Where to Stay in Barcelona First Time: Best Areas

In this blog post, I will help you to find Where to stay in Barcelona first time, best areas to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors (with a video and map). I’ll also give you the list of the best hotels in Barcelona for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed), and the safest places.

Founded as a Roman city in the Middle Ages, Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya that has a rich cultural heritage. It is today an important cultural center and a major tourist destination of Spain.

Located on the northeast coast of Spain looking out onto the Mediterranean, Barcelona is famous for its outstanding football team and the magnificent architecture of Antoni Gaudi, fabulous beaches, and amazing tapas.

The Barcelona International Airport El Prat is less than 10 miles distant from the city center. Connections into the center are good and regular. There is even a metro which adds to the ease of getting around Barcelona while the City Pass is a great benefit to tourists. 

🎬 You can watch this short video about the best areas in Barcelona, and continue reading for more detail of each area and places to stay:

Where to stay in Barcelona first time?

The best areas to stay in Barcelona for first-timers and tourists are Barri Gòtic, Placa De Catalunya, El Born, Eixample, El Raval, Poble Sec, and Barceloneta. These are central and popular locations, offering plenty of things to do and see.

Barri Gòtic is the best overall area to stay in Barcelona for first time due to its prime location and proximity to iconic attractions such as Barcelona Cathedral and La Boqueria Market. Staying here offers easy access to those sights, as well as some of the city’s best restaurants and shops.

Barcelona has a wide selection of accommodation options for all budget travelers, ranging from luxury 5-star hotels, to mid-range guest houses, apartments, and budget backpacker hostels.

Barcelona is overall a safe city but like in any tourist city, you should be aware of pickpocking, especially around tourist areas such as parts of El Raval, Gothic Quarter, and El Born.

The safest areas to stay in Barcelona are L’Eixample, Gràcia, and El Poblenou because they are the most affluent neighborhoods in Barcelona.

Where did I stay in Barcelona?

When I first visited Barcelona, I stayed for 5 nights at the mid-range Colón Hotel Barcelona. It had a prime location in the city center, right front of the grand Cathedral and a short walk from Plaza Catalunya. My room was lovely with views of the cathedral façade. Breakfast was amazing.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Barri Gòtic
💎 Best luxury hotel:Ohla Barcelona
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:H10 Cubik 4 Sup
💰 Best budget hotel:Hesperia Barcelona Barri Gòtic

Map of areas and neighborhoods in Barcelona:

Map of Best Areas & Neighborhoods in Barcelona for tourists
Map of Best Areas & Neighborhoods in Barcelona for tourists

Best areas to stay in Barcelona first-time tourists:

1. Barri Gòtic

Barri Gòtic, best area to stay in Barcelona for first-time tourists
 Gothic Quarter 

Barri Gòtic is the best area to stay in Barcelona for first-time travelers due to its central location and proximity to iconic attractions such as La Rambla, Barcelona Cathedral, and Plaça de Catalunya. It is also home to some of the city’s best hotels, restaurants, tapas bars, and shops.

Also known as the Gothic Quarter, it is the oldest area in Barcelona that has a rich history and vibrant atmosphere, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the city’s history and culture.

It is a medieval district and is the center of the Old Town (Ciutat Vella) where you’ll find charming examples Roman and Medieval-era architectures as it was built on the site of an old Roman village.

The area is packed with narrow and winding alleys, medieval buildings, Gothic architecture, and historic public squares. It is also a largely pedestrianized area with only a few roads used by car, so you can easily explore on foot and enjoy shopping.

The most prominent landmark is the Barcelona Cathedral (the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia). It was built in Gothic style with most of the construction done in the 14th century.

Barri Gòtic also offers easy access to the famous La Rambla, a long pedestrian street forming the boundary of Barri Gotic and El Raval. It’s home to La Boqueria Market, a covered market that was built in the middle of the 19th Century.

The neighborhood is bustling with activity day and night. It’s filled with charming squares, quaint cafes, trendy bars, and a wide range of shops. You’ll find a vibrant street life with street performers, musicians, and artists creating a lively and energetic atmosphere.

Mixed among old buildings are souvenir shops and pubs, a place with plenty of evening entertainment. The marina, the lower part of Barri Gotic, is especially popular at night.

The Gothic Quarter is home to many beautiful squares (plaças), including:

  • the Plaça de Sant Jaume (Saint James Square), situated in the middle of the Gothic Quarter, home to the City Hall and the Parliament of the Catalan Government, making it the city’s political and social center.
  • the Plaça del Rei (King’s Square), one of the most beautiful squares in the Old Town, built in the14th-century, in the reign of Martin of Aragon, in a Gothic style architecture.
  • the Plaça Reial (Royal Square), a lively area, especially at night. It is known as a busy nightlife hub, lined with streetlamps and palm trees, as well as restaurants and bars.

In addition to these popular squares, the Gothic Quarter is also home to other smaller squares such as the Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, Plaça Idrissa Diallo, and Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol.

