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Looking for where to stay in Barcelona for your trip? After living in the city for a season, I’m going to break down exactly where you want to stay (and where not to stay.) And there is even a map to help give you a visual of the best Barcelona neighborhoods.

Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe, so much so, that I lived there for several months. It became a second home for me, where weekends were spent exploring the many neighborhoods in the Catalan city. I love the energy of the city, there are incredible restaurants and top-rated coffee shops, and you can’t miss one of these best day trips from Barcelona.

In this guide to the best areas in Barcelona to stay, I’m going to break down exactly where you want to stay on a visit. Especially first-time visitors to Barcelona, you want to book yourself in the best neighborhood possible for exploring. I saw it several times where friends booked in too far from the sights they wanted to visit, resulting in a lot of time trying to get across the city. So I’m going to help you avoid that!

You’ll find as you begin to look at hotels in Barcelona that there are a range of budgets and styles. My recommendation is to first decide which neighborhood you want to be in. Then from there, look at which hotels will suit your budget and style.

Let’s do it! Read on to help decide where you want to stay with this guide to the best neighborhoods and hotels in Barcelona.

Short on time? Here Are My Top Picks for Where to Stay in Barcelona:

If you don’t have time to read through all the details in this guide, I’m going to give you quick recommendations here as I always do on my posts.

  1. The best two neighborhoods for a central stay in Barcelona are somewhere between El Born and l’Eixample. The goal is to be within walking distance of one of the main metro stops and close to sights. The top hotels I recommend to my friends and family are Hotel Casa Bonay ($$), Praktik Rambla ($), and Cotton House Hotel ($$$).
  2. The best neighborhood for a local feeling and family travelers is Gràcia. But do know that it comes with a bit more time spent getting around and limited accommodations. The hotel I recommend here is the Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel ($).
  3. The best neighborhood with a happening scene is the Gothic Quarter. If you’re looking to be in the mix, book here and you’re close to everything. The hotels I recommend here are Hotel Neri ($$$) and Petit Palace Boqueria Garden ($).

Where to Stay in Barcelona

A Helpful Map For Where to Stay in Barcelona

Yellow: Gràcia | Purple: El Poble Sec | Red: Born | Blue: El Ravel | Black: Eixample | Pink: Barceloneta | Green: Gothic

The Best Area to Stay in Barcelona (By Neighborhood)

For a First-Time Visit #1: El Born

Where to Stay in Barcelona

I don’t think there is a more quintessential neighborhood in Barcelona than El Born. Referred to as “The Born,” it’s a vibrant part of the city that has incredible medieval architecture, some of my favorite tapas bars, and charming narrow streets. I spent most days in the city coming here to our favorite coffee shops like Nomad Coffee and Cafès El Magnífico. The Born is home to the famous Santa Maria del Mar church, Mercat de Santa Caterina (a market you don’t want to miss), the Picasso Museum, and Palau de la Música Catalana.

There is so much to do when you stay in the heart of Barcelona which is why I always love it as a base for exploring. There are more limited hotels in the actual neighborhood of El Born. Most hotel recommendations for this area are actually in L’Eixample (see the next section.) But there are a few to consider if you want to be right within walking distance of the Born favorites.

Best Hotels in El Born

  1. Hotel Catalonia Born ($) for a great design for a dollar hotel
  2. Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona ($$) for a boutique stay
  3. Chic&Basic Habana Hoose ($) for the best budget stay
  4. Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel ($$$) for the best luxury stay on the edge of El Born
  5. The Barcelona EDITION ($$$) for the best design stay in El Born

My Favorite Spots in El Born

El Born is a fun one. You really can’t go wrong with a proper day strolling through the tight streets of this quarter. I always find myself starting with a coffee at Nomad. It’s the top of the neighborhood, and from there, you can work your way down. If there is one meal you can’t miss, it’s at the tapas bar, El Xampanyet. The team here became like a second family. I came in almost 2x a week when living here.

Down the road, some other restaurant favorites were Mosquito for Asian-inspired tapas, Bormuth (a Barcelona classic), and Cal Pep. If you’re looking for one of those fun restaurants, El Flako Breakfast Club serves these ridiculously good, oversized cereal bowls.

While in the Born, my favorite stop is the Picasso Museum, definitely get tickets to come here. Afterward, make your way up to the Mercat de Santa Caterina to peruse the food stalls. Another favorite thing I did in the Born was catch a show at Palau de la Música Catalana — check to see what is happening here during your visit.

I think you’ll find that most of the charm of the Born is simply strolling the streets. Most are pedestrian-only, so you can enjoy this local neighborhood. And don’t forget the churros at Xurreria Laietana — they are heavenly and worth the wait.

For a First-Time Visit #2: L’Eixample

Where to Stay in Barcelona

My next recommendation for any trip to Barcelona is to base yourself in L’Eixample. It’s a rather large area of Barcelona when you consider where Eixample is. In this case, I’m looking at the areas of Eixample that touch from Placa de Catalunya with Passeig de Gràcia being the most central road through. There is a lot to do in this part of Barcelona, so if you can put yourself close to the center of this neighborhood, you’ll be within walking distance of a lot.

