I lived in Catalonia’s capital for four months, and every time I return I discover something new and exciting about this city.

There is a diverse array of things to do both during the day and night in Barcelona. You have the charming neighborhoods around El Gotic and El Born, Gaudí’s architecture and art influenced by Picasso and Dalí, and a convenient city beach and promenade in Barceloneta.

Also, Barcelona is home to green spaces and plazas, small surrounding hills and mountains that offer epic hikes and sunset views, and plenty of awesome food and drink choices – both Catalonian and International.

And don’t even get me started on the nightlife in Barcelona. There is something for everyone: multi-story clubs, swanky bars, hip cafés, and plenty of squares for some store-bought sangria.

Below I have covered the best places and locations to stay in Barcelona based on your interests. Whether you’re looking for the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife, on a budget, or as a family, I have covered it all below!

Let’s run through where to stay in Barcelona and all its fantastic neighborhoods!

Looking up at the front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Can you guess which building this is!!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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Where to Stay in Barcelona

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are my highest recommendations for the best places to stay in Barcelona, you’ll find the low down here.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere for young families, beach lovers, or near to tapas bars, there are so many cool places to visit in Barcelona and great places to stay nearby.

Modern Apartment near Gothic Quarter | Best Airbnb in Barcelona

This is one of the best Airbnbs in Barcelona for those wanting to be close to the action. Perfectly situated for exploration – so much so that you won’t need to spend much time inside. This charming apartment is located in L’Eixample, just outside the Gothic Quarter, and gives you easy, walkable access to most of Barcelona’s major sites in the city centre. With modern amenities, it’s perfect for two to four guests.

Onefam Paralelo | Best Hostel in Barcelona

Onefam Paralelo is a fun and energetic hostel and it’s my top recommendation for where to stay in Barcelona. Located in the Montjuic neighborhood, this hostel has three common areas, a fully equipped kitchen, and super fast wifi. If that isn’t enough, they also host a free homemade dinner every night for guests! It’s one of the best hostels in Barcelona for sure.

Musik Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in Barcelona

Thanks to its chic and modern décor and its central location, Musik Boutique Hotel is my top pick for where to stay in Barcelona. Situated in the city centre of El Born, this three-star hotel is close to restaurants, bars, and the city’s top nightlife spots. It has spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and a stylish on-site lounge.

Barcelona Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Barcelona

FIRST TIME IN BARCELONA
Royal square in Barcelona, Spain with palm streets and fountain with plenty of cafes
FIRST TIME IN BARCELONA

Barrio Gotico

Barrio Gotico is the heart and soul of Barcelona. The oldest neighborhood in the city, it’s filled with charming narrow streets, picturesque boroughs, and quaint terraces and plazas, making it the best area to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors.

ON A BUDGET
Montjuic, Barcelona
ON A BUDGET

Montjuic

Montjuic is a large neighborhood south of the centre of Barcelona. Located along the coast of the Mediterranean, Montjuic neighborhood is where you’ll find a great variety of museums, monuments, sporting facilities, and stunning natural landscapes.

NIGHTLIFE
El Born Centre de Cultura
NIGHTLIFE

El Born

Packed with restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes, El Born is our pick for the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife. From sipping vermouth to partying until dawn, there’s lots of fun to be had on the streets of El Born making it one the best places to stay in Barcelona to party.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Park Guell
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

El Raval

If you want to be surrounded by art and culture, El Raval is the neighborhood for you. It is far and away one of the coolest neighborhoods in Barcelona, an already notoriously cool city, thanks to its trendy restaurants, bohemian shops, and awesome bar scene.

FOR FAMILIES
Barceloneta, Barcelona
FOR FAMILIES

Barceloneta

Barceloneta is a neighborhood that feels like a small village within a bustling city. Originally a fisherman’s quarter, it is where you’ll find narrow winding streets, charming balconies, and cosy taverns packed with locals.

Barcelona is a magnificent Mediterranean city. It is the capital and largest city in Catalonia, and the second-largest city in Spain. A playground for artists and architects, Barcelona is famous for its magnificent churches, cobbled streets, colourful buildings, and exciting nightlife.

There’s plenty to see and do while travelling in Barcelona, from admiring mind-bending artwork and architecture to sampling Catalonian dishes to lounging on the beach before dancing the night away.

Home to more than 1.5 million people, Barcelona is divided into 10 distinct neighborhoods just waiting to be explored. To help you plan your trip, this guide includes the “must-sees” broken down by interest.

