El Born: A Neighborhood Guide

Our resident's guide to getting to know El Born, Barcelona

May 28, 2024
street in el bornstreet in el born

If you’re planning on visiting Barcelona for a few days, or living here for a few months, one area you definitely won’t want to miss is El Born. Along with the Barrio Gótico, and El Raval, Born makes up La Ciutat Vella (the Old City).

Historically, the area was famous for knight’s tournaments and commerce. Nowadays Born is more known for its bohemian, artsy side. A little less touristy than Barrio Gótico, it's had all the benefits of multicultural immigration, without losing as much of its local character.

Born is a lovely place to walk around. The architecture and the narrow, cobbled passageways remind us of its history, and around every corner is an artisan shop, or cool bodega to check out. The centrepiece of the neighborhood is Passeig del Born-beautiful in the day, it really livens up at night. In this guide we’ll tell you where to go, what to see and where to stay- read on!

What to do in Born

First thing on the list is simply to walk around and take it all in. Born is great place to meander aimlessly- especially on a nice day, which there are plenty of here. If you’re here for a while you should explore on your own, but if you’re on a tight schedule- here are some things you need to see:

Forming a triangle around Born are 3 of the city’s most important sights, which you should fit in however long you’re here for. The two most important parks in the city are Parc Güell, which is more of a tourist attraction than a park, and Parc de la Ciutadella, which is about 50/50. It is a beautiful and well-kept park, with some delightful artwork lining its paths. There are also some areas where locals go to hang out, have picnics and play the guitar. The Arc de Triomphe is a short walk away, and the city zoo is in Ciutadella.

fountain in parc cuitadella

Palau de la música Catalana (the Palace of Catalan music) is an absolutely stunning concert venue. It’s well worth seeing a show here for the building alone. Even if you don’t- go take a look at the outside. It was designed by an Domenech I Muntaner, a contemporary and teacher of Gaudi. It shows- especially with the building’s exterior.

Down by the sea you’ll find Barcelona’s second most popular Basilica (after you-know-what), Santa Maria del Mar. The cathedral is impressive both inside and out, and the adjoining plaza is one of the city’s prettiest.

Other places to make time for are the Picasso Museum, which holds over 3,500 works of the great master. Also, the Centre de Cultura i Memòria- this used to be a market, but when they tried renovating it in the 80s, they discovered an archeological site dating from the 18th century back to Roman times. Now a museum, you can see the remains for free, and there is a paid exhibition if you want to dig a little deeper.

Centre de Cultura i Memòria

Where to eat in Born

Born is a trendy, multicultural neighborhood, which still retains some of its local character. This is great news for its restaurant selection, which has great options for local, and not-so-local food. We’ve asked our Born residents to pick out some of their favorites:

For local food, El Chigre was recommended by everyone we asked. Their “Catarian” food is a mix of Catalan and Asturian, and it’s also a vermouth and cider bar. Hugely popular with both tourists and locals. Bormuth has a great local atmosphere, and gets our vote for best tapas. Bar Joanet is another great option for authentic Spanish cuisine.

Heading East, Mosquito and sister restaurant Red Ant fuse Asian flavors from China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam- the pork Bao at Red Ant are particularly delicious. If you’re looking for Ramen it has to be Koku Kitchen, whose number of Japanese regulars tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the food.

busy restaurant

In the opposite direction, Txlaxal has some of the best Mexican food in the city, and sister restaurant Costa Pacífico specializes in ceviche and other seafood. If you’re after vegetarian and vegan food, La Hamaca is a great place where they also make excellent smoothies.

Where to go out in Born

Again, this is done best by exploring. Born isn’t huge, so it’s easy to walk around and get a feel for where you want to be. There is also a great starting spot- Passeig de Born. Born’s answer to the Rambla is lined with great bars, and a couple of semi-clubs, so head here if you need inspiration. In the evening you’ll find plenty of guys selling beer cans. Technically you’re not allowed to drink on the street, but if you do- don’t pay more than a euro (maybe €1.50 on a special occasion). Any more is a rip off. If you’re staying in Born for less time and would like a shortcut to some of the best bars- here are some of our residents’ recommendations:

If you want a cocktail and a lively atmosphere- Porteño, Creps al Born, and Stereo 18 are three of the best options. You can get a bite to eat too, Stereo 18 do great hotdogs, no prizes for guessing what they serve in Creps al Born.

To see how much cheaper cava is here than back home, try El Xampanyet. If you want a full night out in one bar- go to Club Haus, where you can eat, drink, do karoke or play ping pong and darts. Finally, if you’re looking for somewhere to finish the night without the Reggaetón- head to Magic Club for rock music.

Where to shop in Born

For all kinds of local produce, at Santa Caterina market you can buy your meats, cheeses and olives to take home for relatives, or eat yourself. La Botifarreria is an excellent delicatessen which specializes in botifarra- big sausages.

The streets of Born hold all manner of cool clothes and art shops. It’s best to wander around yourself, but Carrer de l’Esparteria and Carrer del Flassanders are good places to start. Some other good shops to look for are Wo design studio and Ozz Barcelona for art and design, the boutique Colmado, and Magpie Vintage- for second hand gear.

people walking around born

Where to stay in Born

Those here on vacation have plenty of options, as there are loads of hotels and hostels here in Born. If you’re staying a little longer, Ukio have apartments to rent in the area from 1 month up to 11.

Wherever you stay, we’re sure that a taste of this delightful little barrio will make you want to come back for more.