There are many wonderful neighborhoods in Barcelona that make it the great city it is, but one of our favorites – if not our favorite – has got to be El Born. Located in between the Gothic Quarter and Ciutadela Park, El Born has all the charm and history of medieval Europe, yet also the artsy, modern cool of current times, including hip boutiques, cutting edge art galleries, and trendy restaurants.
Narrow cobble stone streets and tree-lined squares characterize El Born, making it one of the most picturesque parts of town. Walking around the neighborhood was one of our favorite things to do, whether it was to pop into some shops or people-watch from one of the many outdoor cafes. El Born has a low-key bohemian vibe, with balconies decorated in green plants, laundry drying in lines above, and pops of color wherever you look. Funky stores line the streets, and restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops can be found on practically every block.
The restaurant scene is quite amazing in Barcelona, particularly in El Born, where all the innovative food shops and restaurants seem to be. We had some excellent meals in El Born and all catered to kids. One of our favorite restaurants was called Cuines Santa Caterina – right next to the Santa Caterina market – and the menu was incredible. Everything from tapas to chicken curry to cheeses to yummy veggies and salads were on the menu and it was the best meal of our trip. Alsur Café was another amazing restaurant, with a healthy, mediterranean slant.
One of the other great things about El Born is that despite its hip vibe, it’s completely family-friendly. There are kids everywhere…on the streets, in the restaurants, playing soccer in the squares. Parents tote their kids around with them everywhere, even at night, when the neighborhood is really hopping. I think this was a major reason why we practically dined out every night in El Born – it was so easy with the kids. It sort of felt like a slice of Brooklyn in Barcelona.
Besides walking around and relaxing over a leisurely lunch or dinner, El Born is home to a few major popular Barcelona attractions as well:
One of the most extensive collections of Picasso’s work, the Picasso Museum is particularly rich in works of the artist’s early years. To see his art work from when he was 8 – teenage years was of particular interest to my girls, because it was so much more relatable. We loved the Picasso museum. During high season, make sure to book tickets ahead of time online.
Known just as much for its funky roof (a wave-life structure in the shape of a magic carpet ride) as its food, the Santa Caterina market should not go unnoticed in the shadow of the Boqueria market! Fresh produce, poultry, meats and cheeses and so much more can be found here. I actually preferred this market because it doesn’t have the crowds that Boqueria has.
Barcelona’s oasis in the city, Ciutadela park is a nice respite from the crowds. There is a lake with row boats, and the city’s zoo is located here as well. We wound up here after being on our feet for a while at the Picasso Museum and it was the perfect break.
This Catalan Gothic church, built in the 14th century, is in the heart of El Born and beautiful to look at on the inside as well as outside. There are a number of cafes right outside, where you can enjoy a glass of cava with a view of the basilica.
This museum on all things chocolate takes you through the history of the sweet. We didn’t visit it as it wasn’t on the top of our list, but hear it can be fun for the kids.
We absolutely loved spending time in El Born during our 5 day trip and made time to walk through it almost every day we were there – it was our kind of vibe and not quite as touristy as other areas of the city. I highly recommend checking it out, even if for just a stroll through.
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