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What’s new in 2023: Barcelona

With fresh-faced hotels, creative new restaurants, boundary-pushing galleries and a string of green-city initiatives on the table, the vibrant Catalan capital is as buzzy as ever. Here’s a taste of what’s making Barcelona tick in 2023

01/06/2022Updated 21/04/2023

Carrer de l’Esparteria (Rhiannon Elliott); Gaudí’s Sagrada Familía (Adobe Stock). Opening image: Barcelona’s rooftops (Ronni-Kurtz)


Barcelona is one of Spain’s most cycle-friendly cities, with more than 240km of bike lanes up and running. And a further 33km of cycle lanes are being created, so exploring on two wheels will be easier than ever. Key spots include around Sants railway station as well as Plaça de Catalunya and Carrer Comte d’Urgell.

On the fringes of the Barri Gòtic and El Raval, the much-maligned La Rambla boulevard is getting a cultural-focused makeover. Ambitious ongoing renovations will reduce traffic flow, create more pavement space for pedestrians and celebrate the area’s rich arts and architecture heritage. This will include reviving the 17th-century Teatre Principal, slated to relaunch in 2024.

A multisensory installation on the observation deck at Jean Nouvel’s Torre Glòries (The Exhibitions Company)


Over in Poblenou, the former industrial neighbourhood-turned-creative hub, the cucumber-shaped Torre Glòries recently opened to the public for the first time. Designed by Jean Nouvel back in 2005, it now has a thrilling 125m-high 360° observation deck, with a multisensory installation by the Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno set into its dome. The surrounding streets are crammed with ancient warehouses and factories reimagined as art galleries, design studios and speciality coffee spots.

Having landed in El Born’s mediaeval Palau dels Cervelló in late 2021, the Amsterdam-founded Moco Museum is showcasing the first solo European exhibition by contemporary Chilean artist Guillermo Lorca, known for his haunting, colour-popping canvases that fuse magic and realism. Esplendor de la Noche runs until 21 October.

Balcony room at Casa Sagnier (Rafael Vargas); rooftop terrace at The Hoxton Poblenou


Rubbing shoulders with the Torre Glòries, Spain’s hotly anticipated first Hoxton is turning heads in creative Poblenou. Soothing Mediterranean-inspired rooms bring in hand-woven tapestries, bold-toned headboards and zellige-tiled rainfall showers, while the light-flooded lobby has a flowy mural-painted bar. Zip up to the leafy rooftop terrace for punchy tacos and cocktails by the retro-feel pool at vibey Tope, all backed by wraparound city views.

Meanwhile, 15 minutes southwest of The Hoxton sits the recently opened Casa Sagnier. Originally designed as a home and studio by the Modernist architect Enric Sagnier, this 1892 mansion in L’Eixample has been thoughtfully reimagined as a chic 51-room boutique hotel that celebrates its roots. Architect Federico Turull and Barcelona-based design studio Elefante are behind the fresh, tone-on-tone rooms, some of which have romantic balconies. Downstairs, the all-day Cafè de l’Arquitecte restaurant bar puts an innovative spin on Mediterranean flavours.

Amar restaurant in the El Palace hotel (Carlos Garralaga)


One of Barcelona’s most anticipated recent openings, Amar (in the El Palace hotel) is the vision of sevillano chef Rafa Zafra, of Estimar, Heart Ibiza and Casa Jondal fame. Midnight-blue walls, teardrop chandeliers and a sweeping metallic-gold bar set the scene for an irresistible fusion of Mediterranean seafood, fresh Catalan produce and culinary creativity. Andalucian sherries and Penedès wines mingle with ponzu-sauce oysters, caviar brioche and romesco-dressed spider-crab salad.

Over in buzzy Sant Antoni, the crew behind unmissable BENZiNA has opened its next-door sister venture, Doppietta, to focus on Italian-style cicchetti (small plates), hand-picked cheeses and regional charcuterie, with a smart-casual wine-bar feel. Expect perfect carpaccio and ricotta and kale cannelloni from chef Nicola Valle, along with herb-infused gins, Italian wines and a bold look inspired by Brescia’s famous Mille Miglia car race.

Last, but by no means least, is Compartir Barcelona. Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas – the former El Bulli team that brought us prize-winning Disfrutar (Barcelona) and Compartir (Cadaqués) – has teamed up with chef Nil Dulcet for this much-awaited L’Eixample eatery. Traditional recipes and Catalonia-sourced ingredients meet cutting-edge techniques (tuna cannelloni, hazelnut coulant), while forward-thinking interiors are by beloved Barcelona design studio El Equipo Creativo.

All together at Primavera Sound (Eric Pamies); Pride returns in July


June’s beloved Primavera Sound music festival is back with a splash at the Parc del Fòrum. This year, it runs from 1-4 June, with concerts, food events and more in between. Acts include Pet Shop Boys, Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía, Self Esteem and Calvin Harris.

Pride Barcelona returns from 14-15 July with a fabulous four-day line-up of parades, parties and events across town.