When looking for a place to live in Barcelona, you’ll have your list of priorities: cheap rent, a central location, a peaceful street, or a swanky, luxurious pad. Barcelona offers everything you want, provided you’re searching for good neighborhoods.
If you’re wondering where to live in Barcelona, the answer is simple: it depends! Your choice of Barcelona’s neighborhoods depends on your lifestyle, budget, the conveniences you need, and the inconveniences you are willing to put up with.
Tourism And The Housing Market In Barcelona’s Neighborhoods
Constant renewal in most of Barcelona’s neighborhoods in the last 150 years has produced a real mix of accommodations, from 18th-century townhouses to newly built apartments. Rising tourism in Barcelona, buy-to-let investment, and gentrification projects boosted demand and prices in the city’s most central and attractive neighborhoods, making it harder to find a home.
Local councils have attempted to pressure the government for rent controls to stop pricing out locals. Average rental prices in Barcelona reportedly rose almost 66% over five years, from around €900 per month in 2012 to €1,500 in 2017. Barcelona had the highest rental increases in all of Spain, significantly ahead of Mallorca (40%) and Madrid (20%).
While rental controls are not yet in place, Barcelona has begun closer restrictions on tourism rentals. So far, this has led to two house-sharing platforms being fined €600,000 for listing illegal rentals and a temporary cap on the number of new rental licenses issued.
All of this means that places to live in Barcelona are in high demand and pricey. As a result, the best neighborhoods in Barcelona may come down to budget. Most accommodations in Barcelona are apartments. If you are looking for a house with a private garden you will need to look in the suburbs of Barcelona or even a bit further out such as the Mediterranean town of Sitges. Check out UtopiaVillas to see some of the options in Sitges.
1. Barrio Gotico ─ For The Ultimate Cultural Experience
Barcelona’s great history is right here, complete with Roman ruins glassed off in the middle of markets, banks, parks, or just incorporated into the stone of newer (though still old) buildings. It’s winding; ancient streets are perfect for getting lost in and are lined with charming bakeries and cafes; this is where the tourists go to get lost in the European experience.
Most ex-pats live here first, electing to move outside the city center after a year or two to escape the noise of too-close neighbors, ongoing construction, crowds of tourists, and sometimes unpleasant smells of city living. Still, it remains charming and exceptionally convenient, and if you can score a decent terrace, you may choose to stay.
2. El Borne ─ For An Indie Atmosphere
Also known as The Born to Barcelona’s ex-pats, El Borne is adjacent to Barrio Gotico and practically its twin neighborhood. This is everyone’s second-favorite barrio because of its top restaurants, fashion bargains, fantastic bars, and indie atmosphere. Still part of the ancient city, many ex-pats call this place home as it generally has more extensive, renovated flats, charming open spaces, and lacks the dirtiness of other city center barrios.
3. Barceloneta ─ For The Beach Vibes
An old fishing village on the beach, Barceloneta features simple homes with very few balconies to be seen. Plenty of ex-pats and immigrants live in the tiny, simple flats, and the communal community plazas are generally respected. People respect your property if you live on the ground floor, for example, and hang your laundry on the sidewalk to dry.
It does have a higher petty crime area, but it’s still safe; there are nearly no violent crimes in all of Barcelona. Barceloneta is great for singles who want to be near the beach, and this area is always buzzing with tourists.
4. L’eixample ─ For A Lively Nightlife
This neighborhood is called the Expansion of Barcelona, known more commonly to the locals as L’Eixample in Catalan. It is a massive suburb that expanded the city in the 1890s, connecting the Gotic area to the nearby pueblo of Gràcia.
Located just north of the old town, L’Eixample has a downtown metropolitan feel as opposed to the city center’s ancient Roman city. Because it was designed during the Industrial Revolution to be a modern Barcelona neighborhood, many beautiful Art Nouveau and Gaudi façades can be found here. It lacks the community feel of the more intimate, older parts of the city and doesn’t feature the same grand plazas. Nonetheless, it hosts good shops, upscale bars, and excellent restaurants.
5. Poble Sec ─ For Cultural Appreciation
Butting up against Montjuïc and partially up the mountain is the barrio of Poble Sec, Raval’s next-door neighbor. This is a well-connected area thanks to the metro and car-friendly roads, and the area is excellent for jogging, museum visiting, events, and outdoor activities.
There are now quite a few decent restaurants, particularly the pincho joints in Carrer Blai and the adjacent hipster area of San Antoni. It’s a quieter neighborhood than most city center barrios in Barcelona, with many green spaces.
6. Sarria And Sant Gervasi ─ For Calm And Quiet
Sarria and Sant Gervasi are the swanky, wealthy barrios heading up the hill from Poble Sec on the edge of Barcelona. The large, sunny apartments with gardens begin at a million euros to purchase. There are plenty of green areas, wide streets, green parks, wide walking Ramblas (the Spanish love their Ramblas!), and independent shops. Sarria used to be its barrio, though not as old as Gracia, so it’s got a cool pueblo feel to it. They are both as devoid of tourism as friendly, expensive, quiet areas. The FerroCarrils are short-distance trains that go downtown and connect to the metros.
7. Sant Martí ─ For An Active Lifestyle
This area is popular with surfers, swimmers, and kiteboarders is home to Barcelona’s Olympic village, and has easy access to the beach. 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.
One of the main attractions is its easy access to the beach and the city center. The Rambla de Poblenou is full of bars and restaurants, and traditional shopping streets and modern shopping centers exist here.
Metro and bus lines cross the area, and cycling and walking on the beach is popular. Modern blocks are more likely to have dedicated parking, but traffic is often congested.
8. Horta-Guinardó ─ For Students And Low Budgets
Probably the greenest district in Barcelona, Horta-Guinardó stretches from the center to the Collserola nature reserve. Streets are mostly quiet and residential, though some are so steep that escalators have been installed. The neighborhood’s inhabitants come from all over Spain and worldwide.
You’ll find numerous parks and gardens and plenty of small independent shops with supermarkets and larger stores clustered in the former village centers.
Cycling is not easy, as the area is very hilly. Metro and bus lines provide links to the center. Cars have easy access to the motorway, but streets are narrow, often congested, and there is little parking.
These calm, peaceful residential areas are perfect for spending holidays or staying on business trips. So, what are you waiting for? Head over to these neighborhoods and enjoy your vacation!