Barcelona's neighbourhoods: Where to live in Barcelona
Which are the best neighbourhoods in Barcelona? Find where to live in Barcelona with our detailed guide to Barcelona's neighbourhoods.
Barcelona's neighbourhoods contain a diverse array of perks, with many distinct areas in Barcelona to choose from. Located on the Mediterranean, just two–three hours from Andorran ski slopes and the French border, Barcelona is famous for its excellent weather, relaxed lifestyle and historic buildings.
Constant renewal and renovation in most of Barcelona's neighbourhoods in the last 150 years has produced a real mix of styles and accommodation, from 18th-century town houses to newbuild apartments. However, such places are also in high demand and pricey, meaning the best neighbourhoods in Barcelona for you may come down to budget.
Barcelona's rental prices were traditionally low compared to much of northern Europe, and it was possible for expats to afford large apartments in the best areas of Barcelona. However, rising tourism, buy-to-let investment and regentrification projects have pushed up demand and prices in Barcelona's central and attractive neighbourhoods, sparking local councils to pressure the government for rent controls to stop pricing out locals. Average rental prices in Barcelona reportedly rose almost 66 percent in just five years, from around EUR 900 per month in 2012 up to some EUR 1,500 in 2017. Barcelona recorded the highest rental increases in all of Spain, significantly ahead of other tourism hotspots, such as Mallorca (40 percent) and Madrid (20 percent).
While rental controls have not yet materialised, Barcelona has begun closer inspection and restriction on tourism rentals; this has, so far, led to two house-sharing platforms being fined EUR 600,000 for listing illegal rentals, as well as a temporary cap on the number of new rental licences issued.
There are many beautiful buildings in older neighbourhoods in Barcelona, but narrow streets can block the light. With Barcelona's mild climate and more than 2,500 hours of sun each year, however, a bright terrace is becoming a popular and expensive luxury.
Apartments are the norm in Barcelona city itself, so those who want a house with a garden can expect to move to Barcelona's suburbs. For information on outlying neighbourhoods in Barcelona and beyond, read more in our guide on where to live near Barcelona.
Barcelona's neighbourhoods for culture and nightlife
Living in Ciutat Vella (Old Town)
The cultural and historical heart of Barcelona's neighbourhoods, the Ciutat Vella, is packed with museums, restaurants and bars. Most commercial streets have apartments above the shops and there are also quieter, purely residential streets. Head down to Barceloneta for a relaxed beach culture, near La Rambla for late-night parties, or look for a traditional apartment near the cathedral.
Old Town at a glance:
- Location: Centre of Barcelona, near the harbour.
- Housing costs: small, one-bedroom apartments average around EUR 1,000, with two-bedroom apartments averaging from EUR 1,300–2,500.
- Commuting options: Bus and metro hub. Cycling is possible and this area is quite flat.
- Cars: Parking very limited and many streets are single-lane. Driving not recommended.
- Recreation: Nightlife, museums and restaurants abound. The large Parc de la Ciutadella is popular with runners, skateboarders and kids. Easy access to the beach.
- Shopping: Small shops and boutiques sell everything from fresh fish to indie designer clothes. Larger chain stores cluster near Plaça de Catalunya.
- Neighbourhood: Mix of residential and commercial. Typically very busy and full of tourists.
Living in Eixample
Laid out on a grid, with wide streets and with gorgeous Art Nouveau and Gaudi buildings, Eixample is an attractive place to live – and higher rental prices to match. With easy access to the city centre, regular markets and world-famous sights, these residential streets offer a unique blend of peace and bustle.
Eixample at a glance:
- Location: North of Barcelona's old town.
- Housing costs: High, averaging EUR 1,000–2,000 per month, or often higher for attractive two-bedroom apartments.
- Commuting options: Numerous bus and metro lines cross the area. Cycling is also popular.
- Cars: Traffic flows relatively smoothly, thanks to the one-way system. Parking can be tricky and few buildings have dedicated parking.
- Recreation: Easy access to city centre nightlife, plus some active areas in the district.
- Shopping: Small shops integrated in the residential streets, with larger stores on the larger boulevards.
