Ash
Written by Ash

Where to Stay in Barcelona – Best Areas & Neighborhoods for Tourists

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If you don’t know where to stay in Barcelona you’re not alone.

When I came to this city I had to live in 5 or 6 Barcelona neighbourhoods before I got my bearings.

Don’t worry though, prospective traveler.

From drink districts to peaceful precincts and everything in between you’re about to find the best area to stay in Barcelona based on your needs – so let’s take a quick tour around the city.

Where Should I Stay in Barcelona?

Tourists visiting Barcelona stick to about ten Barcelona neighbourhoods (called barrios) due to an area’s:

I’ll be breaking down all the best neighbourhoods to stay in Barcelona using this criteria.

Where to Stay in Barcelona: The Top 10 Areas to Stay

tourists shopping in the born barcelona

El Born and La Ribera – Best Neighbourhood for Shopping

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★★☆☆  Relax: ★★★☆

If you like boutique shopping and cool Barcelona bars then book a hotel in El Born.

Pros

The charm of this safe and central neighbourhood comes from its pedestrian only streets and tasteful street art which creates arguably the prettiest barrio in the city.

Many of Barcelona’s best luxury hotels are in El Born.

It’s in this neighbourhood that you’ll find the Picasso Museum as well as the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral. You’ll also be just minutes away from a great picnic spot at Ciutadella Park.

From here you’re also just a 20 minute walk to the beach. If you’re visiting Barcelona with kids this is the best area to stay in Barcelona with family.

That said, if you’re looking for a party the nightlife isn’t far away from El Born if you need it.

Cons

If there are any downsides it would be that bars and hip restaurants tend to be pricey – but this means quality too. Any great central location is gonna charge a premium so don’t stress too much.

EL BORN
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people gather in a gracia square to have coffee and drinks in barcelona spain

Gracia – Best Area for Local Vibes

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

Gracia used to be a separate town from Barcelona and retains some of its independent feel.

Pros

What will strike you about this very safe area is Gracia’s never-ending supply of beautiful squares and its complete lack of chain restaurants and shops. This may be the only true Catalan neighbourhood left.

It’s the best neighbourhood to grab a morning coffee at a good local cafe or unwind with a cold beer or artisan gelato in a square straight out of a postcard. You can also get to Park Guell walking if you don’t mind a bit uphill.

You’ll get great rest in Gracia since it’s an area devoid of noisy nightlife – not to mention it’s pedestrian-only. I’d recommend this area for young families or couples visiting Barcelona for a low-key weekend.

It’s also great being in the city center – without feeling like you’re in the city center.

Cons

Downsides for those looking where to stay? If you’re deep into Gracia it’s not very accessible except on foot. If you’re looking for a party as well this won’t be the wisest choice.

GRACIA
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el pont del bisbe in the gothic quarter barcelona

El Barrio Gotico – Best Neighbourhood for Sightseeing

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★★  Nightlife: ★★★★  Relax: ★☆☆☆

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is a maze of bars and restaurants without end.

Pros

Locals go here for big nights at quirky bars or bumping clubs. If you’re looking for the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife or on a stag do/bachelor party then this is it.

This neighbourhood of contrasts gives us the famous Barcelona Cathedral and the classic square Plaça Reial. You’ll also be right in the thick of Barcelona’s best shopping street Portal de L’Angel.

For solo travelers this will be your best bet to meet people in the city centre or hit up live music venues.

Cons

For downsides the beach is about a 40 minute walk, things can get noisy at night, and you’ll have to dodge some tourist traps – but that’s all in a days work in Barcelona!

I suggest taking the Secrets of the Old City tour of the Gothic Quarter to learn the real history of the city, but if you’re not partying or taking a cruise I’d look elsewhere.

EL GOTICO
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the leaning homentage a la barceloneta monument at barcelona beach neighbourhood

Barceloneta – Best Neighbourhood for Beach Holidays

Attractions: ★☆☆☆  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★☆☆

This seaside neighbourhood is the best area to stay in Barcelona near the beach.

