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What Not to Do in Barcelona

by Suzanne Wales

Don't…
Shop for Designer Goods in El Born

The ancient little enclave of El Born is a blueprint for the perils of gentrification. When it made the leap in the mid-1990s from a slightly risqué nightlife precinct to fashionista hangout, owner-run boutiques and galleries mushroomed along with property prices. Only the more determined among them have been able to withstand the spiraling rents, and these days El Born's retail outlets no longer have the cutting-edge cool factor that made the neighborhood famous. There are a few exceptions, of course, particularly just outside El Born's knotty nucleus of tiny streets. Just don't expect to find your vacation's defining fashion purchase in this neck of the woods.

Instead…
Shop in Laidback Gràcia

Gràcia is an up-and-coming neighborhood to the north, dotted with organic food shops, yoga studios, and a number of colorful little boutiques radiating the district's homespun vibe. The Carrer d'Astúries is a good place to start, where you'll find trendsetting, eco-chic footwear from the Menorcan cobblers Nagore (pictured) and a yummy range of children's wear at LulaLibéla. On tree-lined Carrer de Verdi, seek out Freya for candy-colored acrylic jewelry and accessories, and Terciopelo for madcap party shoes. Gràcia's little squares and narrow streets make for relaxed retail therapy. Get lost, take it slow, and then reward yourself with the most divine organic ice cream at Bodevici.

Next: Slim pickings for culture vultures >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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