Neighborhoods of Barcelona: The Old World Charm of the Gothic Quarter

Neighborhoods of Barcelona: The Old World Charm of the Gothic Quarter

If there’s one thing I’d say to absolutely do in Barcelona it would be to walk. Walk everywhere. There’s no better way to get a feel for the city than walking around its vibrant neighborhoods. One neighborhood not to be missed is the Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gotic.

The Gothic Quarter is the center of Barcelona’s old city, located in between Las Ramblas, Placa de Catalunya and the neighborhood of El Born. It’s where the Romans first built their city here, and you can still see some remains of the Roman Empire. The air of history is everywhere you walk in the Gothic Quarter – in the architecture, in the narrow streets, in the courtyards. You can’t help but feel you’ve been transported in time, even with the throngs of tourists surrounding you.

The streets of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.

The Gothic Quarter is touristy for a reason – it has that medieval charm of dark streets, secret alley-ways and old world details. I read somewhere before visiting Barcelona to make sure to always look up, and it’s true, and couldn’t be more true in a neighborhood such as the Barri Gotic. There’s always something new to discover around the next corner, and in places where you least expect it you come upon a hidden gem. Musicians take to these little crevices throughout the neighborhood, and suddenly you’ll find yourself coming upon someone strumming his instrument, with hardly a crowd around him, because he’s found that secret spot.

architecture in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.


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There are some fabulous eateries in the Gothic Quarter, including restaurants, cafes, bakeries and gelaterias. There are lots of little spots where you can quickly go in and get a sandwich to go…we found one place that had the most incredible focaccia. I wish I took the name but it was right after our overnight flight from New York and I was a bit out of it. I do, however, have the name of an amazing gelateria recommended by Katy with Untold MorselsGelaaati di Marco. It is insanely good!

Eating gelato in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.

At the center of the Gothic Quarter is the Barcelona Cathedral, not necessarily one of the more highly regarded cathedrals in Europe, but we found it to be beautiful. Our hotel, Hotel Colon, was located right opposite the cathedral on the other side of Cathedral Square, and we had amazing views of the building no matter from what vantage point – whether it was from the outside patio by the entrance or up top on the roof deck, coming back to the cathedral every afternoon or evening was a real highlight for us.

Sunset hour at the Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter.

Going inside the Cathedral is worth a visit and doesn’t have to take much time. There are no lines and you can make what you want of it. There is a pretty courtyard adjacent to the interior where kids were feeding swans swimming in a fountain. My girls really loved this part of the tour (not a private tour – just our tour). Upon enetering the cathedral, women must make sure to wear skirts or shorts that fall below the knee, and have shoulders covered. In front of the cathedral is Cathedral Square, always bustling with action and a great spot to let the kids run around.

Girls in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.


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The Gothic Quarter is known for its many great courtyards and squares, where the past comes alive in its surrounding buildings and architectural finds. In Placa Nova and Placa del Rei you can see parts of the old Roman wall, with Placa del Rei flanked by the Royal Palace and surrounding buildings, and Placa Nova with the word “Barcino” (the city’s first name) sculptured in the square. Placa Reial might be Barcelona’s most famous square, not for its historical significance like so many others, but simply for its atmosphere. Located right next to Las Ramblas, tapas restaurants and nightclubs surround the square, and it’s a big congregation spot with palm tress all around. To us it looked like something out of Havana, and we loved the look and vibe of this square. But touristy it is!

Placa Reial in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.

Other points of interest in the Gothic Quarter are the Santa Maria del Pi, a beautiful gothic church in the Placa del Pi, and Els Quarte Gats, a famous café frequented by artists and where Pablo Picasso had his first exhibition. We did not go, but any guide book on the Gothic Quarter will include this historical café.

You can’t go to Barcelona and not walk around the Gothic Quarter – the heart of the old city, home of the cathedral, and streets alive with both locals and tourists – the old world charm so distinctive to Barcelona seeps through everywhere you go.


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Exploring the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.

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Untold Morsels
Wander Mum
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28 Comments

  1. Jean
    September 19, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Enjoyed this charming positive review

  2. September 20, 2017 / 8:45 am

    Gorgeous pictures – you really captured the atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter perfectly. We loved the cathedral and those swans too!!

  3. September 21, 2017 / 3:08 am

    Nice pictures! The Gothic Quarter is really nice. We live in Barcelona but we are still amazed when we walk around it. Love the views of the Cathedral from the hotel.

    • September 21, 2017 / 9:10 pm

      Aaah lucky you that you live in Barcelona! To me, it’s the perfect city. I would go back in a heart beat.

