Where To Stay in Barcelona - The Ultimate Guide

The Plum Guide team share their suggestions for where to stay in Barcelona if you're a first time visitor.

Find expert tips, here on Plum Guide. From where to stay, what to eat, and what to see in some of the world’s finest cities. Find expert-approved homes too: Plum Guide is a collection of the very best vacation rentals in the world, approved by our expert Home Critics after a rigorous 150 point test.


When it comes to European hotspots, Barcelona is sizzling. In fact, if cities were people, Barcelona would be that friend of a friend who you really want to hate because they’re good at, like, everything, but can’t because they’re actually the sweetest person ever.

Barcelona is truly a ‘jack of all trades’ kind of city. From beach bars and luxury rooftops to independent art galleries and world-famous museums, there’s really nothing Barcelona can’t do. We’d say there are few cities in the world that are this multifaceted without feeling over the top. Perhaps this is why a whopping 32 million people visited Barcelona last year alone. 

Follow our guide to decide where to stay in Barcelona so you can truly immerse yourself in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Where To Stay in Barcelona

Gothic Quarter

low angle view of orange painted building

For those looking for the quintessential Barcelona experience, the Gothic Quarter (also called Barri Gòtic or ‘Gothic’) does not disappoint. This is where you’ll find sites of the old Roman village that previously stood where Barcelona is now. Everything is old—we’re talking buildings and cobbled streets here.

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:  

Sightseeing, pedestrian-only streets, major museums, nightlife.

Charming

"the Gothic Quarter is instantly charming, with its narrow cobbled alleyways, hidden courtyards and crumbling buildings."


A TYPICAL DAY IN THE GOTHIC QUARTER: 

When it comes to where to stay in Barcelona, most travellers choose Gótico and for good reason. For a first time visitor, the Gothic Quarter is instantly charming, with its narrow cobbled alleyways, hidden courtyards and crumbling buildings.

Pay a visit to the Barcelona Cathedral. Constructed between the 13th to 15th centuries, it’s a major architectural wonder. Religious affiliation aside, it is simply stunning. 

When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the tapas bars overlooking the cathedral if you enjoy a street performance, or two. If not, wander into some of the further alleys for a quieter experience and lower prices.

In the evening, the shops close and the bars open. Carrer de Salomo Ben Adret is quite the street, and not just because it’s home to the Ancient Synagogue. Start with a decadent meal at La Alcoba Azul, then wine at La Vinateria del Call. Listen to live music at IDEA bar.

Born

In many ways, Born (of El Borne) has it all. Walking just 10 minutes leads you to the beach in one direction, the Barcelona Cathedral in another, and Ciudadela Park in a third. You can truly feast like a king here, with the dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes at your doorstep. Sightsee by day and bar hop in search of the best mojito by night.

Secret Bar Alert!

Check out the "secret bar", Paradiso.

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:  

Sightseeing, restaurants, bar culture and easy access to the beach.

A TYPICAL DAY IN EL BORNE: 

From a glance, Born looks a whole lot like Gótico, and the two neighbourhoods definitely share a lot of characteristics. That said, there are a few things that really stand out in Born.

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is truly a sight to behold. It was built between 1329 and 1383 and is a shining example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Across the street, you have your pick of restaurants offering both indoor and outdoor seating.

When you’re all shopped out (there are some really unique boutiques in Born), grab some ‘pintxos’ at Sargardi and then bar hop to some of the more upscale spots like the 'secret' bar Paradiso. Head to DUX for the best gin and tonic of your life (probably).

Raval

If there’s any Barcelona neighbourhood having a moment right now, it’s Raval. It’s one of the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods, as well as one of its more art focused. Today, lots of young millennials and expats are flocking to the area in droves.

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE: 

Gritty flair, street art, quirky bars and perusing vintage shops.

A TYPICAL DAY IN EL RAVAL: 

In terms of location, Raval is pretty central. In about 10 minutes, you’ll reach La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrianised street with vendors selling everything from fresh flowers to gelato. La Boqueria public market is a must-see (and eat)!

