A cold glass of cava, a selection of tapas, and the freedom to people watch at your leisure. This is Plaça life in Barcelona, a popular pursuit of locals and tourists alike. Plaças are the perfect places to grab a seat, a cerveza, and don your sunglasses to marvel at the whirlwind of life around you. In the afternoons, locals flock to their favorite hideaway to meet friends, tuck into tapas, and enjoy a refreshing drink or two. Wherever you are in Barcelona, there is bound to be a plaça nearby. Here are some of the most important ones:
The central hub of the city is a huge sprawling square that marks the starting point of Barcelona’s two most famous streets: La Rambla and the Passeig de Gracia (a hotbed of Gaudi design). Covering a hefty expanse of space, the square is the go-to point for transport in and around the city, with plenty of bus stops, metro stations, and train lines. But it’s not all function when it comes to the Plaça Catalunya. There are sprinklings of classical design in the form of circular, illuminated fountains and a smattering of stone sculptures to admire.
Palm trees and grand architectural archways come together to create one of Barcelona’s most picturesque squares. Set just a swing away from La Rambla, it’s a somewhat hidden retreat away from the solid crowds. Here, the air is scented with freshly cooked paella and 19th century neoclassical buildings forge a pretty façade to the square, each one hiding its own lively bar, eatery, night club, or hotel within its clutches. The relaxed onlookers aren’t the only ones to revel in the Plaças laidback lifestyle. Pablo Picasso was a regular beneath the palm trees, where he lounged in the afternoon sun and soaked up inspiration for his upcoming paintings.
Plaça de Sant Jaume
Harking back to the much-celebrated Roman era of Barcelona’s history, Plaça de Sant Jaume actually began its lengthy life as a forum. Today it acts as a pivotal stage space for a number of the city’s traditional events and festivals, and its frame of grand old architecture forms a nostalgic backdrop – particularly the Palau de la Generalitat and the Ajuntament.
Plaça del Rei
This centuries-old square is perhaps the best indicator of Barcelona’s rich medieval past. Not only is it home to the Palau Reial Major, complete with the Watchtower of King Marti, but it was also the spot where Fernando and Isabel welcomed Columbus after his first voyage around the New World. Surrounded by a selection of 11th and 13th century architecture, the square is a fun portal to the past.
Plaça del Pi
Boho life is at its best in the Plaça del Pi, an artistic haven set just off La Rambla. The Santa Maria del Pi church looms over the rustic square, which is filled with antique shops, authentic bars and restaurants, arts and crafts fairs, and artisan markets.
Plaça de la Virreina
Tucked away in the old village of Gracia, a community-inspired district of Barcelona that refuses to abandon its age-old traditions, the Plaça de la Virreina is a celebration of authentic Catalan life. Pastel-coloured houses sit side by side overlooking bars that spill out onto the central pavement and tiny restaurants that are a flurry of flavour. Choosing to spend an afternoon whiling away the hours in one of the city’s Plaças is an easy decision to make – but choosing which square to camp down in is where it gets tricky. So, make it easy on yourself and visit all of them for a different taste of Barcelona life around every corner.