Sants-Montjuïc is the largest district in Barcelona, covering an area of 2,090 hectares. The actual size of the district is significantly larger when you include uninhabited areas like the Zona Franca business park and a large portion of Montjuïc. Given its history of housing many factories, it’s no surprise that its population primarily consisted of workers. Today, most factories have been removed from the landscape, making way for a vibrant neighborhood unknown to many tourists, yet well worth discovering.

Why should you visit Sants-Montjuïc?

Most tourists don’t venture beyond the Montjuïc mountain and Sants Estació (the latter only if they need to use the train), but the Sants-Montjuïc neighborhood offers plenty of interesting sights and hidden gems to explore. It is highly recommended for those who want to venture off the beaten path and experience Barcelona as the locals do.

Where is Sants-Montjuïc located?

Sants-Montjuïc is situated in the southwestern part of the city, bordered by the sea, El Prat del Llobregat, l’Hospitalet del Llobregat, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, l’Eixample, and Ciutat Vella. It is easily accessible by metro and train. The best metro stops for exploring the neighborhoods are Espanya (L1, L3, L8), Badal (L5), and Sants (L3, L5).

If you are coming from Barcelona Airport, the most convenient option is to use the Aerobús shuttle buses, which take you from the airport to Plaça Espanya, or the R2 Nord train to Sants Estació.

Sants-Montjuïc: Neighborhood by Neighborhood

Sants-Montjuïc is composed of the following neighborhoods: El Poble-sec | Hostafrancs | La Bordeta | La Font de la Guatlla | La Marina de Port | La Marina del Prat Vermell | Sants | Sants-Badal (along with Montjuïc mountain and the Zona Franca industrial area). It’s a true working-class area, visited mostly by locals, offering a glimpse of the authentic Barcelona.

Montjuïc: The Olympic City Hill

Montjuïc, with its museums, parks, Olympic stadiums, and sports facilities, is an exceptional place for both city residents and tourists. This area, also known as Parc de Montjuïc, is uninhabited. Over the years, Montjuïc has served the city in various ways: as a quarry, cemetery, prison, or amusement park. It also hosted the 1929 World Fair and the 1992 Olympic Games!

Today, Montjuïc is a retreat for Barcelona residents, who enjoy relaxing in its numerous parks or pools, or entertaining themselves at its museums, concert venues, and events. Fira de Barcelona, the host of most of the city’s fairs and business events, also attracts many visitors to Montjuïc.

Popular tourist attractions in Montjuïc include the Magic Fountain with its spectacular water show; the Anella Olímpica and Santiago Calatrava’s communication tower to relive the Olympic Games; the Palau Nacional to admire the art collection of the MNAC; the Fundació Miró to experience the work of Miró up close; the Spanish Village to discover more of Spain, and Montjuïc Castle for its views.

👉 Read more about the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

El Poble-sec: A Multicultural Neighborhood

El Poble-sec (or Poble Sec) extends from the northern slope of Montjuïc to Avinguda del Paral·lel. It began growing in the mid-19th century as the first expansion of Barcelona, even before Ildefons Cerdà designed the Eixample. Although close to the old center, Poble Sec was less valued due to its steep roads and was not included in Cerdà’s Eixample plan. However, this area was the first to be developed, as it faced less pressure. Developers exploited this, building here without the restrictions and strict rules of the Eixample plan. The suburbs of França Xica, Santa Madrona, and les Hortes de Sant Bertran first emerged in 1858, becoming home to many workers and migrants.

Poble Sec has maintained its character as a multicultural neighborhood by welcoming immigrants and being a residence for many migrants. It is one of the city’s most colorful districts, evident in its diverse tea houses and foreign shops. Notable spots include the lively Plaça del Sortidor and Carrer Blai, where locals enjoy beers and tapas on terraces. This street is also known as Barcelona’s pintxos street due to its many pintxos bars. Another attraction is the square of the three chimneys, Parc de les Tres Xemeneies, offering an interesting mix of industrial heritage and ultra-modern architecture. Additionally, Barcelona’s Moulin Rouge, El Molino, is a well-known feature of the neighborhood.

La Font de la Guatlla: An Oasis of Tranquility

La Font de la Guatlla, nestled between Gran Via and Montjuïc, is a remarkably quiet area consisting of row houses with gardens – quite unusual in a city like Barcelona. The street names, such as Dahlia, Chrysanthemum, Lotus, and Begonia, reflect the natural surroundings. It’s known locally as the flower neighborhood.

