Where to stay in Barcelona: The best districts and hotel tips!
You’re planning a city trip to Barcelona and don’t know where to stay? Then you’ve come to the right place! Our Barcelona expert Nicole will give you an overview of the best places to stay in Barcelona and share her hotel tips with you.
If you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time, finding a good place to stay can be a daunting task.
The range of hotels is enormous. From expensive to cheap, from central to remote, the choices are endless.
But don’t let that deter you! I’ve written this post to give you a general overview and help you find the perfect place to stay.
I’ll run you through the different neighborhoods in Barcelona and show you which one is the best place to stay for your trip.
Of course I’ll also share specific hotel recommendations for each neighborhood, for every budget, including everything from simple guesthouses to luxury hotels.
A first orientation for Barcelona
Let’s start with the good news: The city is surprisingly compact, you can reach almost all the main sights in Barcelona on foot.
Here’s a comparison to illustrate just how small Barcelona is: Although their population size is about equivalent, Barcelona is confined to an area of around 100 km², while Hamburg takes up more than 750 km².
Basically, there are only two main directions to keep in mind: uphill to Park Güell and Tibidabo and downhill to the harbor and the sea.
The most interesting parts of Barcelona for visitors are the Old Town, the Eixample and Gràcia. There are no dangerous areas here. Barcelona doesn’t have any no-go areas where you have to fear for your safety.
The Old Town itself is divided into different neighborhoods: Barceloneta, Gòtic, Raval, and El Born. Neighborhoods in Barcelona are known as “barris”. The most famous is the Barri Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter.
General information about staying in Barcelona
Before I get to my recommendations for specific hotels and neighborhoods, first I’d like to share some general tips and information about staying in Barcelona.
The days when Barcelona was a budget destination are long gone. Accommodation is always in high demand, so most of the hotels and restaurants in the city center can afford to charge prices that most of the locals could not or would not pay.
You can expect to pay upwards of 100 euros per night, and the sky’s the limit. There are very few rooms for less than 100 euros, and those are generally very basic with next to no amenities.
In addition to the price of the room, Barcelona also charges a tourist tax. Depending on the accommodation and the length of your stay, it ranges from 75 cents to €2.50 per person, per night.
This fee also applies to private accommodation. However, there’s a charge limit of seven days. That means if you stay for longer than one week, the tax is waived altogether for the rest of your stay.
You should definitely be prepared for a lot of noise. The city and its inhabitants are always loud.
People here seem to be completely unfazed by the whole commotion and most likely don’t even realize that it’s much louder here than what you might be used to back home.
So if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, the city center probably isn’t the best place to stay for you.
Regular apartments in Barcelona are almost always small and dark. This is because there’s simply very, very little space in the center.
What’s more, it often gets so hot in summer that the windows are pretty much barricaded shut to keep out the heat (and unfortunately also the sunlight).
If your hotel is located in an older building, your room will most likely be small and dark too. But since you’ll probably be spending most of the day outside anyway, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Of course, Barcelona also has plenty of modern, bright, and spacious hotel rooms. It just depends how much you’re willing to spend.
The best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona
To help you find the ideal accommodation for your trip, I’ve created this handy guide covering all the best areas to stay.
I recommend the following neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona:
- Barri Gotic: In the heart of the Old Town
- Raval: The alternative part of the Old Town
- El Born: The quieter part of the Old Town
- Barceloneta: For beach lovers
- Gràcia: Cozy neighborhood with a more laid-back vibe
- Eixample: Good value for money outside the Old Town
- Poblenou: Barcelona’s hottest new neighborhood
In each of the following sections, I’ll give you a brief profile of the neighborhood in question, lay out the pros and cons of staying there, and share some of the best places to stay for that area.
In the heart of the city: Barri Gòtic
If you don’t mind noise and crowds, you’ll feel right at home in the Barri Gòtic. And if you plan to spend most of your time in the city center anyway and want to go out dining or partying in the evenings, then this is the best choice for your stay.
The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, is the central Old Town district right in the heart of Barcelona. It doesn’t get more central than that.
Most of Barcelona’s historical sights are located in this medieval quarter with its narrow streets, so it’s always extremely crowded and virtually never quiet.
Things don’t let up after dark either, with crowds flocking to the bars, restaurants, and the popular clubs clustered around Plaça Reial.
The Barri Gòtic is firmly in the hands of tourists. Only few people can afford to actually live here. Rents have become far too expensive for that.
Pros of staying in the Barri Gòtic:
- Historic central district with most of the major sights nearby
- Plenty of bars and restaurants within walking distance
- Good metro and bus connections
Cons of staying in the Barri Gotic:
- Crowded, noisy, and overrun with tourists
- Most hotels and bars here are very expensive
- Taxis can’t drive in many of the narrow streets
The best places to stay in the Barri Gotic:
Hip and vibrant: Raval
If you like hip bars, trendy shops, and short travel times, then staying in Raval might be a good option for you.
Not too long ago, this former red-light district had a rather seedy reputation. But those days are over, nowadays Raval is one of Barcelona’s most vibrant neighborhoods renowned for its culture, nightlife, and multicultural flair.
There are lots of authentic tapas restaurants, bohemian bars, and quirky stores for you to explore here.
Since they’re both located in the Old Town, Raval is actually pretty similar to the Barri Gòtic, just with fewer traditional sights. So if you’re looking for a historic vibe with an alternative twist and plenty of ‘hidden gems’ to discover, then this might be a good place to stay for you.
