More than 16 million international tourists visited Cataluña in 2014, a fact that confirms that the most visited city in Spain is Barcelona. The fascination with Barcelona as a tourist destination is mainly due to its excellent beaches, tourist attractions known across the world, a unique architecture and a top-quality cuisine. But Barcelona is also home to an eclectic nightlife.
Going out in Barcelona is in the travel planners of thousands of tourists coming to the city each year, especially in those of youngsters, who, for better or for worse, tend to go to the exact same places. Depending on the spot, the audience might vary, but locals generally go clubbing in areas with less tourists.
Despite the offer being quite varied, the liveliest scene can be found in some specific neighbourhoods and areas in the city, with clubs, pubs, cocktail bars and bars for all tastes. What usually varies is the prices, which are far from being cheap. Still, there plenty of options to go out in Barcelona without having to spend your whole salary.
1. Barceloneta Promenade/Olympic Village
Its closeness to the beach makes this area a tourist favourite for clubbing. If the Olympic Port is bursting with cyclists, tourists and runners during the day, at night it welcomes thousands of tourists who come out in droves to the beachfront terraces dressed in full regalia. There is close competence between the establishments in the area, which do not skim on their facilities or their offer of international artists and Dj’s to attract an ever-demanding audience. However, the service can be a bit disappointing sometimes. Most of these establishments are very close from one another.
Image: Jorge Franganillo
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Shôko combines a fusion cuisine restaurant merging Asian and Mediterranean food, and a disco lounge that starts its activity at midnight, although the restaurant is only open until 2.30 a.m. With a high-medium budget, Shôko is frequented by a young audience and has Tony Storella, DJ Mully and DJ Papis as residents, playing house, R&B, hip hop and funky music. Its Asian-inspired decoration takes elements from feng shui and incorporates VIP rooms.
Beach-front located, Carpe Diem just as Shôko, is a restaurant and a club with an international style ranging from Japan to the Mediterranean. Elegant and fashionable, Carpe Diem can be described as one of the most exclusive sites in Barcelona: it has a terrace facing the sea, as well as two Balinese and Moroccan–style lounges. During the day, the dress code is casual, but at night we recommend to use formal wear.
Danzatoria (former Catwalk)
Frequented by an older audience, although also varied, Catwalk was one of the most legendary places in the Olympic Port and this year it was transformed into Danzatoria, a space opening from Thursday to Sunday and located behind the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. It accommodates two rooms and an elevated terrace, and it predominantly plays house, dance, hip hop and R&B.
One of the main attractions in the Olympic Port, Opium, is very popular among tourists, although the local audience is also quite abundant. Although the facilities and decoration of the restaurant and the club are an example of good taste, it is the music what receives the best comments. Opium counts with the residency of renowned DJ’s such as Danny Cardona and Fran Caro. It is open 365 days a year.
Image: Ed Menendez
The right part of the Eixample and the surroundings of Las Ramblas constitute the most active areas in these districts, although they are not as centralised as the Olympic Port, the prices tend to be lower and the ambience is quite informal. Especially famous is the Gaixample, which concentrates most of the gay bars in Barcelona.
Talking about gay bars, Arena is one of the most epic club in Barcelona, and its music is well received by all audiences. Arena has 5 venues in different spaces: Arena Classic, Arena Madre, Arena Diana, Arena Dandy and Arena VIP, all located between Calle Valencia and Gran Vía, and close by Calle Balmes.
This club, housed in one of the oldest theatres in Barcelona, is a great leisure option located in the core of the city (Ramblas, 27). With over 14,000 square metres, it accommodates different venues beautifully decorated hosting shows and Djs sets, as well a vintage cafe, exhibition rooms and a restaurant.
Less than 100 metres away from the Teatre Principal you will find this club solely devoted to electronic music. With over 20 years in the scene (it was inaugurated in 1996), Moog is still playing house and techno sets more underground than the metro in its main venue, whereas on the top floor you will have the chance to dance to pop music.
Image: Sean H.
Considered one of the best exponents of electronic music in the centre of Barcelona, City Hall is just a few metres away from Plaza Cataluña. Great Dj’s in the techno scene have played their sets in this low-key venue that hosts 4 kinds of parties: Club 4 on Thursdays, Exa Club on Fridays, Happy Techno on Saturdays and Black Room on Sundays..
3. Zona Alta
The area comprising Avenida Diagonial, between Francesc Macià and Calle Balmes, is known as Zona Alta. A bit far off the tourist routes, this is very popular among locals keen on exclusive sites. Getting into some of these places is much demanded and often times they reserve the right of admission.
Located in Tuset, a few metres away from Diagonal, the luxurious Bling Bling presents itself as the hotspot in Barcelona for mainstream house lovers without having to disregard their most fashionable side. Inaugurated in 2011, it stands out for its avant-garde decoration and its young and elegant audience. It gets packed but you have other options nearby such as Soho Club or Luz de Gas.
Bikini is divided in several venues devoted to different music genres such as indie, latin, dance, pop and mainstream rock. There is also room for themed parties every Thursday, as well as live shows from local and international bands. It is one of the most popular spots in Zona Alta, so expect long queues to get in.
Image: The Arches
The activity in Be Cool revolves around two venues, one devoted to DJ’s sets (main venue) and the second one to acoustic sessions (Redrum), although they also host very intimate live shows, so much so that you can almost touch the artists. Every Friday there are acoustic sessions free of entrance in the neighbouring club called Dublin.
Poblenou is a neighbourhood undergoing a transformation process that, despite not having a very active nightlife, is located in an very attractive area not far from calle Marina and Avenida Meridiana, called El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou, where lots of new hotels, hostels, bars and restaurants cohabitate with lifelong establishments.
A referent in Barcelona, this club and concert venue is accommodated in an old warehouse in the area and some of the best rock, pop and indie bands such as Coldplay, Blur, Smashing Pumpkins, Belle and Sebastian and Arctic Monkeys, among others, have stepped on its stage. Razzmatazz has five themed-rooms where you can dance to pop, techno, electro, alternative rock and much more.
At Insert techno is the star and the lighting and sound are specially taken care of. There is no special treatment here, or VIPs, or a dress code. Insert stands by an authentic and unsweetened culture of techno clubbing.
How to get into clubs without paying
You can get into some of these clubs for free at certain times or by means of a promotional flyer of some kind. However, the best way of making sure you go into any of them is by entering your name on a list at You Barcelona. Pick out the club you want to go, register your full name, phone number and email address and you are good to go. By registering to these lists you’ll be able to get into clubs for free from 1.30-2.30 a.m. (depending on the club).
Lastly, we would like to remind you that the legal tender in Spain is the Euro. If yours is not, you can exchange it upon your arrival at any of the branches that Global Exchange has at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport.