After more nights of debauchery than I care to remember, this is my inside guide to the very best bars and nightclubs in Barcelona! It’s time to go loco…
From quiet neighbourhood bars in the sun to industrial-sized nightclubs, here’s where to find the nightlife in the Catalan capital of cool.
Start the Night with Drinks and Sunshine in Vintage Barcelona – Gracia
Take the green metro line to Fontana and make the most of Gracia’s ancient outdoor bars and terraces. You’ll find the locals kicking back in the many placas (squares) and terraces. It’s the perfect place to get into the mood before moving on to Barcelona’s crazier central bars.
My favourite placa in Gracia is called Placa de la Virreina, and Plaça del Sol is a close second. Grab a table in the evening sun and enjoy the views of the beautiful L’església de Sant Joan de Gràcia. Stonking!
Get Theatrical at Ocaña
Sheltered under the arches of the Gothic Quarter’s regal Plaça Reial, the location is in itself a good enough reason to visit. The decor features a bold and bohemian theatrical vibe and the staff are equally as interesting to look at.
This venue is the legacy of José Pérez Ocaña, the legendary performer, activist and painter who created this wonderful world within the city, and his libertarian and revolution ideals can still be felt throughout.
Explore the excellent wine menu, but don’t miss the sensational cocktails!
Address: Plaça Reial, 13-15, 08002 Barcelona
Indulge in Good Times and Cheap Drinks with the International Crowd at L’Ovella Negra
There’s an old, rustic tavern bar in El Raval barrio (central), called L’Ovella Negra (The Black Sheep). It used to be a convent for nuns, but now they offer HUGE jugs of beer and Sangria at the best prices in town (€3-4), my friends and I would go here at least once a week. What I love most about it is the mix of locals and travelers. It’s unpretentious and casual; perfect for having a laugh and making new friends from all over the world.
Ben’s Top Tip: The tables are huge but there are never enough. Don’t be afraid to join other groups and share a table – it’s likely to be the beginning of many beautiful new relationships.
Address: L’Ovella Negra, Carrer Sitges, 5, El Raval, 08021 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro stop: Universitat, or Catalunya, or Liceu
Get Hot and Sticky at Manchester Bar in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter
Manchester Bar, in Barcelona’s Gotico barrio, was the first bar I was recommended in Barcelona, and quickly became one of my favourite late-night haunts. Unlike the name suggests, it’s not a tasteless ‘British bar for tourists’ but an uber cool hangout for local music lovers.
The walls are adorned with vintage music posters, many of which depict David Bowie’s wilder years, and the dark red lighting provides a unique underground vibe. In fact, the tiny underground basement is where you’ll find some of the most progressive alternative DJs playing music of all genres.
It’s small, grimy, over-crowded, and represents everything great about Barcelona’s finest dive bars.
Address: Manchester Bar, Carrer de Milans, 5, El Gotico, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro stop: Jaume I, Liceu, or Drassanes
Blow Your Mind at Marsella Absinthe Bar
Marsella Bar is said to be the oldest bar in Barcelona and its 200-year-old nicotine stained walls leave little reason to doubt it. The Gatsby-esque chandeliers, brass mirrors and elaborate wooden cabinets are more reminiscent of Paris than anywhere else in Spain, but drinking absinthe here is very much a Barcelona tradition. Your absinthe will be served with a small sugar cube and a little fork. Place it over the glass and pour water over the sugar until it dissolves, then stir in.
DO NOT do as I did and knock it back like a shot, this is not a drink you want to drink in one go, trust me. And make sure to pre-order a cold beer to chase it with – this will be the beginning of your party in Barcelona.
Address: Marsella Bar, Carrer de Sant Pau, 65, El Raval, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro stop: Liceu
Shake and Stir at Marmalade Cocktail Bar
For something a little more flashy, stop by this grand and extravagant lounge and pull up a stool at the four-metre long art deco bar. These guys are cocktail Godfathers here in Barcelona and their menu is something to behold. Indulge in a Boozy Rouge Beri, which includes a seriously generous gonk of vodka, crème de cassis, puré de frambuesas (Raspberries), not bad for only €5. Like so many places in BCN, the clientele varies from smartly dressed business types to dread-locked bohemians. Wear whatever makes you happy, no-one will bat an eyelid.
