Barcelona is a town for nightlife lovers, with an enticing spread of candlelit wine bars, old-school taverns, stylish lounges and kaleidoscopic nightclubs where the party continues until daybreak. For something a little more sedate, the city’s atmospheric cafes and teahouses make a fine retreat when the skies turn grey.
Bars & Lounges
Barcelona has a dizzying assortment of bars where you can start – or end – the night. The atmosphere varies tremendously – candlelit, mural-covered chambers in the medieval quarter, antique-filled converted storefronts and buzzing Modernista spaces are all part of the scene. Of course, where to go depends as much on the crowd as it does on ambience – and whether you're in the mood to drink with the hipsters (try Sant Antoni), the bohemian crowd (El Raval) or young expats (Gràcia), you'll find a scene that suits in Barcelona.
Wherever you end up, keep in mind that eating and drinking go hand in hand in Barcelona (as in other parts of Spain), and some of the liveliest bars serve up tapas as well as alcohol.
Wine & Cava Bars
A growing number of wine bars scattered around the city provide a showcase for the great produce from Spain and beyond. Vine-minded spots such as Monvínic serve a huge selection of wines by the glass, with a particular focus on stellar new vintages. A big part of the experience is having a few bites while you drink. Expect sharing plates, platters of cheese and charcuterie, and plenty of tapas.
Cava bars tend to be more about the festive ambience than the actual drinking of cava, a sparkling white or rosé, most of which is produced in Catalonia's Penedès region. At the more famous cava bars you'll have to nudge your way through the garrulous crowds and enjoy your bubbly standing up. Two of the most famous cava bars are El Xampanyet in La Ribera and Can Paixano in Barceloneta.
Drinks With a View
Barcelona has a handful of rooftop bars and hillside drinking spaces that provide an enchanting view over the city. Depending on the neighbourhood, the vista may take in the rooftops of the Ciutat Vella (Old City), the curving beachfront, or the entire expanse of the city centre with the Collserola hills and Tibidabo in the distance. Most of these drinking spots are perched atop high-end hotels, but are not solely the domain of visiting foreigners. An increasing number of style-minded barcelonins are drawn to these spaces. Late in the evening you'll find a mostly local crowd.
A few top picks:
- Serras Hotel The rooftop terrace, looking over the port and out to sea, is a favourite with locals.
- Barceló Raval Boasts dramatic 360-degree views from its rooftop terrace; its location in Raval makes it a good place to start off the evening before heading to nearby nightspots.
- La Isabela On the 7th-floor terrace of Hotel 1898, this handsomely designed summertime spot is a peaceful oasis from La Rambla down below.
- Mirablau At the foot of Tibidabo, this open-air spot is a city icon, famous for its unrivalled view over the city.
- La Caseta del Migdia Open-air space on Montjuïc.
During summer, small wooden beach bars, known as chiringuitos, open up along the strand from Barceloneta all the way up to Platja de la Nova Mar Bella. Here you can dip your toes in the sand and nurse a cocktail or munch a snack while watching the city at play against the backdrop of the deep-blue Mediterranean. Ambient sounds add to the laid-back environment. Some beachside bars also host big-name DJs and parties.
Barcelona’s discotecas (clubs) are at their best from Thursday to Saturday. Indeed, many open only on these nights. A surprising variety of spots lurk in the old-town labyrinth, ranging from plush former dance halls to grungy subterranean venues that fill to capacity.
Along the waterfront it’s another story. At Port Olímpic, sun-scorched crowds of visiting yachties mix it up with tourists and a few locals at noisy, back-to-back dance bars right on the waterfront.
A sprinkling of well-known clubs is spread over the classy parts of town, in L’Eixample and La Zona Alta. They attract a beautiful crowd.
The cafe scene in Barcelona is incredibly vibrant and makes a great setting for an afternoon pick-me-up. You'll find charming teashops hidden on the narrow lanes of Barri Gòtic, bohemian hang-outs in the Raval, hipster haunts in L'Eixample and Modernista gems on La Rambla. While coffee, tea or perhaps xocolata desfeta (hot chocolate) are the main attractions, most places also serve snacks, while some serve beer, wine and cocktails.
Spain is a wine-drinking country and vi/vino (wine) accompanies lunch and dinner. Spanish wine, whether blanc/blanco (white), negre/tinto (red) or rosat/rosado (rosé), tends to have quite a kick, in part because of the climate but also because of grape varieties and production methods. That said, the long-adhered-to policy of quantity over quality has given way to a subtler approach.
