Barcelona is one of the most open and diverse cities we've ever been to. Not only is it tolerant towards gay travellers, they practically roll out the red carpet for us! With a booming gay village, loads of excellent hangouts and fantastic festivals, Barcelona is a pumping city begging to be consumed.
We've begun to consider the city as a second home – its frivolous nightlife scene, the large LGBTQ community and stunning weather make it impossible to stay away for too long. Here is our detailed guide to Barcelona for gay travellers following our many visits to this fabulous Spanish coastal paradise.
Experience Barcelona's fabulous gay nightlife!
With so many fantastic gay bars and clubs knowing where to go in Barcelona can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily you can join a Gaily night-time tour with a local to show you all the best spots to drink and party!
How gay friendly is Barcelona?
In short – very gay friendly!
In our opinion, we think Barcelona is one of the most gay friendly cities in Europe as well as one of the best gay vacation destinations in the world. Historically, it is the birthplace of the LGBTQ Pride movement of Spain, where activists in the 1970s took to the streets to demand their rights. This ignited a pink wave throughout the rest of the nation and began to increase visibility for the Spanish LGBTQ community. Today, Barcelona continues to be a pioneer across the world for gay rights – a textbook example for other places to follow on its treatment towards queer travellers and citizens. This is one of many reasons why we rate it as one of our top gay destinations in Europe.
With an exquisite gay scene, filled with clubs, bars, eateries, hotels, and bathhouses, the city is a thriving mecca for LGBTQ culture. On every corner, there is some nod to queer identity. Whether this is a statue honouring one of the country's most beloved queer writers or a rainbow flag flying outside a bakery, Barcelona is a city which appreciates its gay community.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL IN BARCELONA
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
The gay area of Barcelona
Wandering out of our hotel, jet-lagged and cranky from our flight, our plan was to grab some food from a nearby deli and get some sleep. But, oh, the Gaixample! It was practically calling us – and how could we refuse?
The Gaixample (pronounced “gai-sham-ple”) is the nickname given to Barcelona's gay neighbourhood, located in the “Eixample” area. The majority of the gay bars and clubs of Barcelona are located right here. This is where you'll see lots of same-sex couples walking the streets holding hands, rainbow flags proudly flying in the wind – it's almost like stepping into the middle of a Pride parade! Yet, it still manages to hold onto a unique charm that feels so divinely Spanish.
Getting around Barcelona
Barcelona is a big city with public transport links including bus, metro, trams and trains. To make life easier when exploring, we like to use the Hola BCN public transport ticket because with just one payment you have a card that gives you unlimited access to the entire transport system for up to five days!
Gay travel agent in Barcelona
If you would like to have someone take care of all the organisation of your trip to Barcelona and Spain, we've got you covered. We've partnered with a gay local tour company based in Barcelona. They are friendly, professional and are passionate at what they do.
They offer tailor-made and bespoke gay tours in Barcelona, Madrid and the rest of the country. They'll take care of all the minutiae of your trip, making it effortless for you.
We've negotiated for you an exclusive 10% discount for our readers on all their services, giving you the luxury of being able to delegate all the travel planning of your trip to them at a very good price. Fill out the form below to get a free quote and benefit from your 10% discount:
I WANT A PERSONALISED ITINERARY
Fill out this form to get a personalized itinerary and get an exclusive 10% discount for your trip to Barcelona and the rest of Spain.
Gay hotels in Barcelona
When it comes to picking a gay friendly hotel in Barcelona, the rule of real estate comes into play. It's all about location location location! We recommend basing yourself in or around the Gaixample gay area of Barcelona. Hotels in this area are more than accustomed to dealing with LGBTQ travellers, so there'll be no issue about having a double bed.
Why we love it
- Hetero-friendly, adults-only hotel
- Rooftop bar, pool and Jacuzzi
- Close to the gay bars and clubs
- Relaxing wellness centre
Axel is the main gay hotel in Barcelona. It's often regarded as the central focal point of the gay scene.
It's so popular and highly sought after, it's at 95% capacity for the whole year! So if you want to stay here, make sure you plan/book well in advance.
