Barcelona is a compact and walkable city, but finding the best area to stay in Barcelona can be a challenge. Especially as a first-time visitor, you’ll want to stay as close as you can to all the must-see destinations while trying to get an authentic taste of the city.
While most visitors select generic Gothic Quarter Barcelona hotels or larger chains in modern Barcelona neighborhoods, there are so many more options for where to stay in Barcelona for the first time!
On a recent visit to this incredible city, we got the chance to explore the best neighborhoods in Barcelona to put together a where to stay in Barcelona first time guide. Complete with a map of Barcelona neighborhoods, we wish we had this guide for visiting Barcelona for the first time!
Keep reading for the rest of our ultimate guide to where to stay in Barcelona, plus all our recommendations for how to choose the best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona for your trip. Plus, check out our Barcelona neighborhoods map to help get a feel for all the unique Barcelona neighborhoods you can’t miss.
Despite Barcelona being a relatively compact city, there are a lot of distinct neighborhoods here, which have completely different attractions and “personalities.” We were surprised by just how quickly we could feel like we were in a totally different city as we moved from one neighborhood in Barcelona to the next.
This can make it a bit overwhelming to determine where to stay in Barcelona, and especially as a first-time visitor looking to make the most of your trip!
Especially as a visitor looking to make the most of their time in the city, staying close to the majority of major attractions is generally the best way to take advantage of travel. In such a walkable city, choosing to stay in one of the central Barcelona neighborhoods means you’ll save tons of time (and money on taxis, the subway, etc.) by strategically planning where to stay.
These are the best neighborhoods for where to stay in Barcelona: Gothic Quarter, El Born, El Raval, La Barceloneta.
These neighborhoods are all centrally located, walkable, and have the most to see and experience right at your fingertips. Keep reading for more in this best area to stay in Barcelona first time guide, and our favorite places to stay in each of their neighborhoods.
You’ll find that most of the city’s most famous attractions are centered in these neighborhoods, near the water in the older and most historic sections of the city. These are very popular destinations with travelers, and many choose to stay here.
Newer attractions (including some of Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces) tend to be in more modern neighborhoods within a 15-minute taxi or subway ride away.
Wherever you stay, Barcelona’s fantastic public transport system makings getting around quite easy. We were easily able to navigate the subway and bus system here in just a few days, and with taxis and Uber available as well, the options are endless for easily moving around the city.
Barcelona Neighborhoods Map
Check out this map of Barcelona neighborhoods to get a better sense of where to stay in Barcelona and narrow down your search. We’ve added some of the best areas to stay in Barcelona, especially for a first-time visit, and some other popular neighborhoods as well.
Click around the Barcelona neighborhoods map and you’ll also find some of the best things to do and see for visitors – this will hopefully make your decision easier! Then, keep reading for our hotel and apartment recommendations in this where to stay in Barcelona first time guide.
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Barcelona
When looking for where to stay in Barcelona first time visitors usually want to be close to everything, enjoying the classic sights, sounds, and foods of the city. Barcelona is walkable year-round, so you’ll want to be somewhere to take advantage of having the best parts of the city close by as well.
This narrows down your choices for where to stay in Barcelona to neighborhoods in the Ciutat Vella, or, “Old Town” part of the city, closer to Barcelona’s port and the ocean.
The Ciutat Vella includes these neighborhoods:
Even if you’ve been to Barcelona before and already seen much of the city, staying in these neighborhoods is generally the best way to be centrally located and base yourself to explore the rest of the city.
These neighborhoods are not just home to the city’s favorite attractions but are also home to some of the best restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs, and the transportation hubs that will easily get you around the rest of the city. And of course, some excellent places to stay in Barcelona. Check out our Barcelona neighborhood map to get a better idea!
While these neighborhoods are close together, there is a lot to set them apart, and some key differences can make staying in these areas in Barcelona very distinct experiences.
