Major Barcelona thoroughfare Avinguda Diagonal lives up to its name. It slices Barcelona diagonally from the left side of the city to the right, and from the mountains to the sea. Below this famous avenue is the Barcelona most visitors know: the beloved old town, the museums, the beach, and the majority of Antoni Gaudí’s iconic buildings.
Above Diagonal, meanwhile, some of Barcelona’s most charming and exclusive neighbourhoods are to be found. Many are former villages that joined Barcelona (often reluctantly) during the urban expansion plans of the 19th century. Now, they represent oases of calm away from the main throng.
Eixample Dreta, shopping Mecca
The shop windows of BOO
Barcelona’s grid-like Eixample district was constructed between the 19th and 20th centuries, based on a utopian plan by Idelfons Cerdà. It now connects the old town to the old villages of Gràcia and Sarrià, and it is home to Barcelona’s most stunning modernist architecture. Split into the ‘right’ and ‘left’ sides, it is Eixample Dret, the right side, where most of the elegant architecture and high-end shops are to be found.
Odd Barcelona, a trendy shoe shop just a few minutes’ walk from Gaudí’s La Pedrera, features a range of brands from retro-nostalgic Stan Smith Adidas classics, to Alexander McQueen.
Jazz and boutique shopping in Gràcia
Plaza de la Virreina, Gracia, Barcelona
Like many of the higher neighbourhoods in Barcelona, the Vila de Gràcia was an independent town for most of its history and retains much of its village charm, with narrow streets giving onto frequent sunny squares. At the very top of Passeig de Gràcia, and just above Diagonal, stands stunning modernist hotel Casa Fuster, which every Thursday evening hosts a jazz evening with an optional supper club. Choose between a full dinner and a tapas menu, or just enjoy a cocktail to the irresistible jazz strains.
Just around the corner is the quiet Bonavista Street, home to trendy cafés and boutique shops. Away from the bustle of Gràcia’s main squares, it nonetheless keeps the small-town feel. Two standout boutiques are Boo, carrying a colourful and eclectic array of items for both men and women, and Mushi Mushi, which features a carefully curated collection of international labels such as Sessún, Orion London and Des Petits Hauts, as well as emerging local designers. For a pick-me-up, classic Barcelona vermut bar Lo Pinyol is just a few steps away on Torrent de l’Olla Street.
Related: El Born, Barcelona: a guide
Another former village, and another desirable Barcelona neighbourhood that holds itself a little apart from the metropolis. Sarrià is proudly not on the metro line, but is nonetheless easily accessible by train, a mere ten minutes from Plaça Catalunya, or by taxi.
A traditional Catalan treat awaits those who venture to the village on the hill: Sarrià is home to one of Barcelona’s best pastry-shops. Foix de Barcelona has two locations in the area, from which it serves an authentic and artisanal range of sweet and savoury pastries. In need of afternoon cake and coffee, or something to take to a party? Foix is the go-to location for Barcelona locals in the know.
Related: Where to do yoga in Barcelona
Around the world in five bites in Sant Gervasi
Interior of La Royale Gourmet Burger
Time to stop for something more substantial? Sarrià belongs to the larger district of Sant Gervasi, one of the most tranquil and exclusive zones in the city.
One of the delectable specialities at La Royale
When hunger calls, head to La Royale Gourmet Burger for a mouth-watering and adventurous menu. Tapas include finger-licking options such as octopus tempura with kimchi mayonnaise, while the hamburger menu is divided into five sections, representing the five continents that have inspired them. Options include an American-style bison burger with cheddar, Iberian ham and barbecue sauce, to a tuna burger with Shitake and sesame. Can’t choose? The ‘Cinco continentes’ platter, featuring five mini-burgers from around the world, may be for you.