Ciutat Vella (Old Town)
Las Ramblas, Ciutat Vella’s main thoroughfare, separates El Raval from the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic), a popular starting point for a walking tour of the city. Often covered in walking, biking, and Segway tours, attractions in this part of town include historic Plaça del Rei, the 14th-century Royal Palace (Palau Reial Major), Barcelona Cathedral, the glitzy shopping street of Portal de l’Àngel, lively La Boqueria food market, and several Gaudí masterpieces, including Güell Palace (Palau Güell).
East of the Barri Gòtic are the fashionable district of La Ribera and the small neighborhood of El Born, also home to a number of popular attractions. Key sights include the Palace of Catalan Music (Palau de la Música Catalana), a UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner; the Gothic Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral; the Picasso Museum; and the vast Ciutadella Park (Parc de la Ciutadella), the city’s largest green space.
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Things to Know Before You Go
The Old Town, home to many of Barcelona’s top attractions, is a must for all visitors.
Wear comfortable walking shoes; the neighborhood is large, and many streets are cobbled or uneven.
Pickpockets can be a problem in the Old Town, so leave your valuables in your hotel and stay aware of your surroundings.
How to Get There
Many visitors to Barcelona base themselves in the Old Town, and just about everything is within walking distance. If you’re taking public transportation, the metro stops at several major stations in the neighborhood, including Paral·lel (line 2), Liceu (line 3), Drassanes (line 3), and Jaume I (line 4).
When to Get There
You haven’t really experienced the Old Town until you’ve seen it by day and at night. Come during daylight hours to see the street performers along Las Ramblas. In the evenings, head to the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter or El Born for tapas and wine bars.
L’Eixample, the Other Half of Barcelona’s City Center
If there’s another neighborhood that can rival the Old Town in terms of importance to the Barcelona psyche, it’s L’Eixample. Added in the late 19th century, this modernista enlargement of the city was and is home to several prominent attractions, including the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera (Casa Milà), and Passeig de Gràcia.
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- Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum
- Barcelona City Hall (Casa de la Ciutat)
- Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic)
- St. Mary of the Sea Cathedral (Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar)
- St. James Square (Plaça de Sant Jaume)
- Catalan Regional Government Building (Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya)
- Temple of Augustus (Temple d'August)
- Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA)
- George Orwell Square (Plaça de George Orwell)
- El Born
- Barcelona La Ribera
- European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM)
- Frederic Mares Museum (Museu Frederic Mares)
- Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso)
- Barcelona Cruise Port