A Day Guide to Barcelona’s Old City
Barcelona is an old city and the oldest part of the city is its’ center, Ciutat Vella (Old City in English). Located inside the Ciutat Vella, you’ll find the el Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter in English), el Raval, Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera as well as Barceloneta. This encompasses a large, and important, part of the historical city (almost 5 km of dense history and things to do and see). For the sake of simplicity, this guide will cover el Barri Gòtic, Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and la Ribera (the last three making up the el Borne district).
Your Day Guide to Barcelona’s Old City
Start with breakfast at El Cafè Blueproject
Carrer Princesa 57, Barcelona (el Borne)
Blueproject opens at 10 am. They serve freshly pressed juice and vegan snacks and cookies for breakfast. The restaurant is vegetarian but half of their menu is vegan and/or raw. You can start by having a light and sweet breakfast or jump right into their lunch menu!
Explore Parc de la Ciutadella
Located less than 5 minutes from El Cafè Blueproject, this grand park houses a small lake, a jogging trail, green areas for lounging, the Barcelona Zoo and a marvellous fountain designed by Gaudì and his colleague, Josep Fontserè. For more green spaces to explore in the city, click here.
Visit the Picasso Museum
Carrer Montcada 15-23, Barcelona (el Borne)
This museum takes you on a historical tour of Picasso’s works, organizing his paintings, sketches and sculptures by period from his school aged paintings in the classical style, to the Blue Period into his later abstract works. The museum houses almost 4000 of his works so set aside at least two hours. The museum is also a few steps from Blueproject (opposite of the park).
After a couple of hours of exploring, it’s now lunchtime! Here are two great options to choose from – both restaurants are very close and equally delicious, it’s really a matter of preference! (Remember that most restaurants in Barcelona open their kitchens at around 1 pm to 4 pm for lunch)
Plaza de Sant Augusti Vell 10, Barcelona (also in el Borne)
A lovely little vegetarian restaurant with more vegan options than vegetarian. At Enjoy Vegan you’ll find great warm dishes like vegan lasagna – vegan béchamel anyone? – as well as fresh salad and wonderful desserts. The staff is very friendly and the space is very charming, warm and inviting.
Carrer Comerç, 17, Barcelona (el Borne)
La Vietnamita describes itself as a Vietnamese street food deli. Stay in for your meal or you may opt for take out (to save some cash) but either way, make sure to mention if you are vegetarian or vegan as their menu does have some non-vegetarian options. When I visited, I enjoyed a rice paper rolls (vegan) and a light salad (Deli delight). I was delightfully surprised at how filled I was even if the salad is considered to be “light”! For more vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the city, click here.
Museu d’Història de Barcelona Plaça del Rei
Plaça del Rei (el Barri Gòtic)
A must-see in my book, explore the remaining foundations of Barcino, the ancient Roman city. See where and how ancient citizens dyed clothing and did laundry, made wine and even visit an early church and baptistery.
Catedral de Barcelona
Steps from the Museu d’Història, you’ll quickly spot the magnificent gothic Catedral. The entrance to the church is free (or by donation) but if you want to visit the roof or choir, there is a small fee. The Catedral is breathtaking – don’t be surprised if you are overcome with emotion.
Boria 17 (el Borne)
Local beer, veggie burgers, raw desserts, piano music – open late. I haven’t been yet but it’s on my list (fellow “HappyCow” members say it’s the BEST). It’s open late so you can chill out after dinner, digest and decompress from the wonderful day you had!
Over to you!
What are you favourite eats & places to visit in el Borne and el Barri Gòtic?