Julie Sheridan
Julie Sheridan
Barcelona, Spain
Freelance writer and translator based in Barcelona

A night on the town in Barcelona

While Barcelona can’t claim, in all honesty, to rival Madrid in the ‘city that never sleeps’ stakes, this Mediterranean hotspot offers plenty of options if you want to party after dark. The Catalan capital is blessed with a particularly clement climate, making exploring the city’s nightlife a pleasure. Whether you fancy sipping Cava in a sociable square, dining under the stars or hitting up a club in the early hours, the chances are you’ll be safe to leave your coat at home.

Catalans don’t even contemplate dinner until well after 9.30pm, while clubs only start to get going from 2am onwards. Despite its cosmopolitan image, Barcelona favours a casual, laid-back dress code, unless you’re heading for the swanky beachfront clubs like Opium Mar or Shoko. Drinks in nightclubs tend to be pricey, although on the upside, if you’re into spirits, the measures are gratifyingly generous.

Read on for some of the favourite haunts and nocturnal adventures that I’ve enjoyed over my last few years living as an expat in this captivating city.
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Riera Alta 4-6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

Right at the heart of the rambunctious Raval district, this stylish and elegantly-lit cocktail bar is a stand-out on the Barcelona bar scene. The staff are surprisingly attentive, the cocktails sublime and the location a distinct advantage if you’re planning on hitting the old-town clubs afterwards. Plus, if you can face it all again the next morning, from Thursday to Sunday Marmalade dishes up a brunch guaranteed to put hairs on your chest (and ward off that pesky hangover). All in all, a winner. Spread the word.

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L'Antic Teatre

Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís, 12, 08003 Barcelona, Province of Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona doesn't really 'do' the concept of beer gardens, but if it did, this tree-clad courtyard in the bohemian Born district would be front of mind. Despite its fashionable location, L’Antic Teatre manages to retain a certain chilled authenticity, and its laid-back vibe is perfect early-evening prep for the long Barcelona night ahead. Grab a group of friends, ferry your beer back to your table and try not to trip over the roots of the resident fig tree or wandering cats, while Catalan residents’ washing lines flap 'authentically' overhead.

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Café Ocaña

Plaça Reial, 15, 08002 Barcelona, Province of Barcelona, Spain

Most of the Plaça Reial is tourist-trap-central, and you’d be well advised to give a wide berth to many of its establishments. Shoo away the touts, though – you’re on a mission to the far-off corner of the square, where you’ll find the charming Ocaña. Sit at the outdoor tables on the Plaça itself in the summer to indulge in some people-watching, and don’t miss the Arabian-inspired ‘Apotheke’ cocktail bar downstairs. Head here for a late-dinner or just enjoy a few vermouths with olives and a portion of ‘patatas bravas’ before continuing into the old town for a full-on night out.

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Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 113, 08004 Barcelona, Spain

Most (in)famous for its Nasty Mondays and Crappy Tuesdays sessions, the crowd, mood and music in Sala Apolo vary considerably depending on what night of the week you’re there. If you’re looking for somewhere to liven up a dreary Monday evening in Barcelona, (and don’t mind paying the not inconsiderable entry fee), Apolo possesses a certain down-at-heel charm, playing mainly rock and indie tracks to the buzzed young locals. Don’t be caught out by the no-smoking policy – if you nip out for a fag you’ll face the entry fee all over again.

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Carrer dels Almogàvers, 122, 08018 Barcelona, Spain

On four levels and with five different mood rooms to choose from, the atmosphere – and serious sound system - in Razzmatazz is what keeps the mainly 20-30-year-old crowd coming back. Its location, tucked away in the residential Poble Nou neighbourhood, means that drunken tourists are unlikely to simply stumble across it, and there’s plenty of space and genres of music inside so that you can strut your stuff to your heart’s content. Another club with a fairly casual dress policy – best to keep the glad rags at home for this one.

