Sant Martí

Sant Martí, a district in Barcelona, has undergone significant transformation in recent years, making it an area on the rise. Old factories and warehouses have been replaced by new constructions and towering skyscrapers housing high-tech companies, multinationals, start-ups, innovative co-working spaces, trendy eateries, and beautiful city parks, all close to the beach. It’s no surprise that Sant Martí is one of the most emerging areas in Barcelona, still full of undiscovered gems.

Why Should You Visit Sant Martí?

If you are well-acquainted with Barcelona’s old center and all the famous must-sees, a visit to Sant Martí, particularly the area around Poblenou, is a refreshing change. In Barcelona’s most upcoming district, old factories and warehouses are seamlessly combined with modern Barcelona of skyscrapers and trendy eateries.

Another good reason to visit Sant Martí, especially in the summer, is for its beaches, which are generally quieter than the more popular ones.

Where is Sant Martí Located?

Sant Martí is situated between the Besòs River and the center of Barcelona, bordering the sea, Sant Andreu, l’Eixample, and Horta-Guinardó.

It is easily accessible by the red (L1), yellow (L4), and purple (L2) metro lines, which cross the district.

For easy and quick movement within the neighborhood, you can also use the tram (T4, T5, T6).

Coming from Barcelona Airport El Prat, the easiest way is to take the metro to Urquinaona, where you can switch to metro line L4, or to Universitat, where you can switch to metro line L2.

Neighborhoods of Sant Martí

Sant Martí comprises the following neighborhoods (barris): El Besòs i El Maresme | El Clot | El Camp De L’Arpa Del Clot | Diagonal Mar-Front Marítim Del Poblenou | El Parc i La Llacuna Del Poblenou | El Poblenou | Provençals Del Poblenou | Sant Martí De Provençals | La Verneda i La Pau | La Vila Olímpica Del Poblenou.

These ten neighborhoods have a significant industrial past but have evolved into modern residential and office areas where old and new exist in perfect harmony.

Note: However, not all areas of Sant Martí are equally prosperous or interesting for tourists. Areas like El Besòs i El Maresme or La Verneda i La Pau are better skipped.

Poblenou Beach
Poblenou Beach

Sant Martí de Provençals: The Origin of the Neighborhood

Sant Martí de Provençals was once an extensive area stretching from the city walls of Barcelona to the shores of the Besòs River, and from the sea to Carmel Mountain. ‘Provençals‘ comes from the Latin word provincialis, used by the Romans to name plots outside the city walls. Sant Martí is the name of the first chapel built here, dedicated to Sant Martí de Tours.

The infertile land around Sant Martí de Provençals, mainly marshland, was transformed by industrialization in the mid-17th century. As a result, Sant Martí de Provençals became one of the areas with the highest concentration of industries in Spain.

Between 1716 and 1897, Sant Martí de Provençals was an independent municipality, until it was added to Barcelona, along with two other villages in the area, El Clot and El Poblenou. Inside Parc de Sant Martí, you can find traces of the historical center of Sant Martí de Provençals, including the church and a beautiful farmhouse.

El Camp de l’Arpa del Clot: Agricultural Area

El Camp de l’Arpa del Clot, located in the northern part of the neighborhood, was formerly an agricultural area until urbanization began in the mid-19th century. Witnesses to this agricultural past are the farmhouse Can Miralletes and the old passages of Sospir, Trinxant, and Pistó.

Some old factories, like Costa i Font (Carrer de Freser, 103), have been preserved, while others have been converted into community institutions, like the old Alchemika factory (Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 356), where the famous mop brand Mik was produced.

Other important gathering places for residents include the pleasant walking promenade Carrer de Rogent and the square Plaça de Can Robacols.

El Clot: The Honey Makers

El Clot is one of the oldest parts of San Martí, known since the Middle Ages for its rich agriculture and excellent honey. This area was known as Clotum Melis: hole of honey. Only a few of the old farmhouses remain today, such as Torre de Sant Joan.

From the 14th century, El Clot became one of the main centers for flour production. Industrialization began to penetrate the area in the 19th century. Factories like La Farinera del Clot and Can Budesca are some examples. The industrialization attracted many workers to El Clot, transforming it into a labor and industrial area.

Old worker houses can be seen on Carrer del Clot. Today, this street is one of the favorite places for residents, along with the lively Plaça de Font i Sagué and Parc del Clot. The old town hall at Plaça de Joan Casanelles is a direct witness to the times when El Clot was an independent village.

