Barcelona is a big, fascinating city with lots of interesting, diverse neighborhoods. One is certainly going to be right for you. The question is: which one?
Here’s the help you need to make the right choice …
Consider Ciutat Vella if you like the idea of “being in the middle of everything.” Ciutat Vella is the very heart of the city, the part of town where you can capture the spirit and essence of Barcelona’s distinct Mediterranean roots. The streets here are packed with noisy and lively crowds of both visitors and locals. This is Barcelona’s historic hub and the ambience is remarkably dynamic, vibrant and memorable.
Importantly, Ciutat Vella is a pedestrian-friendly area. There are few large roads, very little noisy traffic and streets that are made for strolling. However, while vehicles won’t disturb you with honking horns, the area is known for the noise that emanates each evening from the many discos and bars that line the streets.
Here are several more great choices for you to consider …
You Can Select One of These
Four Uniquely Different Districts …
All in the Center of Barcelona.
Barrio Gotico and Born both border Las Ramblas to the left and face the sea. Each is desirable for many reasons. For instance: both neighborhoods are relatively safe … mostly quiet … and provide easy access to public transportation, including the metro (Green Line L3) and numerous buses. An enticing variety of chic, trendy restaurants and bars, as well as less expensive establishments are all within easy walking distance.
If you like the beach, you’ll probably want to stay in Barceloneta. This is the area where a “neighborhood beach” is easily accessible from most hotels and vacation apartments. But a word of caution: its accessibility can sometimes be a problem because, in summer, the beach is almost always overcrowded and not always well-maintained.
Barceloneta, however, is convenient to most other sections of the city. Visitors who stay here will be able to use the metro (L4 Yellow Line) and many buses. Additionally, Estaçio de França, one of Barcelona’s largest railway hubs, is also located here. This provides travelers with an added advantage: the ability to get to and from Barcelona airport easily and inexpensively.
One more interesting thought about Barceloneta: it was once a fishing village. Even today, restaurants and bars in the area serve freshly-caught seafood and fish daily. The smell of the sea — and the seafood – often greets strollers as they pass by the restaurants.
Finally, there is Raval. Similar to Barrio Gotico, but not quite as fashionable, it is home to many of Barcelona’s best-known “must-see” sights and museums. Raval also features a sizeable immigrant population which results in an ambience that is both multinational and fascinating.
The diversity is evident in the many food shops and boutiques offering a vast array of national foods and souvenirs representative of many different countries. Importantly, the crime rate in Raval is high. Those who go out for an evening stroll need to be extra cautious and careful.
Prices throughout Ciutat Vella, and its four main districts fluctuate from inexpensive and very affordable to very expensive (for luxury apartment rentals). Overall, this area of the city is ideally-suited for young people … for couples … for small groups of friends … and for families with children.
Here’s What You Need to Know NOW …
· Be Aware of Pickpockets … Las Ramblas, at the Plaza Cataluna, and in other crowded sections is a “pickpocket’s paradise.” You need to be careful when you are out in these areas. It’s important to take good care of your personal belongings. If you stop to watch street performers in Las Ramblas, be sure to hold on to your bag tightly. In fact, keep it in front of you and close to you. If you’re wearing a rucksack, remove it and hold it in your hands, as well.
· Prepare to Walk Up Steps … Lots of Them … Many buildings in Ciutat Vella are older and do not have elevators. If you are staying in an apartment at such a building, you will possibly have to walk up steps daily. Many staircases in these buildings may be narrow, so walking up and down these steps can sometimes be tricky. It can also add to the experience of your trip … because you will be “living like a local” and you will get to know Barcelona a little bit better than your fellow travelers.
· Accessible and Useful Tourism Office … Plaza Cataluna is home to the largest Tourism Office in all of Barcelona. It’s a treasure waiting to be discovered. Go there the day you arrive. You’ll find many helpful flyers and brochures that will make your stay more enjoyable. You’ll also get Discount Tickets, with savings from 5% - 15%, that are accepted at a select group of restaurants, bars, concerts, exhibitions and museums throughout the city.
If you want to get away from the usual tourist places and the noise, consider Eixample, one of Barcelona’s better neighborhoods.
Eixample caters to the well-to-do, especially in the sections around Passeig de Gracia, Rambla de Cataluna and in the Avenue Gaudi/Sagrada Familia area. This is a relatively safe and clean part of town. It’s almost always tranquil because few tourists venture here. However, there are still many fine restaurants, bars and open air cafes. And some of the best shopping in all of Barcelona is available along the Avenue Passeig de Gracia.
If you are staying in Eixample, you will be able to get to the center of the city in as little as 5-15 minutes, depending on where you are in Eixample. In fact, if you are staying near the Avenue Passeig de Gracia or Gran Via Avenue, you will enjoy easy access to the metro or many buses. You can also use taxis, which are surprisingly affordable.
Here’s What You Need to Know NOW …
· Avoid Staying on a Large Street … and you’ll avoid the discomfort of having to endure too much noise. Streets such as Gran Via, Passeig de Gracia, Avinguda Diagonal and Avinguda Paralel are busy throughout the day … and always noisy. Windows with double panes of glass can shut out the noise, but only if you are willing to keep them closed all the time.
· Eixample is suitable for everyone … It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling alone or in a group, you’ll find vacation apartment rental opportunities that meet your budget … and buildings that have enough apartments available so that your entire group can remain together.
Eixample is also well-suited to the needs of seniors because it is safe, quiet and very upscale.
Here Are More Neighborhoods
For You To Consider…
Sants and Les Corts are quiet residential neighborhoods generally avoided by tourists because there are no sights or attractions to enjoy. However, this area has many newly-constructed buildings packed with modern facilities and lots of amenities.
Public transportation is readily available and a trip to the center of Barcelona normally takes about 15 minutes by metro, slightly longer by bus.
Tranquility and comfort are the keys here. And, because tourists stay away, first class accommodation is often available at bargain prices.
Sants and Les Corts are also perfect for exhibitors and business travelers because of their proximity to the Fira Barcelona Fair and the Congress Center. In fact, you can take the metro to the Plaza Espana which will literally leave you at the doorstep of Barcelona’s main exhibition center.
Finally, you may wish to consider Vila Olimpica. Constructed for the 1992 Olympic Games, it is now a well-to-do district that features new luxury buildings with posh, comfortable apartments. Ideal for those who want to relax, it is still just 15-20 minutes away from Las Ramblas by metro (L4 Yellow Line) … no more than thirty minutes away for those who prefer to walk.
Vila Olimpica has two beaches – Bogatell and Nova Icaria – which compare quite favorably to the beach at Barceloneta because they are much less crowded and much cleaner. Windsurfing is popular at both beaches.
Luxury is evident throughout Vila Olimpica. And that is why you can expect to pay a bit more if you stay here.
There are, of course, many more neighborhoods throughout Barcelona, but the ones mentioned here are among the most popular and best-suited for vacation and business travelers.
Visitors to Barcelona have an almost limitless choice of neighborhoods in which to stay. Whether you like to be “in the middle of the action” or you prefer it “quiet and relaxed” there is a neighborhood that fits your needs … and your budget.
Pick “your home away from home” right now – before your next visit.