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Barcelona Neighborhoods Guide

Barcelona Neighborhoods Guide: A Guide to the City’s 10 Most Exciting Districts

by Christian Petzold - updated January 19, 2022

Whether you’re planning a quick visit or a more extended stay, here’s an overview of Barcelona’s most exciting neighborhoods.

Barcelona is a city of 39 square miles with ten administrative districts and countless neighborhoods. One of the perks of visiting Barcelona is learning about the distinctive personalities of each of these unexpectedly diverse zones. 

Make sure to pick up a free city map before you jump on the metro. Without other information, it’s challenging to find your way around.

For educational purposes, there are ten districts in Barcelona: Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Sants–Montjuic, Les Corts, Sarria-Sant Gervasi, Gracia Horta-Guinardo, Nou Barris, Sant Andreu, and Sant Marti.

We’ve put together this Barcelona neighborhoods guide to help you learn more about the city’s 10 wonder districts.

Barcelona Region – The Capital of Catalonia

The Barcelona region is the capital of Catalonia, one of 17 autonomous regions of Spain. As a cultural center, it hosts many historical monuments, architectural landmarks, and cultural events. The city also boasts world-famous architecture such as Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia and the largely reconstructed Camp Nou stadium.

The Barcelona metropolitan area has a population of 3,239,337 people as of 2012 and is the eighth-most populous urban area in Europe after London, Paris, Madrid, and Istanbul. The city has an area of 636 km2 (based on land area) and lies at the lip of the Rivers Llobregat and Besòs. 

Barcelona Neighborhoods Guide: City’s 10 Districts Map

In the Barcelona neighborhood map, ten districts make up the city of Barcelona. Each of these districts is divided into neighborhoods-called Barri. You can find the oldest part of Barcelona in the Ciutat Vella district, while the Eixample district houses upscale residences, stores, and the works of Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s famous son. The central train station, Estacion de Sants, nestles in the Sants Montjuic district, and the main Barcelona airport is found to the West of Sants Montjuic.

1. Ciutat Vella

Ciutat Vella, the Old City of Barcelona, is a district with a vibrant history. The first settlement there registers back to the 14th century BC. In this antique-filled quarter, you can see Romanesque and Gothic churches from the Middle Ages and grand buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Ciutat Vella, in Catalan, translates as “Old City,” and comprises four smaller neighborhoods. Las Ramblas, the district’s major thoroughfare, stretches from Place de Catalunya to the Old Port (Port Vell). Barri Gotic is on the east side of Las Ramblas, whereas El Raval is on the west side.

Barri Gotic

Barri Gotic 3

The “Gothic Quarter” is a bewildering labyrinth of winding medieval lanes going back to Roman times. Many hidden plazas and landmarks reward those who choose to explore this neighborhood. Here you’ll find Barcelona’s magnificent gothic cathedral, as well as several museums, boutiques, restaurants, and nightclubs.

El Raval 

El Raval Barcelona 1

The El Raval neighborhood is a lively area filled with nightlife, international restaurants, and street performers. You can also find low-budget hostels to meet other travelers. It’s a fun place to stay while you’re in Barcelona. El Raval is a favorite among tourists, and it offers a unique location for an overnight stay while you’re visiting the city. You can find Barcelona’s most famous market, La Boqueria, here.  

El Raval has a history of being the location of Barcelona’s markets, and even further back, the Romans set up market stalls here. El Raval also has a long history of housing artists and performers because of its proximity to Las Ramblas, the main drag in Barcelona.

Barceloneta

La Barceloneta Beach 1

Fishers initially populated this region, and the neighborhood has kept the ambiance of a beach community up to this day. Barcelona’s Barceloneta neighborhood is home to one of the city’s busiest beaches and some of the most incredible seafood restaurants. The coastline comes alive at night with sounds of cheerful people enjoying their time at the beachside bars.

La Ribera / El Born

El Born Barcelona 1

La Ribera (the coast) was renowned as Barcelona’s most prosperous area throughout the Middle Ages. The tiny alleyways are lined with elegant medieval buildings. This neighborhood is also home to the Picasso Museum, which exhibits the artist’s early years in Barcelona.

Today, the region nearest to the sea continues to be prosperous and vibrant.  El Born is one of the complete neighborhoods in Barcelona, particularly along the major avenue, “Passeig del Born,” which has led the area along the beachfront being called “El Born.” There are galleries, antique shops, boutiques, bookstores, restaurants, and tapas bars. Some of these stores are open late for people who enjoy browsing at night. 

2. Eixample 

Eixample District 1

Eixample (the Extension) is an upscale residential area home to some of Barcelona’s most costly stores, hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs in the city’s most populous neighborhood. 

Its distinctive features include a grid-like street layout, and Art Nouveau (Modernista) architecture spread throughout the area. Besides the Sagrada Familia Church, located east of the city center, the Passeig de Gràcia has Antoni Gaudi’s most famous architectural creations. 

3. Sants-Montjuic

This district includes the peaceful, centrally placed residential neighborhood of Poble Sec and the central international railway station, Estacio Sants, and the Montjuic suburb.

