Many tourists just focus in Las Ramblas when visiting the city, but as a Barcelona citizen I have to tell you that the locals hate walking down the Ramblas: always crowded, people crossing from everywhere, pickpockets, “cerveza-beer” hawcking, weird night life… You deserve to know that there are plenty of beautiful things in the Gothic Quarter which should not be missed if you are visiting Barcelona. I have just designed a quick route for you to make sure you will get to the best spots of Barcelona and will get back home knowing that the Barcelona is just much more than Mexican hats, paellas and flamenco dancers! 😉
Best spots in Barcelona’s Old Quarter
(Walking route. 1h 30min aprox)
See larger map
Your route starts at Plaça Catalunya (A), in front of Café Zurich, where the locals meet. So, in case you want to meet somebody, this is the right place! 😉 Then, head the Ramblas – wait, I know I just said that they are not that worth it, but it’s a “must”, at least for a 5 minutes walk; don’t worry, it won’t be painful. When walking down the Ramblas stop to drink some water at Canaletes Fountain (B) (it is on your right hand side). It’s here where FC Barcelona fans celebrate victories and Championships. And it is also said that if you drink from Canaletes Fountain you’ll surely come back to the city – maybe it’s a bit early to know if you’ll like to come back, but if I were you I’d drink just in case.
When arriving to Carrer Portaferrissa (on your left), turn left and then right to Carrer Petritxol, a narrow and cosy street where you will find a couple of “Granges” where you can taste delicious “xocolata amb xurros“. Petritxol street ends up at Plaça del Pi (C), where often a traditional Catalan food market takes place on the Weekends. And next to it, Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, the painters square. Keep on going through the narrow streets til you get to Carrer Ferran (D). If you turn right you’ll go back to Las Ramblas. If you turn left you’ll discover some other great spots in Barcelona.
Chose to go to the left? Cool! Then, keep on reading! 😉 Next stop is Plaça Sant Jaume (E). On your right: Barcelona’s Townhall. On your left: La Generalitat, the Catalan Governement. You should know that in Plaça Sant Jaume it is common to see Castellers (human towers) and Sardanes (Catalonia’s tradicional dance) on Sunday mornings (but not always).
Carrer del Bisbe will lead you to the Cathedral (F) (usual mistake among tourist: this is not La Sagrada Familia). Also on this square, there are usually some Sardanes and live concerts. But before getting to the Cathedral main entrance door, there is a hidden spot which is one of Barcelona’s treasures: Plaça de Sant Felip Neri (G). In this small square there is a wonderful atmosphere and light. A school, a hotel, a church and the walls that remained a cruel witness of the Civil War bombs (1936-1939). To get to the square just turn left to a narrow street in front of the Cloister entrance door (H) (which is itself something that shouldn’t be missed! Free entrance to see the gooses at the Cloister). Close to the Cathedral (just behind it) you can find Plaça del Rei (I), also a nice spot.
Afterwards, you need to go your way back (feel free to discover new streets) and find Plaça Reial (J) (not the same as Plaça del Rei). You will recognise this square surrounded by palm trees if you saw the film “L’Auberge Espagnol”. Cross the square and you’ll see that you’re back to The Ramblas. You are quite close to Gran Teatre del Liceu that you shouldn’t miss if you are an Opera fan. Check out for tickets at Liceu’s ticket office or continue walking towards La Boqueria market (K): a huge market full of colors, delicious food, exotic fruits and some yummy Spanish ham. (a short tip: juices are cheaper when you enter the market)