Barcelona Neighborhood Guide
Bcn Advisors specializes in Luxury Properties in the Barcelona Real Estate Market in the areas of Zona Alta, Eixample, Ciutat Vella, Poble Nou / Diagonal Mar, and Les Corts / Sants. We also offer exclusive properties for those looking to live outside of the city in the hillside areas of Sant Just and Sant Cugat, Maresme to the north and Gava, Castelldefels and Sitges to the south of the city. When looking to move to Barcelona, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is where to live based on your needs and requirements. We hope both our neighborhood guide and our agents’ expert knowledge of the city will help you make the best possible choice.
WHERE TO LIVE IN BARCELONA
Barcelona’s Zona Alta (High Zone) is made up of the neighborhoods of Pedralbes, Sarria, San Gervaio - Bonanova and Tres Torres. These neighborhoods lie in the northwest of the city, nestled amongst Barcelona’s surrounding hills of Tibidado and Collserola, stretching south to the Diagonal and east to Balmes.
Sarria was an independent town which slowly became integrated into the city as it grew up towards the hillside and still conserves this charming small town feel today. Pedralbes is mostly made up of elegant mansions and apartment blocks with large communal areas. Both San Gervasio - Bonanova and Tres Torres are residential areas with a good mix of amenities.
The Zona Alta is an upscale residential area with some of Barcelona’s most prestigious properties due to its array of parks and green areas, private and international schools, and range of services which cater to family life. Although large sections are mostly residential, the different neighborhoods, except Pedralbes, have an assortment of restaurants, shops, gyms, fresh food markets, and any other amenities and recreational activities one might wish for. The area is well linked to the rest of the city through Ferrocarriles Catalanes (metro) and bus service, although having a car here is a plus with its close proximity to the Ronda de Dalt (upper beltway) and quick access for weekend escapes.
The district of Gràcia is one of the most iconic and beloved of Barcelona, having been born as an independent town, a small village with beautiful houses and animated life which was incorporated into the city in 1897 with the creation of the Cerda urban plan. Gracia is comprised of the neighborhoods of Vila de Gracia, Vallcarca i Els Penitents, El Coll, La Salut, and El Camp d’en Grassot - Gracia Nova. Gracia is home to two of the largest green areas in the city, its most iconic being the Guell Park.
The Vila de Gracia is known for being funky and artsy. It is made up of small winding streets and public squares which lend themselves to a bustling and vibrant street life full of fresh food markets, cafes and boutiques. Gracia is one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods and it is this unique essence which draws both national and international residents. This area has a very strong sense of self, preserved until today thanks to its cultural agenda and the continuous participation of its residents through district partnerships that allow major traditional celebrations such as the renowned Festes de Gràcia.
To the east of the Vila lies Camp d'en Grassot i Gràcia Nova. Developed during the Cerda plan, it has a more modern distribution. To the north of the Vila lie La Salut, El Coll and Vallcarca i Els Penitents. These areas are some of the greenest in Barcelona, with both the Parc de la Creueta del Coll and Parc Guell, two of the largest parks in the city. Those looking for some light city trekking or biking can head up to Vallcarca which lies at the foot of the Tibidabo mountain and the Passeig de les Aigües. Being closer to the Tibidabo mountain and therefore cooler in the summer months, wealthy Barcelona residents built their summer homes in these areas during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of these homes still exist today, although mane were torn down during the 20th century as the city pushed north and larger residential buildings were needed for a growing population. Traditionally Catalan, these neighborhoods are all residential areas with good amenities and easy access to the city centre.
Developed at the height of the Industrial Revolution by one of the geniuses of Catalan architecture, Ildefons Cerdà, the Eixample district of Barcelona is a perfect example of great urban design. This district is made up of the neighborhoods of Sant Antoni, Fort Pienc, La Sagrada Familia, L' Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample, Esquerra Nova de l’ Eixample, and Eixample Dreta. Some of the city’s best examples of its Modernist heritage can be seen in Eixample. Modernist buildings are world renown for their imaginative flair, beautiful designs and attention to detail. Inner courtyards and high ceilings fill apartments with natural light making them ideal homes.
The Eixample district has bustling residential neighborhoods full of amenities and commercial activity. Tourist activity is usually concentrated around the Passeig de Gracia in Eixample Dreta and heading all the way down to Plaza Cataluña where the Gothic Quarter begins, as well as the Sagrada Familia neighborhood, home to Antoni Gaudi’s famous church.
Some of Barcelona’s most sought-after and expensive real estate lies within Eixample Esquerra and Eixample Dreta. Streets like Balmes, Enrique Granados, Muntaner, Paseo de Gracia, Gran Via and Aragon, are major commercial and transportation arteries with some of the city’s best shopping, top-notch restaurants and bars. The famous Quadrat d'Or is the area that corresponds to the modernist buildings around the Paseo de Gracia, one of the most exclusive and expensive streets in Europe.