La Ramblas and Barrio Gotico (also known as the Gothic Quarter) are the two neighborhoods in the centre of the city.

As the oldest part of Barcelona, you’ll find charming cobbled streets, quaint town squares, fragrant markets, and beautiful churches. This area’s central location coupled with its charming feel makes it our top pick for where to stay in Barcelona for your first time.

The Arc De Triomf in Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona also has a triumphal arch!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

To the west of the centre, you have the neighborhoods of Poblenou, Ciutadella, and El Born (my top choice for a lively night out). Charming and unique these neighborhoods are where you’ll find great restaurants, energetic bars, and historic attractions.

East of the centre are the neighborhoods of El Raval and Montjuic. Once the city’s rough and tumble areas, these two neighborhoods of Barcelona are now home to lush natural scenery, hip restaurants, awesome food, and great value boutique hotels.

The world-famous skate spot of MACBA (also a contemporary art museum) is in El Raval, so if you’re a visiting skater it’s a great base.

North of the centre, you can explore Gracía Barrio, my top pick for the best location to stay in Barcelona for alternative and healthy living.

South of the centre, on the shores of the Mediterranean, is the district of Barceloneta. A stone’s throw from the centre of the city, this quaint neighborhood is where you’ll find the city’s best beach and seaside attractions.

Barcelona is in an ideal location along the coast to explore other places. You can back up your car (or jump on a bus) and head to some pretty epic spots. These are my favourite day trips from Barcelona.

If you’re worried about getting to and from Barcelona El Prat airport then you needn’t be, the central areas of the city are all connected to the airport by the metro and airbuses.

Barcelona’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Barcelona’s robust public transport network stretches throughout the city. No matter where you stay in Barcelona, you’ll be able to explore the various neighborhoods and districts with relative ease.

However, some areas of the city are better suited to certain interests than others, and finding the best place to stay in Barcelona for your vibe might be overwhelming… It’s a big city! Do you want the bars and clubs just minutes from your hotel? Perhaps you want to enjoy the city’s best up-and-coming areas?

Here are the top five neighborhoods in Barcelona broken down by interest.

1. Barrio Gotico – Where to Stay in Barcelona First Time

This is the top pick for where to stay in Barcelona on your first adventure in the city. In many ways, it’s the heart and soul of the city, filled with some of its oldest streets and alleyways.

An ornate bridge in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona
The Gothic Quarter is mezmerising
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

The site of an old Roman village, Barrio Gotico is where you’ll find a great blend of old-world charm and modern appeal, making it one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors seeking a cultural experience.

In addition to historic sites, this neighborhood is packed with great restaurants, lively bars, and fantastic shopping. The area ends at the busy plaça de Catalunya and follows La Rambla down to the beach and port area.

Modern Apartment near Gothic Quarter | Best Airbnb in Barrio Gotico

Perfectly situated for exploration in its spectacular location! This charming apartment in the heart of L’Eixample has walkable access to most of Barcelona’s major sites. With a double bed and modern amenities, it’s perfect for guests with a hankering to explore the treats of Barcelona. It’s right in the city centre within walking distance of places like La Rambla, The Gothic Quarter, the Picasso Museum, and heaps of tapas bars.

Be Ramblas Hostel | Best Hostel in Barrio Gotico

This hostel is located in the heart of Barcelona surrounded by beautiful historic buildings. It is a short walk from Las Ramblas, the beach, and all the neighborhood’s top attractions. It is quiet and comfortable and has a kitchen, common room and excellent facilities. They even host free walking tours to help guests explore and better understand the city.

Serras Barcelona Hotel | Best Hotel in Barrio Gotico

Thanks to its central location near La Rambla, Serras Barcelona Hotel is my top choice the best luxury hotel in Barcelona, and is the best choice for where to stay in Barrio Gotico. It has a rooftop infinity pool and a 1-Michelin-starred restaurant, as well as being within walking distance of the city’s top sights such as plaça de Catalunya and The Gothic Quarter. It has a stylish lounge, and each room is outfitted with modern amenities so you’ll never need to leave the hotel room! You probably still should though…

California Hotel Barcelona | Runner-Up Best Hotel in Barrio Gotico

Another one of the best hotels in Barcelona is the California Hotel. It’s a great blend of historic charm and modern comfort. It has a central location close to shopping and sightseeing areas such as La Rambla, The Gothic Quarter, and plaça de Catalunya making it one of the best hotels in Barca. It also is well-equipped with a coffee bar, a laundry service, and free wifi so guests can rest and unwind after a long day of exploring.

