Traditional stores and bars: The secret heart of Barcelona

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Some of the gastronomic landmarks of the city – places where the locals have been shopping, eating and drinking for generations – are still going strong. Say farewell to the big chains and embrace the soul of Barcelona.

Vermut-fuelled discussions

Since the 19th century, locals have been gathering to fix the world over a vermut. Modernist watering holes include Casa Almirall (1860), in buzzing El Raval and Cafè de l’Òpera (1929), on the iconic Las Ramblas. Or La Confitería (1912), a former bakery turned into a cocktail bar.

Hangovers are sure to be cured with a cup of hot chocolate in Granja Viader (1870), tucked away in a narrow street. Another remedy is coffee with rum, cream and cinnamon at the marble tables of La Granja 1872, in the Barri Gòtic.

A bite to go or to take home

Looking for home-made ice cream and refreshing horchata during the summer or classic torrons in winter? Planelles Donat Xixona, in the pedestrianised Portal de l’Àngel, has been serving people with a sweet tooth since 1929.

Colmado Múrria, in business since 1905, will vacuum-pack any of the 200 cheeses available, plus any other of the Catalan gourmet products on offer. So you can take a piece of Barcelona home with you.

Dressing like a dandy

If you’re a fashionista rather than a foodie, you can opt for an alternative souvenir. Since 1820, Camiseria Xanco off Las Ramblas, near Liceu Metro Station, has been tailoring bespoke shirts. You can complement your new outfit with a hat from Mil, milliners since 1917.

Espadrilles are all the rage at the moment, but La Manual Alpargatera in the Barri Gòtic started making them back in 1941. Even Penélope Cruz has succumbed to their charm.

Poblenou, the new bohemian scene

The shabby-chic streets in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Poblenou are dotted with former industrial spaces housing creative hubs and art galleries.

Along the tree-lined Rambla del Poblenou, you’ll find Modernist façades, old-school bars and the Casino L’Aliança del Poblenou (1868), which organises concerts and other cultural activities. On the same stretch, Can Recasens, which started as a butcher’s shop in 1903, is now a tavern serving small bites and drinks.

For more information on things to do, as well as places to stay in Barcelona, visit our destination guide.

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