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. 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.
L'Eixample (the Gayxample/Gaixample village), has most of the city's gay bars, hotels, restaurants and shops, located between the Plaça d'Espanya / Barcelona Sants areas, and the neighborhoods of Plaça Catalunya / La Rambla / Barri Gòtic. If arriving by Metro, walk the few blocks north from Urgell, west from Universitat or southwest from Passeig de Gràcia or Catalunya stations.
For the gay beach at Platja de la Mar Bella see directions under "Getting Around" below. The Chiringuito Be Gay beach cafe here rents chairs and umbrellas, and they serve breakfast, all-day tapas, salads, sandwiches or full meals, plus shakes, cocktails beer and wine. The party continues all night during Nit de Sant Joan festivities, when people all along the Spanish coast stay out on the beaches all night around summer solstice time. There's also a clothing-optional section here. Another beach, Platja de Sant Sebastià, just beyond the Barceloneta quarter, also has a mixed, clothing-optional beach at the southern tip, beyond where Passeig Marítim ends, with restaurants and cafes along the nearby streets, and chiringuitos on the sand.
Sitges is a short train ride to the south, about 30 minutes from Barcelona Sants station, a gay destination in it's own right, with plenty of beaches, dozens of gay bars, cafes, discos and saunas, and various special party and Pride events. Ibiza, the Balearic island just off the coast from here, is another gay destination of Mediterranean beaches and gay night spots, just four hours away by ferry.
Annual gay events in Barcelona include BEARcelona Easter weekend, Barcelona Pride at the end of June, the Fire/ Mostra LGBT film festival in July, the August Circuit Festival party week, and the Barcelona International LGBT Film Festival in October; along with New Year's Eve party celebrations around the city, spring and summertime circuit parties from the Matinée group, plus the Delice Dream events in Sitges.
Barcelona Airport has EMT/AMB Aerobus transport from Terminals 1 and 2 going direct to Placa Espanya or Placa de Catalunya for 5.90 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 depart from Terminal 1 to Barcelona Sants station every half hour; a 20 minute trip that costs 4.10 euros. From there you can transfer to trains for Sitges, hail a taxi behind the station, or connect to the TMB Metro system. Trains at Sants leave for Madrid, Valencia, and north into France, with connections throughout Europe. As the RENFE website is vast and confusing, try the Barcenlona Tourist Guide instead, covering all the above options.
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, (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 Mediterranean, and points north as far away as 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 2.15 euros, or buy a discount card for one to five days use. Use ticket machines if the booth is closed. The English-language TMB public transport site is easy to use.
For Platja de Mar Bella (beach) take the L4 line to Poble Nou station and grab a taxi, or hike 20 minutes to the water; or from Plaça Catalunya/Portal de l'Àngel, Plaça Universitat or Plaça d'Espanya, take bus number H16 (service every 7-9 minutes) to the Passeig Calvell-Rambla del Poblenou stop, then walk to the shore through the park. Look to the north for the Chiringuito Be Gay crowd. For Platja de Sant Sebastia take the Metro L4 train to Barceloneta station, then hop a cab, walk, or take bus 39 or the number 64 three stops down Passeig de Joan de Borbó. The 64 also runs through the Gaixample, down Muntener towards the beach, and back by way of Aribau. The clothing-optional section is at the southern end of the one kilometer-long stretch of sand.
Street signs, addresses and menus in Barcelona, and across Catalonia (Google maps too), have been changing to the local language in recent years, although many businesses retain Castillian Spanish on their websites. It can be confusing at first, but not for long. Carrer/calle, avenguda/avenida, platja/playa, and Sant Joan/San Juan, are all pretty similar. Some familiarity with French or Italian helps with parlar/hablar, sortida/salida, nit/noche, bon dia/buenos dias, or si us plau/por favor. But gos boig (perro loco) and tancat Dilluns (cerrado Lunes) might throw you at first glance (in case the Crazy Dog weiner stand is Closed Mondays). Many restaurants also provide English language menus, but where's the fun in that? Airport and train station signs are usually in all three languages.
Media & Resources
For local news and updates on local gay social life look for Nois Magazine and their VisitBarcelonaGay online.
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, and charming/ helpful management.
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.
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.
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 is a gay-friendly booking service, with over 250 comfortable short-stay apartments for rent in neighborhoods all around the city.
