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!
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Barcelona
- Where to Stay in Barcelona
- Barcelona Neighborhood Guide
- Barcelona’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
- 1. Barrio Gotico – Where to Stay in Barcelona First Time
- 2. Montjuic Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Barcelona on a Budget
- 3. El Born Neghborhood – Where to Stay in Barcelona for Nightlife
- 4. El Raval Neighborhood – Coolest Area to Stay in Barcelona
- 5. Barceloneta Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Barcelona for Families
- Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Barcelona
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Barcelona
- Where to stay in Barcelona first time – Barrio Gotico
- Where to stay in Barcelona on a budget – Montjuic
- Best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife – El Born
- Coolest place to stay in Barcelona – El Raval
- Best neighborhood in Barcelona for families – Barceloneta
- See an array of iconic works of art at the Picasso Museum
- Dine on delicious Mediterranean cuisine at Viana
- Stand in awe of the Barcelona Cathedral
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for the best places to stay in Barcelona. Make sure to check out our guide for Barcelona’s best hostels as well. Alternatively, for those seeking a much more hedonistic setting from their chosen place to stay in Barcelona, I’ll point you to our roundup of the best party hostels in Barcelona!
There are also loads of top-quality Airbnbs in Barcelona in case you fancy living like a local. They are scattered throughout the city from the highrises to the ‘burbs and down to the beach.
Best Hostel in Barcelona: Hostel One Paralelo
Hostel One Paralelo is a fun and energetic hostel and it’s our 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!
Best Hotel in Barcelona: Musik Boutique Hotel
Thanks to it’s chic and modern décor and its central location, Musik Boutique Hotel is our top pick for where to stay in Barcelona. Situated at the 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.
Best Airbnb in Barcelona: Double Bunk Bed Home for location obsessed backpackers
This is one of the best places to stay in Barcelona for backpackers. Perfectly situated for exploration – so much so that you won’t need to spend much time inside. This charming 30m2 loft is located in the heart of Borne and gives you easy, walkable access to most of Barcelona’s major sites. With a double bunk bed and modern amenities, it’s perfect for two to four guests.
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Barcelona
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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 in Barcelona for curious travellers 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.
Las Ramblas and Barrio Gotico are the two neighborhoods in the centre of the city. The oldest part of Barcelona, here 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.
To the west of the centre, you have the neighborhoods of Poblenou, Ciutadella, and El Born (our 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, aweomse food, and great value boutique hotels.
North of the centre, you can explore Gracía Barrio, our 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.
Still not sure where to stay in Barcelona? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Looking for more details on traveling to Barcelona? Check out our EPIC guide to backpacking Barcelona
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?
Or, maybe you want to lounge on the beach without having to walk too far… All of these things are possible if you choose the right area to stay in Barcelona.
Here are the top five neighborhoods in Barcelona broken down by interest.
This is the top-pick of neighborhoods for where to stay in Barcelona on your first time adventure through the city. In many ways, it’s the heart and soul of the city, filled with some if its oldest streets and stones.
The site of an old Roman village, Barrio Gotico is where you’ll find a great blend of old charm and modern appeal, making it the best area to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors seeking that old-cultural scenery.
In addition to historic sites, this neighborhood is packed with great restaurants, lively bars, and fantastic shopping.
Best Hostel in Barrio Gotico: Be Ramblas Hostel
This hostel is located at the heart of Barcelona. 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.
Best Hotel in Barrio Gotico: Regencia Colon Hotel
Thanks to its central location, Regencia Colon Hotel is out top choice for where to stay in Barrio Gotico. Close to restaurants, cafes and tourist attractions, this three-star hotel is walking distance from the city’s top sights. It has an on-site restaurant, 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…
Runner-Up Best Hotel in Barrio Gotico: California Hotel Barcelona
This hotel is a great blend of historic charm and modern comfort. It has a central location close to shopping and sightseeing areas. 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.
Best Airbnb in Barrio Gotico: Double Bunk Bed Home for location obsessed backpackers
Perfectly situated for exploration in it’s spectacular location! This charming loft in the heart of Borne has walkable access to most of Barcelona’s major sites. With a double bunk bed and modern amenities, it’s perfect guests with a hankering to explore the treats of Barcelona.