El Clot - Sant Martí Barcelona
El Clot

El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou: The 22@ District

The neighborhood of El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou actually consists of two areas: El Parc (the park) and Llacuna del Poblenou (the lagoon of Poblenou). El Parc, located between Parc de la Ciutadella, Estació del Nord bus station, and Carrer de la Marina, was traditionally an industrial area with numerous factories, like the Cacaolat factory, and workers’ houses. The old factory buildings and warehouses have now been replaced by concert venues, modern offices, trendy lofts, and a lot of street art.

Around Carrer de Tànger lies Llacuna del Poblenou, an area that has been vigorously developed since 2000 to become Barcelona’s technological hub, the so-called 22@ district. The Torre Glòries (formerly Torre Agbar) by Jean Nouvel is the emblem of the neighborhood, which is rich in modern architectural masterpieces, such as the brand-new Mercat dels Encants Vells, the steel construction of the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) at Carrer de Bolívia number 56, and the futuristic Edifici MediaTIC building at Carrer de Roc Boronat number 117.

El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou - Sant Martí Barcelona
El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou

The neighborhood’s handling of its industrial heritage is evident in places such as the Campus del Poblenou of the Pompeu Fabra University, where the old chimney and part of the Can Framis factory have been preserved.

Other attractions in the area include the Disseny Hub Barcelona design museum and the Can Framis Museum of Contemporary Art, while shopping enthusiasts can enjoy the Glòries shopping center.

El Poblenou: Hip and Industrial

El Poblenou emerged in the lower part of the neighborhood closest to the sea, around Plaça de Prim and the current Carrer de Ramon Turró. For centuries, this was an area of marshes and lagoons, surrounded by reeds; a landscape still recalled in the street names Llacuna (lagoon) and Joncar (reed). The abundance of water, large spaces, and low land prices attracted many industries to build their factories here. By the end of the 19th century, El Poblenou had the largest industrial concentration in Spain, to the point that it was known as the Catalan Manchester.

Throughout the 20th century, Poblenou developed as a residential and industrial area, with significant population growth and the emergence of large shantytowns like Somorrostro, Pequín, and Transcementiri.

The arrival of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics marked a turning point for the neighborhood: old factories and warehouses were demolished or renovated, modern buildings took their place and effortlessly blended with older buildings, resulting in an area full of contrasts.

Thus, El Poblenou is now affectionately called the ‘Brooklyn of Barcelona’ and attracts many young people with a penchant for industrial design. The countless trendy eateries with an industrial look found here also contribute to its appeal.

Popular attractions include the Rambla del Poblenou, Poblenou Beach, and the Cementiri de Poblenou cemetery.

👉 Explore the old and new parts of Poblenou during this walking tour.

El Poblenou - Sant Martí Barcelona
El Poblenou

Diagonal Mar i el Front Marítim del Poblenou: Modern Beach District

Diagonal Mar i el Front Marítim del Poblenou is one of Barcelona’s newest neighborhoods. To the east is the site of the 2004 Forum of Cultures, now functioning as a public park, surrounded by modern skyscrapers, office buildings, and hotels.

The Diagonal Mar shopping center and the Diagonal Mar Park, designed by Enric Miralles, are two of the area’s attractions, along with the beach, of course.

Only around Carrer dels Pellaires do we see traces of the past, in the old industrial workshops and studios of Palo Alto and the El Besòs water tower.

Diagonal Mar i el Front Marítim del Poblenou - Sant Martí Barcelona
Diagonal Mar i el Front Marítim del Poblenou

El Besòs i el Maresme: The Suburbs

El Besòs i el Maresme, located on the border with Sant Adrià de Besòs, is the result of the massive housing construction that took place in the 1950s and 1960s due to enormous shortages. The central street of the neighborhood is Rambla de Prim, flanked by huge apartment buildings.

This suburb is known as a less safe area, especially due to its proximity to La Mina, a notorious problem neighborhood in Sant Adrià de Besòs, adjacent to Barcelona. However, the development of the area in recent years has been positively influenced by the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004, the Diagonal-Besòs university campus, modern skyscrapers and luxury hotels, and the proximity to the 22@ district and Diagonal Mar shopping center.

Since 2019, a memorial monument for the victims of the Franco regime, the so-called Espai Memorial Camp de la Bota, has been located at Plaça del Fòrum.

Forum gebied Barcelona
Fòrum area in Barcelona

La Verneda i La Pau: Residential Area

La Verneda i La Pau, situated in the northernmost part of Rambla de Prim above Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, is a suburb characterized by high-rise buildings and apartment complexes, but with more green spaces between the blocks.

