Barcelona, Spain, is a coastal city on the northeastern side of the country. Steeped in history, it is a vibrant, multicultural city with diverse architecture, ranging from ancient Roman to Modernista and from Gothic to Art Nouveau.
With narrow streets lined with quaint shops, bars, and eateries, Barcelona is a haven for tourism. Its charming whimsy is nothing short of delightful, and the unique and luxurious remnants of years past are more than enough to convince anyone to stop by and experience it themselves.
There are countless different neighborhoods in Barcelona and hundreds of hotels and hostels to choose from. So how can you pick the best one for your needs? Though it can be difficult, I am here to help with my own breakdown of several neighborhoods in Barcelona I have had the chance to stay in during my visits.
In this article, I will look at where to stay in Barcelona, Spain, by looking at different areas and available accommodations.
When to Go:
What to Do:
Best Places To Stay in Barcelona
Just looking for a hotel to make your home base in Barcelona? Don’t worry, here are our top picks to make it easier for you.
Now let’s move on to a deeper dive into the various neighborhoods in Barcelona and what you can expect.
Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Barcelona
1. Gothic Quarter
The Charming Historical Center
Known also as Barri Gòtic or Barrio Gòtico, the Gothic Quarter is located right between Laetana and Rambla.
Despite its name, the Gothic buildings most famous in this area don’t necessarily date back to the Middle Ages. A lot of restoration was done around the 19th and 20th centuries to transform the entire area for the International Exhibition of 1929.
The mix of new creations and old led to the Gothic Quarter as it stands today: a blend of the old and the new, while still maintaining much of the charm it had as a more somber and mysterious neighborhood.
You can easily see modern buildings fitted against the more dramatic, historically rich structures around the area, alongside some neo-Gothic buildings that were built later on.
The streets of the Gothic Quarter can be rather winding, but you’ll have no shortage of restaurants and bars to go to, and the nightlife is pretty impressive. On top of that, there are many lovely attractions to visit in the area, and from the center of the town, virtually all of them are within walking distance.
The Barcelona Cathedral and its beautiful façade, a mix of neo-Gothic and old Gothic, and the Museu d’Historia de La Ciutat (Museum of Urban History) are all scattered throughout the city amongst other enchanting features of Roman Architecture.
Gothic Quarter Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for Sightseeing
- Best Hotels – Maldà Singular Hotel • Catalonia Magdalenes • Catalonia Catedral Hotel
- Best Hostels – Sun & Moon Hostel • Hostel New York
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 3 Bedroom Apartment • 4 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – Arcano Restaurant $$ • Tapeo $ • Bodega La Palma $$
- Where to Drink – Sub Rosa Cocktail Bar • L’Ascensor • Manchester Bar
- Top Attractions – Barcelona Cathedral • Barcelona Museum of History • Mercado de La Boqueria
2. El Born
A Fashionable, Wealthy Hotspot
The richest part of La Ribera, El Born is known for being trendy and modern, but you wouldn’t think it if you were here when it was first built.
The settlement was built over a medieval location that was destroyed during the 18th century’s secession war. Before that, it had been home to aristocrats and nobles, its humble roots a vast contrast to the celebrations and jousts that once took place on the land. It was also a trade center.
Today, El Born is electric, unique, and artistic, nothing like it once was. Its nightlife is teeming and its streets are full of beautiful art, including the modernist art movement and its defining statue. It’s a great spot for shopping, too, though many of the stores are high-end and rather expensive.
Apart from shopping, you can take a trip to La Palau de la Musica Catalana and catch a show or tour the impressive structure. You can visit the Picasso Museum for a selection of the famous artist’s work, or view the Chocolate Museum for a quick look at cool chocolate sculptures.
El Born Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for Shopping and Bar Hopping.
- Best Hotels – Hotel Oasis • K+K Hotel Picasso • Park Hotel
- Best Hostels – Safestay Barcelona Gothic
- Best Apartments – 4 Bedroom Deluxe Apartment
- Where to Eat – Mosquito Tapas $ • Restaurant Montiel $$$ • Mescladis del Pou $$
- Where to Drink – Pitin Bar • Bar El Born • Bar Sauvage
- Top Attractions – Picasso Museum • Basilica of Santa Maria del’Mar • Palau de la Música Catalana
A Trendy, Modern Neighborhood
Eixample translates to Expansion District, and it’s easy to see why. Its streets are long and straight, arranged in a convenient and efficient grid-like pattern.
