If you don't want to spend a lot of time shopping, museum shops are your best bet for unique offerings not available elsewhere. Our favorites are the Museu Picasso and the Fundació Joan Miró. They have broad selections of jewelry, scarves and other accessories, books, posters, and interesting objects for the home at reasonable prices. If by some chance you are in the market for an original piece of graphic art by a Spanish master, check out the shop at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies. The shops at La Pedrera and Casa Batlló have merchandise inspired by the Modernisme movement. At Casa Batllo, you can even find nail polish in Gaudí-inspired colors.
Sports fans should check out the merchandise at FC Botiga, the official shops of Barcelona's wildly popular football club. (The most convenient locations are Carrer Jaume I, 18, tel. 93-269-15-32; and Ronda Universitat, 37, at the corner of Plaça de Catalunya, no phone.) For last-minute shopping, there are FC Botiga outlets at terminals T1 and T2 at the airport and at the Sants train station.
The football club also has a shop in the Arenas de Barcelona (Gran Via, 373–385; www.arenasdebarcelona.com; tel. 93-289-02-44; metro: Plaça d’Espanya), originally Barcelona’s bullring, built 1889 to 1900. Six floors of shops and a movie theater are augmented by an excellent food court. But if you’re expecting to see any remains of the bullring other than a few exterior bricks, you’ll be disappointed; thank British architect Richard Rogers for what’s known as “façadism,” which means that the original character of the building has completely disappeared.
Shoppers and window shoppers alike will probably find neighborhood streets more interesting. To see how the other half lives, check out the boutiques along Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona’s most prestigious shopping promenade. For our (more limited) money, the streets of the Barri Gòtic and adjacent Born and La Ribera are more interesting to explore and the shops more fun and unpredictable. For an overview of regional handcrafts, check out Artesania Catalunya (Carrer dels Banys Nous, 11; tel. 93-467-46-60; metro: Liceu or Jaume I). Craft and fashion merge in the humble espadrille, made since the 1940s at La Manual Alpargatera (Carrer Avinyo, 7; www.lamanual.net; tel. 93-301-01-72; metro: Jaume I or Barceloneta); the shop claims that Salvador Dalí was an aficionado of its iconic shoes. Dalí Gaudí, and Picasso inspired jewelry designers at BCN Art Design (Carrer Argenteria, 76, metro: Jaume I; and Carrer Princesa, 24, metro: Jaume I; www.bcnartdesign.es; tel. 93-268-13-08). Krappa (Carrer Freneria, 1; www.krappa-bcn.com; tel. 93-442-51-00; metro: Jaume I) makes engravings based on historic woodcuts. Many maps, cards, bookplates, and larger prints here are colored by hand. You can buy from local designers (“del autor”) in modestly priced shops along the Carrer d’Astúries in the Grácia neighborhood; try Jose Rivero at number 43 (tel. 93-237-33-88) for one-of-a-kind men’s and women’s clothing made of felt and other feel-good materials.
And if you can’t find it anywhere else, try the sprawling department store El Corte Ingles on the Plaça de Catalunya. It also has the largest supermarket in the city center.
Hagglers will enjoy Barcelona's street markets. El Encants antiques market is held 9am–8pm (some dealers leave earlier) on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes (www.encantsbcn.com; metro: Glòries). A market has operated here since the 14th century, but in 2013 El Encants moved into a soaring new pavilion with a distinctive mirrored ceiling, and it’s a prime destination for local bargain hunters. The flea market at the recently re-opened Mercat Sant Antoni, in a sprawling octagonal 1880s market house, is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 8:30pm. The farmers’ market inside is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm (www.mercatdesantantoni.com; metro: Sant Antoni).
