Written by Ash

Discovering Barcelona’s El Born Neighbourhood: Top Things to Do


El Born Barcelona is the trendiest neighbourhood in the city.

It’s full of charming old buildings, tiny pedestrian streets, and snazzy cocktail bars – but that’s just the start.

With little effort in The Born, we can throw in a little Picasso, the city’s most impressive music venue, Barcelona’s best local cuisine, and even some medieval jousting.

Let’s get into it then with my dive into local life in El Born Barcelona.

Where is El Born in Barcelona?

You’ll find the El Born neighbourhood just behind Barceloneta beach using the Barcelona metro stop Barceloneta (yellow line L4) and just next to the famous Barrio Gotico using metro Jaume I (yellow line L4).

⚠️  Warning ⚠️: Barcelona’s top two attractions must now be booked in advance.

You can book fast track tickets to both individually or get them as part of a discount pass:

You will not be able to book these tickets on site – lock in your tickets ASAP or you could miss out.

El Born also flanks Barcelona’s largest and most lively park: La Ciutadella.

Why Visit El Born?

  • You have loads of Barcelona’s best bars.
  • Tons of boutique shopping (no chains).
  • There’s an eclectic mix of restaurants.
  • El Born is quieter than other touristic neighbourhoods like the Gothic Quarter.
  • It’s one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona.
  • It’s a great place for street art.

What to See in El Born Barcelona

painting of three birds at the picasso museum in barcelona spain

The Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum Barcelona is what brings most people to El Born.

What you get here is the most extensive collection of Picassos in the world. The museum houses over 4000 pieces mostly derived from Picasso’s formative years, the Blue Period, and his stint in Barcelona.

Hours: Tues-Sun (10:00 am to 8:00 pm), Closed Monday.

Price: €12.00 (the Picasso museum is also free with the Barcelona Card or 45% off with the articketBCN).

Book my tickets now!
mirror and light room at the moco barcelona

The Moco Museum

The hottest new museum in Barcelona is one of the best things to do in El Born if you’re looking for a little inspiration.

Sister museum to the one in Amsterdam, the Moco Museum Barcelona is the place to go for modern art in Barcelona, especially if you’re a fan of Banksy, Hirst, Warhol, Kaws, and Kusama.

You also won’t wanna miss the Diamond Matrix (pictured), though there’s a clear underdog story here with Chilean surrealist artist Guillermo Lorca – his fantasy paintings are tragic, beautiful, and weird all at once.

Moco Museum Barcelona
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the interior of the palau de la musica in barcelona spain

Palau de la Musica

In a city full of beautiful Gaudi buildings, one shouldn’t get off the Catalan Modernism train without seeing what other architects, like Lluis Domenech i Montaner, have to offer.

The Palau de la Musica, a 2200-seat art nouveau music palace at the top of El Born, is an explosion of colour and the only theatre in Europe completely illuminated by natural light. The acoustics here drive music lovers wild.

Grab a ticket for one of the 600 yearly shows or get a fascinating guided tour of Palau de la Musica in English.

Prices: €18.00 (guided tour in English), concerts from €20.00.

Book my tickets now!
tourists looking up at the santa maria del mar church in barcelona spain

Santa Maria del Mar

The Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral is that rare medieval behemoth known for its unity of style.

The scale of this shining example of Catalan Gothic architecture is impossible to understand since it’s hemmed in by neighbouring buildings. However, once inside, there is nothing but light and spaciousness, and it’s said to house the slenderest stone-built columns in the world.

Hours: Mon-Sat (9:00 am to 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm), Sun (10:00 am to 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm)

Price: basic entrance + crypt and tribune €5.00, guided tour/tower/rooftop tour €13.00.

Masses: daily at 7:30 pm.

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roman ruins at the born cultural centre in barcelona

El Born Cultural and Memorial Center

A short walk from the cathedral is the immense cast iron Mercado del Born which, from 1876 to 1971, served as one of Barcelona’s best markets. It was predominantly for fruit and vegetable wholesale.

