Best location to stay in Barcelona? A Complete Overview (with insider knowledge)

Where to Stay in Barcelona for a FIRST time visit in 2024? Maps with handpicked Hotels

What 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.

We even included several detailed maps with all neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for couples, families and friends. This is your answer on where to stay in Barcelona first time.

(This is the ORIGINAL GUIDE and it is always up to date, the last updated July 2024)

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. The very city center includes

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

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

Why do I recommend these areas?

Those are the most convenient areas to stay and are the safety! They have direct access to the airport, public transport and many of the major sights nearby.

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

📍Best Area:Barrio Gótico and El Born
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best for Families:Durlet Beach Apartments
👩‍❤️‍👨 Best for Couples:Hotel Mercer Barcelona
💎 Best Luxury HotelMandarin Oriental Hotel
🤩 Best Design Hotel:Casa Bonay
🦸 Best for Solo-Traveller:Rodamón Hostel
💃 Best Hotel for Nightlife:H10 Marina
🤑 Cheapest Place to stay:Barcelona Central Garden
🏖️ Best Beach Hotel:W Hotel
👌 Safest Area: Eixample

We know it is hard to understand the district name when you have never been there. So we handcrafted several maps to help you. They are all in this guide. In fact, you won’t find any better and more detailed guide than this one. When reading this guide, you will stay at a great place in a safe neighborhood!

Do you prefer staying close to the beach? Then check our simple guide to best beach hotels in Barcelona. The website LesBoutiqueHotels collects also the finest boutique hotels in Barcelona.

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 of this. You will notice some areas are excluded or added to the previous recommendation. I handmade different maps for each travel style in this guide. Keep scrolling.

The best areas to stay in Barcelona are:

  • Barrio Gotico – Old Town
  • El Born – Old Town
  • El Raval – Old Town
  • Gracia – Artsy District
  • Les Corts – with Camp Nou Stadium
  • Barceloneta – Beach
  • L’Eixample – with Sagrada Familia
  • Sants-Montjuic – with the Castle
  • Poble Sec
  • Sant Antoni – Hipster Area
  • Poblenou – Beach Area

Our Favorite Hotels:

The beach in Barcelona is for free
The beach in Barcelona is for free – this photo shows the the beach in Barceloneta

Read more: We have a guide to the Where to travel in Europe for April.

1.1 Families with Kids

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 and Vila Olimpica, 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.

Also, check if you need self-catering facilities, such as a kitchen. For me, this is always useful to have.

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 fully equipped kitchen, and a swimming pool on the rooftop terrace.

The apartment is located in the 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 short walk away.

This apartment is my #1 recommendation for families!

Check prices at Durlet Apartment here

Durlet Beach Apartments

STAY Bailen Apartments

It is just a short walk to the main modernist Gaudí attractions, STAY Bailen 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, but also a supermarket, bakery, bars and restaurants are around the area.

Check prices for STAY Bailen Apartment

BA81 Apartments

H10 Hotel near the beach (with roof top pool and terrace)

Are you traveling with teenagers who would love to hang at the beach while you explore the city? Then I would really recommend H10 in Vila Olimpica!

It comes with a roof top terrace swimming pool, a relaxing spa and cool rooms with a sea view. The rooms differ a lot, make sure you pick a room with a sea view!

For families traveling with independent teenagers, this is a great idea! You can book a family room or a double room with an extra bed.

Good to know: The sailing boats leave from the port. So from here you are within walking distance.

Book H10 Marina here

H10 Family Room near Marina and the beach H10 Family Room near Marina and the beach

 1.2 Couples

Barcelona is a romantic city, perfect for a romantic city break. I put together my favorite 54 romantic things to do in Barcelona in case you need some inspiration to surprise your partner in Barcelona. There are also a bunch of cool hostels offering private rooms. This is something worth to consider, too.

The best areas for couples to stay in Barcelona are:

  • El Born – in green
  • Gothic Quarter – in blue
  • Sant Antoni – in yellow
  • Eixample – in red

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 (Gothic Quarter)

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.

This place is perfect when looking for where to stay in barcelona for one night only.

Check prices for Hotel Mercer here

Mercer Hotel in Barcelona

Hotel Casa Camper (Super Central)

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.

