The historic heart of Barcelona is the Cuitat Vella, or Old City, home to the majority of the city’s tourist attractions and encompassing the districts of El Raval, Barri Gotic, La Ribera and Barceloneta. With its abundance of iconic architecture, world-class museums and historic sights, most visitors to the city find themselves spending the majority of their time in the Cuitat Vella.
Las Rablas is the Old City’s main thoroughfare, separating the residential neighborhood and red light district of El Raval from the largely pedestrianized Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter. The Barri Gotic makes a popular starting point for a walking tour of the city, with sights including the historic Placa del Rei; the 14th century Palau Reial Major; the Gothic Barcelona Cathedral; the glitzy shopping street of Portal del Angel; the lively La Boqueria food market; and several Gaudi masterpieces, including the Palau Güell.
East of the Barri Gotic is the fashionable district of La Ribera and the small sub-neighborhood of El Born, also encompassing a number popular attractions. Key sights include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palau de la Musica Catalana, designed by modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner; the Gothic Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral; the Picasso Museum; and the vast Parc de la Ciutadella, the city’s largest park, lying south of the landmark Arc de Triomf and including the Catalan Parliament building and Barcelona Zoo. Finally, the Barceloneta area runs along the coastline and is most famous for its eponymous beach – the city’s busiest beach, with 4.2 km of sandy coastline and a lively nightlife.