Discover the ultimate guide to the best neighborhoods and areas to stay in Barcelona 🏨 Find the perfect place to stay with great nightlife and highlights
Barcelona is a destination in Europe attracting visitors with its Mediterranean beaches, unique avant garde architecture, vibrant markets, trendy bars and restaurants and lively cultural scene. Exploring this bustling city is an enjoyable experience. However for first time visitors deciding where to stay in Barcelona can be overwhelming due to the multitude of neighborhoods to choose from.
This comprehensive guide provides insights into the districts that travelers love the most, each with its distinct character and allure. Continue reading to find the Barcelona neighborhood that suits your travel style and budget!
Staying in Barcelona – A Brief Overview of the Main Areas
Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million people. Covers an area of 100 square kilometers. The city consists of ten districts; however tourists typically spend their time in the neighborhoods that form part of the old town known as Ciutat Vella.
This historic city center encompasses the labyrinthine alleyways of the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic), the pedestrian boulevard called La Rambla in between them, as well as neighboring areas like fashionable El Born and edgy El Raval. North of here lies Eixample (“The Extension”) a district characterized by its grid layout which is home to some of Barcelona’s most iconic Modernist architecture.
There are neighborhoods outside the city center that are worth exploring in Barcelona. Barceloneta, with its vibe, Gràcia known for its village atmosphere and Sant Antoni, an area favored by the nouveau riche all offer unique experiences.
When deciding where to stay in Barcelona it’s important to consider what you hope to gain from your trip. Some key factors to think about include:
- Budget; Are you looking for hostels, affordable hotels or luxurious accommodations?
- Location; Do you prefer a neighborhood with access to the metro and nearby attractions?
- Vibe: Are you interested in experiencing local culture, vibrant nightlife options, diverse dining choices or a more resort-like ambiance?
- Type of Accommodation; Are you seeking boutique hotels, high rise buildings with a view of comfortable apartments for your family?
To assist in finding the perfect neighborhood that aligns with different traveler preferences and needs here is a brief reference guide.
Stay in the Heart of Barcelona. Barri Gòtic
Barri Gòtic is Barcelona’s historical center characterized by its medieval architecture and charming pedestrian streets. It’s a location for sightseeing as it is home to attractions such as the cathedral Picasso Museum and MACBA contemporary art museum.
Best Neighborhood for Nightlife. El Born
When it comes to nightlife in Barcelona no neighborhood compares to El Born. This vibrant district offers an atmosphere with tapas bar crawls and unique cocktail lounges housed within buildings around Santa Maria del Mar church. Notably venues, like the legendary El Born CC nightclub also contribute to its buzzing nightlife scene.
Hipster Vibe. El Raval
El Raval offers a choice for those who love to party and indulge in culture. It’s known for its gastro pubs, wine bars, like Bar Cañete and the vibrant bar scene around the MACBA contemporary art museum. This trendy neighborhood is perfect for shopping, exploring art galleries, enjoying cocktails at bars and experiencing music clubs that stay open late into the night. Don’t miss the Picasso Museum and Santa Caterina Market while you’re here. This multicultural neighborhood is brimming with shops, diverse eateries, bars serving absinthe and vermouth and the stunning Palau Güell. Although it used to have a reputation for seediness in the past, that image has long faded away.
Stay on the Beach: Barceloneta
If you’re looking to stay near the beach, Barceloneta is an option. Once a fishing village it has transformed into a neighborhood with Barcelona’s longest urban beach. The area is renowned for its seafood restaurants and vibrant nightlife during the summer months.
Local Character: Gràcia
If you want to experience charm and a laid back atmosphere in Barcelona Gràcia is the place to be. Once a village it now offers a residential area with charming plazas, cozy cafes and boutique shops. It’s also conveniently located near Park Güell and Gaudís House Museum.