Pros

The old fisherman’s village still retains some of its charm of yesteryear, with old women sitting on stoops chatting afternoons away while children kick balls around narrow streets.

If any neighbourhood hasn’t been completely taken over by mass tourism this is it – you’ll have a great choice of local bars plus the best restaurants in Barcelona, especially if you love fish.

Beach lovers can’t go wrong as it’s only 5 minutes from the beach – for this reason it’s an optimal spot for Barcelona’s best holiday apartments. This is as close as you’ll get to direct beach access.

Cons

What you won’t like is the enormous amount of foot traffic (and noise) moving through on their beach holiday – try to get a hotel not facing one of the main streets.

With only one metro station in the area trains get crowded especially during summer.

There are also hardly any tourist attractions and little hotel variety.

BARCELONETA
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casa batllo in eixample neighbourhood barcelona

Eixample – Best Neighbourhood for Bars

Attractions: ★★★★  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★★★☆  Relax: ★★☆☆

This fashionable area is known for its fascinating grids that make great aerial photography.

Pros

While you may be confused as it is divided into 7 sub-neighbourhoods, keep in mind the easily navigable streets of the area are consistently littered with trendy bars and cafes. It is also remarkably safe.

It’s home to some of Barcelona’s top attractions like the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila. It offers a ton of stops on the Bus Turistic – if you’re here to soak up the culture this is the area for you.

The ‘Gayxample’ district of the area also offers some great gay nightlife opportunities.

It’s easily the best area to stay in Barcelona for sightseeing door to door from the city’s best boutique hotels. You also can’t beat the high-end shopping on Passeig de Gracia.

Cons

Compared to our other best neigbourhoods it’s sadly not as picturesque.

You also won’t be able to get to the beach so quickly and there are not many great squares to relax and have a drink.

EIXAMPLE
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a ton of tourists looking for things to do on the rambla barcelona

Las Ramblas – Best Neighbourhood for Nightlife

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★★  Nightlife: ★★★★  Relax: ☆☆☆☆

It’s not a neighbourhood but Barcelona’s most famous street is tourist central.

Pros

Nearly every form of airport transport gets you to Las Ramblas in a hurry. There are three metro stops along the street including Liceu and Drassanes plus the legendary Plaça Catalunya.

If there’s any street that doesn’t sleep in Barcelona then this one is it. Because it’s so busy, you’re more likely to find budget accommodation here than elsewhere in the old city center.

The Boqueria Market is one of the best markets in the city.

Cons

A ton of hotels line the street made up of tourist traps of any kind from tapas bars to clubs to souvenirs. If you’ve got a room facing the street expect a ton of noise until early hours.

Honestly, nights can bring pickpockets and pesky drug dealers and prostitutes.

This is a great area to stay for young adults wanting a short walk home from partying. If you’re grabbing a room at Barcelona’s best hostels it’s likely to be here.

LAS RAMBLAS
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a skateboarder takes a jump at macba in raval neighbourhood barcelona

El Raval – Best Neighbourhood for Museums

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★★  Nightlife: ★★★☆  Relax: ★☆☆☆

Barcelona’s most multi-cultural area may be the most divisive area to stay.

Pros

On one hand you’re at the doorstep of the best ethnic food in the city and some of the best value bars in Europe. Dive bar and street food lovers should pay attention here. You’re also super-central.

The area is filled with students and home to great museums like MACBA and the CCCB.

Here it’s all about value and it’s easily the best area for adventure.

Cons

On the other hand there’s a bit of a nasty reputation with locals for being the site of a lot of petty crime – be aware of ‘friendly’ people you may meet in the street after dark.

I don’t recommend it for parents travelling with kids.

EL RAVAL
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gardens atop Montjuïc hill in barcelona

Poble Sec – Best Area for Cheap Eats

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★☆☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

This underrated neighbourhood finds itself in a picturesque area under Montjuic Hill.