Top things to See and Do in Barrio Gotico
– Wander along Las Ramblas, a pedestrian street packed with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and stunning historic attractions.
– Browse the stalls off fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and sweets at Mercat de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas.
– Admire the interesting and colourful architecture at Guell Palace.
– Grab a spot in Plaça Reial and enjoy a drink as you watch the world go by.
– Sample exquisite tapas and sip exotic cocktails at Bodega Biarritz.
– Explore the city’s rich and diverse history and wander through ancient Roman ruins at the Museum of the City of Barcelona.
– Explore the Palça del Rei, a Gothic style city square where royal receptions were held.
– Stand in awe of the Barcelona Cathedral.
– See an array of iconic works of art at the Picasso Museum.
– Visit the Gaudi Exhibition Centre and gain a deep understanding of the impact his art and architecture had on the city.
– Dine on delicious Mediterranean cuisine at Viana.
– Get lost among the alleyways in Barrio Gotico.
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. A great escape from the busy city, Montjuic is a calm oasis with stunning views.
A short walk to the city center, Montjuic is also where you’ll find a number of options for budget accommodations, making it the best area 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.
Best Hostel in Montjuic: Hostel One Paralelo
Hostel One Paralelo is a fun and energetic hostel in Barcelona and it’s our 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!
Best Hotel in Montjuic: Hotel Para lel
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.
Best Hotel in Montjuic: HCC Lugano
This charming and modern hotel is our 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.
Best Airbnb in Montjuic: Colorful apartment big enough for 4
With a colorful living room inspired by Barcelonese vintage and modern elements, this apartment is perfect for 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 center (less than 10 minutes).
Top Things to See and Do in Montjuic
– Explore one of the best collections of Romanesque art in the world at MNAC, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
– Savor great tapas and a glass of wine at Xiloka.
– Ride the cable car up to Montjuic and enjoy stunning views of the city, harbour and Mediterranean.
– Dine on great food at an even better price at La Tasqueta De Blai.
– Wander through the sites and sporting facilities from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
– Stop and smell the roses at the Jardin Botanico de Barcelona.
– Explore Montjuic Castle and enjoy panoramic views of Barcelona.
– Enjoy a great afternoon of pintxos and beer at Blai Tonight, a cheap and cheerful tavern.
– Wander the aisles at Mercat de le Flors, an authentic Catalonian market where you can find unique and interesting food, drinks and treats.
– Make your way to El Raval for some food and drinks.
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 nightlife. From sipping vermouth to partying until dawn, there’s lots of fun to be had on the streets of El Born.
If you’re looking to party at some of Barcelona’s best clubs, check out this article.
Best Hostel in El Born: 360 Hostel Barcelona Arts&Culture
This hostel combines quality and culture with a great atmosphere – which is why it’s our 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.
Best Hotel in El Born: Musik Boutique Hotel
Thanks to its chic and modern décor and its central location, Musik Boutique Hotel is one of our top recommendations for places to stay in Barcelona for nightlife. 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.
Best Hotel in El Born: Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona
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 pool or enjoying a drink at the chic in-house restaurant.
Best Airbnb in El Born: Stylish studio for 2
This stylish studio with 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.
Top Things to See and Do in El Born
– Enjoy a night of fiery flamenco at Palau Dalmases.
– Excite your sense and dine with a twist at Dans Le Noir.
– Relax and enjoy cocktails, cava, wine and more at Bodega Maestrazgo.
– Rock out at Magic, a bar and nightclub that blast good old fashion rock’n’roll and alternative music.
– Sip sophisticated cocktails at Dr. Stravinsky.
– Learn how to shake it (cocktails that is) at Collage Art & Cocktail Social Club.
– Enjoy a great atmosphere and delicious cocktail at Porteno Cocktail Bar, one of the best little bars in the city.
– Taste exquisite gin cocktails, mojitos and more at the chic and stylish Rubi Bar.
– Charm your tastebuds at Dux, a hidden speakeasy that specializes in craft cocktails and homemade gin.
