This is considered Barcelona’s old town, the story of the city starts here. Ciutat Vella is nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the neighborhood of l'Eixample and comprises the most popular boroughs of the city from Plaça Catalunya to the Barceloneta. Barceloneta since the 1992 Olympics significant gentrification has taken place, most noticeably along the seafront. There are now delis serving upscale foodstuffs and high rise office buildings going up.
Barri Gòtic: this area is quite popular for visitors to see the history of the city. It boasts its fair share of night life and shops. Most people walk through here to view the quite stunning architecture with the ancient building leaning this way and that on their centuries-old foundations. It is also the location of the Barcelona Cathedral which is a focal point of the city.
La Ribera: is a large section of the old town that encompasses everything between Arc de Triomf and Via Laietana. It is often mistakenly called the El Born after the large, 19th century market that sits in the area below Carrer de la Princesa. In reality, Born is a sub neighborhood of La Ribera much like the area around the upper, Santa Catarina market. Regardless of whether you go to the upper or lower sections, it is a very happening neighborhood with lots to do and see. By day, there are many small shops and local designers. By night, there is a thriving bar and restaurant scene. It's easily reachable by foot and contains no end of old buildings, many of which date back to the 15th century. It's easy to see the thriving, commercial past of the neighborhood.
El Raval: is the neighborhood of the old town just to the west of Las Ramblas. These days, it's a vibrant place for nightlife and while still very much an immigrant neighborhood, it's home to no end of bars and restaurants.