The rooftop pool and bar is a lovely spot for sunset cocktails or a refreshing swim. I mean, just check out those mini waterfalls next to the cute hot tub!
You'll never feel more cosmopolitan than you did staying at the Axel Hotel. From its super chic and modern design to the stunningly gorgeous staff members, the Axel Hotel ticks all the boxes. It's right in the centre of the Gaixample, hence, in the middle of all the action. Its luxurious rooms will leave you feeling spoiled and pampered.
To feel even more spoiled and pampered make sure you book some time in the luxurious wellness centre. Wellness Club 33 by Axel offers relaxing massages as well as a variety of treatments such as aromatherapy or facials. You can even take a pilates class in the gym, or work out with a personal trainer.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
TWO Hotel Barcelona by Axel
Why we love it
- Stunning rooftop bar, pool and Jacuzzi
- Hot pink sun loungers and gym
- Hetero-friendly, adults-only
- Lovely spa/wellness centre and sauna
The Axel brand got so popular in Barcelona that they opened up this sister hotel a few blocks down the road. You're right by all the best gay bars and clubs, plus the friendly (and super cute!) staff can give you lots of info about the best places to party nearby.
TWO Hotel Barcelona is also a gay hotel that's ‘hetero-friendly', with lots of fabulous details like hot pink sun loungers next to the pool and hot pink walls in the rooftop gym.
These pink accents are the perfect addition to the rooftop pool, with a connected bar. There's nothing more romantic than having a sunset cocktail while gazing out over the skyline of Barcelona – or just staring into your lover's eyes! There's also a steam bath and massage room for some extra relaxation.
The rooms at TWO Hotel are both edgy and elegant, with different but always interesting views. There are some wonderful little extras provided as well, like a universal phone charger in case you forget yours.
Why we love it
- Modern, elegant hotel
- Located in the heart of Eixample
- Michelin starred restaurant on-site
- Rooftop pool and bar
Cram Hotel is an elegant getaway in the beating heart of the city. Everywhere you look, there are soft cream furnishings, super soft seating, and fine art hanging on the walls. Even taking a stroll down the hall will leave you feeling calm and centred.
Located in the heart of the Eixample neighbourhood, Cram is ideally situated for exploring the gay area as well as seeing Barcelona's most beautiful attractions.
There are a variety of room options available. From the affordable standard room to the incredible suites with private balcony and huge bathtub in the bedroom. Regardless of the size, each room comes stacked with its own mini-bar (score!) and a flat-screen TV.
Hotel Cram has a beautiful rooftop pool with views over the city as well as a terrace bar where you can enjoy a buffet breakfast or sunset drinkies. The Michelin-starred Restaurante Angle Barcelona offers modern dishes using fresh produce. There are also plenty of other dining options close by.
Why we love it
- Gay owned guesthouse in an excellent location
- Wonderful budget choice
- Some rooms are pet-friendly
- Breakfast served until 1pm!
One of the best gay budget hotels in Barcelona. We love it because whilst it's a budget hotel, it's still no less charming than any of the other hotels we experienced in Barcelona.
From the ocean blue walls in the bedrooms to the Modernist art, the decor never fails to make you feel like you're right at home. It might be a bit on the small side but does tend to get booked up pretty quickly, so we recommend calling ahead to reserve your room.
The best part about Pension Éos is that it's run by an amazing French gay couple, so you feel as if you're just crashing in a room at a dear friend's house. The rooms come with a fridge and coffee machine, while there are also laundry facilities on-site, so you can easily keep costs down.
There are a few different sizes of rooms to choose from, but there's also a spacious living area where you can relax and socialise with other guests. Some of the rooms are pet-friendly, so you can bring your pooch if you organise it ahead of time. Breakfast is also served until 1pm, so you can have a lazy loooong lie-in after a night of partying.