Blocks are marked by chamfered corners in this relatively new portion of Barcelona, which was developed from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th. Its organization was designed to combat the housing crisis of the 19th century.
The district is now packed with high-end retail outlets and stores, as well as fancy restaurants and galleries. Its streets, despite their meticulous organization, are the widest and most spacious you may find in the other popular portions of Barcelona, exemplifying sophistication and modernity.
The bus and metro systems are extremely accessible here, providing you with easy access to other neighborhoods, too. La Sagrada Familia and Casa Milà are both along the way – two UNESCO World Heritage sites within close proximity.
Eixample Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for Luxury Hotels and Elegant Shopping Centers.
- Best Hotels – Cram Hotel • The Mirror Barcelona • Ohla Eixample
- Best Hostels – 360 Hostel • Bed & Bike Barcelona • Hola Hostel Eixample
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment • 3 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – La Esquina $ • Au Port de la Lune $$ • Bart Mut $$$
- Where to Drink – Toto Bar • Dry Martini Cocktail Bar • Pub Fiction
- Top Attractions – La Sagrada Familia Cathedral • La Casa Batllo • Las Arenas Mall
4. Sant Antoni
A Historic Balance Between Old And New
Sant Antoni is one of the last remaining locations in Barcelona that shows a side of the city that is steadily disappearing with the years – one where city squares were a hotspot for life and socialization, where everyone knew each other’s names.
In its fragile tightrope walk between old and new, Sant Antoni holds a resemblance to Eixample in its organized, grid-like street and building structure. Its center is the Mercat de Sant Antoni, a vibrant marketplace that covers an entire block with strong metal Modernista architecture.
Sant Antoni Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for a Thrifty Foodie Scene and Delicious Tapas Bars.
- Best Hotels – Catalonia Gran • TWO Hotel Barcelona • Hotel Best Auto Hogar
- Best Hostels – Toc Hostel Barcelona • Urbany Hostel BCN GO! • Hostel One Batllo
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 3 Bedroom Apartment • 3 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – Bar Calders $$ • Braseros & Asoc. $$ • Tickets Bar $$$
- Where to Drink – Casa Martino • Bitter Cocktail Bar • Ambient Del Sur
- Top Attractions – Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art • Mercat de Sant Antoni
La Barceloneta is a portside neighborhood. Its area is shaped in a triangle, with many expanses of sandy beach along one side of the triangle, the old harbor packed with sea boats along another, and Port Vell on the final side.
The neighborhood was built on narrow streets in a rectilinear, utilitarian style, based on a military grid structure. There’s a reason for this monotonous style – La Barceloneta was designed to house La Ribera residents whose homes were torn down for citadel construction.
The low-rise houses that remain today are a mark of the city’s previous priorities – small in size, so as not to block the grand city views.
Before it became a replacement residency, La Barceloneta was a fishing neighborhood, housing fishermen and factory workers, but it is now one of the most popular locations in the entire city.
Its main draws are its many beaches, which open up into the gorgeous sea ahead. Bars and restaurants line the sandy shores, and you can see residents lounging on chairs by the street side.
Barceloneta Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for a Family-Friendly Beach Holiday and Seafood.
- Best Hotels – Sofitel Barcelona Skipper • W Barcelona • Hotel 54 Barceloneta
- Best Hostels – Sea Hostel Barcelona • Residencia Campus del Mar
- Where to Eat – Arenal Restaurant $ • Restaurant Barceloneta $$$ • Torre d’Alta Mar $$$
- Where to Drink – El Vaso de Oro • Bar Ké • Bar Electricitat
- Top Attractions – Barceloneta Beach • Port Cable Car • Museum of the History of Catalonia
6. El Poblenou
The Coolest Neighborhood In Barcelona
El Poblenou was once the teeming center of the industrial revolution of Barcelona, and some of that history remains today in industrial estates mixed with tourist attractions. But there’s significant modernity to it all – lavish office buildings and co-working spaces take up what may have once been transport firms and textile manufacturers.
For the most part, El Poblenou has been able to avoid getting caught up in gentrification. Stores often close on Saturdays or Sundays and it’s a more humble place to stay. One of the most welcoming villages you’ll find in the area is Carrer de Marià Aguiló, packed with friendly residents who know each other well.
Parc de Ciutadella is one of El Poblenou’s defining features, sitting at the very foot of the lovely neighborhood. Don’t forget to take a trip to the beach, too, or enroll in water sports at La Base Náutica. Follow the locals to eateries with authentic, delicious Catalan cuisine!