- Neighbourhood: Primarily residential apartment buildings with small businesses occupying the ground floors.
Best neighbourhoods in Barcelona: for being active
Living in Sants-Montjuïc
A single district with several distinct personalities, Montjuïc is a green oasis rising out of the sea, home to old fortifications and the botanic gardens. At its feet, Sants is a popular residential neighbourhood. The extensive park and former Olympic sports facilities make this a great choice for those who love to exercise. Don't look for a beach home here – the city's busy container port takes up most of the space.
Sants-Montjuïc at a glance:
- Location: South-west of the city centre, beside the port.
- Housing costs: it's possible to find apartments with two to four bedrooms averaging from EUR 900–1,500 per month, and upward for nicer properties.
- Commuting options: Public transport tends to avoid Montjuïc hill but Sants is well-connected by bus and metro.
- Cars: Narrow streets and little parking make cars more of a liability than an asset.
- Recreation: Montjuïc park is great for sports and the Olympic Stadium is home to a wide range of events, from football to music.
- Shopping: Large shopping centre in a former bullfighting area, plus one of the longest shopping streets in Europe.
- Neighbourhood: Heavy industry around the port, more residential closer to the city centre.
Living in Sant Martí
Home to Barcelona's Olympic village, and with easy access to the beach, this area is popular with surfers, swimmers and kite boarders. Renovation for the 1992 Olympics gave the area new housing and new life. Many buildings are attractive and modern, but pockets of traditional architecture remain.
Sant Martí at a glance:
- Location: North-east of the centre, by the sea.
- Housing costs: averaging from EUR 1,500–2,000 per month, although apartments tend to be large with several bedrooms; in some areas it's possible to find smaller apartments around EUR 800–1,200.
- Commuting options: Metro and bus lines cross the area. Cycling, or walking on the beach, are popular.
- Cars: Modern blocks are more likely to have dedicated parking. Traffic is often congested.
- Recreation: Easy access to the city centre and the beach. The Rambla de Poblenou is lined with bars and restaurants.
- Shopping: Traditional shopping streets and modern shopping centres both exist here.
- Neighbourhood: Mix of residential and commercial. Many companies have offices here.
Where to live in Barcelona: for families
Living in Les Corts
This is a scenic upmarket residential area, plus Les Corts has an astonishing choice of international schools. St Peter's and St Paul's International Schools offer the Spanish curriculum with classes taught in English. The Kensington School follows the English curriculum. The Benjamin Franklin School and the American School of Barcelona follow the American curriculum. The nearby financial district makes commuting easy for many parents.
Les Corts at a glance:
- Location: North-west of the centre.
- Housing costs: averaging from EUR 1,000–2,000 per month for apartments, and upward of EUR 2,500 for larger properties and attractive locations.
- Commuting options: Extensive bus and metro routes. Cycling and walking are also popular, as is driving.
- Cars: Dedicated parking is more common. Congestion can be a problem.
- Recreation: Home to Barcelona Football Club's main stadium. Easy access to the hills and countryside at the edge of the city.
- Shopping: There are some large shopping centers, including L'Illa, and smaller shopping malls, plus some exclusive boutique and designer stores.
- Neighbourhood: Primarily residential with a mix of apartment blocks, apartments in townhouses and houses with gardens.
Living in Gràcia
Starting in the hilly area surrounding Gaudi's Park Guell, Gràcia stretches down to Eixample in the south. A mix of old buildings and new, it retains its vibrant, bohemian atmosphere. Families are welcome, and there is plenty to explore. The green spaces and good public transport are a bonus, making it easy to get outside.
Gràcia at a glance:
- Location: Northern section of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: averaging from EUR 900–1,500 per month for two bedrooms, although typically upward for larger and well-refurbished apartments.
- Commuting options: Bus and metro routes connect to the centre. Cycling possible, but the area is hilly.
- Cars: Easy access to the motorway. Public parking is limited.
- Recreation: Park Guell provides a welcome green space. Independent art and cultural events flourish.
- Shopping: Numerous independent boutiques as well as some chain stores and supermarkets.
