When I booked to stay in the fabulous city of Barcelona earlier this year, there was no doubt in mind where I wanted to stay.
I immediately got myself on Airbnb and started hunting for a place I would call home in Barcelona’s historical, stunning and truly authentic Gothic Quarter. From shopping, to eating, partying and hanging out with locals, the Gothic Quarter has it all and I couldn’t wait to get there and start exploring. Despite its name, the gothic buildings that make this neighbourhood so atmospheric were not built during a medieval era, but more during the late 19th and 20th centuries when the whole neighbourhood underwent a huge restoration project.
Today the neighbourhood oozes a gorgeous combination of medieval charm and hip, happening vibes. From the moment I arrived in Barcelona’s most sought after neighbourhood, I knew I’d made the right decision and that me and the Gothic Quarter were about to embark on a beautiful journey together. With that in mind, and a whole month spent immersing myself in this buzzing neighbourhood, here’s a guide to some of my favourite Gothic Quarter past times.
Explore Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter history and soak up the medieval charm
With the Gothic Quarter being the proud historical centre of Barcelona, it goes without saying that this part of the city is absolutely stunning and bursting at the seams with historical architecture around every corner. Pretty much every day I spent in Barcelona would start with a coffee. I would sit on a patio somewhere and watch the world go by. Staring up at stunning buildings and across historical squares. This city, and in particular this neighbourhood is full of medieval charm and it absolutely screams to be explored. I have to admit, I’m not one to plan any extent of sightseeing when I visit a new city. I usually just stumble across things and if I’m interested then I’ll investigate further.
Barcelona was no different, but what I did know, was that I absolutely could not miss the famous Barcelona cathedral if I was going to be staying in the Gothic Quarter for any length of time. Needless to say, it’s impossible to miss this stunning piece of architecture. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, not only is the cathedral visually breath taking, but it also has an intriguing and colourful history involving battles and torture. Even if you don’t purposefully set out to see it, you’ll stumble across on your wanders.
Roaming the intricate streets of the Gothic Quarter is all you need in order to immerse yourself fully into the neighbourhood’s medieval charm. Be sure to look up at the Catalan style balconies and spot intricately carved gargoyles watching over you. I fell head over heels in love with the neighbourhood’s mystical vibes and gothic atmosphere. Stumbling across quiet squares like the Placa del Pi became a daily occurrence and offered a perfect pit stop and people watching opportunity. I even heard from a local that there are Roman ruins that lay underground throughout the neighbourhood. Fascinating!
Eat where the locals eat
If there’s one thing Barcelona’s locals never get wrong, it’s food, and the Gothic Quarter is by far my favourite place in the whole city to sit down, soak up the atmosphere and get seriously stuck into some irresistible delicacies. As pretty much every single traveller who visits Barcelona, paella was pretty high on my list. Believe me, I tried my fare share of the hearty, rich, rice and seafood dish during my month in Barcelona, but my favourite turned out to be a super cute family run restaurant.
Restaurant La Cassola is ran by 4 sisters who cook up the most amazing handmade and homecooked paella dishes on Monday lunchtimes through to Friday. Restaurant La Cassola is closed at weekends, but even today remains a popular lunch spot with Barcelona’s locals. Located on a small and pretty street, away from the touristy Las Ramblas, you can’t make a reservation here so make sure you arrive for lunch in plenty of time to give yourself the highest chance of bagging a spot at this delicious lunch hang out.
One of Barcelona’s oldest tapas bars happens to be right in the middle of the Gothic Quarter. I stumbled upon it by accident one day and ended up spending many afternoons relaxing in this place, eating yummy food and watching the world go by. Rumour has it that Bar La Plata opened in 1945 serving only 4 dishes. Those 4 dishes are still served to hungry customers today, but many more delicious tapas styles dishes have been added. From olives and fish, through to Catalan sausage, tiny salads and patatas bravas, there is quite literally something for everyone. And, the bonus is this place is cheap enough to enjoy tapas every single day if you want to!
Party Barcelona style
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter seriously comes to life at night. Its beautiful winding streets seem to burst with an eclectic mix of locals and tourists, dance music and live music, cocktails and never-ending beers. With so many bars to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.
Whilst strolling around during a balmy evening in the Gothic Quarter, it wasn’t long before I realised that Carrer Del Escudellers was a good place to start. If its swanky, laid back cocktails you’re after, head to the hip and happening El Paraigua. As well as live music and delicious drinks this local favourite also boasts a large, beautiful patio which is spot on for summer evening drinks.
If you’re after something more traditionally Barcelona then don’t miss out on the late-night Macarena Club. Probably the oldest and cosiest nightclub in the Gothic Quarter, this place oozes fun and has long been a favourite hangout for Barcelona’s local population. With it’s crazy mix of music, fun atmosphere and central location, the Macarena Club became one of my favourite places to dance the night away, and not even just on a weekend!
Shop until you drop
Aside from the infamous Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter has loads of independently run, quirky shops and boutiques making shopping in the Gothic Quarter one of my new guilty pleasures. I spent uncountable amounts of hours wandering the winding streets and getting lost amongst craft shops, jewellers, independent fashion designers and vintage shops. You name it, this place has it.
Cute boutique shops aside, one of my favourite discoveries was the flea and antique market. Held on a Thursday during the summertime at the Plaza Nova, this flea market is quite literally the best I’ve ever explored (and I’ve been to many!). With every thing from clothes to furniture, cutlery, bags and books, the Plaza Nova flea market is worth a browse if you’re into that kind of thing.
Whether you’re visiting Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter for a weekend, week or months at a time this neighbourhood is by far my favourite in Barcelona and offers the perfect balance of local, authentic feels and touristy luxuries. A complete all rounder in my eyes and it’s fair to say after one month calling this neighbourhood home, I was well and truly in love.
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