Plaça del Rei is surrounded by important buildings such as the Royal Palace, Casa Clariana Padellás, Barcelona History Museum MUHBA, Palau del Lloctinent, and Capella de Santa Àgata.

History buffs can learn about Barcelona’s Jewish past at Barcelona’s old Jewish Quarter, El Call, where you can find the city’s narrowest streets, Centre d’Interpretacio del Call museum, Sinagoga Mayor old synagogue, as well as many restaurants, cafes, and shops.

There are so many other historical landmarks to visit in the Gothic quarter including the Church of Holy Mary of the Pine, Bishop Street Bridge, The World Begins with Every Kiss mural, and the Royal Artistic Circle.

Pablo Picasso spent several years of his youth in Barri Gòtic and studied at the prestigious art academy on Calle Avinyó. You can explore Picasso’s old stomping grounds here.

Gothic Quarter also offers good shopping opportunities, with lots of little boutiques and chocolate stores, especially around Calle Avinyo and Calle Portal de L’Angel, one of Barcelona’s biggest shopping streets.

Many bars, restaurants, grocers’ shops, and cafes can be found on Calle Ferran, a a walking street connecting the Ramblas and Plaça Sant Jaume.

Being so centrally located, Barri Gotic is the best area to stay in Barcelona for one night or four days. If you stay in this heart of the city, it will make the most of your visit.

You can explore Barri Gotic on foot (make sure to wear comfortable shoes) but there are also good public transport connections on the orange and the red metro lines.

The closest metro stops are Liceu or Jaume metro stations. The Barcelona City Pass is a great aid because it will allow you to see the City’s many highlights, remembering you have not got much time.

Barcelona is generally a safe city for travelers, and Barri Gòtic is no exception. It has a strong police presence, and the area is well-maintained and monitored, ensuring a safe and comfortable stay for visitors. But as with any popular tourist destination, it’s advisable to be cautious of pickpockets and keep an eye on your belongings.

Barri Gotic has a wide range of accommodations from budget to luxury. You will have plenty of choices for hostels, hotels, bed & breakfast, and rental apartments.

Stay in Barri Gòtic if you are first-time traveler; you want to be in the heart of Barcelona; you enjoy the atmosphere of an old city; you love the lively nightlife, also lots of sightseeing.

Best Places to Stay in Barcelona in Barri Gòtic for first-timers:

  • luxury ($$$): Serras Barcelona, 5-star boutique hotel that has an ideal location right opposite the sea in Gothic Quarter, featuring a rooftop infinity pool. It is within a short walk from Picasso Museum, Estaciò de França Railway Station, and Plaça Reial Square.
  • mid-range ($$): H10 Cubik 4 Sup, 4-star family-friendly hotel, located in central Barcelona, in Ciutat Vella, within walking distance from many important attractions of Barcelona.
  • budget ($): Hesperia Barcelona Barri Gòtic, great 3-star hotel, located in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, easy distance from the port, Barcelona Aquarium, Maremagnum Shopping Centre, and Las Ramblas.

See Also:

2. Placa De Catalunya

Placa De Catalunya, where to stay in Barcelona for many day trips
Ohla Barcelona/ Placa De Catalunya Barcelona

Placa De Catalunya (Plaza Catalunya) is often regarded as one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona, especially for first-time travelers because its central location makes it convenient for exploring different neighborhoods and attractions in Barcelona.

Plaça de Catalunya is the most central square and main transport hub of the city. It serves as a major transportation hub and is well-connected to various parts of the city through buses, metro lines, and trains on both the red and the purple lines.

It’s home to one of the city’s most important rail terminals, makes it incredibly convenient to stay if you planning to do many day trips from Barcelona to Girona and Montserrat Monastery.

Placa De Catalunya is the starting point of major thoroughfares including Las Ramblas, Ronda de Sant Pere, Portal de l’Àngel, and Passeig de Gracia and connects the Barri Gotic in the Old Town with the new town of Eixample.

Covering 50,000 square meters, this plaza is one of the largest squares in the country. It features fountains, statues, and trees, surrounded by flocks of pigeons and many of Barcelona’s most famous streets and attractions.

The artwork in the central square features a collection of Avant-Garde, Neo-Classicism, and Noucentisme pieces of sculptures, magic fountains, and surrounding monumental buildings, as well as beautiful mosaics adorning the walls of the underground sections.

Surrounded by large shopping malls, beautiful bars, cafes, and restaurants with outdoor seating, it is a fabulous place to sit and take in the beauty of the area. You will find huge department stores around the square like Habitat, El Corte Inglés, FNAC, and a popular Café Zurich.

Plaça de Catalunya is a bustling square that serves as a meeting point for locals and tourists alike. It offers a vibrant atmosphere with street performers, musicians, and lively crowds. This vibrant energy makes it an exciting place to stay and experience the lively spirit of Barcelona.