El Poblenou Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for Modern Attractions and Affordable Accommodations.
- Best Hotels – Melia Barcelona • Acta Voraport • Ilunion Barcelona
- Best Hostels – Zero Barcelona Hostel • Twentytu Hi-Tech Hostel
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – Aguaribay $ • El Tres Porquets $$ • Els Pescadors $$$
- Where to Drink – Balius Bar • Bharma Bar • Razzmatazz
- Top Attractions – Parc Central del Poblenou • Platja de la Mar Bella • Barcelona Design Museum
7. El Raval
A Diverse Community
El Raval is vibrant and multicultural. It is part of historic Barcelona’s second stage of development. It was once very highly populated, but that changed when Eixample was built and the walls of the city were demolished. The southern area was once Barcelona’s red-light district, and that only changed thanks to a 1988 urban regeneration project.
Though the neighborhood has a bit of an unfavorable reputation due to its wealth of brothels and cabarets and the sheer size of its nightlife scene, it’s an exciting representation of a real neighborhood in Barcelona.
We don’t recommend staying here if you’re a new traveler, but seasoned tourists won’t have too much trouble fitting in and being a little more cautious in this area.
Museo d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona calls El Raval its home, as do Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and La Boquería. Many more tourist attractions in this shady neighborhood attract plenty of guests.
El Raval Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for local restaurants and nightlife.
- Best Hotels – Arc La Rambla • Gaudi Hotel • Hotel Raval House
- Best Hostels – Ideal Youth Hostel
- Where to Eat – Caravelle $$ • Can Cañete $$ • Succulent $$
- Where to Drink – Bar Marsella • Two Schmucks • Casa Almirall
- Top Attractions – Museo d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona • Gran Teatre del Liceu • Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
8. La Vila Olímpica
The Modern Olympic Village
La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou is a relatively new neighborhood, just finished in the early 1990s. It was built for the Summer Olympic Games of 1992, serving as a residential spot for the working class including the industrial Poblenou district.
Just like Eixample, La Vila Olímpica has a neat reticular grid structure. Over 2,000 new apartments have been built there.
The neighborhood has grown significantly in the last few decades, with boutiques, shops, eateries, and offices opening in the area. But even with its speedy development, it remains grounded with green havens like the Parc de la Nova Icària.
Walk down to the seafront to see some impressive hotel structures not too far away and a gigantic goldfish statue that looms ominously overhead.
Though no truly historical monuments call La Vila Olímpica their home, the tram system connected to the village is easy to navigate. Besides, you don’t need to leave the neighborhood to have fun – enjoy some watersports, bask in the sand and surf, or explore the port areas to make the most of your trip.
La Vila Olímpica Mini Guide
The Best Area to Stay in for a Beachside Location
A Down-To-Earth, Local Atmosphere
Gràcia is a beautiful neighborhood that began its life as an independent municipality in 1626. Today, it comprises five different neighborhoods in one: Camp d’en Grassot i Gràcia Nova, La Salut, Vallcarca i els Penitents, Vila de Gràcia, and El Coll.
Today, despite being the smallest district in Barcelona, it is the most densely populated with more than 120,000 residents.
It is a cosmopolitan location, trendy and hip, and its streets are packed closely together in a narrow and intimate setting with low-rise Mediterranean architecture. This creates a whimsical and charming mix of plazas, old one-way streets, and modern offerings.
Unlike many other areas of Barcelona, most of Gràcia doesn’t have tourist attractions, but tourists often enjoy the district for its shopping choices and for the litany of local art that can be found here. Ethnic cuisines of all kinds are served in different restaurants throughout Gràcia, too.
Gràcia Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Exploring the Local Lifestyle on a Budget.
- Best Hotels – Catalonia Gracia • Hotel Sagrada Familia • Sercotel Hotel Rosellon
- Best Hostels – Residencia Universitaria Lesseps • Rocket Hostels Gracia • Factory Hostels
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – Con Gracia $$ • Pepa Tomate $$ • La Pubilla $$
- Where to Drink – Châtelet • Sol Soler • Old Fashioned
- Top Attractions – Park Guell • Casa Vicens Gaudi • Plaça de la Virreina
10. Passeig de Gràcia
Business, Shopping, and Excitement
Yes, we’ve covered Gràcia and its different neighborhoods, but Passeig de Gràcia is important enough to mention again as a small area perfect for tourists to stay in. This avenue is a single road and is one of the most important ones in all of Barcelona. It links Plaça Catalunya to the rest of Gràcia.
