all the classic Spanish dishes: paella, garlic prawns, grilled octopus, calamari, croquettes, beef medallions, and of course some top quality Serrano ham.
They don’t take reservations so put your name on the list, grab a beer at the bar, and soak it in.
€€-€€€ | Carrer de Girona 70 | Metro: Girona (yellow line L4) | 9:00 am to 1:00 am
A cosy bistro with a terrace for people watching.
What you’ll like about Betlem is that you’ll be satisfied whether you’re looking for a continental breakfast, a traditional tapas lunch, or a refined dinner of modern Mediterranean food.
Favourites here are the crab ravioli, the omelette with Catalan sausage and fois gras, and the beef tenderloin.
€€-€€€ | Calle Parlament 39 | Metro: Poble Sec (various lines) | Hours vary
A chic cafe with a distinct international vibe.
People come here for the savory breakfast and brunch offerings. Things like the avocado on toast, goat cheese and leek omelette, and eggs benedict are big hits. You also cant go wrong with the morning bacon burger or and excellent veggie burger for you vegetarians.
Throw in some great milkshakes, smoothies, and coffee and you’re all set.
€€€€ | Ptge Concepcio 13 | Metro: Diagonal (various lines) | Hours vary
Catalan classics with a modern twist by a Michelin-starred chef.
If you want a fine-dining experience without taking out a second mortgage then head to Nandu Jubany’s Petit Comite – the creative dishes here take local cuisine to a whole new level. The suckling pig, creamy rice with red shrimp, and seafood paella are the stars here.
You also can’t go wrong with any of the updated tapas offerings, especially the pan con tomate.
Head to nearby cocktail bar Boca Chica for a fantastic warm up or night cap.
BEST BARS IN EIXAMPLE BARCELONA
While the Eixample district of Barcelona isn’t as bumpin’ as the Gothic Quarter you can still find decent watering holes.
In general some of Barcelona’s best nightlife can be found in and around the university area of Carrer Enric Granados: an area rammed with bars and restaurants.
€€€ | Carrer d’Aribau 162 | Metro: Universitat (various lines) | Hours vary
A class cocktail bar that’ll take you back to the 1920’s.
This Barcelona icon claims to have served nearly two million martinis. The tuxedo wearing staff are very attentive. Loungey sofa seating. Just a really good place to relax and enjoy either classic or modern and inventive cocktails. They also have a great wine list.
Expect to pay about €13 a cocktail.
Bar La Principal
€ | Carrer de Sepúlveda 186 | Metro: Universitat (various lines) | Hours vary
A local bar that’s central and won’t break the bank.
Whether you’re getting a 7 am coffee to get your energy up for a walk through Park Guell or grabbing a late night cocktail, draft beer, or vermouth this is your place. Full of Spanish spirit. One of the few authentic bars left in the neighbourhood.
Make sure to hit the terrace! The tapas options here are also great value.
€€ | Rambla de Catalunya 2-4 | Metro: Catalunya (various lines) | 12 am – 6 am (Wed-Sun)
A modern dance club built in an old theater.
Get dancing just a stone’s throw from Plaça Catalunya. Weekends here are rammed with young people getting down to house, techno, electro, deep and more. A good mix of touring DJs and local spinners.
You’ll get free entrance to City Hall and 22 other clubs with the Barcelona NightCard.
Luz de Gas
€€€ | Carrer de Sepúlveda 186 | Metro: Universitat (various lines) | Hours vary
A burlesque-style venue for older people feeling young.
Yes, you won’t get many under 30’s in this club that offers a mix of 70’s and 80’s disco and dance tunes. Upstairs you’ll find a smaller dance floor with Latin vibes. A classy crowd and good cocktails.
It’s got an intimate atmosphere you won’t find in other Barcelona giants like Razzmatazz.
BEST HOTELS IN EIXAMPLE BARCELONA
Since it’s outside the tourist chaos yet still central the Eixample area is one of the best places to stay in Barcelona.
From here you’ll find a lot of monuments, restaurants, and bars to be walking distance.
☆☆☆☆ | Carrer de Bergara 8 | Metro: Catalunya (various lines) | More info
Class right in the heart of the action.
It doesn’t get any more central than this stylish four star hotel. A great ambiance with top notch customer service. Super fast Wi-Fi. The rooftop bar is a great place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. A great breakfast buffet is included.
You’re also about a thirty second walk from the Aerobus stop getting in from the airport.
☆☆☆☆ | Calle Calabria 115-117 | Metro: Rocafort (red line L1) | More info
A personal and stylish boutique hotel.
If you want taste and quality without the cold and impersonal feeling of giant corporate hotels this is your bed. Hospitality is the name of the game here. Another very central location and close to an Aerobus stop from the airport. Modern furnishings.
Try out your free drink and appetizer on the roof terrace bar and surely you’ll be back!
☆☆☆☆ | Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes 700 | Metro: Girona (yellow line L4) | More info
A hip and cool design hotel.
This very popular hotel is about 10 minutes from everything. Clean, airy, and trendy modern furnished rooms. Original tiled floors. Small little touches that stick out like hand-painted door numbers. Complimentary water bottles, yoga kits, environmentally-friendly toiletries.
Another massive plus: it’s a very quiet location for being so central.
Hostel San Jordi Rock Palace
☆ | Carrer Balmes 75 | Metro: Passeig de Gracia (various lines) | More info
The coolest hostel you’ll ever get to stay at.
No, I’m not just referring to the rooftop swimming pool. This super modern rock and roll themed hostel has blown customers away with its ridiculous attention to detail.
\Here you’ll find tons of patios to soak up the sun, soundproof walls to get sleep, and comfy personal bunks with your own reading light and charge station.
The ‘family dinners’ and club nights make it a great place to meet fellow travellers.
Probably the best place to stay in Eixample on a budget.
You’ll find this and many more on my list of Barcelona’s best hostels.
Shopping in Eixample Barcelona
From the biggest and most exclusive names in international fashion to more common chains to local boutiques there’s something in the Eixample district of Barcelona for all tastes.
In fact you’ll find the best shopping in Barcelona right on Passeig de Gracia.
Top End Stuff
In addition to the pricey Valentino, Prada, and Dolce and Gabbana you’ll find other equally stylish chains like Other & Stories: the latest in Swedish styles and a big favourite of a lot of my blog readers.
Trusty Chains and Department Stores
There are of course the very standard chains like Zara, Mango, H&M, Pull and Bear, and Benetton. These flagship stores are massive so don’t get lost in them 😉
Right in Plaça Catalunya you’ll also find the legendary Spanish department store giant El Corte Inglés – if you can’t get it there it probably doesn’t exist!
Shopping Streets in Eixample
For boutique shops that are unique to Barcelona simply take a walk in the area around Enric Granados street or around Sant Antoni metro station (Sunday here also brings the legendary book, comic, figurine, and all around nerd market to the area).
You can also try walking up the charming Rambla de Catalunya for a great selection of clothing stores, accessory shops, and cafes.
Follow My ‘Eixample’ and Speak Your Mind
If after all this you still don’t have enough things to do in the Eixample district of Barcelona make sure you get at me in the comments below! I’ll get back to you with any custom advice needed.
And as always, if something on the list didn’t live up to expectation then let me know… I am always looking to improve the blog 🙂