Street art aside, Raval is home to the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Even the small shops have an element of artistry to them. Take Grey Street Barcelona for example - everything from jewellery and Tarot cards to ceramics and textiles are well-thought.  

La Barceloneta 

green palm trees under blue sky

Beach bums looking for where to stay in Barcelona will find their ‘home away from home’ in the Barceloneta. As part of Ciutat Vella, the nearest neighbourhoods are Gothic, Raval and Born. During the summer months, Barceloneta is filled to the brim with sunbathers, swimmers and shoppers.

Plenty to keep you busy

"The Catalan History Museum is a unique way to soak in the local culture while Sant Miquel del Port church showcases baroque-style architecture."

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE: 

The beach, outdoor fitness, beachfront dining and party vibes.

A TYPICAL DAY IN LA BARCELONETA:

While most people associate the Barceloneta with the beach—and rightfully so—there’s plenty of off-sand activities too. The Catalan History Museum is a unique way to soak in the local culture while Sant Miquel del Port church showcases baroque-style architecture.

If you’re in the mood to party, don’t move a muscle - you’re already here. Watch the sun go down from the Catalan History Museum rooftop—there’s an area that’s free to anyone who doesn’t feel like ordering an expensive cocktail. Party the night away at the W Hotel’s Eclipse bar, a whole 26 floors high in the sky.

Eixample

aerial view photography of city

If you need a break from the crumbling yet charming cobbled streets of Ciutat Vella, Eixample is a nice reprieve with its grid-like organisation and broad avenues. There are two main areas: Eixample Esquerra (left) and Eixample Dreta (right) and within these two there are a few sub-neighbourhoods such as Sant Antoni, Antiga Esquerra and Nova Esquerra exist.

Sagrada Familia

"Feast your eyes on lavish designs made of wood, stone, ceramic, leaded glass and even wrought iron."

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:

High-end fashion, nightlife, and easy access to Gracia to the north and Gótico to the south.

A TYPICAL DAY IN EIXAMPLE:

The Eixample district is huge compared to other Barcelona areas. It’s no wonder it used to be its own separate city. Known for its grid-like organisation, sunny skies and diverse collection of shops, restaurants and nightlife, Eixample is easily one of the most sought after districts to live and work.

A day in Eixample can be crazy packed or more chilled. Sagrada Familia is a must. We recommend booking your ticket in advance to beat the queue. As detailed as the facade is, the inside of the building is equally impressive. Feast your eyes on lavish designs made of wood, stone, ceramic, leaded glass and even wrought iron.

For shopping and eating, Passeig de Gràcia is a great starting point. It’s similar to Rambla de Catalunya but more upscale and less crowded. Here, you’ll find award-winning restaurants like Etapes and Instagrammable cafes such as Brunch & Cake. Plus, nearly every designer imaginable has a store within a couple of blocks.

Sagrada Familia

low angle photography of castle

Named after Antoni Gaudí’s famous unfinished masterpiece, this family-friendly neighbourhood would feel a bit more residential if it didn’t house the city’s most iconic monument drawing in swathes of tourists. That said, there is plenty of shopping, eating and rooftop-hopping fun to be had.

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:

Views of the Sagrada Familia, delicatessens and local food markets.

A TYPICAL DAY IN SAGRADA FAMILIA:

Looking at a map, you’ll find Sagrada Familia in an almost perfect square - the other 3 of the 4 sides are Avinguda Diagonal, Carrer del Dos de Maig and Carrer de Nàpols. While unfinished, the Sagrada Familia basilica is so tall that it instantly serves as a reference point when navigating the barrio. In short, it’s next to impossible to get totally lost.

There are quite a few delicatessens here, ranging from butchers to chocolatiers. Go local by trying the Catànies, a traditional Catalan snack of roasted and caramelised almonds and topped with chocolate. For more foodie fun, check out the colourful local food markets in neighbouring El Clot.

