Explore the Best Neighbourhoods in Barcelona
Location, location, location. Discover Plum Guide's take on that seemingly eternal debate – where should you stay in Barcelona?
Decisions, decisions – we're here to help you make them. We asked our esteemed home critics here at Plum Guide for their opinions on the best neighbourhoods in Barcelona, and some of their answers – beyond the usual tourist hotspots – were a little surprising. But who are we to disagree? Let's jump into their expert verdict.
1. Sagrada Familia
Good news: there’s an alternative option for lovers of Modernist architecture, one that involves a slightly quieter location than Eixample. The area around the famed Sagrada Familia is surprisingly relaxed, with only a few local cafes and restaurants (bar the immediate area around the basilica, where you’ll find global restaurant chains). Aside from Gaudí’s masterpiece, you’ll have easy access to another masterpiece of Modernist architecture – the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista complex.
2. Barri Gòtic
Ah, the Gothic Quarter. Not exactly an original choice, but nonetheless a solid one. If you’re a seasoned traveller, then you know that every city has an instantly recognisable (and inevitably all too Instagrammable) must-see neighbourhood, and Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter stars in thousands of photos every day. We recommend you choose one of our remarkable homes in the neighbourhood like this one if you’re out to have some fun, because this neighbourhood never sleeps. Staying here means the city is at your fingertips and make sightseeing effortless, but if you’re coming in the summer, be ready to battle through the impenetrable crowds of tourists.
3. Dreta de L’Eixample
If we had to sum up this part of Eixample in a word, it would be "wealth". Dreta de L’Eixample is full of intricate Catalan Modernist architecture, commissioned by wealthy merchants over a hundred years ago. Most of the houses in the area have at least a few photo-worthy details, with the lower floors now containing upscale fashion boutiques, restaurants and beauty brands. We recommend staying in this neighbourhood if you like super central locations and city buzz, but not if you’re in town to enjoy a slower pace of life.
Sarrià was the last of the neighbouring villages annexed by Barcelona in the 1920s, allowing it to retain a lot of its individual flavour and village atmosphere, not dissimilar to Lisbon's charming Alfama district. For centuries, affluent families have been choosing the peaceful Sarrià to escape the city noise, and many visitors rate this the best neighbourhood in Barcelona for the very same reason. While it’s not exactly central, Sarrià has a good number of attractions in its vicinity, including the Tibidabo mountain (home to hikes and the perfect place to take an envy-inducing cityscape photo), as well as weekend markets and local events.
5. El Poblenou
El Poblenou is a fast-changing area known for its proximity to the beach – but you’ll be missing out on some hidden gems if you only focus on the seaside. Some of the best bakeries in town are hidden in El Poblenou’s streets, as well as some lovely bookstores, markets and speciality cafes that are frequented by the city’s creative population. Yes, El Poblenou is a little alternative, but that's why we love it.
6. La Nova Esquerra de l'Eixample
Eixample is a huge neighbourhood that tangibly changes as you travel from one end to the other. The affluent right side, Antigua Esquerra, is the Nova Esquerra’s older (and posher) sibling, while this newer neighbourhood has just found its footing and is quickly becoming the place to be. From Las Arenas, the historic bullfighting ring that has been transformed into a chic shopping centre, to the Joan Miró park, this area is not short of attractions. In short: lively, well connected and safe.
It’s hard to believe that Gràcia is as central as it is – this level of authentic charm is usually reserved for suburbs. We find it easier to breathe in Gràcia, and the tostadas simply taste better the closer you get to Parc Güell. Gaudí’s fairytale park is the prime landmark in this neighbourhood, but Gràcia has a lot more to offer. Just like Sarrià, it used to be an independent city, which means it has a particular character that differs from downtown vibes. Lush, pedestrian streets, safe surroundings, and first-class restaurants that won’t break the bank make this a convenient (not to mention economical) neighbourhood to stay in, especially with our remarkable homes like La Teja to choose from.
8. El Born
Rumour has it thatEl Born was ‘the place to be’ in medieval times, and no matter how much time passes, this neighbourhood retains a sense of effortless cool. The cafes are always packed with locals, and if you happen to enter a store in this part of Barcelona, you’re much more likely to find unique designer pieces than generic brands – and a price tag to match. If you're in search of culture, you'll quickly find solace in the Picasso Museum or El Born Cultural Centre, conveniently located in the iron-wrought building of the former Mercat El Born. You'll also be close to the opulent Port Vell’s promenade, which is one of our favourite spots for an evening stroll or a seaside dinner.