21 Calle Castellón
Tel: 34 96 241 5395
The Carbonell family has been crafting exquisite handmade fans for four generations, since 1860. Handheld models range from the affordable ($25) to the elaborate, with one-off antique pieces selling for up to $9,000. If nothing else, visit the company's Web site to learn the sign language of fans—for example, how a señorita of yesteryear could wordlessly reprove her lover for ogling another woman, simply by passing her fan from one hand to the other.
314–316 Carrer Consell de Cent
Tel: 34 93 215 5288
Only Agatha Ruíz de la Prada could get away with wearing mismatched tights to a Spanish royal wedding. But then, such is her status in Spanish society, as a bourgeois eccentric who has built a considerable empire with her wacky clothing and bright graphics. Nearly everything the designer puts her signature to looks like a paper cutout that has been colored in with a child's paint box, albeit in an artsy-chic (and overridingly joyful) way. Unsurprisingly, her style translates well to children's wear—clownish raincoats, spotted pinafores, and the like—which you'll find along with womenswear at her Barcelona boutique. Awash in de la Prada's signature magenta, lit by fluorescent strips, and with wooden packing cases as display units, the decor befits her offbeat aesthetic.—Suzanne Wales
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10:30 am to 8:30 pm.
9 Plaza Nueva
Tel: 34 954 213 145
Agua de Sevilla is best known for its eponymous fragrance, a citrusy-floral mix just the right side of sweet. The store is a treasure trove of pretty accessoriesvelvet and satin purses decorated with tassels and beads, vibrantly colored headpieces with feathers and flowers, and embroidered silk scarves with fringed hems as worn at the Feria de Abril (Spring Fair).
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm and 5 to 9 pm. July through August, open Mondays through Fridays.
30 Avenida de la Libertad
Tel: 34 943 424 060
Avenida de la Libertad and the streets around it are San Sebastián's main hub for high-end shopping. Among the highest of the high is Auzmendi, a sort of mini–department store that's the local outpost for designers like Marc Jacobs, Versace, and Prada. Auzmendi has several shops, but this one, for womenswear, is the largest (there's a menswear shop, a block away, at 11 Avenida de la Libertad).
Closed Mondays until 4 p.m.
15 Alameda del Boulevard
Tel: 34 943 421 359
The perfect place to find a stylish, well-made handbag that won't break the bank, Boulevard 15 stocks outside brands as well as its own signature line. The designs are elegant, the materials high-quality, and at $100 or so apiece, you might as well pick up two.
19 Conde de Salvatierra
Tel: 34 96 353 4062
Calorie-counters shouldn't go anywhere near this designer chocolate emporium, which also has branches in Barcelona, Girona, and Madrid. The temptations here—and there are many—include laminas de origen (different flavored gourmet chocolate bars from a single plantation), bitter chocolate truffles, and white chocolate-covered almonds.
11 Passeig de Gràcia
Tel: 34 93 302 64 41
Established in Madrid in 1885, this exclusive jewelry and watch store has been enthusiastically adopted by fashionistas across the globe from Spanish supermodel Inés Sastre, to Gisele Bündchen and Scarlett Johansson. Each piece in this Passeig de Gràcia shop has an engraved identification number. Over-the-top styles incorporate white gold, diamonds, orange sapphires, and flame feathersmaking these watches more like jewelry than timepieces. There are also classically designed wristwatches for daily use.
If you have enough of a sweet tooth to travel for your fix, a 15-mile drive from San Sebastián to Pastelería Brasil, in the border town of Irún, is an absolute must. The region's top chefs swear by its exquisite bonbons, cakes, and pastries (62 Paseo de Colón, Irún; 34-943-615-079). More convenient and just as heavenly is Chocolates de Mendaro, which has been in the cacao business since 1850. The company has outposts in both San Sebastián and Bilbao, which sell chocolate bars, cocoa powder, and a decadent assortment of truffles and bonbons; try the concoctions of dulce de leche and amargo—a "bitter" ganache filling of 70 percent bittersweet chocolate (6 Etxaide, San Sebastián; 34-943-424-804; 16 Licenciado Poza, Bilbao; 34-944-438-762; www.chocolatesdemendaro.com).
109 Las Ramblas
Tel: 34 93 481 3930
When Custo Dalmau's brightly printed, neo-hippy T-shirts burst onto the scene in Barcelona in the mid-1990s, they became an instant hit with trend-conscious locals as well as L.A. starlets and Euro rock chicks. His collections are now launched during New York's fashion week and sold all over the world, but why not buy a few Custo pieces in the city where it all started? His line has expanded to dresses, coats, and menswear, but the Pucci-esque vibe remains.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 1 pm, Sundays 11 am to 6 pm.
