The Best 10 Neighborhoods to Explore in Barcelona

Bird's eye view of a neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain
There's a Barcelona neighborhood for everyone.

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Barcelona is a world within a city. The Catalan capital offers dozens of unique neighborhoods that each have their own one-of-a-kind feel. The good news: there's something for everyone. The hard part: narrowing it down.

That's where this guide comes in handy. We'll walk you through some of the best Barcelona neighborhoods, so you can be sure to find the spot that's perfect for your taste, plans, and budget.

01 of 10

Gothic Quarter

A quiet street in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.

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Let's start with a classic. The Gothic Quarter is Barcelona's most storied, iconic neighborhood. As a result, it's also the most popular, particularly among tourists.

While some lament that the Gothic Quarter is losing its authenticity in the age of gentrification, it still manages to captivate. Its narrow cobblestone streets and medieval architecture will take your breath away. Plus, its prime location right in the heart of the city makes it ideal for sightseeing and getting around.

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02 of 10

El Born

A street in the Born neighborhood of Barcelona.

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As one of Barcelona's oldest neighborhoods, El Born certainly has its fair share of things to see and do. From the stunning Santa María del Mar Basilica to a wealth of museums (including the Picasso Museum and even a chocolate museum), it's safe to say you'll never be bored while exploring its picturesque streets.

When you need a break from exploring, stop for a drink or a bite to eat. Born is home to some of Barcelona's best bars and restaurants.

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A street in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona.

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In the past, Raval was a sketchy no-go area and one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Barcelona. Luckily, that's changed, because the rejuvenated Raval is one of the city's most colorful and eclectic barrios.

This bohemian hipsters' paradise is centrally located, but much less expensive than the nearby Gothic Quarter and Born. It also boasts one of the most concentrated collection of international eateries in town, thanks to its status as a multicultural hotspot.

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Poble Sec

Night view of the Poble Sec neighborhood in Barcelona

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Poble Sec provides the best of both worlds. Situated just south of the city center in between the must-see sights of Montjuïc Hill and the port district, the location couldn't be better. But this laid-back area is much more relaxed and low-key than its touristy neighbors. It's a perfect home base if you want to be close to the action, but in a more chilled-out zone.

While none of Barcelona's must-see attractions are in Poble Sec itself, the neighborhood provides a fascinating opportunity to live like a local. Its charming streets are full of incredible, locally owned shops, bars and restaurants, and after spending some time there, you'll practically fit right in.

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Eixample neighborhood, Barcelona

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With its neat, gridlike layout and abundance of Modernist architecture, Eixample is a must on any Barcelona itinerary. With a diverse selection of shopping options, eateries, and nightlife destinations, it provides something for everyone, with an upscale sophistication that feels at once elegant and unpretentious.

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Catalan flags hanging from balconies in Barcelona

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Once you head north of Avinguda Diagonal, you won't be in Barcelona anymore. Or at least it'll feel like you're not in Barcelona anymore. The Gràcia district used to be a completely separate village before being swallowed up by an ever-expanding Barcelona in the 19th century, and the strong sense of local identity still runs deep.

Here, people overwhelmingly speak Catalan rather than Spanish, and you'll get a major small-town vibe despite being in busy Barcelona. Gràcia is charming, idyllic, and perfect for curious travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience.

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Port Vell in Barceloneta

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The nearby beach of the same name might be one of the most touristy beaches in Barcelona, but the neighborhood of Barceloneta itself is far from it. A onetime humble fishermen's quarter, walking its streets still manages to feel like time has stood still.

Here, you'll find colorful homes, a lingering sea breeze, and plenty of fresh seafood made to order at the numerous tapas bars and restaurants. You can't get much better than this charming little neighborhood if being near the beach is your main goal.

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The financial district in Poblenou, Barcelona

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Once an industrial zone that was home to factories and little else, Poblenou has undergone a spectacular transformation in recent years. Today, it's one of Barcelona's biggest creative hotspots.

Art, technology, and design converge in this modern neighborhood just east of the city center. Few tourists make it out this way, so you'll blend right in with the locals. And as a bonus, nearby Bogatell Beach is perfect for those who want to avoid the crowded shores of Barceloneta.

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Sant Antoni

Exterior of the newly renovated Sant Antoni market in Barcelona.

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Small, up-and-coming, and decidedly off the beaten path, Sant Antoni has made a name for itself in recent years as one of Barcelona's top dining destinations. Home to a grandiose, recently reopened food market and no shortage of great tapas bars, it's easily Barcelona's best neighborhood for foodies.

But even if eating your weight in fabulous food isn't your main goal, Sant Antoni should still be on your radar. It offers an irresistible charm that's hard to find in many other Barcelona neighborhoods, and is populated by friendly locals who will soon start to feel like good friends.

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Plaça d'Espanya in Barcelona's Sants-Montjuïc district

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If the name Sants rings a bell, it's probably because you're thinking of Barcelona's main train station. But Sants and the nearby Montjuïc neighborhood—which are often grouped together as Sants-Montjuïc—have so much more to offer.

Obviously, Montjuïc Hill and its many sights are big draws. But the area is also home to some seriously great shopping, and its leisurely atmosphere makes it the perfect place for an afternoon or evening stroll.