General Information About Barcelona
A Moveable Feast
Under the Iberian Sun
Twenty-four-hour Party People
HistoryThe first human settlements in Barcelona date back to Neolithic times. The city itself was founded by the Romans who set up a colony called Barcino at the end of the 1st century BC. The colony had some thousand inhabitants and was bounded by a defensive wall, the remains of which can still be seen in the old town. For over 200 years, Barcelona was under Muslim rule, and, following the Christian reconquest, it became a county of the Carolingian Empire and one of the main residences of the court of the Crown of Aragon. The fruitful medieval period established Barcelona's position as the economic and political centre of the Western Mediterranean. The city's Gothic Quarter bears witness to the splendour enjoyed by the city from the 13th to the 15th centuries. From the 15th to 18th centuries Barcelona entered a period of decline, while it struggled to maintain its economic and political independence. This struggle ended in 1714, when the city fell to the Bourbon troops and Catalonia's and Catalans' rights and privileges were suppressed. A period of cultural recovery began in the mid-19th century with the arrival of the development of the textile industry. During this period, which was known as the Renaixença, Catalan regained prominence as a literary language. The 20th century ushered in widespread urban renewal throughout Barcelona city, culminating in its landmark Eixample district, which showcases some of Barcelona's most distinctive Catalan art-nouveau, or modernista, buildings. The Catalan Antoni Gaudí, one of the most eminent architects, designed buildings such as the Casa Milà (known as La Pedrera, the Catalan for stone quarry), the Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Família church, which have become world-famous landmarks. The freedoms achieved during this period were severely restricted during the Civil War in 1936 and the subsequent dictatorship. With the reinstatement of democracy in 1978, Barcelonasociety regained its economic strength and the Catalan language was restored. The city's hosting of the 1992 Olympic Games gave fresh impetus to Barcelona's potential and reaffirmed its status as a major metropolis. In 2004, the Forum of Cultures reclaimed industrial zones to convert them into residential districts. An example of the renewed vigour with which Barcelona is looking towards the 21st century
Barcelona NightlifeIt may lack the diversity of the London scene or the cutting edge of the experimental Berlin nightlife, but considering it’s only Spain’s second biggest city Barcelona certainly packs a helluva party punch – and whether you like to get high with the hippies, or get down with the glitterati you’ll find more than enough going on after the sun goes down… in fact, if you want to keep pace with the locals, you’d best be prepared to see the sun come back up again. A metropolitan city of close to two million people (five if you include the whole urban area), there isn’t one area to sample Barcelona’s nightlife but rather a whole host of happening neighbourhoods to check out.
Going Out, District by DistrictBelow you’re find our tips on the best venues for going out in each of Barcelona’s main districts… so wherever you find yourself in the city, you can located the best pubs and bars in the barrio.
Las RamblasA natural starting point for newcomers is of course Las Ramblas and – on either side of it – the narrow streets of the medieval Old Town. Barcelona’s busiest boulevard by day, Las Ramblas is also heaving by night, especially in the early stages of the evening when the street performers are still playing their trade and the pavements throng with locals and tourists heading out for drinks and dinner. Restaurants at this time are spilling over with customers fuelling themselves on tapas and other treats (although you’ll find better quality for cheaper elsewhere! Check our eating out section for suggestions), whilst the strip also has plenty of bars and clubs. Boadas cocktail bar, the Kiosk La Cazalla, and Boulevard Club are some of the more well known, whilst the homely and handsome Wild Rover Irish Pub at the bottom of the boulevard is always a great choice for a pint of the black. For something a little more sophisticated, take a small detour off the main strip to Carrer Sitges, and start the night with a draught of Scotch or bourbon at La Whiskeria Cocktail Bar.
