Amazing Gràcia – for a different type of tourist.

Vibe on the street: village-like, bohemian, fashionable, nonconformist, animated.
Famous for: the colourful annual street festival ‘La Festa Major de Gràcia’, a radical past, countless cosy plaças, quirky ‘alternative’ shopping.
Amazing Gràcia – for a different type of tourist.
  • The most hotly anticipated event in Barcelona’s calendar of festivals is the Festa Major de Gràcia – a week-long extravaganza that takes place around the 15th of August every year. Locals really put their heart into it, and visitors are welcome to wander around the streets getting a peek into the in-depth preparation that goes on. Residents of each street compete with each other to see who can scoop the prize for the best street decorations, and a carnival mood takes over, with live music, correfoc (fire runs), parades, dancing and fireworks. Timing your stay in the city to coincide with this celebration is by no means a daft idea.

    Another advantage for visitors who choose to stay in Gràcia is being close to the Verdi multiscreen cinema. This is the most well-known cinema in Barcelona to show films in their original language (v.o. standing for ‘versión original’), with subtitles in Spanish. Perfect if you fancy seeing the latest release while you’re in town.

    Nearby sights

    The biggest draw nearby is the whimsical Parc Güell, laid out over 37 acres and one of the last projects designed by Antoni Gaudí. It resembles the scene of a children’s fairy tale, with its gingerbread houses, serpentine benches and resident salamander made out of mosaic tiles ready to welcome you at the entrance. As well as the Gaudí museum, at the entrance, you can take in the blend of nature and architecture that Gaudí mastered so successfully.

    Within Gràcia itself there are some stand-out examples of Modernista architecture. The most iconic is Casa Fuster, which looks a bit like a city-centre castle and nowadays functions as a 5-star hotel. There’s also Casa Viçens, tucked away on Carrer de les Carolines. It’s privately owned and sadly not open to the public, but definitely worth a detour just to appreciate the Moorish-influenced façade.

    Eating out

    There’s a huge range of restaurants in Gràcia, from traditional Mediterranean fare to cuisine from all corners of the globe. Then of course there are plenty of little tapas bars dotted around the many squares. Many of the pricier restaurants are located along the Gran de Gràcia, one of which is Fernandez, which would be a good choice if you’re celebrating a special occasion. For a more laid-back vibe, head to Amelie, which dishes up satisfying and original food at very affordable prices. The service is second-to-none. The beautifully illuminated Ferrum is another of our favourites, where staff take particular care to make diners feel at home.

    After hours

    Gràcia’s nightlife revolves around its terraces and squares, where people can kick back and watch the comings and goings of the barrio. Bars are also ten a penny. For an ‘authentic’ feel, you might enjoy the atmosphere in Ban Canigó. It can look a bit stark on first glance, but it turns out to be quite a homely place, enduringly popular with locals. The incredibly cheap drinks and hearty sandwiches could be a factor, of course. Gràcia’s also full of bodegas (somewhere between a bar and a traditional wine cellar). The El Roure bar, whose house speciality is a potent vermouth, is full of old-timers and has a reputation for dishing up the best tapas in Gràcia. Later on in the evening, you could sample the charms of El Alfa, a nightclub on the main Gran de Gràcia. Always popular (particularly with 30-somethings) it plays a good selection of music and has a very reasonable entrance fee.

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