The urbanization of the area began in the 1950s on Via Trajana. The name refers to the trees that grew here outside the rivers, the verns (black alder), and to the celebration of 25 years of peace after the civil war, la pau (peace). At Plaça de la Palmera, there’s still a chimney from an old factory that once stood here.

La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou: The Olympic Village

La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou, often shortened to Vila Olímpica, was built as the residence for athletes participating in the 1992 Olympics. Hence its name ‘Olympic Village‘. The design of Vila Olímpica, which transformed into a real residential area after the games, was led by the team Bohigas-Martorell-Mackay-Puigdomènech. This project revitalized this heavily industrialized coastal area and opened new spaces for recreation such as Port Olímpic, the parks of El Port and Nova Icària, and Nova Icària beach.

Pompeu Fabra University also has its address here, situated in a former barracks. But the biggest landmark of the neighborhood remains the Torre Mapfre, which, alongside Hotel Arts, flanks Barcelona’s coastline.

👉 Read more here about the Olympic Games of Barcelona.

La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou - Sant Martí Barcelona
La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou

Provençals del Poblenou: Among the Factories

Provençals del Poblenou is located right in the middle of the district, hence its name being a mix of its two most famous neighbors, Sant Martí de Provençals and El Poblenou. From its industrial past, many factories have been preserved; some fully renovated, such as Oliva Artés, Ca l’Alier, and Can Jaumandreu; while others have fallen into decay, like Can Ricart and La Escocesa, still waiting for a new future.

The neighborhood is still dotted with warehouses and factories, combined with apartment buildings and modern office complexes. Parc del Centre del Poblenou, designed by Jean Nouvel, is one of the newest additions to the area, also benefiting from the development of the @22 district. It is not yet as beautiful or refurbished as its neighbor El Poblenou, but this gives the place a unique and exciting vibe.

Provençals del Poblenou - Sant Martí Barcelona
Parc Central del Poblenou

Guide to Sant Martí

Sant Martí is characterized by its industrial past, which gives the district a unique character and special aura. It has also become a hub for high-tech companies and large multinationals that have set up their offices in the new 22@ district. If you want to know the district like a true local, follow my tips! Discover the most important sights in the district, its past as an industrial area and what remains of the old villages, and enjoy the trendy eateries and cool street art murals.

Must-See Attractions in Sant Martí

Most tourists visit Sant Martí for the beaches, but the district has much more to offer! Especially the area of El Poblenou, with its long Rambla del Poblenou lined with cozy terraces, deserves your attention. Although many parts of the district are still under development, there are enough attractions to add to your to-do list.

  • Rambla del Poblenou: This long promenade is the quieter version of the famous Ramblas and is mainly visited by locals who come to stroll and have a bite at one of the many terraces, bars, and restaurants.
  • Torre Glòries (Torre Agbar): The peculiar skyscraper by Jean Nouvel is definitely worth a visit. It’s beautifully lit at night.
  • Mercat dels Encants Vells: Also known as Fira del Bellcaire. This open-air flea market is the oldest and largest in Barcelona.
  • Parc del Centre del Poblenou: The beautiful city park by the same architect as Torre Glòries is divided into three parts and includes the MUHBA Oliva Artés.
  • The Beach Area: In Sant Martí, there are six different beaches (one for the gay community and another for people with dogs) and two harbors, Port Olímpic and Port Fòrum. The maritime past of the district is best experienced at the quiet Plaça de Prim, also known as the fishermen’s square.
  • Port Olímpic: During the day, you can stroll and dine at one of the many fish restaurants at the Olympic harbor, while at night, you can party at one of the many nightclubs and discos.
  • Cementiri de Poblenou: This cemetery is the final resting place of several celebrities and features many art and interesting sculptures, like the “Petó de la mort” (kiss of death) by Jaume Barba from 1930.
  • Can Framis: The old Can Framis factory is now part of the Pompeu Fabra University’s Poblenou Campus and is a beautiful example of how an old factory can be transformed into something new. Just outside the university, you can find the Can Framis Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Disseny Hub Barcelona: A museum for design enthusiasts with regular new exhibitions on everything related to design, fashion, marketing, and advertising.
Torre Glòries in Barcelona bezoeken
Torre Glòries

Fun Things to Do in Sant Martí

Sant Martí is a real neighborhood where you’ll encounter only a handful of tourists, except on the beach or strolling along the Rambla del Poblenou. Sant Martí, particularly the area around Poblenou, offers plenty of great places to go, from museums and attractions to the tastiest eateries and the coolest hotspots.