As in the other major EU wine-producing countries, there are two broad categories: table wine and quality wine. The former ranges from the basic vi de taula/vino de mesa to vi de la terra/vino de la tierra, the latter being a wine from an officially delimited wine-producing area.
The bulk of DO wines in Catalonia are made from grapes produced in the Penedès area, which pumps out almost two million hectolitres a year. The other DO winemaking zones (spread as far apart as the Empordà area around Figueres in the north and the Terra Alta around Gandesa in the southwest) have a combined output of about half that produced in Penedès. The wines of the El Priorat area, which tend to be dark, heavy reds, have been promoted to DOC status, an honour shared only with those of La Rioja (categorised as such since 1926). Drops from the neighbouring Montsant area are frequently as good (or close) and considerably cheaper.
Most of the grapes grown in Catalonia are native to Spain and include white macabeo, garnatxa and xarel·lo (for whites), and black garnatxa, monastrell and ull de llebre (tempranillo) red varieties. Foreign varieties (such as chardonnay, riesling, chenin blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir) are also common.
There is plenty to look out for beyond Penedès. Raïmat, in the Costers del Segre DO area of Lleida province, produces fine reds and a couple of notable whites. Good fortified wines come from around Tarragona and some nice fresh wines are also produced in the Empordà area in the north.
Barcelona's microbrewery scene is alive and well, with an ever-growing number of small-scale brewers making an incredible range of IPAs, APAs, stouts, saisons, amber ales, sour ales and daring combinations (award-winning Edge Brewing pushes the envelope in beers with hints of passionfruit and citrus). If you're a beer lover, it's a great time to witness the brewing renaissance underway. Several places offer brewery tours and tastings, including BlackLab, Edge Brewing and Birra 08.
Aside from microbreweries, Barcelona has plenty of beer-centric bars and shops (sometimes dual combos – meaning you can drink there then take a few bottles home). Speciality food bars with a craft beer focus are also common. You can opt for vegan burgers and Catalan brews at Cat Bar, munch on grilled sandwiches and first-rate APAs at Chivuo's, or put together a beer and tapas feast at the sprawling Fàbrica Moritz.
- The most common way to order cervesa/cerveza (beer) is to ask for a canya/caña, which is a small draught beer (cervesa/cerveza de barril).
- A larger beer, which comes in a straight glass (about 300mL), is sometimes called a tubo.
- A pint is a gerra/jarra and is usually relevant only in pseudo-Irish pubs.
- A small bottle of beer is called a flascó/botellín.
- A 200mL bottle is called a quinto (fifth)
- A 330mL is a tercio (third).
- If you just ask for a cerveza, you may get bottled beer, which tends to be marginally more expensive.
- A clara is a shandy – a beer with a hefty dash of lemonade (or lemon Fanta).
Streets & Plazas to Bar-Hop
- Plaça Reial Barri Gòtic
- Carrer dels Escudellers Barri Gòtic
- Carrer de Joaquín Costa El Raval
- Carrer Nou de la Rambla El Raval
- Carrer del Parlament Sant Antoni
- Platja de la Barceloneta La Barceloneta
- Carrer d’Aribau L’Eixample
- Plaça del Sol Gràcia
- Passeig del Born La Ribera
- Rambla del Raval El Raval
- Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia Gràcia
- Carrer Nou de la Rambla Poble Sec
- Carrer de Blai Poble Sec
Need to Know
- Bars Typically open around 6pm and close at 2am (3am on weekends), though many are open all day.
- Clubs Open from midnight until 6am Thursday to Saturday.
- Beach bars 10am to around midnight (later on weekends) from April through October.
When to Go
- Bars get lively around 11pm or midnight.
- Clubs don't start filling up until around 1.30am or 2am.
Cover charges range from nothing to upwards of €20. Check out club websites for details on joining guest lists and getting in more cheaply. You’re also likely to pay less if you go early. In most cases the admission price includes your first drink. Bouncers have the last say on dress code and your eligibility to enter. If you're in a big group, break into smaller groups.
Guides for the Latest Nightlife
- Clubbingspain.com (www.clubbingspain.com)
- Miniguide (www.miniguide.es)
- enBarcelona (www.enbarcelona.com)
- Xceed (https://xceed.me)
cafe con leche – half coffee, half milk
cafe solo – a short black or espresso
cortado – a short black with a little milk
cerveza – beer
caña – a small draught beer
tubo – a large draught beer
jarra – a stein of beer (sometimes a pint)
quinto – a 200ml bottle
tercio – a 300ml bottle
clara – a shandy; a beer with a hefty dash of lemonade (or lemon Fanta)
vino de la casa – house wine