Gay cafes in Barcelona
Gay spaces are often saturated with heavy drinking or nightlife. So, it's refreshing for a city to create queer-friendly spaces that offer a quiet and safe refuge. Cafes are a great place to bring along a book, pop in some headphones and just zone out. Or, a chilled place to meet up with that Grindr date… Here are some of our favourite gay cafes in Barcelona:
Feel like the Queen of the Desert enjoying a relaxing moment with good music! Priscilla is a cafe bar that's good for coffee and great for cocktails. We found it to be a real breath of fresh air. It's cosy, super friendly and you'll quickly make new friends here. Also, look out for their penis-shaped straws, which had us giggling for hours… Priscilla is open daily from 6pm to 3am and is located at Muntaner 73.
One of the best places to get great cocktails for just €3! As such, Belladona is always busy with both locals and foreigners. You can also order tapas here if you want a bite to eat. Belladona is open daily from around 5pm to 3am and is located at Carrer de la Diputació, 222.
Delicious tapas and some yummy gin cocktails to rival the GinGin Bar just around the corner. El Patio is open daily from around 6pm to 2/3am and is located at Carrer del Consell de Cent, 273.
Botanic Bar Cafe (permanently closed – updated 7/15/2020)
Super laid back gay cafe complete with an assortment of plants, adding a jungletastic vibe. We often wondered if we were on a meditation retreat or if we were out for drinks…gorgeous place! Botanic is open daily from 6pm to 2:30am and is located at Carrer de Muntaner, 64.
Gay bars in Barcelona
When it comes to nightlife, no one does it better than the gays. In Barcelona, its Latin flair and hunky local lads only amplify its fabulousness! And if it couldn't get more amazing. The barmen are very generous with drink portions here, so a single G+T feels more like double serving. For more, check out our comprehensive guide to the best gay bars of Barcelona.
The gay scene of Barcelona is one of the best in the world but it can be overwhelming for first-timers. Having a local gay guide showing you the best gay hangouts and being part of a big gay group will definitely help you ease into Barcelona's gay nightlife.
Here are some of our favourite gay bars in Barcelona, all located in the Gaixample area:
Without a doubt, our favourite gay bar in Barcelona. From its local crowd to its sassy barmen, Moeem leaves you with an insatiable joy. The free canapes on Thursday evenings are a real treat. As if that wasn't enough, they're often followed with a GoGo dancer show. Also, check out their Sunday bingo nights, which are hilarious! Moeem is open daily until around 2/3am and is located at Carrer Muntaner, 11.
It's a tight narrow space but gets super popular. We love it mainly because of its very quirky decoration. At first glance, you might think you've stumbled into some religious cult meetup group! But you'll quickly realise the tongue-in-cheek irony behind it. La Chapelle has a great mixed crowd of all ages, both locals and travellers. It's open daily until around 2/3am and is located at Carrer de Muntaner, 67.
A weekend-only bar, famous for its old school 1980s and Latino disco nights. We love it because it's a very mixed crowd, so you'll meet local guys as well as other gay travellers. El Cangrejo is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings until around 3am. It is located at Villaroel 86.
Located just across the road from the main Axel hotel, GinGin is where you'll want to head to for some of the best gin cocktails, with over 20 different types on offer. It's a fun place to start the night, especially if you're heading to Believe later to watch the drag shows. The gorgeous drag queens that perform at Believe usually hang out here before heading over to do their show. GinGin is open daily until around 3am and is located at Abribau 40, directly opposite the main Axel Hotel.
Do you believe in life after love? You sure will after a visit to this bar… They have some of the best drag shows every evening, with performances taking place just after midnight going on until around 2:30am. That's 2 hours of non-stop glamour and humour! After the shows, the bar becomes a large dancing area, open until around 6am daily. Believe is located at Balmes 56.
For when you're feeling a little sultry, or if you've ever wanted to cosplay as a James Dean movie character brooding in a dark bar over a glass of whiskey, then the People Lounge is the place for you! This is one of the more sophisticated gay bars of Barcelona, attracting an older crowd. People Lounge is open daily until around 3am and is located at Carrer de Villarroel, 71.
Gay clubs in Barcelona
The Spanish are notorious for doing things late. This explains why most clubs don't get busy until after around 1/2am. Our advice is to go for drinks at one of the bars beforehand, which is a great way of getting a feel of what's the hottest place to go that evening.
Joining a gay tour is also a great way to explore the nightlife of Barcelona and discover the best clubs Barcelona has to offer.