  • Shopping in Sant Martí: There are two top shopping centers in Sant Martí; Les Glòries and Diagonal Mar, but the real highlight is the open-air flea market held weekly under the shiny roof of Plaça de Glòries; the Mercat dels Encants Vells. Also not to be missed is the Palo Alto Market, a trendy market full of food stalls and cool items, held every first weekend of the month.
  • Beach Lounging: Whether you’re taking a beach walk, a dip in the sea, or sitting at the chiringuitos on the beach; the beaches of Sant Martí are a wonderful place to relax among the locals.
  • Exploring Industrial Heritage: During your visit to Sant Martí, get acquainted with its industrial past and visit some of the old factories that still exist. Some have been converted and you can visit them; others are half in ruins behind locks but can be seen from the outside.
  • Spotting Street Art: Sant Martí is a popular district among street art artists, so you can spot a lot of street art during a walk. For example, join a street art bike tour to discover the coolest murals.
  • Photogenic Corners: From the white fishermen’s houses at Plaça de Prim, to the old dilapidated factories of La Escocesa and Cacaolat, the brand-new skyscrapers or renovated warehouses. On almost every corner, you can be surprised by another nice spot or a cool street art mural to photograph.
  • Coffee Hotspots: Partly due to its location among all the modern office buildings, Poblenou has excellent coffee shops in the most hip and inspiring spaces. For a good cup of coffee and some inspiration, visit Espai Joliu, Nomad Roaster’s Home, and SKYE Coffee Co.
  • Fine Dining: In Poblenou, the number of new restaurants is mushrooming, especially in and around Rambla del Poblenou. Vegetarian restaurants (such as Sopa and Nabibi Vital Cooking), new concepts like a croquette restaurant (Catacroqueta), superfood restaurants (Foodies Barcelona), and Asian restaurants (Koh) have recently opened their doors here.
  • The Most Beautiful Public Library: The brand-new Gabriel García Márquez Library was declared the best public library in the world in 2023 and is well worth a visit. The library specializes in Latin American literature and is named after the Colombian Nobel Prize winner for Literature, García Márquez, who lived in Barcelona from 1967 to 1975.
  • Great Views of the Neighborhood: The old water tower Torre de les Aigües del Besòs is now open to the public and offers a unique view of the neighborhood from its top.
  • Studying in an Old Water Reservoir: The Pompeu Fabra University library is located in a very special location, inside an old water reservoir that used to supply water to the fountains at Parc de la Ciutadella. The old Dipòsit de les Aigües has now been converted into a beautiful library that you can also visit.
  • Mingle Among the Locals: If you want to go completely ‘the local way’ and sit among the locals at the bar or do your shopping, head to the shopping streets Carrer del Clot and Carrer de Rogent, which are still relatively undiscovered by the general public.
Pompeu Fabra - Wandeltour El Poblenou
Pompeu Fabra

Sant Martí with Kids

Sant Martí is a very child-friendly district. Many young families, attracted by the new construction projects, job opportunities, and the vibrant atmosphere around Poblenou, have chosen to settle here. This translates into a wide range of kid-friendly activities and places suitable for children. Moreover, the beach is just around the corner, which is always pleasant!

A major advantage of Sant Martí for families with children is the abundance of parks with children’s playgrounds. In places like Parc del Centre del Poblenou, Parc de la Diagonal Mar, and Parc del Clot, they can have hours of fun at one of the many playgrounds. Don’t miss the slide park at Parc de la Diagonal Mar and the Gran Clariana: here you will find all kinds of cool slides suitable for children of all ages.

Besides the fine sandy beach and the many parks with children’s playgrounds, there are plenty of other places to discover with the kids, such as the skate park in Mar Bella, the children’s farm with orchard Can Cadena, or the natural history museum Museu Blau.

On Carrer de Marià Aguiló, you will also find the coolest children’s stores for shopping and the nicest and most child-friendly restaurants for a bite to eat. My favorite cafe for kids is Ideal Poble Nou, and for playing, Parc del Clot.

Parc de la Diagonal Mar - Leuke speeltuinen in Barcelona
Parc de la Diagonal Mar

Events in Sant Martí

Sant Martí, and especially the esplanade at Parc del Fòrum, is a place where large festivals and events often take place. But there is also plenty of fun to be had in the old warehouses of the district. Some of the biggest events are listed below.

