How to experience the best of Gothic Quarter in a day
Over the years I have understood what makes visitors enjoy their Gothic Quarter visit. Follow these easy tips and list of must do things that I have listed. So many visitors come to the Gothic Quarter without a plan; they just roam around and go back without realizing how much there is too see and do in the Gothic Quarter.
I would ask you to plan for a day here. Even if you are on a 3 day trip to Barcelona, 1 day of wandering around in and around the Gothic Quarter is easily possible and certainly worth it, without missing anything else that the city has to offer you.
My list of top 3 attractions in Gothic Quarter
Visit Picasso Museum: Ignore the temptation to skip this because it can get crowded or requires advance booking in high season. You will surely enjoy your trip here to see the timeline of Picasso's works. The guided tour is very nice too. The entire visit takes only a couple of hours at most.
A break at Plaza del Pi: A coffee or a snack at a table in the sun, is the best way to enjoy the atmosphere of Plaza del Pi. There are small shops selling food products here; cheese and honey are some favourites.
A tour of Palau Musica: Go beyond Gaudi and visit this stunning opera theatre defined by Lluis Domenech i Muntaner.
Must do activities in Gothic Quarter
A free walking tour as an orientation: The fun of Gothic quarter is to get lost in the streets with a tour. You should do this as the first thing when you come to the area. This way you will be able to get your orientation right and also make a note of the parts in the Gothic Quarter that you want to come back to later.
Photography locations: Even if you have only a phone camera, you must explore the narrow lanes from a photographer's perspective.
Unplanned Shopping: You will find many souvenirs to shop in Gothic Quarter. Keep enough time to browse the shops at a relaxed pace. My favourite is Coixet that sells original posters of advertisements from 19th and 20th centuries. Trust me ,go here even if you have nothing to do with advertising. It is on Carrer dels Banys Nous 19.
Overlooked surprises of Gothic quarter
The peace at Iglesia Santa Ana: It is worth to pay the 2 eu entry. Go straight to visit the cloister (Gothic with some Renaissance) and also the chapter house.
Castells at Plaza St. Jaume: Plaza St. Jaume is the political heart of old Barcelona with the City Hall located here.
Art on Carrer Petritxol: Spend some time here on this narrow street famous for art and souvenir shops. La Pallaresa here has excellent churros.
You must have a meal in Gothic Quarter - but do not over plan!
Make a plan to have at least one meal in a cafe at the Gothic Quarter. Many talk about Els 4 Gats and I think it is worth going there for a drink or coffee. But to enjoy a meal it is the location and atmosphere of Gothic Quarter that you should look for. My suggestion is to stop at any place in a nice surrounding, and where you can find a table outside and relax.
Gothic Area, often called Gothic Quarter (Catalan: Barri Gòtic), is the oldest nucleus of Barcelona and a quintessential historic centre. This neighborhood of Barcelona is a delightful maze of lanes opening out into squares. Most of Gothic quarter is all pedestrian, and motorized traffic is restricted to service vehicles and taxis.
Gothic quarter has been in existence since the times of ancient Romans when it was known as Barcino.
The telltale of that era includes the remains of the squared Roman Wall and the underground Roman ruins.
Gothic Area houses many imposing Gothic buildings with magnificent facades and hence the name, Gothic Quarter.
Things to do in Gothic quarter
Take a free walking tour of Gothic Area
Gothic Quarter is better explored on foot that too with a local guide. Sign up with one of the many free walking tours. Most of these walking tours are of 2.5 hours duration.
Runnerbean Old City Free tour
11:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Starts from Plaça Reial and terminates at Santa María del Mar.
Barcelona Turisme's tour
Monday to Sunday at 9.30am. Starts from Turisme de Barcelona Tourist information office
Subterranean Museum at Gothic Quarter
Barcelona City History Museum [Museu d'Historia de Barcelona - MUHBA] is a must visit. MUHBA is adjacent to the medieval courtyard known as the Plaça del Rei. For those interested in history, Plaça del Rei will ring a bell as the venue where King Fernando II and Queen Isabel welcomed Christopher Columbus upon his return from the New World.
MUHBA is not about Columbus but about the vast underground well preserved Roman ruins that lie under Plaça del Rei courtyard. At the museum, you get to walk on glass panels through a large number of Roman ruins. The ruins include a factory where fish was chopped and salted, and a wine-making facility, hot and cold baths and roman dyeing and laundering centers.
Gothic Quarter Restaurants
Gothic Area is also a great neighborhood to taste traditional Catalan food. Some of our top picks are the authentic La Alcoba Azul. Located in the Jewish neighborhood, this tapas bar is full of history and specializes in tostas. If you are looking for something personal, head to La Plata. If you would rather enjoy your tapas in a more modern ambiance, stop by Tapeo, that combine tradition and creativity to create some of the best tapas around. Try their Spanish omelet - you’ll never find a better one!
Key attractions of Gothic Quarter
1. Gothic Cathedral
Classic Gothic cathedral with soaring pillars, exquisite choir, and stained-glass windows. Do not miss the cloister with 13 white geese, an allusion to the dedicated saint, St Eulalia. Take the lift on to the roof for the spectacular views!
Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona
2. Santa Maria Del Pi
Just 5 mins from the Cathedral is Santa Maria Del Pi, 14th-century Catalan Gothic church , one of the oldest basilica of Barcelona. Do not miss the amazing rosetta, said to be one of the largest in Europe.
