The Barcelona Gothic Quarter is the heart of the old city – and it’s also the heart of the new city.
It’s a medieval neighbourhood with kitschy modern bars. It’s the site of city hall meetings and rambunctious nights out. It’s where winding streets, open minds, and empty stomachs meet their match.
Let’s break down what to see in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.
Things to Do in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona Spain
The Barcelona Cathedral
A gargoyle-speckled 13th century Gothic cathedral.
The Barcelona Cathedral was dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona: co-patron saint of the city, who according to legend was left naked in a public square only to be covered by a miracle mid-spring snowfall.
Photographers should note that it’s fantastic under the light of dusk. The real highlight is the splendid inner courtyard with its 13 white geese.
Walk Las Ramblas
Don’t expect to escape its charms whether it’s the flower market, the street artists, or Joan Miro’s abstract street mosaic El Pavimento Miró.
That said, don’t buy even as much as a bottle of water here. It’s tourist trap central. Go to nearby Boqueria Market and get fruit smoothies, Iberian ham, and some seafood tapas – but keep your wallet holstered otherwise.
Related: Get a two hour walking tour of the Gothic Quarter for just 18 euro.
Walk Under the Pont del Bisbe
This is one of Barcelona’s great Instagram/selfie spots, if that’s your jam.
The Pont del Bisbe, an ornamental bridge (Bishop’s Bridge in English) built in 1929 in Gothic style, connects the House of Canons with the Palau de la Generalitat.
Make sure to look up! The embittered architect Joan Rubió i Bellver left a nasty skull and dagger surprise underneath – apparently to curse anybody who walked under, after the city rejected all his other proposals.
Explore Picasso’s Old Haunts on Carrer d’Avinyo
One of Barcelona’s most compelling streets is famous for a fine arts school which gave instruction to a young Pablo Picasso, among others.
For decades it was the cultural heart of the city and home to many cafes where artists gathered to network, socialize, and get up to all sorts of no good.
El Bosc de les Fades
One of Barcelona’s most unique bars. You’ll swear you’re drinking in the middle of a forest when the simulated rain showers threaten you and your fairy and gnome drinking buddies. You won’t need an umbrella but try the sangria.
What surprises here are the reasonable prices for being such a sought after location. It’s connected to the Wax Museum but tickets aren’t required to enter.
The Barcelona History Museum
Learn 2000 years of Barcelona history with a visit to the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat (MUHBA).
One ticket gets you access to seven different locations. The most popular may be the underground walk of the old Roman streets. See old wine shops, homes, and even a guard tower.
Find out more information at the official MUHBA website.
Barcelona’s Roman Temple
One of the Gothic Quarter’s hidden gems is the Temple d’August.
You’ll find it hidden in a medieval courtyard behind the Barcelona Cathedral, on a narrow street called Carrer Paradís.
These nine meter high columns are some of Barcelona’s earliest relics showing its founding as a Roman city. The columns themselves are over 2000 years old.
Best of all? Entrance to the courtyard is free – it’s one of the best free things to do in Barcelona.
Watch the Sardana
A symbol of national unity and pride, this traditional Catalan folk dance was actually banned by dictator Francisco Franco until as late as 1975.
The inclusive (no formal clothing is required) circular dance has its participants holding hands carrying out a series of demanding and meticulous steps set to music.
Tourists now get to see it for free every Sunday – a cheap alternative to a night out seeing Barcelona flamenco.
Location: Pla de la Seu (in front of the Cathedral).
Sant Felip Neri Square
This is one of the best things to do in the Barcelona Barrio Gotico, hands down.
Just steps away from the tourist hustle and bustle, around the corner of an ordinary alleyway you’ll find one of the most tranquil squares in Barcelona.
The first thing you’ll notice at Plaça Sant Felip Neri is the quaint little fountain the middle.
That said, take a closer look at the walls – those indentations aren’t weather erosion. They’re actually shrapnel marks from a Spanish Civil War bombing that killed 42 people back in 1938.
Go for a Drink
As we found out with Picasso, it’s no secret that the narrow streets of the Barcelona Barri Gòtic lend themselves well to all sorts of vice – Barcelona stag dos, I’m looking at you.
Some of Barcelona’s best bars are here. Whether you’re looking for a cheeky homemade vermouth and olives at Bodega Visconia or a craft cocktail with an exhibition thrown in at Tin Can you’ve got options.
That said, for a casual beer to break up the Gothic Quarter attractions I’m going to Plaça de George Orwell every time. Get a seat on the patio at Bar Oviso – this where locals roll.
Take the Secrets of the Old City Guided Tour
There’s no better way to get your hand on the pulse of the history, the current political situation, and the future of Barcelona than with a 2.5 hour Gothic Quarter tour (video here) with a pro.
These walking tours are with one of the best guides in the business: local Texan Alvaro.
