Where to Stay in Barcelona for a first time visit? An insider's guide 2018What is the best location to stay in Barcelona? This is a question we always receive. Therefore, we created this guide on where to stay in Barcelona. It includes the best areas for the first time visitor, families and couples.

But, first things first:

Question: Where to stay in Barcelona for a first-time visit?

Answer: stay central!

What does that mean? We highlight the recommended areas in the map below.

(This guide was updated 2018.)

The very city center includes

  • Gothic Quarter (old town with the famous Las Ramblas)
  • El Born (old town)
  • Eixample around Passeig de Gracia

Please note: those are not the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

Why do I recommend these areas?

Those are the most convenient areas to stay.

They have direct access to the airport, public transport and many of the major sights nearby.

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for …

As mentioned, the city center of Barcelona is the perfect place for the first-time visitor.

I also understand that different travel styles match different needs.

I created an overview for this.

You will notice some areas are excluded or added to the previous recommendation.

Also, I would like to include an amazing discount to your stay:

  • Here you can get 15€ discounts for booking.com, it is valid for any accommodation around the world.
  • In case you prefer AirBnB, here you have a 35€ discount for your AirBnB stay.

Let’s see the handpicked hotels. Continue scrolling or pick your group on the menu above.

1.1 Families

Let’s face it. Kids and adults have different priorities while traveling.

Kids love to play, parents want to do some sightseeing and experience the culture, the food… so there must be a commitment.

That is why, for families, I recommend to stay in the following districts:

  • Eixample:
  • El Born (old town)
  • Gothic Quarter (old town):
  • Poble Nou, near the Beach
  • Barceloneta, near the Beach

This map shows you the areas, recommended for families:

Handpicked accommodations for families

Flexibility is a must while traveling with a family group, that is why the best option would be to look for an apartment centrally located or nearby the beach, depending on the family purposes.

Durlet Beach Apartments

Located just 200 meters from the Beach, Durlet Beach Apartments is a great option while traveling with the family.

Spacious, with modern decor facilities, air-conditioned rooms, a full equipped kitchen, and a swimming pool on the rooftop terrace.

The apartment is located in Poble Nou area, one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in Barcelona, surrounded by many bars, restaurants, and pedestrian streets.

Metro stop is just 10 minutes by walk.

This apartment is my #1 recommendation for families!

Check prices at Durlet Apartment here

Durlet Beach Apartments

BAI81 Apartments

By a walking distance to main modernist Gaudí attractions, BAI81 Apartments are located in a quiet and secure neighborhood.

The apartments are well equipped and spacious, perfect for large families.

Not only sightseeing building are close, also a supermarket, bakery, bars and restaurants are around the area.

Check prices for BAI 81 Apartment

BA81 Apartments

 1.2 Couples

Barcelona is a romantic city, perfect for a romantic city break.

I also collected 54 romantic things to do in Barcelona in case you need some inspiration to surprise your partner in Barcelona.

The best areas for couples to stay in Barcelona are:

  • El Born
  • Gothic Quarter
  • Sant Antoni
  • Eixample

This map shows you the areas, recommended for couples:

Handpicked accommodations for couples

Traveling as a couple who wants to spend time together, you need a more intimate accommodation.

That is why I would recommend staying at hotels during your trip.

What is better than simply enjoy Barcelona, no worrying about cleaning or cooking?

Hotel Mercer Barcelona

Located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, Hotel Mercer Barcelona is set in one of the city’s ancient buildings, next to the Roman walls.

It has a chic decor, high ceilings with exposed brick walls, and an interior country yard with orange trees.

Could it be more perfect?

It is, the Cathedral is just a 5 minutes walk.

Check prices for Hotel Mercer here

Mercer Hotel in Barcelona

Hotel Casa Camper

A stylish boutique hotel located in the multi-cultural heart of the city, between Las Ramblas and MACBA Gallery.

Casa Camper is located in a 19th-century Gothic building, and the rooms have garden or city views.

It offers many complimentary services.

Their restaurant, named Dos Palillos is a very famous restaurant in Barcelona.

Dos Palillos serves Asian dishes in the Spanish tapas style, and in case you want to try it, you should make a reservation.

Also: Some of the rooms come with cool hammock. It’s really stylish place!

Check prices for Casa Camper here

Hotel Casa Camper

1.3 Luxury traveler

Barcelona has got it all, trendy restaurants with the best cooks in the world, luxury shops, culture, sightseeing.

