Barrios of Barcelona: Funky Gràcia

Hello, and welcome to our next stop of Ruta de los Barrios, our tour of neighborhoods of Barcelona. Let me present to you Vila de Gràcia (I learnt to call it Gracia), one of my most favorite neighborhoods in this city. Gràcia has it all: the young and hipster vibe, plenty of bars and restaurants, small funky shops, and the atmosphere that makes you linger with your drink on its square watching the life walking by. Gràcia looks like a little village of itself, having nothing to do with the famous city, and its narrow streets remind me of towns in my beloved Andalusia. And that is no wonder because Gràcia used to be its own village, like many neighborhoods in this city, which was later integrated into big Barcelona with the central part of L’Eixample. And it used to be full of gypsies, so that makes it even more like Andalusia to me 🙂

In Gràcia you feel the charm of a little place, and you forget for a moment that the big city with its huge avenues is bustling just at the borders of this neighborhood (Gràcia starts just in the end of Passeig de Gràcia, the fashionable shopping street stretching from Plaza Catalunya). But Gràcia is full of life too, as there are locals mixed with tourists everywhere in the narrow streets. Gràcia is famous for its numerous plazas which make a great place to sit on a terrace and eat tapas. There are several of them, I didn’t count but I come up with 5-6, and my favorites are Plaza del Sol and Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia with a tower in the middle of it.

I have come to Gràcia several times, I laughed and cried on its streets, and I danced in its dance school and bars. My favorite story from this barrio is when I was doing the salsa summer camp with Norwegians, and our classes were in Gracia. After classes we girls would go for a dinner and share tapas and stories. Once we were lucky to get a table in a restaurant on Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia (I must warn you, in summer it is not easy), and after a good meal we were discussing if we want to share a desert, that would be tiramisu. “I wonder how big their deserts are!”, we said. So I asked a waiter, in my proud amateur Spanish: “What is the size of your deserts?”. The waiter, a handsome mulatto, answered immediately without blinking: “XXL”. The girls were giggling, and only I was too slow to comprehend the situation. It was explained to me later that I had used the word “talle” which literally means “size in clothing”. Sweet memories… 😉

What are the good things to do in Gràcia? I would take you on a walk on Carrer de Verdi which is full of tiny shops and life, get lost in the narrow streets and visit all the squares. And there is a specialty that you will find only in Gràcia when in Barcelona. Its name is piadina and it looks like a French crepe (Google says it is Italian bread), that you can get with different fillings. I remember I got one with mushrooms and cheese, and it was so good. Piadina is a street food, which is perfect to take away and enjoy it while sitting on the stairs of Plaza del Sol.

If I were to rent a flat in Barcelona, I would definitely choose Gràcia. I love its authentic atmosphere and a small town charm. And if I were a student, I would live and hang out only in Gràcia, feeling like I belong and looking down on the central parts full of mass tourism and souvenir shops 🙂 The only thing Gràcia lacks is the short walk to the sea. You have to take subway to go to the beach. But I would definitely forget that sorrow discovering a new café every day and a new bar every night 😉

Anyone here who has special feelings for some neighborhoods in any city you came across? That would be a nice collection of stories to hear of them!

13 thoughts on “Barrios of Barcelona: Funky Gràcia

  1. Loved reading about this neighbourhood! I’ve been to Barcelona at least 3 times but somehow I never got a good grasp of the city, it’s so big! I’d need a local guide to show me the best places! 😊 Do you speak Spanish well? How long did u live there? I was crazy about piadinas one summer when I stayed a couple of months in Rimini, Italy! After that summer, I could never find them anywhere else in Italy, I searced for years. Then finally last summer I found a piadina place in Milan! Yum! I’m getting hungry now…

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    • Thank you so much! Yes, Barcelona is big, you have to cut this pie in good pieces and enjoy it 😉 I am happy that I had done my obligatory sightseeing during my first visit, and now I can be more relaxed. It is a great mode to make discoveries 🙂
      I speak Spanish on a medium level. I took summer course in Malaga, 4 weeks in total, and the rest I learnt on the street 🙂 I have never lived in Bcn or Spain, but been there many times (my man is from there and visits his family often). Last time we were there for several weeks.
      The only place I saw piadina was in Gracia, so it was funny that google said it comes from Italy 🙂 You have to go to Milan soon 😉 Do they do it with fancy fillings?

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      • They had all sorts of fillings in Rimini, mostly pizza-like fillings: rucola and parma ham and such, yum! In Milan they had more choices, weird ones too. (I’m not a huge fan of Milan otherwise, it’s a bit ugly and rude in my opinion, but I looove Italy otherwise!!!) I took a Spanish course in Malaga, too!!! For 3 weeks – but this was in 2002 😊 I was actually thinking of writing about it one day (since my blog is all about travel nostalgia and past trips). It was during feria in August, amazing experiences 😊 Do you speak English with your man? I studied Spanish for 5 years at uni but the best way to learn would be by just using it every day! Street style, like you say! ☺️

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      • Mmm, sounds so mouth-watering 🙂 I agree on Milan, not very special for me either. But sometimes I just dream of going there and drinking capuccino – no stress, no galleries to visit or sights to do 🙂
        Wow, this is so cool! We are city-mates 🙂 I love Malaga, I have no words for my passion for this place. I did it in June-July, but my friend did it during feria – and she stills keep on doing it, feria for the 3d time this summer, no school this time haha.
        Carles and I speak Norwegian, this is a funny mix, especially when in Barcelona. Norwegian tourists were very puzzled of hearing us in the middle of the night in some tapas bar 🙂

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