Consisting of Raval, El Born (aka Sant Pere-Santa Caterina I la Ribera), Barceloneta and Gotico, this part of Barcelona is probably the most diverse in terms of culture, architecture, night-life and real estate.
RAVAL: Party animals would want to focus on the Raval neighborhood. Being mere steps away from the famous Rambla, this place literally never sleeps. With hundreds of bars and clubs around, it´s impossible to ever become bored here when moving to Barcelona! Flats are very tiny and very expensive though, and with all of the nightlife, very noisy of course. Also beware that after midnight it does become quite seedy, with drug-dealers, excessively drunk tourists and prostitutes around every corner.
Raval has a very diverse immigrant community, where nearly half of the inhabitants were born outside of Spain. Mostly Pakistanis, Indonesians, and lately also Romanians. The Pakistanis inhabitants are known for their mobile phone shops, where one can purchase practically any mobile accessory and even sim-cards and calling cards.
If you want to enjoy a healthy vegetarian meal, check out Veggie Garden (Carrer dels Àngels, 3). They serve delicious fruit and vegetable juices that are freshly prepared, as well as organic salads, hummus, guacamole, sandwiches and Thali (a famous Indian meal consisting of 3 different vegetarian stews and basmati rice)
If you prefer a spicier meal like Mexican, you´ll find Rosa de Raval just down the street from Veggie Garden. With delicious burritos and tacos, not to mention the €3,50 Mojitos or Margaritas, this is one of the most popular eateries in Raval.
GÓTICO: Equally close to the Rambla, yet more clean and a bit more quiet, you can find the Gotico and El Born neighborhoods. Gotico has hundreds of small cobblestone streets that seem to wind forever, and getting lost here is part of the adventure! Many of the buildings here are from the Medieval times that date back as far as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. In fact, remains of the Roman wall still exist today and can clearly be seen. The small roads are closed to traffic, which lends to the calmer atmosphere. A home in this area, among ancient, romantic streets and musicians who play guitars in small stone plazas, is a home like no other. Over the years, the Barri Gótic has become increasingly en vogue, and prices can be quite high.
One of the main attractions of Gótico is Plaza Real, where one can find many bars and restaurants that are always full of life. Being right next to Las Ramblas though means that it is very touristic.
For a delicious seafood dinner, with a Greek-Arabic twist in the atmosphere, try Sukúr! Located on Carrer Avinyo 42, they offer not only seafood, but also steak, hamburgers, moussaka, paella and a tasty grilled vegetable platter. Very affordable and very good service!
EL BORN : Located between Via Laietana and Barceloneta, and served by 2 metro stops on the yellow line, it is conveniently located within 10 minutes walk to the beach, or to Las Ramblas. Since this used to be the centre of the textile industry, it has now once again become the center for Catalan clothing design. The Textile museum on Calle Montcada has a nice café with a terrace where you can enjoy a snack. Also located on the same street, is the famous Picasso Museum.
Although popular with tourists, it is also a neighborhood where neighbors often stop and chat in the streets. It hosts some interesting restaurants and bars that are more suited to the more “posh” crowd, like young professionals. Once again, flats are quite small and expensive, and are usually fully-furnished with IKEA furniture.
One of the main features of El Born is it´s proximity to Parc Ciutadella. This 70 acre park is equally popular in the winter as it is in summer, and is ideal for a lazy walk on a Sunday afternoon, where you can see groups of friends having a picnic on the grass. You can see amateur trapeze-artists trying their skill on a tight-rope. You can enjoy a row on a small boat with your loved one on the dam. Or you can just sit next to the impressive fountain near the top of the park, and enjoy a drink from the café while watching some amateur ballroom dancers practice on the small pavilion.
BARCELONETA: Barceloneta is a small neighborhood surrounded by the sea on both sides, forming a type of “triangle” shape. One one side there is Barceloneta Beach and on the other the harbor of Port Vell. Barceloneta is famous for its small narrow streets, the numerous bars and restaurants, many of them offering seafood and of course for the chiringuitos along the beach. In the summer the area is on fire, because of the tourists, who prefer this beach as the most central one. Most of the buildings in the area are very old, and only some of them have elevators. The combination of good location and older building keep the price around average.