This blog post was originally posted on September 30, 2014, and was updated on October 29, 2017.
Like every big city, Barcelona has several distinctly unique neighborhoods that stand out amongst each other. Find out all you need to know in our Barcelona neighborhood guide.
Getting lost in the Gothic Quarter or roaming the hills of Gracia are just a few ways even locals enjoy the magic of this city. Furthermore, read on for a few insider tips with our Barcelona neighborhood guide!
The Gothic Quarter
Probably the most well-known neighborhood of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter, or el barri Gotic, easily earns its status. This area stretching from Las Ramblas to Via Laietana was once the nucleus of the old city. It’s labyrinth of narrow, cobble-stoned streets house buildings from medieval and even Roman colony times. Mostly pedestrian, the Gothic is filled with bars, cafes and restaurants scattered in and around its many squares. There are also many famous monuments like the Gothic cathedral or the government and city halls to see as you wander. Nightlife here is rampant! You’ll find most of it in and around the emblematic Plaça Reial.
La Ribera (The Born)
La Ribera, more colloquially referred to as the Born, is a picturesque and trendy neighborhood sandwiched between the Gothic Quarter and the beautiful Ciudadela Park. This is our favorite area to include in our Barcelona neighborhood guide. Locals claim that they wouldn’t have stepped foot in the area after dark some 20 years ago. This is hard to believe nowadays with its hip restaurant scene and abundance of pricey independent designers. The Santa Maria Basilica and its rich history stand strong in the center of it all. Despite the incredible change, the neighborhood has undergone it still is a local’s favorite. Head to Calle Flassaders for shopping, and don’t miss out on the recently reopened Born Cultural Center. This is a stunning modernist building with extensive medieval ruins on display.
Once the old fisherman’s neighborhood of Barcelona, this little area between the Old Port and the sea is charming to say the least. Admittedly, with all the tourism that the beach attracts, you have to know where you’re going to make the most of it. We suggest starting in the Plaça del Mercat, where the lively local scene really shines. Beyond being known for seafood, la Barceloneta is also home to some fantastic tapas spots. Try L’Ostia (Plaça de la Barceloneta, 1) or La Bombeta (Carrer de la Maquinista, 3) for some great dishes. Furthermore, a great sea-side paella never hurt anyone either! Want to know how to enjoy it like a local? Check out this great little video of our lovely co-founders, Lauren and James as they explain how!
The Raval claims a certain notoriety for being dangerous and grimy. This neighborhood does have a unique feel in comparison to the rest of Barcelona. It is now a melting pot of different ethnicities mixed up with a gentrifying hipster vibe. There is definitely something to love about this part of town. Joaquin Costa is a great street for bar hopping, and nearby you’ll find the famed MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona). This is also where the Barcelona skate culture came to life. Furthermore, most locals agree that the Raval is hardly dangerous nowadays at all.
Sant Antoni is just a small triangular neighborhood in the enormous Eixample district, Barcelona’s 19th-century city expansion project. Located just next door to the Ravel and it’s also a lot more cleaned up that it’s neighbor! The modernist Sant Antoni market is a sight worth seeing, and Calle Parlament is little by little becoming one of the most important bar and restaurant scenes around. No Barcelona restaurant guide would be complete without a mention of this wonderful place!
If we continue heading south from the Gothic to the Raval to Sant Antoni, we will find ourselves in the unassuming neighborhood of Poble Sec. A working-class area with no real monuments to boast, it does have some lovely inclined streets. This is because it sits at the foot of Montjuic. The hopping restaurant lined Blai street is definitely worth a visit. Furthermore, it is also just a five-minute metro ride to the city center.
If you’re looking for authentic Catalan, look no further than the lovely Vila de Gracia. No Barcelona neighborhood guide would be complete without this beautiful area on the list. An old village that, although annexed into Barcelona in 1897, still maintains a very small-town feel. Sixty-five percent of its inhabitants are from Catalonia. This makes for a very patriotic, unified and absolutely unique area of the big city. Each year, Gracia sees it’s annual festival taking place. This is a must-see neighborhood festival and one to miss if you’re visiting.
Did you enjoy our Barcelona neighborhood guide? We love exploring Barcelona’s neighborhoods! Our Gracia Neighborhood Tour explores this authentic Catalan neighborhood, and our Tastes, Tapas & Traditions of Barcelona Tour explores the historic neighborhoods of Born and Barceloneta. Join us and discover Barcelona’s incredible gastronomy!