These are some of our favourite gay clubs in Barcelona:
One of the most famous gay clubs in Barcelona. This is where you should come if you like a mix of pop and techno. They have themed nights, some of the best drag performers and a darkroom for when you're feeling a bit frisky! If you head to the Punto gay bar beforehand, you can pick up discount tickets for entry to Arena. Arena Madre is open 365 days a year until around 6am and is located at Balmes Street, 32. Not to be confused with its lesbian sister club, Arena Classic, which is located at Diputacion, 233.
Now this hits the guilty pleasure spot! With themed events each evening, Metro is a dragalicious, pop-tastic kitschy extravaganza! This is where you can catch incredible drag performers, juicy cocktails and plenty of carefree dancing. It definitely takes inspiration from the glitzy disco halls in the US, whilst still soaking up its unique Latin flair. Metro is open daily until around 5am and is located at Carrer de Sepúlveda, 185.
One of the most popular gay parties in Barcelona, particularly for twinks (and their fans). It has a large dancing area with a sociable outdoor space for smokers. Whilst we felt a bit on the older side here, we loved the pop/Latino music. Safari is located at Carrer de Tarragona, 141. Check out the events section on their Facebook page for details of the next party.
This is where the topless muscle boys come to party on a Sunday night! The Black Room's got everything from hard techno to spine-tingling electro beats. It can definitely feel a bit intimidating at first, stepping through the door with growling patrons and masked dancers, but, fear not, everyone's friendly at the Black Room! It only happens once a week on Sunday evenings, going on till the early hours of Monday morning. Black Room is located at Club City Hall, Rambla de Catalunya, 4. Note the club also has a fun gay night on Friday evenings called “Dirty House”.
What do you get when you throw a bunch of topless muscle boys, epic dance beats and strobe lighting? The Matinee-Pervert party of course! This is one of the biggest male-only club nights in Barcelona; a pulsing, energetic and tantalising experience that demands to devoured! Pervert parties only take place on Saturday and Sunday evenings until the early hours of the next morning. They're held at the Input High Fidelity Club, Avenida de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 13.
Gay beaches in Barcelona
It's no secret that we love a good beach. And when you make it a gay beach, then we're practically banging down the doors of the plane to get there! With its stunning coastal views of the Mediterranean and super chilled locals who don't care what you do or who you love, Barcelona is a contender for having some of the best gay beaches in the world. Here are a few to check out, but for a more complete guide, check out our guide to the best gay beaches of Barcelona.
A beach? Check! A gay beach? Check Check! A gay nudey beach! Triple check! Mar Bella is one of our favourite gay beaches in the world. Close by is the Chiringuito Begay bar where you can get a refreshing cocktail in between dips in the sea. Whether you're feeling bold to go fully nude, or you simply want to hang around in a relaxed environment to rock your new speedos, Mar Bella beach is a must! Just be warned, it gets very busy and crowded in the summer months, particularly during the August Circuit Festival.
The original gay beach in Barcelona, located right in front of W Hotel in Barceloneta. Unlike Mar Bella, it's closer to the city centre so is very popular with gay locals, especially on weekends.
Gay cruising clubs in Barcelona
Some like to dance. Some like to unwind in their hotel. Others like to hook up – and that's fine too! When we say that Barcelona caters for everyone, we mean it! The cruising clubs more than prove that. Whether you're just looking to play around with your sexuality or you're a hardcore fetishist, you can easily find your groove in one of these cruising clubs:
Open Mind is the name of the club and open-minded you should be! From its naked parties to its sarong nights, this place is not for the faint of heart. Open Mind is only open Thursday to Sunday from 11pm until the early hours of the next morning. It is located at Aragón 130.
With themed nights like Underwear Party on Tuesdays, Club Bastards SM session on Wednesdays and the Naked Party on Thursdays, there's always a hive of activity happening in Berlin Dark. Have a special lookout for their monthly athletes and BDSM themed nights. Berlin Dark is open daily (except Mondays) from 10:30pm until 2:30am and is located at Passatge Prunera, 18.
