A Day Guide to Barcelona’s Gràcia & Eixample
Barcelona’s newer part of the city, Gràcia and Eixample were built between the 19th and 20th centuries. This part of the city should not be neglected during your visit to Barcelona – Gràcia and Eixample offer the best Modernism walks and structures, unique and charming restaurants (lots of vegan and vegetarian joints!), independent health food stores and even metaphysical shops. Here is one way to spend a day in Barcelona’s Gràcia and Eixample neighbourhoods:
Good morning! It’s time for breakfast at Quinoa Bar
Depending on where you’re staying; you’ll either walk north along the luxurious Passeig de Gràcia or walk south towards Quinoa bar. Quinoa is a charming little vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Barcelona’s Eixample neighbourhood. Located on Travessera de Gràcia, the restaurant has a lot of great vegan options (acai bowls, quiches and other warm meals and appetizers). I went for lunch but have heard great things about their breakfast menu. Service is quick but you won’t feel rushed.
First stop: La Pedrera
I suggest visiting Gaudi’s masterpiece by purchasing a “by day and by night” ticket. This allows for two visits in one day, one in the daytime and one once the sun sets. Both provide a completely unique experience.
By day, you will visit the ground floor, and then make your way up to the magnificent roof of the “apartment building”. Afterwards, you will take a walk about the grand so-called attic. Last, you will get to see what a real bourgeoisie apartment would have been in the early 1900s (children’s toys, the servants quarters and all). This completes the day tour (read on for the evening experience). This tour takes about 1 hour to 2.
Explore the Museu de Perfume
The Perfume museum (located in Gràcia) is a quaint collection of unique perfume bottles, dating all the way from ancient Rome and Egypt. The museum is a quiet little sanctuary and is located behind a present-day perfume shop. Don’t expect a line up – the museum is a well-kept secret.
After a couple of hours of sightseeing, it’s lunchtime! Za’atar is my pick for lunch in Gràcia/Eixample but there are a lot of other vegetarian/vegan or health-conscious options in the Gràcia/Eixample neighbourhoods. Some of these are: El Buffet Verd and La Vietnamita (note that La Vietnamita has two locations. I’ve already written about Vietnamita here).
Za’atar’s menu is extensive (with a lot of wonderful vegan options) and they also have a nice juice menu, as well as daily specials (for meals and juices). The restaurant itself is immaculate and very welcoming.
Visit a home from the Modernist period
Choose between Casa Battlò (another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces) and Casa Amatller, a unique home designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch for chocolatier Antoni Amatller. If you really want to visit both, I suggest removing the Perfume Museum and taking the express tour at Casa Amatller, which is a 20-minute walking tour of the home with a knowledgeable guide.
As mentioned above, Battlò is one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The exterior is stunning, colourful and playful. The inside is wondrous, imaginative and sort-of like being in a dream. Take yourself on a tour of the home with the included Audioguide.
Casa Amatller was the home of chocolatier, Antoni Amatller. The home was designed around the same time as Battlò but Casa Amatller is the only home in Barcelona that has been completely preserved in its original state. To visit, you will need to cover your shoes to protect the home’s luxurious floors. Every inch of the home is decorated in rich and beautiful materials – pink marble, gold leaf, dark wood and unique stained glass. I really enjoyed the intimacy of the visit and the knowledge provided by the tour guide. Casa Amatller is somewhere I’d visit a second (maybe even a third) time.
Image by La Pedrera
La Pedrera by Night (The Origins)
La Pedrera by Night offers a whole new experience – you will be guided along the entrance and made to understand how the residents of this home must have lived and experienced their home in the early and mid 1900s. Then, you will venture once again to the attic. This time, your tour guide will explain the history of the home and it’s construction, as well as some information about Gaudì himself and his work and practice. The tour ends, and the magic begins at the rooftop. You will experience a light and music show that is visually stunning and quite touching. See a preview here. This was probably my favourite evening.
After La Pedrera, grab dinner and treat yourself to organic gelato at Bodevici
After dinner (choose between Za’atar, La Vietnamita or any of the wonderful restaurants in the neighbourhoods) then stroll to Bodevici for an organic gelato. Bodevici also has a good amount of vegan options, which are all equally delicious (I enjoyed three flavours: one dark chocolate, one almond and one lemon).
Your turn – have you been to Barcelona’s Gràcia & Eixample neighbourhoods? What are your favourite local haunts?