During the 1980s, the market was restored while the city decided what to do with it. When constructing a new library in 2002, they found several ruins of houses and streets from the 1700s, which painted an important picture of Barcelona’s urban evolution.

These are now preserved for visitors to see, and the building is now called the El Born Cultural Center.

Hours: Mon-Sat (8:00 am to 8:30 pm).

Price: free/guided tours in English €4.00 (Tue-Sat) at 4:30 pm.

🚲 Wanna see the city in less time? Consider taking one of the top bike tours in Barcelona.

pedestrians walking along the passeig del born in barcelona

Passeig Del Born

This famous tree-lined promenade sandwiched between the Santa Maria del Mar and the market is the centrepiece of the El Born neighbourhood.

In fact, ‘El Born’ is Catalan for ‘jousting field,’ and if you look at this narrow open stretch, it’s no surprise this was the site of many jousting matches in medieval times. As well as executions during the Inquisition.

It’s the perfect location in Barcelona to grab a drink from the supermarket, sit on a bench, and watch Barcelona locals go by. There are also many bars along this barrio; you can’t go wrong ducking into any of them.

🧑‍🎨 Want more of Gaudi? Unlock his masterpieces with the top Gaudi tours in Barcelona.

Get Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, and a 10% Discount Card!
tourists at the fountain in ciutadella park

Visit Ciutadella Park

If you find yourself in El Born, Barcelona, you absolutely cannot miss the enchanting Ciutadella Park. This sprawling green oasis offers a refreshing escape from the bustling city, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic with friends.

Let me tell you, this is right at the top of the list of Barcelona’s best parks. It’s home to stunning architectural wonders, including the breathtaking Cascada fountain. There’s something for everyone, from boating on the serene lake to soaking up the sun on the grassy lawns. And it is even home to the city’s zoo.

Soak in the vibrant atmosphere, snap some Instagram-worthy photos, and let Parc de la Ciutadella captivate your heart with its beauty and tranquillity. There are few better places in town to kill a lazy summer afternoon.

wallet making shop in the born neighbourhood of barcelona

Go Shopping in El Born Barcelona

El Born has always been a bit of a Barcelona shopping hub, and modern times are no exception. Since the city’s early days, it has been a bastion of artisan shops, and you see it today in the area’s street names.

Via dels Sombrerers (‘Hatmaker Street’) and Via Dels Argenters (‘Silversmith Street’) are two examples.

This is your neighbourhood if you’re looking for quality shopping and unique pieces. Trust us; El Born shopping is some of the best in town.

The main streets to go shopping in El Born are Carrer de la Princessa, Carrer dels Flassaders, and Carrer de l’Argenteria. Anybody looking for vintage clothes, custom jewelry, handbags, tribal pieces, comics, records, flowers, and much more will find them there.

Museu de la Xocolata

Looking to score some points with the kids? Smooth things over with your spouse? Barcelona’s Museu de la Xocolata is an absolute treat for the senses that will get you out of any jam!

This delightful museum in the heart of El Born is a chocoholic’s dream come true, where you can dive into the decadent world of chocolate. You’ll embark on a mouthwatering journey through the art of chocolate making. You’ll be tempted by the stunning chocolate sculptures that are almost too beautiful to eat.

Plus, you can even participate in workshops and taste some delectable chocolate creations. Get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth and indulge in a chocolatey adventure you won’t soon forget!

Hours: Tue-Sat (10:00 am to 7:00 pm), Sun/Holidays (10:00 am to 3:00 pm).

Price: €6.00 (Adult), €5.10 (Students/Seniors), €4.80 (with disablity card).

tourists lining up outside casa batllo in barcelona spain tourists lining up outside casa batllo in barcelona spain
Buy your tickets in advance from home or risk long lines + bigger prices.