Good to know: 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 – in light green
  • Barceloneta – Beach area
  • Passeig de Gracia – in yellow
  • Gothic Quarter – in blue
  • El Born – in green

This guide collects the best luxury hotels in Barcelona city center and around. This map shows you the areas, recommended for the luxury traveler:

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

W Hotel (Barceloneta)

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 (Central)

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

Hotel 1898 (Wow Roof-Top!)

My favorite rooftop terrace and luxury place is the Hotel 1898.

You cannot be more central since this hotel is located on the famous La Rambla. It is a restored 19th-century building. The highlight for me is the heated rooftop pool with a sun terrace – and the panoramic view!

The rooms are super elegant, free and fast WiFi and on top of that, marble bathroom.

Check prices and availability for Hotel 1898

Best Luxury Hotel in Barcelona: Hotel 1898

Best Luxury Hotel in Barcelona: Hotel 1898

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

I have looked all over the place and tested several central design hostels in Barcelona. Here is my two favorites I enjoyed most.

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 (Personally LOVE this place!)

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 coffee.

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 BonayRoof top terrace at Casa Bonay

1.5 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 – in green
  • Gothic Quarter – in blue
  • El Raval – in brown
  • Poble Sec – in dark blue
  • Barceloneta – in purple

This map shows you the areas, recommended for groups staying in Barcelona:

Handpicked accommodations for groups

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

Aspasios Las Ramblas Apartments

Located next to Las Ramblas, Aspasios Las Ramblas Apartments feature a spacious, open-plan lounge-diner with a sofa, TV, DVD player and iPod docking station.

It has also a kitchenette equipped with a hob, microwave and Nespresso machine, as well as a dishwasher and washing machine.

Book Aspasios Las Ramblas Apartments here

Palou Suites Ramblas

Inside Barcelona Apartments Mercat

Featuring wooden flooring and elegant, functional design.

Inside Barcelona Apartments Mercat are just 12 minutes’ walk from the beach.

They all include a kitchen with an oven, dishwasher, and washer-dryer. I really like that every apartment has a 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

1.6 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.

  1. Rodamón Hostel – best for couples
  2. Casa Gracia – best for solo travelers and groups
  3. YEAH Barcelona – best for backpackers
  4. Pars Tailors Hostel – especially cool for hipsters on a budget

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

  • Sant Antoni – in yellow
  • Gothic Quarter – in blue
  • El Born – in green
  • Gracia – in red

Handpicked accommodations for a 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 neighborhood).

We wrote a guide on 43 alternative websites to find Aparments – not just Airbnb.

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.

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

Barcelona Central Garden

Another fantastic hostel for solo-traveller in Barcelona is the Barcelona Central Garden.

As you may have guessed, the location is very central; just a 5 minutes walk from Las Ramblas and Placa Catalunya.

The hostel itself is super cosy and easy-going. It is a small place where mostly traveler go to meet less people, but still socialize. You will find here as well older travelers, sometimes couples and overall the ones that want to experience the city but skip the party life.

Book BCN Central Garden here

Best Hostel in Barcelona for Solo-Traveler: Barcelona Central Garden Best Hostel in Barcelona for Solo-Traveler: Barcelona Central Garden

Pars Tailors Hostel – More Hipster Party

This one is for the one who wants to stay in a cool hostel, meet younger people and go out at night.

Pars Tailors Hostel has a central location, and they do run Pub Crawls.

The people staying here are usually younger from 18 up to 28, roughly.

The design is very hipster-ish, and they even have their own Paella Nights. Some nights of the week the whole hostel also moves to Plaza Espanya for the Magic Fountain Show.

I also love the central location here.

You are staying in the Hipster area of Sant Antoni, with plenty of cool bars, restaurants and cafés. Another advantage? You can take the Airport Shuttle bus from here directly, the bus stop is just 20 meters from here.

Book Pars Tailors Hostel here

Pars Tailors Hostel - More Hipster Party

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

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. Where to stay in Barcelona for Nightlife? You should stay at Kabul Hostel.

For the ones interested in party and nightlife, then I recommend you the following districts:

  • Sant Antoni
  • Barceloneta
  • Gothic quarter

Read: Guide to the nightlife in Barcelona

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Let’s face it if you are going to a 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 a room at a cool hotel, a party hostel or a full apartment.