This square is also the location for demonstrations, festivals music concerts, outdoor markets, trade fairs, cultural events, sporting celebrations, and the world-renowned Setmana del Llibre en Català book fair in September.

Plaça de Catalunya is generally considered a safe area, with a significant presence of police and security personnel. Being a central and well-frequented location, it offers a sense of security, especially for first-time travelers.

The area around Placa De Catalunya has tons of accommodation options due to its popularity. There are range from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels and apartments.

Stay In Catalunya Plaza Barcelona If you are first-timers; you are traveling by train; you want to be located at the heart of the city; you travel with family;

Best places to stay in Barcelona’s Placa De Catalunya for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Ohla Barcelona , 5-star boutique hotel, great base for couples in Barcelona’s historic centre, close to Palau de la Música Concert Hall, Urquinaona Metro Station, the Cathedral and the Ramblas.
  • mid-range ($$): Olivia Plaza Hotel, 4-star hotel, located on Plaza Catalunya in central Barcelona, offering free Wi-Fi, and terrace bar with views of Santa Ana Church. It is close to Catalunya Metro Station and Ramblas with its many restaurants and street performers.
  • budget ($): Boutique Hotel H10 Catalunya Plaza, 3-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in Barcelona on a budget, set only a short distance from Las Ramblas. It provides easy access to Catalunya Metro and train stations, as well as Aerobus shuttle to Barcelona Airport.

See more about Spain:

4. El Born

El Born, best areas to stay in Barcelona for nightlife
Barcelona Church

El Born, is a popular area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife because it has a vibrant and trendy atmosphere with a great selection of bars, clubs, and live music venues. El Born’s central location allows for easy access to other popular nightlife areas of the Gothic Quarter and El Raval.

Part of the old city, back during the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century, the famous tree-lined promenade of Passeig del Born was the site where heretics were executed. Today, visitors will find plenty of trendy bars in its narrow streets.

Another popular street in El Born is the Carrer Montcada, where you can view medieval, renaissance, and baroque palaces where nobles lived in medieval periods.

It is noted for its narrow streets around the old Church of Santa Maria del Mar, where you can find plenty of lovely cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops. Shoppers will find plenty of ideas for presents and mementos while small galleries abound as well.   

A short walk from the cathedral, you can find El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, which was built as a indoor market in 1876, but was repurposed as the El Born Cultural and Memorial Centre to displays archeological remains of Ciutat del Born that were buried.

Some of the highlight attractions of El Born are:

  • the Picasso Museum, displaying more than 3,500 of the artist’s works.
  • the Parc de la Ciutadella, the city’s biggest urban park with plenty of things to do and see.
  • the Palau de la Musica Catalana, one of the world’s most beautiful concert halls.
  • the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, great example of Catalan Gothic architecture.
  • the Chocolate Museum, to learn about history of chocolate.
  • the Textile and costume Museum of Barcelona.
  • the European Museum of Modern Art, to see an exhibition of contemporary figurative art.
  • the Museum of World Cultures, to learn about art cultures from Asia, Africa, Oceania, and America.

If you want to experience the local daily life, you can take a visit to the lively Santa Caterina Market (Mercat de Sant Caterina), a neoclassical building with a metallic roof. It was the first covered market in the city, opened in 1848.

El Born has a vibrant nightlife scene with lots trendy cocktail bars and nightclubs such as La Fianna Cocktail Bar, El Xampanyet tapas Bar, and Clubhaus Barcelona restaurant.

This district has good metro connections and is just a short walk or metro ride from the heart of Barcelona. Barceloneta Beach can be reached by using the metro stop Barceloneta (yellow line L4) and the Barrio Gotico can be reached by using metro Jaume I (yellow line L4).

Due to its convenient location and well-connected to the public transport, El Born is one of the best area for first time travelers. Many of Barcelona’s top sights, such as the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, and Barceloneta Beach, are within walking distance.

El Born is considered a relatively safe neighborhood, particularly for tourists. It has a vibrant and welcoming community, and its central location ensures that there is a significant police presence. Nevertheless, it’s always important to exercise common sense and take basic precautions to ensure personal safety.

Some parts of El Born can be noisy into the early hours. If you do not see this as a problem, look closer. There is a good range of accommodation in El Born including 5-star luxury, boutique hotels, and good value for money guesthouses. 

Stay in El Born if you are first-timers; you want a great nightlife location; you want plenty of accommodation choices; you prefer to be central in Barcelona with easy access to the old town and the beach;

Best Places to Stay in Barcelona in El Born for first-timers:

  • luxury ($$$): Grand Hotel Central, 5-star design hotel, featuring rooftop infinity pool with views of the Gothic Quarter and Barcelona Cathedral. It is short walk from The Born district, full of stylish shops and restaurants.
  • mid-range ($$): K+K Hotel Picasso El Born, 4-star boutique hotel on Passeig Picasso, in front of Ciutadella Park. It offers easy access to Barceloneta and Jaume I Metro Stations, and regular buses to La Barceloneta’s beaches.
  • budget ($): Hotel del Mar, 3-star hotel, located within easy walk from the seafront, Barcelona’s França Train Station, Barceloneta Metro Station, and Ciutadella Park.