One of the best weekly flea markets is held Sundays from 10am to 7pm in Raval on Plaça Salvador Seguí, where the real bargains can be found just before closing (metro: Paral.lel). Try also the Thursday (9am–8pm) market, more antiques than second-hand items, in Plaça Nova at the base of the Cathedral of Barcelona (metro: Jaume 1). There’s a smaller flea market 10am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday near the Mirador de Colom (metro: Drassanes). Plaça Reial (metro: Liceu) is the site of a stamp and coin market 10am to 8pm on Sunday. Plaça del Pi (metro: Liceu) hosts an art fair (www.pintorspibarcelona.com) with dozens of artists on Saturday 11am to 8pm and Sunday 11am to 2pm, while contemporary artisans line Carrer Argentería, from Santa María del Pi to Via Laietana, on weekends 10am to 5pm. A useful website to track down the location of the roving flea markets is https://fleamarketbcn.com.
La Boqueria and Mercat Santa Caterina are the best fresh food markets. These food extravaganzas are perfect for buying spices and other packaged goods to bring home, although every Barcelona neighborhood has its own market house. For great chocolate, visit Cacao Sampaka (Carrer Consell de Cent, 292; www.cacaosampaka.com; tel. 92-272-08-33; metro: Passeig de Gràcia), which was co-founded by Albert Adrià, brother of famed chef Ferran. If your taste runs more to nuts or the traditional torron (nougat made with honey and almonds), check out the ancient (since 1851) nut roaster E & A Gispert (Carrer dels Sombrerers, 23; www.casagispert.com; tel. 93-319-75-75; metro: Jaume I). For gourmet olive oils from around Spain, specialty dried beans, and canned fish and shellfish from Galicia, check the floor-to-ceiling shelves of upscale caterer Colmado Quilez (La Rambla de Catalunya, 63; www.lafuente.es; tel. 93-215-23-56; metro: Passeig de Gràcia).
Catalonia has resisted the lure of Sunday trading, mainly at the insistence of the trade unions. Apart from Barcelona's coin and stamp markets, which open on Sundays, most stores shut on Sundays and many also close on Saturday afternoon. The good news is that most shops in the center stay open through the lunch hour and generally don't close until 9pm, even on Saturdays, with department stores extending this to 10pm. As a general rule of thumb, smaller shops are open Monday through Saturday 9:30 or 10am to 1:30 or 2pm, and then open again in the afternoon from 4:30 or 5pm to 8:30pm. You will always find exceptions to this, especially as the tourist trade fans out over the city. You may come across some that, frustratingly, take Monday morning off, or decide to take a long siesta, but even that adds to the unique experience of Barcelona being a modern city that has retained its retro feel.
Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, even for small purchases. You must show a form of photo ID (passport or photo driver's license) when making a purchase with your credit card. Don't be offended when the assistant asks for ID; it is an effective guard against fraudulent credit card use.
Sales tax is called IVA. In 2017 it rose to 10% for food items and 21% for most other goods. Cash register receipts will show this as a separate charge. If you see a "Tax-Free Shopping" sticker displayed in a shop you can request a tax-free receipt on purchases of over 90.16€. Get this stamped at any airport Customs (in Barcelona-Prats it's in Terminal 2A) when you depart Spain and you can claim a cash refund from the banks in the airport. Refunds can be made to your credit card or by check. For more information visit www.globalrefund.com.
Sales (rebajas or rebaixes) start in early July and early January. Discounts at the sales are extraordinary, often starting at 50%. On the whole, shopping in Barcelona is a genteel affair; small business and trading has historically been a major backbone of its economy, and many establishments here still feel like a piece of living history, in terms of both service and presentation.
What to Buy
Stylish clothing, shoes, and leatherwear are the items to go for in Barcelona. Leather shoes, belts, jackets, and coats are particularly good buys; whether you want a high-end store such as Loewe or succumb to the leather hawkers on La Rambla, the quality and value of leather goods is superb.Barcelona is renowned for its expertise in design and has a vibrant design culture supported by the local government. Decorative objects and housewares here are original and well made and can be found in the shops around the MACBA and the Museu Picasso. Artisan pieces, such as ceramic tiles and gifts and earthenware bowls and plates, are cheap and plentiful. Cookware, crockery, wine glasses, and utensils in general are a great buy; a poke around a humble hardware store can unearth some great finds, too.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.