Capital of Catalonia, Spain's second-largest city draws commerce and tourism not only from around Europe, but the entire world.
When you arrive in Barcelona, you're not just in Spain, but at the heart of the autonomous community of Catalonia. Centuries of history, with connections to many different parts of the Mediterranean, have bestowed a unique culture to this region. Though now part of Spain, the Catalan people retain their distinct language and sense of nationality. Catalan and Castilian Spanish are both used, so visitors are as welcome with bienvenidos as with benvinguts. Most signs are in Catalan, but some businesses use Spanish street names. French, English and other European languages are commonly understood, particularly in the gay community.
Remains of the old city walls date back to Roman times, and Barcelona has one of the largest extant medieval sections in Europe. Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter) is just to the east of where the throngs congregatie in Placa Catalunya day and night, or roam the length of La Rambla. This whole area is full of bars, clubs and restaurants, ranging from chain sandwich shop fare to haute cuisine; plus an abundance of shops and vendors' stands. To the west of here, the Raval district was a neighborhood of varied immigrants. Though gentrified now, it remains culturally mixed, with interesting restaurants and stores. Newer areas of Barcelona, dating from the 19th century, feature broad tree-lined boulevards and architecture that astounds with exuberance and sophistication equal to any great city of the world.
Barcelona Airport has EMT Aerobus transport from Terminals 1 and 2 going direct to Placa Espanya or Placa de Catalunya for 5 euros. There are also RENFE trains every half hour at the end of a passage from Terminal 2, and with access by shuttle bus from Terminal 1. Trains go to Barcelona Sants station, and cost 3 euros. From there you can transfer to trains to Sitges, hail a taxi behind the station, or connect to the TMB Metro system. Trains at Sants station connect with most cities in Europe.
If you come on Ryanair you'll likely land at Girona, north of Barcelona. Bus service is frequent from here to Barcelona Centre Bus Station, (at Metro station Arc de Triomf). Landing at Reus, the other Ryanair airport, can be a hassle. There are buses to Tarragona for a train to Barcelona, or direct buses - but with a tight schedule you could get stuck overnight. Other cities are connected to Barcelona by modern intercity buses/coaches to and from this station: Alsa and Avanza are among the largest companies.
With it's port Barcelona receives cruise ship arrivals from the Americas, and has cruise connections to points all around the Mediterannean; even Scandinavia.
The Gaixample (in Eixample district) is quite compact so you can easily walk to, and between, any of the bars, sex clubs, dance clubs, shops, restaurants and bathhouses there. Plaça Catalunya, La Rambla, Barri Gòtic, and sights like the Gaudi Casa Batlló or the Museu Picasso are an easy stroll away. The Metro will get you most anywhere else. Single fare tickets are 1.40 euros, or buy a discount card for one to five days use. Use ticket machines if the booth is closed. If going to Platja Mar Bella (Beach) take the L4 line to Poble Nou station and grab a taxi, hike 30 minutes to the water, or take bus number 41 to get there.
Media & Resources
For local news and updates on local gay social life look for Nois Magazine and their VisitBarcelonaGay online. Gaybarcelona.net and Gaybarcelona4u.com have online listing too - the latter in English. GuiaGayBarcelona is a Spanish-language guide with an English-language section.
Our maps & listings tab has locations and web links for these and other businesses.
Absolut Centro Hostal (Casanova 72; 34-64-955-0238), two comfortable "El Quadrat d'Or" hostal locations at each end of the gay district; convenience and affordability, near bars, shopping, restaurants and the sights. One-, two-, three-, or four-person rooms each with bathroom; free WiFi, charming/ helpful management.
Agua Alegre Hostal (Roger De Lluria 47; 34-934-878-032), simple but comfortable rooms, moderate prices, solarium, garden terrace, internet connection.
Axel Hotel Barcelona (Aribau 33; 34-93-323-2570) premium "hetero friendly" gay hotel, beautiful rooms, in-house gym, rooftop pool and bar, restaurant and lounge, perfect location between La Rambla and gay district. Not the least expensive option in town, they sometimes have special online rates.
All rooms at the well-situated Barcelona City Centre Hostal (Balmes 60; 34-65-390-0039) are soundproofed, with private bathrooms, and free satellite TV. Also rooms in their fourth-floor walk-up at Barcelona City Ramblas (La Rambla 133; 34-653-900-039) at budget prices.
Barcelona Rooms (Comte D'Urgell 63; 34-629-159-759), a dozen brightly colored rooms in midtown, two floors, four shared bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen.
Beauty and the Beach B&B (Paseo de Taulat 136; 34-932-660-562), romantic getaway by the sea, opposite La Mar Bella, Barcelona's only nude beach; easy Metro access to anywhere in the city, charming hosts.
Boxer Apartments (Diputacio 167; Boxerapartments.com), eight apartments in the Eixample and Ramblas area. Sleep 2-4 people from budget rates of 60-100 euros; to larger 5-6 people or luxury units at 100-140/night.
Central Town Accomodations (Ronda Sant Pau 51; 34-934-427-057), low priced, exclusively gay rooms, and apartments, balconies, shared bathrooms, breakfast, art by David Thompson.
