Where to stay in Barcelona – What are the best areas/places? The old city, Ciutat Vella, consists of four smaller neighbourhoods: Barri Gòtic, El Raval (the former Barri Xinès), Barceloneta and La Ribera / El Born. The main artery is the famous pedestrian street, Las Ramblas, connecting Plaça de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus column.
North of Ciutat Vella you have the architecturally fascinating Eixample district with its eye-catching urban grid layout and renowned Modernist architecture – and even further north the bohemian Gràcia featuring charming little cafés, local ambience and a vibrant nightlife in the Plaça del Sol. It is also in this neighbourhood you will find Gaudí’s eye-catching Parc Güell.
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What is the best area to stay in Barcelona?
Barcelona is surrounded by mountains, and to the east of central Barcelona, right above El Poble Sec, the former lower-class area – today a popular district, Montjuïc, rises with all its attractions. On the other side the city is bounded by the mountain Tibidabo featuring an amusement park on the very hilltop. Finally, to the east you will reach El Poblenou and the modern Vila Olímpica, constructed for the 1992 Olympic Games.
So how to decide which neighbourhood / where to stay in Barcelona when visiting the Catalan capital – what are the best places, hotels and areas to pick for your visit – whether you are a first-time visitor, travel as a family or are on a budget? Below you will find some of our favourite neighbourhoods, areas and places to stay in Barcelona – described by district.
If you want to stay in the midst of the narrow and intricate medieval streets in Barcelona in one of the places strongly dominated by Gothic-style architecture, one of your best options will be the areas to the right of Las Ramblas – where you will find authentic Gothic constructions a bit everywhere. The ambience is fabulous here – and so it the acoustics in the squares when you listen to the local musicians playing! Take a stroll on Las Ramblas for people-watching and ‘feel’ the vibe and the Catalan way of life!
Las Ramblas is the generally crowded plane tree-lined boulevard separating the two neighbourhoods El Raval on the left-hand side and the Barri Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter, on the right-hand side. A stroll along Las Ramblas is often entertaining since it is Barcelona’s vibrant and lively pedestrian street featuring both flower sellers and human statues posing for a photo and a few coins.
The Barri Gòtic neighbourhood is also one of the best places in Barcelona where you can stay conveniently in the shadow on a warm summer day in one of the small hidden plazas – apparently appearing out of nowhere – when you least expect it. Other spectacular and larger squares include the picturesque and popular Plaça Reial and the Plaça de Sant Jaume, flanked by local governmental buildings: the Ajuntament de Barcelona, the City Council, and the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, seat of the Presidency of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
Moreover, it is a great neighbourhood to spend half a day just strolling around, visiting a museum, exploring the small shops, enjoying a Catalan meal in one of the numerous restaurants and finally discovering the local nightlife and bars!
Hostal Fernando is located 100 m from Las Ramblas and the historic Plaça Sant Jaume. The hostel offers air-conditioned rooms with private bathroom, TV and safe, as well as dormitories with free Wi-Fi.
Catalonia Portal de l’Angel is a hotel set in a traditional 19th-century building, located between Plaza de Catalunya and Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It offers a daily buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi and an outdoor pool surrounded by painted murals.
Catalonia Port is located in the Gothic quarter and has a gym and a sun terrace with a small seasonal outdoor pool. The hotel features a restaurant with seasonal Mediterranean cuisine. A free tea service, with drinks and finger food is available late afternoon.
This may be one of the best places if you want to stay in the historic neighbourhoods / areas in Barcelona where you can still feel the soul and the spirit of medieval times! The Ribera neighbourhood offers great Gothic architecture combined with museums, culture and top-notch bar and restaurant options.
La Ribera / El Born can be found east of the Gothic Quarter. Here you will arrive at another imposing cathedral, namely the Catalan Gothic basilica Santa Maria del Mar or ’Saint Mary of the Sea’, built in the 1300s under the Kingdom of Aragon. In recent times it became known worldwide thanks to the novel ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ by Ildefonso Falcones.
Another attraction in La Ribera is the Museo Picasso in Montcada Street. It is a world-class museum housed in five adjoining medieval palaces – exhibiting more than 4,200 Picasso works – to a large extent from around 1900! The museum also features the complete series (58 paintings) of the famous Las Meninas.
Hostal Nuevo Colon is located in the historic Born neighbourhood, near Ciutadella Park and a short walk from Barceloneta Beach, as well as the Picasso Museum. The hostel has free WiFi and 24-hour reception.
