Things to Do in L’Eixample – Barcelona’s Most Iconic Neighborhood

Visit L’Eixample Neighborhood

The Eixample is the most iconic neighborhood in Barcelona. The name “Eixample” (“Ensanche” in Castilian) means “extension,” as it was built in the 19th century as the extension of the Old Town.

To make space for the growing population, the walls of the Gothic Quarter were demolished, and in their place, large and airy avenues were built. Beautiful buildings lined the new streets, so the Eixample Barcelona became the neighborhood of the Catalan bourgeoisie of the time.

On a map, the Eixample neighborhood looks like a grid of horizontal and vertical avenues and islands of buildings (called “illes” in Catalan and “manzanas” in Castillan). The “illes” were built with an octagonal shape rather than squared to permit the easy passage of the bourgeoisie’s horse carriages.

Depending on which side of the district you visit, Eixample Dreta (Right Eixample) or Eixample Esquerra (Left Eixample) – as locals call them – you will find different attractions. From outstanding modernist buildings to shopping spree opportunities to fantastic hotels, here’s what to do in Eixample, Barcelona.

GOOD TO KNOW: Eixample Dreta or Eixample Esquerra?. Eixample Dreta is on the right side of Passeig de Gràcia, when you have the sea behind you. Eixample Esquerra is on the left side. Eixample Esquerra is also known as “Gayxample” because of the important concentration of bars, nightclubs, and shops catering to the gay community in this area.

What To Do In Eixample, Barcelona

1. Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s most iconic site, many people think that the Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s Cathedral, which is instead located in the Gothic Quarter.

The Sagrada Familia is an «atoning temple» built with donations to atone for sins. Its construction began in 1882 and was never completed. Another peculiarity of the Sagrada Familia is its mix of neo-Gothic style and Gaudì’s modernist elements. 

One of the best things to do in Eixample, Barcelona, the best way to explore the UNESCO-listed Sagrada Familia is to join a guided tour with access to the towers, from where you will also enjoy a 360-degree view of Barcelona.

The Sagrada Familia is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Click here for all the ticket options

2. Illa de la Discòrdia

Illa de la Discòrdia - Eixample

You will find the unmissable Illa de la Discòrdia in Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia. This block’s name is a reference to an ancient Greek myth of the “Apple of Discord,” the golden fruit that had the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite fight over it. But what does this have to do with Barcelona?

Well, around the district are three unique modernist buildings built by the three most important architects of the 1900s, caught in a battle for which building is the most beautiful.

The most famous is Gaudì’s Casa Batlló (43 Passeig de Gràcia), one of Barcelona’s most famous (and busy) attractions. The other two houses are Casa Lleó Morera (35 Passeig de Gràcia) by architect Lluís Domènech i Muntaner, and Casa Amatller (41 Passeig de Gràcia) designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. If you are curious to admire one of these spectacular pieces of architecture, I suggest you choose Casa Amatller to avoid crowds (Casa Batlló always has long waiting lines).

3. La Pedrera – Casa Milà

La Pedrera is one of Antoni Gaudí’s most notable works in Barcelona. Its nickname “Pedrera” means “quarry” in English, given by the locals to make fun of the building’s particular façade design.

Designed as a constant curve, every angle has a purpose, but it is also a complete sculpture. Inside, you can visit a typical bourgeois apartment, furnished as it was in the 1900s, the attic of the building, which hosts a museum dedicated to Antoni Gaudi, and the terrasse, with its iconic chimneys.

Visit La Pedrera (skip-the-line ticket with audio guide) from Monday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., or take its fabulous Night Experience between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

4. Egyptian Museum of Barcelona

Established in 1994, the Egyptian Museum of Barcelona is a great way to discover more about ancient Egypt. This museum’s permanent exhibit displays many artifacts, from mummies to hieroglyphic inscriptions.

When visiting the Egyptian Museum, make sure not to miss the Rosetta Stone and the Temple of Thutmose III reconstruction.

This place should be on your Barcelona Museums bucket list for another reason: its wonderful architecture, which blends ancient Egyptian elements with modern influences. The building has the power to transport you right on the banks of the Nile, and for this, it is often used as a movie location.

The Egyptian Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.– Click here to buy your tickets

5. Hospital de Sant Pau

Among the interesting buildings in the Eixample neighborhood is the Hospital de Sant Pau. Dating back 600 years, this UNESCO-listed edifice boasts beautiful Modernist architecture.

At the end of the 19th century, the local banker Pau Gil hired architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner to reconstruct the hospital. Sant Pau Hospital looks like something from a fairytale. Everywhere you look, you can admire vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and ornate details. The hospital complex features twelve Moorish Modernist pavilions, with the best one being the Main Pavilion.

Another couple of spots to visit at Sant Pau are the outdoor gardens and the window right outside the Lluís Domènech I Montaner Room, which boasts a direct view of the Sagrada Familia.

The Hospital de Sant Pau is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. You can visit it alone or with a guided tour – Click here for all the ticket options

6. Fundació Antoni Tàpies

What to do in Eixample neighborhood? Here are the best things to do in Eixample, Barcelona, for every kind of traveler

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is an excellent museum and cultural center dedicated to the astonishing art of Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012), a Catalan artist whose work advanced Contemporary art.

Tàpies started as a surrealist painter but soon began incorporating non-artistic materials into his works. Working with different materials, like marble dust mixed with paint and waste paper, was his original contribution to the contemporary art movement.

You can see the artist’s pieces inside the Fundació Antoni Tapies, which is also worth checking out for the beautiful venue, a late-19th-century modernist building by architect Domènech i Montaner

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Click here to buy your tickets

7. High-End Shopping Along Passeig de Gràcia

Barcelona is packed with activities to do besides admiring its stunning architecture. If you want to spend time shopping, head to the famous Passeig de Gràcia. Considered the smaller version of Paris’ Champs Elysées, Passeig de Gràcia is the perfect spot in Barcelona for high-end shopping.

This stylish boulevard connects Plaça de Catalunya to Avinguda Diagonal and boasts luxury stores like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès.

Strolling up and down the Passeig de Gràcia, you will also see many cocktail and tapas bars. However, these are expensive and not the best you can find in town.

Don’t miss the Barcelona exhibitions open right now!

8. Arc de Triomf

Barcelona has its very own triumphal arch, the Arc de Triomf, designed by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, and it is one of the main Barcelona landmarks

This Triumphal Arch is quite different from the others you can find in cities around Europe, like Paris and Rome.

Firstly, it was constructed as the entrance to the 1888 Barcelona World Fair, which took place at Parc de la Ciutadella. The other interesting feature of Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf is its Moorish-inspired style, characterized by its red bricks and white sculptures and carvings.

Particularly significant are the bats at the Arch’s top, which symbolize the emblem of King Jaume I, under whom Barcelona liberated Valencia, Mallorca, and Menorca from the Moors.

And there you have it, what to do in Eixample, Barcelona’s most iconic neighborhood. Which sites and activities of this Eixample things-to-do list appeal to you most?

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Quirky explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of la Ciutat Comtal!