Barcelona Shopping Guide
Shop ’til you drop in the Catalan capital…
By Duncan Rhodes
The best places for shopping in the city, from the luxury boulevards and pedestrianised streets, to the quiet back alleys full of boutiques. Plus some info on personal shoppers if you need a helping hand.
It’s safe to say that if Carrie Bradshaw ever visited Barcelona for a long weekend, she would be in no hurry to get on the plane back to JFK – and not just because of the six-packed Don Juans playing volleyball on Barceloneta beach. As millions of shopaholics have already discovered, the city offers a dizzying array of cash-splashing opportunities, and retail therapists of all budgets will discover thousands of tantalising ways to part with their money in the Catalan capital, whether they prefer shopping for designer names like Prada, Armani and Custo (Barcelona’s own homegrown cloths guru) or browsing vintage fashion shops, off-the-wall boutiques and second hand stores. If you’ve come to Barcelona for the sole purpose of spending, then you won’t go home disappointed…
Without doubt the Catalan capital is a very fashion conscious city, but the style in BCN is very different from that of Milan or Paris for example. Whilst chic chicas may strut the sidewalk in Versace dresses and 200 euro sunglasses, you’ll also find hordes of counter-culture hipsters in ragged pants and recycled accessories, their skin covered in tattoos, flaunting a rockstar attitude. Barcelona adopts a very much live-and-let-live policy when it comes to individual style (ie. anything goes!) and if you’re up for an extreme fashion make-over you’ve definitely come to the right place. (And in this case we suggest you read up on how to book a personal shopper in Barcelona who can tailor a retail tour just for you).
Not that shopping in Barcelona is about fashion alone – if your wardrobe is already oversubscribed you’ll find plenty of alternative options when it comes to maxing out your baggage allowance on the flight back. Barcelona is rich in food and flea markets to visit, bookshops to browse, antique stores to stumble upon, and there’s plenty of gift and souvenir shopping to be done too – and that needn’t mean a sombrero from Las Ramblas and a ‘I heart BCN’ T-shirt. How about some Catalonian Cava, some delicious Spanish farmhouse cheeses or bags made out of recycled PVC posters? As long as you remembered to bring your credit card you won’t be bored in Barcelona!
To search for individual stores you may proceed straight to our shop section, or read on for a guide to the best shopping districts in the city…
Barcelona Shopping Streets & Districts
Barcelona’s second most famous street (after La Rambla), Passeig de Gracia is without doubt the city’s best boulevard for spending serious amounts of salary. Designer brands wink seductively at you from every window… Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel and many more. And with some of the city’s most famous Modernista landmarks on the same street, including two buildings by Antoni Gaudi, you can justifiably call this particularly shopping spree a cultural activity.
Avinguda del Portal de l’Angel
Leading down from Placa Catalunya (the central square which links Passeig de Gracia and Las Ramblas together, amongst others), Portal de l’Angel is not quite as posh as the Passeig but a great place to stock up on high quality high street bargains from shops like Zara and Bershka, with one or two high-end treats like Massimo Dutti in store.
More famous for street performers, pick-pockets and prostitutes, Barcelona’s thriving – and sometimes conniving – Las Ramblas boulevard also boasts its fair share of shopping opportunities. Some are squarely aimed at tourists, but the flower markets and pet stalls are well worth a gander at least out of curiosity’s sake whilst La Boqueria Market is an unmissable treat for anyone vaguely interested in the gastronomic galaxy. Spain’s finest food and drink all in one place!
Lying 40km outside BCN, you’ll have to hop on an express bus (one is laid on especially) or take a taxi to get there, but if you’re serious about your shopping you’ll soon recoup that initial expense. La Roca is a shopper’s paradise in more than one sense… the scenic location comprises of a recreated Catalan village in the art nouveau style, whilst the 100 or so stores of the world’s top brands offer up to 60% off high street prices. A very smart way to put the gloss on your wardrobe.
To check out the above areas you’ll need to book your flights to Barcelona, but if you want to do some browsing before you arrive then check out our Barcelona shops section, where you can search for markets, fashion, accessories, shoes, books, antiques, souvenirs as well as department stores and shopping centres and malls. Happy (bargain) hunting!
Luxury Shopping Tours
Probably if you’re reading this you’re a natural born shopper, but even the best could do with a little help when faced with a foreign city. The fashion journalists and oft-consulted trend gurus who set up this luxury shopping concierge service know every store in the city, and – as you’ll discover if you spend an afternoon with them – many of the best are very well hidden indeed (in fact some of them are open to the public by appointment only!). For a fun and extremely eye-opening day of retail therapy email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your requirements and we’ll put you in touch.
About the Author
Duncan established Barcelona Life in 2009, whilst freelancing for the likes of Conde Nast, The Guardian, Easyjet Magazine, CNN Traveller and many more. From interviews with Ferran Adria to revealing the secrets of the city’s poetry brothels, he knows the city inside out… and shares all his best tips right here.