Guide to Barcelona’s Barrios

guide to BARCELONA neighborhoods

guide to BARCELONA neighborhoods

Barcelona is a very old city in which you can feel the weight of history; it is haunted by history. You cannot walk around it without perceiving it -Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona is a lively, beautiful city, well known for it’s cultural heritage. Graceful Modernista architecture line the vibrant streets, while Barcelonians while away time in leafy plazas. Gaudi mozaics merge with surreal Dali landscapes while strains of music can be heard drifting out of cafes or from buskers in the gothic quarter. Barcelona is a city of art and, as such, offers many interesting museums to the discerning traveller. You can brush up on your history in the Picasso or Miro Museums.

The many parks invite you to relax in the shade, and it’s easy to enjoy a picnic and watch the world wander past. The beaches beckon, and as the sun sets you may find yourself joining in with locals in a singalong, as many bring instruments onto the sands to play while appreciating the perfect Mediterranean view.

At night, the city comes alive, and you can watch a Flamenco show, or listen to classical guitar in the Palau de Musica. From spectacular dining experiences whipped up by the likes of Adria Ferran at his restaurant Tickets, to bustling markets where you can grab tapas on the go; from the vistas at the Tibidabo Fairground to quiet cloisters in a Gothic Cathedral; from an intimate Flamenco concert at 23 Robadors, to a thumping club scene at the beach…

Barcelona has something for everyone. Scroll down for our guide to Barcelona’s different neighborhoods and don’t forget you can download our quirky illustrated guide to the city here.



Barcelona has 10 neighborhoods. All of our available rooms and apartments are located in Gracia.

Ciutat Vella comprises of the “old” city of Barcelona. Within it, you will find the barrios of El Born, the Gotic, Raval and the beach barrio of Barceloneta. The area is very popular with tourists, it contains the famous Las Ramblas walking street, many museums, historical sites including fascinating Roman artifacts, restaurants, bars, hotels and shops. You can also find the famous Boqueria Market, the Gothic Cathedral, The Santa Catarina Market, Citudella park and Plaza Catalunya here. It can get quite crowded and noisy, but the area retains it’s inheritance in the texture of the narrow streets and winding passageways.

Eixample is a large neighborhood with many Modernist Buildings. Here you can find some of Gaudi’s famous architectural gems along Passeig de Gracia, which connects the neighborhood of Gracia and Plaza Catalunya. It is a large shopping street and runs down the center of Barcelona. There are many restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings and shops as well as a few parks in the area, which is quite extensive and well worth some exploration. Check out our downloadable guidebook for more info on where to visit in this neighborhood.

Sants – Montjuic contains the prominent mountain of Montjuic, on which lies the Fort of Barcelona as well as the Olympic Stadium. The park on the hill is expansive and you can find many museums, including the Miro museum and the Catalan Art History museum which holds an impressive collection of medieval art, in the area. The street of Parallel connects this area with Ciutat Vella, and the area has many good restaurants. Read our post on Pintxos in Poble Sec.

Les Corts borders Ave Diagonal which runs across the center of the city. Here you will find the famous Camp Nou football stadium, as well as some large shopping malls, gardens, and the large Maternitat Hospital. The area is mainly residential.

Sarria / Sant Gervasi is a historically upper class residential neighborhood. There are some beautiful old houses in the neighborhood. It is quiet, has many schools, and Turo Park. You can also find a few good restaurants, The British Council, and some Consulates in the area. It is close to Diagonal and the business sector of Ave Diagonal. The natural park of the Collserola make up the top part of this neighborhood with fantastic views of Barcelona.

Horta Guinardo, Nou Barris and Sant Andreu are all residential neighborhoods on the outskirts of Barcelona. Some of Barcelona’s university campuses can be found here. There are also parks, schools, shopping malls etc as well as access to the natural park of the Collserola.

Sant Marti borders the beach of Barcelona and the Besos River. You can find the design Barrio of Poble Nou here. There is the famous Encants Market, as well as some interesting architecture which houses new fashion districts as well as designer cafes and shops in the area. Villa Olympica is also within this neighborhood, and borders the Ciutadella Park. There is a large cinema complex as well as many hotels along the beach.

Gracia is a central neighborhood above the Eixample. It used to be a village until Barcelona grew and encompassed it. It still retains a classic Catalan village feel and you can find many good restaurants, shops, bars, and squares in the area. It is family and student friendly with plenty of small schools. Park Guell designed by Antoni Gaudi lies at the top of the neighborhood.

You can find out more interesting insider tips and guides in our Illustrated Guide, it offers a unique artistic viewpoint to Barcelona, with walks, restaurant guide, and a few secrets…

read more about the barrios of barcelona here.


Roman Spa Baths in Barcelona

Aire de Barcelona Spa. All images from photos are not allowed in the space

As you descend the stairs, the lights dim, and the spicy smell of burning incense fills your lungs. Candles flicker, glinting off the underground walls, and shimmering in the pools. We are greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a helpful attendant who explains how to use the baths at the Aire de Barcelona. A hammam public bath, fully restored in it’s original Roman form, and as you glide through the warm waters you can appreciate the ancient vaulted ceilings and exposed walls.

Go for the Salt baths, and relaxing interior. Sink into the warm water and sizzle in frothy jet pools. The Aire also offers massages and facials. The baths are open until late and we booked the last 2 hours of the day. It seemed like quite a popular time to go, but we did not find it too crowded and it was easy to relax.

When you visit, you only need bring your bathing suit. Bikinis are fine too. You are provided with towels and little slippers which you wear into the pools. I could recommend it as a nice date with a significant other, ( the baths are unisex) before you head out for a late dinner in the old neighbourhood of El Born. There are plenty of great restaurants nearby. And after soaking for an hour or two it’s a lovely way to end an evening.


