Barcelona and design go hand in hand. For one, its streets contain many of the instantly-recognizable works of Antoni Gaudí. Less famous but equally important are those by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, a leader in Catalan art nouveau modernism. More recently, the city has welcomed some of the world’s leading architects. As a result, there’s no shortage of impressive benchmarks in design from the gothic right up to the modern day. Our Barcelona Design Guide highlights everything from tours in and around Barcelona to where to dine, sleep, and shop.
This is a reconstruction of a design by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. The original was the German Pavilion of the International Exposition that took place in Barcelona in 1929. A pivotal building in the evolution of modern architecture, it uses complex engineering required to create a seemingly simple space. It does away with internal walls wherever possible, and is also one of the earliest examples of a floating roof.
Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7, 08038 Barcelona
Palau de la Música Catalana
Representing much of what the Barcelona Pavilion was countering, this ‘Palace of Catalan Music’ is primarily a concert hall. Designed by Montaner, it opened to the public in 1908. Alongside the Hospital de Sant Pau, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. A leading example of Catalan modernism, straight lines are hard to find. Instead, it is richly decorated with flowing forms. Its stained-glass skylight creates a dramatic centerpiece that draws the eye up from the main stage.
C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in the early 2000s, Torre Glòries is also called Torre Agbar. Rising almost 150 meters, it was inspired by the nearby mountain of Montserrat. Similar to London’s Gherkin, its concrete superstructure is scored with 4,500 windows. Deliberately ignoring the traditional style of US skyscrapers, a netting of LEDs means the tower is best visited at night. Almost unavoidable, you’ll see catch sight of it on our Barcelona Walking Tour and Wine Tasting Experience.
Avinguda Diagonal, 211, 08018 Barcelona
But if that’s not enough, head to Disfrutar. Rated as one of the best restaurants in the world, Disfrutar’s many awards include two Michelin stars. Focusing its know-how on Mediterranean flavors, its décor is equally reflective of its locality. Opposite the Ninot food market, its wrought iron echoes the structure, while its bright colors recall traditional ceramics. The main dining space, in contrast, is largely white. Its aim is to mimic the whitewashed walls of the region’s fishing villages.
C/Villarroel, 163, 08036 Barcelona
While themed to bring back the glamour days of the 1920s and 1930s, Tickets is no gimmick. Tables are booked up within minutes. This is because its unusual atmosphere combines with high-end tapas. Here, there’s no menus, with plates created to each individual diner’s tastes, using local and seasonal products.
Av. del Parallel, 164, 08015 Barcelona
This hotel is just one of many brilliant hotels in Barcelona that make for a great place to lay your head in between tours, like our Unknown Gaudi, Tapas and Cava Winery Tour. And that’s because Hotel 1898 is ideally located at the heart of the action on La Rambla. But it certainly isn’t missing a trick when it comes to design either. New and old have been combined excellently here, so that barrel-vaulted ceilings look as much a part of the overall design as the elegant rooftop pool terrace with Ciutat Vella views.
La Rambla, 109, Ciutat Vella, 08002 Barcelona
Sir Victor Hotel
Sir Victor Hotel in the Eixample neighborhood has an exterior that takes Gaudi’s exciting designs into the twenty-first century. Cladding appears to be peeling from the outside of the building. Its interiors are equally modern, with wood flooring providing the backdrop to elegantly contemporary furnishings. Live music often echoes through its shared spaces. Its rooftop is home to a small infinity pool and a terraced space served by its own bar. For even more options, check out our dedicated guide to where to stay in Barcelona.
Rosselló, 265, Eixample, 08008 Barcelona
Mercat de Sant Antoni
Stylish places to shop are also an important part of any Barcelona design guide. Though not the most famous of Barcelona’s markets, this has the advantage of giving it a more authentic feel. Inside the covered portion of this market in the Sant Antoni neighborhood you’ll find around 50 independent producers. Beside fresh food stuffs, there are also plenty of places to stop for a drink or a bite to eat. Temporary stalls cram its surrounding streets most days of the week.
Comte d’Urgell, 1 bis, Eixample, 08011 Barcelona
A store where design is always front and center, MATIZ sells everything from furniture to wall art. Its bare brickwork and whitewashed walls provide a delightful escape from the bustle of the surrounding streets. Its carefully curated collection of stock is so wide-ranging it’s difficult to know what you might find. But if you’re anything like us, you’re sure to walk away with something tucked under your arm!
Carrer de Sant Pere mes Alts 48, 08003 Barcelona
Design in Beautiful Barcelona
Barcelona continues to push the boundaries when it comes to art and design. Even away from the city’s main sights, its streets are full of unique structures and landmarks. It’s therefore possible to incorporate design into all elements of a vacation in the city. This Barcelona design guide has done just that.