Gracia revels in its own distinctive charm and identity, which isn't surprising when you consider that it was its own town independent of Barcelona until 1897. The understated low-rise buildings and connecting streets and squares make for a pleasing alternative to the splendor of neighboring L'Eixample. With the irresistible pull of the terrace cafe culture, the neighborhood is unmistakably Catalan, while the young, bohemian crowd mingle seamlessly with the older population to give the district its hip yet laid-back, traditional atmosphere. Visit in August if you can, when the colorful Festes de Gracia sees rival streets compete to win the crown of best-dressed area in the neighborhood. Regardless of when you visit, be sure to enjoy a couple of blissful hours exploring Gaudí's Park Güell on Carmel Hill.