Sant Antoni

While Sant Antoni technically belongs to the Eixample district, it deserves its own spotlight. Home to museums, historical monuments and some delicious eateries, this ‘quiet’ neighbourhood makes a lot of noise in the local food scene.

Sant Antoni Glories

Try the Pop “Al Espeto”, skewers of prawns that are a Plum Guide favourite!

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:

A quieter vibe, culinary culture, vermouth bars.

A TYPICAL DAY IN SANT ANTONI:

Book worms, take note! Sant Antoni has an entire market of antique books. Every Sunday, sift through second hand books, vintage posters, and postcards. There are also quite a few design stores and art galleries, like the Escalera de Incendios (fire escape ladder) that is part gallery, part coworking space, and part art agency.

Food-wise, you’re in for a real treat (no pun intended!). Besides the Sant Antoni Market, there are some really good tapas bars like Sant Antoni Glories. For drinks, try Fàbrica Moritz for beer or one of the area’s vermouth bars. Bar Olimpia on Carrer de l’Aldea is a great place to start, partly because the building used to be a circus theatre and the interior, while updated, still has a 1940’s vibe.

Gracia

group of people walking near brown church

If you’re looking for a small town feel inside a big and bustling city, Gracia is your go-to. Great for families and solo travellers alike, you’ll quickly fall in love with the quaint courtyards, designer boutiques, and some fairly stunning cityscape views.

But what if it rains?

"For a local experience, head to one of Gracia’s theatres, like Teatre Lliure. It’s the perfect excuse to learn some Catalan or escape the rain on the very slim chance you’ll get any."

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE: 

A quiet alternative to Ciutat Vella, fashion, and easy access to Park Güell.  

A TYPICAL DAY IN GRACIA:

This neighbourhood with a village feel will instantly put any overwhelmed tourist at ease. With its narrow pedestrian walkways, cafe culture and artsy feel, it’s no wonder Gracia is such a coveted place to live, work and play.

Start your morning with an early visit to Gaudí’s Park Güell - you’ll beat the heat and the crowds. Come lunchtime, snag an outdoor table in Plaza del Sol or one of Gracia’s other 14 plazas. Work off your meal with a stroll down Carrer Verdi, where many of the neighbourhood’s top boutiques line the street.

For a local experience, head to one of Gracia’s theatres, like Teatre Lliure. It’s the perfect excuse to learn some Catalan or escape the rain on the very slim chance you’ll get any.

Plaça España

Museum, Historically, Architecture, Building, Barcelona

Plaça d'Espanya is located just outside the city centre yet still easily accessible to anywhere via metro or bus. You'll find great value for money here, as prices are on the more affordable side. Plaça d'Espanya is also a great option if you're looking for where to stay in Barcelona for families. After all, it’s got the Magic Fountain!

Did someone say magic?

You can't visit Barcelona without heading to Plaça d'Espanya to see the Magic Fountain.

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:

Music and light shows, museums, historic landmarks.

A TYPICAL DAY IN EL PLACA ESPANA:

Most people head to Plaça for the Magic Fountain music and light show, but there’s much more to this plaza than meets the eye. Art lovers will gravitate toward the Palau Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), which, aside from the art itself, is one of the best spots for viewing the Magic Fountain show.

The Magic Fountain show (along with Caixa Forum) offers free entrance. This way, you can save up for the entrance ticket to Poble Espanyol, a somewhat odd village of houses built to display the various architectural styles seen throughout Spain. 

Last night in town? Don’t leave without toasting to a great trip from the top of Montjuïc.

El Poble-Sec

Located just south of the main tourist thrust, Poble-Sec is a hip haven for foodies and art lovers alike. What many people don’t know about this neighbourhood is that it’s home to several theatres that first popped up shortly after the Civil War.

Theatre Gold Mine

"El Molino is known for musical performances as well as flamenco, burlesque and cabaret while Teatre Condal specialises in comedy."