Fashion House (Bruc 13; 34-637-904-044), twelve rooms, five with bath, terrace and WiFi.
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.
Two Hotel Barcelona (Calabria 90-92; 34-935-392-313), second gay/straight-friendly Axel hotel in the Gayxample, 87 fully soundproofed rooms, satellite TV, WiFi, rooftop pool/deck and Jacuzzi, two bars, massage services.
Bars and clubs
The gay district in l'Eixample, known as 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 (Ipotació, 233), energetic young throng, mostly women in groups and guy friends, retro music favorites, Latin hits, first Thursday Stupendas messages and female strip-tease.
Atame (Calle Consell de Cent 257), pop music bar next door to Dietrich's - sometimes their drag shows move over here.
El Berro (Diputació 180), small restaurant with wine and cocktail lounge; tapas and combination plates, hot and cold sandwiches.
Botànic Bar Cafe (Muntaner 64), small gay neighborhood cocktail bar, men/women mix, special theme party nights.
Boys Bar (Urgell, 106), small gay music/cocktail bar in the Eixample; DJs, theme nights, Salsa, Bachata, merengue dancing, nude male strippers, Grindr parties, live sex shows.
El Cangrejo (Villaroel 86), fresh energy, men, women, old and young -- everyone linked and in constant motion. Mostly Iberian crowd with a zesty dash of Latinos.
Castro Restaurant (Casanova 85), at heart of the gay district, fine Mediterranean and marketplace cuisine, signature entrees, daily specials, very gay sociable.
Mary Boone Bar (Valencia 194), gay-friendly lounge bar, paintings, photography, sculptures and video art installations; jazzy cocktail and deep house DJ sets.
Moeem (Muntaner 11), small bar/cocktail lounge playing good music 6pm to 3am, DJs, cheap drinks; young, mostly male crowd.
Museum (Sepulveda 178), Louis XV Baroque style decor, Old Masters' male paintings, early evening cafe and video bar until 3am, mixed crowd.
Osbar (Diputació 225), all-day cafe/bar, weekend breakfast, music/party evening warm-up club, friendly staff/crowd, food menu.
People Lounge (Villarroel 71), gentlemen-only attractive lounge, Broadway show tunes, jazz and blues, gracious hosts, cute bartenders, overstuffed sofas, WiFi. Gays Abroad: English-speaking social club every Thursday at 10pm.
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, Happy Tea Wednesdays; broad cross-section of local men mix with tourists.
Re-Bar (Consell de Cent 247), gay neighborhood music bar; drag, theme parties; the former Dacksy.
Sky Bar (Aribau 33), terrace bar at Axel Hotel, lounge, pool and Jacuzzi, city vistas, open-public evenings.
Versailles Bar (Pasaje Valeri Serra, 3), gay and mainstream mixed Eixample bar/lounge, posh décor, sexy fashion and burlesque shows.
Villa Rogelia (Villarroel 96), mixed/ gay Eixample bar, late crowd, theme nights, salsa and flamenco, oldie tunes.
CLOSED: Dacksy (Consell de Cent 247), international gay mix, 20-30-something guys; Dietrich Bar (Consell de Cent 255), two-level bar, mostly male crowd, drag shows.
Bars and clubs for men
Bacon Bear Bar (Casanova 64), bear bar, one of the friendliest in town. No-attitude pub ambience, music that won't drown out a conversation. Snack Thursdays, back room for special (bear) hugs.
Berlin Dark (Passatge Prunera 18) sex club, naked men, military briefs, leather thongs, sports gear dress code nights; no cologue or club fashions. Friendly, conversational bar, play areas, wrestling nights, fetish events, piss parties, naked and underwear events, slave/master sessions. Wednesdays include women, heterosexual men, bisexuasl, and trans, gangbangs and bukkake.
Hard Private Sport Club (Av. de Madrid, 192, Sants Mont Juic), members-only Thursday-Sunday men's combat sports, social, and sex club; wrestling, boxing, speedos/underwearwear, fight nights.
La Base (Casanova 201), Tuesday - Sunday men's cruise bar, naked and underwear nights; jail, sling, fetish play areas.
Le Privilege (Diputació 174), nightly video bar, men-only cruise club and dark room.
Maduras (Consell de Cent 245 B), older guys and friends men's bar, bocadillos sandwiches, buffet spreads, special event theme parties.