Located just next door to the Two Axel Hotel, Boyberry is a great place to go for a quick afternoon shag. You read that right. It's where you can have all your fantasies of doing it in a public place, whilst still evading the risk of being arrested! It's open daily from 3pm to midnight and located at Carrera de Calabria 96 near the Rocafort Metro.
Industrial themed club (used to be called “Trash”) with cages, wrestling areas, private cabins, cinema lounges, showers and more. Check out some of the themed nights like the Bears Fetish Party, Zapas & Sportwear Party, Masters & Slaves Party and Piss Party. Black Hole is open daily (except Mondays) from 10pm to around 3am and is located at Carrera de Sepúlveda 81.
One of the most famous male-only cruising clubs in the Gaixample gay area with a dark room and private cabins. The bar has regular photography exhibitions and happy hours from 6-9pm. Night Barcelona is open daily from 6pm to 3am and is located at Diputació, 161.
Gay saunas in Barcelona
There are quite a few of them! We've set out the main ones below, but be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to the best gay saunas in Barcelona for the complete list.
- Casanova: by far the most popular gay sauna in Barcelona, open 24/7. The best time to come is 2-6am on weekends when the clubbing boys arrive for some action. Casanova is located at Carrer de Casanova 57 and entry is €18.
- Sauna Barcelona Wellness Spa: a popular gay sauna with many fun themed events like foam parties and “muscle celebration day”. Sauna Barcelona is also open 24/7 and is located at Carrer de Tuset, 1. Entry fee is €20.
- Sauna Condal: the best gay sauna in Barcelona for bears and their fans. It attracts an older crowd compared to the others. Condal is located at Carrer d'Espolsa-sacs, 1, and is open 24/7. The entry fee is €18.
Gay restaurants in Barcelona
Candlelit dinners to sparkling wine, a hot meal whilst staring out to the bustling streets of Barcelona is true heaven. These are some of our favourite LGBTQ restaurants where we could relish in PDA with no fear. For more, check out our detailed guide to the best gay restaurants in Barcelona.
Serving looks, and your food! D'Divine is a kitschy, campy and incredible dining experience. With drag performers ready to entertain you throughout your meal, all of your physical senses will be put to the test. From the delicious dishes to the devastatingly beautiful faces of the queens, D'Divine is an experience like no other! Hilarious drag shows take place on Friday and Saturday nights. The rest of the staff are very friendly and there's also live music on Thursday nights. The decor is fabulous too, with lots of pinks and purples.
El Bierzo a Tope
El Bierzo a Tope is a family-owned and run restaurant in the heart of the Eixample area. Its open and wide floor, matched with a bright yellow panel at the end of the room creates a summery vibe that's totally infectious. There's also a nice terrace where you can enjoy your meal, although it does get busy so you'll definitely need to make a reservation. The service is next to none, with staff treating you like personal friends. Not to mention the food – the menu is both comprehensive and works for all taste preferences. Plus, it's on the cheaper side, so ideal for travellers looking to eat well but save a few Euros.
With its glass wine cabinets, houseplants and simplistic design, La Estrella gives out a nice homely effect. That's kind of the point the owners were going for. It's a family-owned business that's been open since 1924. Having passed through the hands of four generations, La Estrella is still at the top of its game. The menu is small, but with innovative dishes. There isn't a written dessert menu because everything is handmade and dictated by what's in season. La Estrella is located outside of the main tourist area in Barceloneta, so it's lovely to sit and watch the boats from the outdoor terrace.
There's no Boy George here (unfortunately), but Culture Club is still a fabulous place to hang out. It's a restobar spread over 2 floors. You can enjoy a delicious meal and then work it all off dancing later! The menu offers up a combination of Mediterranean, which is fused with Japanese and American cuisines. The club part is also very fun, with holographic projections on the walls, lots of purple and yummy cocktails. We loved coming here for a bite to eat and a boogie before heading out to party in the city!
For amazing tapas and a fun atmosphere, Casa Jaime is popular with locals. We particularly love its evolving menu, delicious drinks, and chatty staff, who always have the lowdown on what's happening around the city. They serve excellent traditional Catalan tapas like Jamon, calamari, chorizo, gambas and croquetas, as well as home-style meals. There's a delicious and affordable set menu for lunchtime, although dinner is also wonderful, especially sitting outside on a warm evening. They often have live music performances as well!
