The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is the Eastern part of the Ramblas, the old part of town, where the streets are narrow, the center is pedestrian and it is always so packed it is sometimes hard to walk.
You'll get lost in the streets at first, but you'll catch on soon enough. From little square to small streets, from church to bars, the neighborhood surprises you. You'll definitely never get bored. You can't miss the magnificent Cathedral of the city and various gothic-style churches.
You can climb the tower of the Cathedral to get a panoramic view of the rest of the neighborhood. There are also various museums, Plaza del Rey with the museum of the city for example. Plaza del Rey is one of the most beautiful squares of the old neighborhood. There is also the Palacio Real Mayor, the Palace Chapel, the Palau de Lloctinent, the palace of the owner, which had the archives of the crown of Aragon.
The Gothic Qurter is also the ideal place to go shopping. In the main streets there are the main national and international brands, as well as souvenir shops and typical products of the region, handicraft and gastronomic products.
This summer I traveled to Barcelona for the first time. It went very well, as I had expected, but everything changed when I went to El Born. It became the center of the trip and I went there to walk the streets as many times as I could. I would finish visiting museums and other areas and go there to get coffee or sit on a bench. Incredible streets, unforgettable spots and I could even enjoy a street concert I loved.
El Raval is the second established neighborhood of the old Barcelona. It was created in the medieval period, with the successive extensions of the walls of the city and became a poor neighborhood, even dangerous in some places, where it was better not to go at night.
Now it is the complete opposite, it is being renovated and is becoming trendy once again. There are various museums and attractions in the part close to La Rambla, like the MACBA, the museum of contemporary art of Barcelona, with concerts of the electronic music festival Sónar, among other things.
El Raval is the place to discover a more authentic Barcelona than on the other side of Las Ramblas, the one of the Gothic Quarter, more touristic and packed with people. There are bars, taverns, restaurants, usually cheaper. There is also La Rambla del Raval, with bar terraces and shops, the market, one of the liveliest of the city and many alternative discs and tattoo shops you'll find cheap internet and services to call back home and send or receive money. As to hotels, the neighborhood is still quite expensive, it is better to stay a little further from the center.
Barrio de Gracia used to be a village in the outskirts of Barcelona, and now that it is completely part of the city it preserves the little popular village touch.
You get there with the Ferrocarril FCG (FCG Railway) in Gracia station (be careful not to mix it up with Passeig de Gracia), the neighborhood is at the end of Paseo de Gracia and goes until the Güell park. It is an artistic neighborhood and is famous for its festival in August. People decorate the streets and the houses, each of the streets has it own theme. For example last year one of the streets was Road 66 and there were motorbikes and all the American states the road crosses were represented along the street. Another theme was the submarine world, or the school with the streets decorated with folders and gigantic pencils.
At night it gets lively with concerts, bars open partially on the streets and you also have parades with fireworks. During a whole week. During the normal season it is very nice to go to Gracia at night, to have drinks in Plaza del Sol, Plaza Joanic or at Carrer de Verdi. There is also a market more lively and more authentic than the Boqueria.