Best BCN Rooftop Terraces


With the sinking sun going down at around 9pm, the long summer afternoons stretch out and Barcelona reclines in the balmy weather. It’s the perfect time to be outside sipping a cold drink or cocktail, and where better to do this than on the rooftop. With vistas reaching from montaña to mar, Barcelona offers some excellent sundowner spots.

Usually I enjoy them on my own terrace, this being the cheapest and easiest option, but if you are visiting the city and don’t have your own access to a private terrace or rooftop there are plenty of swish spots to spoil yourself with views and expensive drinks. And why not treat yourself? It’s summer, and you only live once!

I love how the “terraza” combines the outside and the inside, and I have busily been trying to create my own lounge-garden. And what better places to gather inspiration than all the fancy hotels in town. I have been on a bit of a rooftop exploring kick. So far I have made myself at home on the terraces at the Grand Central Hotel and the Ohla Hotel. Both are situated on Via Laitana, and both have different views over the city. It’s easy to unwind on the couches laid out, and watch the stars slowly peek out of the settling dusk.

You can find fantastic spots at Hotel Omm, Hotel Arts, Hotel Alma (which has a garden terrace), The Pulitzer, The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelo Raval, and Casa Fuster, but I’m sure there are plenty more, so exchange your beach sandals for heels, stuff your wallet with euros, and pretend you just stepped off your yacht for an evening out with a view. Go on spoil yourself!

If you have already tried these lovely terraces, there are even more to choose from. Try the the new Cotton House Hotel or the Yurbban!

Festa Major de Gracia

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The annual Gracia Festival is not to be missed. The event of the summer holidays, Barcelona awakens out of deep summer slumber and the streets of Gracia come alive during August.

If you are in Barcelona during this time, the festivities are something to behold! If you are staying in the area, be sure to bring earplugs, or resign yourself to partying for a week, not such a bad thing to do in Barcelona!

The neighborhood associations of various streets in the barrio have been at work for months, preparing the massive street decorations. Each group competes for the illustrious prize of top street, and everyone eats, drinks and parties into the late night under a canopy of papiermaché and plastic decorations. There are concerts and various workshops in each of the areas, get hold of a map, and do an excursion to visit all the various attractions. You never know what you may find around the corner – a street turned into Jurassic Park or another into the cherry blossomed avenues of Japan.

pintxos barcelona street food

Pinxos in Poble Sec

pintxos barcelona street food

Part of the newest Hipster route, you know the one – filled with trend setting flower beards and horn-rim specs. Well not quite, although Calle Blai has blossomed, it still retains its colourful textures – Factory façades and a distinct Latino tone.

Welcome to Poble Sec. The barrio borders Montjuic and is a short walk from Las Ramblas. Slightly hilly it is home to the El Grec theatre and the Apollo theatre and the neighborhood boasts a distinctly colourful style. Nibbling on pintxos, at the various bars, requires a fair amount of co-ordination. Along the street we hopped, gobbling up pintxos like snapping turtles and gulping the house beer in each spot. Squeezing into tight spaces, our movements being more theatric as the evening wore on. It’s proved to be a great late afternoon’s activity. People watched, enjoy some rays on the terraces set up along the road, and talk about the food. Pintxos, literally translated as “Thorns”, each little tapa, or bite size snack comes with a longish tooth pick holding a tower of various flavours together on a slice of bread. This could be anything from a cube of spanish tortilla, a cherry tomato, a sliver of anchovy, a spiced pepper, a dash of sausage, sautéed onion, all wildy balanced and skewered by said thorn. The challenge is to get it all in your mouth, follow it by a slurp of your preferred beverage and then pick your teeth with a flourish at the end. If you cannot visit Basque Country in northern Spain, the original home of the pintxos do yourself a favour and organise a little tapas & pintxos journey in Poble Sec from Bar to Bar.

pintxos in barcelona


Bicycle Anyone?

In Gracia alone there are not one but three bicycle themed restaurant-cafe-bars. Three! And that’s only in one small neighbourhood of Barcelona! There are plenty of other places where the bicycle can be stashed or stowed while you eat, or it’s spoked image is ubiquitous on the walls in the form of artwork or frame, parts on display. So what makes this form of bipedal transport so popular that it has rung it’s way into the heart of Barcelona, enough so that 3 cafes have made it their central theme. It’s classic form, geometric lines, gear and wheels have slowly but surely become a popular graphic symbol. Do you have a bike cafe in your city? When next you wend your way up to my neighbourhood, be sure to check out one of the following bike friendly spots.

Bicioci Bike Cafe
Carrer de Venus, 1-3
Barcelona, Spain
934 58 20 44
Serving up Pizza in the evening, this cafe has bikes on the walls and the bartender seems like the perfect caricature of the Italian cyclist, small cycling hat and all, he could have stepped out of the Triplets of Belville. They also offer weekend brunch.


El Ciclista
C/Mozart nº18
Barcelona, Spain
933 68 53 02
A popular bar in Gracia, it’s small, gets jam packed, but serves up good music and delicious gin and tonics. The whole places feels like you are inside a miniature bike factory, from glass holding chandeliers made from bicycle wheels to the door which is opened by a deconstructed bike chain and various other bike parts.


La Bicicleta

C/Verdi 65
Barcelona, Spain
931 28 14 16
Recently opened on ever popular Calle Verdi, this market produce restaurant, offers fresh goods in daily specials. Dine in their cozy cafe or enjoy the ever popular vermut while watching pedestrians pass by under their big blue bicycle in the window.

all photos courtesy each locale’s web page, title image by Enric Fradera, page image by Jai Kapoor