The coolest neighborhoods in Barcelona will charm you with their unique architecture and laid-back vibes. In a city that’s already overflowing with delicious tapas and bubbly cava, these neighborhoods stand out as incredible places to stay, eat and party.
El Born is a neighborhood of narrow streets, where sleek boutiques and fresh juice shops seem to pop up every week. It is home to the Picasso Museum , where you can find the best of the painter’s Barcelona period, and El Xampanyet , the best place to chill and drink cava. Euskal Etxea (Restaurant) , one of the best tapas places in the city, is right across from El Xampanyet. Pile up a dozen delicious toothpick-spiked pintxos and sample them all. You pay based on the number of toothpicks you collect.
Make your way to Arc de Triomf next, where locals skateboard, hang out and play guitar. The arch is an awesome backdrop for your Instagram shots. Cross the street and frolic in Ciutadella Park , Barcelona’s biggest park, full of benches and polished lawns, where you can nap or have a picnic. There is a small pond which you can take a boat to. Go for a stroll down the Rambla del Born and stop at Santa Agustina for a glass of white wine from Catalonia.
If you’re looking for a quick bite, I recommend the hipster pizza shop La mezcla . Make sure to have a glass of their cheap and delicious homemade wine. Check out the funky bars in the neighborhood, such as Paradiso / Pastrami Bar , which is a speakeasy masquerading as a pastrami sandwich shop. Restaurant Club Bananas is decorated like a tropical island. If you like hookah, go to Ziryab Cocktail & Shisha Lounge and don’t miss Restaurante Rosa Negra ’s happy hour. If you’re craving Asian food, Bun Bo Vietnam is your spot. This Vietnamese restaurant is tops for ban xeo. You will find the famous Plaça D'Isidre Nonel — a piece by photographer Joan Fontcuberta — around the corner.
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is the most photographed area in town, so wake up early and go experience it before anyone else. You can’t leave the city without walking down Carrer del Bisbe at sunset. The charm of this neighborhood lies in its quiet plazas. Being horrible with directions is an asset here, as getting lost is the best way to experience the neighborhood. Stop by Plaça de Sant Felip Neri and have an ice cream in the shade. Then proceed to the center of the Gothic Quarter to hang out by the big church.Cathedral of Barcelona is 174 feet tall with a formidably sharp roof. The church has a line of visitors out the door at all times of day. Newlyweds pick the surrounding area for their wedding photoshoots. Make your way up Calle Ferran until you reach Plaça Sant Jaume . If you need to refuel, stop by La fabrica for a couple of empanadas. The cozy Schilling is a great lunch choice as well. Bacoa has awesome burgers and fries, plus, they have a great vegan option.
Go go to Plaça Reial to party. This is one of the most photogenic squares in town. The fountain in the heart of the square is a perfect spot to sit around and meet people. This is not to be mistaken with Rome’s Trevi fountain – throwing coins in here doesn’t bring any particular luck, just creates more work for the local cleaning crew, so keep your change in your pockets. Plaça Reial has it all – restaurants, clubs and bars. Ocaña is one of my favorite bars here, especially for their Thai Massage cocktail.Hotel Roma Reial is a fun and low-key bar tucked in the corner. Ask for Simo and tell him you’re a friend of Dayana’s. If you like live music and dancing, I recommend Jamboree . This club hosts great jazz parties and is open until dawn playing hip-hop and R&B on any weeknight.
Gràcia is one of the fanciest neighborhoods in the city — and where many locals hang out. You’ll hear lots of Catalan speech and eat well. Stay at Casa Gràcia Barcelona if you want to feel what it’s like being a part of the city’s social scene. This boutique hotel organizes food and wine tastings, yoga classes and other events that bring together Catalan people and international visitors. Gràcia is very laid-back and far from the bustle of the Gothic Quarter. Here, you can actually get a good eight-hour sleep in peace, so it’s the best option for those who favor slow and immersive travel. If you’re more of the social-butterfly type who prefers hostels, definitely stay at Factory Gardens . This hostel’s backyard is cool and quiet in summer, so it’s worth coming here to relax even if you’re not staying over.
Passeig de Gràcia is where you’ll lose your shopaholic friend and never see them again. Here you will find all the big players – Valentino, Gucci, and Rolex as well as Mango, Zara, and H&M. Slip in some culture into your shopping trip and go inside Gaudi’s Casa Batlló . The curvy facade of the building is truly photogenic, especially during the Sant Jordi festival when it is decorated with red roses. Have a glass of wine or hot chocolate at Tenorio downstairs.
Gràcia is most famous for is its summer fiesta which lasts for the entire third week of August. The streets are decorated with funky floats of California beach babes and old Hollywood movie themes. Music is everywhere, as well as open-air concerts and pop-up bars. Vermouth flows freely and bar owners spread the love with a couple of free shots here and there. Go to Entre Hores where you can enjoy a chilled glass of the spicy wine at any time of the year. Check out Soda Acústic around the corner for a great jazz show in an intimate atmosphere.
Barcelona’s former “bad” neighborhood is currently making a splash on the social scene. El Raval, a little dirtier and more alternative-looking than shiny Gràcia, is where you’ll find street art, skateboarders, and bizarre bars. Check out Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art – the modern art museum, and watch the skaters show off outside. Go for lunch at Flax&Kale just around the corner. Chef Teresa Carles leads the Barcelona enthusiasm for healthy food, with her green juices and nutritious vegetable bowls. If you prefer to go for a good old slice of pizza, head to Pizza Circus . The Italian crew sweats for hours at a time to bring you a delicious thin-crust slice. And their pesto is as fresh as it comes.
Go for a walk down La Rambla del Raval and take a photo with El Gat . The curvy, Botticelli-style cat sculpture by artist Fernando Botero is adorable and deceivingly hard to climb. Across the street, you’ll find the burlesque-themed bar Joséphine Restaurant . Continue down and you’ll end up at Ambar , where bartenders will go above and beyond to make you happy, including throwing a Bloody Mary together even if it means going on a scavenger hunt for ingredients. A few feet away, you’ll find one of Cervecería 100 montaditos locations, famous for €1 beer and cheap tapas. This is a perfect place to meet locals. If you’re looking for a little more luxury, stay at the Barceló Raval Hotel and finish the night with a cocktail at their Barceló Raval for the best view of the Barcelona skyline.
From art to architecture, parties and cuisine, everyone falls in love with Barcelona. Prepare to lose your heart here, and return in search of it for years to come.