5. Eixample

Eixample, full of art nouveau and modernist buildings
Casa Mila

Eixample along with Gràcia and El Poblenou is generally regarded as a safe neighborhood in Barcelona. It has a well-maintained infrastructure, well-lit streets, and a significant police presence, providing a sense of security for visitors, especially those who may be unfamiliar with the city.

Eixample is an upscale residential neighborhood which was designed as an extension of the old town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is the newer neighborhood of the city, that starts from north of Plaça Catalunya spreading left and right of Passeig de Gràcia.

The urban plan of l’Eixample was based in a planned street grid with long wide avenues and square blocks. Part of Eixample is a wealthy residential area for those wanting to live close to the heart of Barcelona.

Eixample district has two main area including Esquerra de l’Eixample and Eixample Dreta by Passeig de Gràcia. The left side is home to Modernist Architecture, the labyrinth streets, Parc de Joan Miró, and the Arenas shopping mall which was built inside an old bullfighting ring on Plaza España.

Locally known as the Modernist Quarter, Eixample is dominated by Catalan Art Nouveau and Modernist buildings. Staying in this area allows you to immerse yourself in the unique charm of Barcelona’s architectural heritage, include:

  • the Sagrada Familia (Basilica de la Sagrada Familia), the most famous works in Barcelona of Antoni Gaudí. It is an UNESCO-listed site dominating the Barcelona skyline.
  • the Casa Batllo, designed by Antoni Gaudí.
  • the Casa Milà (La Pedrera), one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Casa Mila was the last residence designed by Antoni Gaudi and was completed just before World War I.
  • the Casa de les Punxes, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
  • Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau, designed by Lluis Domenech i Montaner.

You can learn all about the Catalan Art Nouveau and mots of famous artists from the modernist time at the Museu del Modernisme Català, located inside the neighborhood.

Eixample is a great place for shopping, you will find shopping spots in Sant Antoni, Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample, Passeig de Gràcia for high-end shopping with big brand like Chanel, MaxMara, Tiffany’s, and Burberry.

Eixample also has a thriving café culture, vibrant nightlife, and rich dining scene with several Michelin-starred restaurants, terrace coffee shops, trendy cocktail bars, and tapas bars.

The Eixample district is one of the best locations for first time visitors due to its central location, architectural beauty, convenient layout, diverse shopping and dining options, safety. 

You can easily explore on foot but there are also good public transport to yellow, purple and green lines, with few metro stops and the FGC train.

Eixample has plenty of accommodation options. It includes good budget options, boutique hotels, and luxury hotels.

Stay in Eixample if you are first-timers; you are a luxury traveler; you like shopping; you want to be are interested in the city’s finest Modernist architecture; you prefer a central location in a city; you want to be in a safe neighborhood.

Best Places to stay in Barcelona in Eixample for first-time visitors:

  • luxury ($$$): Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona GL, 5-star luxurious accommodation on Passeig de Gràcia, featuring a rooftop with amazing views of the city. Easy distance from Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas.
  • mid-range ($$): ICON BCN by Petit Palace, 4-star family-friendly boutique hotel located in central Barcelona, 5 minutes’ walk from Plaza Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia.
  • budget ($): Praktik Èssens, one of the best base in Barcelona for budget-concious travelers, located in Passeig de Gracia in central Barcelona, short walk from Casa Batllo and Tivoli Theatre.

See more: Where to Stay in Barcelona with Family

5. Passeig De Gracia

Passeig De Gracia, where to stay in Barcelona for luxury
Ona Hotels Mosaic / Passeig De Gracia Barcelona

The Passeig De Gracia is a Parisian-style avenue stretching from Plaça Catalunya to Carrer Gran de Gràcia. Known as the most expensive street in all of Spain, it is an incredibly important area for both business and shopping.

Home to some of the most prominent pieces of architecture in the city, many of the luxury shops and hotels are located in grand, historic buildings. This allows you to add an air of style and sophistication to every second of your trip.

This elegant avenue with lots of modernist buildings including the Gaudí Casa Batlló, La Casa Milà, casa Amatller, Casa Bonaventura Ferrer, Palau Robert, and Casa Lleó Morera.

History buffs can learn about perfume history at the Perfume Museum, while art lovers can take a look at the Alzueta Gallery. For an daily local life experience, head to the Mercat de la Concepció, (Flowers Market) at the heart of Eixample district.

There are plenty of quality restaurants around the area ranging from budget to fine dining. For a fine dining meal, check out Michelin star Oria Restaurant in the Monument Hotel.

Passeig De Gracia is well-connected public transportation. Numerous bus and train stations are located along the street. This is perfect for those traveling to the city by train, or anyone simply wanting a quick way to get around during their stay.

