El Born

El Born is a vibrant and cozy neighborhood and part of “Ciutat Vella,” the old town. With countless stores, bars, and small streets, it is well worth exploring. Stroll along the galleries or visit a museum. I’ll take you around the neighborhood and tell you all my favorite addresses.

Where? – Between the Gothic Quarter and La Ciutadella City Park.
How to get there? – Metro stops: Arc de Triomf (L1/L4), Jaume I (L4).
Main attractionsPicasso Museum, Mercat Santa Catarina, the church Santa María del Mar, CCM, MOCO.


Top 6 things to see and do in El Born

Basílica Santa María del Mar

For centuries, the Basílica Santa Maria del Mar has been the heart of El Born. Neighbors all literally contributed their bit. Together they dragged stones from Mount Montjuïc to El Born; this story is also depicted on the entrance doors. The medieval church is particularly beautiful inside and in the evening you can enter for free.

Around the church are a lot of cozy and authentic bars, so combine a visit with an evening of tapas!

Bars and restaurants

Along and around Passeig del Born are countless nice (and sometimes somewhat hidden) restaurants and bars. Be sure to stop by some of the bars to try different tapas! El Born isn’t compared to New York’s Soho for nothing. Also dive into the side streets for cozy stores and designer boutiques.

At night, El Born tends to be nice and crowded and is home to many of my favorite bars and restaurants. With the many bars, cafes and step bars, the music comes to you.

Picasso Museum

The main tourist attraction in El Born is the Picasso Museum. Here you can see Picasso’s extraordinary art in the flesh. The museum is large so you will easily spend a couple of hours. Nice to know is that Picasso lived in several neighborhoods in Barcelona’s old town, including El Born!

Mercado Santa Catarina

The Santa Catarina market is one of Barcelona’s many fresh food markets and a little less touristy than the Boquería on La Rambla. Here you can see how locals do their shopping. Besides buying fresh produce, you can also enjoy a drink and various tapas here.

Next door to the market, you can find several secondhand clothing stores. Bored out at the market? Peruse the stores, who knows, you might find a gem.

Moco Museum

The Moco Museum is an art museum featuring iconic works by internationally known artists and emerging artists. The museum is mega hip and cool to check out. Be sure not to skip the infinity room, the wow effect here is great and you can take fat pictures here.

El Born CCM

This beautiful market hall from the 1990s houses the CCM (center de cultura i memòria). Here you can see important archaeological finds from the early eighteenth century. You can enter the beautiful market hall for free and it is definitely worth a visit.

Tip: Right next to the El Born district is the large Ciutadella city park. A beautiful green park, where many Catalans come daily to find peace and quiet. Be sure to walk into the park while you are in El Born. Here you can lie in the grass, walk around, row romantically in a boat, go to the zoo or admire the beautiful fountain.

Food and drinks in El Born

Drinking coffee

Close to the Santa Maria del Mar you will find El Magnífico, which is a favorite among coffee lovers in the city. LULU & FLYN also serves delicious coffees and lunch.

The area around Plaça Sant Pere, an increasingly popular part of the neighborhood, is full of cozy places to eat, drink and soak up culture. Order coffee at NØmad in the beautiful old passage Passatge del Sert or drink in the cozy and colorful garden at the Antic Teatre.

My favorite place for take-away coffee in El Born is Xiloteca Coffee. Here they sell not only coffee, but also perfumes, wine and gin. It’s a bit hidden, so you have to look carefully.

Fancy a pastry? Then don’t skip Bubó. If I want to treat myself, I do it here! Tip: If you want to sit outside, let me know. Bubó also has a terrace overlooking the cathedral. To stay in the pastry sphere, at Jon Cake get great cheesecake and Pastisseria Hofmann has delicious pastries. For a pain au chocolat or pain aux raising, the French-run En Aparté is the place to go. You’ll find a fresh mix of locals, hip freelancers who come here to work with their laptops and a handful of tourists.

A spot in the sun is most likely to be found at Plaça de Sant Pere. Here is La Candela, where they have delicious sandwiches and coffee.

Lunch, drinks and dinner

As I mentioned earlier, El Born is full with cool places to eat and drink. I could sit here all day! You can have a nice lunch at many places, but also a good place for dinner.

La Vinya del Señor is located just about at the cathedral. The food is delicious and the wines very good. Is it already cocktail time? Bar del Pla is the ideal place for drinks and dinner. The staff is super friendly and they have delicious tapas. Reservations are a must, it is crowded here every evening (and afternoon).

Another favorite is El Xampanyet. Here they serve authentic champagne and cava, though accompanied by ugly fluorescent lighting. Of course, this adds to the authentic Spanish experience. A real Catalan hit is Petra, located next to the Santa Maria del Mar cathedral. Order anything from the menu and your afternoon or evening will be a success anyway.

Around the old market hall, where the El Born Centre Cultural can be found, there are also good places to eat. The tapas at Llamber are fantastic; they come with great flavor combinations. For good fish, go to La Paradeta, and Ikibana (Japanese-Brazilian) is also one of my favorites. They have colorful dishes and fresh sushi here (must-try!) and the team is super friendly.

I have rarely had such delicious patatas bravas as at Casa Lolea. They serve their own brand sangria here in cheerful bottles.