The Gothic Quarter, for example, is the most historic area of the city, and you’ll feel that history wherever you go. Easily within walking distance of the city’s most beautiful historic sites, you couldn’t be more conveniently located. However, it might feel a bit over- touristed, especially in the high season in the summer months.
In Barceloneta, you’ll be steps away from the ocean, and it’s the best place to stay in Barcelona for a beach vacation.
In El Raval, you’ll generally find that hotels have larger and more modern rooms, and at much better prices, without sacrificing walkability or being nearby the city’s best things to do.
Keep reading for even more about what sets these neighborhoods apart, and the best places to stay in Barcelona at every price point in these neighborhoods.
Skip the Lines in Barcelona
Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance for Barcelona’s favorite must-see attractions in order to skip the lines!
Gothic Quarter Barcelona
The Gothic Quarter is home to the oldest part of Barcelona, and some of the city’s most visited destinations. It’s easy to fall in love with the winding streets, quaint plazas filled with outdoor eating options, and the historic charm of this neighborhood.
Especially if you’re a first-time visitor to Barcelona, or if you’re on a shorter Barcelona itinerary, the Gothic Quarter is among the best places to stay in Barcelona. You’ll be located within walking distance of everything you’ll want to do plus countless restaurants, bars, and much more.
Another reason this is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona? The Gothic Quarter is next to Plaça de Catalunya, one of the cities major transportation hubs, as well as several subway and bus lines that take you easily to the rest of the city.
Because the Gothic Quarter has so much to see and do for visitors, it can start to feel a little crowded at times during the high season of summer – a little over-touristed. If you’re looking to escape the tourists and planning to visit in the summer months, consider El Born, located next to the Gothic Quarter and with just as much charm. Both are ideal neighborhoods to look for where to stay in Barcelona.
Keep in mind that hotels in the Gothic Quarter, especially in high season, tend to have pricier room rates. Given construction constraints in older buildings, rooms can surprise you and be quite small if you don’t research carefully – keep scrolling to see our recommendations for spacious rooms here!
Best Gothic Quarter Hostel – Kabul Hostel Barcelona
Kabul Hostel in the center of the Gothic Quarter is by far one of the city’s favorite hostels and a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a great social experience in a hostel environment. This hostel has a bar and roof terrace, game space, solid lockers, pod-style (read: private!) dorm beds, and much more. It’s one of the best hostels in the best neighborhoods in Barcelona.
Gothic Quarter Barcelona Hotels
There are plenty of nice hotels in the Gothic Quarter, but these are the standout favorites in one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona at every price point. These are easy picks for this best area to stay in Barcelona first time guide!
Check out these hotels for some of the most spacious rooms in this area, as well as the best amenities you can find at these price points in this popular part of the city.
Petit Palace Boqueria Gardens ($ – $$)
This renovated hotel is in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, but just two blocks away from La Rambla with all the convenience of easy transportation and walkability. With all its modern touches and personal elements, like a large garden and breakfast buffet, you’ll definitely feel like this hotel is a steal for the price.
If you’re looking for an apartment-style stay while in Barcelona, make sure to check out the Catedral Bas Apartaments. These apartment-style suites feel like you’re at home or at a private rental stay with all the hotel amenities. You’ll get tons of space and style for your money, plus rooftop pool access with great views. These are priced better than a lot of Airbnbs or other private rentals in the best neighborhoods in Barcelona to stay.
Ohla Hotel ($$$)
The Ohla Barcelona Hotel is a stunning and modern luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Rooms are modern, luxe, and filled with light, but still make you feel like you’re in a boutique hotel. The rooftop infinity pool with views over the Gothic Quarter is stunning, worth a visit even if you’re not a guest, and one of the best places to enjoy a sunset in Barcelona.
El Born Barcelona
Located right next door to the Gothic Quarter, the El Born neighborhood is like the cooler cousin of the Gothic Quarter within old town Barcelona. Check out our Barcelona neighborhood map to see just how close these neighborhoods are – you’ll be surprised to see once you visit just how different they feel despite being so close.