Passeig de Gracia is known for being a safe and well-monitored area, particularly due to its prominence and popularity among tourists. This can provide peace of mind, especially for first-time travelers.

Due to its convenient location, Passeig De Gracia has plenty choices in accommodations. You will be easy to find the luxury hotels in and around the street.

Stay In Passeig De Gracia If you want an upmarket neighborhood; you are traveling by train, you want to stay and shop in some of Barcelona’s most historic buildings.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in Passeig De Gracia:

  • luxury ($$$): ME Barcelona, great 5-star hotel, offering rooms for singles, couples, families, and group of friends. It is located close to Tivoli Theatre, Palau de la Musica Catalana and Portal de l’Angel.
  • luxury ($$$): Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, 5-star luxurious hotel, located on fashionable Passeig de Gràcia, a short walk of Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
  • luxury ($$$): Monument Hotel, 5-star hotel, in central Barcelona, short walk from from both Gaudi’s masterpieces Casa Battló and La Pedrera, and Paseo de Gracia Train Station with regular trains to Barcelona El Prat Airport.

6. El Raval

El Raval, vibrant multi-cultural neighborhood
Barcelona Museum

El Raval, also known as the Chinese neighborhood by locals, is the former red-light district, multicultural and cultural diversity neighborhood that is located on the left side of the famous La Rambla boulevard, between the Gothic Quarter and Poble Sec.

Some parts of the neighborhood used to have a poor reputation but that has largely changed although some petty crime still exists. It’s slowly gentrifying with many hipster cafes, cool tapas bars, restaurants, independent boutiques, and shops.

The neighborhood is also known for its lively nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants catering to different tastes and preferences.

El Raval’s streets are filled with an eclectic mix of trendy boutiques, vintage shops, art galleries, and alternative cultural spaces. You can find street art and graffiti murals adorning many walls, adding to the neighborhood’s artistic vibe.

There are several attractions and landmarks in the area, such as:

  • the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), has a collection of around 5,000 works dating from the 20th century
  • the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona.
  • Gran Teatre del Liceu,one of Europe’s most popular and leading opera houses, built in 1847.
  • the Maritime Museum (Museu Marítim), located in the Drassanes,
  • the Royal Dockyards of Barcelona
  • the Hospital de la Santa Creu, a bid complex of Catalan modernist architecture.
  • the Sant Pau del Camp Monastery, small Romanesque church.
  • the Palau Guell, Antoni Gaudí’s fine masterpiece.

One of the must do in El Raval, is visit the Mercat de la Boqueria (Mercat de Sant Josep), the world’s famous food market. It is recommended to visit early to avoid crows, and grab a meal at some of the places such as El Quim de La Boqueria and Pinotxo Bar.

El Raval is further emphasized by some of the best Asian cuisines in Barcelona; India, and Middle Eastern especially. There has been significant regeneration in Raval in recent years. It is still a highly populated district with some small industries, especially close to the dock area. 

El Raval is not the safest neighbourhood Barcelona, there are pick-pockets that you should be aware of. You should avoid walking alone in unlit alleys and take a good care of your belongings.

Stay in El Raval if you like hip and bohemian vibe; you enjoy a broad cultural mix, your taste in cuisine is broad, you prefer to be close to the middle of Barcelona.

Best Places to Stay in Barcelona in El Raval for first-timers:

  • mid-range ($$): Barceló Raval, 4-star design hotel, set in vibrant Raval district, offering a gym and a roof terrace with pool and panoramic views. Close to MACBA Modern Art Gallery and Liceu Metro Station.
  • mid-range ($$): Hotel Barcelona Universal, 4-star hotel, next to Parallel Metro Station, offering spacious rooms, as well as hot and cold buffet breakfast.
  • budget ($): Andante Hotel, 3-star hotel, great base for those on a budget, located in central Barcelona, close to Drassanes Metro Station and La Rambla. It offers free wifi, a small rooftop pool offering great views over Barcelona.

7. Barceloneta

Barceloneta, where to stay in Barcelona for beaches
Barceloneta Beach 

Barceloneta is a popular neighborhood in Barcelona, known for its sandy beaches and lively atmosphere. It can be a great place to stay, especially for first-time visitors and beach lovers, who want to enjoy the beach and have easy access to the city’s attractions.

The neighborhood was originally built to house the fishermen and their families, and it still retains its maritime character. You can explore the narrow streets and discover local shops, boutiques, and traditional seafood restaurants serving delicious paella and fresh seafood dishes.

The neighborhood contains four main beaches, Sant Sebastià Beach, Barceloneta Beach, Sant Miquel Beach near L’Estel Ferit, Somorrostro Beach next to the Port Olímpic. The beaches are great places to do sunbathing, swimming, or enjoying watersports.

Barceloneta offers a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars and restaurants, particularly around the beachfront area. If you enjoy lively evenings and being in the heart of the action, Barceloneta can be a good choice.