Modernist Architecture: Eixample
Eixample is perfect if you admire architecture. This district was designed as Barcelona’s 19th century expansion plan with its grid pattern layout. You’ll find buildings by Gaudí and other Modernisme architecture here along, with high end shopping options and Michelin star dining experiences. Families will also find Eixample one of the areas to stay in Barcelona.
This district is quite extensive. Features boulevards lined with trees. It offers a mix of apartments, family hotels and attractions that are enjoyable for kids, such as the Museum of Illusions and the Barcelona Wax Museum. Many properties in this area have swimming pools and kids clubs that organize activities. Its central location makes it convenient to visit landmarks like La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, the beach and the Gothic Quarter.
Stay on a Budget: Sant Antoni
If you’re looking to stay on a budget Sant Antoni is a choice. It’s an up and coming neighborhood in Barcelona known for its food scene and lively nightlife. Since it attracts more locals than tourists you can find some deals on accommodations.
Best Barcelona Neighborhood for Families: Barceloneta
For families visiting Barcelona, Barceloneta is a neighborhood. It offers a kid beach with a promenade, water sports activities, Aquarium Barcelona and various dining options. While it may not be as centrally located as the Gothic Quarter Barceloneta is still easily walkable.
Romantic Neighborhood: Barri Gòtic
If you’re seeking an atmosphere during your stay in Barcelona consider exploring Barri Gòtic. This neighborhood boasts streets that are perfect for leisurely strolls while soaking up the old world charm of Barcelona. You’ll also find boutique hotels and candlelit restaurants scattered throughout this area.
Best Luxury Hotels Area: Eixample
For those looking for accommodations in Barcelona Eixample is the area to explore. Here you’ll find most of the city’s 5 star hotels and designer accommodations. The wide tree lined boulevards add to its allure while offering access to high end shopping opportunities and Michelin star dining experiences.
Stay Near the Airport: El Prat de Llobregat
For travelers needing proximity to the airport due, to flights or convenience purposes only
El Prat de Llobregat is recommended as its located near Barcelonas airport.
If you’re looking to stay in Barcelona, the City Center is conveniently a 12 minute train ride. Now lets delve into the five places to stay in Barcelona and explore them in detail!
Place to Stay in Barcelona #1: Barri Gòtic
Up is Barri Gòtic, which undoubtedly takes the crown as the convenient and charming area, for first time visitors. As the heart of Barcelona’s town this neighborhood offers proximity to attractions while immersing you in its rich history.
Barri Gòtic revolves around the Barcelona Cathedral perched on ground that has been a site of Christian worship since Roman times. The narrow cobblestone streets branching out from here are lined with buildings housing boutiques, cozy bars illuminated by candles and atmospheric restaurants.
One of the joys of exploring Barri Gòtic is getting lost amidst its labyrinthine pedestrian lanes. Stumbling upon hidden gems like the quaint Plaça del Pi or remnants of the Roman wall along Carrer del Sots Tinent Navarro.
Make sure not to miss must visit landmarks such as the Gothic cathedral itself Picasso Museum, Barcelona City History Museum (featuring Roman ruins) Frederic Marès Sculpture Museum and the ceramics and textiles collection at Barbier Mueller Museum.
Now let’s look at some hotel options, within Barri Gòtic;
For those seeking luxury the Mercer Hotel is considered the boutique hotel in Barcelona while the Hotel Neri takes the title for the mid range hotel. For those on a budget the Kabul Party Hostel is recognized as the choice for a hostel experience.
Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic neighborhood is home to some of the city’s romantic accommodations. From converted palaces to design gems there are plenty of options that offer both charm and affordability.
One thing to keep in mind about this location is that the narrow streets can get quite crowded during the day. However as night falls the crowds disperse, making it an ideal place to stay if you want to enjoy lively tapas bar hopping without hustle and bustle!
Place to Stay #2: El Born
Moving on to our recommendation; El Born. This trendy neighborhood serves as Barcelona’s hub of coolness. Here you’ll find a concentration of boutiques, innovative cocktail bars, live music venues, stylish hotels and Instagram worthy café terraces.