7 Antonia Diaz
Tel: 34 954 2181 27
Below wooden rafters hung with shiny bridles, you'll find riding boots, stripy wool blankets, and multicolored pompoms (for decorating horse bridles) alongside long, elegant sidesaddle skirts and jackets (trajes de amazona) with tiny matching velvet hats. The wallets and bags are a good bet, with both classic logoed and quirkier designs, such as suede handbags decorated with subtly toned pompoms.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8:30 pm. July through August, open Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm.
10 Calle Diputación
Tel: 34 94 416 9127
Bilbao's El Mercado de la Ribera is the country's largest wholesale produce market, and although it's worth a visit just to take in the sheer spectacle, it's not the most practical place for a visitor to shop. For a much more manageable experience, head to this jewel of a food store (adjacent to a pintxos bar of the same name), which stocks an excellent and carefully selected array of gourmet items. Our favorite choices: dark chocolate from Barcelona chocolatier Xavier Mor, and late-harvest txakoli from the wonderful Itsas Mendi winery.
8 Plaza Doña Elvira
Barrio Santa Cruz
Tel: 34 954 218 417
A sunny shrine to the extra-virgin olive oils of Andalucía, this inviting space sells and serves small-producer aceite (including organics and international prize winners), wine, and other regional foodstuffs. Dip into the free oil tasting of the day, and chances are you'll be seduced, suddenly finding it's time for tapas—regardless of the hour (Extraverde shrewdly serves without interruption from late breakfast to late night). Pull up a stool, talk origins and methods, and enjoy simple yet sophisticated plates with the warm, English-speaking owners. Be sure to ship your liquid purchases, to avoid snafus at airport security.—Patricia Reilly
Open daily 11 am to 11:30 pm.
25 Calle Conde Salvatierra
Tel: 34 96 394 0612
The womenswear designs of Valencian fashion maestro Francis Montesinos are the sartorial equivalent of a mascletá (firecracker)a riot of ruffles and ruches, florals and flounces. Recent collections have been inspired by Mediterranean culture and mythology, blending gypsy flamboyance with embroidered details that suggest strands of seaweed and floating marine life.
Tel: 34 954 224 449
Owner Maria Candau's chic emporium, housed in an airy 1920s building, sells everything from funky antique furniture to cute tins of olive oil from the Candau family estate. Look out for Sonia Rykiel's diffusion line (stripy knits), Barcelonan designer Sita Murt (fine-crochet shawl cardigans), and Danish label Rützou (glamorous drapey satin tops). Bag lovers will adore the super-soft suede pouches with cute bows, or for that Sevillana look, buy a hairband adorned with a massive, brightly colored silk flower. Upstairs you'll find Euro-preppie children's clothes and an exhibition space showing contemporary art.—Fiona Flores Watson
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10:30 am to 1:45 pm and 5:30 to 8:45 pm.
The most central of Bilbao's shopping areas is the Gran Vía Don Diego López de Haro, known locally as Gran Vía. This wide avenue, and the streets that radiate out from its intersection with the circular Plaza Moyúa, have lots of upscale clothing and accessory boutiques, including Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, and Ermenegildo Zegna. There are also design shops, bookstores, and music outlets. Start at the intersection of Gran Vía and Calle Gregorio de la Revilla and work your way northeast, toward the Casco Viejo.
304 Carrer Provença
Tel: 34 93 487 2110
Catalonia-born Josep Font is probably the closest thing Barcelona has to a haute couture designer (he also has a shop in Paris). He produces exquisitely crafted, highly feminine women's clothing in the finest fabrics, and each collection references a fashionable era in history—for example, the yacht parties of the Côte d'Azur circa 1975. Font's jewel of a shop in the Eixample has a patchwork floor of original Art Nouveau tiles, and large Murano glass chandeliers light up the fuchsia and purple walls. For those in the market, there is a gorgeous selection of bridal gowns rendered in antique lace, each bearing Font's trademark detailing: a pert, brightly colored sash here, a shoulder bow there.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8:30 pm.
89 Las Ramblas
Tel: 34 93 318 25 84
Unlike its modern counterpart Santa Caterina, Raval's La Boqueria is loud, crowded, and boisterous. It's built on the site of an old convent, and the wrought-iron roof, stained-glass stalls, and stone columns make it a spectacular venue for some of the world's most photographed food stalls selling everything from eggs and potatoes to percebes (goose barnacles) and insects. Be sure to stop by at Lorenç Petràs's mushroom mecca and save time for lunch—either at Bar Pinotxo, Universal Kiosk, or El Quim. Each serves superlative fresh fish and seafood tapas, made all the better by a glass of local bubbly.