As the the former fishing village, Barceloneta is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the whole city. There are also plenty of bars and the paella. You must try Bomba, tapas made from potatoes and meat with a cold glass of beer is just as popular.

Families and children can spend a fun day at the Aquàrium Barcelona, the largest in Europe with 20 large tanks. A highlight is to walk through the clear tunnel beneath the sharks.

Another place to visit is Museu d’Història de Catalunya which is also on the quayside, and access to the viewing platform of the Columbus Monument to enjoy stunning views over the Mediterranean coast and the harbor.

You can also do shopping at the Maremagnum shopping center, take a cable car to Miramar gardens viewpoint, and watch a movie at the IMAX Theatre.

The neighborhood is also close to the La Rambla, and Ciutadella Park with its Barcelona Zoo, and the Gothic Quarter, where you can explore historic landmarks such as the Barcelona Cathedral and Plaça de Sant Jaume.

Accommodation prices in Barceloneta can be higher compared to other neighborhoods in Barcelona due to its popularity and beachfront location. Consider your budget and compare it with other areas to find the best fit for you.

Stay in Barceloneta if you are first-timers; you are a family; you wan to stay near the beach; you want a great choice of seafood restaurants;

Best places to stay in Barcelona in Barceloneta:

  • Luxury ($$$): W Barcelona, 5-star beachfront hotel, one of the best places to stay in Barcelona on the beach, offering fantastic views of the sea. The hotel has direct beach access.
  • mid-range ($$): H10 Port Vell 4* Sup, 4-star hotel, located in Barceloneta neighbourhood, easy walk from the beaches, Port Vell Harbour and Francia Railway Station.
  • Budget ($): Hotel 54 Barceloneta, 3-star hotel, located in Barcelona’s beachfront area of Barceloneta, within walking distance from Barceloneta Beach and , Barceloneta Metro Station, featuring a stylish terrace overlooking the port.

See more: Where to Stay in Barcelona near Beach

8. La Vila Olimpica

La Vila Olimpica, a modern neighborhood with beach in Barcelona
ibis Styles Barcelona City Bogatell/ La Vila Olimpica Barcelona

La Vila Olimpica is one of modern area, located in the Sant Martí district. It was built as the residential area for the athletes participating in the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona. After the games, the area was transformed into a residential neighborhood.

The Vila Olímpica is located along the coastline and is known for its beautiful beaches, modern architecture, and vibrant atmosphere. The most iconic feature of the neighborhood is the Olympic Port, which is a marina that offers a variety of water sports and activities.

You can find golden sandy beaches of Nova Icaria Beach and Bogatell Beach. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax, sunbathe, and enjoy the Mediterranean Sea. The beach is lined with restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it a vibrant area both during the day and at night.

Some of the most famous hotels and buildings in the city are also located here. Mapfre Tower and Hotel Arts are the two tallest buildings in the city, often called the twin towers of Barcelona. Below it, you can find a giant goldfish, La Dorada, sculpted by Frank O’ Gehry.

The Torre Mapfre is the city’s most famous skyscraper, designed by Iñigo Ortiz and Enrique de León, while the Hotel Arts and Casino Barcelona both provide options for guests to indulge during their stay.

On the outskirts of the neighborhood lies the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. This makes it a great choice for anyone who is considering studying at the university, or those who are visiting someone that already is.

Apart from the Vila Olimpica Centre shopping complex, you can find a large type of bars with terraces and open-air restaurants, mainly specializing in Catalan cuisine, seafood, tapas.

You can enjoy the fantastic views of the sea while sipping on a coffee on the small terraces. But for something completely different, visit Ice Bar Barcelona.

The neighborhood has good transportation links, including metro stations and bus lines, making it easy to access other parts of Barcelona. It is also within walking distance of other popular areas, such as the Gothic Quarter and the trendy neighborhood of El Born.

Stay In La Vila Olimpica If you want modern area; you want stay close to the beach; you are on family holiday; you want quieter beach location compared to the livelier Barceloneta.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in La Vila Olimpica:

  • luxury ($$$): Sofitel Barcelona Skipper, 5-star luxury located right next to Barcelona’s Olympic Port, easy distance from the beach and Ciutadella Vila Olimpica Metro Station.
  • mid-range ($$): ibis Styles Barcelona City Bogatell, 2-star family-friendly hotel, offering and outdoor pool and children’s playground, and bike rental services.
  • budget ($): Unite Hostel Barcelona, one of the best places to stay in backpackers, but also feature family rooms. Other facilities are a 24-hour front desk and a shared kitchen.

9. Gràcia

Gràcia, where to stay in Barcelona for long term travelers

Gràcia is the perfect place to stay in Barcelona on a budget because it offers affordable accommodation options, a vibrant local atmosphere, charming narrow streets, cozy cafes, lively squares, and a variety of affordable dining and shopping choices.