Prepare to be ‘edu-tained‘ with secrets of the old city at La Rambla, Boqueria Market, Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça Sant Felipe Neri, Augustus Temple, the Jewish Quarter (El Call), and much more.
You’ll also get an old Picasso haunt, one of Barcelona’s sweetest snack stops, and street art galore.
Update (12/09/2022): due to ongoing COVID limitations and a lack of walk ups each tour will require a minimum of two people to run. please email ahead of time to [email protected] with preferred dates and we’ll let you know if a tour can be run. Just a single? I suggest the Barcelona Gothic Quarter Tour run by Tiqets.
Go Gothic Quarter Shopping
In and around the Gothic Quarter you’ll find some of the best shopping in Barcelona.
Just off Plaça Catalunya is the famous pedestrian only street Portal de l’Angel: Barcelona’s equivalent to Oxford Street. Not only is it full of shops but it connects the square to city’s historic centre.
Here you’ll find all the big names like H&M, Zara, Bershka, Benetton, Mango, Pull and Bear etc.
For more of a vintage and artisan vibe make sure you take a stroll down Calle Avinyó for a look at the many boutique shops there. Retro style pin up shoes are big at La Veintinueve and one of the best retro clothing stores is at Love.
Soak Up Plaça Reial
OK, so in a city of touristy squares there are quite a few to avoid but Plaça Reial (‘Royal Square’ in Catalan) isn’t one of them – this massive, slightly exotic, elegant beauty is one of the most vibrant places in the city.
Whether you just want to sit at the central fountain and watch the world go buy, have a drink on one of the terraces (go for Ocaña), or have a full on Barcelona paella dinner at Les Quinze Nits it’s all there.
Look out for the decorative street lamps – they were some of the first works of Antoni Gaudi ever commissioned.
Gothic Quarter Map
How to Get to the Gothic Quarter
The neighbourhood is bordered by the Liceu (green line L3), Catalunya (red line L1 or green line L3), and Jaume I (yellow line L4) metro stations. Any of these could be useful depending on the area you stay.
The easiest transport from Barcelona airport to El Gotic is to get off the Aerobus or city bus at Plaça de Catalunya, then dip down into the Gothic Quarter at any point by taking a left going downhill on the famous Rambla.
A taxi from the airport should cost about €30.00.
Gothic Quarter General Information
Barrio Gòtico History
Born from the ashes of Barcino, the old Roman settlement of the area dating back to 15 BC, the Gothic Quarter still shows off some classic urban structures associated with the Roman Empire.
It’s not only Barcelona’s historic center but the heart and soul of the Catalan capital and the centre of political and religious life in Barcelona since medieval times.
When you walk around the area it’s easy to come across massive Gothic churches and Roman walls from the first century AD.
What the Barcelona Gothic Quarter is Like Today
Today the Gothic Quarter is a (mostly) car-free pedestrian playground and the beating heart of the city and tourism industry. It’s completely walk-able but if you need a rest simply duck into one of the many bars.
When night falls it becomes slightly mysterious: the light play of its locales creates shadows that’ll make you feel like you’re the lead actor in a horror film, only this is much more realistic.
Gothic Quarter Barcelona FAQ
What is the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona?
The Gothic Quarter is one of the five districts of the old city, and it’s the most historical neighbourhood in Barcelona being the site of the original Roman settlement Barcino, which gave way to modern Barcelona.
Where is the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona?
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (or Barrio Gotico) is found in the city centre between Las Ramblas and Via Laietana to the east and west, and the Barcelona Port and Ronda San Pau to the north and south. The main metro stations are Liceu, Drassanes, Placa de Catalunya, and Jaume I.
What is the Gothic Quarter like?
The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic in Catalan) is a charming, historical Barcelona neighbourhood full of narrow, winding medieval streets. It’s a bustling area with street musicians, artisans, boutique shopping, and a huge concentration of bars and restaurants.
Is the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona safe?
In general, people taking standard precautions should not run into trouble in the Gothic Quarter. That said, especially during tourist season there is a notable pickpocket risk at major metro stops and squares like Plaça de la Seu.
Where to eat in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter?
Being a major tourist thoroughfare there are ton of tourist trap restaurants so precautions should be taken. Three authentic Spanish restaurants would be Les Quinze Nits (paella), La Fonda (tapas set menus), and La Paradeta (seafood).
What is there to see in the Gothic Quarter Barcelona?
For those wanting to visit the Barcelona Gothic Quarter they should see the Barcelona Cathedral, the Temple d’August, Plaça Reial, Plaça Sant Felip Neri, Las Ramblas, and the Pont del Bisbe. They should also check out the shops and bars along the famous Carrer d’Avinyo.
Visiting the Gothic Quarter Barcelona?
There you have it.
You’ve finally got a list of things to do in the Gothic Quarter but the quest never ends does it? If I’ve blatantly missed something incredible don’t hesitate to drop me a line below.
Also – any questions you have about your Barcelona holiday will be answered ASAP.
Don’t be shy 🙂