Gay events in Barcelona
There's nothing we love more than a party. And if that party is honouring our community, then we love it even more – we're a modest bunch really! Here are some of the best annual gay events in Barcelona:
Snow Gay weekend (March)
When you think of Pride festivals, you imagine a glowing summer sun beating down on a cosmopolitan city. You imagine tank tops and shorts. Cold drinks. The last thing you think of is snow! Well, the Snow Gay Weekend wants to turn that on its head. transport is organised from Barcelona so book a place on the Snow Gay experience and go skiing through the ice-capped mountains, with rainbow flags in tow. Just imagine…sliding down the side of a white hill beside a drag queen!
The next Snow Gay Weekend will take place on 5-8 March 2020.
The team at Snow Gay weekend are offering our readers an exclusive 10% discount for this gay event. Click the button below to find out more.
In our eyes, one of the most important things a city can do is honour those who died during the AIDS epidemic. With memorial services taking place, Barcelona does a wonderful job in making sure those fallen angels of the community will never be forgotten. Plus, it does great work in spreading awareness about modern-day treatment and dismantling the stigma which continues to plague those living with the illness.
Pride Barcelona (June)
Of course, the mother of all LGBTQ events in Barcelona – Pride! Barcelona has an extra reason to wave their rainbow flags with it being the birthplace of Spain's LGBTQ rights movement. Stars from all over the world fly in to perform for crowds of hundreds and thousands. The atmosphere in the city brings all of the routines of life to a standstill. And deservedly so! Most importantly, it's truly awe-inspiring to see all the queer Spanish community get together and celebrate what makes them special. Read more about it in our article about what it's like attending Barcelona Pride.
Circuit Festival (August)
What's better than a beach party? A gay beach party of course! From dancing on the sand to discovering exceptional new artists through live performances, the Circuit Festival welcomes all. This festival is one of the biggest international LGBTQ events in the world, spanning 11 days. Highlights include the pool party and the big closing party.
Girlie Circuit Festival (August)
Let's hear it for the girls! They do like to have fun after all. Their epic Girlie Circuit Festival celebrates all things female, with incredible beach parties, female performers and their own water park day.
Lights, camera, action! Barcelona's Film Festival features the best movies and short films by LGBTQ artists. It's an amazing way to meet other queer movie buffs, see your story reflected on the big screen and attend panel discussions on issues which plague the gay community.
Things to do in Barcelona
In between gorging on delicious Spanish food and relaxing in your hotel, you'll be wanting to answer to Barcelona's call. It's a city that's begging to be discovered! Here are some of our favourite things which we hope will inspire fellow LGBTQ travellers to Barcelona:
Save money on sightseeing
If you are planning on checking out a lot of the museums and attractions in Barcelona, we recommend the iVenture card. You will save money on entrance fees and tours while seeing many of the best sights in the city!
Marvel at the Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is a towering, majestic, albeit unfinished, basilica which stands in the centre of Barcelona. Designed by the acclaimed (gay?) Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudi, this destination is one of the hottest spots for tourists. Its Gothic aesthetic is super alluring, and the rich history will be enough to stimulate any travel buff! While most people are happy to just get a snap from outside, we definitely recommend taking this tour of the otherworldly basilica interior – it's as unique as it is stunning, feeling more like you're in a rainforest than in a cold religious building.
Ascend Montjuïc Hill
A breakaway from city-dwelling can often hit the sweet spot. Montjuïc Hill is a prominent scenic fixture that overlooks the city. This is also where most of the gay pride events take place. We loved spending a day up on top and marvelling at the city sights from above. You can ascend Montjuïc via cable car for the most scenic views of Barcelona. Once you're at top, we recommend visiting Montjuïc Castle. This military fortress is now open to the public with historical exhibitions and gorgeous gardens surrounding the fortifications…perfect for a few couple-y Insta shots.