Located just north of the city center, about 2 km away from Plaça de Catalunya, Gràcia is bordered by the Eixample, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, and Horta-Guinardó.

It was a separate city in the 17th century, founded around the Our Lady of Grace Convent. Gracia joined with Barcelona in the 20th century but it has has managed to retain its distinct village-like character despite being part of a bustling city.

Gràcia has a distinct bohemian and local atmosphere. It offers a variety of independent shops, local markets, cafes, and restaurants that cater to different budgets. You can enjoy the neighborhood’s unique character without breaking the bank.

It was a separate city in the 17th century, founded around the Our Lady of Grace Convent. Gracia joined with Barcelona in the 20th century but it has retained its own distinct feel.

This quiet, safe, walkable neighborhood with many pedestrian-only streets such as Carrer de Verdi, the important pedestrian artery; and Carrer Torrijos for souvenirs, bohemian fashion, and old vinyl.

Park Güell is a UNESCO heritage site and was designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. It offers stunning views of the city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on Carmel Hill, it offers stunning views of the city and showcases Gaudí’s distinctive architectural style.

Gracia is also home to one of Barcelona’s first Art Nouveau buildings, La Casa Vicens. If you want to have look, head to Carrer Carolines, a five-minute walk from Fontana metro station.

When you visit Gracia you will meet narrow streets and lovely plazas such as:

  • Plaça de la Vila de Gracia, a central square that features a clock tower and is surrounded by bars, restaurants, and shops. The square is particularly lively during festivals and events.
  • Plaça de la Virreina, home to Sant Joan church.
  • Plaça del Sol, a lively nightlife venue.

Gràcia offers a wide range of dining options, including traditional Catalan cuisine, international flavors, and trendy eateries. The neighborhood is dotted with cozy cafes, tapas bars, and restaurants that cater to different tastes and budgets.

There are local markets such as Mercat de la Llibertat and Mercat de l’Abaceria Central, offering fresh produce, local products, and affordable eats. Shopping at these markets and cooking your meals can save you money on dining out.

Gràcia is famous for its Festa Major de Gracia in mid-August. During this festival, the streets are adorned with intricate decorations, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.

Gràcia is well-connected by public transportation, including metro and bus lines. The Fontana and Diagonal metro stations provide easy access to other parts of Barcelona.

Gràcia tends to offer more affordable accommodation options compared to the city center or other popular neighborhoods like Eixample or Gothic Quarter. You can find budget-friendly hostels, guesthouses, and apartments in Gràcia, allowing you to save money on accommodation.

Stay in Gràcia if you want to stay in a budget-friendly areas; You are traveling as a family; you are long term travelers in Barcelona; you want bohemian and local atmosphere;

Best Places to Stay in Barcelona in Gràcia:

  • mid-range ($$): Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel, 4-star hotel, located within easy walk from Sagrada Familia, featuring an outdoor pool and air-conditioned rooms for singles, couples, and families with children of all ages.
  • mid-range ($$): Casagrand Luxury Suites, great accommodation, close to Paseo de Gracia and Gaudi’s La Pedrera, and Diagonal Metro Station.
  • budget ($): Be Mate Paseo de Gracia, great hotel, offering rooms with wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom.

See more: Where to Stay in Barcelona on a Budget

10. Poblenou

Poblenou, also known as New City in English, is a large district located right on the Mediterranean Ocean, in the Sant Marti district in the northeast of Barcelona.

Poblenou offers a more laid-back atmosphere compared to the bustling city center. It’s known for its industrial heritage, modern architecture, and proximity to the beach.

Poblenou has undergone significant transformation in recent years, becoming a hub for technology, innovation, and startups. The area is home to numerous coworking spaces, tech companies, and creative industries, attracting a diverse and dynamic community.

It is considered to be one of the best beachfront areas in Barcelona, making it the perfect choice for those who want a relaxing break topping up their tan, relaxing in the sand, and playing in the water.

The most comfortable beaches from Rambla del Poblenou are Bogatell Beach and Mar Bella Beach. Mar Bella Beach is LGBT and nudist-friendly beach and venue for the Circuit festival summer beach parties. Bogatell beach is less crowded than the more famous Barceloneta Beach.

El Poblenou has a vibrant art scene. Fan of street art and lively graffiti can visit the northern area of ​​the Sant Martí district, visit the Parque del Centre del Poblenou, and Carrer del Peru for all sorts of murals.

If you love history, there are numerous museums including Museu del Disseny which is The Design Museum of Barcelona, Can Framis Museum with more than 300 works dating from the 1960s, and Espai Subirachs with the works of the Catalan artist Josep Maria Subirachs.

At the same time, a collection of shopping centers, bars, restaurants, and parks, in a slightly quieter location, allow you to enjoy all the perks of the city, without constantly being surrounded by mobs of tourists.

There are hundred-year-old shops, restaurants serving local food, and lots of top bars on the area’s major pedestrian thoroughfare, La Rambla del Poblenou.

