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Where to Stay in Barcelona in 2024 – 5 Best Areas

Explore the top neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona with our concise guide, highlighting the best areas for accommodations, nightlife, and cultural experiences in this vibrant city.
Where to Stay in Barcelona

Choosing the perfect spot to stay in Barcelona can make or break your experience in this vibrant Spanish city. Most travelers, including myself, gravitate towards staying in central Barcelona. Places like Ciutat Vella (the old town in Catalan), Paseo de Gracia, or Eixample, which blossomed in the 19th century when the old city was still expanding, are top picks.

Keep in mind, the more central your hotel, the pricier it tends to be compared to other areas. But, if you venture just a bit further from the center, you’re likely to discover a sweeter deal in terms of quality and price.

Barcelona’s excellent public transport system, which thoroughly connects the city, is a game changer. If you stumble upon a great hotel deal slightly away from the center, don’t hesitate to book it. Chances are, there’ll be a metro station nearby whisking you to the heart of Barcelona in just minutes.

1. Plaça de Catalunya-Eixample, best area to stay in Barcelona for first time

Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya is the beating heart of Barcelona. This bustling square is a popular meeting spot, buzzing with energy. Nestled in the Eixample neighborhood, it sits right at the crossroads of the Gothic Quarter and El Raval. It’s also where the famous Las Ramblas street springs to life.

The plaza is a shopper’s paradise with big names like Corte Inglés, FNAC, and Triangle. Plus, nearby shopping lanes like Portal de l’Angel are just irresistible. And let me tell you, the food scene around here? Absolutely top-notch.

But what really sets Plaça de Catalunya apart is its connectivity. It’s a hub where metro lines and bus routes, including the one from the airport, all converge. It’s like the city’s pulse, connecting you seamlessly to every corner of Barcelona.

Pros of Staying in Plaça de Catalunya-Eixample

  • The most central location
  • Located next to the Gothic Quarter & El Raval
  • La Rambla starts there
  • Close to attractions

Cons

  • Attracts a lot of people
  • More expensive accommodations

What to see in Plaça de Catalunya -Eixample

  • Paseo de Gracia
  • Casa Batlló
  • Casa Mila
  • Gothic Quarter
  • La Rambla

Best Hotels in Plaça de Catalunya-Eixample

2. Gothic Quarter, a charming area to stay in Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Gothic Quarter is a treasure trove of medieval charm, one of the largest and best-preserved in Europe. Imagine wandering through a labyrinth of medieval courtyards, narrow alleys, and hidden squares. And amidst this historical maze lies the majestic Cathedral.

This neighborhood is a delightful blend of artisan shops, designer boutiques, cozy cafes, lively bars, and restaurants. The nightlife here, especially around Plaza Real, is vibrant and never fails to impress.

La Rambla forms a boundary between the Gothic Quarter and El Raval, offering direct access to this famous street. It’s like having the best of both worlds at your doorstep.

Yes, the area is a tourist hotspot, catering to visitors from around the globe. But trust me, its charm remains unspoiled. There’s something magical about this part of Barcelona that always draws me back. It’s undoubtedly one of the most enchanting neighborhoods in the city.

Pros of Staying in Gothic Quarter

  • Close to the center
  • Very charming neighborhood
  • Includes La Rambla
  • Lively nightlife
  • Many cafes, bars, and restaurants

Cons

  • Very touristic area
  • More expensive accommodations

What to see in Gothic Quarter

  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • Columbus Monument
  • Museum Of Wax Barcelona: A museum with wax figures
  • La Rambla
  • La Boqueria: The most famous food market

Best Hotels in Gothic Quarter

3. Gracia, best area to stay in Barcelona for families and kids

Parc Güell
Parc Güell

Gracia is a bohemian oasis that I often recommend to those revisiting Barcelona. It’s a refreshing change from the tourist-heavy areas, offering a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

The neighborhood exudes an intriguing vibe, with local bars and restaurants serving top-notch cuisine. It’s a bit hipster, sure, but also wonderfully family-friendly. The numerous squares and parks are perfect for kids, making it a great choice for family travelers.