Barcelona El Born Tips

  • Try and walk up into El Born after a day at the beach (keep walking past Barceloneta metro station and across Passeig d’Isabel II). It’s a great post-beach drink spot.
  • Being mostly traffic-free, the only place you’ll be able to catch a Barcelona taxi is at the west end of the promenade.
  • If you’re staying near Sants Estacio or Passeig de Gracia you can get to El Born very quickly using RENFE (Spanish rail) with only your T-10 discount travel card. Get off at the terminus station (and name of the train) Estació de França.
  • Fuel up with tapas: El Born is famous for its mouthwatering tapas. Take your time to savor these small plates of culinary delight and try a variety of flavors. Nou Cellar and El Xampanyet are amongst our favourites.
  • Sip on vermouth: Join the locals in their love for vermouth, a classic drink in Barcelona. Find a cozy bar, order a glass, and enjoy the social atmosphere. For amazing cocktails, Paradiso and Magic fit the bill.
  • Wander its charming streets: El Born is a maze of narrow, picturesque streets, so don’t be afraid to wander and explore. You never know what Barcelona hidden gems you might discover!
a pan of seafood paella at bodega joan restaurant in barcelona spain a pan of seafood paella at bodega joan restaurant in barcelona spain
Get 25% off a paella tasting menu at the legendary Bodega Joan!

Questions About El Born Barcelona?

The best travel tips usually come with a little interaction.

If you’ve got any questions about El Born Barcelona or anything else regarding you Barcelona holiday fire away in the comment section below.

And don’t be afraid to join the El Born discussion in my new Facebook group called I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, chat with fellow travelers, and more – anything goes!

Until then, enjoy the beautiful neighbourhood of El Born Barcelona.

