Catalonia’s capital is a relatively big city with ten administrative districts. When planning a visit to this bustling town, it’s essential to know where to stay in Barcelona, which neighborhoods are great for travelers, and which ones to avoid. Most of Barcelona neighborhoods are well linked to the essential sites. Therefore you don’t need to use public transportation. To ease your travel planning, I will describe some of the best areas to stay in Barcelona.
Disclaimer: I haven’t stayed in all of those lodgings, but the post is based on thorough research and reviews of those accommodations. The hotels, hostels, and apartments mentioned here are not sponsored, I have selected them based on my preference, budget, design, and reviews.
However, before I go into a detailed explanation of which are the best neighborhoods in Barcelona, I would like to talk about the general division of the city. As I mentioned above, Barcelona has ten administrative districts: Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Sants-Montjuic, Les Corts, Sarria-Santa Gervasi, Gracia, Horta-Guinardo, Nou Barris, Sant Andreu, and Sant Marti. Each of them contains several different neighborhoods. These neighborhoods of Barcelona are based on historical division, while some are former towns affixed by Barcelona in the 18th-19th centuries still showcasing its unique character.
Things to note:
As Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region, the primary language here is Catalan. Therefore, some of the streets either have Catalan or Spanish words, making it a bit confusing for a first time visitor. For instance, the word ‘street’ in Catalan is ‘Carrer,’ while in Spanish, it’s ‘Calle.’ Same goes for districts – districtes in Catalan and distritos in Spanish, and neighborhoods – barrio in Spanish and barri in Catalan.
Best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona for first time
The Eixample District
Considered as Barcelona’s best shopping and dining area, Eixample is a large and central neighborhood close to the El Born and Gòtic (Gothic) Quarters. For me, it was the best neighborhood to stay in Barcelona. All the main attractions are within walking distance, including Gaudi’s masterpieces – Casa Battlo, Casa Mila, and the Sagrada Familia. Besides, if you are looking for art nouveau works of other Spanish architects, this is the district for you.
Due to being a residential area, Eixample is also one of the safest areas to stay in Barcelona and home to some of the most vibrant nightlife and cafe culture. Additionally, Sant Antoni, an up-and-coming area of the Eixample district, is also a great place to stay in Barcelona featuring hip brunch spots and coffee shops.
Gothic Quarter or Barri Gòtic
This is the “old town” of Barcelona, the area where the city started to emerge and became what it is today. It used to be a Roman village, which still preserves the remains of its glorious past. Hence comes the name – Gothic Quarter.
Because of the former city plan, the district is full of narrow, winding streets creating a labyrinth-like layout. If you don’t pay attention, you might feel lost or miss some of the best attractions in the area.
As Barcelona gets way too many tourists, the Gothic Quater becomes quite packed. So is the Gothic Quarter an excellent place to stay in Barcelona? The answer truly depends on what you prefer and what kind of a traveler you are. If you don’t like crowded areas, I wouldn’t recommend staying here. On the other hand, the Gothic Quarter is ideal for those who love being in the epicenter of the town, with easy access to bars, cafes, and restaurants. Therefore, its one of the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife
El Born Barrio
El Born abuts Gothic Quarter but is much quieter than it’s neighbor. The district was built on top of the medieval area. Therefore the streets here are also narrow and winding as in Gothic.
One of the main attractions here is the Calle Montcada, a former medieval street and now home to Picasso and Textile museums. Additionally, you can visit Mercat del Born an old public market, which now is an archeological site. It is the biggest covered square in Europe, which signified the start of Modernism in Catalan architecture.
Much like the Gothic Quarter, El Born is full of restaurants, cafes, and tapas bars. It’s one of the best places to stay in Barcelona if you want to be in a city center but also avoid big crowds. Moreover, you can find some of the best Instagrammable places in Barcelona wandering through its narrow streets.
Best neighborhood in Barcelona with a local vibe
If you are after experiencing how locals live in Barcelona, Gràcia is one of the best ones to do so. It used to be an autonomous town until the late 19th century when Barcelona annexed it within its city borders. Even today, residents of Gracia create a small and tight community who love to enjoy their spare time outdoors with friends and family.
