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Where to Stay in Barcelona | Best Areas & Hotels

Where to Stay in Barcelona | Best Areas & Hotels

Where to stay in Barcelona is an important decision when planning your vacation because you want to be close to the action! Here are some of the best neighborhoods and hotels to make your stay one to remember.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Barcelona, the capital and largest city in Spain’s autonomous region of Catalonia, draws over 27 million visitors a year and with good reason. The city is packed with gorgeous architecture, a vibrant nightlife scene, and plenty more to entertain visitors, including one of the world’s most famous soccer clubs.

Barcelona’s long, rich history stretches back to Roman times. It was an important city center in medieval times and its status has only grown since then. History buffs can check out ruins from millennia of human life without ever leaving the city center.

One of the main reasons people flock to Barcelona is to see the beautiful architecture. From the cramped medieval streets of the Barri Gotic to Antoni Gaudi’s modernist masterpieces, there are pretty buildings everywhere you look in Barcelona.

However, that doesn’t mean that Barcelona is stuck in the past. The city’s vibrant food scene, nightlife, and sports culture are rooted firmly in the present. Locals and tourists rub shoulders at pintxo bars, restaurants, and when entering the famous Camp Nou.

Whether you’re looking for some of the best nightlife in Europe or you are on the search for some history, Barcelona has something for you.

The 5 Best Parts of Town

Vector map of the best parts of Barcelona in which to stay

Tish11/Shutterstock

Barcelona is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe, meaning that where you stay can really set the tone for your trip. Here is a round-up of where to stay in Barcelona, including some favorite neighborhoods:

  1. Las Ramblas: Best for first-time visitors
  2. Barri Gotic: Best for history buffs
  3. Poble Sec: Best on a budget
  4. Barceloneta: Best for families
  5. El Raval: Best for nightlife

Barcelona’s Best Parts of Town

Barcelona is divided into several different neighborhoods, each with their own character. Here are some of the best for tourists.

1. Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas, one of the best parts of Barcelona to stay in, as viewed from the air

V_E/Shutterstock

Las Ramblas is not necessarily a neighborhood, but a street. This wide, leafy boulevard is Barcelona’s main drag, connecting Port Vell and Placa Catalunya.

Las Ramblas is pleasant to walk along and get a feel for the city thanks to the tree-lined pedestrian path at the center of the boulevard. It’s also a great place to stay in terms of convenience.

Most of Barcelona’s main attractions are easily reachable by metro from Las Ramblas or by foot. This convenience makes Las Ramblas a great place to stay if it’s your first time in Barcelona or you are pressed for time and don’t want to spend time on your vacation commuting.

There’s also plenty to do along the boulevard. Thanks to the city’s pedestrianization efforts, Las Ramblas has become a center for people to stroll and enjoy the often-pleasant weather.

Take in the street performers, especially Las Ramblas’ famous human statues. However, if you are looking for local character, you won’t find much along Las Ramblas.

Plus, local character is not always a good thing — the southern part of the boulevard can get seedy, especially at night. If you’re worried about safety, or want a more relaxed, authentic experience, choose a neighborhood further away from the center.

Things to Do

  • Walk down Las Ramblas, checking out the people and the art (keep an eye out for a Miro mural)
  • Visit a museum: you have high-end (contemporary art at Palau de la Virreina) and low-end (Erotic Museum) options
  • Catch an opera at Gran Teatre del Liceu
  • Climb the Columbus Monument for a great view of the city

Where to Eat 

  • Stop by La Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous market, for sangria and pintxos
  • Have high-end Galician specialties at Louro
  • Eat delicious pizza at Rossini
  • Grab a sweet treat at gluten-free bakery chok-Carme

Las Ramblas Budget Hotels

  • Chic & Basic Lemon. True to its name, this outpost of the Chic & Basic chain offers clean, simple, yet comfortable accommodation just off of the main Las Ramblas boulevard. Amenities include family-like service and an en-suite bathroom.
  • Hotel Ginebra. The simple, comfortable Hotel Ginebra is another budget option on the often-pricey stretch of Las Ramblas. Amenities include proximity to Plaza Catalunya, an in-room TV, and shared lounge.