Top Things to See and Do in Barrio Gotico

The markets in Barcelona offer some incredible food
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Wander along Las Ramblas, a pedestrian street packed with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and stunning historic attractions.
  2. Admire the interesting and colourful architecture at Guell Palace.
  3. Sample exquisite tapas and wine on a walking tour
  4. Explore the city’s rich and diverse history and wander through ancient Roman ruins at the Museum of the City of Barcelona.
  5. Explore the Palça del Rei, a Gothic-style city square where royal receptions were held.
  6. Stand in awe of the Barcelona Cathedral.
  7. See an array of iconic works of art at the Picasso Museum.
  8. Visit the Gaudi Exhibition Centre and gain a deep understanding of the impact his art and architecture had on the city.
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2. El Born Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Barcelona for Nightlife

El Born was previously one of the most dangerous and seedy parts of the city. Over the last 30 years, following the 1992 Olympic Games, it has shed its dangerous character and has transformed into one of the liveliest areas of the city that breathes excitement both day and night.

Packed with restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes, El Born is the pick for the best area to stay in Barcelona for solo travellers and nightlife. From sipping vermouth to partying until dawn, there’s lots of fun to be had on the streets of El Born.

If you love cafe culture then you’ll love Barca
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Stylish studio for 2 | Best Airbnb in El Born

This stylish studio with modern rooms and an amazing balcony overlooking the church of Santa Maria del Mar is in the district of El Born – a part of town with loads of very trendy cafés and high-quality tapas bars. It’s the ideal spot to explore this amazing city as it’s within walking distance of many places to see in the city centre.

360 Hostel Barcelona Arts&Culture | Best Hostel in El Born

This hostel combines quality and culture with a great atmosphere – which is why it’s my top budget accommodation recommendation for El Born. It is just a short walk from the neighborhoods best bars and clubs and is surrounded by restaurants, shops, cafes, and attractions. Enjoy a great outdoor terrace, a book exchange, and a comfortable common room. While it’s not a party hostel in Barcelona, it’s close to the nightlife which means you can party the night away and still enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Musik Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in El Born

Thanks to its chic and modern décor and its central location, Musik Boutique Hotel is one of my top recommendations for places to stay in Barcelona for nightlife. This three-star hotel is close to restaurants, bars and the best of the city’s nightlife. It has spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and a stylish on-site lounge. If you’re looking for one of the best boutique hotels in Barca then this is it.

Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona | Best Hotel in El Born

Located at the heart of El Born, this three-star hotel is ideally situated for experiencing Barcelona’s legendary nightlife scene. It is modern and stylish and boasts comfortable and spacious suites. Guests will love relaxing before a great night out by lounging by the rooftop swimming pool or enjoying a drink at the chic in-house restaurant. It’s a great luxury hotel on a budget and a perfect base when visiting Barcelona.

Top Things to See and Do in El Born

El Gato!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Rock out at Magic, a bar and nightclub that blast good old fashion rock’n’roll and alternative music.
  2. Check out the stunning unfinished Gaudi architecture of Sagrada Familia
  3. Learn how to shake it (cocktails that is) at Collage Art & Cocktail Social Club.
  4. Check out the famous architecture in Casa Batlló.
  5. Taste exquisite gin cocktails, mojitos, and more at the chic and stylish Rubi Bar.
  6. Cool down with a fresh and delicious mojito at Mamaine Mojitos.
  7. Learn about Picasso at the Picasso Museum

3. Montjuic Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Barcelona on a Budget

Montjuic is a large neighborhood south of the centre of Barcelona. Located along the coast of the Mediterranean, the Montjuic neighborhood is where you’ll find a great variety of museums, monuments, sporting facilities, and stunning natural landscapes.

A great escape from the busy city, Montjuic is a calm oasis with stunning views.

A short walk to the city centre, Montjuic is also where you’ll find a number of options for budget accommodations, making it one of the best neighborhoods to stay for cheap places in Barcelona.

From backpacker hostels to boutique hotels, this Barcelona district has something for travellers of all styles, ages, and budgets.

Colorful apartment big enough for 4 | Best Airbnb in Montjuic

With a colourful living room inspired by Barcelonese vintage and modern elements, this Airbnb in Spain is perfect if you want to be away from all the hustle and bustle of the tourists but still close enough to the Poble Sec neighborhood – a short walk from Las Ramblas and a quick Metro ride to the city centre (less than 10 minutes).

