After a wonderful 5 days in Madrid, I traveled to Barcelona for a quick, 3-day tour of the city. I stayed in Passeig De Gracia because of its short proximity to great shopping, good restaurants and amazing architectures of Gaudi. As one of Barcelona’s most famous streets, (second only to Las Ramblas), this boulevard is part of the Eixample district, and connects Catalonia Square with the Gracia neighborhood.
It’s a walkable boulevard and home to high-end fashion shops. I stayed at Royal Passeig de Gracia Hotel, which is located right in the heart of Passeig de Gracia. The best tapas restaurants are just walking distance.
The area is quieter than Las Ramblas – here there are more locals than tourists, which I think makes for a more authentic Barcelona experience! I adored the tall beautiful trees which lined up along the luxury boulevard.
Since I spent a fairly short time here, I will share a short travel guide for Passeig de Gracia if you are staying less than three days in Barcelona. The following are the best attractions for first-time visitors to Passeig de Gracia. I also encourage you to explore other areas of Barcelona.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PASSEIG DE GRACIA
The Passeig de Gracia fast gained popularity in the 19th Century when it was upgraded from a small road into a 42-metre-wide boulevard. It is the perfect place to both sightsee and shop.
It wasn’t until around the time of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics that Passeig de Gracia gained worldwide attention as one of the premier places for incredible shopping, on par with New York’s 5th Ave. and Paris’ Champs-Elysees.
This, along with its unique architectural heritage make it one of the Best Streets in the world.
But it wasn’t always this way. Back in the day, the street used to be quite rough and was the only passageway from Barcelona to the town of Gracia. Its humble beginnings on the far outskirts of Barcelona consisted of farmers, heavily taxed by the king, and soon gave way to a remodeled road that saw the wealthy begin to build their lavish mansions to take advantage of the garden-like setting.
When Barcelona’s city planners received the green light for expansion of the city past its medieval walls, luxury shopping followed the bourgeoisie to this area of town, smack dab in the golden age of Catalan Art Nouveau. This is when the Passeig De Gracia as we know it today took root.
Today, is one of the most luxurious streets in the city.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
1. Walk and enjoy the amazing Modernist Architectures
Passeig de Gracia is meant to be explored by foot. You will see Antoni Gaudi masterpieces and many beautiful facades of inspiring architecture dating back to 1820.
Although I was only in Barcelona for 3 days, I had the most amazing time exploring the area from the northern part of the boulevard, near Casa La Pedrera in Diagonal to the famous Placa de Catalunya.
2. The Gaudi Architectures
Two of the most amazing masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi are in Passeig de Gracia.
Mr. Gaudi helped bring Catalan architecture to worldwide fame by bringing his own aesthetic to the prevailing 1900’s architecture. His forms were organic, curved and into the buildings he constructed, and his architectural language defies classification.
- Casa Milà ‘La Pedrera’ On the corner of Carrer Provenca stands the La Padrera, with its undulating forms mimicking waves of an ocean. The undulating curves at the top, punctuated by rounded spires make this building truly unique.
- Casa Batlló Further down the street you will find Casa Batllo, reminiscent of St. Gorge and the dragon. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a legend of art and design.
Tours are given at both buildings.
3. Casa Amatler
Built by architect Puig I Cadafalch, the staggered finish of this building makes it one of the most admired facades in Barcelona. It is infused with both Romanesque and Catalan Gothic styling, loaded with symbolism and decorative elements. You can tour this one as well – there are different tours to choose from and they even have art nouveau nights!
3. Placa de Catalunya
Regarded as the central point of Barcelona for many travelers, the Placa de Catalunya is a central square that is actually round! It is an oasis of green, with fountains, sculptures and many places to sit and people watch. During fiesta time you will see much live music, giving the entire square a festive atmosphere.
Passeig De Gracia is like the Champ Elyse’s of Paris. If you are a fashion lover like me, then this is the perfect place to shop. It’s home to most of the best high-end fashion brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Dolce and Gabbana, Rolex and many more.
From leather bags to the latest fashions to the best eateries, you can easily spend an entire day simply shopping ‘til you drop! And when you need a break from all that shopping…
5. Go For Tapas
Barcelona is known for its excellent food, from delicious tapas to modern gastronomy.
I visited some of the best tapas restaurants which were recommended by friends, and the food didn’t disappoint. The food and wine prices are very reasonable, and I had the best time trying the different flavors on offer.
Cervesería Catalana has an amazing variety of small plates, from savory meats to delectable cheeses. Include it with a carafe of sangria and you will be swooning!
Ciudad Condal was another neighborhood tapas place that took my taste buds on an incredible journey.
El Nacional is one of the most popular restaurants in Barcelona with a huge and well decorated space. It offers many food options as it has many bars inside the restaurant.
6. Rooftop Bars
The perfect way to end your day is to enjoy a drink overlooking the beautiful city. I’ve selected a few of my favorite Rooftop bars and first on the list is the “Terrace” Rooftop bar of the Hotel Royal Passeig de Gràcia. I took in the spectacular view of Barcelona’s skyline, while sipping on a tasty craft cocktail.
La Dolce Vitae at Majestic Hotel gives stunning, 360-degree views of the city in a bar that also serves food from a Michelin chef! It was definitely one of the more upscale bars.
Alaire is located on the 8th floor of the Condes de Barcelona Hotel, and overlooks the La Pedrera and the Sagrada Familia. Here you can also enjoy a delicious meal while sipping your favorite beverage.
My trip to Passeig De Gracia was a whirlwind one, for sure. I had some idea that the Passeig de Gracia was one of the best places to discover in Barcelona, but nothing prepared me for the incredible architecture, the history and culture of this place once I saw it with my own eyes!
I will certainly be back when I have more time to explore, and share with you more guides to Barelona!