It is said that there are as many different experiences to be had in Barcelona, Spain, and as a recent visitor, that’s incredibly true. Barcelona offers you from the most high-class hotels, expensive brands and exclusive night clubs to the cheapest 12 bed dorms, second-hand shops, and underground pubs. With a population of 1.6 million, this wonderful city is home to all sorts of people from artists, skaters, musicians, athletes, designers, bohemians to entrepreneurs and an endless list from all social classes. But as a young backpacker and artist, my favourite Barcelona is the one with hidden entrances to pubs and astonishing street art. I set out to do as much as I could in only 24 hours.
Sleep among art
No Limit Graffiti hostel is located in Aragó Street, only a 35 minute walk from the old city and with a metro station (Encants) just 100 metres away. It offers a wide range of accommodation options: twin room, 8 bed dorm, 8 bed dorm en-suite, 10 bed dorm en-suite and 12 bed female dorm. The hostel has a community kitchen, work-space, terrace, and living room. The cost will vary between 19 to 22€ per night in a dorm, which is a very good price for its location and facilities. What truly stands out from this hostel is its aesthetics and comfort, which makes it unique and special. No Limit Graffiti is completely decorated with artwork painted by artists from all around the world in every room and space. The only inconvenient is that the minimum stay is 2 nights but it’s totally worth a visit.
Explore like a local
What makes the street art scene so special and attractive is its ephemeral nature. Every artwork will last for a brief period of time and it will be in constant change. The best areas in Barcelona to walk around and get lost searching for hidden masterpieces are the following quarters of the city:
- El Raval
- Barri Gòtic
- Vila de Gràcia
- Provençals del Poblenou
El Raval and Barri Gòtic are in the old city area, while the other two are located on the outskirts of Barcelona.
There are some guides and itineraries to find famous street art pieces but as it was mentioned before, there is a high possibility that the piece you’re looking for no longer exists. The best way to appreciate this art is to wander around with your eyes wide open.
The night scene in Barcelona is well known for its variety and oddity. The first pub in our 24 hours tour is The Bollocks. Situated in Ample Street in the Barri Gotic quarter, this pub offers a wide number of drinks and food options accompanied by the best rock music. Its decoration is fully based on music and classic rock, with drums and mixing console cases as tables or guitar brands and songs as drink and food names. It also has an eating contest consisting of eating 5 hamburgers in 25 minutes with the amazing reward of 66 free beers.
After filling our stomachs with all manner of American food, the next destination is Nevermind Escudellers, only 7 minutes away from The Bollocks. This pub, hidden in the narrow street of Escudellers Blancs, with the entrance completely covered by stickers and graffitis and is fully set in a skatepark. The walls are painted with incredible street art and the seats are built in half-pipes. They have Happy Hour until 23:00 and you can eat as much popcorn as you want with the best rock punk music around. The bartenders are friendly and don’t mind rocking away with the music whilst serving.
Our final stop is Nevermind Tallers, the big brother of Nevermind Escudellers. It’s located on Tallers Street (El Raval quarter) and only 4 minutes away from MACBA (Museum of contemporary art of Barcelona), the skate movement epicentre in Barcelona. This pub isn’t just set as a skatepark, it IS a skatepark; after making your way through the crowd and seats made of old skateboards, you’ll reach a half pool where it’s allowed to skate until midnight, finding the best skateboarders in the city. This chilled and laidback mood is topped up with the friendliest staff and amazing artwork on every wall.
Eat healthily The Veggie Garden is the best choice to eat in El Raval quarter, right next to MACBA. It’s a vegan and eco-friendly restaurant with a great range of dishes and a very affordable 3 course menu for less than 10€. You’ll enjoy the tasty homemade food surrounded by colourful and cheerful art on the walls.
It is undeniable that one of the biggest pull factors to Barcelona is shopping. With spectacular shop windows on every street, it is impossible not to feel attracted by the fashion design industry, as well as small independent retailers. Dr.Flow, located on Vigatans Street, is a mix of concepts where everything in there is for sale (even the bar stools and seats). This extravagant store is a second-hand shop where you can enjoy a drink whilst listening to live music. It’s run by a very peculiar owner who’ll be willing to help you with any doubts about the place, the sights and sounds of the local area or simply chat about life.
Holala Plaza is also a second-hand shop where you’ll find the rarest and coolest clothing on Valldonzella Street. Its walls are decorated with unique artwork that combines perfectly with its products.
The Museum of Illusions is a unique place with art pieces on the wall that makes you be part of the art. Sombrerers, Esparteria and Vidrieria street. These streets have been home for many generations of artisans in all sorts of art and it’s the perfect place to find exclusive handmade items and travel through time watching how the craftsmen patiently work their pieces. Although the act of painting public transport is a crime, this can cost thousands of euros to the government and puts the life of the artist in unnecessary danger, some trains (especially the short distance ones) are covered by impressive art made only in a few minutes.