Eos Guest House (Gran Via 575; 34-934-518-772) gay and lesbian guesthouse at gay central, ten rooms, internet connection, buffet breakfast until 1pm. Inexpensive prices so they fill quickly -- book well ahead.
Enjoy Barcelona (enjoy-barcelona.com) is a gay-friendly booking service, with over 250 comfortable short-stay apartments for rent in neighborhoods all around the city. Mention guidemag and get a discount on fees, plus a guide pack free.
Hostal Baires (Avinyo 37; 34-933-197-774), Bario Gotica, between La Rambla and the wharf, just 15 minutes walk to the beach.
Hotel California (Rauric 14; 34-933-081-164), Bario Gotica near La Rambla, 31 single rooms from 49 euros, breakfast included; satellite TV, phone, full bath, and AC.
Hotel Regencia Colon (Sagristan 13-17; 34-933-189-858), Bario Gotica off Cathedral Square, 50 non-smoking rooms, doubles and triples, wide flat-screen TVs, marble baths, breakfast buffets.
Fashion House (Bruc 13; 34-637-904-044), twelve rooms, five with bath, terrace and Wi-Fi.
Bars and clubs
The gay district, or Gaixample, has many bars and restaurants within short distances of one another. The streets here are filled with people, mostly men, late into the night.
Aire (Valencia 236), energetic young throng, mostly women in groups and guy friends, retro music favorites recorded before most were born.
Atame (Calle Consell de Cent 257) next door to Dietrich's - sometimes their shows move over here.
El Berro (Diputacio 180) is another small restaurant, wine and cocktail lounge on this street.
Bim Bam Bum/ Zelta's (Casanova 75), muted lighting, understated panache. cocktail lounge, beautiful people, hot boys, DJ music, drag show divas.
El Cangrejo (Villaroel 86), overflowing with fresh energy of gay Barcelona; men, women, old and young -- everyone seems linked and in constant motion. Predominantly Iberian crowd with zesty dash of Latin Americans.
Castro Restaurant (Casanova 85), at heart of the gay district, fine Mediterranean and marketplace cuisine, daily specials, very gay sociable too.
La Chapelle (Muntaner 67), long and narrow bar, abuzz with conversations from early evenings. Quieter tables and chairs in back and on front sidewalk. Interesting wall with antique church icons and relics.
Dacksy (Consell de Cent 247), many languages mix and switch demonstrating gay Barcelona's international flavor. Twenty- and thirty-something guys who know one another set the tone, but they're quick to include newcomers.
Dietrich Bar (Consell de Cent 255), large two-level bar, nightly drag shows. Sense of humor demonstrated by portrait of "la Dietrich."
Moeem (Muntaner 11), small bar playing good music 6pm to 3am, cheap drinks, young crowd.
Museum (Sepulveda 178), Louis XV Baroque style decor, Old Masters' male paintings, early evening cafe and video bar until 3am, mixed crowd.
People Lounge (Villarroel 71), gentlemen-only attractive lounge, Broadway show tunes, jazz and blues, gracious hosts, cute bartenders, overstuffed sofas, WiFi. Gays Abroad, 10pm Thursdays, socialize, network, Spanish speakers come to practice English.
Plata (Consell de Cent 233), corner bar open to night air, exudes stylish comfort, table and couch seating, warm decor, soft lighting, giant video displays. Urbane clientele see and are seen by all who walk by.
Punto BCN (Muntaner 63), well-established gay Barcelona fixture. Opens early at 6pm, broad cross-section of men mix combines many subsets of the community with tourists.
Sky Bar (Aribau 33), terrace at Axel Hotel, lounge, pool and Jacuzzi, city vistas, open-public evenings.
Bars and clubs for men
Bacon Bear Bar (Casanova 64), bear bar, one of friendliest in town. No-attitude pub ambience, music that won't drown out a conversation. Snack Thursdays, back room for special (bear) hugs.
La Base (Casanova 201), mature men's sex bar eight blocks to the north, naked nights, varied events, darkroom, leather, and underwear parties.
Berlin Dark (Passatge Prunera 18) sex club, naked men, military briefs, leather thongs dress code nights; no cologue or club fashions. Friendly, conversational bar, play areas, wrestling nights, fetish events, piss parties, slave/master sessions. Wednesday mix includes women, heterosexual men, bisexuasl, and trans gangbangs and bukkake.
New Chaps (Diagonal 365), leather-friendly men's bar open daily from 9pm, mature but frisky, downstairs darkroom, hot porno, all men welcome.
Nightberry (Diputacio 161) men's cruise bar, dark room, cabins, glory holes, photo exhibits and porn premieres from Boyberry guys.
Open Mind (Aragon 130), dress-code-only leather, rubber, uniform, fetish/SM membership club. Naked nights, designated spaces for SM, bondage, fisting, and water sports, cabins and glory holes. See website agenda.
Trash (de la Mare de Déu del Remei, 11), men's sex club, fetish, dress code leather, naked nights.
Woofy (Casanova 75), new men's cruise bar, bears and admirers, dancing, special parties.