Pros

What you’ll notice here are narrow streets following a gentle slope upward. Foodies will love the restaurant scene in this area and Calle Blai is a great street to get €1.00 pintxos and bottled beer.

It’s also a great neighbourhood to stay if you’re in Barcelona for a conference at the Fira de Monjuic. You’ll be close to the Magic Fountain show.

In all it’s in my view the best neighbourhood in Barcelona to stay for tranquility. That said, don’t expect a boutique hotel heaven here – the hotels are quite utilitarian in nature.

Cons

The downsides are that the city’s nightlife doesn’t really get going here – except the legendary Sala Apolo. You’re also quite far from the beach and may have to walk a bit uphill from the metro station after a long day.

POBLE SEC
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skateboarders ride in a park in poble nou barcelona

Poble Nou – Top Barcelona Neighbourhood for Street Art

Attractions: ★☆☆☆  Central: ★☆☆☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

This up and coming area used to be the industrial heart of the city but now it’s the city’s street art heart.

Pros

What we have now is bustling area full of warehouse apartments and new hotels. Having a walk through this area even in summer gives a sense of near-abandonment – but in a good way. Here you’re only metres from the beach and the streets are quiet as a mouse.

Taking a stroll down car-free Rambla del Poble Nou and its cafes and ice cream shops is almost like a small town.

Cons

Some prominent downsides are that it’s not walking distance to any main attractions. There are also very few nightlife and shopping opportunities.

POBLE NOU
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a nighttime showing of the magic fountain barcelona

Sants Montjuic – Best Area for Conferences at La Fira

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★☆☆  Nightlife: ★★☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

You’ll find this neighbourhood right outside Barcelona’s main train station Sants Estacio.

Pros

This is easily the most accessible area to Barcelona El Prat Airport and another great area for those attending conferences at La Fira or any attraction near Plaça Espanya. This is a very utilitarian, centrally located area with everything you need but nothing too special – if you get a good deal pull the trigger.

If you’re coming for Barcelona FC matches and want to stay near Camp Nou book here.

Cons

The downsides here are obvious as you won’t get much of a ‘go downstairs and wander’ feel – if you love discovering a city on foot then avoid at all costs. If you’ve got no problem taking transport to the centre then don’t be shy.

SANTS
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The Top Areas in Barcelona for…

What is the Best Barcelona Neighbourhood for Restaurants?

If you’re looking for quality, modern Spanish food then you’ll find most of the new and hip tapas bars in the Eixample area. El Raval is a staple for ethnic foods, especially from southeast Asia. Finally, for cheap tapas (pintxos) and an unpretentious outdoor patio scene the Carrer de Blai area of Poble Sec is a fine food option.

What Are the Best Neighborhoods in Barcelona for Sightseeing?

Tourists visiting Barcelona looking for the best neighbourhoods for sightseeing should consider the Gothic Quarter (El Barri Gòtic), El Born, or Eixample. Each of these sightseeing neighbourhoods holds one or more of the main Antoni Gaudi attractions and have beautiful local architecture of the Catalan modernist style.

What Are the Best Neighborhoods in Barcelona for Nightlife?

It’s impossible to crown just one Barcelona area as the best for night life, but generally if you’re looking for hip bars serving cocktails you should select El Born. The best clubs tend to be in Eixample. The Gothic Quarter is more likely to have unique, quirky bars with live music. If you’re looking for cheap dive bars, El Raval is a fine choice for a wander.

In What Barcelona Area Do I Get the Best Local Vibe?

Without a doubt it has to be Gracia. This area which was once a separate village from the city altogether is now one of the last bastions of hope in the local war against globalization.

Gracia is a place with no large chains and is a haven for local business. You’ll still hear Catalan in the streets. It’s full of picturesque squares where you’ll see children playing on their lunch breaks.

What Are the Safest Areas in Barcelona?