Las Ramblas Mid-Range Hotels

  • Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gracia 4 Sup. This outpost of the Iberostar chain is located right on Plaza Catalunya. Amenities include a terrace with a pool, 24-hour front desk, and a great location.
  • Sixties Ramblas. If you want to sleep in style, the small themed hotel Sixties Ramblas is the place to go. Enjoy 1960s-themed décor, rooms with balconies, and a great location.

Las Ramblas Luxury Hotels

  • Hotel Bagues. Hotel Bagues offers all the luxury of a 5-star hotel with the intimacy of a boutique accommodation. Amenities include a rooftop pool, jewelry from the Masriera Museum in every room, and an amazing restaurant.
  • Hotel 1898. Stay in a blast from the past at Hotel 1898, a restored 19th century building. Amenities include marble bathrooms in each room, a fitness center, and a rooftop pool.

2. Barri Gotic

Dusk view of Plaza De Espana for a piece on where to stay in Barcelona

TTstudio/Shutterstock

The Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter, is Barcelona’s beating historical heart. If you want to immerse yourself in the city’s medieval history and architecture, this is the neighborhood for you.

The Gothic Quarter is conveniently located in the center of town so you can access other attractions. Whether you’re a first-time visitor looking to stay in the center of the action or a long-time Barcelona architecture buff, this is a great neighborhood to stay in.

Millennia of history passed through the cobblestoned streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. The area started as a Roman village, then became one of the centers of town during the medieval period. Most of the buildings and the winding streets date to this period.

The Gothic Quarter has many attractions showing off the best of Barcelona’s history, such as the Gothic Cathedral and the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona.

Even a wander through the streets is enough to stumble upon a centuries-old house. One of the best parts of staying in the Gothic Quarter is getting lost on purpose.

Wander the maze of streets and discover a new bar, restaurant, or adorable souvenir shop. The area even has a vibrant nightlife, mostly catering to tourists. However, if you are looking for some local character, the Gothic Quarter is not the best place to stay.

Prices have risen so high since the tourist boom that most locals have moved out (and there isn’t much in the way of essential businesses to support daily life, such as supermarkets).

Things to Do

  • Check out the exhibits, including ancient Roman ruins, at the Museum of the City of Barcelona
  • Wonder at the amazing Gothic architecture of the Barcelona Cathedral
  • Take in a summer concert or people-watch in Placa Reial
  • Visit El Call, the old Jewish Quarter, to learn about life before the Inquisition
  • Get lost in the narrow streets

Where to Eat

Barri Gotic Budget Hotels

  • Cuatro Naciones. Cuatro Naciones is located in a gorgeous 19th century building. Amenities at this unfussy hotel include air-conditioned room, friendly service, and a great location.
  • The Moods Catedral Hostal Boutique. The small boutique hotel The Moods offers bright rooms, free Wi-Fi, and great service, in a Modernist building characteristic of Barcelona.

Barri Gotic Mid-Range Hotels

  • Petit Palace Boqueria Garden. You don’t have to be royalty to stay in Petit Palace Boqueria Garden, but you’ll feel like it after enjoying the free iPads, bicycles, and private courtyard.
  • Catalonia Catedral. The problem with staying in the Catalonia Catedral, a gorgeous Modernist building turned hotel, is that you won’t want to leave. The hotel boasts stylish rooms, free smartphones for guests, a rooftop pool, and more.

Barri Gotic Luxury Hotels

  • Mercer Hotel Barcelona. The Mercer Hotel is one of the highest-rated hotels in all of Barcelona. Located right by the Roman walls, Amenities include rain-effect showers in each room, a rooftop pool, and an orange tree-lined courtyard.
  • Grand Hotel Central. Although technically located outside the Gothic Quarter, the Grand Hotel Central is still worth a stay. The modern design blends well with the historic architecture. Amenities include a rooftop infinity pool, free luxury toiletries, and a wellness center.

3. Poble Sec

A top pick for where to stay in Barcelona, as viewed from the air

Yapasphoto StefClement/Shutterstock

Barcelona is a wonderful city to visit, but sometimes those hotel rooms, sangrias, and tapas bar crawls add up. If you’re looking for a great place to stay on a budget, head out of the strict city center and stay in Poble Sec, at the foot of the Montjuic mountain.