Ben’s Top Tip: One of the most popular drinks in Spain is the GinTonic. No, that’s not a typo, it’s just what they call gin and tonic here in Espanya. It’s not like the watery, cheap gin and tonics you will have had at home. In Spain, super strong GinTonics are served in huge-goldfish-bowl glasses, with huge rocks of ice and chunks of juicy lime. Try one here at Marmalade or at any another bar – just make sure you don’t leave Barcelona without trying one.
Address: Marmalade Bar, Carrer Riera Alta, 4-6 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro stop: Sant Antoni or Liceu
Get Funky at Marula Cafe (Nightclub) in the Gothic Quarter
The only nightclub in Barcelona I go to with any regularity, Marula Café’s sole goal in life is to pump ‘real music’ through the veins of the city. Electronic beats are eschewed in favour of funk, R&B, disco, soul and Afrobeat rhythms, with timeless floor fillers from James Brown, Michael Jackson, Sly & the Family Stone setting the scene for serious dance offs.
Not too big and not too small, the vibe is fun and familiar and its super central location, not far from Plaza Reial, attracts a lively crowd of both local funkadelics and international visitors.
Don’t miss the live funk and soul bands there whip the place into a frenzy every week, and be sure to give up the funk at one of the legendary “Freaky Flo Parties”. It’s open every night, so it’s time to put those hot pants on and get up offa that thing!
Address: Carrer dels Escudellers, 49, 08002 Barcelona
Nearest metro stop: Liceu
Boogie All Night at Macarena Club, Barcelona’s SMALLEST Nightclub
Stand toe-to-toe with some of Europe’s most revered house and techno DJs at Barcelona’s tiniest nightclub. Under a single glitter globe, the DJ booth sits right in the middle of the dance floor at this blistering underground temple of groove, hosting both local and international talent.
But don’t let its diminutive size deter you – originally a “tablao flamenco” venue, this intimate space now boasts what is frequently hailed as ‘the best sound system in Barcelona’ and has amassed a loyal following of non-commercial dance music fanatics. The atmosphere is warm and cosmopolitan, with a mix of friendly regulars and in-the-know night owls tearing up the dance floor on a nightly basis.
Whether you’re a die-hard dance devotee or are simply looking for something fresh and exciting, Macarena Club is pretty much guaranteed to provide the fix you’re after.
Address: Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc, 5, 08002 Barcelona
Nearest metro stop: Drassanes
Drink Up and Get Down at Barcelona’s BIGGEST Nightclub – Razzmatazz
Paradise for the eclectic music fanatic, Razzmatazz offers 5 aircraft-hanger-sized rooms of musical magic. For sweaty hipsters, indie and rock, Razz Club (bottom floor) is the place to find yourself, before you get lost, that is. And you will get lost, everyone will, one way or another.
If techno/house is more your flavour then you’ll be spoilt for choice in the Loft Room, which frequently hosts some of the biggest names in the business. Razzmatazz is one of Barcelona’s most casual night clubs and you don’t need to be dressed up to get in.
Ben’s Top Tip: Don’t bother going before 1am, it doesn’t really get going until gone 2am. Same applies to most clubs in Barcelona.
Address: Razzmatazz, Carrer Almogàvers, 122 08018 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro stop: Marina
Party on the Beach at Opium Mar Club
White leather sofas, pinky-purple lights and lots of insanely good looking people with mahogany tans and million-dollar pouts make Opium Mar Club one of the places to party in Barcelona. Situated literally right on the beach, it’s every bit as swanky as you are imagining right now. If James Bond partied in Barcelona, this is the place he’d sink a few martinis before stealing the best looking girl in the club and jet-skiing off to the nearest mega yacht, for a spot of how’s your father.
Ben’s Top Tip: If your budget is more inflatable dingy than mega yacht blingy, head to CDLC which is next door. It’s pretty much the exact same thing but it’s much easier to get in and it’s a fair whack cheaper. For free entry to most of the big clubs in Barcelona, call my friends at Lista Isaac (Isaac’s list), and they’ll put you on the guest list of a club of your choice.
Address: Opium Mar Club, Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 34 08005
Nearest metro stop: Ciutadella