Non-vegetarians will also lick their fingers at Ale & Hop’s delicious veggie burgers. The place was voted Spain’s best beer restaurant twice (2013 and 2014), so the home-brewed beers are definitely worth trying.

Many nice bodegas can be found in Carrer dels Mirallers and Carrer dels Banys Vells. Especially Bodega del Born is very tasty and cozy. Be sure to explore here and find your favorite!

For a simple but delicious pizza you can go to N.A.P., where for only 5 euros you can have a delicious pizza margherita. Tired of Mediterranean dishes with oil, cheese and bread and fond of Asian food? At Mosquito and Red Ant – two restaurants with the same owners – you can indulge in noodles, dumplings, Thai curry, Korean and Vietnamese.


There is a diverse range of cocktail bars in El Born. Paradiso has been voted the best cocktail bar in the world, so it is well worth a visit. Hidden behind a refrigerator door, the decor and various cocktails are quite an experience.

Another cocktail bar, Dr. Stravinski, is housed in an old pharmacy. The menu is a system of the universe; you are guided to your taste by the stars. At Mariposa Negra, in addition to the particularly delicious cocktails made with artisanal ingredients, you also get a homemade cup specially suited to the cocktail.

Not a cocktail bar, but still a nice place: at Antic Teatre, especially the indoor garden with lights is a must-see. In summer, you can have drinks here outside and enjoy the atmosphere and lights.

Shopping in El Born

From the back of the Santa María del Mar you are right on the Passeig del Born, perhaps the nicest street in the neighborhood. Looking at buildings, peeking into shop windows or settling down on a bench, it is all possible here. In Carrer de L’Argenteria you can find some nice stores. My favorites here are Natura, Nina Kendosa and Biscuit store.

There are a few stores in the Carrer de la Princesa, but much nicer (I think) is the little square along the Carrer de L’Allada-Vermell. Time for a refreshing drink in between shopping! In Carrer de La Boria there are beautiful art galleries and gift stores. Great for a souvenir to take home. You can buy a souvenir of Spanish conviviality at Magatzem Escola, where you can get everything alcoholic. Also be sure to visit clothing store Maricastana.

Looking for a unique piece of furniture or original gift? At Vira Volta, old furniture is transformed into hip and colorful pieces. In the back of the store you can take a look at the workshop, where elderly ladies refurbish the furniture.

Art and culture in El Born

The Passeig del Born connected the cathedral to the old market hall, where today you can find the El Born Centre Cultural, formerly a market hall and now a museum where you can learn all about the history of the neighborhood and find the remains of excavations from the eighteenth century. You can enter for free and I think it’s definitely worth a look.

Near the CCM, though just outside El Born, is the Ciutadella Park. Once you have visited it, walk along the promenade Passeig de Lluis Companys opposite the main entrance towards the Arc de Triomf. This was erected for the 1888 World’s Fair. Definitely worth a photo!

Of course, museums are part of the art and culture in El Born. The Moco Museum full of cool contemporary, street art, graffiti and modern subculture art is very cool to visit. For lovers of cubism, the Picasso Museum is a must-visit. Picasso himself lived in Barcelona and the collection in the museum is the largest in existence.

If you walking around in El Born and look inside, you will see many galleries. Sometimes artists are sitting inside working, but real artworks are also being created outside.

The Sant Pere neighborhood is the unknown part of El Born for many tourists. Some tourists do come here to see the pompous and fabulous Palau de la Música (do!) or attend a concert there, but that’s all. However, this is a lovely place to stroll around or grab a coffee.

Staying in El Born

Hotel Chic & Basic

Hotel Chic & Basic Born is less than 100 meters from the Parc de la Ciutadella and you are right by the beach. It is housed in a modernist building with high ceilings and lots of details. The rooms are cleanly decorated and the shower stalls in the middle of the rooms are a real eye-catcher and provide a special lighting effect.

Hotel Yurbban Passage

Located in a quiet part of the district, Hotel Yurbban Passage is a tastefully decorated hotel with a beautiful rooftop terrace with a small pool. Spacious rooms are equipped with all amenities. Nice detail: every day guests are welcome to participate in wine o’ clock, or drink time, where you can exchange experiences and tips.

El Born Guest House

Kamer El Born Guest house

The B&B El Born Guest House has fine rooms. The B&B has soundproofing, air conditioning, and the rooms are equipped with a TV and have a private bathroom. there is also free wifi. About 5 minutes from this B&B are The Santa Caterina market and the Parc de la Ciutadella.

Best House Best Place

appartement best house best place

Located 3 minutes from Jaume I metro station, this fine apartment has room for four people. The kitchen is equipped with dishwasher, oven and washing machine. When booking, you can choose an apartment with or without a balcony. You can use free toiletries in the bathroom.

History of El Born

El Born was the neighborhood of merchants, craftsmen and sailors for a long time from the 14th century. The neighborhood borrowed from this, in part because of its location close to the sea. Six centuries later, El Born was known as a dark place, with creepy, dark alleys. Quietly walking through the cozy streets, for which El Born is now known, was quite different then.

Between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, the El Born neighborhood grew into the economic center of the city. The neighborhood was close to the sea and port, and several streets still recall the activity of the time, such as the Carrer dels Sombrerers, the street where the milliners were located.

In 1992, the Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona and the neighborhood went belly up. Locals, young entrepreneurs and tourists filled the streets. Today, El Born is known as Barcelona’s Soho.