Not the most popular or picturesque of regions, Sant Martí isn’t really the district tourists venture to unless for some reason they have to. It’s largely residential, dominated by apartment blocks and grey high-rises. Having said that, if you do fancy mixing with the locals, being close to some of Barcelona’s biggest shopping malls and getting away from the hustle and bustle, then this district has its advantages.
Admittedly, it’s not as close to the city centre as it might appear on the map and most people who stay here use their accommodation purely as a base. However this is not as inconvenient as it sounds due to the fantastic transport links allowing you to get to all the tourist hotspots in about 15 minutes.
Sant Martí is a large district, nestled between Diagonal Mar, Poble Nou, Sant Andreu and Clot. Diagonal Avenue and Ronda Sant Martí form its boundaries and its main thoroughfares are Carrer l´Agricultura, the tree-lined Rambla Prim and bustling Rambla de Guipúscoa. Sant Martí is lacking somewhat in main reference points as it doesn’t really have a tourist attraction or squares for people to gather and socialise in.
Know your neighbours
Sant Martí isn’t a particularly affluent area and its working-class population reflects this. The cheap housing has attracted a lot of immigrants and this adds to the new multicultural feel this district is taking on. There’s also a large elderly population, many of whom have lived here all their lives and they make up the backbone of the community. Sant Martí also boasts a large amount of outdoor space, gyms and football/basketball pitches, attracting lots of active people to the area. So much so that a walk down Rambla de Guipúscoa or Passeig Marítim de la Mar Bella will see you pass tens of joggers and cyclists.
Away from the city centre, Sant Martí is the perfect place for a bit of tourist-free shopping. The huge shopping complex of Diagonal Mar can be found within the district itself and Glòries mega mall is also pretty close, so you are spoiled for choice. Diagonal Mar shopping centre has a huge selection of some of Spain’s most popular shops, as well as top international brands, cinemas and restaurants galore.
Like many districts in Barcelona, there’s also a local indoor market in Sant Martí, very central and great for picking up a few bits and bobs. You can find it on Carrer de Puigcerdà – take your pick of a large selection of fruit, vegetables, meat fish and other delicacies.
Transport links in Sant Martí are particularly good, especially to the city centre. The purple metro line (L2) runs straight though the district, allowing you to get to Passeig de Gràcia in about 15 minutes. The yellow line (L4) also has a lot of stops including El Maresme/Fòrum and La Pau. It’s handy in the summer as you can reach the popular Barceloneta beach in around 10 minutes on this line. There’s also an extensive tram network with green lines T4, T5 and T6 running with regular stops.
As we mentioned before, Rambla Prim is a very pretty pedestrianised street, lined with trees and benches and popular with dog walkers and joggers. There is also a particularly beautiful park called Parc de Sant Martí that houses the quaint Church of Sant Martí de Provençals and a courtyard. And although it’s not in Sant Martí itself, there is also one of Barcelona’s most popular English cinemas in the neighbouring district, called Yelmo Cineplex Icaria. You can find it on Carrer Salvador Espriu, the nearest metro stop being Vila Olímpica, and it’s great for an afternoon of entertainment.
Barcelona has some spectacular restaurants, however Sant Martí isn’t well known for its food scene and you’ll probably have to venture further afield for a real culinary experience. If you do however want to go somewhere within walking distance, there are a few restaurants on Carrer Pont de Treball. The first is El Ramblero, popular with locals and offering a great selection (especially its tapas) that would be double the price on Las Ramblas. The second is Sant Martí Restaurant just around the corner. It’s a smaller and more traditional spot for a bite to eat that uses seasonal and local ingredients.
Apart from that, there isn’t really much else going on in Sant Martí in terms of eating out. There are a few bars here and there where you might be lucky enough to find something reasonable. In reality, it’s probably more advisable to take advantage of the great transport links and jump on the metro to somewhere more central.
Like many other outlying districts of Barcelona, Sant Martí does leave a little to be desired when it comes to nightlife. However you can find a huge selection of bars and clubs just a metro ride away. Barcelona’s biggest super club, Razzmatazz, is less than 10 minutes away on the yellow line (Bogatell) or you can even get the tram there, getting off at Marina. Sant Martí does have a few sleepy bars and terraces but it’s probably better to see your apartment here as a base and find your fun elsewhere in the city.
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