The 12 Coolest Neighbourhoods in Barcelona, Spain

| Alonso Navarro / Unsplash
Esme Fox

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is filled with cool neighbourhoods – think hidden art galleries, cocktail bars, designer boutiques and hipster hangouts. Whether you’re looking for a stay in bohemian Gràcia, hip El Born, trendy Poblenou, edgy Raval, or somewhere else, here’s our pick of the coolest neighbourhoods in Barcelona.

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1. Gràcia

Architectural Landmark

Colourful buildings in Jardinets de Gràcia, Barcelona, España
David Castellà / Unsplash
Gràcia is bohemian, hip and family-friendly – all at the same time. Here, narrow pedestrian streets are linked by atmospheric plazas, fringed by tapas bars and cafés, and filled with playgrounds. It’s well known for international cuisine – you’ll find authentic Italian eateries, American pie shops, plus Japanese sushi and ramen restaurants. It’s a cool spot for shopping, too, home to independent stores, selling an eclectic range of products, from old vinyl records to unique boho fashion and handmade souvenirs. Gràcia is also a nightlife hub with animated bars, swanky cocktail joints and traditional spots for live music.

2. El Born

Architectural Landmark

Graffiti in El Born, Barcelona, Spain
Taisia Karaseva / Unsplash

The narrow web of streets scattered around the old church of Santa Maria del Mar is known as El Born. Here, hidden down backstreets, sit some of the coolest spots in the city – clandestine speakeasies, hip coffee shops, trendy concept stores and hipster barbers. They’re interspersed with small art galleries and boutique shops, selling everything from handmade leather shoes and bespoke jewellery to unique fashion. Another lively spot for a night out, the main thoroughfare of Passeig del Born is lined with bars – ideal for a cocktail, beer or vermouth.

3. Poblenou

Architectural Landmark

Puerta Parc Poble Nou, Barcelona
Manuel Torres Garcia / Unsplash
Poblenou has slowly been growing into one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the city, popular with hipsters and start-ups. While the lower part of the neighbourhood, close to the sea, has remained quite traditional, it’s the upper region near the colourful Torre Glòries that has changed the most. Here, old warehouses have been transformed into creative offices and co-working spaces, modern galleries, craft beer breweries and concept stores. If you love Instagrammable spaces, quality coffee, brunch places and vintage markets, you’ll love Poblenou.

4. Poble-Sec

Architectural Landmark

Poble-Sec sits between Raval, Sants and Montjuïc Hill and offers a mix of edgy and cool. Along the main road of Parallel, you’ll find several theatres and music halls, which have made this neighbourhood an entertainment spot for many years. Recently, however, the interior of the barrio has been changing, with the addition of craft beer bars and funky international joints. One of the coolest spots to hang out here is Carrer Blai, a street filled with Basque-style pintxos bars.

5. Barri Gòtic

Architectural Landmark

Moody nighttime view of Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, España
Chalo Gallardo / Unsplash
The Gothic Quarter is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, and partly surrounded by the old city walls and filled with ancient Roman remnants and medieval buildings; it’s also home to Barcelona Cathedral. Here, you’ll find century-old shops sitting next to Irish pubs and quirky souvenir outlets. It’s a neighbourhood of contrasts, and a cool spot for a night out, where you can find nightclubs and themed bars, particularly in the lower part of the neighbourhood, close to the marina. While the main parts of Barri Gòtic (such as the area around the cathedral, La Rambla and Plaça de Sant Jaume) can be crowded, you’re sure to find some quiet streets to explore and unique shops to discover.

6. El Raval

Architectural Landmark

Market in El Raval, Barcelona, Spain
Vitalijs Barilo / Unsplash

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. Recommended by Tara Jessop.

7. Eixample

Architectural Landmark

View of Barcelona skyline from Eixample, Barcelona, Spain
Jorge Salvador / Unsplash

The Eixample neighbourhood sits in the city centre and offers a different type of cool. It’s elegant, upmarket and luxurious, filled with designer stores and boutiques, refined hotels and fine-dining restaurants. The neighbourhood runs from Plaça Catalunya (just north of the Gothic Quarter) to Gràcia, and is divided by the grand boulevard Passeig de Gràcia. This is where you’ll find most of the designer shops and magnificent pieces of architecture, including two of Gaudí’s most famous works – the Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. One of the coolest parts of Eixample is the lower west side of the neighbourhood, a favourite hangout of the LGBTQ community. Here, there’s a party vibe with lots of bars, clubs and LGBTQ-centred hotels.

8. Sant Antoni

Architectural Landmark

Sant Antoni lies between Eixample, Raval and Poble-Sec. The neighbourhood is centred on the Sant Antoni Market, a covered food and book market that opened in 2018. Because of this, the neighbourhood has attracted cool bars and restaurants – great places to eat in Barcelona, which range from trendy doughnut shops – the kind you might expect to find in New York – to craft beer bars. Even top chefs Ferran and Albert Adrià, of El Bulli fame, opened eateries in the area.

9. El Clot

Architectural Landmark

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. Recommended by Tara Jessop.

10. Les Corts

Architectural Landmark

Arenas de Barcelona, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona, Spain
Igor Ferreira / Unsplash

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. Recommended by Tara Jessop.

11. Sants

Architectural Landmark

There’s good reason to think that Sants is going to be the next hot neighbourhood in Barcelona, given its great combination of neighbourhood spirits, laid back atmosphere, independent shopping and proximity to the city centre. One of the best ways to get to know Sants is to go on a tour of its authentic bodegas for a vermouth or two on a Saturday afternoon. This is when you can best get a glimpse of the conviviality which sometimes feels lost in more central Barcelona neighbourhoods. Recommended by Tara Jessop.

12. Sarrià

Architectural Landmark

For many locals, Sarrià is synonymous with the upper-classes of Barcelona, a neighbourhood full of luxury homes and mansions. While this is true, it also has a village feel to it similar to its neighbour, the trendy Gràcia district. The Carrer Major is lined with small shops and boutiques, as well as Bar Tomàs which is rumoured to serve the best patatas bravas in town. Neighbours stop for a chat on the public square, while friends and families catch up on the terrace of their favourite café. Recommended by Tara Jessop.

You’ll need somewhere to hunker down during your time in the Catalan capital. See where to stay in Barcelona.

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