The area’s most famous building is the old Casaramona factory, now the CaixaForum cultural and social center. The Provincial Traffic department is located a bit further in the La Campana building.

Hostafrancs: A Working-Class Neighborhood

Hostafrancs, situated between Gran Via and Sants, has always been a working-class area. Since its inception in the mid-19th century, many workers were drawn here by the job opportunities in the Sants factories and the commercial artery Creu Coberta. Carrer de la Creu Coberta, Carrer Consell de Cent, and the surrounding streets near the Mercat d’Hostafrancs market still form the neighborhood’s heartbeat. Interesting to note, Carrer de la Creu Coberta and Carrer de Sants together form Barcelona’s (and even Spain’s) longest shopping street.

La Bordeta: The Courthouse

The La Bordeta neighborhood grew along the road from Barcelona to Sant Boi de Llobregat, in the area between Hostafrancs and Hospitalet de Llobregat. Its industrial past is still evident in places like Can Batlló, a massive textile factory that transformed into a hub for small and medium industries and creative workshops after 1964.

The Rambla de Badal is a popular meeting spot for locals who enjoy strolling here. Cultural center La Magòria and the parish of Sant Medir also play a significant role in the area’s social and cultural activities. This was one of the strongholds of underground politics in the city and country during the Civil War and the end of the Franco regime. However, La Bordeta mainly attracts visitors because of the Ciutat Judicial, literally translated as “Judicial City,” due to the large number of courts located there.

Sants: The Old Village

Sants, the largest and oldest part of Sants-Montjuïc and formerly known as Santa Maria de Sants, developed along the old Camí Ral (Royal Road), now Carrer de Sants, also known as Carretera de Sants. The name ‘Sants’ originates from a Roman settlement called Sanctis, with some graves found near the church of Santa Maria de Sants.

With the arrival of industries and the railway in the first half of the 19th century, the area experienced significant growth, encouraged by merchants fleeing the taxes of Barcelona and settling along Carretera de Sants. The former rural village transformed into an industrial suburb that enjoyed fifty years of municipal autonomy before being annexed to Barcelona in 1897.

Despite the annexation, Sants retained many of its unique village characteristics. Old factories like Vapor Vell were repurposed, new urban parks such as Parc de l’Espanya Industrial and Jardins de la Rambla de Sants were created, and the neighborhood gained one of the city’s major train stations: Estació de Sants. Carrer de Sants remains one of the busiest shopping streets in the neighborhood, and together with the lively Plaça d’Osca and Mercat de Sants, it is a favorite spot among locals.

Sants-Badal: The Border Area

Originally the western end of Sants, Sants-Badal was separated from its neighbor by the Ronda del Mig, forming a boundary area between Barcelona and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. Carrer de la Riera Blanca, less than 20 meters wide in most parts, marks the actual border between Barcelona and L’Hospitalet del Llobregat. Since the covering of Ronda del Mig, now Rambla de Brasil, the barrier between the neighborhoods has disappeared.

The social life of residents in Sants-Badal centers around Plaça de l’Olivereta, where an old chimney of the Fàbrica Celograf still stands. Next to it is the old Fàbrica Arañó, Ventajó Cia., later owned by Manufactures Serra i Balet, which now serves as a swimming pool and fitness center.

La Marina del Prat Vermell: A New Development Area

La Marina del Prat Vermell, a new development area west of Montjuïc between La Marina de Port and the harbor area, is still under development with no major attractions.

Zona Franca: The Industrial Area

The Zona Franca industrial park, situated between the port and airport, is the hub for all logistics activities and the gateway for most goods in Barcelona. In the 1950s, it was home to the Seat car factory, one of the most significant symbols of the city’s economic growth.

Guide to Sants-Montjuïc

The Sants-Montjuïc district will surprise visitors with its rich history and diversity: from the magnificent museums and city parks on Montjuïc, the vibrant streets of Sants, the colorful Poble Sec where you truly sit among locals, to the tranquility of La Font de la Guatlla. To experience this district like a true local, follow my tips! Visit the main attractions, dine at the best eateries, shop along Spain’s longest shopping street, and discover the charm of this neighborhood while walking.

