Staying central but off the beaten path, in the Gràcia District
The city center of Barcelona offers great possibilities for places to stay, but lately I’m getting more and more requests of people who want to go off the beaten path… but not too much, at the same time. And there is one district that is precisely that way: Today’s guest blogger Harriet Freeman shares with us why Gràcia is such a great place to stay.
Gràcia – Trendy, tranquil, and true
When coming to Barcelona, it’s more than normal for people to want to stay in the heart of the city. Many visitors end up lodging in locations like the Gothic Quarter, El Born, and Barceloneta, which are all great areas for sightseeing, but can end up feeling rather touristy and busy. So what to do for those who are looking for a truly authentic stay in Barcelona and want to stay away from all that without ostracizing themselves from the city.? Well, that’s where Gràcia comes in… an area that’s trendy, tranquil, and a true reflection of Barcelonian life.
Here are 5 good reasons to stay in the Gràcia district:
Away from the centre in distance, but not in time. Barcelona isn’t a large city, so the biggest advantage of staying in Gràcia is that it doesn’t suffer from the aforementioned tourism influx that other areas do in the centre, so it retains a real sense of Barcelonian lifestyle. All the while it has always been very well connected. Visitors will find it easy to reach the centre in no time using the large number of Metro stations in the area, which are Vallcarca, Lesseps, Fontana, Joanic, and Verdaguer. Its neighbour, Sant Gervasi, on the other hand, while similar to Gràcia in lifestyle and atmosphere, is only connected with FGC trains, which isn’t convenient at all.
Costs and Eating out. Staying outside of the city means you get to save money. Touristic areas tend to have the problem that not only is the price of places to stay higher, but so are the prices in some restaurants and some boutiques. Not only can you find cheap accommodation in Gràcia, Barcelona, but there are tons of great bars and restaurants frequented by locals on a night out, including Las Empas, a place that specializes in Empanadas, a pastry filled with all sorts of deliciousness. Many of the locals have already been designing their ideal on their website, of which the most popular get featured on the menu.
Things to do. Attractions? What attractions? Actually Gràcia is a goldmine in terms for those who are interested in history. For example, for just €3, you can experience the conditions that the local population underwent during the civil war in the Plaça del Diamant Bomb Shelter, through a reservation with the Gràcia History Workshop who have exclusive access and will take you down: [email protected] There’s a lot more to see in Gracia, like the Gaudí creations Park Güell and Casa Vicens (his first building in Barcelona). If you want to discover the area then a tour guide is highly recommended, otherwise you could miss a lot. For example, in May there is a battle reenactment of the “Revolta de les Quintes” at the town square, it’s a charming affair and you really shouldn’t miss it!
And if you visit in August, it would be silly not to tour the streets, because during the Festa Major de Gràcia the locals decorate them and bring them to life using recycled materials, creating worlds like Jurassic Park, Pirate Coves, and more.
Shopping. If you’re a shopaholic, then Gràcia is a delight! There may not be big brand names like Zara and MANGO hanging around the district, but there are literally hundreds of independent shops that stock the latest in Barcelonian trends. Gran de Gracia is one of the best places to go shopping in the city, but don’t be afraid to go venturing out into the side streets, where you’ll be surprised to find some really interesting shops!
The Plazas. It might sound silly, but even if you’re not staying in Barcelona, it’s highly recommended for anyone visiting the city to go there and sit down in one of the Plazas, maybe sit on a terrace outside one of the cafés, and simply relax and observe. Watch as parents bring their children to play together and then wander off to gossip, all the while someone turns up with a diabolo to entertain everyone and the kids all sit down in front to watch this amazing improvised spectacle. This is the sort of thing that can be witnessed in these squares, and it’s a very charming experience to see a sense of community that emanates through Gràcia.
And that’s why this part of Barcelona is one that you should seriously consider. It’s cheaper, well connected, charming, there are things to do, and you’ll never have to leave unless you’re going sightseeing because there is everything you could need right in the same district.
Have you explored Gràcia? What’s your favorite district in Barcelona? Tell us on a comment below!
Harriet Freeman. Having been an expat in Barcelona for over 5 years and eventually entering the tourism industry; I made it my priority to become somewhat of a guru on all things Barcelona. As a frequent blogger on the city; I aim to keep all of my readers in the know about the Catalan Capital.