Once upon a time, in the 19th century, this boulevard was a majestic and sophisticated hangout for the bourgeoisie class, and it is home to modernista buildings that truly exemplify elegance. The historical value of this road makes it akin to a museum, and it was once called Camí de Jesús, a mere quasi-rural lane that had its importance grow more and more with the urbanization of Barcelona.
While you’re here, visit the stunning Casa Batlló or Casa Milà, walk up to Plaça Catalunya, or go shopping for designer goods. Ornate street lights pepper the walk, as well as opulent benches flanking the Art Nouveau-style buildings.
Passeig de Gràcia Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Upscale Accommodations, Restaurants, and Shopping Centers.
- Best Hotels – ME Barcelona • Sir Victor Hotel • El Avenida Palace
- Best Hostels – Safestay Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia • Diagonal House • Gracia City by Arc House
- Best Apartments – 3 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – El Nacional $$ • Pomarada $$ • Buenas Migas $$
- Where to Drink – Bankers Bar • 83.3 Terrace Bar • Mimosa Garden
- Top Attractions – Plaça de Catalunya • Casa Batlló • Casa Amatller
11. Poble Sec
A Relaxed Spot Of Rest
Poble Sec is mainly a residential area, but back in Roman times, it is highly likely that it was much more bustling. Evidence indicates that the neighborhood was once a trade and shipping center, but it was not included within the city walls.
Poble Sec doesn’t have any big tourist attractions, but it’s serene and quiet, a perfect spot for a long rest after a day of exploring. If that kind of tranquility is what you need, Poble Sec has that in spades. But that’s not to say there’s nothing to see; check out Plaça España‘s art museums or visit one of the few theaters around the area.
Poble Sec. Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for a Variety of Restaurants and Active Nightlife.
- Best Hotels – Barcelona Granvia Plaza Espana • Hotel Brick Barcelona • InterContinental Barcelona
- Best Hostels – The Hipstel Parallel • HellowBCN Hostel • Mambo Tango Youth Hostel
- Best Apartments – 3 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – Casa Xica $$ • Mano Rota $$ • Pakta $$$
- Where to Drink – Gran Bodega Saltó • Psycho Bar • Tribal Cafe
- Top Attractions – Magic Fountain of Montjuïc • Teatre Victoria • Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
FAQs About Where to Stay in Barcelona
What are the best places to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors?
Thanks to its central location and wide selection of hotels, restaurants, and nearby attractions, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is the best neighborhood for basing your trip for first-time visitors. Other great alternatives include the upscale Eixample neighborhood or La Barceloneta if you prefer to stay by the beach.
What hotels in Barcelona are best for families?
Offering quiet and friendly neighborhoods perfect for traveling with children, the Barceloneta and Gràcia neighborhoods are the best areas in Barcelona for families. The best hotels in the city for hosting your family holiday include the Eurostars Grand Marina in Barceloneta, the Grand Hotel Central in El Born, and the Catalonia Ramblas in El Raval.
What are the best beaches in Barcelona?
There are many beautiful beaches lining Barcelona’s coastlines. The most enticing of these idyllic destinations include Barceloneta, Mar Bella Beach, Bogatell Beach, and Llevant Beach.
What are the best luxury hotels in Barcelona?
Whether seeking a seaside resort or a historical five-star stay in the city, Barcelona features many luxury hotels of varying opulence. The Eixample neighborhood features the city’s most significant concentration of these five-star hotels, including the Ohla Hotel, the Claris Hotel & Spa, and the Sir Victor Hotel.
Where is the best area to stay in Barcelona for foodies?
Barcelona’s food scene is famous for its traditional dishes and tapas bars, with several fantastic restaurants operating throughout the city. The El Raval and Sant Antoni neighborhoods, in particular, are some of the city’s best regions for tapas bars, while the La Barceloneta region offers the city’s best seafood.
What is the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife?
Barcelona offers several neighborhoods that feature different nightlife. Eixample is the best area in the city for craft beer bars, while El Born, El Raval, and the Gothic Quarter have fantastic tapas bars that remain open long through the night. Meanwhile, the modern neighborhood of El Poblenou is the perfect setting for those seeking a more lively party and features several nightclubs.
What are the best places to stay in Barcelona for couples?
Barcelona’s El Born neighborhood offers a romantic setting amidst some of the city’s top restaurants and shopping centers, making it a fantastic option for basing a trip to the region with your partner. However, if you prefer a beachside location, La Barceloneta offers plenty of romantic sunsets.