One of Barcelona’s coolest neighborhoods, the student and art quarter of Gràcia showcases a different side to the city, with its laid-back bars and restaurants, and traditional Catalonian feel. Connected to the city by the Passeig de Gràcia, the residential area is popular among those looking to rent cheap accommodation on the outskirts of the city and a number of travelers escape to Gràcia to sample the city’s most bohemian haunts.
Placa del Sol is at the heart of Gràcia, where clusters of tapas bars and terrace restaurants serve up an array of traditional Catalan cuisine, but the area is most famous for the Parc Güell, one of the city’s most celebrated parks. The iconic gardens perched on the hill of El Carmel were designed by Antoni Gaudi between 1900-1914 and form a key part of Barcelona’s UNESCO World Heritage listed ‘Works of Antoni Gaudi’. An unmissable fantasyland with its peculiar sculptures, colorful mosaics and gingerbread houses, the park is characteristic of the artist’s eccentric style and offers great views of the city from its striking terrace. Wandering the narrow streets of Gràcia showcases a number of other notable architectural works, including the Juame Fuster Library, designed by Josep Llinas Carmona; the baroque Parròqui de la Verge de Gràcia I Sant Josep church; and the Art Nouveau Casa Ramos by Juame Torres.
Once a self-sufficient village, Gràcia didn’t become part of Barcelona city until the 19th century and this small-town feel is a big part of its enduring charm. Whether you’re soaking up the cosmopolitan vibe of the area’s many plazas and shopping streets, sipping cocktails in some of the city’s trendiest bars or taking part in the annual Gràcia Festa Major, one of Barcelona’s largest and liveliest traditional festivals held each August, Gràcia is well worth leaving the city center for.