Being a famous area for artists and a bohemian crowd, Gracia is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Barcelona boasting with hidden gems and Instagrammable spots in Barcelona.
Where Not to Stay in Barcelona
El Raval is a controversial district in Barcelona, mostly suitable for experienced travelers who have visited Barcelona many times. Without a doubt, El Raval is an attractive and exciting neighborhood in Barcelona; however, it also has its shady and tacky side that you need to be aware of. It’s not the safest neighborhood in Barcelona, nor the cleanest, but it does have its own personality and character. I would suggest exploring it as one of the Barcelona attractions rather than staying there.
Quiet neighborhoods of Barcelona
El Poble Sec
If you are after cheap hotels in Barcelona, El Poble Sec should be your choice. Other than that, the area doesn’t offer tourist attractions to visit. However, it’s well connected to the center, and it takes only 10 minutes by metro to reach the heart of the city.
Les Corts is a financial and business district with lots of restaurants and hotels but lacks tourist attractions. Therefore, if you prefer a peaceful area to spend your days in Barcelona, this a great place to stay. Moreover, there’s a big shopping complex L’illa with a small exhibition center, cloth shops, supermarkets, and several good restaurants.
Beach Areas of Barcelona
Barceloneta district is the closest beachside area to the city center and top swimming location for many tourists and locals. If you are looking for where to stay in Barcelona with kids, this is an ideal place. You will be closer to the heart of the city but away from its hustle.
Obviously, the beach is the main attraction of Barceloneta, making it packed during hot summer days with both locals and tourists. There are lots of restaurants and bars if you get hungry or thirsty, while people also patrol the coastline selling all sorts of things. Other than that, the area lacks tourist attractions, except the aquarium, considered as the biggest one in Europe.
Barcelona Sants Neighbourhood
This is another great neighborhood if you are looking for cheap accommodation in Barcelona. It’s a quiet, residential area lacking tourist attractions and ideal for those who come to Barcelona for a relaxing vacation rather than exploring the city. And if you need to go to the city center, the neighborhood has a very well connected public transportation system.
Bogatell is a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. However, during the summer days, you can’t find a place here either. It gets very crowded. Much like any other neighborhood with beach access, Bogatell doesn’t have many tourist attractions to visit and is a peaceful residential area with good access to the city center.
Barcelona hotels get quite pricey. If you are looking for cheap hotels or hostels, I would suggest traveling to Barcelona off-season, when prices are a bit low. Below are some of the best options with average rates.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links to products, which earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps to fund my blog and bring more authentic articles to you 🙂
Best Cheap Hotels in Barcelona
Ginosi Pedralbes Hotel
Located a bit far from the city center, the hotel is well connected to the main attractions of Barcelona. Masterpieces of Gaudi, such as La Pedrera, Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, are only 4-5 km away; therefore, you can easily use public transportation.
Hotel Ronda Lesseps
For a more convenient stay, choose Hotel Ronda Lesseps as the hotel is only a 15-minute walk from Park Guell and 200 meters from Plaza Lesseps. Located in Gracia neighborhood, the hotel is ideal for those who would love to stay out of touristy places, experience local vibe, but still be close to Barcelona attractions.
Rooms come with air-conditioning, satellite TV, safe, and private bathrooms. There’s a cafe-bar if you’d like to enjoy drinks, dinner, or breakfast.
Best Hostels in Barcelona
360 Hostel Barcelona
For those who would love to stay in the city center, 360 Hostel Barcelona is one of the best options for budget travelers and not only. It’s only a 10-minute walk away from Plaza Catalunya and La Rambla. All of the Barcelona attractions are within walking distance.
The hostel has twin rooms or single beds in dormitory with ornate tiles and high ceilings. It offers free Wi-Fi throughout the property and a shared spacious kitchen to make your snack, dinner, or breakfast. The communal lounge area has comfortable sofas, where you can use computers with free Internet access.
Hola Hostal Eixample
Hola Hostal Eixample is another excellent choice for those you’d love to stay in the city center. Plaza Catalunya can be reached in only 15 minutes on foot; therefore, most of the touristy sights are within walking distance. For instance, El Born is only a 10-minutes walk, while Sagrada Familia and Ciutadella Park are within 15 minutes away.
