Base yourself in Born – at the cutting-edge of cool.

Vibe on the street: urbane, modish, easy-going, inventive, vibrant.
Famous for: the most beautiful church in Barcelona, the Picasso museum, being effortlessly hip, countless cafés and stylish eateries.
Base yourself in Born – at the cutting-edge of cool.
  • Born is an area suited to a relaxed pace of life, whether it’s soaking up the atmosphere at one of its pavement cafés or packing an afternoon picnic for a leisurely lunch in Ciutadella Park. It also offers a surprisingly diverse range of things to do…from immersing yourself in the history (and taste!) of chocolate at the Museu de la Xocolata to taking in exhibitions of Barcelona in the photo archive (Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona). This is a really interesting place that has pictures of the city spanning the last two centuries.

    Nearby sights

    The magnificent basilica of Santa Maria del Mar dominates the ‘to see’ list in Born. With its Gothic façade and elegant interior, it’s regarded by many as the most beautiful church in Barcelona. It’s also a fully functioning parish, and you might be lucky enough to witness a wedding taking place at the altar. With a complete collection of the artist’s early works, the Museu Picasso is another star attraction. The same street, Montcada, also holds two other interesting museums – the Disseny Hub and another showing off pieces of art from pre-Hispanic American civilisations.

    Up at the top end of Born is the Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall that announces itself in a riot of architecture, which becomes even more exuberant when you step inside. Concerts are held here frequently, and if you can get hold of tickets for one it would make for a memorable night out. Heading south again from here, you could head along to see the Arc de Triomf. Not as famous as the Parisian version, but an impressive structure nonetheless.

    Follow the wide promenade south and you’ll be at one of main entrances to Ciutadella Park. This is a large space with a waterfall, boating lake and lots of grassy verges to sunbathe on. It’s also the grounds of Barcelona’s zoo, which would be a good option if you’re staying in the city with children.

    Eating out

    The first place we must mention is a Barcelona classic – the seafood restaurant La Paradeta. The concept is simple – fresh, quality produce caught by the staff’s own boat, and then laid out for you to choose from as you enter. Get there early, though, as the queues outside are legendary. Then there’s Mosquito, an Asian tapas/dim sum bar, whose strapline is “life without dumplings is not worth living”. For the more traditional tapas route, you can’t do better than Cal Pep. If you manage to get a seat at the bar you’ll be able to watch the chefs in full Mediterranean flow. Finally, there’s the ceramic-tiled El Xampanyet, on Carrer Montcada (and quite close to the Picasso Museum, if you were trying to kill two birds on the same street). The name refers to the restaurant’s home-made sparkling drink, which is rather like sweet champagne. Wonderful tapas and a very homely atmosphere mean people keep coming back.

    After hours

    The whole Born district is choc-a-block with trendy bars and sophisticated hang-outs, which draw an even mix of locals and foreigners. Mudanzas (which means ‘moving’) in Spanish, ironically isn’t somewhere people tend to want to move on from. Good drinks and attentive service make sure this comfy spot is always popular. Just around the corner from the Museu Picasso you’ll find Bar Rubi, a decadently decorated lounge bar that offers a decent selection of wines and Cava. If you fancy a mojito al fresco, Cactus Bar has a nice terrace and offers a relaxed atmosphere with good-value drinks. Cocktail enthusiasts will also love Coppelia Club, which is a swankily clad venue designed by a celebrated fashion photographer. It attracts an upmarket, well-dressed crowd eager to recline on the leather sofas with a heady gin mix and enjoy the music.

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