7 Calle Iparraguirre
Tel: 34 94 423 2530
Just down the street from the Guggenheim, this wine shop stocks a wonderful variety of vintages from Spain and beyond, and also hosts regular tastings. Hour-long wine classes, called "splash classes," can also be arranged. The staffers will gladly pack and ship your purchases back home.
Closed Sundays after 3 p.m.
11 Calle Santa María la Blanca
Barrio Santa Cruz
Tel: 34 954 41 05 60
Delivering on its driftwood sign and slate-gray and raspberry facade, this intimate fashion boutique is packed to the rafters with color and texture. Designer/owner Monica de Frutos curates the selection of women's clothing and accessories, an affordable mix where elegant and funky intersect. The palette and prints bring to mind dialed-down Almodóvar, and the hand-picked pieces (from Spain and beyond) feel chic and unique. Highlights include one-of-a-kind drapey necklaces incorporating antique beads and other vintage treasures.—Patricia Reilly
Open Mondays through Fridays 10:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 8:30 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm and 6 to 9 pm. Call ahead, as hours may vary slightly, especially in summer.
3 Calle Játiva
Tel: 34 96 353 3845
This excellent delicatessen not far from the Estacion de Norte train station stocks all kinds of local specialties, including arroz bomba, the ultimate paella rice, so you can try your hand at making the Valencian specialty at home. It also has a good range of wines, and some knockout jamón ibérico.
Tel: 34 93 412 6548
Once a butter-making factory, dating back to 1917, this facility returned to its dairy roots in 2000 when Scottish cheese expert Katherine McLoughlin opened La Seu. (The name is derived from the Catalan nickname for a cathedral, or general headquarters.) Katherine sells only Spanish artisanal cheesesnearly all from small producersthat range from nutty, deeply flavored sheep's-milk El Cascarral to creamy cow's-milk Arzúa-Ulloa from Galicia. None is held in stock, which means they're perfectly ripe when they reach the consumer. Tastings with a small pour of wine are available for under $5.
605 Avinguda Diagonal
Tel: 34 93 363 4445
The mother of all wine shops in Spainif not all of Europestocks a heady 4,000 or so labels in its 8,600-square-foot Eixample Esquerra shop. The decor is on a par with any of the flagship emporiums on the Passeig de Gràcia, and it's staffed by expert oenologists and sommeliers. Professional buyers come here to explore and learn, and there are formal courses and tastings for more casual enthusiasts. Lavinia can also help make arrangements to ship your haul home.
35 Passeig de Gràcia
Tel: 34 93 216 0400
Behind the gilded doors of Domènech i Montaner's Modernist Casa Lleó Morera in Eixample Esquerra, you'll find leather luggage, vanity cases, belts, and wallets that are highly coveted by the rich and famous and drooled over by aficionados. These investment pieces, glammed up with snakeskin, crocodile skin, and baby-soft nubuck, are likely to be passed along from generation to generation.
7 Alameda del Boulevard
Tel: 34 943 428 648
Across the street from San Sebastián's Mercado de la Bretxa (a large subterranean food market), Lur Lan is a cut above most of the city's other gourmet shops. Opened in spring 2006 by a group of local growers committed to small-scale production and traditional cultivation, it specializes in artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, bread, and conserves from Basque country and neighboring Navarra. The shop also has a stall in the Mercado de San Martín, a permanent indoor food market located in a new shopping mall (Calle Urbieta and Calle San Marcial; 34-943-426-857).
16 Avinguda de Francesc Cambó
Tel: 34 93 319 5740
Barcelona's most famous market, the Boqueria, now has some competition from the Mercat de Santa Caterina in El Born. Enric Miralles' multicolored, wave-roofed creation opened for business in 2005. Lit by shafts of light that flood through the pine rafters, it seems uncommonly spacious for a market, with tapas bars arranged around the outside. Be sure to stop by the city's first specialty oil shop, Olisoliva, which offers more than 100 different types of Spanish extra-virgin olive oils along with gourmet vinegars and salts (34-93-268-14-72; www.olisoliva.com). Visitors are encouraged to try before they buy.