For those who have more money to indulge, this city becomes a dream came true.

For the luxury travelers, I would recommend staying in the following areas:

  • Tibidabo
  • Barceloneta
  • Passeig de Gracia

This map shows you the areas, recommended for the luxury traveler:

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

W Hotel

Designed by Ricardo Bofill, a world-renowned architect, W Barcelona sets the scene for a spectacular stay.

Located along the famous Barceloneta boardwalks, directly on the beachfront, its rooms boast panoramic views over the Mediterranean sea and the city.

The W Hotel is my #1 recommendation for the travel in pure luxury.

Seriously, nothing beats this view. Have a look on the photo below.

Check prices for W Hotel here

Nothing beats this view - W Hotel in Barcelona

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Set on Barcelona’s fashionable Passeig de Gràcia, Mandarin Oriental does not offer only quality accommodation, but many services:

  • Spa
  • bathrobes
  • sleepers
  • innovative cuisine restaurants

The location is perfect, just 5 minutes walk from Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.

Check prices for Mandarin Oriental here

Hotel Mandarin in Barcelona

1.4 Design-lovers

There is a lot to enjoy for the design-lover in Barcelona.

For the design-oriented traveler, I sum up boutique hotels and other design spots.

You will feel inspired all around the city, it is actually the city motto:

Barcelona Inspira

For the design lover, I would not recommend any specific area, as I am sure you will do your research. But I can give you a couple of ideas for design accommodation.

Handpicked accommodations for the design lover

Praktik Vinoteca – wine themed

Praktik Vinoteca is a Hotel dedicated to the wine world.

It is no secret, that Catalonia (the area around Barcelona) is one of the best wine producers in the world.

In this hotel, you can learn a lot about wine, as well as join many activities.

Like the concept, but you don’t drink wine?

No worries, this hotel chain has another hotel dedicated to bakery stuff: Praktik Bakery.

Check prices for Praktik Vinoteca here

Praktik Vinoteca

Casa Bonay

Charming Catalan boutique hotel with friendly and helpful staff and a terrace to enjoy the sunny days in Barcelona.

Casa Bonay is located in a typical Barcelona Apartment and building with hydraulic floors and high ceilings. We do love the decoration, as well as all their cool, design, feel-good vibes.

A special highlight is their big design lounge, their in-house restaurant and their own great coffee shop. In case you don’t go for the big breakfast, have at least a coffee in the SATANs coffe. It’s their in-house coffee shop with creamy coffee, one of the best cafés in Barcelona.

This is my #1 recommendation on accommodation for couples and design-led travelers!

Check prices for Casa Bonay here

The room at Casa BonayThe big design loungeRoof top terrace at Casa Bonay

1.4 Groups

Time to have fun, right?

With a group, logistics get complicated: someone wants to rest, the other want wants to go to a restaurant… To keep it simple and transport to a minimum, I recommend staying in the very city center as well. Also, you might need a kitchen?

That includes these districts:

  • El Born
  • Gothic Quarter
  • El Raval

This map shows you the areas, recommended for groups:

Handpicked accommodations for groups

Groups need flexibility, so the best accommodations are definitely apartments.

Palou Suites Ramblas

Located next to Las Ramblas, Palou Suites Ramblas feature a spacious, open-plan lounge-diner with a sofa, TV, DVD player and iPod docking station. It has also kitchenette equipped with a hob, microwave and Nespresso machine, as well as a dishwasher and washing machine.

Check prices for Palou Suites

Palou Suites Ramblas

Inside Barcelona Apartments Mercat

Featuring wooden flooring and elegant, functional design. Inside Barcelona Appartments Mercat are just 12 minutes walk from the beach.

They all include a kitchen with an oven, dish washer, and washer-dryer. I really like that every apartment has  small terrace. I think this adds some extra quality time to your Barcelona adventure.

Therefore, this is my #1 recommendation. I mean, everybody loves terraces!

Check prices for Inside Apartments

Inside Barcelona Apartment

1.5 Solo-travelers

Independent travelers, you are so smart to travel to Barcelona! This amazing city will make you fall in love at least once (with Barcelona itself), so get ready for a great experience.

I assume you want a local involvement, filled with sightseeing and cultural experiences.

The ones looking for a hostel-option, check out the 3 best hostels in Barcelona.