Ciutat Vella (the Old City) is the oldest neighborhood, with traces of human activity as old as 4000 years. The district is made up of El Raval, El Gótico (The Gothic Quarter) and Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera (Born). The oldest neighborhood is the Gothic Quarter largely developed by the Romans. Ruins of the Roman walls can be seen to this day. Ciutat Vella concentrates most of the city’s tourist activity due to its charming street life - winding streets, fresh food markets such as La Boqueria, Las Ramblas and public squares - and its cultural activity. Some of the city’s best museums, such as Picasso Museum and MACBA can be found here.
These neighborhoods are known for their bohemian lifestyle, multicultural diversity and cosmopolitanism. At the lower end of the real estate market is El Raval, with property becoming more expensive as you move east towards El Born. This area is a rich architectural landmark, as it features Santa Maria del Mar, the Mercat de Santa Caterina, the Mercat del Born, the Estació de França and is now a chic area, discovered by artists, antiquarians and entrepreneurs with an array of lounge bars, cafés, hidden squares, gourmet restaurants and entertainment venues.
This district is the most technological and optimistic face of the future of Barcelona, known as the 22@. Traditionally an industrial area, the city began turning it into a residential area at the end of the 20th century. The district is made up of Vila Olimpica, Poblenou and Diagonal Mar.
Poble Nou and Vila Olimpica were largely transformed during the 1992 Olympic Games. The 22@ technology district combines offices, businesses and modern apartment buildings in residential areas that are now a great living alternative and home to many Barcelona expats looking for a more relaxed Barcelona experience. Diagonal Mar was created during the 2004 Forum and is under continuous transformation, with some of the tallest and most modern buildings in Barcelona. The properties in this area feature hotels, offices and spacious apartments with stunning views over the sea and peaceful courtyard gardens. These areas boast easy access to some of the city’s best beaches, great cultural activities and music events in the Forum, and charming street life around the Rambla de Poble Nou.
Les Corts - Sants
This district is located west of Barcelona and it has residential areas with large buildings, the Barcelona University Campus, Camp Nou Football Stadium and one of Barcelona’s best shopping malls - La Illa. Like most of Barcelona, this area has great transportation with a tram line, metro, buses and close to the city’s main beltways for easy access to weekend getaways.
The neighborhood of Pedralbes is actually situated within this district, although most Barcelona real estate agents will usually make a distinction between the north and south of Les Corts, intersected by the Avenida Diagonal. The area of Pedralbes is more closely associated with the high standing residential areas of Sarria and San Gervasio, whereas the south of Les Corts is usually bundled in with Sants due to its neighborhood feel and architecture.
Sants is known for Barcelona’s main train station of the same name and the National Palace Museum built in Montjuic, another of the city’s main parks and home to other museums and tourist attractions.
Sant Just & Esplugues
Sant Just Desvern and Esplugues de Llobregat are municipalities that belong to Baix Llobregat and situated to the west of the city. A large residential section lies in the mountains of Collserola, so its neighborhoods are characterized by traditional masíes (farmhouses) with beautiful modernist buildings and more modern homes surrounded by nature. The town of Sant Just has all the necessary amenities such as schools, shops and businesses, making it an ideal location for those looking to live close to the city within a suburban environment.
Sant Cugat del Vallès
This municipality is located in the Vallès Occidental on the north side of the Collserola and Tibidabo mountains, and characterized by a major urban center developed around the spectacular Monastery of Sant Cugat. Today, this town hosts television studios, a training center for elite athletes and other institutions.
Along with Rubí and Cerdanyola, it forms the CIT (Catalonia Innovation Triangle), a project that brings together the industrial and financial activity concentrated in these three locations. Sant Cugat also has several schools, colleges and universities, including ESADE and UAB. Sant Cugat is known for its high quality of life.
Gava, Castelldefels and Sitges
Heading south of Barcelona lie the towns of Gava, Castelldefels, and Sitges. Gava is mostly made up of independent and semi-attached homes with a beach front promenade concentrating most of its commerce and restaurants. Castelldefels became an important summer resort in the 1950’s and many of its beach front properties are from that time period. It is now home to a large expat community with some major research centers and universities, as well as the Olympic Channel. Both Gava and Castelldefels are split by the motorway and have a beach area (playa) and village area (pueblo). The beach areas tend to be more expensive, although some of the more modern homes with stunning views and tended gardens with pools can be found on the north side nestled amongst the hillside.
Sitges sits on the Mediterranean coast, in the beautiful county of Garraf, 36 km. south of Barcelona. Sitges is known for its large expat and gay communities, with a high standard of living and charming beachtown life.
The homes in Sitges are some of the most expensive in Spain and characterized by their luxury, with many villas being beach front or offering majestic views of the Mediterranean and its sunrise, surrounded by comfort and beauty. There is easy access to Barcelona by both public and private transportation.
The Maresme lies north of the city along Barcelona’s coastline. Some of its best known towns are Mataró, Arenys de Mar, Canet de Mar, Calella, Premià de Mar, Pineda de Mar and Tordera, among others. These are towns with year long large and vibrant populations, although they are also known for being home to many Barcelona residents who spend their weekends and summers on the beach.