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Sant Andreu — the core of which formally is Sant Andreu de Palomar — traces its origin as a village to the eleventh century. Even though it was annexed by Barcelona in 1897, it still retains much of its small-scale structure and charm.
Although the forthcoming regional high-speed train station — Barcelona Sagrera Alta Velocitat — inevitably will bring more visitors to this side of the city, Sant Andreu had barely a mention on the big tourist advisory sites at the time that travelgasm.com first published this piece. It definitely is a worthy selection for our 7 Things Tourists Don't Do in Barcelona, but You Should.
One of the first things that an attentive visitor to Sant Andreu will notice is that the signage and language spoken on the street is much more likely to be Catalan rather than Spanish. As is not uncommon for suburbs in Barcelona, Sant Andreu is a more specifically Catalan area than the center of the city. The center of Barcelona still is Catalan, naturally, but also is more Spanish and internationalized alike. We never tried speaking English in Sant Andreu — and in our experience, Spanish is sufficient for service — but you definitely shouldn't assume or expect English proficiency. No doubt, if you can speak even a bit of Catalan, you should, and it will be greatly appreciated.
Our Favorite Stroll through Sant Andreu
Sant Andreu has an attractive church as its focal point — Església de Sant Andreu de Palomar, built in 1881 — as well as a massive community center — Fabra i Coats — housed in a converted factory, but it does not really have attractions of particular note to tourists.
However, Sant Andreu is an especially good neighborhood to just enjoy being alive for a bit; the walk itself is the attraction. A great city makes a walk to the grocery store pleasant, after all.
We have mapped out our favorite walk from Sant Andreu Station to Fabra i Puig Station via Plaça d'Orfila, Carrer de l'Ajuntament, Plaça del Comerç, Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu, and Rambla de Fabra i Puig.
Carrer de l'Ajuntament is a people-only street connecting Plaça d'Orfila by the church to Plaça del Comerç, the commercial heart of the old village. Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu is the primary retail corridor (high street), but it is narrow and tree lined with more space for people than vehicles. Finally, Rambla de Fabra i Puig is a people-priority street with a wide center corridor for strolling and sidewalk cafes. Rambla de Fabra i Puig terminates at the unpleasant Avinguda Meridiana, but Barcelona is hard at work making this major avenue better for people on foot, too.
Where to Eat in Sant Andreu
To eat in the neighborhood, the best sit down option is Versalles. Established in 1915 and housed in Modernisme architectural gem Casa Vidal, it boasts classic Catalan cooking all the time and has an affordable set lunch on the weekends, as well. Another good option is the collection of local bars and food stands in the freshly remodeled Mercat de Sant Andreu within the historic Plaça del Mercadal.
A special thank you to Simon Harris for this suggestion. Simon has lived in Barcelona for decades and is the author of Going Native in Catalonia.
How to Get Here: Take Line 1 (Red) to Sant Andreu Station and use the Plaça d'Orfila Exit. You should pop out of the metro with the Sant Andreu de Palomar church to your left. Turn right onto the Carrer de l'Ajuntament walking street to begin our suggested walk. To depart, Rambla de Fabra i Puig falls apart one block before Fabra i Puig Station (Line 1, Red), but the left-hand side of the street is better. The Avinguda Meridiana Entrance on your left is the best option back to the metro.
travelgasm.com's Sant Andreu de Palomar Map (Full Screen)
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