Although not quite in the same league as Paris or Milan, Barcelona is certainly among Europe’s cities of style. It is a natural magnet for the fashion-conscious and there is no shortage of design outlets for even the most tireless consumer. Everything from books to jewels, haute couture (local and international), designer furniture, etc. is on offer. Several markets animate squares around the centre of town.
Most of the mainstream stores can be found on a shopping ‘axis’ that looks something like the hands of a clock set at a quarter to five. From the waterfront it leads up La Rambla through Placa de Catalunya and on up Passeig de Gracia. At Avinguda Diagonal you turn left. From here as far as Placa de la Reina Maria Cristina (especially the final stretch from Placa de Francesc Macia) the Diagonal is jammed with places where you can empty your bank account. The T1 Tombbus service has been laid on for the ardent shopper and eventually a tram may run the length of Avinguda Diagonal, too.
The best shopping areas in central Barcelona are Passeig de Gracia and the streets to its southwest, including the Bulevard Rosa arcade just north of Carrer d’Arago, and Barri Gotic streets such as Carrer de la Portaferrissa, Carrer de la Boqueria, Carrer del Call, Carrer de la Llibreteria and Carrer de Ferran, and around Placa de Sant Josep Oriol.
The big department stores (such as El Corte Ingles) and shopping complexes (such as El Triangle) tend to open from 9am or 10am through to 9pm or 10pm at night, Monday to Saturday. Smaller shops often close for a few hours at lunchtime (around 2pm to 4pm).