Readers in Barcelona, visiting or living or vagabonding, hello. I am a bibliophile, and I love being in bookstores. I don’t think Kindles are evil, because I don’t judge, but I love the smell of books. So, I researched, I went to a lot of bookstores, and I put together a half-day bookstore walking tour of Barcelona with a map of my four favorites plus two stops of refreshments, based on a combination of the ambiance and book selection (with enough books in English to make it worthwhile for a native English speaker). Probably note that I don’t really like bookstores that smell more like bleach than books. The less shiny they are, the more I tend to like them. If there is somewhere cute to sit down, if there are stepstools or ladders, if there are used books, if the poetry section is extensive, more points from me 🙂
WARNING: Do not go on Sunday, because two of the bookstores will be closed!
First stop: Calders
Passatge de Pere Calders, 9
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10am-9pm, Sat-Sun: 11am-9pm
I love Calders because it is a quintessential local bookstore in the quiet Poble Sec neighborhood that smells strongly of books and seems to actually give a shit about lit-culture. I am basing this assumption on the fact that they host literary events (readings etc.) and because there has been a lot of attention put into the ambiance—warm lighting, exposed brick, a full shelf plus a full table of poetry, and cool music (Lou Reed) selected by the super nice guy that was working at the time playing at a medium volume out of vintage-sounding speakers. All the books in every language (mostly Spanish and Catalan, but some English and others) are shelved together, except for a small section of used books in English. More fiction and literary nonfiction than anything else. I love Calders because it has really cool literary t-shirts for sale, because there is a piano and a small, cute area with tables and chairs next to the piano and a small selection of visible wine and spirits behind the bar, welcoming us to stay and chill for awhile.
Second stop: Komo en Kasa
Stop into Komo en Kasa for a coffee, pastry, empanada, fresh juice. My recommendation is to sit in the window or in the shady courtyard. It’s cute and amazing in both spots.
Third stop: La Central del Raval
Carrer de Elisabets, 6
Hours: Mon-Fri- 9:30am-9pm, Sat: 10am-9pm, Sunday Closed
La Central del Raval looks a little more like a commercial bookstore: two stories, lots and lots of books of all kinds, like a cuter version of Barnes & Noble. It’s location is awesome, in the narrow alleys of el Raval. There was low, chill, unrecognizable music playing, though nowhere to sit. Mostly, the books are in Spanish and Catalan, but there is a large selection of English books, too. The poetry section is separated into Spanish speaking regions, which I thought was really cool. Also, I found a copy of Mexico City Blues by Jack Kerouac with Spanish translations, so this place is amazing for that.
Fourth stop: Documenta
Carrer de Pau Claris, 144
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:30am-8:30pm, Sat-Sun: 11:30am-8:30pm
Documenta is a smaller bookstore in L’Eixample with a large selection of fiction and literary nonfiction, amazing children’s books, a small selection of books in English, but some of the poetry I found in the Spanish section had English translations, which was interesting to find. In the back, there is a small area to sit, and even an enclosed back patio with some cute seating. I love love love the poet Mary Oliver (if you don’t know her, I super highly recommend reading some of her stuff) and I found her book Dog Songs translated into Spanish but also with the English versions. So cool.
Fifth stop: Pikio Taco
Carrer de Còrsega, 376
Hours: 1:00pm-4:30pm, 6:00pm-1:00am
I was super hungry by this point, so I had to find somewhere to eat. Again, I was looking for a local and cute-looking spot. Whether or not you are like me and are in love with Mexico, Mexican food, and Mexicans, this little restaurant Pikio Taco has freaking amazing tacos. The owner is Mexican, and the guy that was working at the time was from Mexico City. I ordered three tacos, and I was pretty full, but I wanted to order more because they were for real so good. They also serve Mexican beer and micheladas, true Mexican style. I sat at the bar and chatted with the Mexico City guy, and he was really chill and friendly, and he gave me a free margarita coupon so I come back. I will 🙂
Last stop: Hibernian
Carrer de Montseny, 17
Hours: Mon: 4pm-8:30pm, Tues-Sat: 11am-8:30pm, Sunday Closed
Hibernian is an all-English, all-used bookstore in Gracia (a neighborhood that is adorable and less crowded with tourists), and it is Amazing. Really, really smells like books in there. I checked at least twenty books, and nothing cost more than 8 euros. Their selection is pretty random, as they are all used books. You can sell your used books here too, which is cool (maybe obvious, haha). The store itself is pretty small, and their poetry section was small, but I think it’s very possible that if you spend a bit of time, you will find some gems. There was a small, vintage-y armchair covered with a red blanket for chilling, and a crate of even cheaper books near the door. I love it all.
Depending on what time you finish, which way you are headed after, and how tired you are, there is a bar called Cinemateca (Carrer de Pau Claris, 120) with jarritas (small jars) of Spanish tap beer for 1 euro from 6:30pm-8:30pm! It’s fifteen minutes walking from Hibernian.
That’s it! I hope you enjoy my Barcelona bookstore walking tour. If you see this, are in Barcelona, and I’m not busy one day, maybe I’ll come with you, (if you want). You can get in touch with me here. I effing love going to bookstores, and new friends, especially literary ones. I also speak plenty of Spanish, and I love speaking it, if that matters :)))
p.s. There are A LOT (not exaggerating with the caps!) more bookstores in Barcelona, many of which I have been to, some not yet. These are just my favorites.