Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, locally known as Barrio Gòtico, has something for everyone, but that can be a double-edged sword. The density of the area’s attractions is only matched by the density of the car traffic, which is one reason you should opt for a bicycle hire in Barcelona to get you around the Quarter.
Here are some of the more interesting and peculiar sites you should consider:
1. Plaça Sant Jaume
Plaça Sant Jaume is appealing not only for its architecture, but also for its wide open space. If you happen to be in the city during September, this square is the centre of The La Mercé Festival, so that space is packed with tourists and locals alike to celebrate all things Catalan. One thing you can catch is the awe-inspiring human castle building. The bodies literally scuttle to the very top of pyramids formed by legs and arms, forming a spectacle you certainly won’t want to miss. If you don’t want to brave the crowds to hunt down a bike rental, companies like Donkey Republic allow you to reserve one online beforehand.
2. Plaça del George Orwell
An apt slice of alternative Barcelona, this square features a bizarre post-modern monument as well as bars filled with the freakiest dressers in the entire Gothic Quarter. What is for certain, the people watching is superb, and you’ll never be bored at Plaça George Orwell.
Treasure abounds in the backstreets of the Barrio Gòtico. If local underground and retro fashion labels are your thing, head over to Carrer Avinyó and its surroundings. Alternatively, dive into Carrer de la Palla’s antique stores for curios, bric-a-brac, and art.
4. Picasso Exploration
At 14, Pablo Picasso was admitted to an artsy school on Calle Avinyó – one of the streets of the Barrio Gòtico with questionable morals. Explore the numerous funky shops on this street, all the while imagining how life was for Picasso during his time in the city.
5. El Bosc de les Fades
This sangria-serving grotto is decorated just like a fairy wood. Illusory mirrors, simulated rainstorms, fake trees, and haunting music are all part of the ambiance and experience at El Bosc de les Fades.
6. Sant Jaume Plaza
The Plaza houses the City Hall, which was once a forum when the Romans reigned supreme. Delve into the history of it all and enjoy the ambiance created by singers, dancers, and artists from all over.
7. La Rambla
La Rambla is one of the better known walkways you wouldn’t want to miss. If you are curious, hungry, or a serious foodie, this is the best place to sample fish, cheeses, meats, vegetables, and fruits.
8. Can Culleretes
Dating all the way back to 1786, Can Culleretes is the oldest restaurant in the city. The restaurant specializes in traditional Spanish and Catalan fare you wouldn’t want to miss and makes a great end-of-day stop to your bike tour.
9. Plaça Sant Felip Neri
For a less touristy experience, proceed to Plaça Sant Felip Neri. The sordid damage on the walls of the buildings and church on the square is a stark reminder of the Sant Felip Neri bombing.
10. Museu Picasso
Okay so technically this one is slightly outside of the Gothic Quarter, but you have a bike remember, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get there. Housed in the Palau Berenguer d’Aguilar, the Picasso Museum is the best place to observe Picasso’s artistic development over the years. The museum is open to the public every day, but it’s free every Sunday afternoon if you need to stretch your travel dollars.