Barcelona’s El Born neighborhood is one of the most popular, historic, and lively places in the city. The maze of cobblestone streets is filled with independent designers, boutique shops, workshops, and artisans. There are so many things to do in Barcelona, Spain I thought it might be easier to break it down into different neighborhoods. This way you can decide what to see in Barcelona and have a better way to plan your days.
Unknown to most Barcelona visitors, the area of La Ribera includes the lower neighborhood of El Born. This born area was originally outside the old Barcelona city wall until the 15th century. Several buildings here are from Medieval times when the area was home to dockworkers and fishermen. It was the seashore area and the neighborhood of Barceloneta was an island at the time. It is now part of the city center located next to the Gothic Quarter and Ciutat Vella. The Parc de la Ciutadella is next to the born area Barcelona and Las Ramblas is within a short walk.
The Perfect Starting Point
Although it is not exactly in El Born neighborhood, I think the perfect starting point is at Arc de Triomf, the stunning gateway built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. It is one of the city’s iconic landmarks atop Passeig Lluís Companys, which leads to Parc de la Ciutadella. After walking down to Parc de la Ciutadella, make sure you take a stroll through it. You could spend hours here as it is home to several green spaces, pathways, a lake, the zoo, a couple of museums, and my favorite fountain in all of Barcelona, Cascada Monumental.
Discover the El Born Area Barcelona
Walk to the El Born Centre de Cultura I Memoria, (El Born Cultural Center). It is a large building fronting a massive square. Ruins from the 1700s were discovered during restoration and it now serves as a cultural and events space. The ancient city is on display inside. You can view and read about it from above or go on a private tour of the ruins. Once you are finished at the Cultural Museum, then take a stroll down Passeig del Born.
Passeig del Born – Here you will find many bars and restaurants, so stop and have something or eat or drink. Alternately you can come back later and enjoy the lively nightlife in the area. Just past the end of Passeig del Born, you will arrive at the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar. It is a gothic-style Basilica built from 1329 to 1383 atop an ancient Roman amphitheater. The Basilica is open to the public for viewings inside.
From the Basilica, stroll down Carrer de Montcada to your choice of three museums:
Museu de Cultures del Món – It is the Ethnological and Cultures Museum of the World upon merging the Ethnological Museum and Museum of World Cultures. With two locations their mission is “to preserve and spread the cultural heritage, but now we do not exhibit a collection simply, but we reflect on changes and conflicts of society to become a Social Museum”.
Museu Picasso de Barcelona – The Picasso Museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. With 4,251 works exhibited by the painter, the museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of his works.
Museu Europeu d’Art Modern – The Museum is located in an 18th-century palace. It showcases 20th to 21st-century figurative sculptures and paintings. In addition to ongoing exhibitions, the museum also holds several musical events, courses, and workshops.
Continuing your stroll up Carrer de Montcada you pass Placeta d’En Marcús and Chapel la Cappella d’En Marcús. It is an ancient Romanesque chapel and cemetery built outside the old city walls around 1166. Carrying on you will reach Mercat de Sant Caterina. The market is lively with Spanish delicacies including jamón Iberico (Iberian ham), arbequina olives, and more. During your stroll through the market, be sure to go to the back of the building to view some ancient ruins discovered during renovations.
It’s probably time for something sweet now. So, make your way to the Museu de la Xocolata. Located in the former Sant Agustí monastery, the Chocolate Museum provides a journey through the origins of chocolate and its arrival in Europe. Learn about its nutritional value, medicinal properties, and relating tradition.
After a stroll through the Center Cívic Convent de Sant Agustí. Walkthrough Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell and Plaça de Marquilles before entering the upper neighborhood of La Ribera.
Upper La Ribera
The upper neighborhood of La Ribera is not as busy as the lower neighborhood of El Born. However, there are still some great things to see. The maze-like cobblestone streets throughout all of the city center in Barcelona are intricately intertwined between the ancient architectural buildings. Continue walking to Parròquia de Sant Pere de les Puel·les, The Benedictine monastery is a Romanesque/Gothic style 10th – century building. It was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural landmark in 1931.
Then walk down Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt towards the Antic Theater and the Palau de la Musica Catalana. The latter is a stunning concert hall and opera house. Designed architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner in a Catalan modernista style. It was built between 1905 and 1908.
Since there is so much to see in Barcelona, I recommend choosing some of your favorite things or dividing them up over two days. You also need to visit Plaça de Catalunya – a great place for relaxing and people-watching – it’s only a few blocks away from The Palau. From there, a trip to Barcelona is never complete without walking down Las Ramblas. If you’re a foodie, then you should go on one of several Barcelona food tours. They will take you to several Barcelona restaurants where you can try some delicious local tapas.
Best Places To Stay In Barcelona, Spain
I have stayed at a few hotels in Barcelona. I highly recommend the following:
My favorite, the Ohla Eixample – A Five-Star Boutique Hotel In The Heart Of Barcelona.
Also, in the city center is The5rooms Boutique Hotel. It is a couple of minutes’ walk to Las Ramblas.
If you don’t want to stay in the city center because you want something a little quieter, then The Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I would be a great option.