To get a grip on its history we have to go back to the early twentieth century when the area was the scene of gross industrial expansion leading to the nickname the Catalan Manchester.
Textiles, metal shops, graphic arts, plastics, food and drink… everything was here! With the 1960s though companies began to close, leaving huge warehouse spaces free.
Enter the 1992 Olympic Games.
It’s here that the modernization of Poblenou begins, crowned with the 22@ project: an ambitious urbanization plan transforms 200 hectares of industrial land into an innovation district.
Today Poblenou is home to universities, technology companies, and creative spaces of all kinds.
When visiting you won’t find it particularly beautiful or full of top attractions but the strong working class and anarchist traditions here have become trends and you’re bound to fall under the spell.
Where is Poblenou?
Poble Nou is found in the Sant Marti district in the north east of Barcelona.
To get there it’s suggested to take the yellow metro line (L4).
I advise getting off at the Poblenou or Llacuna stops because from here you can easily reach the Rambla del Poblenou, Mar Bella beach, and other neighbourhood highlights listed below.
What to Do in Poblenou
La Rambla del Poblenou
Let’s start with the area’s major pedestrian thoroughfare.
When I’m here after the beach I head to the legendary horchatería called Tio Che for a refreshing horchata (a chilled tiger nut beverage from Valencia).
If you’re doing this it’s also worth it to check out side street Calle de Marià Aguiló where you’ll be able to grab a traditional vermut (always with an olive and orange slice!) or eat some amazing tapas.
If you’re a fan of street art you can’t miss discovering the lively graffiti that gave new life to the brick walls of Barcelona’s old industries.
I propose an itinerary that’ll take you to discover some of the most beautiful graffiti in the neighborhood – concentrated mainly in the northern area of the Sant Martí district, between the Gran Vïa de les Corts Catalanes and Diagonal.
Let’s start with the Parque del Centre del Poblenou. Take a look at the gardens and then exit north on Carrer del Maroc continuing towards the outskirts of Barcelona before reaching Calle Espronceda.
Here’s your first point of interest.
There’s a large building completely covered in art. Go around it to reach Carrer d’Espronceda (look up!) and then continue towards Carrer de Pere IV to reach La Escocesa, an old chemical factory, now transformed into an artistic center.
On one of the towers you’ll see graffiti of a disturbing black face done by Axel Void.
Continue beyond the Church of Sagrat Cor then turn left towards Carrer de Selva de Mar until you reach the intersection with Carrer del Peru.
Here you’ll find all sorts of murals.
Go back in the opposite direction and right before you hit Diagonal (the massive street cutting across Poblenou) you’ll see other important pieces of street art.
Continue on Carrer de Veneçuela until the intersection with Carrer de l’Agricultura, the ‘quadrilateral’ between that point and Carrer Josep Pla is completely covered in graffiti.
By definition street art is always on the move, cleaned up, or painted over so it may not be true to the photos, but take a look at a little walk I did last year for a sneak preview of what to expect.
Music & Architecture
If street art isn’t your thing: no problem!
In the large square outside the museum you’ll find the Torre Agbar: one of the most iconic skyscrapers in Barcelona which has some spectacular nighttime lighting for amazing photograph opportunities.
Walking through the streets of Poble Nou you’ll come across some massive 19th century industrial buildings which have now become lofts.
Some, like the one that housing Pompeu Fabra University (Carrer de Roc Boronat 138) or the Can Framis Museum of Contemporary Painting (Carrer de Roc Boronat 116-126) are fantastic examples of this innovative architectural conversion.
When it comes to Poblenou you can’t not mention the sea – it’s one the main attractions of the neighborhood.
The most convenient beaches from Rambla del Poblenou are Bogatell Beach (where we do beach volleyball in the summer) or the Mar Bella Beach.
To get there just point yourselves downhill.
You’ll have to cross a small park with its sports center, skate park, and sailing club with a great beachside bar called La Base by Farrè.
