My husband and I will be traveling to Barcelona for 5 days in July. I've been looking at airbnb for accommodation options but am entirely overwhelmed with the areas and am not sure what neighborhood would be best for us. We'd like to be in a central location with easy access to the sites, restaurants and shopping. We're not big on going out to nightclubs and would prefer a quieter area. What neighborhood would you suggest I explore? Thanks!
Last summer my family and I stayed in L'Eixample. We loved it. It was away from the dense tourist sites, but close enough for an easy subway ride or even a longer walk. The Sagrada Familia was within walking distance from our apartment. I don't have experience with other neighborhoods, but if I ever returned, I'd happily stay there again.
Eixample (the grid streets) slightly away from the busy Ramblas and Bari Gotico. Passeig de Gracia divides Eixample into left and right sides. Look at the area bounded by the streets - Aribau, Provenca, Girona and Gran Via de las Corts Catalanes. A bit wider is fine, as long as you are close to a metro stop.
I stayed in a little place opposite the Palau de la Musica. The area was quiet at night, though there were bars and restaurants within a 5 minute-walk. La Rambla (and the supermarket) was about 10 minutes' walk, the Boqueria Market just a few minutes farther. But the less expensive (and less touristy) Santa Caterina Market was very close. Don't know the name of the area, though.
Find the place on a map. If it's close to Placa Catalunya, it will be conveniently central. The shuttle from the airport takes you to the Placa, there is a TI here as well as a metro. East of the Placa is Las Ramblas, it's busier/noisier so you want to be a block or so off the Ramblas, not directly on it. West of the Placa is quieter but a little further to almost all the sights (except the Block of Discord and Park Guell).
This question gets asked a lot... this is my sort of standard response: http://bit.ly/BCNwhicharea