3. Plaça Sant Felip Neri
A popular square with a romantic atmosphere presided over by the baroque church of Saint Philip Neri. The facade was a church was destroyed during the Spanish Civil war and later rebuilt.
4. Jewish Synagogue
A modest Jewish Synagogue that represents a history going back over 1000 years. Jews of Barcelona were forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition. Some practices Jewish ritual at this synagogue secretly. It still functions today as a "Shul" for special occasions.
Self-guided walking tour of Gothic Quarter
If organized walking tour does not appeal to you, you can go on a self guided walking tour. With Google Maps and specialist apps, it is easy to go on a self-guided walking tour of Gothic Quarter.
Start at the Plaça Sant Jaume before heading towards the Barcelona Cathedral, which towers over the Gothic Quarter. If you wish, you can also head up the stairs or jump into the elevator to get a spectacular panoramic view from above. Stop at plaça del Rei, before finding yourself at the end of the tour in the remains of the Roman city of Barcino. Other highlights of the district include the Jewish Synagogue, one of the oldest in Spain, and the Carrer Avinyó, which embodies the medieval spirit and is one of the city's oldest streets. The Placa Del Pi, located at the foot of the Gothic Church Santa Maria del Pi, is the perfect place to people-watch, enjoy local shops, or buy some local street goods. A last must-see in the area is definitely the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona - or MUHBA - which is perfect for those who are interested in the Roman history of the city.
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona has become famous as a great area to walk around the streets, which are narrow and old and bring you to amazing piazzas and basilicas.
Many of the attractions here are landmarks that you think of when you think of Barcelona. In addition to the landmarks, there is shopping, nightlife and small cafes that should be visited. It is the oldest area of Barcelona and has so much history, that it’s hard to see it all at once.
The best way to see the most and learn a lot about the history of the area is to go on a walking tour of the Gothic quarter. The walking tour will likely take you past the most iconic sights. Be sure to wear good shoes for walking as this tour will be long since there is a lot to see!
The top things to see either on your own or with a tour are:
Cathedral of Barcelona: Whether you want to visit the crypts or take a ride in an elevator to get a view over the city, there’s something for everyone at this Cathedral. There is a dress code to enter, so wear modest clothing if you’re planning a visit.
Placa del Pi: There are many art galleries in the area as well as some shops to explore. In the very center is a Gothic church called the Santa Maria de Pi, which is one of the highlights of the area.
Shopping: Near the Placa Catalunya, there are many shopping areas. Not only can you find the modern department stores, but there are also more unique vintage stores that are worth a visit as well.
Sweet Treats: Grab lunch at a place called Sweet Dreams, where you will find cakes and other treats that you often dream about. Make sure to walk a lot to work up an appetite!
Museums: If you’re visiting the Gothic Mansion, take a detour through the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona, where there are some underground Roman ruins as well as the place where Christopher Columbus was welcomed back from his travels.
There’s always a need for food so here’s three essential restaurants to visit:
El Salon: Informal restaurant with an extensive menu selection with delicious foods for a good value.
Attic: Mediterranean cuisine, but a more formal atmosphere. There is outdoor space that makes for great summing dining.
Tapeo: Amazing tapas bar with a variety of traditional and unique dishes that will please locals and tourists alike.
Gothic area Barcelona
Frederic Marès Museum
Interesting museum from the 1940s full of sculptures and unique, pieces all belonging to the collector Frederic Marès. It is very close to the Placa del Rei.
This restaurant is located in the Jewish quarter. Their products are of first quality and ecological, it is a delicious food market in itself, offering the best Iberian hams and artisan cheeses. I recommend the cod confit.
Plaza del Duque de Medinaceli
This nineteenth century square is an enclave, and the location for the filming scenes from the famous Almódovar film Todo sobre mi madre (All about my mother). It is a more relaxed area and is very close to the Basilica of Mercè.
If you're a movie buff, you will surely recognize some parts of the Gothic Quarter as they appear in Tom Wywker's movie El Perfume. This blog explains places, accompanied by some frames: Https://goo.gl/a2reMT
One of the oldest shops of the early twentieth century. It has a beautiful façade and the building itself was the headquarters of the Sellers' Guild of Barcelona.
A costume shop from the year 1838! This charming place is located in Rauric street and it sells curious articles of magic and disguises. The little ones will love it.
La Basílica Galería Perfume
Art gallery and perfumery located very close to the Basilica del Pi. They can even create a perfume especially for you. This store has very curious objects and souvenirs, especially ceramics. Even if you are not going to buy anything, it is worth visiting this art gallery.
Plaza George Orwell
If you are interested in this English writer, you are in luck because there is a plaza dedicated to him. It is at the end of Calle Escudellers. George Orwell loved Barcelona and lived there for a while.
Casa del Arcediano
The House of the Arcediano (also called deacons) is currently the Historical Archive. It is a spectacular building of Gothic style where you can see a part of the old Roman wall. It is right in front of the cathedral, on Calle Santa Llúcia.
In front of the Music Palace you will find a shop with artisan products from Catalonia. Perfect to take home some memories. I recommend oils.
If you are looking for a gift for the little ones, surely this is your store. Here they sell t-shirts for small children (approximately until the age of 12) with prints of Catalan traditions. Very original. Calle Colomines.