Barcelona Pipa Club

Plaça Reial, 3 pral, Barcelona, CT 08002 Spain

This intimate little venue on the Plaça Reial is one of Barcelona’s most idiosyncratic spaces. You almost have to play detective to find it – ring the buzzer and you’ll be admitted in covert silence. Inside, it has an inviting, if slightly beat-up, feel, with oak-panelled walls adorned with Sherlock Holmes and Dalí memorabilia. Back in the dark den of the members-only lounge, patrons puff away and put the world to rights. Music-wise, Pipa Club regularly hosts live jazz gigs, as well as milonga and tango sessions. There’s no dance floor as such, but there is a pool table and plenty of locals who’ll be happy to strike up a conversation.

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Quimet & Quimet

Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25, 08004 Barcelona, Spain

Paying a visit to this most hallowed temple of tapas is almost obligatory when in Barcelona. It’s standing room only at this tiny venue, but don’t let that put you off. Gourmet creations line the bar – just point to what you want and wait to be blown away (the salmon is especially good). After you’ve downed your fill, head around the corner to the pedestrianised and always lively Carrer Blai, to continue the Poble Sec tapas and bar hopping tour with the locals.

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Hotel 1898

La Rambla, 109, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

For somewhere swank - and incredibly central - the colonial-style Hotel 1898 is a gorgeous place to base yourself while in Barcelona. Take a dip in either of the indoor or outdoor pools, gaze at Barcelona’s skyline from the rooftop chill-out bar, and if you’re really going all out, book yourself into one of the suites with their own private gardens. Since you’re right on the Ramblas, you’re brilliantly placed to go bar hopping in the edgy Raval district before dancing till dawn in the clubs of the Gothic quarter.

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Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria)

Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

You can’t even contemplate coming to Catalonia without sampling some Cava, and there’s no better spot than Can Paixano (aka La Xampañería). Be warned, though - with its hurried and harried staff and constant influx of thirsty clients, it’s not for the faint of heart. To make sure no-one literally faints, side orders of sandwiches and tapas are obligatory with your Cava, which is hardly a hardship.

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Ohla Hotel

Via Laietana 49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

The Ohla hotel is designed for those who like the high life. Classy, contemporary and conveniently located straddling two old-town districts of the Gótico and the Born, this hotel really can’t be faulted on service or downright charm. If you can’t afford the rooms but fancy the upmarket experience, take advantage of the fact that from 6pm onwards the hotel’s rooftop pool and chill-out terrace are open to the public. Sip an expertly mixed drink at the boutique cocktail bar or soak yourself in the glass-sided pool, with stunning views over Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks.

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L'Observatori Fabra

Camí de l'Observatori, Barcelona, CT 08035 Spain

Suggesting a trip to a mountain-top observatory for a good night out may seem a tad bizarre, but bear with me here. Throughout the summer months, the Fabra Observatory offers ‘dinner under the stars’ – where for around €70 you’re treated to an astronomically inspired slap-up meal on the front viewing deck, surrounded by what are arguably the best views of Barcelona you will ever see. The price includes a tour of the Observatory’s quirky museum and a star-gazing turn through the largest telescope in Europe.

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TRYP Barcelona Apolo Hotel

Av. Paral.lel 57-59, 08004 Barcelona, Spain

The big bonus of staying at the Tryp Apolo is easy access to the buzzing nightlife of the up-and-coming Poble Sec district. On the area’s long, pedestrianised Blai Street there’s not a tourist trap in sight – just a long line of bars and restaurants plying tasty tapas to clued-up locals. Look out in particular for Bodega La Tieta and Koska Taverna, which are both excellent. Once you’ve munched your way through Poble Sec, you’re a short walk from the ever-rollocking Raval district and the Ramblas themselves. Plus, the hotel is right next to the Parallel metro stop, so making your way to clubs in other parts of the city is hassle-free.

Last updated at Nov 26, 2013