This map shows you the areas, recommended for the solo traveler:

  • Sant Antoni
  • Gothic Quarter
  • El Born

Handpicked accommodations for solo traveler

What would be better than an AirBnB where you can meet a local in one of the hippest and centrally located areas of Barcelona (Sant Antoni neighbourhood).

Here is my personal AirBnB recommendation.

But you can find many others.

Just make sure you read the comments of the person so you have an idea about their taste, and send them a personalized message for better connection during your trip.

You can use this Airbnb discount code to get 35€ off.

More the hostel type of person? Check out these 3 best hostels in Barcelona.

Also, you can find all apartments in Barcelona directly with Booking. Just filter on the left-hand side for apartments and have a look.

1.6 Nightlife

The nightlife in Barcelona is famous all around the world. So many clubs, discos, pubs…I am sure you will find your perfect night plan.

If you are interested in party and nightlife, then I recommend you the following districts:

  • Poble Sec with Carrer Blai and Apollo
  • Gracia
  • Barceloneta with Port Olympic
  • Gothic quarter around Placa Reial

Read: guide to the nightlife in Barcelona

NightLife Tickets

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Let’s face it, if you are going to party, you will need some complaisance.

Not having to worry to inform about your plans, or what time you have to get up, the best option is to get an apartment.

Penthouse

Penthouse is an apartment directly in Plaça Reial, the most famous square nearby Las Ramblas, perfect for the nightlife seeker, as you have many discos and restaurants right on the square.

Again, you can use this Airbnb discount code to get 35€ off.

Beach Studios

Located in Barcelona neighborhood, with Barcelona beach at only 700m. Beach Studio apartment is great for those who want to party, as you will be able to go by walk to many discos and pubs. The

The apartments have toaster, fridge, air conditioning, microwave, kitchenette and coffee machine.

2. Top 10 Sights (and their locations)

We created this useful map with the 10 sights in Barcelona.

It shows you the locations of the 10 top sights in Barcelona so you can directly save it and use it during your Barcelona trip:

The top 10 sights in Barcelona are:

  1. Sagrada Familia (get your skip-the-line ticket here)
  2. Casa Batlló
  3. Park Güell – and enter, but you’ve to book before getting there
  4. La Rambla
  5. Camp Nou – Barcelona Stadium
  6. Casa Milà – La Pedrera
  7. Picasso Museum
  8. Montjuïc Castle and Magic Fountain
  9. Barceloneta Beach
  10. Gothic Quarter

You see, the major sights in Barcelona are dotted all around the city. It is almost impossible to visit all these sights just by walking.

Good news, getting around Barcelona is very easy.

Here you can read details on getting around Barcelona.

3. Neighborhood guide (to understand the difference)

You are still here and want to get some info on the different areas. Fantastic.

Here I will show you the districts in a simplified way. At the end of the day, it’s not complicated. There are a few districts only. The best options I gave you above are all well-located. Some of them next the beach (perfect in summer), some of them downtown (perfect all year long).

3.1 Gothic Quarter (Old Town)

Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city in Barcelona. It is the most famous part of Barcelona. Even the famous Las Ramblas are there.

It is the center of the city. Many of the buildings date back to Medieval times. The architecture is very significant in the city. Also, there are mainly pedestrian streets. When walking around, you can forget about paying attention to the cars.

The only thing to consider is that it is very busy, as it is one of the most visited neighborhoods.

3.2 El Born

Also very central located, el Born is characterized by its little treasures. Little narrow streets full of fashionable, innovative boutiques. And also lots of history all around.

“Passeig del Born” was the site for medieval competitions!

Of course, it is very near for most of the touristic points.  What about food? It has plenty of food options, and also quirky cafés.  The worst part about this neighborhood would be that it might be difficult to rest.

3.3 El Raval (Old Town)

Considered a no-go area 20 years ago by well-behaved Barcelonins (local people from Barcelona), it is still known as the place where the good, the bad and ..the ugly happens.

The city council has invested lots of work to clean up this area and integrate it to the touristic area.

Nowadays, it is not a dangerous neighborhood anymore. Nevertheless,  you can still find drugs, poverty… in the inner streets. It is an eclectic, multicultural, and vibrant area, full of colours.

You can notice the Barcelona vibes are around here. People from Barcelona like to hang out there, there are many of bars and restaurant.

