In the Mediterranean shores, Barcelona is a vibrant city full of interesting things to see and do. A mix of history and modernity, the city has become a top gay destination. Thousands and thousands of LGBTI people visit the city every year and, for many, it is considered one of the most open-minded and gay-friendly cities of the world.
Therefore, Barcelona has become a magnet for gays from all over the world. The city offer plenty of museums, trendy restaurants and an incredible nightlife for all tastes. Events like Circuit, that reunites thousands of men from every continent in August, is a mere example of how is big the gay scene in Barcelona.
Since the fall of the Spanish dictatorship in the 1970’s, Barcelona became a home for many artists, writers and thinkers. This fact, along with the proximity with other European countries such as France or Italy and the celebration of big events like the Olympic Games in 1992, turned the city into an open and cosmopolitan place.
In addition, the gay marriage was approved in Spain in 2005. In this decade, many things have changed in the whole country and, in places like Barcelona, the homophobic violence is extremely rare.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
My advice for those visiting Barcelona would be… enjoy, enjoy and enjoy! As we’ve told before it is a very tolerant city so don’t worry if you walk holding hands in the street with your boyfriends or kiss your lover in the beach.
Take your time to discover the city as if it was an adventure and expect that anything can happen.
The best months to visit Barcelona are from April to September, when it’s usually sunny and hot. If you travel in winter, take a coat and a scarf with you. Days can be warm, but nights are usually cold.
There are many Barcelonas in one Barcelona. So I suggest you to plan a little the things you’d like to see and do during your time in the city.
It can be a very expensive city during the high season, so I suggest you to look for accommodation in advance. There are a few backpacker hostels where sleeping ain’t that expensive, and COCKSURFING it can always be an option. So think about it 🙂
TOP LGBTI PLACES
This is the name that receives a central area of Barcelona’s Eixample district. Since the 1990s lots of gay shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and gay hotels have spread all over the place, along with the gay population living in it.
Gaixample is specially well-known for its night-life with pubs like Átame, Boy Bars or La Base Bcn and clubs like Arena or Metro. There are dozens of places where to have drink and enjoy some music, from bubblegum pop to hard electronic music. In this area you’ll also find most of the saunas of the city.
This historical district, formerly known as the Chinese District, is nowadays a multicultural hive. It’s also a symbiosis of the modern and the old in Barcelona. Next to the famous la Rambla, inside the district there are famous gay clubs like El Cangrejo, usually with a drag queen show, or the alternative pub La Casa de la Pradera.
Barcelona has seven beaches and all together are about 4,5 kilometers. The ones with more gay public are Sant Sebastià, Barceloneta and Mar Bella. Practicing nudism in the area is permitted, so feel free to take out your men swimwear.
All along the beach you’ll find bars where to eat a paella or drink a mojito. If you’re up for travelling a little, Sitges is a must. A small city next to the beach and with a big and cosmopolitan gay community. An hour from Barcelona, it’s considered a gay meca.
The nightlife scene changes frequently in the city. What is cool today, it’s boring a week later. So the best way to be aware of what’s going on in the city is to contact a few locals and ask about the different parties going on, in order to be able to chose the one that fits better your interests.
Having said that, some parties are becoming huge in the Barcelona gay-scene. Try Churros con Chocolate at the Apolo club.
Besides Gaudi’s architecture and a other attractions we’ve already talked before, Barcelona is full of hidden places. Corners full of charm that doesn’t always appear in the guides.
This would be my top 3:
Sant Felip Neri Square:
This tiny square is well-hidden in the Barri Gòtic, in a hive of streets and alleyways. Close to the Cathedral, this square is crowned by a beautiful fountain in the middle of it. On one side, there’s a church with a magnificent high altar from the eighteenth century. The main particularity of the church is in its façade, where you can still see the signs of the many bombardments that took place in the city during the Spanish World War (1936-1939). Going there in the morning, where there’s no one around and the only cafeteria in the square hasn’t opened yet, is exquisite. Like a sip from the past.
Búnkers del Carmel:
In the district of the Carmel, next to the well-known Park Güell, you’ll find one the best places to see the city skyline. On a top of a hill, there’s a Spanish civil War bunker from the 30’s. Nowadays there are just a few buildings in ruins, though for many years it was used as a place to live for a few immigrant families. Down the hill, there’s a restaurant in the corner of a big avenue where you’ll find of the best places in town to eat “patatas bravas”.
Sants neighborhood is in the southern part of Barcelona city and it used to be an industrial town bordering the capital. In the heart of this district you’ll find Plaça d’Osca, a square full of bars and restaurants where you can eat typical Catalan food or sip a beer. During the summer, most of the bars put tables outside, which is perfect. Also in this district, you can visit the Espanya Industrial Park or Can Batlló, an old factory that a few years ago was turned into a social centre. In a hippy vibe, it usually offers cultural events -like cinema, theatre or street art- and at weekends there’s a little market.
Barcelona is a very sexual city, especially during the summer, when people from all over the world visit it and expect to have a great time in many senses. There are sex-parties organized by clubs, saunas and so on… for any appetites or fetishes.
In the last years the number of men HIV + has increased among the gay community. In certain gay clubs they usually give condoms for free in the beginning and at the end of the night. Make use of them if you’re not sure if your partner has any disease.
If you want to check your HIV status, bcncheckpoint offers a fast test. It is for free, though you can leave a voluntary donation to help this NGO to keep on going.
Photos and Text by Mtí Q.