Shopping in Barcelona: fashion and shoes

by Sally.Davies

Whether it's a pair of Christian Louboutin leopardskin slingbacks you need or a nice thick cardie, you'll find it in Barcelona's easily strollable shopping streets

While Barcelona has been no more immune to the pressures of globalisation than anywhere else, and you’ll see many familiar high-street names employing increasingly familiar pricing, it still has a redoubtable army of independent retailers, from family-run lingerie shops to up-and-coming designers, dotted about its sidestreets. And quite honestly, even the main drags with their endless parade of global names, from Benetton to Starbucks, are wildly more attractive places to shop than, say, Oxford Street.

Passeig de Gràcia

One such is the Passeig de Gràcia, a wide, attractive shopping boulevard with a smattering of haute couture among the Diesels (no.19; 93 445 83 60), the Mangos (nos.8-10 & 65; 93 412 15 99) and the Zaras (no.16;93 318 76 75). See, for example, Gucci at no.76 (93 416 06 20), Burberry at no.56 (93 215 81 04) or the breathlessly cool Santa Eulalia (no.93; 93 215 06 74), which stocks Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Lanvin and Miu Miu, among many other designers du moment.

Portal de l’Àngel

Another retail wonderland is the pedestrianised Portal de l’Àngel, which also houses many of the chain stores – Benetton (no.22; 93 301 68 18), Zara (nos.24 & 32-34; 93 301 08 98), Mango (no.7; 93 317 69 85) and what has to be the grandest-looking H&M in the world (no.20-22; 901 120 084) – on its first day they roped off the entrance and had goons in Ray-Bans on the door, though it has to be said that the interior doesn’t quite live up to the neon-lit entrance.

Portal de l’Àngel has an extravaganza of shoe shops – along this stretch and the nearby C/Pelai you’ll find Casas Sabaters (no.40; 93 302 11 12), Royalty (no.36; 93 317 16 32) and Scarpa (no.16; 93 317 39 44), all of which stock local labels such as Camper along with Kickers, Fly and so on. For boots, try Noel Barcelona (C/Pelai 48; 93 317 86 38).

Quirkier fashion and up-and-coming designers

For quirkier fashion and up-and-coming designers, you’re better off foraging in the sidestreets off the Passeig del Born, in the northern section of the Raval and, increasingly, on and around C/Verdi in Gràcia. See, for example, the fresh, colourful and flattering designs at Giménez & Zuazo (C/Elisabets 20, Raval; 93 412 33 81), the bold t-shirts and cutesy frocks at On Land (C/Princesa 25, Born; 93 310 02 11), gorgeous handmade leather bags in rich colours at Capricho de Muñeca (C/Brosoli 1, Born; 93 319 58 91) and bright, funky designs for babies, kids and mums-to-be at Limobebe (Rambla de Prat 9; Gràcia, 902 550 883).

A thriving vintage scene

The Raval is also the centre of the city’s thriving vintage scene, with most shops clustered between the MACBA and C/Hospital. Along the C/Riera Baixa you’ll find Smart & Clean (no.7; 93 441 87 64), for clothes and accessories from the ’60s and ’70s; Billie Jean (no.16; 93 324 84 48), whose retro vibe owes more to the ’80s, and Lailo (no.20; 93 441 37 49), which has a more eclectic selection and some truly gorgeous pieces. For second-hand designer garb, try Le Swing (C/Notariat 3; 93 301 98 70) or Blow (C/Doctor Dou 11, 93 302 36 98).

More expert advice on Barcelona

For suggestions on where to stay in Barcelona, see my Barcelona Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Barcelona page.


I came to Barcelona ten years ago for a long weekend, and showed a horrible lack of originality in deciding I couldn't leave. I made it back to London for as long as it took to pack up my things and hand in notice to my landlord, and that was that. Fortunately I was able to take my job with me – I edit Time Out's guides to Spanish cities and work as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph.

My Barcelona

Where I always grab a coffee: there are lots of terrace cafés along the pretty Passeig del Born, but my favourite is Rosal (no.27), which largely escapes tourist notice. Autumn update: though it's kept the name, Rosal has recently been subsumed by the faceless tapas bar next door. I'm back on the prowl for a regular haunt. Watch this space.

My favourite stroll: I’m lucky to live near the Parc de la Ciutadella, a storybook park with a boating lake, ducks to feed, a Gaudí-designed waterfall, playgrounds, sculpture and a thousand trees under which to read a book on hot summer days.

Fiction for inspiration: Cathedral of the Sea is never going to win any great literary prizes, but it’s a rollicking beach read, with a plot verging on Gothic and a fantastically detailed portrayal of the Born neighbourhood in medieval times, and particularly the construction of the 'People's Cathedral', Santa Maria del Mar.

Where to be seen: With a mixologist and DJs imported from London, the Eclipse bar on the 26th floor of the W Hotel is the current hot ticket.

The most breathtaking view: One for the brave, this one, because it does have a bit of a wobble when there’s a wind up, but the Monument a Colom (Columbus Monument) at the bottom of La Rambla has unmatched views over the city and out to sea.

The best spot for some peace and quiet: Again, it would have to be the Parc de la Ciutadella, although the gardens of the Antic Hospital in the Raval are also a lovely retreat from the crowds along La Rambla.

Shopaholics beware: Passeig de Gràcia has most of the flagship stores for Zara, Mango, Diesel et al, along with some very gorgeous designer stores. It’s also a wonderful place in which to simply stroll and take in the Modernista architecture; even the lamp-posts are works of art. For quirky boutiques and eccentric specialities, though, you'll need to lose yourself in the maze of the Old City.

City soundtrack: There’s a Raval-based band called 08001 (the Raval’s postcode), made up of a floating membership of great musicians from around the world. Its mestissa (ethnic fusion) sound is very typically barcelonin.

Don’t leave without... fer vermut (‘doing vermouth’). Sunday morning, tall glass, red vermouth, lots of ice, slice of orange, splash of soda water, a saucer of boquerones (fresh anchovies) and a couple of friends. My favourite Spanish habit.