There is a choice between rooms with en suite or shared bathroom, and some rooms come with a balcony.
Ciutat de Barcelona is located only 100 m from the Picasso Museum. It has an outdoor rooftop pool, air-conditioned, soundproofed rooms with free WiFi and flat-screen TVs. The hotel has a tapas-style restaurant with a breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner.
H10 Port Vell 4* Sup is a 4-star hotel set in a historic building near Port Vell Harbour and features a rooftop terrace with a plunge pool as well as panoramic views of the area. Rooms are air-conditioned, include a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a minibar and a Nespresso coffee machine.
Would you like to be near the beach in a former fisherman’s neighbourhood? Then you may want to stay in Barceloneta, the old fishing and seaside village in Barcelona where you can still today feel a bit of the old maritime atmosphere. At the same time the seaside area has – as part of the 1992 Olympic Games preparations – been converted into a splendid and lively city beach. So if your dream is to combine a city break in Barcelona with a beach holiday – maybe if you travel as a family, your best option may well be to stay in one of the hotel places around Barceloneta.
The triangular district of rectilinear streets squeezed in between the Rambla de Mar (Barcelona’s Port Vell) and the Port Olímpic, saw the day of light when Barcelona had to redesign the old neighbourhoods for the Olympic Games of 1992. The old traditional fisherman’s district was therefore turned into a modern beach area with bars and seafood restaurants to meet the demand for the Olympics. Unfortunately, the fishermen’s houses and public baths disappeared with this new beach district approach.
La Barceloneta is the perfect place to try some fresh fish, paella or the seafood dish fideuà in Barcelona!
Residencia Universitaria Campus del Mar is excellently located in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, 200 m from the beach. The residence features a fitness centre and free WiFi in rooms and public areas. Rooms come with a kitchen area with a microwave and tea/coffee facilities. There is a library area, a games room, snooker & table tennis, a laundrette and private parking.
Hotel 54 Barceloneta is a design hotel located in Barcelona’s beachfront area of Barceloneta and features a stylish terrace overlooking the port. It offers a 24-hour reception, free Wi-Fi and air-conditioned rooms with a smart TV.
Hotel Arts Barcelona is a design hotel overlooking Barceloneta Beach and Barcelona city centre that has 2 outdoor pools and luxury spa providing panoramic city views. The hotel features a contemporary art collection and a restaurant with 2 Michelin stars in addition to a number of other bars and restaurants, including a pool-side bar serving light meals in the summer.
You will stay in the Eixample areas in Barcelona to experience great architectural works by the famous Modernist architect Antoni Gaudí – for instance near Passeig de Gràcia where you will be best located for his renowned places Casa Milà and Casa Battló which were constructed as residential buildings in the special Catalan Modernist style. Also Gaudí’s world-famous unfinished church La Sagrada Familia is situated in this neighbourhood, so staying in Eixample will make it easy to discover the works of the most eminent Catalan Modernist architect.
In Eixample you will get a firsthand impression of the spectacular grid pattern proposed and designed by Cerdà – which was Barcelona’s grand expansion project at the end of the 19th century.
The Eixample district was designed by Ildefons Cerdà as the contribution to a development plan for Barcelona towards the end of the 1800s to get rid of a range of sanitary problems in the city. The Catalan name Eixample means expansion, and the project was an expansion of the city with a grid of avenues where house blocks were built in octagonal ‘manzanas’, leaving room for spacious squares in between. You will probably know the layout of the streets and building structures from aerial photos of this part of Barcelona with the diagonal street ‘Diagonal’ cutting right through.
In the right part of Eixample you will find the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s world-famous masterpiece of a basilica, built on a religious background and with religious motives – again including elements from nature and complex geometric natural curves. At his death it was far from completed – and still is not, but construction works continue and the basilica is intended to end up with 18 towers – one for each of the 12 apostles, one for each of the evangelists and the last two for Virgin Mary and Jesus.
Don Moustache Boutique Hostel offers dorms and rooms, and has a central location within 10 minutes’ walk of Girona Metro Station, Gran Vía Avenue and Passeig de Gràcia. Famous Gaudí houses are within walking distance. Breakfast with hot drinks and fruit.
Hotel Barcelona Center is 400 m from Passeig de Gràcia, and a 10-minute walk from Plaza Catalunya. Free access to the sauna, small gym and rooftop hydromassage tub. The hotel features a traditional Spanish restaurant.
