ESL's Barcelona tips - Don't miss out on what the city has to offer!
Bar Hopping in El Raval
El Raval used to be Barcelona’s dodgy district, where pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers created an edgy atmosphere, not advisable for foreign visitors. Revue bars, nightclubs and smoky cafes lined the streets. Naturally, it was a magnet for artists and writers!
Nowadays, the district that was home to the Rumba Catalana and Barcelona’s immigrant communities has become much cleaner and less dangerous. If you turn the wrong corner at night, you might still find some shady happenings, but stay clear of the back alleys and the bars and clubs of El Raval are some of the most authentic and exciting in Barcelona. Keep your eyes open for the excellent graffiti on shop shutters.
Practise your Spanish at La Boqueria market
On the Rambla edge of El Raval, La Boqueria market (boqueria.info) is the place to go for fresh produce. It’s a traditional, photogenic place where you can find all of the ingredients of Catalan cuisine and a real sense of community.
Get a T10 ticket for public transport
The metro in Barcelona is open until midnight from Sunday to Thursday, until 2am on Friday and through the night on Saturday.
A single ticket on the Barcelona Metro costs €2, but you can get much better value buying a T10 ticket for around €10. The card is valued for 10 journeys, each “journey” being 75 minutes from the moment of validation. You can change trains and the ticket is also valid for the bus. There are different zones, and tickets for a larger area are more expensive, but most of the popular attractions are within zone 1.
Hire a bike
Barcelona has an excellent bike sharing scheme… but tourists aren’t allowed to use it. Local bike hire companies lobbied the local council to ensure that only people with a local address can apply for access to the system. With this in mind, you could consider Green Bikes (greenbikesbarcelona.com), who offer a comparatively cheap and popular bike hire/tour service. It’s a healthy and fun way to see the city.
Paella/Seafood in Barceloneta
The grid of fishing streets near the regenerated harbour is home to some excellent seafood restaurants. Although the dish really comes from nearby Valencia, you can find top class paella in Barceloneta; avoid the restaurants with photos of their food (this is a good rule anywhere in Europe) and prepare for a wait because a good paella takes time to cook. In the evening, it is often cooked for a minimum of two people.
If you need a tip for a good restaurant, the staff at your school are there to help.
To watch, read, listen
Watch L'Auberge Espagnole (2002) Director: Cédric Klapisch, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Director: Woody Allen Todo Sobre Mi Madre (1999) Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cines Verdi (Calle Verdi, 32) is a 5 screen cinema in uptown Barcelona that shows a mixture of new releases and art-house movies, as does the Renoir Floridablanca (Floridablanca, 135). Naturally in a creative city like Barcelona, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to art-house cinemas: Ciné Melies (Calle de Vilarroel, 102), Cinemes Girona (Calle Girona, 175) and Filmoteca de Catalunya Cine (Avinguda de Sarria, 33) are all good choices. For blockbusters, the Icária Yelmo Cineplex (Calle Salvador Espriu, 61) offers 15 screens of excitement with the added bonus of subtitles as opposed to dubbing.
Read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Marks of Identity by Juan Goytisolo
Listen Techarí by Ojos de Brujo Una lágrima by Peret Mariatchi Boogie by Various Artists
Barcelona Music Venues Razzmatazz (salarazzmatazz.com, Almogàvers, 122) is one of the most popular venues in town, with all sorts of live bands, DJs and much more. Entry usually covers all five distinct rooms of this enormous venue. Elsewhere, Bikini (Av Diagonal 547, bikinibcn.com) is a classic club that is still going strong after decades. Luz de Gas (luzdegas.com, Muntaner, 246) and Sala Apolo (sala-apolo.com, Nou de la Rambla, 113) offer an appealing mix of music in traditional, music-hall surroundings. La Paloma (Tigre, 27) is one of Barcelona’s great venues, but its future is currently in the balance after noise complaints closed its doors. For jazz, Jamboree (Plaza Real, 17) and Harlem Jazz Club (harlemjazzclub.es, Comtessa de Sobradiel, 8) are consistently popular. When bigger bands come to town, you can catch them at Sant Jordi Club (Passeig Olimpic 5-7) or Parc del Fòrum (Rambla Prim, 1) among others.