24 Oct Barcelona’s 10 Quirkiest Shops for Memento Seekers
Spread across Avinguda del Portal de l’Àngel, Passeig de Gràcia and Corte Inglés, Barcelona doesn’t need to bargain – each district of this city has its own shopping neighbourhood. Still, not every visitor is impatient to spend their time getting lost among the perfumed racks of high end boutiques. To honour the forgotten art of souvenir browsing, bazaars and antique shops, this article is dedicated exclusively to those in search of the whimsical.
Faced with a challenge of finding the proper amount of quirky in their home city of Barcelona, Isabel and Ivan have quickly decided to open the Impossible. Now named Chandal, this unusual concept store in the Raval holds an assembly of vintage Polaroid cameras and Super 8 film in a peculiar surrounding, filled up with childhood memorabilia, musical instruments and, Isabel’s and Ivan’s favourite, a collection of both international and local magazines. As the pearl of unusual in Barcelona, Chandal is nothing less than a wonderfully nostalgic blast from the past.
2. OMG Barcelona
Even though OMG Barcelona’s Iu and Estela are now mainly focused on collaborating with local creators and presenting their own brand, their project was initially inspired by their travels. Both dedicated cosmopolitans, the shop owners now collect every kind of vintage, creative and original trinkets from all over Barcelona, and present them in a concept store devised and designed by budding masters of Catalan architecture and design.
Apart from the shop, OMG Barcelona holds additional space reserved for traveling exhibitions and pop-ups from abroad. Browse through fashionable but alternative clothes, hip accessories, trinkets, adorkable alphabet books and pottery, and dare to say that one is lovelier than the rest of them.
Papabubble is a dream come true. Even on the outside, the unfamiliar, yet enticing aroma invites you in where it’s joined by new, exotic flavours and textures. This exceptional candy laboratory will then take you on a tour through its “ancient artisanal process” of candy making, and if you’re lucky enough, allow you to taste a few of their titbits.
If not, you’ll certainly buy something for the road, and discover that Papabubble doesn’t only craft fanciful-looking sweets, but creates new and unrepeatable flavours as well. And, if that isn’t enough for your senses to go wild, the craftsmen behind this candy store will offer you a treat personalized with your name, and according to your individual liking.
Located in the very heart of the city where it connects Santa Caterina Market and the Picasso Museum, Wawas is not an ordinary souvenir shop. Their trademark postcards brilliantly capture the spirit of everyday Barcelona beyond the city’s bustle, as seen from the perspective of a local, and translate it to a vast array of irresistible knickknacks, from chocolate bars to decorative vinyls.
With intention to show an alternative, more realistic side of their city, the artists behind the project, Ana and Silvia Franquesa, are determined to tell you a story. Collectibles instead of trifles and memories instead of souvenirs, the charming mementos of Barcelona’s Wawas are waiting for you to take them home.
If not powerful enough to resist the piles of tiny shiny ornaments, souvenirs and tchotchkes, than Fantastik will drive you completely mad. The beautiful bizarreness that this bazar bursts with is the mere reflection of its owner – before opening the shop in 2005, Juanra Esteban travelled the world in pursuit of its most captivating keepsakes.
Located in Raval, Fantastik now displays collections from 20 countries and is a startling homage to diversity. From Mexico’s comic books, all the way to the toothbrush holders from Iran, Fantastik is a beautiful journey through the world of wonders.
6. El Ingenio
Situated in the charming neighbourhood of Ciutat Vella, El Ingenio is the closest you will ever get to the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Undoubtedly, this handcrafted toys store is a magical treasure trove made for the most eccentric among us.
Cramped with oversized heads, curious toys, garish costumes, clown’s shoes, music boxes and juggling clubs, the inside of El Ingenio certainly delivers what was promised on the entryway – a curious collection of practical jokes, circus gimmicks and traditional festivity apparel. Playful for some and macabre for others, El Ingenio is a delightfully nightmarish ride through an odd, but remarkable mind.
7. Discos Paradiso
Devoted to collecting vinyl rarities, native Catalans Arnay and Gerard have opened Discos Paradiso back in 2015 to share their passion with the world. Unlike most record stores, this minimalist venue is completely dedicated to music and incredibly refreshing in their selections.
Displayed according to genre, records are presented on the vintage wooden shelves against the white brick wall, just near the turntables available for free listening. While music flows silently in the store, the Discos Paradiso’s back room is arranged for occasional live shows and promotions of upcoming artists.
8. Laie CCCB
A part of the Contemporary Culture Centre of Barcelona, this bookstore has everything you need on architecture, design and arts, history and culture, photography and fashion. And even though their books are not dusty and you won’t have to dig the whole place up to find that one copy that will change your life, Laie CCCB offers what seems to be an endless variety of publications, with plenty of nerdy and meticulously designed items to make your reading habits more interesting.
For some, it may lack the charm of antique bookshops, but this University store is still equipped and cosy enough to please even the pickiest of book lovers.
9. Art Montfalcon
Just as promised by its slogan, Art Montfalcon is a store to discover and a place to feel. First of all, this venue is by far the largest souvenir shop in Barcelona, which makes it an endless playground for exploring. Everything from accessories, handcrafts made by local artists and wall art to indestructible city maps and gadgets can be found here, in the heart of Barri Gotic.
And, besides being so big that it’s quite easy to get lost browsing, Art Montfalcon is a store with a lot of sentiment – each of its items has been selected carefully to reflect the city and to, once you return home, make it vivid in your memory.
10. Carrer Riera Baixa
If your favourite shopping choice is a market, Barcelona streets are bound to amaze you. In the centre of urban Raval, the Riera Baixa street turns into a bazaar every Saturday, with each of its stores spilling their stocks outside and loud rock’n’roll playing from the record shops. For vintage clothes and accessories, fortunately, Riera Baixa has plenty of those; stop by Motel, Lullaby, Lailo or La Vella Maia.
Somewhere in between, Kilostore is a fantastic boutique that price clothes according to their weight – instead of paying for the item, here, you’ll be paying by the material.
Beautifully diverse, Barcelona offers something for everyone’s taste. Yet, handmade arts & crafts remain the city’s first love, and for those enthusiastic about quirky tokens of remembrance, the Catalan capital is an endless labyrinth of lucky finds.