Top 5 Things to do in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is one of the most charming areas of Barcelona. Tiny shaded streets are lined with tall buildings packed tightly alongside one another. Because of these narrow streets, there are very few cars that move around this area of Barcelona. This means that most of the people in the area are strolling around on foot, which brings a quiet energy to the Gothic Quarter. Walking around on foot also means you have time to stop and appreciate the little wonders and quirks of the area. 

You could easily spend a full day getting lost in the Gothic Quarter’s winding streets. I have put together this list of some places to try look out for when exploring this extraordinary part of the city.

1. Marvel at the architecture of the Barcelona Cathedral

This would not be a very good ‘Gothic Quarter’ list without the inclusion of the Barcelona Cathedral. And rightly so! This is a magnificent piece of architecture that is sometimes overlooked in favour of works like La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí. This is a typical example of Catalan Gothic architecture, with looming buttresses and incredible stained glass windows. 

Barcelona Cathedral. Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash.

It also boasts incredible 360 degree terrace views of the city, where you can see almost everything from Montjuic Mountain, to the W Hotel. While entrance to the cathedral is free during opening hours, there is a small fee to be paid if you want to visit the rooftop terrace. 

OPENING HOURS: Weekdays — 12:30 p.m to 7:15 p.m, Saturdays — 12:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m, Sundays — 2:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m
ADDRESS: Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Metro Station: Jaume I

2. Enjoy the energy of the famous Las Ramblas

Another unmissable landmark in all of Barcelona, is Las Ramblas. This boulevard lies on the edge of the Gothic Quarter and doesn’t have quite the same feel to it as the rest of the area. This is not to say it doesn’t have its own appeal! Las Ramblas is definitely worth a visit, if only for the experience of having been there. 

The tree-lined street of La Rambla spans 1.2km and lies along the border of the Gothic Quarter. Image by hoelli from Pixabay.

This is a largely pedestrian street and boy does it bustle! If you need to get souvenirs for friends or family back home, this is an easy bet as there are tons of pop up markets with people selling all sorts of goods. Because of the street’s fame however, this is not somewhere you will find a bargain.

Las Ramblas is fun for a stroll during the day. Grab a Gelato and walk the 1.2km stretch while taking it all in. 

OPENING HOURS: 24 HOURS
ADDRESS: La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain
Metro Station: Liceu

3. Hang out near the ocean at the Port Vell Harbour

The Gothic Quarter ends along the edge of the Port of Barcelona. The Plaça de l’Ictineo is a lush green public space, set on a stretch of land between the Marina Port Vell and the Dàrsena Nacional Marina. Maybe it’s just me, but I find there to be something so calming about watching yachts bob about in the marina. This would be a nice spot to grab a quiet picnic-style lunch near the ocean, without the madness of Barceloneta Beach!

The Barcelona Aquarium is just ahead of the Plaça de l’Ictineo, and if you are hanging out in this part of the Quarter, is definitely worth the entrance fee! 

Tropical Sharks at the Barcelona Aquarium. Image sourced from Aquarium BCN Official website.

BARCELONA AQUARIUM
OPENING HOURS:
Nov – Mar: Monday to Friday –  10m to 7:30pm, Weekends –  10m to 8pm
Apr, May, Oct: Monday to Friday –  10m to 8pm, Weekends –  10m to 8:30pm , Jun – Sept: Everyday –  10m to 9pm
ADDRESS: Moll d’Espanya del Port Vell, s/n, 08039 Barcelona
Metro Station: Barceloneta

4. Try to make sense of Roy Lichtenstein’s El Cap de Barcelona

Also in the Port Vell area of the Gothic Quarter, is a 15-metre-high sculpture designed by the pop art hero Roy Lichtenstein. The sculpture was built by Diego Delgado and was completed in 1992. During this time, Barcelona was undergoing large urban transformations in an attempt to modernise and uplift areas within the city.

Roy Lichtenstein’s El Cap de Barcelona. Image by Andy Mitchell

The sculpture incorporates Lichtenstein’s pop art style through its comic nature. He also incorporated mosaïc art into the piece, which ties it into the city in a beautiful way. Gaudí’s designs are famed for incorporating this technique and, as a result, the technique has become somewhat characteristic of the city’s aesthetic.

ADDRESS: Passeig de Colom, s/n, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Metro Station: Barceloneta

5. People watch from the window at Federal Café

Heading back towards the heart of the Gothic Quarter, you will find one of my very favourite spots for a Barcelona brunch. There are two Federal Cafés in Barcelona and one has recently opened in Madrid. But this is no franchise style restaurant. Each branch of Federal is unique in its aesthetic, though the menu is very similar across the three. It is a perfect spot for brunch or lunch, that will not disappoint.

The best seats in the house are the Federal Cafe window seats. Image sourced from federalcafe.es

You can’t go wrong with their avocado toast for breakfast and if you are there for lunch, their burgers are a real treat. Grab a window seat (a charming, somewhat signature design feature found in each of the three branches) and people watch the day away.

OPENING HOURS: Monday to Thursday — 08:00 to 23:00, Friday. —08:00 to 01:00, Saturday. —  09:00 to 01:00, Sunday — 09:00 to 17:30
ADDRESS: C/ Parlament 39, 08015 Barcelona
Metro Station: Drassanes

While these are some great places to visit in and around the Gothic Quarter, most of its real charm can be found among the streets.

Discover beauty and delight around every corner of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. Photo by Brandon Gurney on Unsplash.

I would recommend dedicating a day to just strolling around the area and wondering into shops or restaurants that catch your eye, as there are many!

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