The 16 most essential things to do in El Born, Barcelona

Posted on February 24, 2018 | By Andre Arriaza

El Born in Barcelona is more than an artistic and eclectic neighborhood, it has ties to a noble past. In medieval days, it became home to the aristocracy, and the center of trade due to its proximity to the sea which gave a name to most streets. Partially destroyed during the secession war in the XVIII century, it came back to the center of Barcelona´s life with a share of innocuous antagonism for ¨the establishment¨. El Born is a unique and historical destination worthy uncovering in Barcelona, and before you sequester yourself on other stuff, make sure you do these essential things to do at El Born.

The essential El Born things to do to uncover Barcelona like a local

El Born


1. Salute the ¨modernisme arts movement¨ at the Palau de la Musica Catalana

Stunning piece of art that represents the Catalan unassailably cool 20th-century artistic movement at the midst of the Industrial Revolution golden days. The whole colorful and curve pieces of the temple is a referent for Catalan cultural life that will cause you the Stendhal syndrome.

Catalan Music Palace

photo: Channy Yun

2. Travel in time at Plaça de Sant Pere

The Sant Pere Romanesque church, constructed around the 945 AD still conserve some its original relics, is the silent witness of Catalan history, and crossing its door is a travel in time. Enjoy a drink at this charming square that used to be the stage for conspiracy, intrigue, and secrets.

3. Go Wine-Hopping Stroll through the best Bodegas and Wine Bars of Barcelona

Seriously! El Born host an amazing wine scene, from old-school Bodegas to trendy wine shops and spaces where one can drink natural wines, the new trend in town. We invite you to join our Barcelona wine tasting experience tour where you´ll taste and learn about Spanish wines, local traditions and of course how to pair wine with foods while tasting delicious tapas from Barcelona.

wine tasting in Barcelona

4. Eat with the locals at Mercat Santa Caterina

You visited La Boqueria and freak out with the flock of tourists, and you are wondering how the locals can do their groceries at the city market where 1 out of 2 people are taking a selfie. Well, the second city Market: Santa Caterina will give you that sense of local life you missed, and you won´t need to cue to find a spot in a tapas bars to indulge yourself in local gastronomy. One of the best Barcelona Food Markets.

Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona

photo: Stijn

5. Enjoy your time inside a church: Santa María del Mar

Whether you are religious or not, the inside dome´s illumination deserves to be admired by everyone. Locals refer to this Barcelona church as the ¨Sea Cathedral¨, and its construction was actually financed by merchants living in the district in order to show their economic power.

Inside Santa Maria del Mar

photo: Valerie Hinojosa

6. Meet the life of the genius: Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso arrived in El Born at the age of 15, and it was here where he embraced progressive ideas about art and society that led him to create Cubism. Spend some time at the Picasso Museum to uncover his intimate relation with Barcelona, follow the route of the places where he developed his work, and admire the city´s homage to Picasso by Antoni Tapies.

homage to picasso by tapies

7. Listen to a ¨ghost fight¨ at El Fossar de les Moreres

This graveyard, constructed with the same red granite used to build Lenin´s mausoleum, is the symbol of the Reapers’ War in 1640 which had its roots in the discomfort generated in Catalan society by the presence of Castilian troops during the Franco-Spanish War.

Combatants from both sides are buried here, and popular stories say that at night one can hear the click-clacks of their bones as they keep fighting with each other.


8. Shop at Barcelona´s oldest specialty store: Casa Gispert

Surviving capitalism and the new trends, Casa Gispert is always packed with locals and tourists alike. The reason is simple, their products are top quality and their staff is one of the nicest in town.

gispert shop in barcelona 

9. Drink the possible best world coffee at Cafes El Magnifico

Probably the most ancient coffee roaster in Barcelona that imports genuine coffee from the famous world coffee belt. At Cafes El Magnifico, the staff has no shame in telling you that you´ll ruin your coffee with a spoon of sugar!

Cafes El Magnifico

10. Go for a sweet romantic date at a hidden patio

Get sweets at the Patisserie Hoffman on Flassaders street, then walk up to Jaume Sabater´s square, grab a seat and make yourself lovely comfortable. If things don’t work out, you are damn sure you are eating one of the best pastries of Barcelona!

Photo credit: One day one travel

11. Find a medieval brothel

Did you know that in medieval days particular masks, locally known as Papamosques, where used to indicate the presence of a brothel? Stop at the crossroads of Carrer de Flassaders and De les Mosques and look up!

In the local language, mosques mean flies, and this street is where the foods from El Born market were stored, therefore the given name in the lack of refrigerators. Neighbors use to joke: ¨al Carrer de les mosques, fa funcio a les fosques – at the flies’ street, there is a dark show¨.

Photo credit: TodosobreBarcelona

12. Get social and drink vermouth at Espai Mescladis

When it comes to celebrating tapas, the locals like to go for a vermouth, and Espai Mescladis quirky ambiance is a great place to start. This place is actually a project that aims to support integration for those whose human rights have been not guaranteed.

Photo credit: Espai Mescladis

13. Grab a drink with the anarchists at Antic Teatre.

An abandoned theater was brought back to life in 2003 by a group of artists as a social project. In order to sustain it, they opened an amazing bar that is full of human and vegetal life, an oasis in the middle of that Barcelona being saturated by mass-tourism.

14. Experience a glimpse of El Born first-hand history at Mercat del Born

Visit this beautiful iron and glass building, locally known as El Born Centre Cultural Barcelona that houses the archaeological remains of the ancient distribution of the neighborhood, a unique way to travel to the past!

Cultural Center at El Born District in Barcelona

15. Get into the real Barcelona shopping experience at local designers´ boutiques  

There is no better place in Barcelona to find the local designers who shape the city fashion style, we recommend you to hit Flassaders and Del Rec streets and just wander around, you will certainly do not go back empty handed.

16. Bar-hop on your way to a great night in El Born

Thanks to a never-ending supply of cocktail bars, haunts that serve local wines, eclectic lounge bars, and decades-old joints, El Born nightlife keeps you going all night long. The list is long, but you can start with these El Born Barcelona bars for a genuine experience: Bar Mercaders, Ziryab or El Xampanyet.

Bar at El Born

Local residents of El Born barrio have a say: ¨roda el món i torna al Born¨, which translates into ¨travel the world and come back to El Born¨, a phrase that originates from the fact that El Born was the converging point for merchants and new businesses, thus everyone traveling to unknown territories ended up coming back to trade.


Looking for fun things to do in Barcelona? Join us on a food tour as we uncover the culinary backstreets of this amazing city and taste some of the best tapas and drinks offered by local restaurateurs.

Andre Arriaza

Foodie, traveler and co-founder of Barcelona Eat Local Food Tours

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