Though its markets are truly something —La Boqueria and Sant Antoni—Barcelona’s best shopping doesn’t just come from stalls. The boutiques and souvenir shops can be a lot to sift through. Fortunately, we have. Barcelona is a city that can accommodate a wide swath of shopping styles: both big spending, retail therapy types and those who looking to bring home a single piece that is, at once, unique, meaningful and cheap. This quick rundown of the retail scene will guide you through the must-dos, from the locals’ favorite deli to discounted designer labels.
You’ll spot this charming gift shop, owned by Australian Amy Cocker, by a sign with the word “Mercería”—Spanish for haberdashery—handwritten in flowing italics. The sign is left over from another lifetime, but tradition, soul, and local preservation still reign supreme; hence the shop’s name, which nods to Cocker’s grandparents’ antique-filled house in Canberra. Inside, you’ll find a hipster edit of homeware, jewelry, and gorgeous miscellanea, from vegan skincare and macramé plant hangers to tarot cards, Polaroid film, lapel pins, and art prints.
La Nostra Ciutat
Nostra Ciutat means “our city” in Catalan, and while this store is a standalone operation, its contents are a gathering of artists and small businesses from throughout the region. The number one reason to come is for the stunning art prints: fun, colorful illustrations of Barcelona, such as Daniella Ferretti’s patterned facades of Modernist buildings or Idmary Hernandez’s quirky neighborhood maps. There’s also jewelry, slogan tote bags, toys, and tech accessories.
Courtesy La Roca Village
La Roca Village is a great designer discount outlet that’s part of the same consortium as London’s Bicester Village and La Vallée Village in Paris. There are Gaudí-inspired mosaics, boughs heavy in hot-pink bougainvillea, and architecture resembling a quaint Spanish town center, but you’re really here for the discounts: 30 percent off is common, but 70 percent off is possible. You’ll find the best names on the Spanish fashion scene—Bimba y Lola, Loewe—plus international brands like Burberry, Prada, Jimmy Choo, and Gucci.
Chocolates Lacasa – La Boutique
Two minutes’ walk from the city’s chocolate museum, Museu de la Xocolata, the cacao trail continues with the launch of Barcelona’s first Lacasa boutique. The premium brand started life in 1852 in Jaca, a tiny town in the Pyrenees. Today, it’s quite a big deal, and this store is a shrine to its sweet-toothed goodness. Inside, the vibe is cozy and vintage: The walls are covered with old maps (look closer, and they’re actually tiles), the floors showcase bold geometric patterns and pastel-striped tins of chocolates perch in every direction.
Tiny Cottons, founded in Barcelona in 2012, is a children’s boutique with a chic house line of high-quality clothing (much of it made with pima cotton). The colors are sunny and the motifs contemporary and gender-neutral—popsicles, candy apples, balloons, stripes, dots. It’s clothing that lets kids be kids in a fun, lively, modern way. According to its slogan, Tiny Cottons is the brand that “grandparents choose for quality, parents for design, and kids for comfort and fun.” You’re likely to see all three generations shopping side by side.
You’ll spot El Ingenio’s life-size papier mâché Picasso before you spot its actual sign; in fact, giant heads are something of a specialty for this fantastical, nonsensical Barcelona icon. An onsite workshop has been making gargantuan faces and leggy paper giants since the 1830s. Both are staples in the street parades that pour along, noisily and theatrically, during the neighborhood fairs that still flourish to this day. There are also puppets, juggling balls, masks, and other carry-on-appropriate finds.
The word “queviures” may sound glamorous as it rolls off the tongue; but it simply means “groceries.” Still, there’s nothing ordinary about Queviures Múrria, and you know it the second you see it. Part of the city’s Ruta Modernista, or Art Nouveau Trail, the shop is spectacularly quaint; old-school liquor ads with monkeys and dancing ladies grace the sides and the signage hasn’t been touched since its 1898 inauguration. Inside is the best pantry imaginable, one where every space brims with deli counters, jars, boxes, and bottled goodies.
La Manual Alpargatera
La Manual Alpargatera, a living room–size espadrille workshop, is such a flurry of activity that it reminds you of a Disney animation—the fairy godmothers scurrying about getting Cinderella ready for the ball. Or, in your case, a stylish day of city strolling. The store sits proudly down an old-town side street between the Cathedral and Las Ramblas. It’s traditional-looking, inside and out, and a real institution on the historic Barcelona shopping scene.
Santa Eulalia, a family-owned, multi-brand boutique, has been open since 1843, when it was a pioneer in bringing haute couture to Catalunya. Now, more than 175 years later, it still stocks designer names that you can’t get anywhere else in the city. Located on Passeig de Gràcia, a high-end luxury corridor, the shop is simply beautiful, with airy interiors designed by New York City’s William Sofield. The collections are exquisitely edited and the service is spot on: attentive when you want it to be, without making you feel hawk-watched if you nipped in for a non-committal browse.
Fantastik Bazar, an independent knick-knack store in Raval, is filled with kitsch that owner Juanra Esteban has carted back from Mexico, India, Japan, and Senegal. The store is a riot of color and chaos, with each curveball piece grabbing your attention. A wind-up robotic pig, a pineapple lamp, a Virgin that carries holy water, a bicycle reflector shaped like a cat’s head, and a tabletop ice hockey set: just a few of the objects that you absolutely do not need but will suddenly, inexplicably, want. Each item is labeled with its country of origin.
El Corte Inglés
El Corte Inglés is the biggest department store chain in Europe; when it comes to cramming a lot of great things under one roof, these guys know their stuff. You don’t need a fancy algorithm to know why the shop works: There’s top-brand fashion, a cosmetics section the size of an airport terminal, guaranteed access to toilets, and multilingual staff. The branch on Plaça de Catalunya is Barcelona’s monolithic flagship; it’s resplendent in lights at Christmas and, at all other times, a mountain of 1960s concrete that makes a great navigational compass.