One of the reasons Barcelona is such a popular holiday destination for millions of people is the variety that the city holds. Some people come here for the culture, the museums, churches and art galleries. Others want to lie on a beach and soak up the sun with a cold beer in their hand. Some come here purely bent on a hedonistic bender that lasts for three days during which very little sleep is had as it is seen as overrated, partying taking precedence over downtime. One thing Barcelona is certainly renowned for is it’s nightlife. There are areas of the city such as Port Olimpic which, at night time, are dedicated to thousands of party people dancing until the sun pops its head over the sea.
But before people hit the clubs a pre drink in one or more of the city’s bars are always a good warm up. Clubs in Barcelona don’t open their doors until midnight and if you go anytime before 1.30am you will be there on your own! Fortunately the bars stay open late, especially at weekends 3am if the normal time for last orders. There are of course hundreds of bars to choose from in the city from huge student/traveller bars such as Belushis next to St Christopher’s hostel to tiny little bars where old men sit and complain all evening to anyone who will listen. If neither of those types of bars appeals to you then there are other options. Barcelona has some of the coolest bars in Europe so here is a run down of the best of the best!
Dry Martini & Speakeasy
Carrer d’Aribau, 163, 08036, Barcelona, Spain
This is not just one of the most famous cocktail bars in Barcelona it is one of the most famous in the world! It was opened in 1971 as a Martinería by Don Pere Carbonellni, serving only Dry Martinis. Of course in that day to serve exclusively dry martinis was ok, people nowadays want a bit more variety! When the connoisseur Javier de las Muelas took over in 1996, he maintained the essence of a classic English cocktail bar with leather, wood and brass, whilst expanding the menu with classical cocktail recreations and a famous new exclusive and innovative drinks. The result is an elegant and refined place to drink with a jazz, soul and easy listening soundtrack. One of the coolest additions is an electronic counter which adds up all the classic Dry Martini cocktails sold since the bar opened. Another is the secret doorway at the back of the room which leads to Speakeasy, a stunning hidden restaurant which is located in the bar’s storage room. Walking past bottle crates and through the kitchen, you feel like you’re starring in the classic Goodfellas scene. A paired food and cocktail makes for a must-visit for cocktail lovers!
Carrer de Sant Pau, 65, 08001, Barcelona, Spain
This is arguably the oldest bar in Barcelona, indeed when you walk in it feels like you are walking into a bar that hasn’t been restored since the 19th Century. Tatty, crowded and even unclean, with a floor and ceiling showing the bar’s age, but here in lies the appeal. Inside you have a unique sense of history and vibrant atmosphere. This late-night absinthe bar, famously frequented by Picasso and Hemmingway, has been open in the sleazy “Barrio Chino” El Raval neighbourhood since 1820 and was featured as the arty Red Light District bar in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”. The famous “Green Fairy”, which is served in a glass with a lump of sugar, a fork and a bottle of water. Hold the sugar on the fork above your glass and pour the water over it, making it dissolve into the absinthe below and turning it yellow in the process as you stir. Anyone who has seen From Hell with Johnny Depp will be familiar with this drink. Whilst absinthe is illegal in many countries take advantage of the fact that you can be served it here in all its forms!
Els 4 Gats
Carrer de Montsio 3, 08002, Barcelona, Spain
If you are looking for a bar that is steeped in history then look no further than Els 4 Gats because no other bar comes close. The story behind this beautiful Barcelona bar and restaurant dates back to 1890’s Paris when Pere Romeu worked as a waiter and entertainment presenter in the famous Le Chat Noir cabaret club. Seduced by this environment, he decided to create a similar establishment in Barcelona, in 1897. Two years later, aged just 17, Pablo Picasso started to frequent the place and carried out his first ever exhibition in the big room. It became a centre of Modernisme where many famous artists could display their artwork, the most prominent piece in the bar’s permanent collection was a lighthearted Casas self-portrait, depicting him smoking a pipe while pedaling a tandem bicycle with Pere Romeu as his stoker. You could argue that this is more of a cafe now than a bar as through the day time many people sit there sipping coffee. However with a drinks menu boasting absinthe and vermouth this is still a bar and a very cool one at that!
Las de Sota Muralla 3, 08003, Barcelona, Spain
At the end of Passeig Colon in the shadow of Licenstein’s colours face sculpture lies easily one of the coolest bars in the city. Recently expanded the large terrace out to front is the perfect place to watch the city go by as you enjoy a cold beer or strong and expertly made cocktails at very reasonable prices. The bar also boasts a very impressive selection of fresh fruits that can be blended at your specification. The food here is also outstanding with two tacos for 5 euros and a choice of two fantastic burgers for 9 euros. The serving staff here are always very friendly, many being expats so you won’t need to worry about the language barrier. Whether you are popping in for a bite or a few drinks this is a must whilst in the city.
Carrer de Sant Pau, 128, 08001, Barcelona, Spain
Used in the filming of the Woody Allen film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, this lovingly restored sweet shop next to the Parallel metro station is one of Barcelona’s most beautiful bars. The glass cases that once housed sweets are now stocked with a multitude of different types of liquor. Open until 3am, it is popular with bar hoppers stopping by for a beer on their way to the more lively bars in the Poble Sec district or by theatre goers grabbing a cocktail before and after the show.
I would highly recommend take in at least one, if not all of these bars on your trip they will not disappoint!