Poble Sec is a neighborhood with plenty of attractions in its own right, including museums such as the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

It’s also a great place to stay for sports lovers because many of the facilities from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics are in this neighborhood. If you want to check out the attractions in the center of the city, Poble Sec is very well connected thanks to public transport. 

However, one of the best things about Poble Sec is how different it is from the city center, so stick around and explore! It’s quieter and has many more green areas than the center so you can take a break from the city hustle and bustle.

You can take the cable car to the top of the hill, check out the Castell de Montjuic, and enjoy the spectacular views. The port and beach are a short walk away.

For some travelers the quiet of Poble Sec is an oasis, but for others it’s not what they’re looking for at all. If you came to Barcelona to check out the city’s vibrant nightlife, you’re better off staying close to the center or in one of the neighborhoods known for partying.

Things to Do

  • Get your daily dose of art at the Joan Miro Foundation, dedicated to one of Catalonia’s most famous sons
  • Climb up the hill and visit Montjuic Castle, which has a dark legacy as a place where dictator Francisco Franco imprisoned and killed dissidents
  • Explore leftover buildings from the Olympics, including the Olympic Rings
  • Take in a dash of rural Spanish culture at the Poble Espanyol, a mock village
  • See a performance at The Magic Fountain

Where to Eat

Poble Sec Budget Hotels

  • Paral-lel. This practical and affordable hotel is a hidden gem in Poble Sec. Amenities include breakfast, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. 
  • La Franca Travelers. La Franca Travelers is a great getaway for couples looking for a quiet oasis in the city. Amenities include modern décor, a spa bath, and air conditioning.

Poble Sec Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel Brummell. The Hotel Brummell is a boutique hotel that is a great destination for the wellness-minded thanks to the free yoga classes, running club, fitness center, and healthy on-site restaurant.
  • Casa Vaganto. Bright, colorful Casa Vaganto is a great hotel to make your home base in Poble Sec. Amenities include allergy-free rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a lounge to meet other travelers.

Poble Sec Luxury Hotels

  • HCC Lugano. Simple, elegant HCC Lugano on the border between Poble Sec and Eixample is a great place to stay. Amenities include a tour desk, in-room breakfast, and more.
  • InterContinental Barcelona. Staying at the InterContinental Barcelona is a great way to experience the celebrity treatment. Amenities include an outdoor pool, rooftop terrace, several restaurants, and luxurious rooms complete with a hydromassage shower.

4. Barceloneta

Playa de la Barceloneta, one of the best parts of Barcelona, as viewed from the walking path

saiko3p/Shutterstock

Visitors of all ages can find something to enjoy in Barcelona’s delightful food scene, cultural centers, and gorgeous streets. However, the busy streets of the center can be overwhelming for little ones, and many hotels and restaurants cater to the backpacker circuit, not to families.

Enter Barceloneta, one of the best places to stay for families. Barceloneta is a beach-front neighborhood that used to be a fisherman’s village separate from the main city, until it was modernized in 1992.

It retained much of its original small-town charm, including narrow streets, quaint houses, and taverns that are still packed with locals, not with tourists.

The main attraction in Barceloneta is easily Barceloneta Beach, the city’s main beach. During the warm months, local families flock here to take a dip in the surf and bask in the sun.

When you’re sick of lying in the sun, there is plenty else to do in the neighborhood, and you can always hop on public transit to reach the center. Barceloneta has something to offer even for younger visitors thanks to its lively beachfront clubs and restaurant scene.

However, beachfront accommodation can get expensive, especially in the high season. If you’re looking for a budget hotel or want to be near the main attractions, choose a neighborhood closer to the center.

Things to Do

  • Spend a day splashing in the sun at Barceloneta Beach or any of the other beaches in the neighborhood
  • Go on an animal adventure at the Barcelona Zoo or L’Aquarium de Barcelona
  • Take the cable car up to Montjuic
  • Go for a walk around Port Vell, the center of Barcelona’s waterfront

Where to Eat

Barceloneta Budget Hotels

  • Chic & Basic Habana Hoose. Budget accommodation in Barceloneta is hard to come by, so you may have to stay somewhere such as Chic & Basic, which is outside the boundaries of the neighborhood but still close to the beach. Amenities include concierge service, organized tours, and free breakfast.
  • Sea Hostel Barcelona. Sea Hostel Barcelona is your best bet for budget accommodation right on the beach. This clean, stylish hostel offers an outdoor breakfast nook and an on-site bar to meet fellow travelers.