  • Palo Alto Market: This creative lifestyle market is organized every first weekend of the month in the old Palo Alto factory complex.
  • Porkada del Clot: A festival in January for Sant Antoni Abat where pigs play the main role. With workshops and food around Mercat del Clot and a spectacular correfoc (fire run).
  • Llum BCN: Barcelona’s light festival takes place every year in February in El Poblenou.
  • The Calçot Festival: In March, a calçot festival is held in Parc del Clot where, in addition to calçots (a kind of Catalan spring onions) with romesco sauce, butifarres (Catalan sausage) and some tapas are enjoyed.
  • Feria de Abril: Each spring, this fair is held on the grounds of the Fòrum. A beautiful event of Andalusian folklore, music, and dance, with a fun fair for the kids.
  • SoundEat: This music and food festival regularly returns to Parc del Fòrum to offer the tastiest snacks and the finest music.
  • Primavera Sound: In early June, Primavera Sound takes place in Parc del Fòrum, one of the city’s largest and most popular music festivals.
  • Barcelona Beach Festival: Another cool summer festival is the Barcelona Beach Festival, which, as the name suggests, takes place on the beach.
  • Festival Cruïlla: In July, this cool three-day music festival takes place in Parc del Fòrum.
  • Poblenou Open Day: During this event, the doors of numerous art studios, advertising agencies, showrooms, restaurants, and stores in El Poblenou open to bring their work and passion closer to the public.
  • New Year’s Eve: A special light show is always given on the Torre Glòries during New Year’s Eve.

Eating in Sant Martí

Dining in Sant Martí is wonderful, as there are so many good eateries and hotspots to choose from! Whether you opt for a traditional fish restaurant, tapas, or want to go vegetarian for a day. Some of my favorite addresses in Sant Martí are listed below.

Coffee and Bakeries

  • Espai Joliu (Carrer de Badajoz, 95): Order a delicious cup of coffee surrounded by many plants.
  • Can Dende (Carrer de la Ciutat de Granada, 44): The best brunch spot in the neighborhood by far.
  • Ideal Poble Nou (Carrer de Marià Aguiló, 103-77): A cozy and child-friendly café, perfect for a tasty snack. They have a covered terrace and a children’s play area and changing room.

Lunch Spots

  • Xiringuito Escribà (Av. del Litoral, 62): Renowned paella restaurant on the beach. Reservation necessary.
  • Sopa Boronat (Carrer de Roc Boronat, 114): Hip and vegetarian lunch spot in Poblenou. Also very child-friendly, with changing facilities and high chairs.
  • El 58 (Rambla del Poblenou, 58): A hidden restaurant on Rambla del Poblenou offering a delicious and well-priced lunch menu.


  • Can Recasens (Rambla del Poblenou, 102): A traditional restaurant specializing in charcuterie and famous for its richly filled snack platters.
  • Els Tres Porquets (Rambla del Poblenou, 165): Spanish restaurant with an excellent wine selection.
  • Sa Tramuntana (Carrer del Dr. Trueta, 225): An original bistro bar for the whole family with a pleasant courtyard at the back. Try the authentic Mallorcan products offered here such as the sobrasada and various cold cuts.

Tapas Bars

  • La Pubilla del Taulat (Carrer de Llull, 147): Traditional tapas bar with a varied selection of tapas and pintxos, open since 1886.
  • El Ramblero (Carrer del Pont del Treball Digne, 13): Culinary spot in a very unexpected location, with tapas in generous portions and a menu for connoisseurs.
  • Chiringuito Las Sardinitas (Av. del Litoral, 36): A nice place to eat tapas outdoors on the terrace with a view of the sea!

Drinking and Going Out in Sant Martí

Especially the areas of Marina and Port Olímplic (which belong to Sant Martí) are important entertainment centers in Barcelona. The Sant Martí district also has many concert venues and small theaters for emerging artists. Some nightlife tips:

  • Balius Bar (Carrer de Pujades, 196): A super nice place for a drink.
  • Bharma (Carrer de Pere IV, 93): Original bar themed around the TV series Lost.
  • Razzmatazz (Carrer dels Almogàvers, 122): Famous nightclub with no fewer than five different music halls where concerts are also regularly held.

Staying in Sant Martí

Staying in Sant Martí is advisable if you want to be near the beach or if you have an event or trade show at the Fòrum. It’s also an excellent option if you want to see something different from Barcelona. Especially the part of up-and-coming Poblenou is highly recommended: you are among the locals, within walking distance of the beach, and relatively close to the center thanks to the metro. Not to mention the countless trendy hotspots and exciting events.