Barcelona Neighbourhood Guide: El Born
If you’re visiting Barcelona but aren’t really sure where to start, we thought we’d help you out with a neighbourhood guide to one of our favourite local areas: El Born. From its early days as a medieval seaside escape for the aristocracy, El Born is now an artistic local neighbourhood, so check out our Barcelona area guide to this laid back barrio and discover the best spots to eat, drink and explore all recommended by our locals in Barcelona!
Nestled between Barrio Gótico and the lush Parc de la Ciutadella, El Born is definitely a much loved local barrios. Despite it’s central location on the edge of the popular tourist areas, this barrio has managed to maintain it’s distinctive bohemian character and effortlessly combines all our favourite elements of neighbouring Barrio Gótico (think narrow cobbled streets, medieval style squares and you’ll get the picture) with a unique and creative vibe. Home to a thriving creative community, the neighbourhood has a laid back, artistic feel to it and as far as the barrios go, El Born is one of the effortlessly cool kids (and they know it)!
We think about food quite a lot, so you shouldn’t be surprised that our first recommendation is La Botifarreria, a traditional delicatessen which basically equates to foodie paradise (providing you’re not a vegetarian)! Botifarra is a type of sausage that’s a staple of Catalan cuisine, and this deli produces the best in the area, from traditional salt and pepper botifarra to innovate twists on the classic through additions like duck foie gras or dates and gruyere. For a real taste of local cuisine, ask the staff for their recommendations, put together a picnic of cooked sausages, pâté and cured pork and then do like the locals do and pick a spot in the nearby park or find a bench in one of the characteristic squares to enjoy the delicacies.
Our favourite local eatery has got to be El Chigre, a neighbourhood restaurant loved and frequented by anyone and everyone who lives in the barrio, so much so that you’ll probably find you’re the only one in the place who's not a local! We’re not exaggerating when we say it’s the best tapas in town, so if slow cooking, artisanal cheeses, cured meats and seafood grilled over charcoal sounds like your thing, this is the spot! They’re also technically a sidrería (which our Barcelona locals assure us is a cider bar) so are a popular spot for locals to come and enjoy a few drinks in the evenings - you could either being drinking with a twenty-something hipster or someone’s artistic grandpa.
In the evenings, the neighbourhood really comes alive and our favourite place (and everyone else’s too apparently) to soak up the atmosphere with a beer and some tapas is Passeig del Born. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to bars to choose from, but for some Catalan authenticity and neighbourhood vibes seek out a vermuteria, tiny local bars which usually have tables spilling out in the street, perfect for sipping the drink of choice, vermouth, and watching the world go by. There’s nothing more Catalan and nothing more hip than this popular local ritual, so do like the locals and enjoy the vermut de la casa at any of the barrio’s watering holes. One of our favourites is Bormuth. La hora del vermut which means 'the time for vermouth' technically starts around mid-day, so pick a bar and settle in for a few hours sipping vermouth and nibbling tapas whenever you fancy!
El Born is known for it’s creativity, so it’s no surprise that there’s more than a few great art galleries in the area. One to watch is Anaglifos Art Factory, a contemporary, white-walled space which is not only a gallery but a performance space and hub for workshops in a variety of subjects. But we also love the street art here, st of which has been lovingly created by locals throughout the barrio. So much of El Born’s character comes from it’s medieval history and architecture, and we love the contrast between century old structures and modern street art.