- Looking for an authentic Catalan experience while still wanting to be within easy reach of the centre? Then Sant Andreu might be your neighbourhood. Local, quaint, and rich in its own history, you’ll soon forget you’re in Spain’s second-largest city. Similar to Gràcia, it’s a great neighbourhood for families as it’s more serene than other areas with lots of green spaces and narrow pedestrianised streets.
Like other outlying districts, Sant Andreu was independent until 1897, and despite being fully integrated into the city today, its charming little houses, cobbled streets and sleepy squares mean there’s a much more peaceful vibe on the streets. It’s largely residential, and most of the action centres around the old town and less around the more industrialised areas which can be a bit soulless.
This former village is currently undergoing a major urban transformation in preparation for the arrival of the high-speed train (AVE). That being said, the oldest part still boasts a bustling high street and a welcoming feel, and you get the impression things haven’t changed here in decades, from the residents to the cafés.
Finding your feet
Sant Andreu is located in the north of the city, firmly nestled between districts Nou Barris, El Clot and Sant Martí. The roads Avinguda Meridiana and Ronda Litoral form the district’s boundaries and the main thoroughfares are Rambla de l’Onze de Setembre, Passeig Fabra i Puig, Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu and Passeig de Torras I Bages. Its key reference points are Plaça d’Orfila, the Church of Sant Andreu de Palomar and La Maquinista shopping centre.
Know your neighbours
Sant Andreu is known for its staunchly Catalan credentials and it won’t be long before you notice the sea of striped flags hanging over the balconies. You really feel like you’re getting an authentic taste of what the rest of Catalonia is like outside the tourist mecca which is the centre of Barcelona. The demographic of the area is typically families, looking for somewhere with less traffic and more open spaces but still within good commuter time to the city. There’s also a large percentage of elderly people who make up the community feel that the district has managed to maintain.
Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu is where the heart of this community lies. Full of independent shops, grocers, salons and cafés, this tree-lined street running the length of the old town is where you’d be able to pick up most bits and bobs on a Saturday morning. One popular grocer is Frescuore, full of fresh produce from fish to fruit. Although not in the centre, Sant Andreu is well known for its tourist-free shopping due to the Maquinista Centre. With over 200 shops such as Zara, Hollister, an Apple Store and FNAC, plus restaurants galore and a cinema, it’s a sure-fire hit with the whole family.
Navigating Sant Andreu is very easy considering it’s not in the centre. On the metro you can get to Plaça Catalunya in 15 minutes and on the RENFE train you can be on Passeig de Gràcia in 10 minutes. The red line (L1) has 7 stops in Sant Andreu, the first stop being Navas and last being Baró de Viver. The blue line (L5) also has stops in the west of the district such as Congrès. You can also get a RENFE train in and out of the centre from Sant Andreu Comtal or Arenal stations. From these stations you can also go a little further afield to places such as Girona and the south of France, or reach Barcelona airport Terminal two in 35 minutes.
- It’s definitely worth poking your head into the neo-classical Church of Sant Andreu del Palomar, which still stands today despite its troubled past. The church looks out on to Plaça d’Orfila, permeated by the peace and tranquillity of olden times and a perfect spot to watch the world go by. Another place where time has stood still is the beautiful porticoed square of Plaça del Mercadal. It was once a popular trading hub, but today you can find a quaint local market and various traditional restaurants. Another church worth visiting is the Church of Sant Pacià. It’s a must see for Gaudí aficionados as it houses a beautiful mosaic by the great architect himself and is a real hidden gem in this district.
Sant Andreu doesn’t offer the vast selection of restaurants that you can find elsewhere in the city, but what it lacks in quantity in makes up in quality. A haunt of the former Mayor of Sant Andreu and somewhere that should be on your hit list is Can Roca. Small and unassuming, you could easy walk right past this little eatery, but if you’re lucky enough to go in then you will be sure to enjoy some hearty Catalan classics at a good price. Another reliable option is Versalles on Gran de Sant Andreu. It’s had prime position on the square since 1915 and its wooden interior and traditional menu attract locals old and new.
Another option in the southern half of the district is the ever-popular Paradeta. Although part of a well-established Barcelona chain, this does not detract from the quality. Unique in its approach, it offers a selection of fresh fish to choose from. Then just let them know how you’d like it cooked and wait for your number to be called. It’s not the setting for a romantic date but if you want excellent fish at low prices then make a beeline for this place.
If you’re looking for a big night out in Barcelona then Sant Andreu probably isn’t the barrio for you, however, wander down a few side streets and it won’t take you long before you find a cool little hangout. The district is great for having tapas and a few drinks and has lots of funky and authentic bars full of friendly locals and the odd tourist, all within walking distance of your accommodation.
VideosNo videos right now.
Got an opinion about this neighbourhood? Any burning questions about staying here?
Let us know below and we'll be in touch faster than you can say Cava Sangría. For full information on our approach to users’ comments on our site, please see our publishing policy. Please feel free to contact us by phone or email if you have any questions about it.
Our policy on publishing comments
Why we want your comments
On various pages throughout this site we invite you to leave comments and ask questions about places and subjects of interest and on the accommodation that we provide.
We believe that your opinion is always worth hearing and your ability to share insights, stories, tips and suggestions through our comments function is an important part of the online service that we offer.
We will always provide a response to any comment that requires one – so feel free to ask questions or raise issues.
How comments are moderated
The last thing we want to do is censor your opinions or to prevent posts appearing about negative aspects of the city or activities and locations that we feature. Comments will only be taken down if:
- They contain swear words or insults.
- They advertise a business or service (we are however happy to consider covering services provided in Barcelona on our blog).
- They break the law.
- They are off-topic or have been left for malicious reasons by an anonymous source (spam).
In short our policy is to publish comments unless they are at risk of damaging the quality of our website or are likely to result in legal or technical difficulties.
Transparency will always be one of our most important values and we go to great efforts to ensure your feedback remains at the heart of what we do – so please don´t hesitate to get in touch!