Barcelona Bars Off The Beaten Track

Nancy Todd from gives us the lowdown on the best of Barcelona’s secret bars. All tried and tested, she knows the best tapas to pick in each bar and where to go for a glass of wine on the cheap…

Barcelona has thousands of bars. You’ll find the greatest concentration in the Barrio Gotico – the Gothic Quarter – but there are also many more little gems spread throughout the city. On average local beers and wine costs around €2-3 a glass. My friends and I love the wine, it’s the best bargain in Spain. You’ll need somewhere to rest from your sightseeing and Barcelona bar crawl so make sure you book a cheap hotel in Barcelona – there are plenty to choose from.

Here are some of my favourite local Barcelona bars to hang out in, you’ll find that the locals love them too.

El Paraigua

Why would a bar be called El Paraigua (The Umbrella)? Galles, an umbrella and fan shop circa 1900, was going to be demolished. In 1968 Josep Espada, a theatre set designer, had the vision to save the Art Nouveau elements of the store and repurpose them. The ornate ceiling panels in El Paraigua were originally on the shop walls and bevelled mirrors line the bar with hand-carved wooden frames featuring interwoven flowers and leaves.

Open till two with a limited menu, mainly sandwiches and snacks, but plenty of drink, this mellow place is a beauty.

  • Pas de lEnsenyanca, 2
  • Metro: Jaume 1
  • Mon – Fri, 9-2/Sat, 6–3


Located in the Barrio Gotico (right) and tucked away on a skinny street, Andu starts buzzing at about 11pm. Open till 2 when the crowds thin, you can choose between an array of cheese plates, hummus, guacamole and a variety of drinks.

Dimly lit, with sofas and mismatched chairs, Andu is a casual, fun place to hang out. There are candles flickering around you and low archways to give the wine bar a cosy feel. The back room is great for big groups and general raucousness. We recently had a birthday party for my friend Gonzola here.

  • Gotico Neighborhood  Correo Viejo, 3
  • Metro: Jaume 1
  • Mon – Sun 13:00 – 16:30 & 20:00 – 2:00

Casa Almirall

Casa Almirall is best after 11 and is open till 3. You can lounge on sofas and strong drinks are served with potato chips – you don’t go to this bar to eat! Lights are low, jazz plays, and you can snuggle up with your sweetie. Check out the facade as you enter. A bronze statue graces the bar thanks to the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona in 1888. Opened in 1880, it is a great way to experience Barcelona history.

  • Carrer de Joaquim Costa, 33, El Raval Neighborhood
  • Mon – Thurs, 5-3/ Fri – Sat,7-3
  • Metro: Universitat

De Tapa Madre

This typical Catalan restaurant has outdoor seating and serves lunch, dinner and tapas. My favorite tapa is patatas bravas (right) with a garlic and spicy sauce. Make sure you pop upstairs to check out the art gallery.

With a long list of tapas to choose from, you can taste squid, fried cod, calamari, and bombas – a round potato ball with meat. Another favourite is shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic, and served in a small terracotta pot. De Tapa Madre is a bit more sophisticated than the other bars, perfect for a special night out.

  • L’Exaimple Right Neighborhood, Mallorca, 301
  • Metro: Passieg De Gracia
  • Mon – Sun 8.00 – 1.00!

Cafe del Centre

Away from the crowds, my neighbourhood favourite is Café del Centre. The Gimenez family has owned the bar/restaurant since 1873. Initially a casino, this Art Nouveau bar has the original octagonal marble tables with a slot for poker chips. It’s not trying to be hip and it’s a tad dishevelled around the edges, adding to its character. This basic neighbourhood hangout has the original porcelain hanging lamps and a stained and scuffed black and white marble floor. Hand-carved wooden benches line one wall topped by photographs of old Barcelona.

Hearty Catalan fare is prepared with love of tradition by Ines Gimenez, the founder’s granddaughter.

  • L’Exaimple Right Neighborhood, Calle Girona, 69
  • Metro: Girona
  • Mon – Fri 9 – 24.00

Thanks to Eric Pesik and Deanna Pesik, maveric2003, Raelene G for the excellent images from Flickr! Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License.

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