life in barcelona

Living in Barcelona

Barcelona is a beautiful Mediterranean city with golden beaches, a charming historic center, a host of UNESCO-listed monuments (including, of course, Gaudí’s architectural gems), and a fantastic choice of sports activities and opportunities to socialize.

It's also a great place to study business: Barcelona is one of the world’s most advanced smart cities, attracting outstanding tech talent and innovative startups.

Neighborhood Guide

Whether you want to know where to begin exploring the city or are deciding where to live, read on to discover the charming and distinct neighborhoods of Barcelona.


Barri Gòtic

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona, Barri Gòtic is where you will find the cathedral, parts of the old Roman wall and a number of striking medieval buildings. It can get very crowded, but it is an enchanting place for a stroll. Towards the port at the bottom of Barri Gòtic is a lively jumble of streets filled with bars, brunch cafés and restaurants - a great place to spend a night out or the morning after!


El Born

Get lost in labyrinth-like El Born to discover design and concept stores, hidden art galleries, hipster cafes and tattoo studios. Lively, bar-lined Passeig del Born is a great spot for an evening out. The central location and buzzing nightlife of El Born means it can be noisy at night so, if you love peace and quiet, it might be best to live elsewhere and visit El Born when you are in the party spirit!


El Poblenou

Home to Barcelona’s growing startup, creative and tech scene, Poblenou is a glorious mix of old and new. Wandering tree-lined streets you’ll discover community gardens, zero waste stores, coworking hubs, craft beer, great coffee and some of the city’s best brunch spots, as well as heaps of traditional charm. The bustling Rambla del Poblenou is a great place to stroll or sit and watch the world go by and, if you wander along the seafront towards the city center, you’ll find the city’s best paella as well as buzzing beach-front xiringuitos.


El Poble Sec

This small neighborhood is tucked at the base of Montjuïc beside Paral·lel, a busy street that hosts some of Barcelona’s most famous clubs and entertainment venues. Buzzing bar and restaurant terraces fill the pedestrianized Carrer Blai, and it is just a short (but steep) walk up to some of the best views of the city, beautiful public parks, botanical gardens and the Joan Miró Foundation, which is well worth a visit if you’re interested in modern art.


El Raval

El Raval is one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. Walk down always-buzzing Joaquín Costa to find quirky bars and late-night eateries. Just a short distance away, art galleries MACBA and the CCCB offer brilliant rotating exhibitions alongside their permanent collections, while the square in front is always filled with the chatter and thud of skateboarders. It’s one of the best places to find Indian and Middle Eastern food, and is also home to numerous vintage stores and a monthly flea market where you’re sure to pick up some bargains. Don’t miss Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s iconic cat sculpture on the Rambla del Raval.


La Barceloneta

Bordered on two sides by the water, La Barceloneta offers tantalizing glimpses of the sea as you stroll the narrow streets. The central square houses a brilliant food market surrounded by lively tapas bars and cafes. Many international residents choose to live here, in part for its proximity to the beach, but the area also has a traditional, community feel and is a great place to soak up some authentic, Catalan culture.



L’Eixample has quite a different atmosphere to the older parts of the city. It’s where you’ll find upmarket designer shops, boutique hotels, the fancier restaurants and some of Gaudí’s most famous works: Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. It’s a large area, stretching from Plaça Catalunya to Gràcia and is divided by Passeig de Gràcia into Esquerra de L’Eixample (the Left Eixample) and Dreta de L’Eixample (the Right Eixample). L’Eixample is also home to Gayxample, center of the city’s vibrant LGBTQ+ scene.

sant antoni

Sant Antoni

The recently renovated Sant Antoni market, which sells a variety of goods from fresh food to clothes and books, is the heart of this leafy neighborhood. Sant Antoni is also home to a multitude of great bars, restaurants and cafés, from the traditional to the modern. One of Barcelona’s first superblocks - pedestrianized areas designed to increase sociable outside space for residents and decrease noise and traffic pollution - makes Sant Antoni a superb place for a stroll.



Once a village that’s been subsumed into the city, Gràcia is both bohemian and family friendly. This picturesque neighborhood is a haven for food lovers - you can find everything from handmade Mexican tortillas to fresh ramen and all the cakes and pastries you could wish for - as well as a plethora of independent shops and boutiques. The several large squares are always buzzing with locals enjoying a vermouth, children playing and street musicians.  The annual neighborhood festival, where the streets are extravagantly decorated by locals, is one of the best in the city.

Getting Around Barcelona

Whether you’re traveling from one side of the city to another or up the beautiful Costa Brava, transport in Barcelona is reasonably priced and easy to use.

The integrated fare system means you can use one ticket across different means of transport. Plus, there are several travel passes available which could save you money, especially if you qualify for the discounted under 25s pass.

If you usually use Google maps, Citymapper or another travel route planning app, chances are you will find all the information you need there. If not, you can consult the websites of the main transport providers:

  • TMB: metro and bus travel in the city.
  • FGC: commuter railway lines and two funicular services.
  • Rodalies: the suburban train system.

Barcelona is easy to navigate by bike, with lots of dedicated cycling routes making it safe. If you prefer to cycle without the hassle of owning a bike, Bicing is the perfect solution. For a low, annual fee, you can pick up a regular or electric bicycle from any of the stands in the city and drop it at your destination – no maintenance necessary! You can, of course, buy your own bike; there are lots of new and secondhand shops around Barcelona. Make sure you also purchase a decent lock and, if your bicycle is particularly nice, consider keeping it indoors overnight.








Before you arrive in Barcelona, you need to secure a place to live. To narrow down your search, it’s helpful to know your budget and what you are looking for. Do you want to live in student halls, find a room in a shared flat, or have your own space? Living with others is a great way to make friends when you arrive in the city but does require compromise. Living on your own might suit you better if you enjoy peace and quiet.

Read on for information and resources to help you find the perfect home in Barcelona.

Food and Drink

A bustling metropolitan city on the sea, you can find food from all over the world and something to suit all dietary requirements in Barcelona, as well as traditional tapas, delicious paella and gelato galore. Vegetarians and vegans needn’t worry, there is already a diverse array of restaurants offering delicious planet-friendly food and more are opening all the time. Barcelona is also home to secret cocktail bars, rooftops with breathtaking 360-degree views, wine and craft beer bars, as well as traditional spots to enjoy a vermouth or a caña (a small beer, usually local brand Estrella; locals never drink a pint!)

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