2 Plaça Sant Gregori Taumaturg
Tel: 34 93 201 1846
Barcelona is awash in specialist chocolate shops, bijou establishments where presentation and unexpected flavors are as important as the purity of the cacao. But for something unique in the world of haute chocolate, make your way to Oriol Balaguer in a well-heeled barri above the Avinguda Diagonal. Balaguer is the son of a pastry maker and worked for seven years in the kitchen of Ferran Adrià, infusing flavors such as star anise and saffron into labored, multilayered bonbons wrapped in stylish, minimalist packaging. Like his mentor, Balaguer has elevated his culinary craft to an art form. His tiny matte-black-and-white corner establishment has the feel of a fine jewelry shop, with cakes and sweets displayed in linear glass cabinets that are backlit in dramatic violet and surrounded by a cloud of dry ice. Be sure to ask about Balaguer's "Concept Cake"—he creates a different one every month.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 9 pm, Sundays 10 am to 2:30 pm.
91 Passeig de Gràcia
Tel: 34 93 215 0674
The name Santa Eulalia has been synonymous with high fashion in Spain since 1843. The emblematic store on the upmarket Passeig de Gràcia reopened in March 2011 after a sophisticated two-year overhaul by New York interior architect William Sofield. Santa Eulalia will continue to stock collections from Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Stella McCartney but now also offers a chic café and pop-up store to showcase the latest tendencias. A separate menswear store is situated at 8 Carrer Pau Casals.—Suzanne Wales
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8:30 pm.
24 Alameda del Boulevard
Tel: 34 943 422 891
If you want to bring home something unique from the region, it's worth visiting San Sebastián's Saski-Naski. It sells locally handmade crafts ranging from gorgeous linens and textiles—some decorated with the lauburu (an ancient Basque symbol representing the sun)—to pottery and traditional berets known as txapelas. It's unlikely that your friends will say, "Oh, I already have one of those," when you present them with a kaiku, a wooden vessel used in Basque cheese-making.
Open Mondays through Saturdays.
45 Gran Vía Marqués del Turia
Tel: 34 96 351 1371
Sonia Serrano sells funky, retro-inspired footwear, plus a few pieces of jewelry. Most of the brands are Spanish, many from Alicante; established favorites include Otto et Moi and Paco Gil.
222 Carrer de Rosellón
Tel: 34 93 215 6005
When Catalan designer Toton Comella set up shop in 1987 (primarily as a luxury swimwear and lingerie collection), she attracted the attention of a number of Hollywood A-listers and the Spanish glitterati. Since then, she's launched a children's and baby line, and invented DOW XLA, a new soft and elastic textile that doesn't lose its shape. Comella's dreamy 2007 collection is unapologetically feminine: Swimwear updates retro checks and lamé with crystal details, plunging necklines, and below-the-hip belts; discreet tailoring on skinny jeans highlights the female form; and fall 2007 brings a focus on luxurious velvet, silk, and satin fabrics.
3 Plaça Sant Oriol
Tel: 34 93 302 6657
Forget china bulls and an FC Barça t-shirt: For a truly hip souvenir, check out the Vaho Gallery. Vaho, located in central Barri Gòtic, makes bags, belts, cases, and wallets out of used banderas, the huge PVC advertising banners that you see hanging from public buildings in the city. Only a snippet is used for each item, and for copyright reasons, logos and other iconography has to be discarded. But if you search you will find one with Barcelona-related imagery, generally taken from banners used for advertising publicly funded art and cultural events. Vaho's recycled "trashion" doesn't come cheap (a medium-size bag hovers around the $140 mark), but since the company employs marginalized groups to help manufacture them, in terms of political correctness, it's priceless. There is another shop at 13 Carrer Bonsuccés.
Open daily from 10 am to 8:30 pm.
10 Plaza Nueva
Tel: 34 954 502 660
Designer duo José Victor Rodríguez Caro and José Luis Medina del Corral certainly don't make frocks for wallflowers, favoring vibrant colors and the asymmetrical hems so beloved in Spain, although lately this boho-glam-chic style has taken a sophisticated turn with more toned-down shades. Bags and sunglasses complete the glamorous look.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8:30 pm. In August, open Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm.
96 Passeig de Gràcia
Tel: 34 93 215 6050
Selling all that's cool, classic, or just plain worthwhile in the world of designer housewares, this two-story establishment, owned by Ferran Amat (interior designer of the Casa Camper hotel) is often cited as the catalyst for the city's vibrant design culture. The focus at Vinçon is less on what's hot in the design world as on what is simply good design (Amat personally chooses each item that he stocks), from a can opener made by a small Italian manufacturer to a chaise longue from a top outdoor furniture manufacturer like Dedon. Be sure to explore the outdoor furniture section on the terrace; there's a brilliant side view of the private balconies of Gaudí's La Pedrera next door.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8:30 pm.