Gothic QuarterGenerally speaking Las Ramblas (above) is merely a crossing point to greener nightlife pastures, and for the more authentic local venues you’ll have to negotiate the labyrinthine alleys of the Gothic Quarter. Here you’ll find scores of sassy little spots hidden away in dark corners, such as the stylish Milk Bar, which has a great cocktail menu, and Sugar; plus of course a handsome selection of Irish and British pubs, like the friendly and flirty Flaherty’s, where you can mingle with (ie. chat up) some fellow tourists – check out their Beer Pong tournaments on Thursdays, or Ladies Night on Fridays. Plaza Real (Royal Square) is a great place to orientate yourself in this neck of the woods, with famous clubs like Jamboree, Sidecar and Tarantos perennial faves with the backpacker crowd that congregate here. The latter actually hosts the flamenco part of this highly-rated Tapas and Flamenco Night.
El BornFor a slightly more sophisticated slice of Barcelona’s nightlife, the equally pretty, but slightly less touristy, El Born is also very central and here you’ll find all manner of trendily-attired nightowls crowding into cafes and bars – especially in the district’s heart, the Passeig del Born. Check out Miramelindo, for a Cava cocktail, or trawl the square and the surrounding backstreets for a slice of the action. The district’s best nightlife venue though is found on the Avenida Marques de l’Argentera, a stunning new multi-purpose space with a distinct Berlin vibe. Clubhaus is a bar-restaurant, adult play centre (as in ping pong and karaoke – not swinging!) and nightclub in one two-storey, three-room venue. Perfect if you fancy boozing and carousing with Barcelona’s hip, creative set.
RavalIf you can’t identify with Born (get it?), then the edgier Raval is the other side of the Ramblas, where street kids play cricket or football and generally run riot as Bohemian imbibers stroke their side whiskers and order another chupito or two. The heart of the district is the Rambla de Raval where hip bars like Ambar are interspersed with kebab joints, whilst a more glam crowd congregate at nearby cocktail bars like the suave Marmalade, where you can order house specials like their ‘Pornstar Martini’ and do some pre-club flirting. The street of Joaquim Costa is full of hip venues, and a great place to go bar-hopping. Meanwhile in the area surrounding the MACBA museum, skate fashion rules supreme. Pierced and tattooed kids practice tricks on their boards before later heading down to the area around Carrer Nou de la Rambla, where legendary clubs like Les Enfants (a kitsch Spanish disco!), Moog (famous for tech/minimal DJs) and Sala Apolo (home of excellent midweek parties such as Nasty Mondays) are all located. If hanging out in this edgier and more authentic district by night sounds like your proverbial cup of tea, then we can thoroughly recommend checking out the all new ‘Hipster’s Bar Crawl‘, which will go a long way to showing you what a real night out in Barna looks like… amongst other great venues they stop by one of the city’s oldest watering holes for a glass of the green fairy (viz. absinthe!). The same venue that featured in the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
EixampleIf the Gothic Quarter, Born and Raval make up Barcelona’s Old Town, then 80% of the rest of the city is made up of L’Eixample, which means ‘The Addition’. This grand, grid-patterned section of the Catalan capital rose up during the industrial revolution in the beautiful Modernista architectural style and is largely residential… but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on! Finding a good bar in L’Eixample is more about knowledge than luck, on account of its huge size, but here’s a hit-list to get you started: it doesn’t get more central than Belushi’s Bar which is just off Plaça Catalunya (the city’s central square) and the perfect place to kick off the night before heading clubbing. Be prepared for a young international party crowd and dangerous drinks promos. Meanwhile a slightly older and more mature (and we mean slightly) gather at CocoVail Beer Hall, an American-style boozer where 20 and 30 somethings share sturdy communal tables and order one (or dozens) of the 24 craft beers on tap. Another great place to warm up for the night. Generally speaking the closer to Diagonal you get the smoother and more sophisticated the crowd get. For cocktails with a good looking local gathering slide over to Slow Barcelona (which also has an suave club upstairs), where you can imbibe some of the best gin or vodka tonics in town, and check out live gigs at the weekends. In this area of town it pays to dress up a little fancier. Around the area of Arc de Triomf, just a few blocks away from Parc de la Ciutadella, a few new hotspots are opening up, making this one-time social deadzone an increasingly cool area to hang out on a quiet night. One such venue is Firebug, a classy bar / restaurant with great food, vermouths and a very attractive brunch menu. Finally the part of Eixample around Casanova street has been dubbed Gayxample, and you don’t need to be genius to figure out why. Trendy bars, restaurants and saunas abound, as well as the odd disco, like Metro or Arena.