Best of luck 🙂

  • January 21, 2020 at 10:55 pm
    Do you have any travel hacks for Bilbao? Looking to go by train or car from Barcelona to Bilbao. Any suggestions for stops along the way? Hotels? Restaurants?
    • January 21, 2020 at 11:27 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Mona, Unfortunately I've never been to Bilbao :( I would simply yield to the experts on Tripadvisor or something similar... I see that one of my favourite travel bloggers Hand Luggage Only has an article on Bilbao so you may want to try there too. Ash
  • July 15, 2019 at 8:08 am
    Nilou Cowperthwaite
    My friend and I visiting Barcelona in mid sept (2 women in 60) have booked a hotel at Catalonia portal de l’angel what are u thought on the hotel also best way to get from the airport or any other hotel recommendation? Also which food tour u recommend from Devour company? Thanks Nilou
    • July 15, 2019 at 1:59 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Nilou, To get to your hotel it can't be any easier... just grab the Aerobus to the terminus stop at Plaça Catalunya and from here it's just a 5 minute walk. I have heard great things about this hotel, especially the pool and comfort of the rooms. For Devour I really enjoyed the Tastes and Traditions tour as it gives some interesting history as well as delicious food :) Ash
      • July 15, 2019 at 6:07 pm
        Nilou Cowperthwaite
        Thank u so much for ur recommendation, can u tell me if the hotel is centrally located I still can change hotel if u have better and cheaper recommendation. Thanks Nilou
        • July 16, 2019 at 11:18 am
          Team Member
          You could barely be any more central if you've tried! No need to re-book, it looks fabulous :)
  • June 25, 2019 at 1:57 pm
    frank luongo
    We will be coming down with another couple from Sept 22-25. We are staying at the Grand Hotel Central. Any recommendations to what we should do during that time ? Also when does the schedule for Le Merce come out so we could also plan around that?
    • June 26, 2019 at 8:17 am
      Team Member
      Hi Frank, La Merce has released its dates as well as quite a few events if you check out their official page. I also break down this and some other events in my post on visiting Barcelona in September. A lot has not been updated yet but I plan on doing this shortly! You may want to check out the Open Doors Museum Day as well. There is so much going on in Barcelona that aside from the major events of the year I simply cannot keep track of all of them on my blog (without being on it 24/7!)... but what I can do is run a search for you using the best Barcelona events site (made by the city itself) using your dates:*:*&tr=619&sort=proxdate,asc&af=code_prop&c=00619*&dt=2019-09-22,2019-09-25 Here you can sort them by type. Yes, some may not be in English but the browser translations are pretty good :) Also, take a look at Facebook events by sorting them by date using Barcelona as the city. There are a ton of things to do even if just small little get togethers. Other options would be (with all sorts of organized events by locals, many in English) or Hope this gives you some great ideas! Ash
  • May 24, 2019 at 5:11 am
    Hi Ash! My family (2 adults + 2 teenagers) and I are making a quick visit to Barcelona on June 22, 23, and 24 of 2019. My husband and I have been before, this will be the first time for the kids. It looks like the Nit de Sant Joan is happening while we are there and we are excited to participate. We’re staying in El Born (on Carrer de la Princesa) – do you know if there are any festivities happening in that neighborhood or do we need to go down to the beach? It would be fun to see the bonfires and I’ve heard there are often celebrations in the streets and squares with fireworks displays and “diables and dracs” – is this indeed the case? Also, is there a particular (non-touristy) restaurant you would recommend for that night? Any insights you could share would be most welcome – I am having a hard time finding event specifics online. Thank you!
    • May 24, 2019 at 11:06 am
      Team Member
      Hello, There are no doubt festivities in El Born but I am having a hard time tracking down the list, if one exists! What I have found through the city website is very much the same... a simple promise of bonfires and music almost everywhere. That said, you may want to take a quick walk over to Plaça Jaume (maximum 10 minutes from El Born) to check out the arrival of the Canigo Flame. This is the event that kicks everything off. There's more info here. As for non-touristy restaurants this is a very tall order... in such a touristy city it's almost impossible to escape. I could tell you a million restaurants and most all of them will be about 20% tourist... in El Born though I'm partial to Bormuth, Mosquito (yes, it's Chinese), or Cal Pep... just don't blame me if you see foreigners in there ;) Ash
  • April 6, 2019 at 1:08 am
    Duncan Que
    Hi Ash, my wife and i will be in Barcelona from May 26 to June 1 celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, we will be staying at Casa Kessler Barcelona (what are your thoughts on this location for good restaurants (where the locals eat), safety walking at night and for sight seeing) We would like to experience the best inexpensive paella and good wine - prefer to go where the locals eat, any suggestions near this location? Or should we look for a place in El Born (would prefer a kitchen to cook a bit but very expensive unless we go to Gracia location - like Còrcega Apartments, Barcelona, your thoughts on this location please .... I have read quite a bit of your comments suggesting El Born and Gracia to stay at (but I only found your site today and I have been planning this since we booked our flight in early March.
    • April 6, 2019 at 5:10 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Duncan, First of all you couldn't have picked a better area for safety and proximity to the major attractions so that's great. In the area you'll find some amazing restaurants like El Nacional, Cerveceria Catalana, and Bodega Joan (paella)... these are quite local places though since they're quite central there is obviously a tourist presence. I wouldn't move to El Born unless you have found an amazing hotel deal... or something that really tips the scales. I must stress again that Casa Kessler is right in the middle of the best shopping, eating, and sightseeing in the city. Hope this helps! Ash
  • January 22, 2019 at 8:12 pm
    Jasmine Rivera
    This will be our first couple trip, looking to relax, cite see, beach, pop n mom shops, cafes, little bungalow,
    • January 23, 2019 at 10:36 am
      Team Member
      Hi Jasmine, That is great to hear! I suggest you check out my post on couples visiting Barcelona. If you're looking for some more custom advice please let me know! I've got articles on the site here covering everything else you've listed from the best attractions to the beach to shopping. Ash
  • September 24, 2018 at 1:12 pm
    That's quite amazing -- As someone from Barcelona who is now living in the US, I'm regularly asked for advice and recommendations. I've been building my own lists but, having been away for a while, they can get a bit outdated. I've been checking your blog and I love how you make great recommendations without the typical stereotypes or tourist traps -- keep up with the great work! :)
    • September 24, 2018 at 2:07 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Oscar, That is amazing! This is honestly my first compliment from a local so you'll always have a special place in my heart ;) Hope all is going well for you in the US. Ash
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