We consider Raval is very misunderstood, as it is still not considered a good area in the city center.

One thing is true: you must pay attention to your belongings in this area, but also in the famous Las Ramblas.

3.4 Eixample (central BCN with squares)

Eixample neighborhood was constructed to enlarge the city.

It is the biggest neighborhood in Barcelona. With wide spacious streets, you can walk around and find stunning buildings. As it is quite big, it is difficult to define the neighborhood ambiance.

It is a residential middle-class neighborhood.

Most of the touristic squares and buildings very near. Many of the touristic hot spots are within a walk-able distance.

BTW: Eixample is this typical square-kind of district, it looks like a chess-field.

3.5 Gracia (Bohemian Artist quarter)

known as the artistic neighborhood, it is your place if you love little artisan shops.

There are plenty of them all around!

Gràcia is considered one of the local trendiest neighborhoods to live in.

Full of restaurants, cafés, and squares to meet your friends.

There are plenty of options to eat, drink… and have fun!

Nevertheless, you should consider location as not perfect. But the metro connects very well Barcelona, isn’t it?

3.6. Sant Antoni (city center, new hipster area)

Just 1 metro stop from the city center, Sant Antoni has become an upcoming area in Barcelona.

Before know as a seedy area, it is now very trendy and home of some of Barcelona’s best bars and restaurants.

The best part?

You have everything you need around, and the atmosphere is awesome!

3.7. Poble Sec

Fairly central and well connected, Poble Sec is one of the city’s most culturally diverse areas.

It is quirky, creative and relaxed.

Once know as a good place to find a cheap drink, it has recently undergone something of a renewal, embracing some of the best restaurants of the city, as well as hipster cafés, bars and pubs.

In Poble Sec you can still find the bohemian feel.

3.8. Poble Nou (New town, close to the beach)

Poble Nou is the preferred area for the ex-pats and “tranquilo” lifestyle Barcelonins.

Very close to the sea, you can find lots of restaurants and bars. It is a very familiar area, so you won’t find lots of party going around. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a party going to the Harbor (Port Olimpic) won’t take you too long.

The best about this area is that you can find good quality food with reasonable prices.

The worst part?

It is not very well connected to the main city attractions, so it will take you more time to arrive at them.

In Poble Nou can find our favorite cafe in Barcelona.

Find our favorite one and 12 more best coffee shops in Barcelona here.

Best coffee shops Barcelona Espai Joliu

3.9 Barceloneta (at the beach)

The former fishermen village with the cutest name of all the neighborhoods. It is also called “little Venice”.

The streets are narrowed like in Venice.

You will find many restaurants, bars and “chiringuitos” (beach bar on the sand). You will pass by this area when you head over to the beaches. I really enjoy walking around the little, narrow streets here.

4. Safest area to stay in Barcelona

Barcelona is known for a pick-pocketing problem, and it is true.

Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, there are many pickpockets around the city, most of them concentrated in Las Ramblas area, as well as on the metro.

Therefore, I do recommend to be careful.

I leave you basic tips to avoid being pick-pocketed:

  • Don’t keep anything valuable in your backpack.
  • Limit what you carry.
  • Put locks on your zippers.
  • Don’t put anything in the back pocket.
  • Keep bags in front of you when on public transit.
  • Do not leave your belongings unattended.

There is no need to get paranoid. But follow my suggestions above and you will be fine. Nobody will harm you, usually all the pickpockets want is your money or phone. Personally, I’ve never heard of any physical damage done by a pickpocket.

Find all our articles to spend One Week In Barcelona here.

After this article, we highly recommend reading How to get around Barcelona.

We cover all 9 options here, and highlight the smartest one.

Food and Things to do in Barcelona

Now you know where to stay, what about food and things to do?

Food:

Things to do

How to get around

Must Dos in Barcelona

  1. Enter Sagrada Familia (get your SKIP the LINE ticket here)
  2. Get your ticket to Park Güell beforehand (otherwise you cannot enter the main area)
  3. Walk Las Ramblas
  4. Wander through La Boqueria
  5. Eat Tapas
  6. Walk the famous Passeig de Gracia
  7. Enter Casa Batllo or Casa Mila

Questions?

Do you have questions? Doubts? Please drop us a comment below or directly an email here. I’d be happy to help you out 🙂

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Where to Stay in Barcelona for a first time visit? An insider's guide 2018