Pros of staying in Raval:
- Historic district with a hip, alternative vibe
- Lots of cool bars and authentic restaurants
- Good metro and bus connections
Cons of staying in Raval:
- Gets fairly noisy, especially at night
- Still pretty crowded, although not as bad as the Barri Gòtic
- Some of the dark alleys can feel intimidating at night
The best places to stay in Raval:
Charming and laid back: El Born
El Born is one of the quietest parts of the Old Town. Of course there are a lot of tourists here too, especially during the day, and many people flock here in the evening to go out. But El Born is (still) much less touristy than the Gothic Quarter.
The Parc de la Ciutadella is located here, making El Born one of the greenest areas in Barcelona. Before the park was created about a century ago, the site was occupied by a huge fortress, la Ciutadella. Huge parts of the Old Town were razed at the time to make way for its construction!
Pros of staying in El Born:
- Charming neighborhood in the Old Town
- Many sights right around the corner
- Not far from the beach
Cons of staying in El Born:
- It can get pretty noisy here too
- Some dark and narrow alleys
The best places to stay in El Born:
By the beach: Barceloneta
If you want to spend your days strolling down the beach and waking up with a view of the sea makes you happy, then the Barceloneta is the place to stay for you.
A former fishing village, Barceloneta used be known as a somewhat disreputable shoreline district. A large-scale redevelopment project leading up to the 1992 Olympic Games changed all that, transforming the area into one of the most popular neighborhoods in Barcelona.
If you stay here, you’ll have the beach right at your doorstep, quite literally, and your daily dose of sea breeze is just a breath away.
If you don’t mind walking a bit further to get to the nearest sights, you can enjoy the sun, beach and sea here.
Pros of staying in Barceloneta:
- Cable car and harbor right at your doorstep
- Located right next to the beach
- Several charming little restaurants
Cons of staying in Barceloneta:
- Fewer public transport services, only one metro station, otherwise buses
- Pretty touristy nowadays
- The beaches can get very crowded, especially in summer
The best places to stay in Barceloneta:
Quiet and cozy: Gràcia
Gràcia is a more laid-back neighborhood away from the tourist crowds. If you’re looking for something quiet and cozy, this is the place for you.
Although the traditional workers’ and students’ quarter at the foot of Park Güell has long since ceased to be an insider tip, the residents here, more than in any other part of the city, try to preserve their everyday life and not get drowned in the flood of tourists.
Gràcia has only been a part of Barcelona since 1897. Before that, Gràcia was a separate, independent town, a fact the people here are still very proud of.
There are plenty of pretty squares with cafés where you can sit outside and bask in the sun.
Park Güell, Casa Vicens, and Passeig de Gràcia are only a few minutes walk from here.
Pros of staying in Gràcia:
- Relatively close to many of the traditional sights
- Plenty of nice bars and restaurants
- Good metro and bus connections
- Many locals live here
Cons of staying in Gràcia:
- It can also get pretty crowded here sometimes
- Residents often complain about rowdy tourists. But if you just behave normally and are polite to the locals, you should be fine. Just make sure to be considerate and keep the noise down.
- Not particularly cheap, because the area is very popular
The best places to stay in Gràcia:
Great value for money: Eixample
The Eixample is the perfect neighborhood to stay if you’re looking to pay less for better accommodation and don’t need to be right in the heart of the action.
The ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ Eixample, as the ‘newer’ districts of Barcelona are called, are easily accessible by metro and bus. It isn’t far from here to the beautiful, but generally overcrowded Old Town.
Taken together, the six districts of the Eixample make up the largest part of Barcelona’s city center. They span all the way from Raval to the Sagrada Familia.
The area around Sant Antoni Market, which borders Raval, has become a hotspot for young people from all over the world who come to live and work in Barcelona for a year or two.
The cost of accommodation is significantly lower here than in the Old Town. That means you can get better rooms here for less money.
Pros of staying in the Eixample:
- Central location in the city center with all major sights close by
- Lots of simple bars and restaurants frequented by locals
- Good metro and bus connections
- Much lower room rates compared to the Old Town
Cons of staying in the Eixample:
- The streets have a grid layout and look very samey
- Depending on where you stay in the Eixample, it may take longer to walk to the center (of course the metro is always an option if you don’t want to walk)
The best places to stay in the Eixample:
Insider tip: Poblenou
If you love industrial chic and don’t always want to retread the beaten tourist paths, then you should consider staying here. Poblenou is a place for discovering hidden treasures instead of revisiting prepackaged sightseeing spots.
Poblenou probably isn’t a neighborhood most visitors to Barcelona have on their radar. A hundred years ago, it was an industrial district full of factories spouting out noise and pollution.
But over the last few years, many young start-ups have begun to settle in Poblenou. The founders of Sónar Festival also started organizing their annual music festival here.
One of Barcelona’s universities has its campus in Poblenou, and there are several independent theaters, alternative bars and restaurants, and popular clubs such as Razzmatazz.
My tip: Poblenou is my personal favorite. If I was looking for a hotel, I’d look here. Even if it means staying a little further away from the Old Town, you’ll get a more authentic experience of the young, real Barcelona here.
Pro of staying in Poblenou:
- Non-touristy neighborhood
- Some of the most famous clubs are located here (Razzmatazz, Sala Boveda, Mephisto). Barceloneta and the clubs in Vila Olímpica are also relatively close by.
- No swanky boutiques or souvenir shops
Cons of staying in Poblenou:
- Formerly an industrial quarter, not beautiful, but with a charm of its own
- No traditional sights within walking distance
- There are subway and bus connections, but not as many as in other areas
- The streets die down in the evening. You’ll have to go elsewhere for more outdoor flair.
The best places to stay in Poblenou:
These were our tips for staying in Barcelona. Do you have any hotel tips for Barcelona? Or do you have a question about finding a place to stay? Please let us know in the comments below!
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