- Neighbourhood: Primarily residential.
Best places to live in Barcelona: for students and low budgets
Living in Nou Barris
Historically a working-class and immigrant district with some more upmarket areas, Nou Barris is a true melting pot. While some areas have been recently redeveloped, others date from the 18th and 19th centuries. It's possible to find a bargain in a pleasant square or side-street, and some homes have lovely views.
Nou Barris at a glance:
- Location: North of the centre, at the edge of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: Low, averaging from EUR 700–1,000 for two-bedroom apartments.
- Commuting options: Bus and metro links provide access to the city centre.
- Cars: Easy access to the motorway. Parking is limited, particularly in pre-1950s estates.
- Recreation: Easy access to the Collserola nature area. There are many small bars and local restaurants tucked away in the neighbourhood.
- Shopping: Each of the shopping streets acts as a centre for a locale, often boasting a good library, community or religious centre.
- Neighbourhood: Primarily residential. A mix of houses with small gardens, modern apartment blocks and pre-1960s housing estates.
Living in Horta-Guinardó
Probably the greenest district in Barcelona, Horta-Guinardó stretches from the centre to the Collserola nature reserve. Streets are mostly quiet and residential. The inhabitants come from all over Spain and around the world. Some streets are so steep that escalators have been installed.
Horta-Guinardó at a glance:
- Location: North-west Barcelona.
- Housing costs: there's a large stock of two-bedroom apartments around EUR 600–900, although apartments are typically small (less than 80sqm); larger and nicer apartments start around EUR 1,250 and upwards.
- Commuting options: Cycling not recommended as the area is very hilly. Metro and bus lines provide links to the centre.
- Cars: Easy access to the motorway. Streets are narrow, often congested, and there is little parking.
- Recreation: Numerous parks and gardens.
- Shopping: Primarily small, independent shops with supermarkets and larger stores clustering in the former village centres.
- Neighbourhood: Older residential buildings with some new developments.
Where to live in Barcelona: for peace and quiet
Living in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
Climbing the southern slopes of the Collserola mountains, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is both literally and metaphorically upmarket. This quiet, primarily residential neighbourhood is characterised by large, sunny apartments. Many areas have an almost village feel and houses with gardens.
Sarrià-Sant Gervasi at a glance:
- Location: North-west of the centre, at the edge of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: averaging from EUR 1,000–2,000 for a two-bedroom apartment; there's also a good stock of large apartments for families with prices starting at EUR 2,500 and upward.
- Commuting options: Metro and bus routes connect to the centre, and cycling is also popular.
- Cars: Easy access to the motorway from many areas. Some properties have dedicated parking.
- Recreation: On the edge of the Collserola conservation area,
- Shopping: Primarily independent shops, markets and supermarkets.
- Neighbourhood: Upmarket residential area.
Living in Sant Andreu
Absorbed by Barcelona in the 20th century, this former town retains much of its community and independent spirit while welcoming residents from around the world. The historic centre still stands, with its beautiful old buildings and small-town atmosphere. If you're looking for more space, it's easier to find a house with a garden here than in some other districts.
Sant Andreu at a glance:
- Location: North-east of Barcelona's centre.
- Housing costs: averaging from EUR 700–1,000 per month for a small, two-bedroom apartment, and upward of EUR 1,250 for nicer and larger properties.
- Commuting options: Bus and metro routes connect to the centre. Cycling is also popular.
- Cars: Parking is limited and traffic often congested.
- Recreation: Cultural events occur regularly and there are many local restaurants. Nus de la Trinitat and walks along the river provide a pleasant outdoor escape.
- Shopping: Excellent shopping in the old town and the La Maquinista shopping centre.
- Neighbourhood: While some areas are luxurious, others were built as cheap housing a century ago, and remain a little rough.
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Photo credits: Cesar Huete (Barcelona houses), Selbymay (Barcelona), Llull (Ciutat Vella), Year of the dragon (Sants-Montjuïc), Tassilirosmar (Les Corts), Alejandro Guerrero (Nou Barris), Oliver Bonjoch (Sarrià-Sant Gervasi). Updated 2017.
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