Barcelona City Centre

Plaça Catalunya and Around

If you're coming on holiday, Barcelona City Centre is where you are likely to spend most of your time and where you will probably look for accommodation.

Many Barcelona hotel, hostel and apartment booking sites suggest that some establishments are closer to the City Centre than they actually are so the aim of this page is to come with a general definition of what Barcelona City Centre actually is.

As far as most locals are concerned, the centre of Barcelona is Plaça de Catalunya, which acts as a hub between the city's two central districts:

Please bear in mind that both Ciutat Vella and The Eixample are large districts and include neighbourhoods that I would consider to be outside the City Centre.

However, one can safely say that all the districts other than Ciutat Vella or the Eixample are not the City Centre.

Barcelona City Centre - A Definition

As far as I am concerned, Barcelona City Centre is the area around the two main shopping streets that run off Plaça de Catalunya:

This area extends as far as Plaça de la Universitat - to your left as you look up the hill - and Plaça Urquinaona - to your right.

Roughly speaking, it includes:

  • A section of the Barri Gòtic between La Rambla and Via Laietana that goes down as far as Carrer Ferran with Jaume I Metro Station on one end, Plaça Sant Jaume in the middle and Plaça Reial on the far end.
  • A Section of the Dreta de l'Eixample neighbourhood between Rambla de Catalunya and Pau Claris that goes up to around Carrer Aragó.

Obviously, this is a rough definition and there are parts of El Raval and Sant Pere, Sant Caterina i La Ribera in Ciutat Vella and Sant Antoni and the Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample in the Eixample District that also feel very central.

However, if you are coming to Barcelona specifically for a City Break and want to have most of the Gothic monuments and Mordernista Architecture within walking distance, I recommend that you book your accommodation in this area.


City Centre Metro Stations

Barcelona Metro Logo

Another good way of of telling if your hotel is in Barcelona City Centre is by the nearest station on the Barcelona Metro.

The following Metro Stations are all in the City Centre.

Main City Centre Neighbourhoods

La Rambla

The Ramblas is Barcelona's most famous street and is a great place to stay, and the choice of Hotels on The Ramblas ranges from luxury 5 Star hotels to cheap pensions.

You've got all the major historic sights of the Barri Gòtic within easy walking distance and there's also a lot to see and do, as well as drink and eat, in El Raval.

The Ramblas is actually five streets rolled into one and with Plaça Reial, the Palau Güell, the Boqueria Market and the Columbus monument to name just four attractions, you're likely to spend plenty of time there.

The bars and restaurants tend to be overpriced, especially if you sit outside, and you should also watch out for pickpockets.

El Barri Gòtic

On your left as you walk down the Ramblas, the Barri Gòtic is the best preserved medieval city centre in Europe and is a great place to stay.

If you're looking for a Hotel in the Barri Gòtic, I'd go for anywhere between Carrer Ferran and Plaça Reial, including the Cathedral and Jaume I Metro.

The area just below Plaça Reial can be a bit rough at night, although I also really like La Mercè area down by the port.

As far as sightseeing goes, the best place to start is probably Plaça Sant Jaume, which houses the government buildings of both Barcelona City Council and the Generalitat de Catalunya.

You can easily explore Barcelona Cathedral from here or wind down to the port along Carrer Ciutat.

El Raval

Much improved in recent years, El Raval used be Barcelona's red-light district.

It's still got quite a raunchy feel to it and is definitely worth exploring for its amazing combination of the ancient medieval Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu or the Montastery of Sant Pau and modern Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).

It's also got some fantastic eating holes and bars, and there are some quite posh Hotels in El Raval now, but in general it tends to offer cheaper accommodation.

The Eixample

The Eixample is an enormous district but the part I would consider Barcelona City Centre is the Dreta de l'Eixample neighbourhood, particularly the area around Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya.

This is definitely uptown Barcelona, and Eixample Hotels are some of the most luxurious in town.

My favourite part of the Dreta de l'Eixample, though, is the between Carrer Roger de Llúria and Passeig de Sant Joan in the vicinity of Girona metro station.

It's quieter but has got some excellent bars and restaurants - at often very reasonable prices - and you're in the heart of the Quadrat d'Or - the Golden Square - surrounded by magnificent Modernista architecture.

You're also within 10 minutes walk of both the Gothic Quarter and the Sagrada Familia.

The left or Esquerra de l'Eixample on the other side of Carrer Aribau is also quite central and is known as the Gaixample and has quite a few gay-oriented hotels.

The area above Barcelona University and Mercat de Sant Antoni is reasonably-priced and very close to Barcelona city centre, but if you book a hotel as far out as Plaça d'Espanya, you'll definitely need to use the metro.

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