Why a visit to Sant Antoni should be on every Barcelona travel itinerary

La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, and the Picasso Museum may be some of the first attractions that come to mind when planning a trip to Barcelona, ​​but there’s a little-known area far from the vibe of Yesteryear of the Gothic Quarter and upscale styles of Ciutat Vella that should be on your list of things to do in Catalonia as well. It is called Sant Antoni.

This traditionally popular district is located in the central district of L’Eixample. It is a short walk from most of Barcelona’s main tourist attractions and close to the lively Poble Sec district and the multicultural melting pot that is El Raval.

Despite its recent gentrification and local fears that tourists will start to invade the area, Sant Antoni still recalls a bygone era, when neighbors gathered in the sun in the courtyards and central plazas. The streets of the area present a conviviality that may be lacking in the city’s main tourist spots, and the surrounding architecture, much of which dates back to the early 1900s, if not decades before, keeps it anchored.

Stylish restaurants compete for space alongside down-to-earth cafes and trendy boutiques alongside cozy thrift stores and specialty gift stores. Still, it never feels overcrowded, thanks to its smaller population, sprawling thoroughfares, and pedestrianized areas.

One of the main attractions in the area is the Mercat de Sant Antoni, or Sant Antoni Market, which was revitalized in 2018. In May of the same year, the 135-year-old market reopened after a nine-year hiatus. and an 80 million euro ($ 92.8m) renovation investment that was part of a city-wide market regeneration plan, aimed at breathing new life into lesser-known neighborhoods of Barcelona.

The Mercat de Sant Antoni was built in 1882 and designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias. The neoclassical building, made of wrought iron and metal, is shaped like a Greek cross and is typical of the markets of that time. To date, it covers an entire block and consists of three main arms, including a food court with 52 stalls and a flea market with 95 stalls. The final block is one of Europe’s largest open-air book markets, which comes alive every Sunday when 78 tables laden with new and used tomes, novels, comics, stamps and other collectibles surround the structure.

A taste of Spain

Other highlights in the area include Yes Future, one of Barcelona’s most famous zero waste supermarkets, where everything from vinegar to kombucha is available on tap, and shoppers can purchase made and grown treats. locally in deli meats, such as kimchi-stuffed olives or spicy cashew cheese.

Ask any local, and they’ll know Sant Antoni is the place to dine out. In particular, Calle Parlament is home to some of the area’s hippest restaurants, from the famous Federal Cafe brunch spot to Café Cometa coffee and art. Elsewhere, find excellent Spanish tapas at Els Sortidors del Parlament and Bar Ramon. Or check out more multicultural options at Manso Pizzeria, La Golosa Vegan Vurger and the Whimsical Style Tickets, a contemporary tapas restaurant that has been awarded a Michelin star (NB, this place is temporarily closed due to the pandemic).

As for where to stay, one of the best ways to experience Sant Antoni the way locals do is to book an Airbnb or host family in one of the many old buildings that have been turned into stylish apartments. It should be mentioned that from August 6, short-term private room rentals are no longer allowed in Barcelona, ​​so you will need to book an entire apartment or house.

There are also many well regarded serviced hotels and apartments in the area, including the Hotel Market which is located next to the Mercat de Sant Antoni, with chic and modern rooms with rainfall showers, wooden beams. dark and large windows to enjoy the view. . The centrally located four-star Weflating Suites Sant Antoni Market offers serviced two- and three-bedroom apartments, all with balconies.

The wonders of Sant Antoni are not difficult to access at this time, especially if you are vaccinated. Spain reopened to tourists in June, welcoming travelers from any destination as long as they have been fully vaccinated with an approved Covid-19 vaccine.

Travelers must be fully immunized at least 14 days before arriving in the country, and vaccines must be one of those authorized by the European Medicines Agency or included in the Organization’s emergency use list. world health.

Printed certificates issued in Spanish or English will be accepted as proof of vaccination and must be presented upon check-in from your country of departure, as well as upon landing, before proceeding to baggage claim at Barcelona Airport.

It is not necessary to have a PCR test before traveling, although children in the same family who are not vaccinated may need to have a PCR test when they arrive. Children under 6 are exempt from any test.

If you are not vaccinated and you are traveling from a country which is not part of the EU or the Schengen zone, or a destination which is not part of exempted Spain list of countries (this changes regularly), then you can only travel if your trip is deemed essential.

All travelers must also complete a health screening form. You do this on the Travel health website in Spain or the app, and it will generate a QR code for you to show upon arrival.

Once there, you should make sure to wear a face mask indoors in public areas.

If you are returning to the United Arab Emirates after a holiday in Spain, you will need to take a PCR test no later than 72 hours before departure from Barcelona.

There are many Covid-19 testing centers in the city. You need to book a slot and make sure you leave enough time to get your results before you travel (there are faster options available at an additional cost if you left it too late). Use this practical Guide to know where and when to go and to make an appointment.

Emirates flies to Barcelona’s Josep Tarradellas-El Prat Airport from Dh 2,595 ($ 706) round trip, with a flight time of just over seven hours. From Abu Dhabi, fly with Etihad Airways, with economical fares starting from Dh 2365.

Update: October 20, 2021, 3:21 a.m.

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