Eixample means “extension” or “enlargement” in Catalan. During the city’s 19th century industrial boom, architects planned wide diagonal boulevards reaching out from old Barcelona to form a new bourgeois stomping ground.
The Eixample remains mostly upper-middle class, characterized by fancy shops and tranquil street scenes, yet its uniquely modernista character makes it a fascinating place to get to know. Nearly every architectural attraction from the turn of the 20th century is located in the Eixample.
A good way to get to know the Eixample is to start at Plaça de Catalunya and work your way up Passeig de Gracia. An important shopping avenue, Passeig de Gràcia has everything from restaurants to high fashion boutiques. It also gives the visitor a nice general feel of the Eixample's personality as a neighborhood.
The Eixample holds a ton of great places to experience Barcelona culture. The National Symphony of Catalonia is based out of L'Auditori, a modern concert hall with excellent acousitcs. Alternatively, the Fundació Caixa always has an interesting activity or event planned. Cinema fans will find 4 art house movie theaters and music lovers can head to a number of great locales, such as La Boite or Luz de Gas.
Even though the Eixample is a more upscale neighborhood and not known for being particularly "hip," it's certainly got a stellar cultural offering. Rent an apartment in this area.