Barcelona is one of the most iconic and most visited cities in Europe, which can make looking for advice quite overwhelming. As someone who loves the city so much that I decided to move here, I thought I would put together some quick tips to make your life a little bit easier when doing research for your trip. Here I have come up with five tips to make you that much more of an expert for when you find yourself in this little slice of Catalan paradise.
1. Lay of the Land
Barcelona has many distinct neighborhoods that each contain their own unique vibe. Choosing which neighborhood to stay in or where everything is in relation to one another can be quite a daunting task, but I hope to make it a bit easier with this quick guide.
The windy and historic streets of the Gothic Quarter make this an attractive neighborhood for many tourists when selecting an area to stay in. This bustling barrio contains many of the city's main tourist attractions, like Las Ramblas and Barcelona Cathedral. I definitely suggest taking a guided walking tour of the Gothic Quarter to get the historic run-down of all of the fascinating facts that lurk behind every corner.
This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city and my personal recommended place to stay if you are wanting to stay within the old part of the city (which you can see marked in light yellow on the map above.) El Born is a very "hip" part of town containing many artisan shops, tapas bars, and some of the city's most famous cocktail bars -- such as Paradiso for example. The windy little streets will transport you back in time as you allow yourself to get lost within the maze of this cute barrio.
Eixample (meaning Expansion in Catalan), is the largest and most central part of the city. If you have seen aerial photos of Barcelona, they were most likely taken within this district. The famous grid-lined streets and inner courtyards within the city blocks, make this neighborhood one of the most intentionally designed communities from the 19th century. It was during this time that the Modernist movement in architecture really took off and created some of the city's most emblematic buildings, like Casa Batllo and La Sagrada Familia. Within this area, you will find many beautiful examples of architecture and have easy access to the rest of the city. I definitely recommend staying in this neighborhood if you have the chance due to its beauty, walkability, and central location.
This neighborhood is a bit off the beaten path for most tourists but is actually my personal favorite. This barrio was a small town of its own that was annexed by Barcelona in 1897 after the expansion of Eixample joined it with the old part of the city. Here you will find many beautiful squares lined with restaurants and outdoor seating, as well as many artisan shops and bars along the narrow passageways. One of my favorite activities is to go to one of Gracia's many beautiful squares and just get drinks with friends to enjoy the sunny weather and grade-A people-watching.