Travelers seeking a neighborhood with shopping options, an artsy atmosphere and exciting nightlife should definitely consider staying in El Born. The eastern edge of this market district seamlessly merges with La Rambla – Barcelona’s famous pedestrian street – while its western border offers scenic views of Parc de la Ciutadella.
A major attraction in El Born is undoubtedly Museu Picasso. This museum showcases works from Picasso’s years as well as paintings he generously gifted to the city.
Other notable attractions in the area include the Gothic church of Santa Maria del Mar, where you can admire its architecture. If you’re interested in history make sure to visit the Born Centre de Cultura, where you can explore the remains of neighborhood buildings, including shops, taverns and houses. Art enthusiasts will also appreciate the European Museum of Modern Art and the Moco Museum for their contemporary art collections.
When it comes to accommodation options in El Born there’s something for everyone. If luxury is what you seek, Hotel 1898 is a choice with its five star rating. For a boutique experience with four star quality service consider Yurbban Passage. Chic & Basic Born offers range options while Ant Hostel provides a comfortable stay for budget conscious travelers.
Place to Stay #3: Barceloneta
If you’re a beach lover, Barceloneta should be at the top of your list when choosing where to stay in Barcelona.
This neighborhood once inhabited by fishermen still maintains its knit community atmosphere, centered around its sandy urban beach.
If you’re looking for a waterfront location, Barceloneta is the place to be. The beach scene strikes a balance. It offers amenities, like loungers and umbrellas for rent, waterfront bars and seafood restaurants all while avoiding being overwhelmed by partying tourists.
During the day the two level beach boardwalk buzzes with activity; locals playing pétanque, children building sandcastles and older folks enjoying the sun while athletes jog past. At night people dress up to visit cocktail bars and dance clubs along the seaside. Throughout the year Barceloneta provides a taste of Mediterranean life.
In addition to sunbathing and swimming in the Balearic Sea popular activities include indulging in seafood tapas and rice dishes at family restaurants such as Can Majó or Can Solé. You’ll also find the Aquarium Barcelona here well as the iconic sail shaped W Hotel. One of the city’s most renowned landmarks. Architecture enthusiasts will appreciate the Gas Natural Fenosa building designed by Enric Miralles that resembles a lighthouse on a beach.
Barceloneta has evolved from a fishing settlement into a neighborhood filled with low rise apartment buildings. Its official name pays homage to those fishermen who constructed the houses back in 1753.
In the past the beach served as a place for boat repairs. Nowadays these stretches of sand hold a special place in the hearts of Barcelona’s residents.
If you’re looking for luxury W Barcelona is your bet.
For a boutique experience Hotel 54 Barceloneta is highly recommended.
Residencia Auscaf offers range options.
If you’re on a budget, Beach Hostel Barcelona is a choice.
Barceloneta offers a variety of accommodation options to suit budgets. The only downside is that it’s outside the city center attractions. However the metro system provides transportation to and from Ciutat Vella.
Place to Stay #4: El Raval
For a diverse experience in Barcelona consider making El Raval your home base. This vibrant neighborhood has undergone a transformation in years. It has evolved from being known as a light district into one of the trendiest hangouts in the city.
Contrasting with Barri Gòtics’ charm of Barcelona, El Raval showcases the contemporary and multicultural side of the city with its gritty and bold vibe.
Here you’ll discover art galleries, stylish vintage fashion boutiques, international cuisine restaurants, trendy cafes popular among hipsters and locals alike. The area around Carrer dels Tallers and MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum) is particularly vibrant and lively.
Make sure not to miss Antoni Gaudís masterpiece. The Palau Güell.
Some popular attractions in Barcelona include the Erotic Museum with a theme along La Rambla, the FILMOTeca de Catalunya film archive and the CCCB, an art and cultural center.
When it comes to nightlife in El Raval you have a range of options from pubs to bars and music venues. You can experience the party scene after the crowds of tourists have left Ciutat Vella at sunset.
