Translated as the 'old city', this area is characterised by winding streets, hidden squares, picturesque architecture such as the Gothic cathedral, nice restaurants and cafes with its unique atmosphere, making it popular with tourists. There are traditionally four quarters of the old town.
A beautiful and trendy part of the city without being overly touristy. It is a desirable place to live, even Javier Bardem rented a flat here whilst filming 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'. It used to be one of the main trading area of the city and some of this still exists as a lot of money has been spent to maintain it. There are lots of international residents who are keen to make the most of its nightlife, sophisticated hang outs and trendy vibe. There is lots of shopping in this area. It is near to Ciutadella Park, Barcelona Zoo, the Picasso Museum, the Arc de Triomf and the beach is just a ten minute walk away. It also boasts a reputation of being the best district to eat in.
Transport: The nearest metro is Jaume I (L4) and Arc de Triomf (L1) and Barceloneta (L4) to the south. Estacio de Franca is also near if you need to take the train. It is walking distance to Barceloneta and about a 10-15 minute walk from the Ramblas.
The neighbourhood sits to the west of the Ramblas and it is a hotly debated neighbourhood in Barcelona due to its controversial reputation. The area has undergone some much needed renovation and is now filled with a mix of cultures that bring influences from foreign and local customs resulting in lots of multicultural restaurants and endless bars. It is a vintage and quirky area with chic boutiques and second-hand outlets. There also the famous Boqueria market on the edge of the neighbourhood and MACBA and Güell Palace located in the heart of Raval. If you apply common sense precautions and you should be fine, don’t let its past reputation put you off.
Transport: As El Raval is located in the city centre, there are many transport links with metro stations situated at every corner. Drassanes (L3), Liceu (L3), Universitat, Sant Antoni and Paral.lel. Many of the streets are pedestrianised though you wont find many bus links in the area. Despite this the neighbourhood is located just a short walk away from Plaza Cataluña where you can catch buses to take you anywhere!
This is considered the centre of the old town, it is packed with hidden squares and picturesque architecture accessed by pedestrianised streets. This area is very popular with tourists and there are a lot of hostels and hotels here. There are lots of streets with high street brands as well as a large El Corte Ingles. If you want a more genuine shopping experience you need to head deeper into the neighbourhood to find one off boutiques. You will find several theatres and of course the famous Placa Reial.
Transport: It is in the city centre and so there are many metro/train links and bus links that can be reached. Be aware that many of Gotico´s streets aren’t able to be accessed by cars or taxis.
Education: There are few schools as this area isn´t really populated with families.
This is the closest area to the beach from the city centre and is a desired area to live for people who want to be in the centre of the city but also live in a bright and airy apartment on the seafront. It is situated along the marina and beachfront. At Playa de la Barceloneta you will see lots of people playing various sports or cycling, there are also lots of beach bars that turn late at night into small nightclubs with music and DJ’s. Attractions include Barcelona's Aquarium and the IMAX 3D cinema. Barceloneta also boasts the freshest seafood and paella as it is located in the heart of the harbour. There are many beach front restaurants, bars and clubs that should be explored.
Transport: The neighbourhood is serviced by its own metro station: Barceloneta (L4), and it is also served by public buses and tourist buses. Estacio de Franca (train station) is nearby and it can connect you with many places in Barcelona and the surrounding areas. There is also the cable car from Barceloneta to Montjuic where you will see some spectacular views of the city.
This district is the centre of the modernist architecture and is the home of the majority of Gaudi´s masterpieces. This area enjoys a good quality of living and there are several families that live in this area. Passeig de Gracia is in Eixample Dreta - a fashion boulevard for all international designers and expensive brands. Along this road you will find the best luxury apartments to rent in Barcelona. There are also a number of art galleries, upmarket bars and restaurants. It is also home to the famous Sagrada Familia. This is a family-friendly neighbourhood; there is an artificial beach that opens especially for kids in the summer months, Plata de l’Eixample.
Transport: Connected to the city with many metro lines throughout the district on L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. Bus routes also run to and from the centre as well as the beach.
Education: There are plenty of good local schools including Collegi Lestonnac and Escola Palcam as well as the Collège Ferdinand de Lesseps (French international school).
Some people would call this area Barcelona’s most liberal neighbourhood due to its laid back, easy-going and alternative vibe. There are plenty of locals that live here with cinemas, newsagents; supermarkets are all in the plenty. Las Arenas is located on the edge of this area and is complete with a cinema, restaurants and shops as well as a 360 panoramic view of Barcelona. Located on its edge are the Plaza Espanya, Montjuic and La Fontana Magic. There is a modernist style park that can offer a peaceful place to relax, it is called the Parc de Joan Miro.
