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Barcelona consists of many different districts that are all unique and individual in their own particular way and that offer many different options for staying, e.g. hotels, hostels, holiday apartments etc. When choosing where to stay in Barcelona though, you should understand a little bit about each district in order to find the right area for yourself. The most popular part of the city among tourists is probably the Ciutat Vella - the old city centre that consists of two areas, el Barrio Gotico and el Raval.
The Barrio Gotico/Barri Gotic/Gothic Quarter (photo above) is at the heart of the old town and the first place many tourists visit when coming to Barcelona. Having been built on top of a former Roman settlement, this part of the city is famous for its 13th to 15th century buildings that make up the most complete gothic quarter the European continent can offer. Furthermore, the many small, narrow and interconnected streets that may seem confusing at times, include fascinating ancient chapels and small towers that make this neighbourhood a very charming place to stay. The area is also known for its creativity and many artists and musicians find their home there. So if you are interested in the origins of the city and like a romantic and creative vibes this is the place to look for accommodation in Barcelona.
El Raval is the other part of the Ciutat Vella and it lies on the western side of Las Ramblas. It used to be considered unsafe, but it has undergone a huge transformation process and has turned into one of Europe’s most buzzing and culturally mixed neighbourhoods in which it seems normal to see Asian and Latin American merchants selling their goods side by side with traditional Catalan street vendors. Especially since the Olympic Games, that took place in Barcelona in 1992, the area has also replaced many of its old and dodgy apartment houses by new, cutting-edge buildings, squares and boulevards that aim to make this part of the city a more attractive place to visit. However, the area has still some rough edges and tourists are advised to keep their things close, as well as to avoid late night strolls through some of the district's more seedy streets.
L’Eixample L’Eixample (in English - extension) was added to the older parts of Barcelona in the 19th century when the city became more and more overpopulated due to industrialisation. This Catalonian capital was extended north of Placa Catalunya and the new district was laid out in a grid pattern with straight and wide streets to let lots of light and space into the life of its residents. This made and makes L’Eixample also a very easy neighbourhood to navigate in and it is rather difficult to get completely lost.
The district is famous for its fantastic Modernist architecture that is particularly known for Gaudi’s works such as his legendary, yet ever unfinished masterpiece - the Sagrada Familia and many others. These striking buildings can be found throughout the entire neighbourhood and make a walk through its streets an unforgettable and stunning experience. Spain’s most exclusive shopping street (Passeig de Gracia) is also located in the area and there, everything that carries a brand name can be purchased at soaring prices. If you are traveling on a budget, the street itself is still worth a visit due to the collection of incredible Modernist buildings and the buzzing atmosphere. L’Eixample in general is a great mix of commercial and residential areas and you can experience some true Spanish lifestyle when deciding to stay in this neighbourhood.
Gracia Gracia is another yet mainly residential area of the city that has kept its true village-like spirit originating from its history as a separate town. It was not until 1897 that the district was connected to the rest of Barcelona when the Passeig de Gracia was constructed. Today, Gracia (even though very central) still seems to be very separate from the rest of the city due to its mainly smaller and charming buildings, the many little cafes and bars that provide a home for the many students living there and its overall bohemian atmosphere. Anybody who wants to experience some of the real Barcelona far off from the many tourist attractions should consider this neighbourhood as the district to stay.
Barceloneta Barceloneta and its surroundings, the city’s harbour and fishermen district, had long been neglected until the Olympic Games were held in the city in 1992.Then, the neighbourhood underwent a huge transformation process and has now turned into a very popular and recreational area for locals and tourists alike. This is the place to be if you are primarily interested in a relaxing yet exciting summer vacation as the city’s nice and sandy beaches as well as many tourist attractions are located here. If you are interested in eating some great seafood, you should come here as the area still provides a home for Barcelona’s fishermen and best fish restaurants.
Ciutadella and Bogatell Next to Barceloneta, the areas of Ciutadella and Bogatell can be found. They offer a wonderful beach but at the same time, they are less crowded by tourists and the atmosphere is more quiet and residential. So if you are looking for a really recreational beach vacation, this is the area to consider.