Are your fellow travellers always making you feel guilty about your shopping habit when you’re getting to know a new city far from home? Show them what’s what by making your affair with shopping abroad into a tour of some of Barcelona’s beautiful historic stores. Here are six of our favourites from around town.
1. Browse luxury foodstuffs and choose from among hundreds of varieties of wine and beer at Colmado Quilez.
Here is the stuff gourmet meals are made of. From baby artichokes packed in extra virgin olive oil to caviar, to celebrated brands of Cava, this is the place to find amazing edibles and drinkables for consumption in Barcelona or back at home. Just remember to bring plenty of cash or your favourite plastic money – the goods at Colmado Quilez don’t come cheap.
Address: Rambla de Catalunya 63
Getting there: Metro Passeig de Gràcia , , FGC
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9-14, 16:30-20:30, Saturdays 9-14
Phone: 932 152 356
2. At L’Arca de l’Avia roam among beautiful antique and vintage-style clothes and accessories, fantasising about fashion in times gone by.
If you have plans to get married, film a historical drama or just want something unique for a special event, the store’s workshop still makes dresses and clothes to order. A less expensive option is indulging yourself or a loved one with a traditionally made fan, or shawl.
L’Arca de l’Avia participated in the costuming for movies like Titanic, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (filmed in Barcelona). So even if you’re not in the market for bespoke or new-to-you threads or accessories, take a few moments to check out the shop’s beautiful costumes on display.
Address: C/Banys Nous 20
Getting there: Metro Liceu or Jaume I
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10-14, and 17-20, Saturdays 11-14
Phone: 933 021 598
3. Shop for natural remedies and cooking spices at Herboristeria del Rei, the first herb store in Catalonia.
Founded in 1823, the dusty shop near Plaça Reial is still decorated as it was in 1860, when Isabel II declared it the official herb supplier for the royal house. Perhaps because of this, it was one of the places in Barcelona used in the filming of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
If you’re looking for a specific herb or spice in Barcelona, chances are you’ll find it here. More than 220 varieties of medicinal plants, spices for cooking, and honey, sweets, brushes, natural cosmetics and essential oils are crammed into the shop’s floor-to-ceiling shelves. The owners, a charming elderly couple, are more than happy to advise clueless patrons about natural remedies or whip-up a herbal concoction to calm their jetlag.
Address: Carrer Del Vidre 1
Getting there: Metro Liceu
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 16-20, Saturday 10-20 hours
Phone 933 180 512
4. Buy yourself some scented wax at the oldest shop in Barcelona, La Cereria Subirà.
With its original Baroque décor and rows upon rows of colourful creations, this Gothic Quarter shop is a mandatory stop on every Barcelona shopping tour. The candles are made from high-quality paraffin and beeswax and are designed to prevent smoke and bad odours. Before they go on sale, the candles are also tested for functionality and duration – so there’ll be no need to worry about that Sagrada Familia-shaped candle you simply have to have melting into a wax puddle from moderate sunlight exposure.
Address: Baixada Llibreteria 7
Getting there: Metro Jaume 1
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9-13.30 and 16-19.30, Saturdays from 9-13.30
Phone: 933 152 606
5. Give in to your chocolate cravings at Fargas in the Gothic Quarter.
At Barcelona’s oldest and best-known sweet shop, you can savour chocolate truffles, bonbons and other sugary confections made in-house. Why not order a beautifully wrapped box of sweets to go? You’ll delight friends and family with a tasty souvenir from expert candy-makers that have been in business since 1827. To avoid the temptation, you may want to pack them in your checked bag, so they’ll survive any snack attacks you may suffer during your return flight.
Address: Carrer del Pi, 16 (Barcelona)
Getting there: Metro Liceu
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9:30-13:30 and 16-20, Saturdays 10-14 and 16-20
Phone: 93 302 03 42
6. Music lovers, makers, movers and shakers will likely get a kick out of Casa Beethoven.
A short walk from Plaça Catalunya, the tiny storefront along Barcelona’s Rambla was founded in 1880 and has hung on for well over a century. It’s a great place to find different kinds of sheet music, song books and books about learning to play instruments, not to mention a welcome break from the trinket shops full of Barcelona souvenirs made in China crowding the area. For collectors, there’s plenty of sheet music of compositions by Spaniards and Catalans for sale. Some evenings there are even impromptu piano concerts.
Address: La Rambla, 97
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9-14, 16-20, Saturdays 9-14, 17-20
Getting there: Metro Liceu
Phone: 933 014 826
The Gothic Quarter is a good place to hunt down even more historic shops, but if what you’re really looking for are stores housed in Modernista buildings, L’Eixample is hard to beat. That said, Barcelona is full of tiny and historic shops selling unusual wares – the best way to find them is to get out and explore on your own.