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 a big map with all neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for couples, families and friends.
(This guide us always up to date, last update September 2019.)
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
We know it is hard to understand the district name when you have never been there. So we created several maps to help you.
Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.
Do you prefer staying close to the beach? Then check our simple guide to best beach hotels in Barcelona.
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:
- 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 and travel type on the menu:
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:
- El Born (old town)
- Gothic Quarter (old town)
- Poble Nou, 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 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!
STAY Bailen Apartments
By a walking distance to 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, also a supermarket, bakery, bars and restaurants are around the area.
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 – 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
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.
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!
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 map shows you the areas, recommended for the luxury traveler:
Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler
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.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Set on Barcelona’s fashionable Passeig de Gràcia, Mandarin Oriental does not offer only quality accommodation, but many services:
- innovative cuisine restaurants
The location is perfect, just 5 minutes walk from Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
Hotel 1898 (my top recommendation!)
My favorite roof top 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.
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:
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.
Casa Bonay – (my #1 favorite!)
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!
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:
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 kitchenette equipped with a hob, microwave and Nespresso machine, as well as a dishwasher and washing machine.
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, 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!
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.
- Rodamón Hostel – best for couples
- Casa Gracia – best for solo-travelers and groups
- YEAH Barcelona – best for backpackers
- 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 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.
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.
If you are interested in party and nightlife, then I recommend you the following districts:
- Sant Antoni
- Gothic quarter
Read: guide to the nightlife in Barcelona
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 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 relax the next morning at the roof top. 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 the panoramic view over the Mediterranean…amazing!
Here you will be located in Poble Nour neighborhood, with the Bogatell beach at only 10 minutes by walking. H10 Marina Hotel 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 roof top swimming pools speak for itself, really.
Apartment: Inside Barcelona Apartments Esparteria
Travelling 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!
Party Hostels – 2 options
You can also stay on a budget party hostel. My best recommendations are
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 roof top terrace with BBQ, drinking games and music.
If the in-house bar and roof top is 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!
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 hipsterish, 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.
1.8 For the Budget Traveler
So you are traveling Barcelona on a budget? There is plenty of options to sleep cheaply here, especially hostels are the top option.
Great cheap hostels are:
- Barcelona Central Garden (Super central)
- Pars Tailors Hostel (especially cool for hipsters on a budget)
- Hostel One Paralelo
The best and cheapest hostel in Barcelona is seriously Barcelona Central Garden. The value/ price ratio is really. It is a family run hostel, no party hostel.
If you are more looking for party, then go with Pars Tailors Hostel.
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.
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
- Durlet Beach Apartments (great for Families)
- Sweet Inn – Villa Olympica Mediterranean – Design Apartment with beautiful Balcony Beach View
- Lovely yet regular Barcelona Beach Apartments
Barcelona Hotels near the beach with pool:
- Hotel SB Icaria Barcelona
- H10 Marina with Roof Top Swimming Pool
- W Hotel
- Hesperia Barcelona Del Mar
- Occidental Atenea Mar – Adults Only
- ibis Styles Barcelona City Bogatell
- Hotels Arts – 5 Star Luxury Hotels Ritz Carlton
Luxury Hotel for the Stars: Hotels Arts – 5 Star Luxury Hotels Ritz Carlton
Budget Options and Hostels:
- Amistat Beach Hostel Barcelona – great for backpacker
- Twentytu Hostel – Quality hostel, great for female solo-traveller
- Budget Hotel: Hotel 54 Barceloneta
2. Top 10 Sights (and their locations)
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.
The top 10 sights in Barcelona are:
- Sagrada Familia (get your skip-the-line ticket here)
- Casa Batlló
- Park Güell – and enter, but you’ve to book before getting there
- La Rambla
- Camp Nou – Barcelona Stadium
- Casa Milà – La Pedrera
- Picasso Museum
- Montjuïc Castle and Magic Fountain
- Barceloneta Beach
- 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.
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:
6.1 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.
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.
6.2 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 that, 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.
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 of your pants
- Keep bags in front of you when on public transit – especially the metro!
- Do not leave your belongings unattended
- 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.
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!
Food and Things to do in Barcelona
Now you know where to stay, what about food and things to do?
- 9 places for the best Paella in Barcelona
- 13 best restaurants in Barcelona
- 13 cool cafés to get a creamy coffee
Things to do:
- 54 romantic things to do in Barcelona for couples and 1st dates
- 59 FREE Things to do
- 18 LUXURY Things to do in Barcelona like Champagne Sunset Sailing
- 23 Fun Things to do in Barcelona at night
How to get around:
Must Dos in Barcelona:
- Enter Sagrada Familia (get your SKIP the LINE ticket here)
- Get your ticket to Park Güell beforehand (otherwise you cannot enter the main area)
- Walk Las Ramblas
- Wander through La Boqueria
- Eat Tapas
- Walk the famous Passeig de Gracia
- Enter Casa Batllo or Casa Mila
Read: 24 Must Dos in Barcelona
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.
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