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE: 

Theatre, parks, coworking, and ‘pintxos’.

A TYPICAL DAY IN POBLE-SEC:

Located in the Sants-Montjuïc district of Barcelona, Poble-Sec is far enough removed from the crowded streets of Ciutat Vella, yet culturally significant enough to attract a local community of artists and other creatives.

Theatre is very prevalent here, with some dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. El Molino is known for musical performances as well as flamenco, burlesque and cabaret while Teatre Condal specialises in comedy.

Carrer Blai is one of the most popular food streets in all of Barcelona, thanks to its tapas culture and with ‘pintxos’ as low as 1 euro each. A ‘pintxo’ is a small and delicious disk of bread, served with different toppings like cheese, meat and fish.

El Poblenou

woman standing on road near concrete arch at daytime

This former industrial district is all the rage right now. It’s had a complete makeover in the last few decades. Even today, there’s a good amount of construction happening. It’s the go-to spot in Barcelona for that buzzy startup culture.

Top Tapas

"For food and drinks, have your pick of tapas bars along Rambla del Poblenou. Try the patatas bravas at Monopol or fusion tapas at El 58."

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:

Co-working, the beach, showrooms, and artistic spaces.

A TYPICAL DAY IN POBLENOU:

Kickstart your day in Poblenou with a crash course in art and design. The Design Museum of Barcelona focuses on four design types: space, product, information, and fashion. Then there’s Addicted to Life, an art gallery, shop and occasional bar.

For food and drinks, have your pick of tapas bars along Rambla del Poblenou. Try the patatas bravas at Monopol or fusion tapas at El 58. Beer lovers, order a pint at La Cervecita Nuestra De Cada Dia.

Once a month there’s the Palo Market Fest—not to be confused with the city of the same name in Silicon Valley—which brings together musicians, food vendors and local designers.

BEST FOR… 

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR FAMILIES: 

Poblenou.

Travelling with kids can be tricky, especially in really popular cities where there are queues for everything. One of the advantages of Poblenou is that it’s super accessible (and even walkable) to peaceful Parc de la Ciutadella—also great for kids—yet removed enough that it feels more suburban.

The beach is obviously a major perk of staying in Poblenou. While most tourists flock to Barceloneta, considerably fewer people wander to the beaches near Poblenou. Serious score for the introverts among us! In winter, there are some fairly good surfing waves.

In terms of green spaces, Parc del Centre del Poblenou is great for walking, biking or simply laying out in the grass. Similarly, Parc del Poblenou is a popular spot to practice sports and offers direct access to the beach. Alternatively, Parc Diagonal Mar features a large children’s play area and spans over 14 hectares.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR ROMANTIC GETAWAYS:  

Gracia.

It’s easy to feel a sense of romance in Gracia, what with the cosy corner bars, the quiet side streets and vibrant plazas. While Gracia is often touted as a family zone, it also attracts millennials and expats, many of whom live with their significant other.

A visit to Park Güell is a must. If your trip overlaps with a Friday, you have free access to the majority of the park. Sunsets are lovely from here (even lovelier from the nearby Bunkers) and it’s a nice way to wind down the day and gear up for a night out.

There are so many uniquely decorated restaurants and bars in Gracia, you’ll definitely feel like romance is in the air. Try Viblioteca for a wide choice of wines, or Old Fashioned Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar for.....you guessed it, a good ‘ole G&T!

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR ART LOVERS: 

Raval.

Art comes in many forms in Raval, and that’s all part of its offbeat, gritty vibe. Botero’s Cat has been a fixture in Ravel since its arrival in 2003. There is also a ton of street art in Raval.

While some of the street art is more recent, The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) has been open since 1995. Their permanent collection features 5,000 works of art dating all the way back to the mid-20th century.

The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) is adjacent to the MACBA and hosts exhibitions, festivals and more throughout the year. Then there’s the La Virreina Centre de la Imatge where art from some of Catalunya’s leading contemporary artists is showcased.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR YOUNG TRAVELLERS: 

Barceloneta.

