Visit Times Square in New York, the Champs Elysées in Paris, or La Rambla in Barcelona, and you’ll likely find more tourists than natives. Major attractions are iconic, sure, and they give you a sense of the city’s history, but it’s the local population that really embodies the culture of the now. Here are five neighborhoods—in Barcelona, New York, London, Paris, and Seattle—where residents live and play, and where you can experience the local life alongside them, if only for an afternoon.
Barcelona: The Born
Just a ten-minute walk from La Rambla, Barcelona’s tourist artery, lies the Born, a neighborhood beyond the beaten path of most visitors. With its tree-lined main thoroughfare and narrow twisting side streets, the atmosphere alone is reason enough to visit. But the Born, not content with mere ambiance, also serves up a lively slice of Barcelona culture.
The Born is rooted in history—the light-filled Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral evokes the Catalan Gothic style and it’s said the Passeig del Born was a medieval jousting spot—but it’s also a destination for the new and the unusual. Locals crowd the cafes during the day and the restaurants and bars at night. The neighborhood attracts some of the big names in innovative Catalonian fare, a cuisine that like the neighborhood itself, blends tradition and innovation. From olive-foam crowned tapas to a version of the children’s candy Kinder Egg that incorporates truffles and potatoes, culinary exuberance defines the neighborhood.
Former longtime resident Oriol Cara-Ballbe still returns each year to visit family, and says a great way to enjoy the best of the neighborhood in summer is to sit at the outdoor tables at the end of the Passeig del Born, have a drink, and enjoy the warm evenings.
How to get there: Cocoon Barcelona’s map shows the Born in relation to the city’s other neighborhoods. The neighborhood is about a 10-minute walk from La Rambla.