Hotel: H10 Marina – with Roof Top Swimming Pool

I love this hotel!

If I were you, I would stay here. Party at night at the nearby clubs and recover, I mean to relax the next morning at the rooftop. This is not a party hotel, but again, I would go clubbing nearby and enjoy a quiet “after-party”.

The roof top swimming pool with a panoramic view over the Mediterranean…amazing!

Here you will be located in Poble Nou neighborhood, with the Bogatell beach at only 10 minutes by walking. H10 Marina Hotel, also called H10 Port Vell, is great for those who want to party, as you will be able to go by walk to many discos and pubs at the Port Olimpico.

That is right: Port Olimpico has plenty of discos and clubs. You can just walk back to your hotel in around 10 minutes. No taxi needed!

The rooftop swimming pools speak for itself, really.

Good to know: We also recommend this place for families. Again, the hotel itself is not a party hotel, but perfect to relax and stay in a quiet area. Oh, and the rooftop swimming pool is world-class!

Book H10 Marina Beach here

H10 Marina - with Roof Top Swimming Pool

Apartment: Inside Barcelona Apartments Esparteria

Traveling as a group? If you are looking for booking an apartment for groups in Barcelona, the Inside Barcelona Apartments Esparteria is fantastic!

Beautiful design and top location in the heart of El Born District.

You can just go downstairs and hop into bars and restaurants. You are also nearby one of my favorite tapas bars, the La Luna Restaurant.

Two of the apartments also have a small roof top terrace – quite a big plus!

Book Esparteria Apartments here

Apartments for Nightlife and Groups in Barcelona

Party Hostels in Barcelona – 2 options

You can also stay at a budget party hostel. There is a bunch of party hostels in Barcelona, no doubt. My best recommendations are

  1. Kabul Party Hostel
  2. Pars Tailors Hostel

Here is a fun party hostels guide for Barcelona.

Kabul Hostel – actual big party hostel

Let us keep this one simple: Kabul is the coolest party hostel in Barcelona with a super central location.

You are 30 meters from Las Ramblas, staying directly at one of the busiest squares in Barcelona, the Plaza Real.

They even have a fun rooftop terrace with BBQ, drinking games and music.

If the in-house bar and rooftop are not enough, you are surrounded by endless bars in Lower El Gotico or in El Raval. If you are up for sharing a dorm and staying on a budget, this is a fun option!

Book Kabul Party Hostel here

Kabul Hostel - actual big part hostel

Pars Tailors Hostel – More Hipster Party

Pars Tailors Hostel has a central location, and they do run Pub Crawls.

The people staying here are usually younger from 18 up to 28, roughly.

The design is very hipster-ish, and they even have their own Paella Nights. Some nights of the week the whole hostel also moves to Plaza Espanya for the Magic Fountain Show.

I also love the location here.

You are staying in the Hipster area of Sant Antoni, with plenty of cool bars, restaurants and cafés. Another advantage? You can take the Airport Shuttle bus from here directly, the bus stop is just 20 meters from here.

Book Pars Tailors Hostel here

Pars Tailors Hostel - More Hipster Party

1.8 For the Budget Traveler

So you are traveling Barcelona on a budget? I hear you, this is what I did when I came was in Barcelona for the first time. There are plenty of options to sleep cheaply here. Especially hostels are the top option on where to stay in barcelona for cheap.

Great cheapest hostels in Barcelona are:

On you find a list of the cheapest hostels in Barcelona. This way you can really book cheaper and save money.

Rest assured, the best and cheapest hostel in Barcelona is Barcelona Central Garden. The value/ price ratio is really outstanding. It is a family run hostel, no party hostel.

For a young couple with little money visiting Barcelona, I highly recommend the Central Garden! Also for small families, older people and female solo traveller!

They have a small garden with a big table to meet and eat. They have their own kitchen to cook your own meals. I also like the family-friendly vibes here. The owners organize small events like dinner night and such so the people mingle.

Very easy-going and simple.

For the young backpacker, well, I rather recommend YEAH Hostel and Pars Tailors Hostel, plus the ones mentioned above.