New Chaps (Diagonal 365), leather-friendly men's sex bar open daily from 9pm, mature but frisky, downstairs darkroom, hot porno, naked/underwear nights; bears, all men welcome.
Night Bar (Diputació 161), men's cruise and cocktail bar, dark room, cabins; stripper shows, drag cabaret.
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 and fetish club; dress code leather, sport, skin, sneakers, rubber, uniform, bears.
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 huge crowd of young gay, alternative, and mixed genders for weekend extravaganza dances; male strippers, foam parties and comedy shows.
Nearby other clubs are more mixed: Arena Classic (Diputacio 233), Friday/Saturday slightly older crowds with music to match; Arena VIP, and Arena Dandy (Gran Via 593) weekend dance events attract more of a straight crowd.
Black Room at Club City Hall (Rambla de Catalunya 2-4), YGF Sunday gay dance parties at the center, resident DJs and go-go dancers. SaturGays gay house parties, spectacular shows, singers, acrobats, go-go dancers, resident and international DJs.
Metro Disco (Sepulveda 185), open every night, Sunday/Monday drag cabaret, Tuesday/Friday/Saturday male strippers. House, Spanish, and 80s music plays on two floors, different atmospheres in each of four bars on weekends; darkroom frolics.
Pervert Club (Bloc/ Sala 2, Ronda Sant Pere 19-21), men-only Saturday night midnight to 6am dance party by Matinée Group, international guest DJs; Beefbox, Circuit Festival, Devotion, WE parties, Leather & Bear Ball.
Circuit is an almost two week international gay and lesbian dance party extravaganza in August.
CLOSED: Cabaret Berlin (Bailén 22), gay dances, music/theater/performance/circus, cabaret and multimedia shows.
Shops and services
Addicted (Consell de Cent 218), men's fashion underwear, shirts, shorts, jeans, accessories.
Antinous (Josep Anselm Clave 6) gay bookstore and cafe, large selection of gay literature, photo books, poetry, movies, calendars, comics, erotica and more.
Blue Star Sex Shop (Numància 69), adult video DVDs, toys, lubes, magazines, cabins and peeps.
Boxer (Diputació 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), not a typical sex shop. X-rated DVDs, largest gay-themed video library in Spain, rent or purchase. 14 cabins, darkroom/maze, LCD-screen movies, glory holes. All-day pass, under-27 half-price, under-22 free; in/out privileges. No-limit internet access computers and WiFi. Inexpensive beer/refreshments lounge. Free bar passes, guides, maps, and magazines; friendly staff, bike racks, lockers.
Complices (Cervantes 4), LGBT bookstore, fiction, essays, biographies, poetry, comics, photo books, theater, DVDs, and more.
DGM (Conseil de Cent 241), men's fashions and sportswear, top international brands.
Erotic Palace (Sants 225), Plaça de Sants sex shop and men's cruise area; video cabins, dark room, g-holes.
Erotixx (Av. de Roma 153), gay/straight sex shop, upstairs gay cruise maze, g-hole, video booth peeps; mostly older guys.
ES Collection (Conseil de Cent 263), gay men's boutique, chic underwear swim and sports fashions.
Fisic (Bruc 24) is a local gay-favorite gym with personal trainers, yoga and dance studio.
M69 (Muntaner 69), brand name men's fashions, casual, urban wear, shirts, jeans, underwear, bags, accessories.
Ovlas (Aribau 31), sexy clothing, beach wear, underwear, cutting-edge dance wear.
Ritual (Muntaner 58), men's casual and sports wear; shirts, pants, Ts, tank tops.
Sestienda (Rauric 11), sex shop, porn DVDs, magazines, fetish items, toys and accessories.
Spike (L'Hospital 46), men's casual and sports wear, underwear, jackets; accessories.
Zeus (Riera Alta 20), cruise cabins, glory holes, porn DVDs, magazines, fetish items, toys and accessories.
Grupo Pases has four 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), long-time local favorite of over 26 years, mix of young to old, bears and regular guys with special rates to beat "the crisis."
Sauna Galilea (Calàbria 59), four-level men's sauna and steam, Jacuzzi, work-out area, bar, non-stop weekend hours, ages 18-25 everyday discounts.
American Boys (Ronda Universidad 23), near Placa Catalunya, has massage in-house rooms, and out services, also stippers and go-go boys for private parties.