GraciaA similarly alternative vibe to Raval prevails in the district of Gracia, but more locally dominated than the immigrant-inhabited ‘Ravalistan’. Here in Gracia you’ll find a very Catalan quarter oozing charisma and aspiring artists – with not too many tourists, except those lost on the way to Parc Guell. There are many fine bars, like the excellent La Cigale and La Fourmi that cater to the barri’s more Bohemian residents. Alternatively, if it’s a hot day and you’re broke, you can just hang out on one of Gracia’s many squares, such as the Plaça del Sol, with a tinnie. Illegal, but half of Barcelona will be doing the same.
Poble SecAnd, shhhh, keep it quiet, but these days the once unloved district of Poble Sec (“Dry Town”) is considered a pretty hip barrio, with the likes of Maumau Underground and Rouge Bar attracting a savvy set of drinkers. For general boozing and carousing Carrer Blai is the centre of the district and these days it’s popular to enjoy a pintxos (Basque-style tapas) crawl at the many bars and terraces along the street.
Port Olimpic (Beach Clubs)For a more upmarket experience put on your best glad rags and hail a cab for the Port Olimpic. This is the place to be in summer! Here a string of upmarket lounge bars, such as CDLC, Shoko and Bestial attract a well-heeled cosmopolitan crowd to sip cocktails on their beach terraces before everyone moves indoors to get down and dirty on the dancefloor. Most of these places close at 3am unfortunately but the infamous Opium, plus Pacha and Catwalk keep going until 6am – of these Opium has the strongest claim to be the best club in the city, and is reliably packed to the rafters. To be sure of getting in you would be wise to invest in a VIP Club Card, or during summer you can sign up for this VIP Nightlife Tour that ushers you into Opium like a rockstar. For a memorable way to kick off any night at the Port Olimpic we suggest you start by dropping by the Ice Bar, for a dip in their sub-zero chamber. Everything in the chamber is frozen, and even the glasses are made of ice! Their terrace is also a cool place to hang out with a cocktail and you are right by all the clubs for heading out afterwards. Finally, down from all the posh lounge clubs is the Moll Mestral strip, on the harbour itself. Sophisticated it ain’t… a row of free entry bars and clubs that belt out everything from salsa to techno, interspersed with the odd fast food stand. It’s a good reminder though why it pays to be prepared and sort out your nightlife plan beforehand.
Get on the Boat!The Olympic Port is also where the epic Barcelona boat party aka booze cruise leaves from several times a week during summer… a must if you’re serious about having fun. DJs, BBQs, beers, babes in bikinis, hunks in trunks, swim stops, and lots more shenanigans. There are four different types of parties, from the sophisticated Champagne Sunset Cruises to the Original Booze Cruise, so check out our article to see which is best for you. After the party is over, the organisers sort you out with free club entry on the Port Olimpic, so your night continues back on dry land.
Life’s a Beach (Chiringuitos)If sadly however your beat-up zapatos are unlikely to get past the door of the swanky places on the sea front then you might be lucky enough to find a beach party going on at one of the chiringuitos (beach bars), or if not maybe just join the layabouts (there’s plenty of them in Barcelona!) strumming a guitar on the sand and smoking something not quite legal.
Boutique Hotel Casa Volver Barcelona Spain
New boutique hotel located on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Casa Volver is located right on the popular and vibrant Las Ramblas in Barcelona—the ideal starting point for exploring the city and its neighbourhoods. We will be your guides, helping you get to know the authentic Barcelona and its most famous neighbourhoods.
Gran Hotel Havana Barcelona Spain
The Gran Hotel Havana building has been on Barcelona’s Gran Vía since 1872 in the most exclusive area of the Eixample neighbourhood, close to the city’s most luxurious businesses and establishments. It was expanded and refurbished as a luxury hotel in 1991. We continue to work on redecorating the hotel day to day to always remain above our high quality standards.