Barceloneta Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel 54 Barceloneta. If you’re looking for a design-conscious hotel, the colorful, stylish Hotel 54 is the place for you. Amenities include air conditioning, bespoke designer rooms, and a terrace with a view of the port.
  • Som Nit Born. For a family-like atmosphere, stay at Som Nit Born, a welcoming guest house in a historic 19th century building (and site of the first photograph ever taken in Spain). Amenities include luggage service, TVs in every room, and easy access to the beach and other attractions.

Barceloneta Luxury Hotels

  • W Hotel. The soaring modern exterior of the W Hotel is an attraction in its own right, albeit a controversial one. Amenities include an infinity pool, rooftop bar, and incredible access to the beach.
  • Eurostars Grand Marina. If you want to treat your family to a beachfront vacation in style, check out the luxurious Eurostars Grand Marina. Amenities include a rooftop pool, fitness center, and luxurious rooms with plenty of space for the whole family.

5. El Raval

El Raval quarter in Barcelona, one of our top picks when considering where to stay in Barcelona

joan_bautista/Shutterstock

Young people (and the young at heart) from all over the world flock to Barcelona for its famous nightlife. Thumping El Raval, which once used to be a seedy area before revitalization, is one of the best places in Barcelona to party like the cool kids do.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in El Raval during the day. This neighborhood is home to most of Barcelona’s artists and creatives, who’ve turned it into a wonderful place to live and visit.

Wander the streets and check out the hip restaurants, stores, and taverns. El Raval is also a great neighborhood to soak in the arts scene of Barcelona.

It’s home to galleries showcasing modern art as well as important locations from Barcelona’s art history, such as one of Gaudi’s first buildings at Palau Guell. El Raval is one of the best places to stay if you want a taste of authentic Barcelona life.

But that also means experiencing its bad sides. Despite the revitalization efforts, El Raval is still home to many pickpockets and criminals. If you’re worried about safety or just want a quieter place to stay with your family, go elsewhere.

Things to Do

  • Check out the modern arts scene at Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
  • Check out a show at Centro de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (or just look at the impressive building)
  • Stroll through Rambla de Raval and people-watch
  • Get a taste of Gaudi’s work at Palau Guell
  • Go bar hopping—anywhere you go should be fun!

Where to Eat

  • Have traditional Aragonese specialties at cult favorite El Rincon de Aragon
  • Check out African and Asian flavors at world fusion restaurant Chaka Khan
  • Step back in time at Bar Marsella, Barcelona’s oldest bars and a favorite of Picasso
  • Enjoy some lighter, healthier fare at Caravelle

El Raval Budget Hotels

  • Ronda House. Elegant, airy Ronda House is a great budget hotel to stay at if you still want a tasteful experience. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and minimalist, air-conditioned rooms.
  • Barcelo Raval 4 Sup. The Barcelo Raval 4 Sup is a great place to stay if you want to be in the center of the action. The design hotel has a bar and a restaurant where guests can party in a retro vibe.

El Raval Mid-Range Hotels

  • Gaudi Hotel. The Gaudi Hotel is dedicated to one of Barcelona’s most famous sons and overlooks the Palau Guell. Other benefits include free breakfast, laundry service, and an outdoor terrace.
  • Andante Hotel. Amenities at the Andante Hotel include a rooftop pool, great location, and a buffet breakfast.

El Raval Luxury Hotels

  • Casa Camper. One of the most stylish places to stay in the city is Casa Camper. It has beautifully designed rooms, a complimentary buffet, lounges in each room, and an on-site restaurant serving Asian-inspired tapas.
  • Le Meridien Barcelona. Travelers all over the world flock to Le Meridien for luxury. Amenities include technology in every room, breakfast, an on-site spa, and décor inspired by Barcelona.

So, Where Should You Stay in Barcelona?

No matter where you decide to stay in Barcelona, you’re going to have a good time in this vibrant, beautiful city. Whether you decide to be in the center of the action, stay on the outskirts to enjoy quieter days with family, or rub elbows with the cool kids, we have a hotel recommendation for you!