The hostel offers air-conditioned dormitories, sun terrace, private bar, individual storage lockers in the dorm rooms, communal area, and a shared kitchen, to name a few. It should be noted that Breakfast is included in the price.
Arc House Barcelona – Youth Hostel
This youth hostel, located only 350 meters from Arc De Triumf metro stop, offers mixed and same-sex dorm rooms with a bright interior and individual lockers. You can use laundry facilities, shared kitchen, dining area, luggage storage, and computers.
There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars within a 10-minutes walk from the hostel. Barcelona attractions, such as Plaza de Cataluna, La Barceloneta Beach, and Las Ramblas, are easily accessible on foot as well.
No Limit Hostel Graffiti
Graffiti works adorn this cute little hostel located near the Encants metro stop, and 10-minutes walk from the Sagrada Familia. Dorm rooms are bright and come with shared bathrooms.
The hostel has a shared kitchen to prepare your meals, while dining areas and lounge is air-conditioned. The neighborhood has several shops, restaurants, and bars within walking distance from the hostel. And if you decide to go shopping, there’s Glories Shopping Center next to the Agbar Tower.
Best Boutique Hotels in Barcelona
Located in Poble Sec neighborhood, this boutique hotel in Barcelona has an outdoor pool on the roof, stylish rooms, a garden, and a sauna, to name a few. Additionally, you can benefit from free and unlimited yoga classes held at the premises of the venue.
Breakfast is served for an additional cost and features homemade granola, fresh juices, and local products. On weekends, you can enjoy tasty brunch at their Brummell Kitchen, while Honestly Bar is a self-serviced venue offering a selection of drinks, delights, and snacks.
The hotel is well connected to the touristy sights of Barcelona. For instance, La Rambla is only a 15-minute walk, while the famous Montjuic is only 2 km away.
Pol & Grace Hotel
Situated in the Gracia neighborhood, Pol & Grace Hotel is an ideal place for couples. Each room has its own theme and style. The staff is amiable and full of tips for discovering Barcelona’s unique neighborhood.
There’s a library for those who love having a good read during their travels. And if you have a small work to do, there’s a free working area with complimentary tea and coffee offered from mid-morning. You can enjoy a varied buffet breakfast for an additional cost every morning.
Check Prices: Booking.com
Best Beach Hotels in Barcelona
Hotel SB Icaria Barcelona
Hotel SB Icaria Barcelona is only 300 meters from Nova Icaria Beach. It offers a sauna, an outdoor pool with sun terrace, hot tub, and a sauna.
The rooms come with stylish modern furniture, wooden floors, and adjustable lighting. The hotel’s elegant restaurant offers Mediterranean market cuisine. You can enjoy drinks at their bar or a lovely relaxing evening in their garden terrace.
Even though it’s close to the coast, the hotel has excellent access to the main sights of Barcelona, including the Ciutadella Park, Barcelona Cathedral, and the historic Gothic Quarter.
Occidental Atenea Mar – Adults Only
Situated only 150 meters from Nova Mar Bella Beach, the hotel features sauna, terrace with sea views, seasonal infinity pool, gym, and hydromassage beds to name a few. The seasonal snack bar is open from June to September.
Most of their rooms have views of the sea or the city and are bright. There’s a mini-bar, a satellite TV, and a safe in each room. El Comedor restaurant offers à la carte Mediterranean meals; breakfast buffet is available each morning for an additional cost.
The nearest metro is Poble Nou station, only a 10-minutes walk.
Best Airbnb in Barcelona under $35
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an entire apartment in Barcelona that will cost under $35 a night. All I got was shared rooms in an apartment or places in the hostel. The only suitable accommodation I found was to rent a boat near the famous beaches of Barcelona. Therefore, I will leave this up to you to choose whatever suits your needs. Otherwise, you can enjoy my discount code for your first booking!
Get up to $34 off on your first stay on Airbnb
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Spain travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
– Book affordable flights on Kiwi.com, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
– Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Spain, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
– Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda, or find a cool apartment on Airbnb and get $34 off on your first stay (my invite expires in 30 days after you sign up!
– Pre-book a private transfer or buy bus tickets from Barcelona Airport to your hotel
– Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
– Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here
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