For accommodations in El Raval you can choose from hotels like Hotel OD Barcelona or boutique options like Casa Bonay. There are also range hotels such as Barceló Raval and hostels like Sant Jordi Alberg. While central than neighborhoods like Barri Gòtic or El Born, El Raval is still easily walkable and a great choice for first time visitors who want to explore Barcelona’s more unique and unconventional side.
Place to Stay #5: Eixample
Moving on to Eixample, this sophisticated district proudly claims to be the heart of Modernista Barcelona due to its abundance of buildings designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. Eixample is also attractive for shoppers, art enthusiasts and food lovers thanks to its planned grid layout that dates back to the 19th century.
Passeig de Gràcia, the street, in the Eixample district of Barcelona is like a fashion runway for locals. It’s quite fitting considering the buildings in the “Block of Discord” that stand tall and gaze down upon passersby. You have Gaudis Casa Batlló, Puig i Cadafalchs Casa Amatller and Domènech i Montaners Casa Lleo Morera all competing for attention. A block away from them you’ll find Gaudi’s masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, which is a breathtaking sight to behold.
Eixample is also home to examples of Modernist architecture such as Casa Calvet, Palau Montaner and Hospital de Sant Pau. If you’re interested in museums you’ll be pleased to know that some fascinating ones are housed in buildings here too. For instance there’s the Museu del Perfum (perfume museum) as Fundació Antoni Tàpies with its collection of contemporary artworks displayed inside an elegant mansion made of brick and marble.
Although Eixample is quite a district spanning across areas it’s relatively easy to navigate on foot or by using the metro system since most streets intersect at right angles. When it comes to accommodations in this area you’ll find a range of options from European style family hotels to luxurious 5 star properties and even charming boutique gems. The only downsides are that room prices can be steep and it might not be as centrally located for sightseeing purposes; however Plaça de Catalunya is a 10 minute walk away.
If you’re looking for recommendations on where to stay in Eixample;
For top notch luxury experience; The One Barcelona
If you prefer boutique charm; Room Mate Pau
Best mid range option; Praktik Bakery Hotel
If you’re on a budget, Eixample is not an option.
Stay in Eixample if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the architecture of Modernisme and experience the cutting edge Catalan design. Indulge in Michelin starred restaurants or cozy tapas joints explore the Sant Antoni neighborhood for a fun bar hopping experience. Enjoy shopping at designer boutiques until you can’t shop anymore.
Place to Stay #6: Plaça de Catalunya
For a place to stay consider Plaça de Catalunya. This bustling square is the heart of Barcelona and a popular meeting point for both locals and tourists. It connects the districts like Barri Gòtic and El Raval with the boulevards of Eixample. Staying here means being steps from top department stores and benefiting from excellent metro connections that are conveniently located below your feet making it easy to explore Barcelona’s attractions.
There are hotels on or near Plaça de Catalunya that you can consider. H10 Cubik, Praktik Vinoteca El Avenida Palace with its charm and Yurbban Trafalgar are among them. Do keep in mind that prime location usually comes with prices due to its convenience, for sightseeing purposes
Best Barcelona Neighborhoods to Stay – Beyond the Center
Barcelona covers plenty of ground beyond touristy Ciutat Vella, so don’t restrict your accommodation search just to the old town center. Here are some attractions and advantages of staying in other districts:
This extensive hilly park just southwest of the city center offers a verdant escape from busy Barcelona. It contains art museums, sports facilities, an old fortress and a magical magic fountain light show. Views across the city and port are extraordinary. Staying up here provides welcome tranquility, but expect to take taxis or buses to reach attractions. Recommended hotels include Miramar de Barcelona, Hotel Porta Fira, and Renaissance Barcelona Hotel.