Mar Bella beach is famous for its heavy LGBT and nudist bent, so if you are looking for more of a family environment, walk to the right until you reach the more sporty Bogatell.
Where to Eat in Poblenou
This Poblenou restaurant is located in a charming modernist building overlooking La Rambla. It has been an active butcher and delicatessen since 1906.
In addition to selling delicious meat products in the shop it has also become a bohemian type restaurant, very intimate and welcoming.
Here you can sample tons of cheeses, salami, paté, carpaccio, and salads. You can wash it all down with a fantastic selection of wines.
They even have painting and photography exhibitions and live jazz performances.
Mes de Vi
Let’s stay on tapas. Not far from Rambla del Poblenou you’ll find this place specializing in innovative platillos (tasting plates) but also traditional tapas.
The vibe is modern and its spaciousness makes it perfect for group dinners.
At midday they offer a set menu from €11.40 from Monday to Friday and from €25.00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Bitacora del Poblenou
Yes, I’ve got get another one if you’re big on the idea of going to tapear (eat tapas). You’ll get high quality tapas with big portions, perfect for a good company meal in a relaxed environment.
I particularly enjoyed the grilled jumbo prawns, tuna tartare, and the ceviche (a raw fish dish cooked in the acid of lemon/lime juice).
If you go at noon you’ll get a set menu that costs just €10.00.
On Thursdays the set menu includes paella.
For an inexpensive menu with haute cuisine try this little place – a neighborhood restaurant offering every day Catalan cuisine.
Call it budget gourmet with its top notch risotto, ceviche, and stuffed calamari.
Here you’ll find workshop mechanics munching next to bearded hipsters.
The midday set menu costs around €13.00.
Here we definitely go up in category and price: in fact we’re talking about one of the best known fish and paella restaurants in Barcelona.
All the fresh seafood is spectacular and it’s got a location to match in a delightful and quiet little square.
If you look closely at the diners you could also recognize some Spanish celebrities… the last time I went there I met the famous cyclist Miguel Indurain.
Still no word on Messi or any other members from Barcelona FC.
There’s an irresistible mix of American, Mediterranean, and Brazilian dishes. Here you’ll get some pretty classic dishes like eggs benedict, french toast, pancakes, or fried green tomatoes.
You’ll also get a fantastic pulled pork or breaded chicken burger.
I’d recommend this to anybody looking for brunch – just be careful because the weekend is always packed and you’ll likely have to wait.
We can’t talk about eating on the Med without going Italian: and we can’t go wrong with pizza! This wood-fired pizzeria is famous for using its natural madre lievito yeast.
The rustic decor makes you feel like you’re sitting in a tiny Italian town and the size of the place follows suit. You can also get some amazing homemade pasta: like the ricotta stuffed ravioli.
Just be prepared to wait for a table if you haven’t booked.
When we talk about the nightlife in Poblenou there’s only one name: RAZZMATAZZ.
The most famous club in Barcelona (Carrer dels Almogàvers 122) is a true music temple. It’s got five rooms ranging from the harshest techno to electro and house, indie and pop-rock, and hip hop to reggaeton.
There’s also a lot of concerts, theme parties and alternative nights of all kinds. It’s absolutely unmissable for anybody who’s looking to have a big night out.
Not far from Razzmatazz is the perhaps best known beer spot in Barcelona: La Ovella Negra (Carrer de Zamora 78). This is another old warehouse transformed into the perfect space for having a drink with friends and catch a football game.
If you want something more peaceful then head to Balius (Carrer de Pujades 196) for a wonderful retro-style cocktail bar where on Sundays, in addition to tasting excellent gin tonics, you can check out live jazz music.
You’ll also do OK at Merlin (Carrer d’Àvila 142)… the place is quite small and mostly frequented by locals for music they call pachangueo: commercial, dance, singalong type stuff. If you show up before 2:00 am showing the flyer it costs half the price of Razz and includes a drink.
Keep in mind that both Razz and Merlín have a decidedly young crowd so if you’re over 25 I recommend going elsewhere unless you’re ‘young at heart’.