Book Barcelona Central Garden here
Cheapest Hostels in Barcelona
One of the cheapest Hostels in Barcelona, the Barcelona Central Garden

1.9 Beach Hotels in Barcelona

It’s time to put on flip-flops!

Barcelona has a wide and long beach area. So of course you might be interested in staying directly at the beach.

Update: I wrote a complete guide to best beach hotels in Barcelona here.

I created yet another handy map with all beaches and added my favorite beach hotels in Barcelona. I also include beach hostels and other options.

The two beach districts in Barcelona are:

  • Barceloneta (in red)
  • La Vila Olimpica (in light purple)
  • Poble Nou (in blue)
  • Diagonal mar y Front Maritim del Poble Nou (in purple)

I marked them in the map below. I also highlighted my recommended apartments and hotels in red. (please zoom in for details!)

All the beaches in Barcelona are (I marked them in the map too):

  • Platja de Sant Sebastià
  • La Barceloneta beach
  • Platja de Sant Miquel Beach
  • Platja del Somorrostro
  • Platja de la Nova Icària
  • Platja del Bogatell
  • Platja de la Mar Bella
  • Beach Nova Mar Bella
  • Platja de Llevant Beach

Handpicked accommodations for Beach Lover


Barcelona Hotels near the beach with pool:

Luxury Hotel for the Stars: Hotels Arts – 5 Star Luxury Hotels Ritz Carlton

Beach Hotels in Barcelona with Pool: Arts Hotel

Budget Options and Hostels:

1.10 Where to stay in Barcelona before Cruise

You want to know where to stay in Barcelona before taking the cruise? I have created yet another super handy map with all ports in Barcelona and hotels I recommend to stay at.

All cruises in Barcelona leave from the main port near the city center. Port Vell is a different harbour, near Las Ramblas. It is only for smaller boats.

The ports are at the end of the famous La Rambla. It is Barcelona’s most famous Boulevard, often referred to as Las Ramblas or simply Ramblas. This is also where you find the famous Christoph Columbus Statue (which you can take an elevator up to, btw!!) Therefore, you can enjoy the city center of Barcelona before your cruise as well.

Cruise Ships in Barcelona area:

  • Moll Adossat (Terminal A, B, C, and D)
  • Maremagnum Dock (M)
  • World Trade Center Dock (N, S, E)

It is important to choose the best pre and post cruise hotels in Barcelona not only based on their overall ratings. I would also take into considering the location, comfort and services that they provide.

The best hotels in Barcelona to stay before a Cruise are:

  1. Petit Palace Boqueria Garden (Boutique Hotel)
  2. Mercer Hotel Barcelona ★★★★★ (5 Star Hotel – Luxury!)
  3. Eurostars Grand Marina GL (Directly in the Port)
  4. Hotel 1898 ★★★★★ (5 Star and Kid-Friendly)

Any of them are absolutely fantastic! Just choose the one that fits your personal needs best.

Petit Palace Boqueria Garden

This is my #1 recommendation due to its quality and location! It is a wonderful Boutique Hotel, recommended as well by

Petit Palace Boqueria Garden is housed in a historic 19th-century building nestled in the famous La Boqueria Market. This boutique hotel offers relaxing accommodation, a perfect complement to the city’s busy streets and overflowing cultural sights.

And even though it is located in the city center, the rooms are soundproof. You will not be able to hear a lot of street noise unless you open the windows.

Have breakfast inside the famous La Boqueria Market and get a coffee at one of the many beautiful coffee shops around the El Gotico.

Check Petit Palace Boqueria Garden here

Petit Palace Boqueria Garden - Best Boutique Hotel in Barcelona to stay before Cruise

Mercer Hotel Barcelona ★★★★★

Mercer Barcelona is a blend of luxury, architecture and design, located right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. It is next to a beautiful Cathedral and surrounded by numerous great restaurants for dining out.

The roof top terrace with its swimming pool invites you to really kick back and relax before taking the cruise.

This place is more a luxury hotel vibe with its restaurant and bar, compared to the previously mentioned Petit Palace Boqueria Garden.

Book Mercer Hotel Barcelona here

Where to stay in Barcelona before Cruise: Mercer Hotel Barcelona ★★★★★

Eurostars Grand Marina GL (Directly in the Port)

If you really just want to stay near the port, then go with Eurostars Grand Marina. You are nearby the port and you can still go for a good restaurant and café nearby.

