Concierge.com's insider take:
Fiercely independent, Gràcia is a curious bed partner to the metropolis. Perched above the Eixample, this "village" was entirely separate from the city until the construction of the Passeig de Gràcia in 1897. With a distinctive atmosphere, organic markets, sunny plazas, and cute two-story houses, it retains its neo-radical character and continues to attract students and free spirits in droves (although middle-class residents come to escape the hurly-burly of the center as well). During the third week of August, it's also host to one of the city's most extravagant festivals, the Festa Major de Gràcia (34-93-459-30-80; www.festamajordegracia.cat).