Best neighborhoods in Barcelona - Lonely Plat
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Get to the heart of Barcelona by exploring each of the citys unique neighborhoods © Marco Rubino / Shutterstock

Top neighborhoods to explore in Barcelona

Barcelona, the capital of Modernism and Spains second-largest city, is a compact and relatively easy-to-walk city. Barcelona has several distinct neighborhoods to explore, each with its own vibe and different things to see and do.

Heres our guide to the top neighborhoods to stay in and explore when you visitBarcelona.

See some of Gauds designs, including Park Gell, in the Barcelona neighborhood of Grcia © Lukasz Szwaj / Shutterstock

Best neighborhood for trendsetters: Grcia

Once an independent municipality from Barcelona, Grcia is perhaps the neighborhood in Barcelona with the strongest personality. Considered the trendiest district in the city, Grcia is filled with local designers workshops, vegan restaurants and even Japanese patisseries. Despite all the organic food stores and yoga studios, traditional markets still abound, and Catalan culture is thriving, as evidenced in the language, local folklore and popular events that take place in the neighborhood.

The streets of Grcia are filled with several squares that are meeting points for people of all ages who gather over drinks each evening starting around 7pm. Grcia is the best neighborhood for strolling, bar-hopping and observing the local atmosphere. The neighborhood is packed with all types of restaurants, from local tapas joints to Michelin-star restaurants. You can also find architectural gems designed by Modernist architect Antoni Gaud, such asCasa VicensandPark Gell. Being well-connected with downtown, Grcia is a strategic location for those wanting to be close to the city center but farther from the hustle and bustle.

Uncover Barcelonas industrial roots in the neighborhood of Barceloneta © Marco Rubino / Shutterstock

Best neighborhood for the beach: Barceloneta

Barceloneta, which means Little Barcelona in Catalan, has become a year-round vacation spot and the preferred neighborhood for tourists. Originally a traditional fishing neighborhood founded in the 18th century, Barceloneta later became a working-class district. As industrial expansion around the city harbor grew, so did the neighborhood. Youll get a sense of the industrial roots as you stroll along the narrow lanes of the historic neighborhood.

While the areas buildings lack the patrician facades that characterize other parts of Barcelona, they have kept their own unique character and today house a wide array of tapas bars and nightclubs. Stay in Barceloneta if you enjoy late-night parties or are looking for some Spanish sunshine on the beach. Barceloneta is filled with plenty of spots for families to enjoy. Take a stroll around Port Vell (old harbor) and the animated promenade, and visitLAquriumand theMuseu dHistria de Catalunya.

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The Barcelona neighborhood of El Born has an endless supply of street cafes and bars © Marco Rubino / Shutterstock

Best neighborhood for landmarks: El Born

El Born competes with Grcia for the title of Barcelonas trendiest neighborhood, but instead of vegan restaurants and urban gardens, El Born is home to concept stores, art studios and a distinctly international vibe. Formerly a craftsmens district, El Born is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona. Look for century-old shops such as Casa Perris (a grocery store that sells in bulk) and some of the most important landmarks in the city, includingBaslica de Santa Maria del Mar, a Gothic church from the 14th century, andPalau de la Msica, a music hall and one of the best examples of Modernist architecture.

If your budget allows, El Born has a wide range of fine-dining restaurants, mostly offering Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine. For those on a budget, you can also find plenty of international fast food eateries andan endless supply of bars. El Born enjoys a prime location between Barceloneta and the city center and is within walking distance of most city landmarks, making it one of the most popular neighborhoods for accommodations.

The famous La Sagrada Famlia is a highlight of Barcelonas LEixample neighborhood © Travelpix Ltd / Getty Images

Best neighborhood for Gaud architecture: LEixample

LEixample, which means the expansion district in Catalan, is a neighborhood built between the 19th and 20th centuries that was constructed as Barcelona expanded beyond the Old City. Its strict street grid pattern thats crossed by wide avenues makes it popular for aerial photos. The district of LEixample is typically divided into Left Eixample and Right Eixample, which are separated by Passeig de Grcia, the most elegant and exclusive avenue in Barcelona, and where you find Gaud-designed buildings such asLa PedreraandCasa Batll.

Concentrated in Right Eixample are important historic sites, such asLa Sagrada Famlia, Gauds still unfinished masterpiece, and Hospital Sant Pau, named a Unesco World Heritage site for its Modernist architecture. LEixample is a well-connected neighborhood, and it also has the most extensive range of accommodation options in the city.

El Ravalis the most vibrant of Barcelonas neighborhoods, and its where everything is happening. Part of the Old City and located southwest of La Rambla, this neighborhood is home to theMuseum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, as well asMercat de la Boqueria, the busiest local market in Barcelona, where stall-holders cook with some of the best quality ingredients in the city. El Raval is also the most multicultural neighborhood in Barcelona, making it an area of huge contrasts. If you fancy a more local party vibe than in Barceloneta, check out El Ravals bar-hopping scene. Stop intoBar Marsella, a late-night institution known for being the oldest continuously open bar in the city.

Spirit of the night: exploring Barcelona after dark

Peek into Barcelonas past in Barri Gtic, the citys Gothic Quarter © David Soanes Photography / Getty Images

Best neighborhood for history: Barri Gtic

The historic center of Barcelona isBarri Gtic, the Gothic Quarter, featuring the oldest buildings in the city. Most of the buildings in this area are neo-Gothic, the result of a massive 19th-century restoration project. Fine examples of original Gothic architecture can be found in the interiors ofLa Catedraland La Llotja de Mar. For history buffs and first-time visitors to Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter is a must-visit. Even if youve been to Barcelona before, youre bound to find new-to-you bars, restaurants and historic squares hidden down the narrow alleyways. Rambling the labyrinthine lanes is a delight. Being right in the city center, Barri Gtic is within walking distance from most tourist attractions. Some parts of the Gothic Quarter are known for late-night parties, so keep this in mind when looking for the right neighborhood to stay in.

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This article was first published July 2021 and updated July 2022

Make the most of your time in Spain with Lonely Planets range of travel guides and phrasebooks. Be the architect of your own trip as you discover the best things to do in Spain through insider tips, suggested itineraries and handy maps.

Make the most of your time in Spain with Lonely Planets range of travel guides and phrasebooks. Be the architect of your own trip as you discover the best things to do in Spain through insider tips, suggested itineraries and handy maps.

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