There are also attractions such as the Plaça de les Glòries Catalan, the Torre Agbar skyscraper, Parc Central del Poblenou, Poblenou Park, and Ancient Poblenou Cemetery. For shopping you can check Els Encants Vells flea market and the monthly Palo Alto Market.

Accommodation options in Poblenou generally tend to be more budget-friendly compared to the city center. You can find a range of budget hotels, hostels, and guesthouses that offer affordable rates, especially if you book in advance.

Stay In Poblenou If you a more relaxed, beach-oriented experience with a local vibe; you want to see both the new and old sides of Barcelona; you want budget-friendly area; you travel as a family;

Best places to stay in Barcelona in Poblenou:


11. Sants and Montjuïc

Sants and Montjuïc, home to Barcelona's largest train station

Sants is the south-westernmost area of Barcelona adjacent to Montjuic. This is a very quiet area with little tourism, and well-connected to the city center of Barcelona. it’s an ideal location for families, couples, young people looking for a relaxed neighborhood in the city.

Sants is home to Barcelona Sants station (Sants Estación), the largest train station in Barcelona and an important transport hub of the Catalonia region. It provides rail services for the whole of Spain and many long-distance international routes.

In the residential district of Sants, you can also find the Parc de l’Espanya Industrial, a good spot to have a picnic and relax. it was built on the site of a former textile factory and was designed in 1985 by architects Luis Pena Ganchegui and Francesc Rius.

Barcelona loves its fairs and festivals and they are often centered around Montjuic. This hill was where the City held the Summer Olympics in 1992. As a result, there is plenty to see and do in the district.

There are not many attractions in Sants itself but you head to the Montjuïc area, you will find plenty of sights including:

  • Magic Fountain (Font Magica) has been entertaining people for more than 80 years. There are music and light shows every weekend.
  • Montjuic Castle is a great observation point and you can take a cable car if you don’t wish to walk there.
  • Poble Espanyol is an open-air museum where you can see many old Spanish replica buildings.
  • The Olympic Park,
  • The National Museum of Catalan Visual Art,
  • The Botanical Gardens with over 2,000 species, and the town hall – Sants Ajuntament.

Montjuic is one of Barcelona’s best open green spaces so there is limited accommodation for the tourist compared to other parts of Barcelona. You should definitely visit, however. 

Stay in Sants/Montjuic if you want open spaces within the City; you prefer a quieter part of the City away from the busy nightlife; you travel on abudget; you want to stay close to train station;

Best Places to Stay in Barcelona in Montjuic and Sants:


12. Poble Sec

Poble Sec, where to stay in Barcelona on budget

Located between Avinguda del Paraŀlel and Montjuïc Hill, Poble-Sec, dry village in Catalan, is part of the Sants-Montjuïc district and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona.

This up-and-coming neighborhood is a compact area that has earned a reputation as an entertainment district close to the center of Barcelona. You will find craft beer and tapas bars as well as theaters and music halls. 

Poble-Sec is well-connected transport and is served by three metro stations including Paraŀlel, Poble Sec, and Espanya.

You can take the Montjuic Cable Car to get to Montjuic Castle and enjoy the best views of the Barcelona harbor and city from this former fortress.

The pleasant atmosphere is helped by its shaded squares and architecture that is mostly the 19th Century. Tourists heading for Placa del Sortidor or Placa de las Navas will find locals relaxing in the cafes. You are welcome to join them.

Within Poble Sec you will find Caixa Forum which is one of Barcelona’s most famous art galleries; Jardins de Mossen Costa i Lolbera, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, El Molino Theatre, and Theatre Grec Open Air.

The residential area of Poble Sec is an ideal neighborhood for first-timers who are looking for somewhere that’s close to the city center, but not as noisy.

It is a budget-friendly area with easy access to the city center; Prices of accommodations tend to be lower, making it a good base for budget travelers and backpackers.

Stay in Poble Sec if you travel on a budget; you want to experience local life;

Best Places to Stay in Barcelona in Poble Sec:


Where should I stay in Barcelona for the first time?

Barri Gòtic is the best overall area to stay in Barcelona for first-timers because it is the most central location in all of Barcelona. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of action, within walking distance to top sights, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

What is the best part of Barcelona to stay in?

Barri Gòtic, Placa De Catalunya, El Born, Eixample, El Raval, and Barceloneta are some of the best areas to stay in Barcelona for tourists because they are popular locations for tourists and they offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.

See more:

In conclusion, Barri Gòtic, Placa De Catalunya, El Born, Eixample, El Raval, Poble Sec, Barceloneta, Gràcia, Poblenou are the best places to stay in Barcelona for tourists and first-timers. They offer central safe locations and wide range of accommodations for all budgets.

Overall, I recommend Barri Gòtic as the best base in Barcelona for first-timers because it is the most convenient location to see top attractions. If you stay here, you will be located in the heart of action, with some of the best shopping, dining, and nightlife righ next to doorstep.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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