Need a vacation from your vacation? Our guide to Barceloneta unwraps the delights and surprises hiding in Barcelona’s fishing district.
The scenario: you’ve been in Barcelona for a few days, and you’ve seen everything from the Cathedral by the Sea to the Picasso Museum. If you need a break from a jam-packed vacation schedule, we recommend spending some time in Barceloneta. This adorable fishing district-turned-beach is one of the prettiest in the world. Spend a few hours (or days!) admiring the Mediterranean, relaxing on the sand, and enjoying seafood.
History of Barceloneta
Barceloneta began as a fishing village, populated by the people who went out to fish on the Mediterranean Sea. In the eighteenth century, however, ruler Felipe V wanted to make a space for people to enjoy the city. With this idea in mind, he created the Parc Ciutadella right on top of where the fishermen and their families lived. The fishermen were forced into tents closer to the water, and over time, this tent city became Barceloneta. As the decades rolled on, the fishing industry declined. By the 1970s and the end of the Franco regime, the stretch of beach known as Barceloneta was mostly abandoned—until the 1992 Olympics. Then, the mostly broken-down area was transformed into a glorious beach worthy of an Olympic host city, becoming the location that would help Barcelona achieve international vacation destination status.
Today, Barceloneta is a bustling neighborhood, filled up with restaurants, clubs, beach bars, and a boardwalk with one of the greatest views in the country. Families meander to and fro, and tourists line the beaches, rubbing on sunscreen and watching the crystal water. Small children drip ice cream onto the sidewalk, buskers play for tips, and frisbee players of all stripes line the beach. Back towards town, you’ll find a harbor lined with boats of all shapes and sizes, including several yachts.
What to Do
Take a stroll through Port Vell. Here, people cruise about, admiring the yachts and other boats. You can do some high-end shopping at the mall by the harbor, or take a picnic down by the water. If you’re tired of walking, why not hop in a cable car? The cable car ride takes you on a dizzying journey over the city, where you can admire Barceloneta and the city itself from the sky. If you have children or love animals, take an aquatic adventure at the aquarium. They (and you) will thrill at seeing the mysterious creatures of the deep right up close. Of course, the best option is the most obvious one: if you want to spend some time in Barceloneta but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then grab a bocadillo and some water and head to the beach.
Where to Eat
Barceloneta’s market (La Mercat de la Barceloneta) is a great place to grab some food, if you don’t mind doing a little exploring first. Located in the historical center, this bustling space is filled with incredible seafood and more. If a market isn’t your style, head over to the home of the bombas, La Cova Fumada. Known as bombas, these delicious little meatballs were invented right here during the Spanish Civil War. Since this food is unique to Barcelona, they’ll be especially tasty. Many people flock to Spain for the paella, and if that’s the case for you, check out La Peninsular. This classy, upscale restaurant serves up the best fresh seafood in the city, with seafood paella as a specialty.
Barceloneta is one of the areas in the city that has shifted the most over the last few decades, transforming from an abandoned industrial area into one of the chicest neighborhoods in Barcelona. Have you ever explored Barceloneta? Let us know in the comments!