Here you’ll find just as much to see and do, including Santa Caterina Market, the Picasso Museum, and so much more, while remaining in close walking distance to Gothic Quarter attractions. Plus, you’ll find plenty of cool restaurants and cafes, trendy design shops, and so much more to explore here.
With such historic charm, far fewer tourists, and so much to see and do in El Born, this is easily my favorite neighborhood in the city, and my top recommendation of best places to stay in Barcelona.
As in hotel rooms in the Gothic Quarter, room rates here can get expensive in the high season months of summer travel. You’ll also tend to find smaller rooms in historic buildings, though there are several great options we’ve listed below with large rooms and nice amenities at every price point.
Best El Born Hostel – Safestay Barcelona Gothic
If you’re looking for an extended stay in Barcelona on a budget, Safestay Barcelona Gothic is the place, and it’s in one of the best neighborhoods in Barcelona. You’ll have access to a kitchen, a giant common room and rooftop deck, and spotless facilities. Located right between El Born and the Gothic Quarter, this location is pretty perfect, right among the best neighborhoods in Barcelona to stay.
Hotels in El Born Barcelona
These hotels in El Born are some of the city’s best at their price points, and all stand out for having relatively large rooms and fantastic amenities. These are our top recommendations!
Park Hotel Barcelona ($ – $$)
The simple but modern Park Hotel Barcelona in El Born is one of the city’s nicest options at this budget price point. This hotel has really very nice amenities including a rooftop infinity pool and perfectly clean and quiet rooms. The location in El Born is ideal, within walking distance of exploring both the Gothic Quarter and Barceloneta.
Musik Boutique Hotel ($$)
Musik Boutique Hotel is housed within a renovated, centuries-old building, but has sleek, modern, and stylish rooms that give guests the best of both worlds. Highly recommended, and a return destination for many guests as a little oasis in this charming neighborhood! This is a great choice for where to stay in Barcelona!
The Barcelona Edition ($$$)
The Barcelona Edition is one of the city’s finest luxury hotels, and with just 100 rooms you’ll have the personalized service and attention of a boutique hotel. Rooms are impeccable, and the hotel’s bars, restaurants, and rooftop deck and pool all have unforgettable views over the city.
El Raval Barcelona
Very centrally located within Barcelona, El Raval is a neighborhood with a great mix of walkability and relatively more affordable prices. With its fair share of history and beauty as well, this slightly gritter neighborhood feels much more local than its neighbors and has plenty to offer.
El Raval is a great place to stay in Barcelona if you’re looking to be centrally located and within walking distance of the major sites, while still enjoying a more local, neighborhood feel away from the tourists. It’s one of the best neighborhoods in Barcelona to stay both on a budget and close to the action.
One benefit of staying in El Raval is that prices are generally quite more affordable than they are in the Gothic Quarter or El Born. This includes hotel rooms as well as restaurants, cafes, and more. While you’ll find simple street food destinations and budget spots with takeaway food, El Raval still has its fair share of trendy cafes and restaurants as well – it’s a great mix, making it one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona.
While things tend to be cheaper here, you’ll still be based well within walking distance of the other neighborhoods in the Ciutat Vella old town portion of the city if you choose to stay in El Raval.
Keep in mind that La Rambla, which serves as the division between the Gothic Quarter and El Raval, is quite touristy, and it can get loud if you choose a hotel room directly facing La Rambla. Avoid the restaurants and shops here. However, with subway and bus lines this is a convenient location!
Best El Raval Hostel – St Christopher’s Barcelona
Free sangria happy hour and daily walking tours are just some of the perks at this large, modern hostel just a few blocks from the transit hub of Plaça de Catalunya. Excellent wifi and plenty of room configurations to choose from are major pluses, plus co-working space is available.