The safest neighbourhoods in Barcelona city centre have to be Gracia and Eixample. They’re generally isolated from large streets full of bars and rowdy nightlife, and the trouble that comes with it. They’re also places with wide open streets, a good police presence, and local populations getting on with their day.

What Are the Best Neighbourhoods in Barcelona for Families?

For families looking be active, outdoors, and safe the beachside the neighbourhood of Poble Nou is a fine choice. It’s low crime, has very little traffic, and is just minutes from the beaches. Aside from Poble Nou, Gracia is a safe neighbourhood since it’s mostly car-free. It’s near some of the city’s best park life, and has very little rowdy nightlife.

Looking for Where to Stay in Barcelona?

Again, if after all this you haven’t found where to stay in Barcelona then make sure you get in touch with me for some custom Barcelona travel tips.

I am more than happy to find you a place to stay if you tell me the kind of holiday you’re looking for, what you want to see most etc.

Also don’t be afraid to join the area discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.

294 comments
  • April 27, 2022 at 12:11 pm
    John
    Hi Ash, great review. Travelling to Barcelona in September for a stag do. Do you have any further recommendations of where to stay Thanks
    • April 27, 2022 at 2:15 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi John, Without making too many assumptions about what you might be getting up to, my gut is to recommend the Gothic Quarter. Being right in the middle of it all, where you can walk downstairs and have 10 bars and restaurants almost hit you by accident is always a plus. It's also such a transient, loud, and an energetic neighbourhood that you're more likely to blend in without being scolded by locals. If you're looking for something a bit more upscale and quiet then the Born is my second recommendation. This is a place full of cool cocktail bars, nice restaurants, and it's 15 minutes walk from the beach. You can find all the best hotels by clicking through with the links above. Anyway, we've got a Stag Do post if you're looking for more info - but definitely hit me up if you have any more questions! Always here to help :)
  • March 22, 2022 at 2:24 am
    Misty
    Hi my husband, 2 teenage boys and myself are travelling to Barcelona in July for 4 days. I have really enjoyed your blog and found it very helpful. We have tentatively booked an apart in Gracia but are now feeling those might be a bit too far out. It is however close to a metro stop and seems within walking distance (20mins-30mins) of a few sights. Would you have a better suggestion for our family?
    • March 22, 2022 at 11:56 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Misty, Gracia is quite a big place so tough to give you the perfect response without knowing exactly where the apartment is. Do you have an address or cross streets? At any rate, Gracia is between two metro stations so you should be able to walk to one of them in about 10 minutes, or maybe if you're on the border even quicker. I lived in Gracia for 6 months and have to say it's no problem to get to the major attractions from there. The only sort of annoying thing was that it's far from the beach, so if you're planning on having a beach holiday it may not be the best. I normally recommend Gracia for families but if you're looking to be a bit central with similar vibes then the Born area is also a fine choice. Just make sure you stay away from the Gotico or Raval as they're a bit more nightlife focused. Cheers,
  • January 5, 2022 at 8:13 pm
    Jon
    Hello, my wife and I will travel to Barcelona in mid-March. We have a 7-day cruise and will spend a day/night pre-cruise and a day/night post-cruise. Wondering where to stay, as this will be our first visit to Barcelona. We enjoy sight-seeing, but also like to explore and wander, looking for great hole-in-the-wall food/cafes/markets. Thoughts?
    • January 23, 2022 at 7:38 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jon, Apologies for the late response, we're all tied up with other jobs these days (I say this with extreme displeasure!) and sometimes things slip through. I want you to know though that you aren't forgotten! In fact, after having a think on your message I am thinking you should try and stay in El Born - it's arguably the best place for couples, tons of cool narrow streets filled with local food and crafts, cafes, and it's fairly close to the cruise port. Gracia also has a very similar vibe. If you want something even more local but don't mind being a bit further out this is a fine choice as well. Cheers,
  • July 9, 2020 at 1:45 pm
    Leanne Edwards
