Shopping Centres in Barcelona
Barcelona has several large shopping centres, where you’ll find everything from high street fashion, to electronics, household items, and supermarkets. They also double up as entertainment centres, featuring cinemas, bowling alleys, amusement arcades. You can take a break in the various bars and cafeterias, have a quick bite to eat in one of the fast-food sandwich or burger places, or enjoy a nice meal in the tapas restaurants. Shopping in Barcelona can be found under one roof, plus the added advantage of parking. Shopping centres include Maremagnum by Port Vell, Diagonal Mar near the Forum, Glories next to the Agbar tower, La Maquinista in Sant Andreu, Heron City in Fabra I Puig, and the most recent addition is Las Arena, in what used to be the bull ring in Pl Espanya.
If you like to shop 'till you drop but your feet don't quite make the distance, why not spend a morning in one of Barcelona's shopping centres (centros comerciales) where you will find all of the main stream Spanish stores, and often some of the very expensive designer shops! Increasingly popular, the shopping centres usually have a food area with a big selection of restaurants and bars as well as a 12 or 14 screen cinemas.
For a city with such an extensive variety of independent boutiques and small stores specialising in everything from candy and ornaments to household items and hats, Barcelona has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of the shopping centre. The city's main shopping centres are more than just one roof under which an array of high street franchises are concentrated together, they also offer a wide range of leisure, wellness and recreational facilities.
Although largely unknown to the foreign community living in the city centre, La Maquinista in the district of Sant Andreu is a shopping centre that even those who normally avoid them are likely to appreciate… as it is based entirely on an open air plan. Its literal meaning "the train driver" is a reference to the railway construction industry that used to be based here. The nearby hills provide a very pleasant backdrop whilst wandering round its shops; mainly clothing, accessories and interior home design including The Body Shop and Sephora for cosmetics and pampering, and over 70 fashion stores. There is a huge Media Market, for all things electrical, and a Carrefour supermarket.
The top floor provides entertainment for all ages. Bars and restaurants with open air terraces range from the typical fast-food to Basque tapas and Hard Rock Café wannabe "Rock n Ribs", as well as cafés and ice cream parlours. The real jewel in the crown for all but the most dedicated shopaholics has surely got to be the amusement centre. There is a multi-lane bowling alley with luminous balls, plus fairground style games, ping-pong, and more, with an ambience created by semi-disco lighting and chart show pop soundtracks. As well as a state of the art Cinesa cinema complex. www.lamaquinista.com Nearest Metro: Sant Andreu or Torras y Bages (L1)
One of the city's most popular centres is Maremagnum, which was inaugurated for the 1992 Olympics. It is topped by a huge night zone with various clubs and bars known collectively as The Village, and whose flyering crew stalk the bottom of the Ramblas and entice an eclectic mix of tourists, stag and hen parties, sailors and nightlife seekers to burn the midnight oil here. By day, when the rays of sunshine flicker over the clear Mediterranean waters and the harbour fish mill below the passageway to the shopping centre itself, the Maremagnum experience takes on a different flavour. There is Mango, Lollipops, and Bershka; in total about 30 shops and almost as many bars and restaurants. As well as its unrivalled seafront location, special events are often organised here such as traditional human castle displays, exhibitions, and prize giveaways. Check the website for details. This also has a large Cinesa cinema complex. Also worth noting, the internationally renowned Barcelona Aquarium is just next door. www.maremagnum.es Nearest Metro: Drassanes (L3)
Located at the foot of the Agbar Tower, the Centre Comercial de Les Glories, like most of the city's recent large scale projects, it was also part of the 1992 Olympics development scheme. It was inaugurated in 1995 and completed in 2001. Divided into three buildings housing fashion, interior design and furnishing, and entertainment and leisure, this provides a real focal point for the local community. Its extensive supervised area for children attracts many families, who leave the children to play whilst they do their weekly shopping here. Other services include the cinema, a large PC City, and shops for all the mobile phone operators (Vodafone, Orange and Movistar). If you prefer to find the best mobile phone deal in person rather than online, this is a good place to investigate. www.lesglories.com Metro: Glories (L1)
The development of the Diagonal Mar district is one of the city's most ambitious recent projects. Characterised by the construction of large scale visitor and residential apartment complexes, four and five star hotels, and carefully integrated green spaces, the decision to include a magnificent shopping centre must have been a no-brainer for its urban planners. So, they went one step further and built Catalunya's largest shopping and leisure centre, with a floor plan that reads like an A-Z directory of established franchise stores. This shopping centre was built by US Houston based real estate firm Hines, who remoulded the US concept of the shopping mall into something that could be integrated into the Mediterranean coastline…and lifestyle.
One interesting difference is that whilst the traditional emphasis in the US is on packing in as many shops as possible, here there are many more entertainment and leisure facilities. Its proximity to a residential area which is quite isolated from the rest of the city's offerings meant that this was very much designed to serve the dual purpose of creating an area where people can spend their time as well as their money. www.diagonalmarcentre.es. Nearest metro: Maresme/ Forum (L4)
Other major shopping centres include L’Illa Diagonal, www.lilla.com. Nearest metro: Maria Cristina L3. Spain’s biggest department store El Corte Ingles has several branches. The biggest is on Pl. Catalunya. www.elcorteingles.es