El Raval Barcelona Hotels
There is a huge range of places to stay in the El Raval neighborhood, including basic hotels for travelers on a budget, and some of the city’s finest luxury destinations. These are some of the best you’ll find at every price point in the neighborhood.
Oriente Atiram ($ – $$)
The Oriente Atiram is set in a renovated 19th-century classic building located between El Raval and the Gothic Quarter. Rooms are simple but clean and comfortable. Located directly on La Rambla, you’ll be within walking distance of nearly everything you could want to do while visiting Barcelona. Ask for a room that doesn’t face La Rambla if you want to enjoy the best area to stay in Barcelona with a bit more peace a quiet at night.
Hotel Espana ($$)
This much-loved and well-reviewed hotel in El Raval is set on a quiet street, but steps away from the best of El Raval and the Gothic Quarter. Rooms are stylish, bathrooms modern, and beds are super comfortable! The rooftop terrace and pool are highlights in the summer.
Hotel 1898 ($$$)
Hotel 1898 is well-known in Barcelona as being one of the city’s great historic hotels. Modern touches include updated rooms and a rooftop pool with a restaurant and bar. It boasts a fitness center, luxurious spa, stunning rooms, and impeccable service. This is one of the best places to stay in the city.
Skip the Lines in Barcelona
Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance for Barcelona’s favorite must-see attractions in order to skip the lines!
Barceloneta will remind you that despite its size and metropolitan feel, Barcelona is still a city by the beach – and a fantastic beach at that. Within minutes of entering the neighborhood of Barceloneta you’ll feel the atmosphere change – the big city hustle and bustle transforms into a beach town.
People start walking more slowly, you’ll see locals conversing with each other from open windows and balconies, and everyone is carrying a towel and swimsuit in the summer months.
If you’re looking to enjoy the sun and sand, Barceloneta is the best area to stay in Barcelona. It combines the best of a beach town feel with the amenities of the big city.
Barceloneta retains its local, neighborhood feel throughout most of the neighborhood, and there are relatively few hotels or apartment rentals here. Listings you’ll find in the neighborhood tend to be quite expensive because of how few places there are to stay, even for private rentals like Airbnbs. Due to their proximity to the beach, restaurants, and shops in the neighborhood tend to be pricer as well.
If you’re looking to stay close to the beach but aren’t sold on Barceloneta, consider staying in the El Born neighborhood – you’ll generally be under 15 minutes away from Barceloneta by foot. Check out this map of Barcelona neighborhoods to get a better idea!
However, if you just can’t shake the idea of enjoying a beach vacation in this metropolis, keep reading for our top picks in Barceloneta, including some of the best places to stay at all budgets.
Best Barceloneta Hostel- Sea Hostel Barcelona
This is the perfect spot for the backpacker looking for a spot on the beach in Barcelona. Sea Hostel is oceanfront in this bustling neighborhood and close to tons of restaurants, bars, and more. Rooms are simple but clean and comfortable.
Som Nit Born ($ – $$)
Located just across from Port Vell at the entrance to the Barceloneta neighborhood, Som Nit Born is everything you’d want in a budget hotel – clean, simple, and stylish. Rooms are filled with light and quite spacious! Plus, you’ll be steps away from the subway, as well as the El Born neighborhood with all its tapas restaurants. This is a great choice for where to stay in Barcelona!
Hotel 54 ($$)
Hotel 54 is one of the few waterfront hotels in Barceloneta, and it does not disappoint. Rooms are spotless and the staff is friendly, plus the views over the port towards the Gothic Quarter and La Rambla from the rooftop terrace are impressive!
H10 Port Vell ($$ – $$$)
This modern 4-star hotel is the best in the Barceloneta area but remains accessibly priced and comfortable. Rooms and bathrooms are impeccably renovated, and many rooms have balconies. The rooftop pool is perfect for a dip after a swim in the ocean, and the views of Port Vell and the rest of the city are beautiful.