Barcelona: a Guide to The Best Neighborhoods For First-Time Visitors
Few cities in the world have established themselves as all-year tourist destinations like Barcelona. Whether you’re drawn to culture, food, entertainment, history, shopping or sports venues, the city is steeped in everything that matters for any kind of traveler. So which are the best-known neighborhoods of Barcelona, and what are they known for? Here’s a quick guide for first-time visitors in 2020 (and what’s left of 2019).
The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, is probably the best-known Barcelona neighborhood, a great way to discover the city on a first visit. Stretching from Las Ramblas to Via Laietana, this neighborhood was once the center of Barcelona’s old city. Sites like the Generalitat Palace and the neoclassical Ajuntament on Plaça Sant Jaume are matched by the Gothic Placa del Rei, Placa Reial, and the Cathedral, while narrow cobble-stoned alleys steeped in history lead to the very interesting Jewish quarter of El Call. The Gothic Quarter is abuzz with shopping and business during the day, and with restaurants, cafés and bars in the evening.
Also known as La Ribera, or the Waterfront, this neighborhood adjacent to the Gothic Quarter was once just inside the city’s 13th-century coastal wall. It’s the trendy high-end district of the old town, where museums, old mansions and churches mix with top shopping and culinary venues.
One of the most popular sites of El Born is the Santa Caterina market, just as interesting as the world-famous Boqueria on La Rambla but much less crowded. The 17-hectare Parc de la Ciutadella next door hosts the Barcelona Zoo and a waterfall Antoni Gaudí helped design as an apprentice. Sites worth a visit include the Santa Maria Basilica, the shopping area of Calle Flassaders, and of course the Museu Picasso.
Adjacent to the Gothic Quarter and known for its diversity and multicultural makeup, El Raval has undergone a transformation since 1995, with the opening of the Richard Maeier designed MACBA modern art museum. At the southern end of the neighborhood is the Maritime Museum, near the Placa de les Dressanes, the old port and the World Barcelona World Trade Center. The neighborhood also hosts the Palau Güell, one of Antoni Gaudí’s earlier works.
With panoramic views of the city and the sea, Gràcia is located at the heights overlooking Barcelona, and is teeming with more locals than tourists, serving up the small-town charm that draws so many to it. Plaça del Sol, Plaça de la Virreina and Plaça de la Vila are just a few of the many squares that dot this unique Barcelona neighborhood. Plaça de la Vila, Casa Fuster, Gaudí's Casa Vicens and Gaudí’s Park Güell make up the list of sites worth seeing when you’re in Gràcia.
The neighborhood is also known for the annual Festa Major, a weeklong festival held every August. The cafes and restaurants that line the streets and squares offer countless spots from where visitors can enjoy the lively spirit of this neighborhood over a drink or meal. The charming old district of Vila de Gràcia is known for the authenticity of the Catalan experience it offers.
Known as one of Barcelona’s best neighborhoods to live in, Eixample, combines the best shopping venues and access to culinary venues, supermarkets and bars within walking distance wherever in the neighborhood you may be. Some of the city’s most exclusive shops can be found in Passeig de Gràcia, Plaça Catalunya and Diagonal Avenue.
Eixample is also home to the single architectural site that has made Barcelona world-famous: Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia. Gaudí masterpieces like the Casa Batlló and the Casa Milà-La Pedrera, are not too far away. A visit to the Mercat de la Concepció, a local market open round the clock, is an opportunity to blend in with the local culture of Eixample.
Pedralbes is known as one of Barcelona’s most sophisticated and affluent neighborhoods. The neighborhood is home to the 14th-century Monastir de Pedralbes, as well as the Güell Estate, designed by Antoni Gaudí, and the Royal Palace.
Besides the historic sites, Pedralbes is also dotted with classy residential projects, top schools and sports facilities, which make it a quiet upscale area from where visitors can explore the city. It offers easy access to both transport and shopping destinations, specifically the huge Pedralbes Center and l’Illa malls and the Corte Ingles on Diagonal Avenue. Just across the Avenue is Camp Nou, home to the Barcelona soccer club.
The Ginosi Pedralbes Hotel: Your Gateway to Barcelona
Located minutes away by car from the Monastir de Pedralbes, on Carrer de Fontcoberta, is the recently-refurbished Ginosi Pedralbes Hotel. Cool and contemporary, spacious and fashionably distinct, the Ginosi Pedralbes Hotel has a total of 30 Deluxe Twin and Deluxe Double pet-friendly and smoke-free rooms.
The rooms of the Ginosi Pedralbes Hotel overlook the Jardins de Can Senillosa Park. The Lafuente Lorenzo Wine Store, Hu Nan Sushi Restaurant, and the DIA and Caprabo Senillosa supermarkets are all within a 50 meter range. There are more restaurants and cafes within a 200-meter range, including the Tantarantan Italian restaurant, the Cafe Dole, the La Fermata de Saria Pizza Restaurant, the Oriol Balaguer bakery, and the La Burg hamburger restaurant. The Jardines de Villa Amelia Park is just a 2-minute walk away.
The hotel also has direct access to public transport that connects quickly to Barcelona's best sites like the Plaça Catalunya, the famous Camp Nou Stadium, Tibidabo Hill, La Pedrera, and Park Güell.
Green Line 3 of the Barcelona Metro stretches along the southern edge of Pedralbes, as does the tram along Avinguda Diagonal. The closest metro station is Maria Cristina on Avinguda Diagonal, between the Plaça de la Reina Maria Cristina and the Plaça de Pius XII. Several bus lines also cross the neighborhood, offering easy access to all the major sites of the city, including Plaça de Catalunya.