Why Poblenou is Barcelona's coolest neighbourhood

Barcelona has a plethora of cool neighbourhoods, but in recent years, there’s one barrio that just hasn’t stopped changing and growing. Poblenou lies at the centre of the Barcelona design movement, and attracts everyone from hipsters to start-ups with its trendy markets, concept stores and innovative festivals.

Looking over the skyline of Poblenou, with modern skyscrapers in the background and the blue Mediterranean beyond.
Looking over Poblenou and the @22 tech district © traumschoen / Getty Images

Get your bearings in Poblenou

Poblenou is located to the east of the city centre, between the area of Glories and the beach. It used to be a very traditional Catalan neighbourhood, and the central and lower parts of the barrio still are. This area is dotted with colourful Modernista architecture, and even has its own ‘rambla’ (esplanade). The north and surrounding areas, however, are very different, filled with big old warehouses and modern tech hubs. It’s here where hipsters, designers and start-ups have moved in. This area has become known as @22, a place now occupied by design schools, galleries, craft beer breweries, and new-age digital companies looking to take over the world.

Here are some of the best spots to soak up the neighbourhood vibe.

A red-walled building with blue shuttered windows and elaborate balconies; between each window is an intricate purple floral motif.
Modernista architecture on the Rambla del Poblenou © digitalimagination / Getty Images

Brunch, coffee and craft beer

Little Fern Café

Every cool district needs its brunch cafes, and in Poblenou Little Fern Café is one of the best, offering a Kiwi brunch concept. Its minimalist design incorporates whitewashed walls and lots of green plants, while the menu features everything from classic avo smash and granola to tasty corn fritter stacks and charcoal lattes. Be sure to try the kimchi pancakes: they’re way better than they sound.

Espai Joliu

Plants meet coffee at this hip concept store, where you can sit down and enjoy your matcha lattes, flat whites and chia puddings among pots of mini cacti, ferns and succulents.

Skye Coffee Co.

Another trendy spot to get your caffeine fix is the huge Espacio 88 warehouse, where top-notch coffees are served from a vintage coffee van. The space also holds workshops, exhibitions and events.

Hoppiness

What cool district would be without its craft beer? Poblenou now has several craft beer spots, with Hoppiness being one of the favourites. At this cosy microbrewery, bearded hipsters serve homemade IPAs, stouts and ales on tap. Don't miss the deliciously tangy passionfruit beer.

Shoppers browse a market stall full of vintage suitcases and other items, in front of a building clad in verdant foliage.
Unearthing treasures at Palo Alto market © Palo Alto

Vintage wares and new-age design

Palo Alto 

Named after the tech city in California, Palo Alto is Barcelona’s trendiest market. Housed in an old factory, it is filled with hip vintage clothes, local handicrafts and designs, DJs and bands. Outside in the leafy garden area, you’ll find an array of food trucks selling everything from vegan fare to gourmet burgers. The market takes place on the first weekend of every month and is now so popular that you need to buy tickets to enter.

Noak Room

Hip Scandi design can be found in abundance at the cosy Noak Room, a vintage furniture and homeware store. The unique pieces are sourced directly from Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

BD Barcelona Design

The very best of Barcelona design has been brought together in this huge, chic industrial warehouse. There’s everything from vases and mirrors to lamps, chairs and tables, designed by modern Catalan designers and even the greats like Salvador Dalí and Antoni Gaudí.

People walking down Rambla del Poblenou; the esplanade is lined with ornate lamp-posts and trees in autumnal colours, and there are sculptural columns further along the Rambla.
Walking along Rambla del Poblenou © DFH Photo / Shutterstock

Festivals galore

Independent Barcelona Coffee Festival

The best coffee roasters in the city come together to show off their barista skills inside one of Poblenou’s old warehouses in late October/early November each year. There are free lattes and espressos for those prepared to wait in the somewhat disorderly queues, as well as coffee tasting workshops and talks if you want to learn more about the beans.

Poblenou Open Day/Night

The barrio opens itself up for the city to snoop around its design schools, workshops, galleries, hotels, and even garage rooftops for one night in November and one day in May. It’s a crazy hive of events hidden all over the district: discover DJs set up in galleries, and cocktail bars nestled in old abandoned buildings and tech hotels.

Discover La Sagrada Família, Barcelona

Llum BCN

The city’s festival of light takes over Poblenou and the @22 district in mid-February each year. Light installations are projected onto the facades of hotels and tech companies, while others can be found hidden inside design schools and renovated factories. You may have to queue to see the best of them, but it’s usually well worth it.

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