Barceloneta appeals to the masses and for young travellers, it’s even more so. The former fisherman's quarters has had quite the makeover! Today, it’s one of the hippest places to party day and night. Early mornings are ideal for strolls along the water, as the high temperatures are at their lowest.

Being active is what Barceloneta is all about. At any given hour, you’ll see official and unofficial workouts going on, from cycling and volleyball to high-intensity interval training (HIIT). There are also lots of rollerbladers, dog walkers and bikers taking in the coastal views.

As for nightlife, all the big clubs are in Barceloneta: Opium, Pacha and Carpe Diem to name a few. The W Hotel is another popular hangout for hotel guests, locals and travellers. Prices are steep but the views are worth it.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR SIGHTSEEING: 

There is great sightseeing all over Barcelona, especially throughout Eixample and Gothic. The large district of Eixample includes several main attractions, such as Passeig de Gracia and the Sagrada Familia.

Also in Eixample is Casa Milà (closest to Diagonal metro), or “the stone quarry.” This was the last private residence that architect Antoni Gaudí built. You’ll also find Casa Batlló (closest to Passeig de Gracia metro), which is another of Gaudí’s most recognized masterpieces.

Plaça de Catalunya is kind of like the Times Square of New York or the Piccadilly Circus of London. As such, many luxury hotels are located here and offer stunning rooftop views to both guests and those popping in for drinks.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR NIGHT-LIFE: 

There are so many different types of nightlife in Barcelona, so it really depends on what suits your mood. The major clubs like Pacha and Opium are located on the beach in Barceloneta, while cocktail and wine bars are more common in Gothic and Born neighbourhoods.

When in Born, start out with dinner and drinks at La Vinya del Senyor. Tables overlook the Basílica Santa Maria del Mar and the wine list is 300+ bottles strong. Then head over to El Xampanyet, located near the Picasso Museum, for tapas and bubbly.

Eixample—particularly the L’Antiga Esquerra de L’Eixample area—is a prime spot for nightclubs. Dance to Latin beats at Mojito Club or listen to live music at Luz de Gas.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR WALKING: 

To be fair, you can cover most of the city on foot. The terrain is flat and many neighbourhoods are connected by major landmarks and attractions. That said, Ciutat Vella (comprised of Gothic, Born, Raval and Barceloneta) is the best for walking.

A walk through Parc de la Ciutadella (located closest to Born and Barceloneta) is food for the soul, especially after a long-haul flight. Constructed during the 19th century, the park has a small lake with little row boats available to the public, a fountain, greenhouse and plenty of green patches to take a lie on.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR WORK TRIPS: 

When deciding where to stay in Barcelona as a business traveller, it really depends on what industry you’re working in. For example, Les Corts is the main financial hub in Barcelona, whereas Poblenou has become a Mecca for startups and smaller Spanish agencies. Barceloneta—thanks to large hotels like the W—tends to attract a business traveller clientele also. 

In general, Born and Eixample are safe bets. They are super central and have no shortage of trendy restaurants to wine and dine your clients.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BARCELONA FOR FOODIES:  

Sant Antoni.

When it comes to foodie culture, Sant Antoni takes the cake (get it?). For starters, there’s the enormous Mercat de Sant Antoni, and it sells everything from meat and seafood to vegetables and juices.

Carrer Blai is where the best pintxo bars are located, with some pintxos as low as 1 euro. Craft beer is also a ‘thing’ in Poble-Sec, and many beer lovers head this way just for this. Abirradero offers 40 different beers, freshly tapped on-site. Prices are a bit more than the average Estrella but far less than you’d see in the UK.

FIND THE PERFECT PLACE TO STAY: BEST BARCELONA APARTMENTS


Stay in Paris and London's most beautiful homes

The Plum Guide finds, tests and reviews Paris and London's best holiday homes, so you don't have to.
Just 1 in 100 homes get the Plum stamp of approval.