    Hello, firstly I have really enjoyed reading your blog while planning our trip to Barca. I actually lived in Barcelona about 20 years ago while I was studying but it must have changed so much so I doubt I will even recognise it now. My husband and I are coming for 3 days in September. We are both 40 and are looking for a nice chilled weekend with a mix of sightseeing, nightlife and plenty of good food. Would you be able to recommend us an area that would fit that bill? Also what should we expect in terms of changes affected by Covid-19? Thank you. Leanne
    • July 9, 2020 at 8:01 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Leanne, Thanks so much for the kind words, glad we can help :) And I must say... congrats on braving 2020 and planning to come! You'll find the city a lot calmer than usual and that's always a good thing in summer. For what you're looking for I would check out El Born if you're leaning toward food/cafes being more important or El Gotico if nightlife and sightseeing is more at the top of your list. As for the changes it's hard to comment since every day it seems like there's something new, but you're now required to wear a mask at all times in public. Social distancing is enforced. Hotels and restaurants are being super cautious and offering hand sanitizer stations, PPE etc. I would definitely call the hotels for their individual policies if you're feeling extra worried. As of this writing though the virus is quite under control unlike some other places... fingers crossed it stays this way! :) Cheers, Ash
      • July 11, 2020 at 11:28 am
        Leanne Edwards
        Thanks so much Ash
        • July 11, 2020 at 4:35 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          No problem at all Leanne :)
  • February 15, 2020 at 8:28 pm
    Allison
    This was so unbelievably helpful when planning my trip to Barcelona. Thank you for taking the time to compile this awesome post!
    • February 15, 2020 at 9:11 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      You're very welcome! :)
  • February 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm
    Judith
    Thanks for all the great info on your website. I wonder can you suggest a resort close to Barcelona to suit us. We are traveling to Barcelona for a week in July with our two kids, aged 9 and 11. We would like to base ourselves outside the city, at a beach resort that has restaurants and facilities, but is not too busy. We’ll be looking for an apartment rather than a hotel. We want to be close enough to come into the city a couple of days, but also give the kids beach time and a trip to a water park. Any suggestions?
    • February 15, 2020 at 9:07 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Judith, You're welcome! Hope I can help :) When I think of kid-friendly resort towns near the city I always think of Lloret de Mar or Callela. They have tons of bars, attractions, water parks, close to the beach, and are affordable and family-oriented. I've got a post dedicated to Lloret: https://www.barcelonahacks.com/lloret-de-mar-guide/ Cheers, Ash
      • February 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm
        Judith Cryan
        Thanks Ash. Two great options to consider. I’ve also been looking at Vilanova I la Geltru. Have you any thoughts on it?
        • February 23, 2020 at 9:22 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Unfortunately have never been there :( That said, I've heard that it's cheaper than nearby Sitges (Barcelona's favourite day trip beach) and has much more to offer, being almost double the size.
          • February 24, 2020 at 9:17 am
            Judith
            Thanks Ash
  • February 8, 2020 at 9:14 am
    Sandi
    Hi Ash, I'm so glad I came across your website. It has been a huge help in planning our stay in Barcelona. My partner and I will be visiting Barcelona for 3nights in August. We plan on buying the Barcelona city pass and using the Aerobus to get to the city from the airport. At this stage we are looking at staying in Eixample within 1km from either Universität station or Placa Catalunya station so that we can walk to our accommodation. Our flight lands on a Sunday at 7pm. Is it safe to walk this distance at that time of night and is it possible with luggage? Thanks Sandi
    • February 8, 2020 at 12:57 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Sandi, Regardless of the noise you hear about Barcelona being a pickpocket capital etc. I wouldn't worry about this walk at all. These are major pedestrian and traffic thoroughfares with lots of people around. The pickpockets usually operate in the smaller streets way below there in Raval. You won't need to walk there at all. :) Ash
      • February 10, 2020 at 11:48 am
        Sandi
        Thanks for your reply Ash
        • February 10, 2020 at 5:22 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          No problem Sandi :)
  • February 5, 2020 at 11:45 pm
    Roy