Montjuic

Beautiful Montjuic Castle 2

This hilltop Barcelona neighborhood is home to Barcelona’s largest collection of parks and gardens, as well as most of the facilities used for the 1992 Olympic Games, five museums, the Poble Espanyol (a village showcasing various Spanish architectural styles), and the Castell de Montjuic, a 17th-century French fortress. You can easily access the hilltop via bus, funicular, or cable car from the port. 

Montjuïc is a Barcelona Neighborhood from which the present vista from Montjuïc Castle extends. Officially it makes up one of the ten districts in Barcelona; in fact, it is located outside the city boundaries in the municipality of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

Related: Montjuic Mountain, Montjuïc Castle Segway Tour

4. Les Corts

Les Corts is an administrative district in the city of Barcelona, Catalonia. It’s at the western end of the city and stretches from the Passeig de Gràcia. This elegant wide avenue runs downhill toward Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça d’Espanya, to Meridiana Avenue, splitting it into two halves. Other districts on three sides bound Les Corts: Sants-Montjuic, Eixample, and La Barceloneta.

Barcelona’s financial district, Les Corts, is home to many fine hotels and restaurants, although it lacks notable landmarks for tourists. L’Illa, a massive retail mall on Diagonal, is another option to go to. In L’Illa, there are several restaurants, a supermarket, a small exposition center, and a plethora of clothing stores.

5. Sarria Sant Gervasi

Sarria Sant Gervasi is a residential Barcelona Neighborhood with a sense of town because of its narrow lanes and lovely residences. With the birds-eye view over the city, the Collserola mountain region is famous for running, walking, and bicycling. 

The people of this district are affluent, with most of them being upper-middle class. It has few foreigners with African descendants, but many Asian immigrants have set up businesses. The district also has various healthcare facilities for its residents. 

6. Gracia

Passeig De Gracia Placard 1 2

The Gràcia neighborhood is only one stop up from the top of Passeig de Gràcia, yet it feels like another universe. Gràcia was a separate town until the late 1800s, and today the community remains tightly knitted. People are pretty proud of their ancestry, and they don’t say they’re from Barcelona; they say Gràcia.

This Barcelona neighborhood is popular with artists and bohemian culture. It also boasts a large ethnic population and the city’s largest concentration of foreign eateries. Plaça de Sol is the most prominent part of the neighborhood; it’s also where people gather at night to drink and celebrate. Despite its fashionable aspect, Gràcia is a historic neighborhood with a large senior population, making for an intriguing and unusual combination – and great people-watching.

7. Horta Guinardo

Horta Guinardo

Horta Guinardo is a remote district that was developed in the 1950s. This Barcelona neighborhood is famous for its high-rise residential structures. And the area is well connected to central Barcelona via metro or bus. 

8. Nou Barris

Nou Barris

Nou Barris translates from Catalan to English as ‘Nine Neighborhoods,’ thus you can probably imagine how many neighborhoods comprise this district… In fact, fourteen. Five more have been added throughout time because of developments.

Today, it is one of Barcelona’s most traditional residential neighborhoods, with several parks and gardens, providing an authentic taste of the city’s culture.

9. Sant Andreu

Placa Del Mercadal

Walking through Sant Andreu feels like you’ve been teleported to a charming Catalan village. This is the feeling you get when exploring around Plaça Mercadal, which is an Instagram-worthy spot. There’s also the Plaça Mercadal, where you can admire the neo-classical church of Sant Andreu del Palomar. Plus, you have the chance to witness the mosaic by Gaudi in Sant Pacià without having to queue. 

Sant Andreu has an industrial history. Its former factories have been converted into facilities, parks, and art centers, creating an intriguing mix of families, long-term inhabitants, and young artists and artisans. The old Fabra I Coats cotton spinning mill preserves some of its original factory architecture but has been transformed into an art factory and a creative hotbed.

10. Sant Marti

Sant Mat is a Barcelona district located north of the Ciutat Vella. It evolved from the old industrial regions of Poblenou, the medieval quarter of Clot, and the suburbs of Sant Mart to become a site of ambitious massive scale development.

This led to several landmarks of postmodern architecture, particularly along the northern section of Avenida Diagonal, which was largely rebuilt in the twenty-first century. Sant Marti also has several beaches along the coast and a few parks and other things for visitors to explore.

El Poblenou

The gentrified New Village district attracts a youthful community of artists and professionals. Many of the old factories, which were once industrial, have been turned into galleries, stores, studios, and lofts. The Vila Olimpica (Olympic Village) is in this area. 

This Barcelona neighborhood of dwellings and parks, designed by globally famous architects and artists, was erected for the 1992 Olympic Games, and later the flats were sold as individual residences. As a result, the region has become immensely popular, with contemporary apartments, green areas, beachfront, retail complexes, movies, restaurants, bars, and discos.

Bottom Line

Barcelona is a beautiful and diverse city full of life. It has an excellent public transportation system, leading it to be one of the best cities for world travelers. Everyone should visit this impressive place at least once in their lifetime.

We hope this guide has helped give you some idea of where to go and what to do when visiting Barcelona. Many other neighborhoods in the city deserve a visit, so make sure to explore all of them!

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