Transport: There are lots of metro stations dotted throughout this area on lines such as L1, L3, L5.
Education: Lots of schools in this area including Escola Ipsi.
Gracia has several charming squares which are focal points for the neighbourhoods and there is a sense of true community here among the Catalan families here. You also won’t find as many tourists here and so you can expect a more authentic feel of Barcelona lifestyle. There tends to be lot of young people here as the rent isn’t typically as expensive as in the centre. Parc Güell is a main attraction in this area as well as its boutique and independent shops that are worth checking out.
Transport: You are connected to the city via various metro stops: L3 (Fontana, Lesseps, Vallcarca) and L4 (Joanic).
Education: You are close to Escuela Suiza as well as the local school of Virolai which is ranked in the top 100 schools (36) in Spain.
This is a large residential area and one of the biggest districts in Barcelona with a very local feel, perfect for a peaceful and authentic experience of Barcelona. It used to be separate to Barcelona and then became a district of Barcelona - the residents are very proud of its separate history and so want to maintain it. Sarrià is also home to the Tibidabo with amazing views, restaurants with panoramic views of Barcelona and a traditional amusement park. Mercat de Sarrià has a variety of fresh produce including fruit and vegetables, seafood and meat. CosmoCaixa is a science museum which is definitely worth a visit. There is also Turó Park. There are various cocktail bars including ‘Mirablau’ and ‘Gimlet’. It is said that Sarrià still retains a village atmosphere with narrow streets and small houses.
Transport: This area is connected to the city centre by the metro. You can catch a metro on the L6 to Plaza Cataluña and arrive in 12 minutes. The metro station of Palau Reial (L3) is also close. Several train stations (FGC Cataluña) are also in the area as well as various bus routes.
Education: There are plenty of local schools including College Montserrat as well as a few international schools including Oak House School, Santa Clara International School, St Georges British School, The Benjamin Franklin School, Lycée Français and the Escuela Suiza.
Tucked in below the Coserolla Hills and above Avenida Diagonal, it is a wealthy neighbourhood with small gated communities; and one of the most sought after area of Barcelona. Properties tend to be modern and spacious with landscaped gardens and swimming pools. There are plenty of sports facilities which are good to socialise with other residents. In this area you will find the L’Illa complex and Pedralbes Centre, both of which are big commercial shopping centres. You can also find the Reial Club de Tennis, Finca de Güell, Parc de Pedralbes, Parc de Cervantes, Palau Real and the Museu-Monestir de Pedralbes.
Transport: Palau Reial, Zona Universitària, Maria Cristina metro stations all connect Pedralbes to the city centre (L3). There is a tram that also runs along the Avenida Diagonal, and a bus that takes you to straight into Plaza de Cataluña.
Education: There are a few international schools in the area including, the Lycée Français de Barcelone, St Paul’s School, St Peter´s School, The Highlands School, The Kensington School Barcelona, Escola Thau BCN, and the University of Barcelona have a campus here.
Poble Nou is a neighbourhood that, similar to Gracia, still remains to feel very village like and it boasts its own Ramblas which is pedestrianised and lined with benches and trees. You are also located close to three of Barcelona’s beaches. This was an area that previously was an industrial district but now, after regeneration, many of the warehouses have been transformed into lofts and galleries. There are also supermarkets and a shopping complex on Diagonal Avenue – located north of the neighbourhood. You can also find two parks in this neighbourhood, one is Parc de Poble Nou and the other is the walled Parc Central del Poble Nou which is a peaceful spot for residents.
Transport: L1 and L4, there are several bus and tram stops – you’ll be close to the city via public transport but be in a fairly peaceful district when you need a break.
This neighbourhood is just south of Placa Espanya and it is an area that is said to have maintained a sense of strong identity and community spirit, you might even see locals dancing the Sardana – a Catalan dance - in one of the many plazas. You are close to Montjuic and the Olympic village. There are also plenty of theatres in the area.
Transport: Connected via metro stations located on L2/L3 (Paral.lel, Poble Sec and Placa Espanya), as well as various buses that run along the Parallel Avenue.
The area of Vila Olimpica was built as a residence for athletes during the Barcelona '92 Olympic games. This is a modern and impressively designed area with easy access to Barcelona's beaches. This area has now gained a name as one of the most sought-after places to live in Barcelona thanks to its beach side status and high-quality property. Many families live here and so there are various schools to attend. There is also a marina where there are over 700 yacht berths.
Transport: L4 Metro Line (Ciutadella Vila Olimpca) as well as the tram and various bus routes (including the tourist bus).
