Updated Apr 24 2020
The current district of Gràcia, one of the 10 districts that makes up Barcelona, was an independent town from its origins until 1897, when it was forced to join up with Barcelona itself, due to the huge growth of the city over the years. All this period in which Gràcia grew and developed its own characteristics is now reflected in the Gràcia that you see today. The majority of its streets and squares still have the air of a small town, and there’s a different atmosphere to that in the rest of the city.
It was in 1626 that the Friars of the Discalced Carmelites (los Frailes de la orden de los Carmelitas Descalzos), also known informally in Catalan as ‘Els Josepets’, decided to found the Convent de Santa Maria de Gràcia convent on the road that joined the village of Sant Cugat with Barcelona. As was often the case at the time, small houses were built around the convent, developing an area that became known as La Villa de Gràcia.
Gràcia district today
Of the five areas that make up the district of Gràcia, it’s the area of La Villa de Gràcia that has the most vibrant atmosphere in its streets. This has come about thanks to the gradual influx of young people, of artists opening their studios and of various people choosing the area in which to set up their small businesses. With relaxed but trendy shops, bars and restaurants aplenty, the Villa de Gràcia is now one of the most fashionable areas of the city, whose alternative bohemian atmosphere intermingles happily with the village feel, and with the older people who have lived in the area all their lives.
Many tourists and travellers head to the Gràcia district to see one of the most well-known, visited and representative works of Antoni Gaudí, Park Güell. Unfortunately, after ticking the park off their list of things to see, many of them simply catch the metro or hop back on the tourist bus, without even truly stepping foot in one of the most characteristic and charming areas of Barcelona.
We completely understand that thanks to the huge amount of sights that Barcelona has to offer, and the limited amount of time that many of you have, you’ll need to prioritize your visits, which may mean that you’ll inevitably miss out on some of the less well known gems in the city. However, without a doubt one of those gems is a relaxing walk around Gràcia, and, why not – a visit to some of its many bars and restaurants too. We therefore encourage you to find a slot in your schedule to get to know the Villa de Gràcia, and to enjoy all that it has to offer.
Streets and squares of the Gracia neighborhood
The streets and squares are an essential element that keep the spirit of the old Villa de Gràcia alive, and we therefore recommend going on a short wander round its narrow streets, making sure you see the biggest Gran de Gràcia and Carrer Verdi and perhaps having a drink outside one of the bars in the squares, living like a true ‘Gracienc’ (a resident of the Gràcia district).
Plaça del Diamant (Diamond Square)
Carrer Verdi (street)
Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia (square)
Gran de Gràcia street
Part of the reason for the great atmosphere in some of Gràcia’s streets at certain times of the day is thanks to the theatres (Teatre Neu and Teatre Lliure), which has a very interesting programme of independent theatre and which attracts a good audience, and the historic Cinema Verdi, which shows films in their original language (as opposed to being dubbed into Spanish, which is much more commonplace), many of the films exploring social issues.
Other notable streets and squares
Plaça de la Revolució (square)
Carrer d’Astúries (street)
Buildings of interest in the Gràcia neighborhood
Much of the development of the current Villa de Gràcia dates back to the golden age of Modernism, so you’ll be able to see various modernist buildings that, with the exception of a few, for example the Casa Fuster, aren’t anywhere near as famous and spectacular as other better-known buildings. We therefore encourage you to look up when you walk through the streets, rather than just ahead and at eye level, as this will allow you to fully appreciate the fabulous architecture.
Casa Bonaventura Ferrer
Other buildings, churches and constructions
Casa Comas D’argemir
Building of La Caixa de Barcelona
Mercat de la Llibertat (market)
Gràcia is perfect for a guided tour. Many of its narrow streets look the same at a glance, at least for those visiting for the first time or who are not used to walking through the area. They are filled with beautiful buildings, many of them modernist, numerous squares and charming businesses and endless stories to discover. At irBarcelona we work with the best official tourist guides in Barcelona and Catalonia who offer tours in English. This allows us to offer you a personalised tour that best suits what interests you as well as the chance to take a tour pre-designed by our guides. And if the tour finishes with you having a drink at one of the bars, what more could you ask for?