Big dance clubs in Barcelona do elaborate weekend "sessions" with constantly changing concepts, technologies old and new, top DJs, talented performers, erotic displays, and extravagant costumes. All vie with one another to provide most exciting nights, all night and well into the daylight hours. Special parties pop up regularly, especially during Pride and the August Circuit Festival -- see our events listings and flyers around the bars, or check local websites for details.
The Arena group of late night dance venues includes Arena Madre (Balmes 32) with a huge crowd of young gay, alternative, and mixed genders for weekend extravaganza dances; weekday strippers and comedy shows.
Nearby other clubs are more mixed: Arena Classic (Diputacio 233), pulls slightly older crowds. Arena VIP Dance Club and Arena Dandy Dance Club (Gran Via 593) weekend dance events attract more of a straight crowd.
Black Room, at Club City Hall (Rambla de Catalunya 2-4), Sunday night gay dance parties at the center, resident DJs and go-go dancers.
Butch Bear BCN (Diputacio 206) DJ dance club stakes out Saturday nights for men, special underwear parties, fetish nights, and retro fests.
Cabaret Berlin (Bailén 22), Friday Bombón and other periodic gay dances, music, theater, performance, magic, humor, circus, cabaret, fashion, art, and multimedia shows.
Metro Disco (Sepulveda 185), open every night, drag and cabaret shows (Sundays/Mondays), strippers on Tuesdays. House, Spanish, and 80s music plays on two floors, different atmospheres in each of four bars on weekends.
SaturGays Night Project (Av Marquès de Comillas 1), gay house music party, spectacular shows, singers, acrobats, go-go dancers, resident and international DJs. Metro Plaza Espanya or take 1pm free shuttle bus from Axel Hotel to Montjuïc/Poble Espanyol location.
Circuit is an almost two week international gay and lesbian dance party extravaganza, this year August 7-18, 2013.
Shops and services
Boutique Bizarre (Casanova 80), leather, rubber clothing, fetish accessories, toys.
Boxer (Diputacio 167) retail leather and fetish clothing store, accessories, sex toys, rubber gear, and even sex furniture. Online sales, also rental apartments to sleep 2-6 people, budget to luxury prices.
Boyberry (Calle Calabria 96), more than the typical sex shop, X-rated videos, largest gay-themed library in Spain, films for rent or purchase. 14 cruise cabins, darkroom maze, LCD flat-screen movies, glory holes. All-day admission pass, half-price for under-27, free under-22; in/out privileges. Full, no-limit internet access, their machines or your's. Inexpensive beer and refreshments lounge. Free bar passes, guides, maps, and magazines, really friendly staff, bike racks and lockers.
Cine Arenas (Tarragona 5-7, enter at side from De La Diplotacio alley), gay cinema, mainline gay films, porn video annex, bar.
Complices (Cervantes 4) GLBT bookstore, fiction, essays, biographies, poetry, comics, photo books, theater, DVDs, and more.
Other Barcelona sex shops with dvds, magazines, and cinemas; some with cabins, and dark rooms: Blue Star (Numancia 69); Nostromo Gay Sex-shop (Diputacio 208); Sestienda (Rauric 11); Skorpius (Gran Via 384); and Zeus (Riera Alta 20).
Fashion options in the neighborhood include: ES Collection (Conseil de Cent 218), gay boutique, chic underwear swim and sports fashions; Ovlas (Via Layetana 33), sexy clothing, beach wear, underwear, cutting-edge dance wear; DGM (Casanova 74); M69 (Muntaner 64); Ritual (Muntaner 58); Spike (Hospital 46); and Testimoni (Galeries Malda 38A, Placa del Pi, 4).
Punto BCN (Muntaner 63) has souvenir tees, caps, posters, CDs and other odds and ends illustrated with logos from their clubs around town.
Vibes (Bruc 24) is a local gay-favorite gym with personal trainers, and dance studio.
Saunas and escorts
Grupo Pases has five saunas in Barcelona and others in Valencia and Seville. See our listings for locations and web links. Well maintained facillities, amenities such as swimming pools, dry saunas, steambaths, Jacuzzis, darkrooms, labyrinths, cruising areas, and private rooms. All locations offer snacks; some have bars and cafes.
The preeminent Pases location, Sauna Barcelona (Tuset 1), "el bombon del Grupo Pases," is the best, and most modern, with massage, aromatherapy, chocolate bath, light treatment, and follicle massage; huge Jacuzzi, private cabins (some with hot tubs), and more -- a place to vacation from your vacation!
Sauna Bruc (Bruc, 65), ong-time local favorite of over 26 years, mix of young to old, bears and regular guys with special rates to beat "the crisis."
Sauna Buenos Aires (Urgell 114), a new face on the sauna block, open 24-hours, cabins, jacuzzi, steam and dry sauna, dark rooms, xxx video, bar, and massage until 11pm.
For the company of escorts, two services have websites to help make a selection: American Boys (Ronda Universidad 23), near Placa Catalunya, with rooms and massage; and Neron (Consejo de Ciento 185) with rooms and Jacuzzi.