The district of Gracia in Barcelona is one of the main student areas and therefore has a laidback, arty feel. There are many little squares, churches, bars and cafes to explore as well as Gaudi's Parc Guell within walking distance. When you're wandering about under the stars there are young, interesting people to meet in every square.
It's a lovely place to stay, much more relaxed than the city centre and easy to get to by metro and cheap(ish) by taxi in the early hours of the morning. Also, if you fancy a day by the sea, skip the undesirable beach in the city (Barcelonetta) and head for Sitges, 15 minutes by train, for a lazy day by the water and a big seafood paella, getting the last train back (about 10 pm) and heading out into the city.
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