Walk down Las Ramblas
The famous tree-lined pedestrianised street of Barcelona. A walk down Las Ramblas is something that needs to be done at least once. It's a good 20 minutes walk away from Gaixample, but worth a visit, if anything because it has the unique Gothic Quarter next to it. There's always something happening down this bustling road, night and day, from street performers, small cafes, souvenir shops, scam artists and vendors selling pets! We once bought a pet hamster called Chicho from Las Ramblas who we sneaked back into the UK in a Pringles box…Just be warned, this place is super touristic – restaurants here aren't the best and usually well overpriced.
Explore the Gothic Quarter
If you've also loved the Carlos Ruiz Zafón novel, “Shadow in the Wind” (totally recommended btw!) then you'll know all about Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. Also known as the city's Old Town this area is filled with beautiful architecture like the Barcelona Cathedral and Roman baths. We always feel like we've been transported back to medieval times when wandering around this part of the city. One of the best ways to discover the Gothic Quarter is to just wander around here yourself. You can also join this cool walking tour to give you a more in-depth insight into this very cool area of Barcelona.
Visit Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is another treat for the Gaudi fans, it's a modernist style building with stunning architecture. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The interior is a museum filled with beautiful Modernisme art pieces that will leave you feeling super inspired. You can even enjoy learning about it with an augmented reality video guide; talk about combining history with cutting-edge technology! This was one of our highlights of visiting Barcelona, it's such a unique attraction with so much stunning light, colour and art.
Relax in Parc Güell
For a naturalistic getaway, without having to leave the city, head to yet another of Gaudi's amazing designs – Parc Güell. Made up of sculptures, monuments and green spaces, the park is a perfect escape for those who need a little break from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. Within the park, you can visit the Gaudi House Museum, which was where Gaudi himself lived and worked from 1906 to 1926. You do need to pay to visit the main monumental zone of the park, but your ticket also includes a handy shuttle bus to the park from Alfons X metro station.
Explore Casa Milá
Known for its rough textured facade, the name Casa Mila translates to ‘stone quarry'. This building was, in fact, the last work of Gaudi. It's a very innovative structure, with a self-supporting stone facade, free-plan floor, underground garage and a spectacular terrace on the roof. The Casa Mila night experience is a must-do, offering up stunning panoramic views around the city. Plus the live jazz performances and mesmerizing display of projections will immerse you in a surreal experience, while you sip on a glass of cava.
Indulge at La Boqueria
Foodies…Calling all foodies! La Boqueria (full name The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria) is a huge market with tons of exotic fruits and vegetables to be found. The main entrance is from Las Ramblas. It's one of Barcelona's most popular landmarks. We always love coming here to just wanted and awe at all the different colours, flavours and hundreds of stalls selling everything from meat to tasty desserts. There are also stalls and bars here where you can sit down to eat tapas, empanadas and Jamon, washing down with a few sangrias.
Shop and people-watch at Plaça de Catalunya
A popular meeting point for the dwellers of Barcelona, the Plaça de Catalunya is a constant hive of activity. Whether you love to people watch or are up for doing a spot of shopping, this square is where all the action is! Nestled between the Eixample and Old Town neighbourhoods, there are some beautiful fountains to enjoy as well as lots of different statues, flowers, trees etc. It's a lovely spot to relax and watch the world go by. Like many places in Europe, lots of pigeons congregate here. If you don't mind them, they are quite tame and will even eat birdseed from your hand if you're brave enough.
Get up close to dolphins and fish
Calling all lovers of dolphins, sharks, and fish – the Barcelona Aquarium is a place of epic wonder. Learn all about marine life and the different kind of species that exist below the surface. Make sure you get a Skip the lines ticket to avoid queuing for hours. The Barcelona Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in Europe, and the world's most important marine education centre dedicated to Mediterranean undersea life. The spectacular Oceanarium lets you walk in a transparent tunnel underneath sharks, gilt heads, morays, ocean sunfish and many other aquatic species. It's so good that it leaves you yearning to be a part of their world!