Onefam Paralelo | Best Hostel in Montjuic

Onefam Paralelo is a fun and energetic hostel in Barcelona and it’s my top recommendation for where to stay in Montjuic. It has three common areas, a fully equipped kitchen, and super fast wifi. If that isn’t enough, they also host a free homemade dinner every night for guests!

Hotel Para Lel | Best Hotel in Montjuic

Hotel Para Lel is a great choice for travellers on a budget. Located in tranquil Montjuic, this hotel is comfortable and clean, and just a short walk from the city’s top attractions. It boasts a delightful restaurant, and guests can enjoy satellite channels and flat-screen TVs.

HCC Lugano | Best Hotel in Montjuic

This charming and modern hotel is my other top pick for where to stay in Montjuic. It has a sun-soaked terrace, a relaxing bar, and an exciting on-site casino. Each room is outfitted with contemporary essentials and free wifi and it’s a short walk from the city centre.

Top Things to See and Do in Montjuic

The view from Montjuic Hill in Barcelona, Spain
An amazing view of the city from above
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Explore one of the best collections of Romanesque art in the world at MNAC, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
  2. Enjoy a flamenco show in La Ramblas
  3. Ride the cable car up to Montjuic and enjoy stunning views of the city, harbour and Mediterranean.
  4. Wander through the sites and sporting facilities from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
  5. Stop and smell the roses at the Jardin Botanico de Barcelona.
  6. Explore Montjuic Castle and enjoy panoramic views of Barcelona.
  7. Wander the aisles at Mercat de le Flors, an authentic Catalonian market where you can find unique and interesting food, drinks and treats.
  8. Make your way to El Raval for some food and drinks.
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4. El Raval Neighborhood – Coolest Area to Stay in Barcelona

If you want to be surrounded by art and culture, El Raval is the neighborhood for you and one of the best places to stay in Barcelona if you’re looking for a hip vibe.

It is far and away one of the coolest neighborhoods in Barcelona, an already notoriously cool city, thanks to its trendy restaurants, bohemian shops, and awesome bar scene.

It is lively and vibrant and just bursting with pop culture. Home to energetic artists, bohemian youth and curious creatives, El Raval is the place to see and be seen.

The mosaic gecko statue at Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
The famous lizard statue of Park Guell
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

It should be noted that El Raval was once one of the city’s most dangerous districts. Although it has undergone a revamp and resurgence in recent years, pickpocketing is still an issue in packed public spaces, and certain places are best avoided at night alone.

Keep your wallets, purses, and most valuable items on your person to avoid an unexpected loss or theft. Even if you don’t stay here, come take a look around if your Barcelona itinerary allows it.

Penthouse w/ Sunny Terrace | Best Airbnb in El Raval

This serviced penthouse in Barcelona is the ultimate luxury accommodation. The sunny outdoor terrace is the perfect place to relax with a glass of vino. Explore Barcelona at your leisure before returning for a quiet night in the comfy living area. Nothin’ but class in the Catalonian capital.

Pars Tailor’s Hostel | Best Hostel in El Raval

Rustic and vintage décor, a chill and relaxed atmosphere, and a phenomenal location are just a few of the reasons this hostel is my top pick for where to stay in El Raval. It has a stylish lounge, a sun-soaked terrace, and a fully equipped modern kitchen. A short walk to bars, restaurants, museums and shops, this hostel is perfectly located for exploring the city.

Sixties Ramblas | Best Hotel in El Raval

This modern three-star hotel has modern and spacious rooms, a unique restaurant, and a comfortable lounge. Located at the heart of El Raval, this stunning hotel is close to bars, cafes, boutiques, and notable tourist sites, including Las Ramblas.

Andante Hotel Barcelona | Best Hotel in El Raval

Andante Hotel Barcelona is a contemporary three-star hotel in El Raval. It has stylish décor, modern amenities, and features an outdoor pool with stunning views. Guests will love relaxing in their spacious and comfortable rooms or enjoying a drink on the rooftop terrace.

