Blog · Barcelona · 9 Great Things To Do in Barcelona’s El Born District

9 Great Things To Do in Barcelona’s El Born District

August 4, 2023
Barcelona’s El Born District

Nestled between the Gothic Quarter and the beachy vibes of La Barceloneta, the Barcelona neighborhood of El Born is a unique blend of bohemia and tradition that will be sure to captivate your imagination. Its labyrinth of charming alleys, plentiful cultural opportunities, and thriving food and drink scene make it a popular choice for locals and tourists alike.

I lived in El Born for a year and I’m delighted to share the best the area has to offer with you. Here’s what you need to know before visiting the Born district.

How to get to El Born

El Born map

You can easily walk to El Born from the Passeig de Gràcia, but it’s also well served by public transport.

The Jaume I metro stop on Line 4 (the yellow line) is closest to the heart of the action and a short walk to the cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar. Depending on where you’re headed, Urquinaona (pronounced ur-keen-a-ona), served by lines 4 and 1, may also be appropriate.

There are several bus routes connecting El Born with other parts of the city, and you can even take the train from the Estació de França to other Catalan towns.

Top Things to do in El Born

Barcelona’s El Born District

1. Passeig del Born

Why not start your visit in the heart of the area, the Passeig del Born? This tree-lined street runs from the Santa Maria del Mar to the El Born Cultural Centre and boasts a myriad of shops, restaurants and bars to suit any taste or budget.

Don’t miss Bar El Born, which offers coffees and snacks during the day, then at night transforms into a cocktail bar which draws the local hip crowd.

Pro tip: Do not attempt the tiny spiral staircase to the upper level if you are wearing heels or have had more than one cocktail. 

2. El Born Cultural Centre

El Born Cultural Centre

Originally opened in 1876, this once- thriving market was one of the first examples of cast iron architecture in Barcelona.  It’s now a cultural center where you can explore the archaeological site or visit one of the many exhibitions.   

Local tip: Entry to the center is free, but it’s helpful to go with a guide who knows the things to point out. This historic site is one of the stops on our Barcelona Markets Walking Tour.

3. Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la Música Catalana

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Palau de la Música Catalana is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau architecture. The concert hall was built in the early 20th century by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and the interior is a celebration of vivid and colorful detailing and accents.

Depending on when you’re visiting, it’s sometimes possible to book tickets to an evening performance, well worth it if you’re looking for a memorable musical experience.

4. Tour the art galleries and see a flamenco show

Let one of our local experts show you some cultural highlights of El Born up close. Enjoy a one-hour guided El Born walking tour where you’ll visit some of the best neighborhood art galleries, including meeting one of the artists. 

Then finish with a flourish by watching a flamenco show in a palace — that’s the beautifully restored 17th-century Palau Dalmases.

5. Santa Maria del Mar 

While Barcelona Cathedral is undoubtedly more famous, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar is no less impressive. It’s difficult to appreciate the full majesty of the cathedral from the outside as the streets nearby are so built up, so be sure to go inside and take in the Gothic architecture and stunning stained-glass rose window.  

Local tip: Just outside on Carrer de Santa Maria, you’ll find local institution La Botifarreria, a traditional delicatessen which showcases the best in Catalan sausages. With flavors ranging from apple and curry to foie-gras or even chocolate, it’s a must-visit destination for foodies.

6. Santa Caterina market


Whilst the Boqueria might be the most famous food market in Barcelona, Mercat de Santa Caterina is worth a visit, not least because of its striking and colorful roof, which was designed by architects Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue.

Curious about the name? Santa Caterina is a mercado in Spanish, but it’s “mercat” in Catalan, the official language of Catalonia.   

As well as some fabulous local fruit and vegetables, you can also buy fish, meat, and even flowers here. Why not create your own picnic and enjoy it at the Parc de la Ciutadella?

7. Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella

It’s somewhat surprising to find one of Barcelona’s largest parks in such a built-up area, and as a result the Parc de la Ciutadella is a popular spot for walks, picnics, and even yoga!

The park is free to enter, and there’s lots to see, from the Arc de Triomf, to the Castell dels Tres Dragons (originally designed for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition) a boating lake, and even a life-sized wooly mammoth statue! The park has also been home to Barcelona Zoo since 1892.

One of the highlights is Josep Fontsere’s famous Cascada fountain, designed with the assistance of Barcelona’s famous son Antoni Gaudí when he was a student.

8. The Picasso Museum

Picasso Museum

Tucked away on Calle de Montcada, the Museu Picasso houses a permanent collection of around 5,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. It’s a nice way to get an insight into the artist’s formative years and is also a great option on the rare days when the weather isn’t kind.

You can get into the museum free on the first Sunday of the month, or between 5 and 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission to the museum is also included with our Picasso Walking Tour, which also covers the artist’s favorite haunts and historic spots in the city as you learn to see Barcelona through a young Picasso’s eyes.

Why not follow your visit with some tapas in Bodega la Puntual nearby? It offers all the local favorites like pimientos de padrón or pan con tomate.

9. Shopping in El Born

Shopping in El Born

El Born is a great area to pick up some authentic souvenirs, whether that’s a vintage dress, handmade jewelry, or a piece of unique local artwork. Wander the alleys, and you’ll be sure to find something unusual to take home.

Discover more about El Born

El Born Alleyway

However you decide to spend your time in the area, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to culture. 

Why not immerse yourself in its distinctive art scene to get to know it a little better? Our El Born guided tour covers some of the best neighborhood galleries (you’ll even meet a local artist!) and shows you another side of the cultural life here with a live flamenco show.

However you choose to visit, we hope your time in El Born is as memorable as this unique corner of Barcelona.