Once a village swallowed up by Barcelona, charming Gràcia has a laidback, almost small-town atmosphere that attracts young creative types. Its main draw is Park Güell – another of Gaudí’s incredible public artworks where houses nestle under a forest canopy. Stay in this district for a lower key, hipster Barcelona experience focused around cool plazas like Plaça del Sol rather than major sights. Recommended hotels include Casa Fuster and Hotel Casa Bonay.
The self-styled “gastronomic district” of Sant Antoni is one of Barcelona’s fastest changing neighborhoods. What was a fairly downmarket quarter focused around a 19th century market hall has transformed through urban regeneration into the city’s latest foodie and nightlife mecca. It attracts young locals and visitors looking for great value tapas bars, microbrew pubs and warehouse party clubs. Recommended hotels include the modernist themed Hotel Pulitzer, friendly Hotel Vilamari, and budget-friendly Hostal Cèntric.
The residential area around Sants mainline train station isn’t super exciting, yet affordable options by the transport hub can be useful for short city breaks focused on sights like Camp Nou, Montjuïc Olympic Park or the nightclubs in neighboring Poble Sec. Recommended hotels include Ayre Hotel Rosellón, Travelodge Barcelona Poblenou, and Reding Croma Hotel.
Best Barcelona Neighborhoods for Nightlife
After dark, Barcelona know how to fiesta in style! Here’s a breakdown of neighborhoods that sizzle once the sun goes down:
The place to go for tapas bar crawls and sophisticated cocktail lounges open until 3am, housed inside medieval laneways and alleyways around the church of Santa Maria del Mar. Don’t miss Carrer de l’Argenteria or hipster magnet El Born CC nightclub.
This vast district has been dubbed “Beerxample” thanks to its insane number of craft beer bars, especially in the Sant Antoni ‘hood. The parallel streets of Carrer d’Aribau and Carrer de Mallorca also contain various nightclubs and gay bars open late.
Head to the seaside in summer for beach bars serving mojitos and techno beats on the sand, while mega-clubs face across the road by Port Olímpic marina. Opium Mar is the place to party until sunrise as glowstick-wielding clubbers spill onto the beach as dawn breaks.
Located between Montjuïc hill and Avinguda del Paral-lel, formerly the city’s entertainment district, the gentrified Poble Sec area mixes gussied-up wooden tapas joints with cool wine bars and live music venues. It’s popular with locals and visitors staying at nearby hotels.
EL RAVAL (for Nightlife with Tapas!)
No neighborhood beats El Raval for revelers seeking outstanding tapas bars open late and great nightlife with an eclectic cultural mix. Foodies flock here for global eateries and hip gastro pubs like Bar Cañete. After dark, historic watering holes like absinthe specialist Bar Marsella meet modern cocktail dens and music venues for partying like a local. Fantastic hotels include the luxurious Hotel 1898 and value-packed Barceló Raval.
Area to Stay in Barcelona for First Time Visitors
For those visiting Barcelona for the first time, the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) is an ideal area to stay to explore the atmospheric old town. This puts you steps away from top attractions like the Cathedral, Picasso Museum, and Barrio Gotico’s warren of medieval lanes perfect for wandering. Great hotels for first timers include chic Mercer Hotel Barcelona and romantic Hotel Neri.
El Born is another very central and walkable option for new visitors. This stylish district blends hip boutiques, cool tapas bars, and sights like the church of Santa Maria del Mar. Excellent places to stay range from luxury gems like the Grand Hotel Central to mid-range picks like Chic & Basic Born boutique hotel.
Best Places to Stay on a Budget
For budget-friendly Barcelona hotels, Sant Antoni is a great value option. Room rates are cheaper here compared to the Gothic Quarter or El Born, and it still puts you close to hotspots like MACBA, Montjuïc, and Poble Sec. Plus Sant Antoni has developed a nice restaurant/bar scene. Quality cheap stays include Hostal Cèntric Cabanellas, Generator Hostel Barcelona, and the modern Hotel Vilamari.
Other affordable neighborhoods are Gràcia, with village-feel streets and Park Güell, or Eixample if you don’t mind being a short metro ride from the top sights. Well-priced hotels in Eixample include the stylish Room Mate Pau, the contemporary Praktik Bakery, and no-frills Hostal Oliva.
