- Pronouncing its name might be tricky, but getting lost in L’Eixample doesn’t tend to be a problem. This modern area of Barcelona was designed by Catalan civil engineer Cerdà in the mid-19th century, as the old town area was starting to burst at its medieval seams (its name in Catalan means ‘the extension’). Its geometric layout and broad, sunny streets are a pleasant contrast to the shady, labyrinthine feel of the older parts of the city.
The wealthy elite of Barcelonese society were keen to make their mark on this new town, and commissioned some of the most in-vogue architects of the day to design their homes. As a result, L’Eixample Dreta (the part of the Eixample to the right side of Passeig de Gràcia) boasts the most concentrated example of Modernista architecture in Barcelona. As you’re wandering around, don’t look at your feet! Peek into doorways and patios and glance up at street lamps and balconies – you’ll see lots of little Modernista touches that all go towards creating the atmosphere of the place.
An uptown feel
Being based in L’Eixample Dreta for your trip has a lot of advantages. Top of the list has to be location – you’ll be within walking distance of the central Plaça Catalunya, the Sagrada Famìlia and the city’s most prestigious shopping street, the Passeig de Gràcia. The area is also fairly quiet at night, thanks to the orderly flow of one-way traffic and lack of plaças (squares) where people would typically gather in the evening. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to be at the thick of things when it comes to night-life, this might not be the barrio for you.
Know your neighbours
L’Eixample Dreta has managed to retain its reputation as being one of Barcelona’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. It’s popular with middle-to-upper class Catalan people, who enjoy a good standard of living amongst the upmarket bars and restaurants, and large, modern flats. You’ll also see a lot of families with young children milling about. Many of the area’s apartments above shops and restaurants have been converted into offices, and at lunchtime the hungry hordes appear on the streets before retreating back to business in the afternoon.
And if you fancy seeing a friendly face while you’re in town, you can always call in and see us – our office is on Ronda Universitat.
The district has a good choice of local supermarkets to choose from, including branches of Mercadona and Lidl. If you need some basic food items last-thing at night, there are some small, foreign-owned supermarkets that tend to stay open. For something special, head to Colmado Múrria, a well-preserved Modernista-style delicatessen. (Look out for the stained-glass girl on the shop window, the original icon of the anise-based liquor that’s on sale inside.) Another one-off shop is the Navarro florist’s – ideal if you fancy decking out your apartment with fresh flowers during your stay. Split into two cavernous spaces, some of the floral creations have to be seen to be believed. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, it’s worth a visit just to enjoy the incredible smell.
L’Eixample Dreta is well-served by public transport, with lots of buses running to and from the centre and the beach, as well as several metro lines. In fact, you can virtually sing a rainbow with the different coloured metro lines – the yellow one will take you straight to the beach of Barceloneta, and the purple one to the Sagrada Família. The grid layout of the streets makes driving quite straightforward, and there are a few underground parking sites (for a fee) as well. Hailing a cab never takes long, either.
For those of you arriving into Girona airport, L’Eixample Dreta is especially handy – you can catch the bus from the airport straight into the Estació del Nord bus terminal, just to the right of the Arc de Triomf.
- The structured streets of L’Eixample Dreta are famous for their high number of art galleries, together with a cluster of upmarket bars and restaurants. Just taking the time to wander around is the best advice we can offer you in this district. You come across all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies this way – such as the tropical cloisters of the Parish of the Conception Church, on Carrer de Aragó, or the well-kept gardens and patios of elegant private houses.
Keep an eye out for a couple of other places, too, such as the Arena Monumental. It had the controversial honour of being the location of the last ever bullfight in Catalonia, in September 2011. A couple of blocks north of the Estació de Nord is L’Auditori, a huge venue with three concert halls. There may well be something on here when you’re in town.
We have to start with Gaudí’s Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will need at least a couple of hours to really take in the details at this apartment block on the Passeig de Gràcia, whose ‘witch-scarer’ chimney stacks can be seen from the street below. After that, you could go window shopping along the Passeig de Gràcia, which is home to top-name brands such as Chanel, Tiffany, Burberry, Vinçon, Adolfo Dominguez and Loewe. Within L’Eixample Dreta itself you’ll also find the Egyptian Museum. This is an often-ignored but good-quality museum that holds hundreds of Egyptian artefacts, alongside the obligatory ensemble of mummies.
A family-friendly neighbourhood
At first sight the area’s layout can make the atmosphere seem a little impersonal, but L’Eixample Dreta turns out to be surprisingly geared up for families with young children. Every summer its very own beach opens for kids – an artificial one, but handy nonetheless. It’s called the Platja de l'Eixample, and you can find it in a small park known as the ‘Torre de les Aigues’ (a large water tower). To complete the beach experience, the large fountain is turned into a knee-high paddling pool up until the end of September. The entry fee is under 2€ and buckets and spades are supplied. Young children will also thank you for a trip to Happy Parc, on Pau Claris. It’s full of inflatable toys and climbing frames where they can romp to their hearts’ content. If they’d rather run around outside, there’s an unexpectedly green and peaceful park right next to the Estació del Nord bus station - a good spot for taking a breather from the city.
L’Eixample Dreta is a brilliant barrio for finding foreign cuisine. A really good Indian restaurant is the Mayura Lounge, which offers a set lunch menu in a comfy and welcoming setting. For a taste of Thai, there’s the upscale Thai Gardens, just off the Passeig de Gràcia, whose sunken tables and opulent décor make it perfect for a romantic dinner. Or, for some culture with your lunch, there’s Café Laie, a bookshop with an upstairs café and terrace that offers healthy fare with a Mediterranean bias.
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