  4. September 21, 2017 / 9:23 am

    This looks like such a cool part of Barcelona! Would love to visit Spain one day soon! The architecture there is gorgeous #farawayfiles

    • September 21, 2017 / 9:13 pm

      The architecture in Spain is amazing – everywhere. I did my junior semester abroad there and was so happy to be visiting one of my absolute favorite countries again!

  5. September 22, 2017 / 11:00 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the gelato! So delicious and just the right accessory to be wandering the gothic quarter with. Love the light you captured on the cathedral – just magical #FarawayFiles

  6. September 23, 2017 / 4:27 pm

    Oh I love Barcelona! So nice to see it again afresh, with such beautiful photos. And that ice cream place sounds wonderful – and the perfect treat to reward all the walking. #farawayfiles

    • September 25, 2017 / 1:31 pm

      Gelato definitely becomes a tool when trying the kids to walk everywhere while traveling!

  7. September 26, 2017 / 10:09 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more about walking EVERYWHERE in Barcelona! It’s so amazing and when I went we definitely walked sooooo much in 5 days, I came home with Metatarsalgia on the ball of my feet! Took months to go away! #CityTripping

    • September 30, 2017 / 7:02 pm

      I say that about Barcelona, but really I mean everywhere..I am such a walker – I could walk around a new place for hours!

  8. September 26, 2017 / 12:18 pm

    Lovely Lovely post! Your girls look so grown up! My favorite thing to do in Barcelona is to wander aimlessly for hours… that and eat of course! #citytripping

    • September 30, 2017 / 7:22 pm

      The food was so fresh and delicious – no guilt factor with all that we ate after all the walking we did!

  9. Clare Thomson
    September 27, 2017 / 7:33 am

    Walking around is one of my favourite things to do in most cities – you can discover some of the best, hidden places that way, and this part of Barcelona is just perfect for a wander. I love the scenes you’ve captured here and looking up is the best possible advice.

    • September 30, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      Thanks, Clare. Above everything else, almost moreso than some of the most important sites, walking around is the first thing I want to do in a new place. It’s the best way to truly get a feel for somewhere.

  10. September 27, 2017 / 3:38 pm

    Such good memories you are jogging for me! We explored Barcelona as our first European exploration after moving to Denmark. I spent my birthday at a restaurant in the Gothic quarter and just adored it! Beautiful post Corey – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

    • September 30, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      Thanks Erin! And thanks so much for sharing it on Faraway Files!

  11. October 1, 2017 / 7:29 am

    You’ve taken me back. Such an interesting area of Barcelona with history hidden in its corners. We enjoyed wandering around here a couple of years ago. The cathedral is beautiful! Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • October 1, 2017 / 5:05 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. It really is a must-see area to walk around, so much history in all the details.

  12. October 18, 2017 / 8:08 am

    It’s amazing how few visitors to Barcelona don’t know about Lluis Domenéch i Montaner.

    So, if you’re visiting Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, please make sure The Palau de la Música Catalana is on your to-do list. When we first laid eyes on it, we were mesmerised by its beauty and colour. It’s so good we’ve visited on twice, on different visits to Barcelona.

    • October 22, 2017 / 9:02 pm

      I did read something about it, and was curious, so thanks for the tip! Will be sure to check it out on my next visit.

  13. November 4, 2017 / 8:43 am

    I just sent this to my sister who is going to Barcelona next month. I am so jealous! Ihave never been to spain and I see in your pics two of my favorite things: Palm trees and gelato!

  14. November 4, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    This was my favorite part of Barcelona and spent close to 8 hours just walking around. Between the cathedrals and amazing restaurants I could have spent days wondering. Next time I want to rent and AirBnB in the area!

    • November 5, 2017 / 11:19 am

      That’s a great idea! We stayed at a hotel in the area and it was pretty much an ideal location..Gothic Quarter, El Born, beach not too far away. We loved it.

  15. November 4, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    I was just there a few weeks ago and I miss it! It’s such a gorgeous part of a gorgeous city, and it is definitely like you’ve been transported in time – even with the massive crowds! And Katy recommended that gelato place to me too and it was amazing!

    • November 5, 2017 / 11:20 am

      So funny! Wasn’t that gelato incredible?!?

  16. November 14, 2017 / 9:54 pm

    We are making plans for our Mediterranean cruise next September. We are leaving from Barcelona and will spend two days there before our ship takes off. I really enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading your comments about Sagrada Familia and the Gothic Quarter. I will make sure now that we definitely do not miss either.

    • November 15, 2017 / 4:40 pm

      Thank you so much! Your trip sounds fabulous – have an incredible time!

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