Ayre Hotel Rosellón is located just 200 m from Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia and has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the basilica. It has an elegant restaurant and a café. A varied buffet breakfast is served each morning. The hotel is conveniently close to a metro station.
Among the popular neighbourhoods – if you would like to enjoy some of the best outdoor places and parks in Barcelona – a bit away from the bustling city, you may opt to stay at the Montjuïc mountain. Here you will find a number of facilities used for the 1992 Olympic Games, the museum-like Poble Espanyol village with building styles from all over Spain, the Botanical Garden and a number of other fabulous museums, among others counting the Fundació Joan Miró.
For the most vibrant surroundings you may opt to stay at the foot of the mountain around El Poble Sec, a multicultural non-touristy and authentic neighbourhood with local and inexpensive tapas bars and eateries.
‘Poble Sec’ means ‘dry village’ and was the name given to the neighbourhood since it had no water source at all until the late 1800s. El Poble Sec used to be one of Barcelona’s lower-class areas beyond the city walls. However, this changed with the construction of Eixample and the new urban planning. Successful artists now discovered the neighbourhood and quite a few theatres were established along the avenue Parallel for entertainment, cabarets and other innovative shows. Also today there are plentiful bars, clubs and a diverse cultural scene with theatres such as El Molino, La Ciutat del Teatre and Mercat de les Flors in the area.
From El Poble Sec you can hike up the Montjuïc mountain, or alternatively take the funicular (or cable car). To reach the hilltop you can also start at the Plaça d’Espanya, the beautiful square with the remarkable fountain built for the International Exhibition in 1929, providing a music and colour show, Font Màgica, and continue from there on foot up the hill.
On Montjuïc you have the chance to visit the former Olympic Stadium from the 1992 Summer Olympics, the scenic Botanical Garden, Montjuïc Castle, likewise providing stunning views, the world-famous Fundació Joan Miró with great works by the renowned artist, as well as the Poble Espanyol, the village with architectural styles from different regions in Spain.
Hotel Brick Barcelona is ideally located in the Sants-Montjuïc district of Barcelona, and is set 700 m from Magic Fountain of Montjuic, 2.3 km from Montjuïc. Rooms come with a private bathroom and a flat-screen TV. A daily buffet breakfast is available.
Hotel Miramar Barcelona GL has a picturesque setting in a former palace within gardens on Montjuïc Mountain, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel offers 2 swimming pools, free Wi-Fi and rooms with panormic views. There is an on-site fitness centre, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna & steam room. The restaurant serves a selection of Catalan and Mediterranean dishes.
Do you want to stay near the best leisure opportunities and recreational places in Barcelona where you can take both active part in beach activities and water sports, as well as chill out in the surrounding seaside areas? Would you like to have plentiful options to enjoy a meal and a drink in a restaurant overlooking the sea? In this case La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou may be one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona. At the Olympic Marina you will have more than 40 bars and restaurants to choose between!
La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou, known as merely La Villa Olímpica, was constructed in the beginning of the 1990s to house the athletes for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games.
The neighbourhood El Poblenou used to be an industrial and working-class district with numerous factories and residential buildings for the workers. After the gentrification the district has become popular among both young people and artists. The modern structures and surroundings include shopping centres, restaurants, bars, discos and lovely green spaces in addition to the attractive beachfront.
The Port Olímpic is the port side of the neighbourhood. Here you can do all kinds of water sports and sailing activities. Featuring a wealth of restaurants, tapas bars and top-notch discos, it is today a popular place in Barcelona to go out near the beach!
An iconic landmark at the Port Olímpic is El Peix by Frank Gehry from 1992 – a giant goldfish sculptural work at Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta raised above La Vila Olímpica.
ibis Styles Barcelona City Bogatell is located 900 m from Port Olímpic with all its restaurant options – and features private parking, free WiFi access, an outdoor pool, a bar, bike hire and a children’s playground.
ZT The Golden Hotel Barcelona features a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and terrace, a restaurant, free WiFi and buffet breakfast. The hotel is located 1.5 km from the vibrant Port Olímpic and only 1.4 km from the Sagrada Familia.
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Where to Stay in Barcelona – The 6 Best Areas, Neighbourhoods & Places
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona Best Places to Stay – Areas & Neighbourhoods
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