It’s home to several of Gaudi’s works like Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Familia. You have some of the top restaurants and shopping areas along Passeig de Gràcia like the iconic El Nacional Barcelona and top designer boutiques. The key to staying in L’Eixample is to be close to one of the major metro stations. The grand boulevards are long and while it’s technically all in the same neighborhood, it can mean long stretches of walking.

Because of its central location, you’ll find that the hotels do run more expensive. The high-end hotels of the city are in this part of Barcelona, and for good reason. So I’ve got a few gems that won’t break the bank or compare in costs to the luxury hotels. As well as some of my favorite splurge-worthy hotels in Barcelona.

Best Hotels in L’Eixample

  1. Hotel Casa Bonay ($$) for best design for dollar hotel
  2. Hotel Praktik Rambla ($) for a favorite budget hotel
  3. H10 Metropolitan ($$) for best mid-range boutique hotel
  4. Cotton House Hotel ($$$) for best design luxury hotel (my personal favorite)
  5. Almanac Barcelona ($$$) for the best well-priced luxury hotel
  6. Mandarin Oriental Barcelona ($$$$) for the best luxury hotel

My Favorite Spots in L’Eixample

L’Eixample covers such a large part of Barcelona. So let’s start with the classics that I always love like a meal at one of the half-dozen restaurants inside El Nacional. This area is also home to much of Gaudi’s work like Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Familia, and Casa Mila. All of which are worth a visit, and very much need a ticket booked ahead.

Other favorite spots that I visited frequently were places like Restaurant Mordisco, a Catalan classic and local favorite. The famous tapas bar, Bar Mut is also technically in L’Eixample, but feels much more like the neighboring area of Gràcia. Compartir is also a favorite for elevated dining (done by the chefs from Disfrutar).

I spent a lot of time at Hotel Casa Bonay, and though it’s a hotel, there’s a great restaurant and coffee shop. And don’t forget the sleek Cotton House Hotel — a glass of wine in their greenhouse-style room in the back is stunning. And for brunch lovers, hop in line at Granja Petitbo.

For The Action: The Gothic Quarter

Where to Stay in Barcelona

If you’re looking to be in the heart of the action, the Gothic Quarter is it. It has some of the highest foot traffic in all of Barcelona due to its several pedestrian-only streets. A lot is happening here, often geared for the tourist as many tours run through to see historic sights.

You have the Catedral de Barcelona, the famous Placa Reial with its restaurant-lined plaza, and Roman remains in the Barcelona City History Museum. The Gothic Quarter is condensed yet has much to do, and you’re centrally located. I’m always hesitant to recommend the Gothic Quarter as some may find it overwhelming, but it is well-located and offers a ton of attractions.

Best Hotels in The Gothic Quarter

  1. Hotel Neri ($$$) — for best luxury stay
  2. Hotel Catalonia Catedral ($$) — for best central location
  3. Petit Palace Boqueria Garden ($) — for the best budget stay

My Favorite Spots in The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter has this interesting blend of very touristy things and some local gems. There are many historic sights in this quarter, some of which I’d go out of my way to see. The Catedral de Barcelona is always worth it, and do be sure to pass under El Pont Del Bisbe on your way to the bustling Plaça de Sant Jaume. The architecture is fantastic.

Other favorite spots that I always found my way to were Plaça Reial, seriously picturesque. And you can’t go wrong with just strolling through the tight and narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter. Along the way, there are several great spots to get a bite to eat and have coffee.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

For caffeine purposes, formerly Satan’s Coffee Corner now Right Side Coffee Bar is the best. Federal Cafè is also good, and you can get a bite to eat here too. For a bite to eat, my local go-to is always Bo de B for local bocadillo-style sandwiches that I’d get on a plane for. Colom is also a classic in the neighborhood too.

And if you’re making your way to Mercado de la Boqueria (technically next neighborhood over), don’t skip the breakfast at El Quim de la Boqueria. The squid with fried eggs is life-changing. And if you can’t get there for breakfast, Cañete, just down the block, is a classic tapas option.

For a Family Trip: Gràcia

Where to Stay in Barcelona

The neighborhood of Gràcia — if I could live anywhere in Barcelona, it would be here. The long boulevards and the very family-friendly and local-forward neighborhood are a gem. It’s slow-going, a bit further afield, and offers a taste of local life.

There are two ways to look at Gràcia — it’s more family-friendly and offers local gems, and it’s also further away from the main sights. Neither is a bad thing, especially if you’re close to one of the main metro stops. You’ll find an entire little city right in this pocket of Barcelona with still plenty of things to do like Parc Güell, Casa Vicens, and Mercat de l’Abaceria. Keep in mind that accommodations are more limited here if you do choose to stay.

Best Hotels in Gràcia:

  1. Casa Bella Gràcia ($$) — for rooms that fit many group sizes
  2. Be Mate Paseo de Gràcia ($$) — for an apartment rental
  3. Hotel Ronda Lesseps ($) — for a budget, cute stay
  4. Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel ($) — for a budget, well-designed stay

My Favorite Spots in Gràcia

While I already mentioned Bar Mut, Gràcia has a few other dining gems. Don’t skip La Brillantina for a hidden gem known for Latin-American food. Omu has your onigiri covered, and La Xula Taperia is a popular tapas choice.