For those with children, Gracia’s family-friendly character is a significant draw. It’s a place where the kids can enjoy open spaces while adults soak in the unique atmosphere.

A highlight of Barcelona, Parc Güell, is nestled in Gracia. This Gaudí-inspired park, with its mosaic masterpieces and whimsical sculptures, is nothing short of magical.

The only downside? You’ll need public transport to reach the city center. Otherwise, it’s at least a half-hour walk to the main attractions and the Gothic Quarter. But honestly, the journey is part of the adventure in this charming neighborhood.

Pros of Staying in Gracia

  • Well-connected by metro (lines L3, L5)
  • Not a touristy area
  • Beautiful cafes, bars, and restaurants

Cons

  • Can’t walk to the city center
  • Limited accommodation options

What to see in Gracia

  • Parc Güell
  • Sagrada Familia: close to the southeast border of the neighborhood
  • Casa Milà: borders the south

Best Hotels in Gracia

4. El Born, best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife

Via Laietana
Via Laietana

El Born, right next to the Gothic Quarter, is a hotspot in Barcelona that I can’t get enough of. It’s part of Ciutat Vella, one of the city’s most bohemian and trendy neighborhoods. With its stylish establishments, it’s the perfect place for a night out, whether you’re dining or just grabbing drinks.

The hotels nestled between Via Laietana and Parque de la Ciutadella are fantastic alternatives to those in the Gothic Quarter. They offer a unique blend of convenience and charm.

El Born isn’t just any neighborhood; it’s a modern, pivotal area pulsating with perhaps the most active nightlife in Barcelona. The vibe here at night is something you don’t want to miss.

And for shoppers, El Born is a paradise. Whether you’re into chic boutiques, vintage clothes, or handmade jewelry, this place has it all. It’s my go-to for a shopping spree that always ends with unique finds.

Pros of Staying in El Born

  • Very central location
  • Vibrant nightlife
  • Charming area

Cons

  • More expensive accommodations
  • Limited accommodation options

What to see in El Born

  • Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
  • Picasso Museum
  • Moco Museum Barcelona
  • European Museum of Modern Art
  • Parque de la Ciutadella
  • Barcelona Cathedral

Best Hotels in El Born

  • (€€€) Hotel The SerrasOne of the best hotels in Barcelona with restaurant and pool.
  • (€€) H10 Port Vell 4* SupA 4-star hotel with restaurant, bar, gym and pool.
  • (€) Pension CiudadelaA 1-star hotel 100m from Ciudadela Park and 10-minute walk from beach.

5. El Raval, a modern area to stay in Barcelona

Boquería market
Boquería market

El Raval, just across La Rambla from the Gothic Quarter, has undergone a remarkable transformation. Once a rather gloomy and sketchy area, it’s now a hub of urban rejuvenation.

The neighborhood has evolved into a hipster’s paradise, brimming with vintage clothing stores, vinyl shops, and tattoo studios. It’s like stepping into a cultural kaleidoscope.

Despite being surrounded by safer neighborhoods, El Raval holds its own in terms of safety. Common sense goes a long way here. The area buzzes with life, especially when it comes to finding a cool spot for drinks.

And let’s not forget, El Raval is home to the MACBA museum and the famous Boquería market. These landmarks alone make the neighborhood a must-visit for anyone exploring Barcelona.

Pros of Staying in El Raval

  • Very central location
  • Artistic area (art galleries, vintage shops & cafes)

Cons

  • Not suitable for families with children

What to see in El Raval

  • MACBA Museum
  • Boqueria Market
  • La Rambla
  • El Gat de Botero: a Botero cat sculpture on Rambla del Raval
  • Güell Palace

Best Hotels in El Raval

  • (€€€) Le Meridien BarcelonaA 5-star hotel with gym, spa and wellness centre, restaurant and bar.
  • (€€) Hotel Casa CamperA 4-star boutique hotel with restaurant, bar and fitness centre.
  • (€) Hotel Lloret RamblasA 1-star hotel 500m from MACBA Modern Art Museum with family rooms and breakfast.

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