Guide to the Best Neighborhoods and Hotels in Barcelona
For first-time visitors looking to stay in central Barcelona, two top neighborhoods are Barri Gòtic and El Born. Barri Gòtic puts you steps away from top attractions like the Gothic Cathedral, Picasso Museum, and atmospheric medieval lanes perfect for wandering. El Born blends hip boutiques, cool bars, and sights like Santa Maria del Mar church and the Picasso Museum. Great hotels in Barri Gòtic include Hotel Neri and Mercer Hotel Barcelona. El Born gems are Grand Hotel Central and the Barcelona EDITION.
Las Ramblas might be touristy but makes a very central location to stay on a Barcelona trip if you want easy access to Ciutat Vella’s winding alleys and El Raval’s diverse culinary scene. Decent hotels right on La Rambla include Hotel 1898, Praktik Rambla, and Yurbban Ramblas. Just beware of overpriced tourist traps.
Best Luxury Hotels in Barcelona
If you’re looking for five-star indulgence in Barcelona, the elegant El Palace Hotel reigns supreme amidst Eixample’s designer boutiques and Modernist architecture. This majestic property dazzles with lavish rooms, Michelin-star dining, and an elegant spa. Barri Gòtic also spoils luxury travelers with exclusive historic gems like the Serras Hotel, set in an 18th-century palace, and the romantic Hotel Neri on atmospheric old town lanes. Over in El Born near Santa Maria del Mar, the Barcelona EDITION wows guests with rooftop views, a stunning restaurant and chic interiors, while the Grand Hotel Central pampers with a rooftop infinity pool.
Best Mid-Range Hotels in Barcelona
For an upscale stay that won’t break the bank, hotels like H10 Casa Mimosa offer sleek, contemporary design in prime locations of Eixample and Barri Gòtic. The modern Praktik Bakery Hotel charms guests with stylish rooms near Passeig de Gràcia boutiques. In lively El Born near Santa Maria del Mar, Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel surprises with funky vintage decor, a plunge pool and sundeck. Over in Barceloneta, the beachfront W Barcelona delivers resort luxury without the five-star price tag.
Best Budget Hotels & Hostels in Barcelona
Barcelona has no shortage of quality affordable hotel options like Petit Palace Boquería Garden in Barri Gòtic, which pampers guests with free bikes and tablets. The contemporary H10 Raco del Pi also offers excellent value just steps from Barcelona Cathedral. For cheap and cheerful lodging, Barceló Raval surprises with slick rooms near Las Ramblas, while the beachfront Hotel 54 Barceloneta charms guests with a rooftop terrace. Top hostels include the hip Generator Barcelona by Universitat metro and lively Kabul Party Hostel in Barri Gòtic’s atmospheric lanes.
To Sum It Up
When visiting Barcelona, choosing the best neighborhood in Barcelona to stay during your trip can be overwhelming with so many great places across this bustling seaside city. For first-time visitors, the Gothic Quarter puts you steps away from top attractions like the Barcelona Cathedral and Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) while letting you wander atmospheric old city lanes. Vibrant El Born charms with hip boutiques, cool bars, and sights like Santa Maria del Mar church – it’s a perfect place to stay for nightlife. If you want resort luxury, stay beachside in Barceloneta which retains a delightful village vibe focused around its golden sands and seaside cafes despite high-rise hotels. Wherever you pick for the best area in Barcelona to stay, excellent metro access like Barcelona Sants station makes getting around easy. Families love Eixample’s wide tree-lined boulevards and proximity to Park Güell and Sagrada Familia. Sant Antoni and Gràcia offer a local Barcelona neighborhood feel. When visiting this amazing city for the first time or returning again, Barcelona offers diverse neighborhoods to match different interests from artsy explorers and beach lovers to history buffs and foodies – it’s hard not to love Barcelona!