While Barcelona may not be a huge city, its neighbourhoods certainly have their own distinctive character. If you’re studying in Barcelona and wondering where to live, check out our guide to the best neighbourhoods for students for everything from affordable living to the best local nightlife.
Once an industrial area, these days the warehouses of Poblenou have been converted into spacious apartments and quirky studios that offer a lot more room than your average Barcelona flat. This makes Poblenou a great place to look for somewhere to live if you want to share with more than one or two other people and not have to make do with tiny bedrooms. What’s more, Poblenou is located just next to the sea and some of the most popular beaches in Barcelona such as Marbella beach and Bogatell beach. You’ll also find bars and restaurants around the Rambla del Poblenou, and you’ll be within walking distance of Barcelona’s famous Razzmataz nightclub.
If you can’t decide what part of Barcelona you like best, try somewhere that is within close proximity to all of it. From El Born you can get easy access to the Barceloneta beach, the high-street shops around Plaça Catalunya, the bars in El Raval, the Ciutadella Park, Eixample’s nightclubs and pretty much everything else in between. Because it’s so central, El Born will be packed with tourists in the summer, and it’s definitely not the quietest of neighbourhoods (or the cheapest) but it’s one of the city’s prettiest and most popular places to hang out.
If you’re more of a late-night bar than a nightclub kind of person, the El Raval has some good options for after-hours fun. Joaquin Costa Street is lined with cool bars and take-away eateries open until the early hours of the morning. One of Barcelona’s most multi-cultural neighbourhoods, El Raval is also where you’ll find a lot of Barcelona’s skater scene, as the MACBA is the city’s skateboarding mecca. There are also some great food shops for buying dry goods, spices and other exotic ingredients at affordable prices.
Once a town on the outskirts of Barcelona, the old part of Gràcia still has very much of a village feel and is renowned for its free-thinking spirit. The kind of neighbourhood Barcelonians love to live in, Gràcia has a fantastic food market at its centre, as well as independent boutiques selling ethical fashion, craft beer, up-cycled furniture, vintage bikes and organic vegetables. This is also where you’ll find some of the best outdoor terraces in Barcelona, such as the iconic Plaça del Sol whose bar terraces are invariably buzzing on sunny days.
As people have found themselves priced out of the most central Barcelona neighbourhoods, places like El Clot have become increasingly popular. A small neighbourhood located inland from Poblenou and not far from the Sagrada Família, El Clot has everything you could need for day-to-day living: green spaces, food shops, bars and affordable eateries. It may not be the trendiest or the most glamorous of neighbourhoods, but it’s friendly, safe, well-connected and very much the kind of place where people like to know their neighbours.
If you’re studying in Barcelona, there’s a good chance you’ll be attending classes in the large university city located to the south-west of the city. Located not far from there, Les Corts is a neighbourhood with both a modern and a more traditional side to it. Around the Avenida Diagonal, you’ll find modern apartment blocks as well as new shopping malls and a Corte Ingles department store. Move away from the main roads, though, and you’ll find some charming older buildings surrounding leafy public squares with a small-town feel.
Whether it’s because you need a good caffeine fix or just somewhere relaxing to write your paper, having a good coffee house around the corner can be crucial when you’re a student. Sant Antoni has established itself as one of the hippest spots for brunch and is home to some top cafés serving speciality coffee, fresh pastries and filling sandwiches. There’s also a fantastic market in Sant Antoni where you can get everything from fresh fish to cotton socks at reasonable prices. Located not far from El Raval and the Eixample, there are plenty of options for a night out within walking distance of Sant Antoni.