    Traveling to Spain in early June and planning to use Barcelona as our home base for 1 to 2 weeks. Understand the city is bicycle friendly and wondering if you have any opinions on where a bicyclist might wish to locate for easy access to all that Barcelona has to offer. We wouldn't object to an interesting neighborhood that offers both public transportation and is within 5 to 10 miles from the city center. Your consideration is greatly appreciated and many thanks for such an interesting and informative web site. Roy
    • February 6, 2020 at 10:41 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Roy, Thanks so much for the kind words, always glad to help :) For cyclists I'd recommend Poble Nou as you'll be in striking distance to the beachside promenade which can take you into the city quickly. You may also want to check out Sarria which is almost up in the hills, a very nice neighbourhood but a bit far out. Just be prepared for a workout if you're coming back home uphill! Cheers, Ash
  • January 20, 2020 at 6:29 pm
    Lucia
    Hi Ash! First, thank you so much for such a great website and information! Absolutely amazing detailed information!! My husband will be attending the Technology conference there next month at the Barcelona Conference Center and I get to tag along. We plan on coming in 4 days beforehand to scout and explore as we plan on returning with our 18 year-old daughter in August with my brother and his family. This particular trip next month will be just the 2 of us. I am debating if we should stay somewhere else before the conference starts to get to know different parts of Barcelona or if we should stay all 8 days in the same spot. Would you have any input on this? We are using this trip to get a better idea of where to stay and what to see for our trip in August... We both love great food, wine, and live music! Not necessarily crazy loud over the top dance clubs/ bars but definitely still some nightlife!! We would love to see all the main attractions of Barcelona and perhaps explore the beach one day. Planning on arriving Feb 20 and flying back home on Feb 28th. We would consider something up to the $450/night range. Thanks so much in advance for your input!
    • January 21, 2020 at 2:18 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Lucia, No problem at all, glad to help! :) My instincts are telling me from the hop that it'd be a hassle to check out of one place and check into another. Even though Barcelona is a big city you'd be amazed by how accessible it is with the metro. There are stops everywhere and trains run every few minutes. You'll be able to see the entire city in 8 days regardless of where you're staying. I personally would just stay in the same place, unless you had some specific desire to experience multiple types of hotels. Based on your tastes it sounds like you'd be well suited to find a place in El Born. Two top places here around your budget at the H10 Port Vell and the Duquesa Suites. Take a look and let me know what you think :) Cheers, Ash
      • January 21, 2020 at 2:47 am
        Lucia
        Ash, Thank you sooo much for your quick reply! Could you tell me about how far of a commute we should expect from the El Born área to the Barcelona Convention Center on a busy weekday morning or evening? We would be willing to either use public, or private transportation, if needed. Secondly, what area is the Barcelona Convention Center located in? As we have began to explore hotels in that area, I am not sure where we should look if we would like to stay in a close proximity while the conference is going on (Feb 25-27). Once again, thank you sooo much for all your help! You are amazing!
        • January 21, 2020 at 11:10 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Hi Lucia, Are you referring to the International Convention Centre? This is located in the La Mina/Poble Nou area... it's not the nicest place to stay even though it's by the water, but luckily out of all the old town neighbourhoods El Born is the closest to here. Expect to get there in 20-25 minutes by metro or less by taxi naturally. I wouldn't worry so much about the proximity as long as you don't mind a little bit of a walk :) Ash
  • January 1, 2020 at 4:42 am
    Sophia
    Hello Ash, Thank you so much for this informative site! I've seen other people's comments about staying in the area prior to a cruise. This will be the case for my party of 9 at the end of May for 3 days; 3 people in their mid to late 70's, my husband and myself (both very active) and 4 kids; 16,15,13 & 12. Is there a specific location which we should focus on for lodging? We will want to explore, but are also aware that not everyone in the group is up for walking the way my husband and I normally do. I've been looking at Airbnb & VRBO, but haven't had much luck. Thank you for any insight you can offer.
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