Key Attractions in Sants-Montjuïc

Most of the attractions in Sants-Montjuïc are found on Montjuïc, which was entirely refurbished for the 1929 World Fair and later for the 1992 Olympic Games. Be sure not to miss the following must-sees in Sants-Montjuïc.

  • Montjuïc Castle: an old castle with beautiful views atop Montjuïc hill. The most enjoyable way to get there is undoubtedly by the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car.
  • Magic Fountain: the popular water, music, and light show of the Magic Fountain is displayed every weekend at the foot of Montjuïc.
  • Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC): situated in the privileged Palau Nacional, this museum offers a stunning collection of top artists from Catalonia.
  • Fundació Miró: the Miró museum showcases the largest collection of this Catalan artist, specializing in modern and colorful art.
  • Anella Olímpica: discover the atmosphere of the Olympic Games in Barcelona and visit the Olympic stadium.
  • Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village): an open-air museum from the 1929 World Fair showcasing the best of Spain’s culture and architecture.
  • Parc de l’Espanya Industrial: characterized by its futuristic lighthouses and a giant steel dragon, this park is a haven of peace next to the bustling Sants Estació.
  • Jardins de la Rambla de Sants: Barcelona’s ‘Highline Park,’ similar to its American counterpart, is situated above a railway track and is a beautiful promenade to walk through.
  • Refugi antiaèri 307: the air-raid shelter in Poble Sec was built during the civil war and could shelter up to 2000 people.

Fun Things to Do in Sants-Montjuïc

In Sants-Montjuïc, you can hang out culturally, eat deliciously among the locals, shop, or immerse yourself in nature on Montjuïc hill.

  • Visit City Parks: Montjuïc offers a variety of interesting and beautiful parks to explore. From the cactus garden in Jardins Mossèn Costa i Llobera and the cat fountain in Jardins de Laribal to the hidden Greek amphitheater of Jardins del Teatre Grec, these city parks are perfect for visiting with children.
  • Swim with a View: during the summer months, the open-air swimming pool Piscines Municipals Montjuïc opens, offering a chance to swim with a fantastic view of the city.
  • Hike or Run in the Hills: various walking paths on Montjuïc hill are perfect for hikers or avid runners. A local favorite is Camí del Mar, parallel to the sea, providing fantastic views of the harbor and city.
  • Beautiful Views: from almost any point on Montjuïc, you’re guaranteed beautiful views of Barcelona, the harbor, and nearby cities like l’Hospitalet del Llobregat.
  • Visit Old Factory Buildings: if you’re into industrial heritage, take a trip around Sants-Montjuïc to learn about the area’s industrial past. Still visible are the old factories of Can Batlló, Vapor Vell, Casaramona, and the three chimneys of Poble Sec.
  • Attend Concerts or Theater Performances: theaters and concert halls along Plaça de Margarida Xirgu (Mercat de les Flors, Teatre Lliure de Montjuïc) and Avinguda Paral.lel (Teatre Apolo, Teatre Victòria, Teatre Condal, El Molino) offer unique performances. Regular concerts and events also take place on Montjuïc.
  • Dine on Barcelona’s Pintxos Street: for tasty and affordable food, head to the tapas bars on Carrer Blai, many specializing in Basque pintxos – slices of bread topped with delicious bites, secured with a toothpick. Each bite costs around €1 or €1.50.
  • Enjoy a Beer Among Locals: for a true local experience, visit the lively bars around the plazas and enjoy a cold beer or vermut on the terrace among the locals.
  • Shopping in Sants-Montjuïc: shop among the locals on Carrer de Sants and Carrer d’Hostafrancs. This 4 km long shopping street, the longest in the city and Spain, offers plenty of stores to satisfy all your shopping needs. Along the way, you’ll encounter beautiful buildings and market halls like Mercat d’Hostafrancs and Mercat de Sants. Fashion enthusiasts can hit the nearby Gran Via 2. This brand-new shopping center is in l’Hospitalet but easily accessible from Sants-Montjuïc, featuring hundreds of stores under one roof.
  • Visit Montjuïc’s Cemetery: this cemetery on Montjuïc hill contains numerous mausoleums, niches, and graves, including some famous personalities. The ground graves and mausoleums are special attractions, as many are true artworks by great artists.

With Kids in Sants-Montjuïc

Montjuïc is a great adventure park for the little ones. They can have fun in numerous playgrounds, discover new things in places like the Botanical Garden, the Spanish Village, or the Miró Museum, and later enjoy a family meal of paella at Restaurant Martínez. A popular spot for families with young children in Sants is El Petit Príncep, a child-friendly café with a large play area for kids.

