Ash
Written by Ash

13 Things to Do in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

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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

a family with a small child outside the barcelona cathedral 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.

a flower shop on las ramblas in barcelona spain

Walk Las Ramblas

So technically Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street, is the dividing line between the Barrio Gótico and Raval.

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.

tourists walking under the pont del bisbe in the barcelona gothic quarter

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.

street art on carrer d'avinyo in barcelona spain

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.

In fact, one of Picassos most famous works Les Demoiselles d’Avignon portrays five nude prostitutes from an Avinyo brothel – you can see it at the Barcelona Picasso Museum.

sagrada familia passion façade under construction sagrada familia passion façade under construction
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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.

columns of the temple of augustus in the gothic quarter of barcelona spain

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).

bullet and shrapnel holes in the walls of the church in sant felip neri square in the gothic quarter of barcelona spain

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.

barcelona tourists on the secrets of the old city tour in with alvaro barcelona hacks

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.

tourists walking under the palm trees at placa reial in the barcelona gothic quarter

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.

tourists lining up outside casa batllo in barcelona spain tourists lining up outside casa batllo in barcelona spain
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Gothic Quarter Map

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, known locally as El Barri Gòtic, is part of the old town (‘Ciutat Vella’) along with Barceloneta, El Born, and El Raval.

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.

a dark alleyway in the gothic quarter leading to some street art at the back of a gelato shop in barcelona spain

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.

a man checking his phone near a fountain in the gothic quarter of barcelona spain

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 🙂

  • February 21, 2020 at 10:03 pm
    Peggy
    Hello! Just discovered your blog today and am currently reading as much as I can. We are arriving in Barcelona to start our cruise later this summer, so am only spending 1 night in the City, at the Catalonia Catedral. Barring severe jet lag, we plan to spend the 3/4 day we have to explore the Gothic area, as well as Las Ramblas. A couple of questions: 1. Are there any restaurants in that area that cater to a gluten free menu (daughter is celiac). 2. Are there grocery/liquor stores that we could purchase wine/snacks, etc to take on the ship. 3. In looking at transportation from airport to the hotel, how difficult is taking the Aerobus vs getting a taxi? Especially when you have to haul your luggage? According to google maps, it appears to only be a 5 minute walk to the hotel, but not sure if it's very feasible. Been researching as much as possible, as I like to be prepared, but any help you can give us would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!
  • July 1, 2019 at 9:49 pm
    Ila Mistry
    Hi Ash, Thank you so much for your time, energy and effort running and responding to everyone on your website. As a first time traveller to Barcelona, I am very appreciative of your site. Thank you:) I'm a Canadian visiting Barcelona in July for 4 days. I am travelling with my spouse, my 2 children and my parents. We are staying at H10 Cubic in the Gothic Quarter. I am interested in purchasing the Barcelona City Pass as it seems to offer what we need for our trip. Wondering if you could provide a little more detail in regards to taking the Aerobus to El Gotic. I've read that you've said 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. Is it walking distance to the hotel? What are your recommendations to get to our hotel using the Aerobus? Is taking a taxi a better choice? With Appreciation,
    • July 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Ila, Thanks so much for your very kind words! Always happy to help a fellow Canadian do things right ;) And a happy belated Canada day to you. If you think the City Pass is a good fit (it usually is) then you'll want to make sure you take advantage of the Aerobus. Honestly, with its frequency and very few stops it's nearly as fast as a taxi and especially for people near Plaça Catalunya it's a breeze. In your case you won't even have to walk down La Rambla... it's literally a 350 metre walk from the terminus stop of the Aerobus in Plaça de Catalunya. I wouldn't bother shelling out the €35.00 for a taxi... also keep in mind that with your group you'll probably need two taxis and with all the luggage add ons etc it could push €80.00 for the two. Just look at the Google maps link above and you'll see how easy it is, no need for taxis as it's a 4 minute walk from the bus :) Ash
  • June 2, 2019 at 11:08 am
    Jill
    Is it possible to walk from the Gothic quarter to the Sagrada?
    • June 2, 2019 at 12:29 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jill, You can do it in about 45-60 minutes if you have a decent pace... it's not entirely recommended as there aren't a lot of sights to see in between, but if you wanted to get some exercise and burn off the tapas calories it's perfectly reasonable :) Ash
  • April 9, 2019 at 7:21 pm
    Melissa
    Hello! Will they still dance the Sardana on Easter Sunday? Thanks!
    • April 10, 2019 at 12:08 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Mi Melissa, To my knowledge it goes every Sunday regardless of holidays :) Ash
  • July 31, 2018 at 8:38 pm
    Clarisa Loparo
    Hola Ash! I can't tell you how many tabs I have open on my computer that are yours as I sit here devouring everything you have to say! Beautifully laid out, written etc. Well done! My daughter and I will be visiting Spain at the end of August. In Barcelona for 3 days. We land at 8 am. Hotel is BCN Urban Hotel Gran Rosellon. We are going to leave Sagrada and Casa Batlo for day 2 and Park Guell for day 3. She is a food scientist so we are super excited about food and wine etc. I have this idea for day 1...is it too ambitious? Take bags to hotel bfast in City Center OR go directly to Boqueria Market explore las Ramblas a bit, walk through the Gothic quarter to the Museu de la Xocolata metro to Columbus monument then metro back to hotel. Thanks for your excellent advice. Also thought for day 2 Batlo at 9am Sagrada familia with guided tour at 12 free to explore a bit in the afternoon...perhaps see Mila from outside then day 3 the Park and magic fountain...suggestions on times? Trying to be very economical and see the best ...we are off then for 10 more days and 6 more cities. Muchas Gracias! Clarisa
    • August 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Clarisa, Just writing to say I responded to you on FB! We'll continue the conversation there :) Ash
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