Top Things to See and Do in El Raval

There are plenty of wonderful green spaces to relax in around Barca
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Explore Palau Guell, the surreal home of industrialist Eusebi Guell and one of Gaudi’s first major buildings in the city.
  2. Experience history at Sant Pau del Camp, a charming Romanesque church.
  3. Dine on spectacular Spanish and Catalonian fare at La Gastronomica.
  4. See fantastic exhibits and displays at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB).
  5. Wander along the bustling Avenida del Paralelo.
  6. Sip old-school cocktails in a rustic and modern lounge at Bitter Cocktail Bar.
  7. See works of art by renowned Spanish, Catalonian, and international artists at MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona.
  8. Drink Absinthe at the oldest bar in Barcelona, Bar Marsella.

5. Barceloneta Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Barcelona for Families

Barceloneta is another of the best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona; it feels like a small village within a bustling city! Originally a fisherman’s quarter, it is where you’ll find narrow winding streets, charming balconies, and cosy taverns packed with locals.

Stretching along the seashore, this neighborhood is also one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona for families. Home to Barcelona’s most popular beach, this area is packed with family-friendly activities and attractions. If you want to combine a city break with a beach holiday this is the place.

A person sitting on the beach at Barceloneta in Barcelona, Spain
Barceloneta is a great area to chill in
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

From outdoor adventures and museums to authentic restaurants and independent shops, there’s much to see and do in this lively neighborhood, which is why I believe it’s the best area to stay in Barcelona for families.

Renovated apartment with sea view | Best Airbnb in Barceloneta

With an ocean view and the ability to comfortably host five guests (via two single beds, one king-size bed, and a sofa bed) and it looks the part, too. It’s recently been renovated and is tricked out with modern amenities including a fully functional kitchen with a coffee maker.

Hostal BCN Port | Best Hostel in Barceloneta

This lively and fun hostel in Barceloneta is located just steps from Barcelona’s Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter as well as the city’s most popular beach. Close to restaurants and many of the city’s top attractions, it has comfortable rooms that come at only a small cost.

Eurostars Grand Marina | Best Hotel in Barceloneta

Eurostars Grand Marina is one of the best family hotels in Barcelona, and my top choice for places to stay in Barceloneta. This five-star hotel has luxurious rooms, a rooftop swimming pool, and an on-site restaurant. Guests can enjoy free wifi, satellite channels and flat-screen TVs throughout their stay. It’s got to be one of the best luxury hotels in Barca.

H10 Port Vell | Best Hotel in Barceloneta

Conveniently located in Barceloneta, this four-star luxury hotel is ideally situated for exploring the city. Close to the beach, restaurants, shops, and attractions, this hotel is a short walk to all of Barcelona’s most famous sites. Enjoy swimming in the pool or lounging on the rooftop terrace at this modern and beautiful hotel. It’s one of the best hotels for direct beach access and it’s super close to some great tapas bars.

Top Things to See and Do in Barceloneta

The sun setting over the beach of Barceloneta in Barcelona, Spain
Sunset is a particularly great time to visit the beach
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Explore the history of Barcelona and Catalonia at the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya.
  2. Relax and enjoy the view at Barceloneta Beach.
  3. Wander throughout Parque de la Barceloneta, a large green space at the heart of the city.
  4. Explore the remains of the medieval walls, which were built to protect Barcelona between the 12th and 14th centuries.
  5. Soak up the sun at the beautiful and sandy Plaja de Sant Sebastian.
  6. Wander around the Barcelona FC Football Stadium.
  7. Ride the Teleferico del Puerto from the port to Montjuic and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea.
  8. Marvel at the more than 11,000 animals on display, including sharks and fish, at the L’Aquarium de Barcelona.
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Barcelona

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Barcelona and where to stay.

What To Pack For Barcelona

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
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Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

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Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Barcelona

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on Barcelona’s beaches or be in the middle of the action and nightlife, Barcelona has plenty of things to do and the perfect neighborhood for you. With so much to keep you busy, you want to make sure you pick the best area to stay in Barcelona based on the type of trip you want.

Whether you’re looking for luxury hostels, cheap hostels, or quiet boutique hotels, Barca has them all. If you’re still not sure where to stay in Barcelona, my two top picks for the best places to stay in Barcelona are Onefam Paralelo and Musik Boutique Hotel!

Other than that, get out and enjoy Barna! There are so many places to visit in Barcelona, and every twisting corner of the city has another secret to unlock, so it’s truly a place that rewards intrepid exploration.

Muy bien, amigos! Enjoy!

Looking for more info on travelling to Barcelona and Spain?
A skateboarder at MACBA in Barcelona, Spain
Skaters at MACBA
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short