Take a day trip to Costa Brava
Get out of Barcelona for a day and into the idyllic Costa Brava coastal region. About 60km east of Barcelona, the area is perfect for discovering hidden pockets of the Mediterranean coastline as a day trip from Barcelona. The drive itself is super pretty and there are lots of stunning beaches to spend the day relaxing on the sand or swimming in seclusion from the crowds. Highlights include the lighthouse at Tossa de Mar and exploring the cobbled streets of the town of Blanes. If you like to be active you can also go kayaking off the coast here, or just relax in a traditional restaurant with some delicious food and local wines.
Tips to plan your trip
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Barcelona. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: If you are travelling to Barcelona by plane then the closest airport is the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, about a half-hour drive from the city (depending on traffic). There are a variety of taxis, trains and buses to get from the airport to the city centre, although we usually prefer to book a private airport transfer so we don't need to stress about anything except where to go for drinks that night! You can also get to Barcelona via train from other cities in Spain or further beyond the border.
Visa requirements: Travellers from the United States, Australia and New Zealand don't need a visa for stays in Spain for up to 90 days. Other nationalities that are members of the Schengen Zone can also travel freely in Spain but if you're coming from somewhere else (or just want to be sure) make sure you check your personal visa requirements here.
Getting around: Barcelona has an extensive public transport system, so you can get around the city via bus, metro, tram, train or even cycling. If you purchase a Hola transport card you can even have unlimited travel for a set period of two or more days across all the city's transport networks.
Power Plugs: In Spain, the power plugs and sockets are of type F, which is the same as in most of Europe, Russia and some countries in Africa. If you are travelling from somewhere else we recommend bringing a travel adaptor with you.
Travel insurance: We always tell others to use travel insurance so that you will be protected in the case of injury, illness, theft or cancellations beyond your control. We've been using WorldNomads Travel Insurance for years and cannot recommend them highly enough. Their coverage is very comprehensive and it's easy to make a claim online.
Vaccinations: The CDC recommends that all travellers to Spain should be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox etc. You may also need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, B and rabies, depending on where you are going and what you will be doing while there.
Currency: Spain uses the Euro like most countries in Europe. €1 converts to around $1.10 US or about 89 pence in British Pounds.
Tipping culture: Spain has a good minimum wage system, so you don't usually need to leave a tip unless you feel like rewarding really good service. If you feel that you received exceptional service then you can tip 5-10% of your bill, but it's not expected and locals don't usually tip.
Internet access: There are lots of public WiFi hotspots in Barcelona, just keep an eye out for the blue signs with the white W on them. They only work from 8am to 10pm though so if you know you'll be needing to get connected then you might like to organise to bring a portable WiFi device with you.
Online privacy: Since Barcelona is so gay friendly you won't have any problem using gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff. But if you do prefer to keep your internet use private then we recommend using ExpressVPN. Their service is both reliable and affordable.
Accommodation: There are many more places to stay in Barcelona apart from the hotels we've mentioned in this post. We always use Booking.com when choosing accommodation as they have so many listings, excellent online customer support and often free cancellation when needed.
Sightseeing and adventure: We've mentioned a few fun things to do in Barcelona here, but if you're looking for more, we love to use GetYourGuide. The booking process is easy, there are countless of cool activities to choose from and their 24-hour customer support is excellent.
When to visit: Barcelona is a lovely warm destination year-round, so the best time to visit is during the off-peak season so you can still enjoy the beaches and attractions without hordes of other tourists. If you want to experience Pride (which is amazing) then you'll need to head there in June, but otherwise, May and September are the best months for travel to Barcelona.
Gay map of Barcelona
We've made a map of all the places we've mentioned in this article to help you plan your own fabulous trip to Barcelona. We hope you find it useful!
For more inspiration:
- If you want to find out more about the local gay scene, check out our guide to the best gay tours in Barcelona
- Go crazy with our guide to the best gay shops in Barcelona
- Looking for more pride parties? These are the best gay pride events throughout Spain
- And even if it's not pride season these are the best gay cities in Spain for partying!
- Beach-buffs will love these wonderful gay beaches in Europe
- Some of our favourites gay beaches in Italy
- Read what we think are some of the most gay friendly cities in the world and also across Europe
- You might be surprised by these gay friendly cities in East Europe
- And don't miss our gay guide to Sitges