I’m not as familiar with the coffee in this area, but I do have Syra Coffee and Mollo Coffee on my list for next time — both look amazing. Part of the Gràcia charm is the neighborhood itself — so go for a stroll and use Gaudi’s Casa Vicens (worth a tour) as a starting point.

One last thing you can’t miss is Gaudi’s Park Güell. I always go for first light and get the place to myself, tickets are required to get to the top.

For Proximity to The Beaches: Barceloneta

Barceloneta, the neighborhood with a strong Catalan spirit and where I called home for several months. I love this neighborhood, probably not for a first-time visit, but for a more local feel. You’re a short walk to the Barceloneta beach, it’s primarily residential, and there are some excellent local tapas bars.

Barceloneta is the spot to stay if you don’t mind a bit more time getting to the other sights and still being close to the water. You’re never too far from the beach. The hotels here are not plenty but a few that stand out as an option.

Best Hotels in Barceloneta

  1. Hotel Arts Barceloneta ($$) — for an elevated stay
  2. Sofitel Barcelona Skipper ($$) — for a resort stay
  3. W Barcelona ($$$) — for right on the beach

My Favorite Spots in Barceloneta

Barceloneta was my home when living in Barcelona so I’m going to give you the low-down on this part. There’s not necessarily a ton to do in the neighborhood in terms of sights — I would pass through for a bite and make my way to the beach if that is your thing.

Bar Jai-Ca (tapas) and Montolio Can Maño (seafood) are both worthy of a meal, I’d eat at any one of these two and they’re close together. I’d get on a plane for La Xampanyeria (Can Paixano) and their house cava and lomo con queso sandwiches. The Green Spot is a favorite for vegetarian food, it’s so beautiful and reservation is required. And down at the base of the W Barcelona, is Peix Vala, my go-to for paella in Barcelona.

For a Neighborhood Feel: El Raval

Where to Stay in Barcelona

El Raval is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood in the heart of Barcelona, Spain. It’s known for its eclectic atmosphere, a fascinating blend of cultures, from historic narrow streets and traditional markets to contemporary art galleries and trendy boutiques. El Raval is home to the iconic contemporary art museum, MACBA, one of those must-sees in Barcelona.

Additionally, its easy access to the bustling Plaça de Catalunya, La Rambla, and the historic Gothic Quarter makes it an excellent starting point for exploring the city. So it’s worth considering being in this area if you’re looking for some vibrant city life with a neighborhood feel.

Best Hotels in El Raval

  1. Hotel Regina ($) — for best low-cost historic hotel
  2. Antigua Casa Buenavista ($$) — for best design neighborhood hotel
  3. Hotel 1898 ($$) — for the best stylish stay with a rooftop hotel

My Favorite Spots in El Raval

I didn’t spend as much time here as I did in the other neighborhoods unless I was coming to Flax&Kale for brunch or dining somewhere like Suculent. El Raval is home to the MACBA, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, which is worth a visit.

There is a Rambla” of El Raval, which allows you to walk down a palm-lined street, and it is very scenic. Along the way, you could pre-book tickets to visit Gaudí’s Palau Güell as well.

For Off-the-Beaten-Path: El Poble Sec

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Poble Sec, nestled at the foot of Montjuïc Hill in Barcelona, is a neighborhood brimming with charm and character. Known for its relaxed and authentic ambiance, it offers a respite from the bustling city center while still being accessible to the rest of the city.

I only came over to Poble Sec really to enjoy the culinary scene — some of the best tapas bars, traditional Catalan eateries, and trendy restaurants are over here. The neighborhood is also home to several cultural gems, including the historic El Molino cabaret theater, which has hosted world-famous artists, and the Fundació Joan Miró, dedicated to the renowned Catalan artist Joan Miró.

With its welcoming atmosphere, cultural richness, and proximity to both Montjuïc Park and the city center, Poble Sec is a hidden gem for visitors seeking an authentic Barcelona experience.

Best Hotels in El Poble Sec

  1. Hotel Brummell ($$) — for the best-elevated hotel
  2. Hotel Miramar Barcelona ($$$) — for best resort-style hotel
  3. INNSiDE by Meliá Barcelona Apolo ($$) — for best larger rooms

My Favorite Spots in El Poble Sec

When I made my way to El Poble Sec, it was almost always for tapas at Quimet & Quimet. It’s such a fun spot you can’t miss in Barcelona. The neighborhood doesn’t have a ton going on so keep this in mind when you make your way.

Afterward, I’d go up to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Catalan Museum of Archaeology, and then the Jardins de Joan Maragall. The views from the very top are pretty spectacular of Barcelona on a clear day. It’s great for getting steps in, as it’s quite the climb.

Other restaurants I love between Poble Sec and Sant Antoni are Bar Ramon for tapas and Món Viêt for Vietnamese.

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Where to Stay in Barcelona: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels 2024

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