You can enjoy the swimming pool with stunning sea views. On top of that, they even have rooms with gorgeous views to the city itself and the mountain Montjuic (see photo below).

Book Eurostars Grand Marina here

Where to stay in Barcelona Port: Eurostars Grand Marina GL (Directly in the Port)

Hotel 1898 ★★★★★

Travelling with kids? Hotel 18989 is kid-friendly and located in the city center – please see map below.

My highlight with this one is their magnificient roof-top terrace. You are basically in the city center overlooking it all. Pretty great! If you go here, enjoy a cocktail or a nice cup of good coffee here.

Check Hotel 1898 here

Best Luxury Hotel in Barcelona: Hotel 1898

2. Top 10 Sights (and their locations)

Now that you have your accommodation sorted out, let us talk about the top sights you cannot miss. After all, this is your Barcelona first time stay, you want to make it’s gonna be a fantastic experience.

In the introduction I told you to stay central.

There is many reasons for this. First of all, you save time in transport. When you stay around Passeig de Gracia, there is so many places around. You can easily walk to a hip bar, tasty restaurant and many sights.

I 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.

I recommend reading our article on the must dos in Barcelona and our itinerary for Barcelona.

2.1 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.

2.2 Tickets you have to buy before (Must Read)

I sincerely hope you are reading this section carefully! It will make a difference.

This is important so you actually can enter the places you would love to see from the inside.

There are exactly two tickets you have to buy beforehand:

  1. Sagrada Familia
  2. Park Güell

Complete Gaudi Tour: The Complete Gaudi Tour by Take Walks is the absolute best comprehensive tour you will find combining these two major sights.

  • Enter Casa Batlló
  • Ponder Casa Vicens and Casa Milà
  • Enter Park Güell with pre-reserved tickets
  • Explore La Sagrada Família before making your way into the Basilica’s Museum
  • Admire 360-degree views of Barcelona from a special vantage point

2.2.1 Sagrada Familia Tickets

Even if you want to challenge your luck to see if there is no queue of 2 hours at Sagrada Familia, keep in mind the towers.

You can actually enter the towers of Sagrada Familia as well.

But, only when you bought a special ticket for them! The towers cost extra and are limited to a certain amount of visitors per day – for obvious reasons.

The towers are sold out easily. Therefore, check your days as soon as you have your travel dates fix.

My preferred way to book is Get Your Guide.

If you want a guided tour, then I recommend the Complete Gaudi Tour by Take Walks. Just book the date of your choice and they organize the tickets for Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and Casa Batllo for you.

It is a guided tour with transport and a small group.

Good question: Is it actually worth it to enter Sagrada Familia? Yes, 100%. The inside is magnificent and the details put into the inside are exceptional.

Book Sagrada Familia Ticket here

Compare prices: Get Your Guide | | Tour with Take Walks

Sagrada Familia requires a ticket

2.2.2 Park Güell Tickets

The main area of the beautiful Park Güell requires a ticket, while 80% of the huge park is still free.

However, you want to see the beautiful salamander (the “dragon”), the columns and the beautiful, colorful broken-tiles design by Gaudi (called Trencadis).

Every 30 minutes there is a new time slot for visitors to enter. You cannot show up and ask for a ticket.

Therefore, get a ticket as soon as you have your dates fixed.

Book Park Güell Ticket here

Compare rates: | Get Your Guide

Park Güell in Barcelona

3. Neighborhood guide (to understand the difference)

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


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. Yes, this is part of the Old Town, but not the entire old town. If you hear people talking about ciutat vella, it means old town. This includes Gothic Quarter, El Born and El Raval.

The Gothic Quarter is named barri gòtic in Catalan and Barrio Gótico in Spanish.

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 (Old Town)

Personally, my favorite part of town!

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.

Read: my favorite 13 best coffee shops in Barcelona

Read: 9 best places to eat Paella in Barcelona

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.

For instance? The Sagrada Familia!

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

Where to stay in Barcelona? Eixample and the area around Sagrada Familia

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?

Best Places to stay in Barcelona? Gracia is the artsy neighborhood

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.

