A Guide to the Diverse Barrios of Barcelona

Upon arriving in Barcelona, Spain for my semester abroad, one thing that really surprised me was how each neighborhood in the city (or barrio as it is called in Spanish) has its own unique character.  Each neighborhood not only looks somewhat different but also has a particular culture and atmosphere. This makes Barcelona a great place to explore, as each neighborhood brings something new to discover.

Coming from the smaller town of Boulder, Colorado, Barcelona seemed like a huge, never-ending city to me at first. However, when broken up into neighborhoods, Barcelona becomes a completely different city that is easy to explore and eventually feel at home in.  Here are some of my favorite neighborhoods in Barcelona that I have explored so far.

Gracia: Hip and Homey

Gracia is probably my favorite neighborhood in Barcelona, as it is less touristy and crowded than other neighborhoods in the city. It originally used to be its own village, but as Barcelona grew, it became part of the city. Gracia is home to many hip boutiques, ethnically diverse restaurants, picturesque plazas, and Gaudi’s Park Guell.  The neighborhood is very easy to navigate thanks to its smaller pedestrian streets. Gracia is also where I am staying in an apartment with my host family, so this area truly feels like my home in Barcelona. 

view of barcelona from a window
This is the view from my window overlooking Plaza de Joanic in Gracia.
street in Gracia neighborhood barcelona
Gracia has beautiful tree lined streets that are pedestrian friendly.
coffee at onna coffee barcelona
“Onna Coffee” My favorite lunch at my favorite café, Onna Coffee, a delicious pesto-chicken sandwich and some coffee.

Eixample: A Little Bit of Everything

Another one of my favorite neighborhoods is Eixample.  This neighborhood was created after the wall around the Gothic was deconstructed, allowing for the expansion of the city.  It has multiple smaller sections but is easy to navigate since it is organized on a grid. 

The most notable attraction in Exiample is the Sagrada Familia, which I would highly recommend going to. There is truly nothing else like it; the amount of detail and the grand scale of the building are astonishing.  Exiample also houses the city park which is very grand and tranquil.

sagrada familia from the outside
The outside of the Sagrada Familia, which we got to tour with ISA.
arc de triomf barcelona
The Arc de Triomf was constructed for the World’s Fair but now is the entrance to the city park.
cascada monumental barcelona
The Cascada Monumental includes fountains as well as a statue of Venus.
billy brunch pancakes barcelona
“Billy Brunch” is one of me and my friend’s favorite restaurants as they serve American breakfast and brunch food all day! We were all craving some pancakes after a month of being abroad.

The Gothic: Living History  

The Gothic Quarter is one of the more well-known and touristy areas. However, I would still recommend going as it is unique in terms of its architecture and history. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods because it is home to many museums. My favorite museum that I have visited so far is the Picasso Museum, but I also really enjoyed the Barcelona History Museum. ISA also provides its students with a walking tour of the Gothic Neighborhood, during which I was able to learn more about the history of Barcelona and take some photos. 

cathedral in the gothic quarter of barcelona
Barcelona’s historical Cathedral highlights the Gothic style of the neighborhood.
roman ruins in the barcelona history museum
Archaeological ruins from the roman times in the History Museum.

rooftops of barcelona by picasso
One of my favorite works from the Picasso Museum, “Rooftops of Barcelona”.
streets in the gothic quarter barcelona
The winding streets of the Gothic are fun to explore.

Sabrina Stern is a student at University of Colorado, Boulder and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Barcelona, Spain. 

Leave a Reply