– Cool down with a fresh and delicious mojito at Mamaine Mojitos.
– Savour great food and even better gin cocktails at the Lime House.
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.
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.
Best Hostel in El Raval: Pars Tailor’s Hostel
Rustic and vintage décor, a chill and relaxed atmosphere, and a phenomenal location are just a few of the reasons this hostel is our 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.
Best Hotel in El Raval: Chic & Basic Ramblas
Chic and basic, the name says it all! 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 hotel is close to bars, cafes, boutiques and notable tourist sites, including Las Ramblas.
Best Hotel in El Raval: Andante Hotel Barcelona
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.
Best Airbnb in El Raval: Double Room in El vaixell de paper
Exposed wooden beams in the ceiling make the apartment feel rustic yet chic – the finer touch for the those of finer class. Explore Barcelona at your leisure before returning for a candlelit dinner beneath the ambience of an interior timber abode. Nothin’ but class in the Catalonian capital.
Top Things to See and Do in El Raval
– Explore Palau Guell, the surreal home of industrialist Eusebi Guell and one of Gaudi’s first major buildings in the city.
– Savour delicious flavours and unreal food at Chaka Khan.
– Experience history at Sant Pau del Camp, a charming Romanesque church.
– Dine on spectacular Spanish and Catalonian fare at La Gastronomica.
– See fantastic exhibits and displays at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB).
– Sample everything from fruit and pizza to sweets and drinks at Mercat de la Barceloneta.
– Sit back and enjoy a cold cocktail and hot foot at Domino Bar.
– Wander along the bustling Avenida del Paralelo.
– Sip old-school cocktails in a rustic and modern lounge at Bitter Cocktail Bar.
– See works of art by renowned Spanish, Catalonian, and international artists at MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona.
– Visit Mr White Cocktail Bar and enjoy some of the best cocktails and mixed drinks in Barcelona.
– Drink Absinthe at the oldest bar in Barcelona, Bar Marsella.
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 the city’s most popular beach, this area is packed with family-friendly activities and attractions.
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 we believe it’s the best area to stay in Barcelona for families.
Best Hostel in Barceloneta: Safestay Barcelona Sea
This lively and fun hostel in Barceloneta is located just steps from the city’s most popular beach. Close to restaurantsz and many of the city’s top attractions, it has a stylish bar, wonderful views, and breakfast is available for a small additional cost.
Best Hotel in Barceloneta: Eurostars Grand Marina
Eurostars Grand Marina is one of the best family hotels in Barcelona, and our 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.
Best Hotel in Barceloneta: H10 Port Vell
Conveniently located in Barceloneta, this four-star 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 luxurious hotel.
Best Airbnb in Barceloneta: Renovated apartment with sea view
With an ocean view and 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.
Top Things to See and Do in Barceloneta
– Explore the history of Barcelona and Catalonia at the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya.
– Enjoy perfect pasta and delicious pizza at Kitchen Barcelona.
– Relax and enjoy the view at Barceloneta Beach.
– Wander throughout Parque de la Barceloneta, a large green space at the heart of the city.
– Dine on authentic Spanish and Catalonian food at Meson Barceloneta.
– Explore the remains of the medieval walls, which were built to protect Barcelona between the 12th and 14th century.
– Enjoy seaside drinks, tacos and tapas at La Deliciosa.
– Soak up the sun at the beautiful and sandy Plaja de Sant Sebastian.
– See lions, tigers, bears and more at the Barcelona Zoo.
– Ride the Teleferico del Puerto from the port to Montjuic and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea.
– Marvel at the more than 11,000 animals on display, including sharks and fish, at the L’Aquarium de Barcelona.
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 vacation you want.
Concerened about whether these are the safest areas to stay in Barcelona? Check out our full piece on safety in Barcelona and also remember to get travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here – or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Other than that, get out and enjoy Barna! There’s so many places to visit in Barcelona, and every twisting cornere of the city has another secret to unlock, so it’s truly a place that rewards intrepid exploration.
Muy bien, amigos! Enjoy!
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.