From here you can charter your private sailing trip.

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

The bad part? It is not too well connected to the main city attractions, so it will take you more time to arrive at them. There is a lot of buses and the yellow metro line. So in all fairness, the transport is great, but just not as good as when staying in Eixample.

However, 100% worth it!

In Poble Nou can find our favorite cafe in Barcelona and our favorite brunch place, called Can Dende. 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 with clothing hanging from the balconies.

You will find many restaurants, bars and so-called “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

Now that we covered the best places to stay in Barcelona and areas, let’s talk safety.

Barcelona is known for a pick-pocketing problem, and it is true. It is actually hard to admit, no one likes to admit the own city has a pick-pocketing problem.

But, I want you to stay safe and that you go back home with a wonderful feeling – and no theft or missing things.

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

However: There is NO super safe area with no pick-pocketing. Everywhere really you can have bad luck with thieves. It can happen on the beach, the Ramblas, Raval, Gracia….any district really.

Therefore, I do recommend to be careful.

The safest districts overall are:

  • Eixample
  • Gracia
  • Clot
  • Poble Nou
  • Sant Antoni
  • El Born

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

  1. Don’t keep anything valuable in your backpack
  2. Limit what you carry
  3. Put locks on your zippers
  4. Don’t put anything in the back pocket of your pants
  5. Keep bags in front of you when on public transit – especially the metro!
  6. Do not leave your belongings unattended
  7. At the beach, one should always stay with the belongings

Last but not least, the golden rule: Let nobody touch you!

They can only steal your wallet when they are near you, when they can touch you. Like in the metro entrance and busy areas. Pick-pocketing is no magic. Take a bit of precaution and you are fine!

There is no need to get paranoid, please!

But follow my suggestions above and you will be fine.

Many many friends visited me here and stayed at all those places I recommended them. I obviously gave them my safety tips.

The good news: Not a single one got robbed!

Now, please please make me proud and follow this great tradition!!

Nobody will harm you physically, this is very very rare! Usually all the pickpockets want is your money or phone. Personally, I’ve never heard of any physical harm or 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.

Our favorite: rent a scooter – here’s our step-by-step scooter rental guide

Okay, enough of scaring you (sorry!), let us chat about sights and food…I get hungry already by writing this!

5. FAQ

You see, I really got into detail. And this is absolute best and most honest guide you can find. I even tell you where not to stay! I collected even more common questions I receive all the time below.

What is the best neighborhood to stay in Barcelona?

The best neighborhoods in Barcelona are:

  • Gothic Quarter - famous old town with the famous Las Ramblas
  • El Born - old town
  • Eixample around Passeig de Gracia
  • Gracia - bohemian and known for bars and cafés
  • Barcelona - near the beach
  • Sant Antoni - known now as the Hipster area with many good restaurants and bars

Read more details on each area.

Where should you not stay in Barcelona?

Better not stay directly at Las Ramblas, Placa Reial and not in El Raval. El Raval is a bit dodgy neighborhood. It is great during the day, but at night you better go for a drink in El Gotico and El Born.

What should I avoid in Barcelona?

Pickpocketing and not being able to enter the main sights. These are the two things you have to prepare for. Except for pickpocketing, Barcelona is a safe city - read my safety tips. Also make sure you pre-book your ticket for Park Güell and Sagrada Familia - there is limited entrance and tickets.

Where should I stay in Barcelona for the first time?

The best area is around Passeig de Gracia, Gothic Quarter and in El Born. It has direct access to many sights, and you are in walking distance to metro stops, great bars and restaurants.

If you have any more questions, please please please drop a comment below! I will reply instantly in person, promised!

Food and Things to do in Barcelona

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


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

Read: 24 Must Dos in Barcelona

Other European Destinations

Before you run off, here is a few more handwritten articles for you. These will help you to find more unique experiences and enjoy your holidays at fullest.

Any Questions?

There you have it. I hope you have no questions and found your home in my home town.

However, please remember: I am not perfect, and it is likely I missed a few things to point out.

Therefore: Do you have questions? Is anything not clear?

Please please please drop me a comment below with your email! I will reply to you ASAP via email and here in the comments.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me.

Safe travels!

– – –

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

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