Education: There are private and state schools are located throughout the area including: Escola Vila Olimpica.
This is a development at the northern end of Barcelona with swanky hotels, high rise apartments and its very own beach. Although it isn’t typically Spanish or of any Catalan style, you will enjoy a luxury and high quality of life here, with modern and spacious apartments that will have incredible sea views. You will be able to shop for everything that you need in the Diagonal Mar shopping centre with a large supermarket, cinema and high street fashion and countless restaurants. There are still plans for a new marina and other various developments. You also have Barcelona’s Natural History Museum here which, if interested, you should allow a few hours to get round! You have the Parc Diagonal Mar to look round.
Transport: It is located on the L4 metro line – Selva de Mar, Maresme/Forum, T4 tram line which takes you directly to the end of Avenida de Diagonal and there are several buses
Education: Various private and local schools including the Hamelin Laie International School are located in and around Diagonal Mar.
People say this area is authentically Catalan and not many foreigners have made their mark on the area, you should expect Catalan and FC Barcelona flags as it is located near to the famous Camp Nou. There are not many tourists in this area so if you´re wanting to live alongside the natives then this may be the place for you. You are also close to Hostafrancs which is a market where you can find everything you may need. For more commercial shopping you have Las Arenas in walking distance.
Transport: There is a main large train station called Estacio de Sants where national and international trains run to and from. Metro stations lines are based on a couple of lines: L1 (Hostafrancs, Mercat Nou), L3 (Plaça del Centre), L5 (Plaça del Sants, Sants Estacio).
Education: There are lots of schools located in this area and Pedralbes is near for international schools.
The Surrounding Areas
A coastal county of Catalonia that has 50km of beautiful sandy beaches, therefore making it a great location to spend a summer. It is easily accessed from Barcelona via a train from Barcelona to Mataró – the capital of Maresme. If you’re a fan of wine or cava, why not take a break from the long beaches and discover the secrets of excellent wine and visit some of the wineries in Alella?
This city is in Northern Catalonia and is a beautiful medieval city that has an old town and a new town. The old town of Girona is full of galleries, 7 museums (including the award-winning Cinema Museum), Gothic churches and medieval architecture. You can also visit the Arab baths which are an imitation of the Medieval baths whose existence date back to the 12th century. There are many family owned business and clothing shops in the old town to enjoy a traditional shopping experience. You can also explore the historic Jewish quarter with many quaint bars and restaurants through its narrow and cobbled streets. Girona is also renowned for its Catalan and Spanish cuisine, there are plenty of lovely places to eat and drink, take in your surroundings and enjoy this popular summer destination. There is also a big industry for sports tourism due to its surrounding landscapes and its status as a certified Sports Tourism Destination. They have also converted old train lines into what are now called The Greenways. The Greenways are trails that are reserved for hikers, cyclists and sportsmen to go from the Pyrenees of Girona to the Costa Brava. You can find a copy of their long sports events calendar on the Girona Tourism website. There are also lots of natural spaces in the city including La Devesa Park - the largest park in the city and one of the largest in Cataluña. Like Barcelona, you may find yourself in Girona's very own Plaça Cataluña, it is a place where locals can meet and relax. It can be easily accessed from Barcelona as you can catch a 40-minute train (express trains) from Sants so if you're not staying in Girona itself, a day trip might be an option!
Sitges is a town located 35km southwest of Barcelona that is renowned for its film festival and carnival. There are lots of families here from around the world whose children attend the several international schools in the area. There are also 17 beaches in Sitges which makes it a very popular summer destination. There are several museums too that can be found in Sitges. Sitges is well connected to Barcelona as well as being in close proximity of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Vilanova is a town near to Sitges that is worth noting, it too has beautiful beaches, it is a relaxed and calm and considerably more low-key than Sitges. There is a marina with various restaurants to enjoy some fresh seafood.
This area is located about 20km southwest of Barcelona. It is famous for its endless beaches and home to several famous sportsmen. Along the beach there are several restaurants as well as beach clubs and 'Chringuito´s' which are popular during the summer months. The medieval history of the town can still be seen with the Castle del Fels and the medieval defence towers making up the skyline. In terms of education, the town is the location of the British School of Barcelona as well as 10 public primary schools and 3 public secondary schools.
Gavá is made up of two separate parts, Gavá – the city and Gavá Mar: the beachside neighbourhood. There is a French international school located here; the Lycee Francais de Gavá. There are a couple of museums located in Gavá as well as the Gavá Mines Archaeological Park. We can’t forget to mention the beautiful beach you will find at Gavá Mar and like Castelldefels, Gavá is in close proximity to the airport as well as being easily accessed from Barcelona.