If you’re looking for more style and substance (or are simply over thirty) then I’d move to La Rambla for a nice cocktail at Madame George Lounge Bar.
You’ll find it at Carrer dels Pellaires 30.
This market hosts food trucks with all sorts of tasty treats. There are also concerts and local artist and designer stalls with a slightly (or more) hipster bent.
Entrance to the market space costs €3.00 but I highly recommend you buy your ticket online or you’ll be lining up for a long time.
Scattered around the neighborhood you’ll also find a lot of new and vintage furniture stores with a special eye on modern antiques. Go to Nasty Garage (Carrer de Pujades 41-43) for an injection of nostalgia between pinball and Vespas and home accessories and clothing.
Looking for a massive shopping center where you can find everything? On Diagonal you’ll find two of them: Glories (208) and Diagonal Mar (3) will take care of all your big brand, box store needs.
Poblenou Barcelona Events
As for events, we recommend two not to be missed:
- La Fiesta Mayor de Poblenou: two weeks of cultural activities, concerts, art, dance and sport during the first half of September. More info on the official website.
- Llum BCN: this Barcelona light festival illuminates Poblenou over three evenings in the month of February, in 2020 the event was held on 14th and 15th February on the occasion of the Santa Eulalia Festivals. For 2021 the date is TBA but check the official Llum BCN website for info.
Poblenou Barcelona Hotels
In Poblenou you’ll find accommodation options for all tastes and budgets.
From splendid and luxurious design hotels, to hotels aimed at “business” customers, to bed and breakfasts and the most spartan hostels.
Here are some of the top recommendations from Barcelona Hacks readers:
☆ | Rating: 7.6 | Address: Carrer de Lull 170 | Metro: Llacuna (L4)
For a one star there’s a pretty respectable user score of 7.8 here. It’s usually quite cheap and the location is good for getting around the city.
It’s also fantastic as it’s right near the beach! The en-suite bathrooms are a hit in particular. The reception is open 24h.
From the airport you can take the train and at Passeig de Gracia change with to the yellow metro L4 to Llacuna.
Melia Barcelona Sky
☆☆☆☆ | Rating: 8.1 | Address: Carrer de Pere IV 272 | Metro: Poblenou (L4)
In this majestic, innovative hotel built inside one of the tallest buildings in Barcelona you will be surrounded by comfort and space.
There’s an amazing city and sea views to be had from the 24th floor Skyline 24 Panoramic Terrace. A reader of mine really enjoyed the rain shower bathrooms.
The hotel is very well connected as it’s only 200m walk from the yellow metro stop Poblenou.
☆☆☆☆ | Rating: 8.2 | Address: Carrer de Ramon Turró 196-198 | Metro: Llacuna (L4)
Ilunion is an elegant hotel just 10 minutes walk from the Bogatell beach.
The hit here is the rooftop swimming pool. The rooms are stylish with their wooden flooring and work desks perfect for those attending Mobile World Congress or other conventions.
It is suitable for visitors with reduced mobility.
Rating: 8.5 | Address: Carrer de Taulat 30 | Metro: Llacuna (L4)
A good compromise between convenience and budget, this 1930’s hotel with a modern twist borders the beach and the sumptuous seafood restaurants of Barceloneta.
All rooms come with private bathroom, air conditioning, and free WiFi.
The breakfast on the terrace is highly rated.
Rating: 8.5 | Address: Carrer de Taulat 30 | Metro: Glories or Marina (L1)
This hostel offers both dorms and private rooms with air conditioning and wifi.
It has a beautiful terrace for some suntanning or to wind down after a big night out. There’s also a shared kitchen for guests.
The beach is about ten minutes away on foot.
If you need advice on a place to sleep, write us dates, number of people and budget and we’ll help you find something that is right for you!
Get at Us in the Comments
That’s another article down… but maybe I missed something? If you need any custom advice please feel free to write me in the comments below.
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