The Born District
Discover one of Barcelona’s most charming neighbourhoods
By staff writer
The best places to stay, attractions to see and things to do in El Born district of Barcelona. Discover this beautiful part of the Old Town!
El Born Identity
If La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter, with their high tourist traffic and petty peddlers, proved a bit too circus-like for your refined tastes then you might find what you’re looking for in the district of El Born instead.
This delightful corner of Barcelona has all the beauty of the Barri Gotic, with those characteristic narrow streets and quaint cafe-covered squares, but it just far enough removed from the beaten track to maintain a little more calm, charm and dignity.
Despite the popular tourist attractions of Picasso Museum, Ciutadella Park (also home to Barcelona Zoo) the area has maintained a high degree of local life and you won’t be surrounded at every corner by English-speaking voices alone.
The heart of the district is undoubtedly the picturesque Passeig del Born ‘square’ (in fact it’s an oblong). Once the site of medieval jousting competitions, nowadays this tree-lined street is a nightlife hub that comes alive with hip 20-something locals from the early evening onwards eating crepes, nibbling on tapas and imbibing beers and cocktails in the area’s abundance of natty little bars. On warm nights many folk will purchase cans of beer from plastic-bag wielding Pakistanis and drink for cheap on the benches and pavement, giving the place a Bohemian and laidback street party vibe.
At one end of the Passeig del Born (known as the Paseo del Born in Spanish) rises the district’s most famous building, the wonderful Santa Maria del Mar church, instantly recognisable by its octagonal towers and large rose-shaped stained glass window. At the foot of this Gothic great you’ll find a smaller square, offering one of the most picturesque places to lunch al fresco in the whole of Barcelona… if you can grab a seat at the in-demand cafes.
Other than the joys of medieval architecture, and the aforementioned Picasso Museum (another Barcelona highlight, and one that reveals sides of the great artist many visitors won’t be familiar with), El Born is characterised by its little treasures. This fashionable district is the place where you’ll chance upon innovative boutique shops selling recycled bags, champagne bars serving up first class Cava (El Xampanyet is something of a legendary stop-off in Barcelona!), or discover the joys of Lomo photography.
If you would like to search for individual places in Born, such as hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops, bars and clubs, and see them all on a map, then head to our district page, where we list all the best businesses in the neighbourhood.
For an even more in depth look at Barcelona’s El Born district we suggest you take a walking tour with Walking Planets. They’ll lead you to hidden monasteries run by feminist nuns with a penchant for Japanese tea, tell you the controversial affair of the Palau de la Musica and show you some of the neighbourhood’s arty stores and boutiques.
For more of BCN’s best barrios check out our Barcelona districts guide.