Barcelona is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. It offers a unique location and architectural style, a rich culture, and, of course, beautiful beaches.
After hosting the Olympic Games and subsequently undergoing an intense regeneration in 1992, the city is now a modern and vibrant business hub, as well as a leader in sustainability.
It is a city with numerous districts (barrios), each with their own identity and history. Being Spain’s most expensive city, living in the city centre can come with a hefty price tag.
Luckily, there are many delightful, and more affordable, places to live in the surrounding areas. We have picked five of our favourites that are all within an easy commute of the centre of Barcelona.
Possibly the most multicultural part of Barcelona, Gràcia is nevertheless very Catalan. There is a large foreign community enjoying life around wide boulevards, smart art galleries, chilled restaurants and bars lining the streets and the squares.
The colourful Parc Guëll, comprised of gardens and impressive architecture, overlooks the city below and is one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona.
Gràcia is quite a quiet neighbourhood and feels more like a village, which interestingly, it was until the end of the 18th century. Served by the metro, train and bus, the area is easy to get to from the smart outlying districts.
High above the city and away from the hustle and bustle below is Zona Alta. Gaudí’s distinctive gate houses dominate the entrance to the Jardines de Pedralbes park and the Pedralbes Monastery, which are two important landmarks in this part of Barcelona.
Two great areas to look for property are Pedralbes and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. It is worth noting that Pedralbes is a high-end residential district with some extremely luxurious properties, so property prices can be expensive!
Zona Alta boasts wide avenues, private schools, low pollution and plenty of amenities. The area is well served by the metro bus and tram too.
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Sant Cugat de Vallès
Just north of Barcelona is the town of Sant Cugat de Vallès. Being just 10km from the city centre, the area has always been a popular retreat for Barcelonians and visitors alike.
Sant Cugat is very much a town in its own right, with everything that you could possibly need; it caters very well for families, with playgrounds and a good selection of high level schools.
There are several attractive residential districts surrounded by greenery, as well as local antique markets and plenty of restaurants.
Sant Cugat is very much a town in its own right, with everything that you could possibly need
Some 30 minutes away by train to the south-west of Barcelona lies the town of Sitges, often referred to as “The St Tropez of Spain.” It is a very open town in every sense and has some excellent residential areas with smart properties that overlook both the town and the sea.
Art and culture prevail, and like Barcelona, Sitges has some wonderful Modernisme architecture.
The beaches and long promenade are some of the main attractions, but there is plenty more to Sitges; a stroll through its ancient cobbled streets, away from the crowds, will take you to another world.
Shopping is excellent, with mostly privately owned boutiques selling Catalan and Spanish labels. It has a very diverse restaurant scene too as there are many different nationalities living in and visiting the town, but local seafood is the specialty. Property prices vary, but there are plenty of reasonably-priced apartments and duplexes.
17 km from Barcelona is the town of Rubí. It is definitely more tranquil than other towns, but is by no means small with a population of 75,000.
It is well connected to all of Catalonia and has every amenity you might want, including excellent media with local TV, radio and its own “Google” type of portal. Within the locality, are some first class restaurants, good shopping and big supermarkets.
There is a good mix of property, ranging from smart villas to town centre apartments, and you will definitely get better value for money compared to other areas in close proximity of Barcelona.
What’s more, the daily commute to Barcelona is easy – just 33 minutes by train or a 21 minute drive.