Events in Sants-Montjuïc

With many stages around Avinguda Paral.lel, Plaça de Margarida Xirgu, and on Montjuïc hill, there’s always something happening in this district! Below are some of the major events.

  • Mercat de la Terra Slow Food: a farmers’ market held every Saturday at the Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies.
  • Barnasants: a music festival featuring local singer-songwriters, held between January and April.
  • Sant Medir: traditionally, a parade is held through the streets of La Bordeta around the church of Parròquia de Sant Medir every Sunday after Sant Medir (March 3rd).
  • Ciutat Flamenco: an annual flamenco festival taking place at the Mercat de les Flors in spring.
  • Brunch in Festival: Barcelona’s Sunday festival. Brunch in organizes the Brunch in the Park every Sunday during the summer months, and in spring and autumn, Brunch in the City.
  • Open-Air Cinema Sala Montjuïc: open-air movie nights held on Montjuïc hill during the summer are highly recommended.
  • Summer Evenings at Castell de Montjuïc: enjoy live music at the Castle of Montjuïc every Friday night in June and every Sunday night in July and August.
  • Teatre Grec: a summer festival in the Jardins del Teatre Grec centered around music, dance, and theater.
  • Festa Major de Sants: the neighborhood festival of Sants is famous for its beautifully decorated streets and offers numerous parties and activities for all ages.

Dining in Sants-Montjuïc

Besides the pintxos bars on Carrer Blai and some fine dining spots on Montjuïc hill, the bars and restaurants of Sants-Montjuïc are not well-known to the general public. However, there are certainly hidden gems worth trying! Below are some of my favorite dining spots in Sants-Montjuïc.

Coffee and Bakeries

  • Spice Café (Carrer de Margarit, 13): a trendy café with excellent carrot cake and other treats.
  • Cafeteria Palmer (Plaça de Santa Madrona, 1): an authentic coffee shop and peaceful spot for a delicious coffee.
  • Casa Vives (Carrer de Sants, 74): a traditional bakery offering a variety of treats. They have seating inside.

Lunch Spots

  • Timesburg Sants (Carrer del Moianès, 75): a great place for burgers in Sants.
  • Oakanda (Carrer de Lleida, 55): a hip, eco-friendly vegetarian and vegan lunch spot in Poble Sec.
  • Bodega Montferry (Carrer de Montcada, 22): a popular tapas bar in Sants. Don’t miss their bocadillo del día; a specially created sandwich for the day. Bocadillos are made with baguette bread and generously filled.


  • Pakta (Carrer d’en Quintana, 5): a restaurant by renowned chef Albert Adrià, specializing in Nikkei cuisine (a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines).
  • Restaurant Martínez (Ctra. de Miramar, 38): a great spot on Montjuïc hill for dining. Be sure to try their paellas.
  • Petit Pau (Carrer de l’Espanya Industrial, 22): a hidden gem in Hostafrancs for a unique culinary experience.

Tapas Bars

  • Casa de Tapas Cañota (Carrer de Lleida, 7): an informal tapas bar with many Galician specialties. Be sure to order their “cajita de los fritos” to enjoy various seafood delights.
  • L’Anxoveta de Sants (Carrer de Galileu, 71): an authentic tapas bar popular among locals.
  • La Tasqueta de Blai (Carrer de Blai, 17): a pintxos bar on the popular Carrer Blai.

Drinks and Nightlife in Sants-Montjuïc

Sants-Montjuïc also has several places for drinks and partying. Here are some tips:

  • Tablao de Carmen (Poble Espanyol): every evening, a flamenco show is organized at Tablao de Carmen within the Spanish Village. Your entrance ticket also grants free access to Poble Espanyol.
  • Homo Sibaris (Plaça d’Osca, 4): a beer shop and bar offering a wide variety of special beers.
  • Gran Bodega Saltó (Carrer de Blesa, 36): an extravagant bar with a unique interior. Great for a drink.

Staying in Sants-Montjuïc

Staying in Sants-Montjuïc is recommended if you need to be near Sants Estació or Fira de Barcelona, or if you want to see a different side of Barcelona. The area of Poble Sec is especially appealing, being close to the old center, within walking distance of Montjuïc and other attractions, and offering a good selection of restaurants, tapas bars, and cafes.