In spite of the significant decline in visitors that the Park Güell has experienced since October 2013, when the monumental zone became restricted to people who were prepared to pay to visit it (with the exception of people registered with Gaudir Més BCN), the park continues to be by far the most popular destination for tourists visiting Gràcia. Things you must make sure you see within it include the famous Salamandra, the Gaudí House Museum (la Casa Museu Gaudí), the Laundry Room Portico (El Pórtico de la Lavandera), the Room of 100 Columns (la Sala de las 100 Columnas), Nature Square (la Plaça de la Naturaleça) and the Hill of Three Crosses (el Turó de les 3 Creus), amongst many others. Just a short walk from the park you’ll find the ‘Gaudí Experiència’, a 4-dimensional animation about the history of Gaudí’s work, that is well worth a visit.
Bars, restaurants and cafés
Gràcia’s bars and restaurants serve as proof of the area’s cultural diversity. Many of them are run by enterprising foreigners who offer the best and most characteristic specialities from their countries. So as well as finding typical Catalan food in the local restaurants, it’s also one of the best areas in which to find Italian, French, Turkish, Syrian, Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants. A good way to enjoy the area’s nightlife is to have dinner in one of these restaurants, followed by drinks in one or more of Gràcia’s animated bars or clubs.
In order to truly immerse yourself in the spirit of the district as if you were a local, you shouldn’t let the opportunity of going to one of Gràcia’s traditional bodegas pass you by. Here you’ll be able to enjoy a vermouth or a wine, accompanied by nibbles.
LA BODEGUETA DE GRÀCIA
GRANJA CHOCOLATERÍA LA NENA
ESTEL DE GRÀCIA
PAPPA E CITTI
LA VINETERÍA DE VERDI
Various bars, some of which put on live music, and nightclubs, are at the helm of animating the nightlife of Gràcia. Although most of these bars open throughout the week, it’s between Thursday and Saturday that they really liven up and attract more people.
Shops and businesses
The district’s narrow streets are home to many shops of all types, and especially clothes shops offering creations by young designers who exhibit and sell their designs, whether its clothes or accessories. There are also plenty of jewellery studios, tattoo studios, shops selling decorations for the home, organic food shops and other shops that specialize in food from around the world, and themed bookshops (such as Japanese – Haiku, Italian – Le Nuvole, comics – Antifaz Cómic, etc.) that provide specialist reading material for the locals and tourists alike. With all these shops and businesses it’s unlikely that you’ll get bored during your walk round Gràcia, but a word of advice – try not to plan your walk between 14:00 and 17:00 or on Sundays, because the vast majority of shops are closed at these times.
Festa Major and other events
The Festa Major de Gràcia, also known by its popular name of Festes de Gràcia, is the annual party in the streets of the district, and it’s one of the most important events of the year, not just of Gràcia but also of the entire city. The party starts on 15th August, and over the next 7 days around 20 of the district’s streets are decorated by the locals, all with different themes, and they are all in search of the prize for the best-decorated street. Although the street decorations are some of the major attractions during this time, the fiesta is also unique in that so many events and activities are organised for the whole community (breakfasts and lunches, traditional dances in which the more senior members of the district participate, games and workshops for the little ones, and all sorts of concerts.
+ info about The Gràcia Festival.
If your visit to Barcelona coincides with the Gràcia fiestas, we encourage you to take a look at the programme of events and go up to the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia in order to enjoy the ‘jornades castelleres’ that are organised on one of the days during the fiesta. The ‘Castellers’ are created when skilled members of the team climb each other’s shoulders to form human towers. As well as other groups, the famous Castellers de Gràcia always take part.
Procession through the streets, where sweets are thrown.
Gran de Gràcia and other streets.
Temporary shops and stalls erected in the streets.
On an ad-hoc basis.
Throughout the neighborhood.
Hotels and other accommodation in Gràcia
Within the district of Gràcia we’d recommend that you stay in La Villa de Gràcia itself, but not to stay in accommodation that’s located in one of the squares or very close to them, because if you go to bed fairly early, and especially if your trip coincides with one of the fiestas, it’s likely that the noise in the streets will disturb you. The beauty of staying in Gràcia is that you’ll be able to get around easily on public transport, because the area is well served by the Metro (lines 3 or 4, depending on where you’re staying), by the FGC and by plenty of bus routes. Depending on where your hotel is, it’s likely that you’ll be able to walk up to the Passeig de Gràcia and even up to the Sagrada Familia. Below we’ve given you a list of six of the best accommodation options in Gràcia, in which you’ll find hotels, apartments and hostels.
We don’t think that staying in the most central area of Gràcia during the Fiesta Mayor is a very wise choice, because although the festival’s events don’t go on all night, it’s very likely that you’ll be kept awake by the noise in the streets.