Written by Ash

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


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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

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Related: Get a two hour walking tour of the Gothic Quarter for just 18 euro.

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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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

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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.


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.


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.

Book the top hotels now!

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.

  • October 15, 2019 at 1:18 pm
    Hi Ash! Thank you so much for all the information you provide, we are going in February and I hope to have read all your articles by then! I was just wondering if you are familiar with Sant Andreu and could recommend some nice things to see or do near there?
    • October 15, 2019 at 3:20 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Mirella, I stayed in Sant Andreu for a week awhile back... well, many years back! There aren't any major attractions there though the park called Parque de la Pegaso was quite nice and they also have Catalonia's biggest shopping centre: La Maquinista. Other than that I'm not so sure but luckily you'll be close to the city if you need it :) Ash
      • October 15, 2019 at 4:44 pm
        That sounds awesome! I’m sure we will spend most of our time in the city (so many things to do!) but it would be nice to see some of the local area as well. Thank you very much! x
        • October 16, 2019 at 10:47 am
          Team Member
          Hi Mirella, Great to hear! At the end of the day when I was there I just went for long walks in the evening... sometimes you stumble upon a nice little square full of locals and far from the tourists. That's my advice :) Ash
  • September 16, 2019 at 10:00 am
    im travelling to Barcelona solo for three days where is the best place to stay on ? and how i can go the Marseille from Barcelona ? thank you
    • September 16, 2019 at 11:51 am
      Hola Rawan, As a resident I naturally haven't stayed in a lot of hotels over my time, though I've compiled a list of decently priced hotels which are 1-3 stars in my article on where to stay in Barcelona. You can also get some great ideas in the article on the best area to stay in Barcelona. If you're considering apartments know that often they offer better value. Here is a list of the top holiday apartments in this post. For solo travellers there are two websites that were a great help: Couchsurfing (Not only does it put you in contact with many locals (possibly even giving you free places to stay) but it has tons of local events that are organized by locals and travelers alike) and (In Barcelona there are tons of events (in English) from hikes to pickup basketball to dance or cooking classes and more organized by locals and with a big mix of people showing up). To go to Marseille from Barcelona, you can check trains on the renfe website, take a flight or a bus and even consider carpooling! Let me know if you have any more questions or need some custom advice ;)
  • September 4, 2019 at 7:14 pm
    Hello Ash: Thanks for a really great run down of the different neighborhoods. My wife and I and are two 20 something daughters are planning a 3 day visit pre cruise next July. I'm looking to stay in a safe area that is near some sites but not noisy. I had heard that the Eixample area would work for us but the apartment I found is on Las Ramblas Catalunya which I read can be very noisy. We plan to walk or use taxis so proximity to public transportation is not important but would like a nice variety of good restaurants within walking distance of where we stay. Thanks. Ron
    • September 5, 2019 at 11:33 am
      Team Member
      Hi Ron, Rambla de Catalunya is mostly pedestrian so won't have a lot of speeding/commuter traffic throughout the day and at night it should be OK. If you've got a great hotel along there I wouldn't have a problem at all. Otherwise, I'm thinking maybe a traffic-free area like Gracia or El Born as they are flooded with good food and a lot of walking distance attractions. Cheers, Ash
      • September 5, 2019 at 5:16 pm
        Thanks for the help. The hotel we were looking at was the Aspasios Rambla Catalunya.
        • September 6, 2019 at 10:33 am
          Team Member
          Yes, this is more towards the crowded Plaça Catalunya etc. but again... a nice hotel like this should sound-proof the rooms and the street traffic is very little due to there only being 2 lanes. That said, maybe I'd check some of the reviews on Booking to see if anybody mentions the noise.
  • August 28, 2019 at 10:05 pm
    Finnich vessal
    Hi, Ash This post has totally blown me away. I just kept reading and going ‘OMG’ as I went further down the page. What an incredible experience and you packed so many fantastic things in this amazing post, Your photos are absolutely stunning as well. Also is there something special that you would suggest for us to see during December in Barcelona? because I am planing to visit. Thanks so much for your help
    • August 29, 2019 at 1:09 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Finnich, Thanks so much! I'm glad the post resonated with you, that was the idea :) Without knowing any concrete dates it's hard for me to say... that said, there are some Christmas markets and other thingsd related to the holiday season that are well worth seeing. I've got a post about visiting during December/Christmas here: Also, in my events post here: I break down a few other options. At any rate, please get in touch closer to the time with some concrete dates and I can do a search for you to see what's going on. A lot of these things are only announced in November so it's hard to speculate at this point. Cheers, Ash
  • August 23, 2019 at 3:35 pm
    Kim Metje
    Hello. What a great site you have going. Very helpful. That said, my husband and I are taking a Viking cruise that will end the last two days in Barcelona. We are staying an extra night in Barcelona after we get off the ship. My questions are: Should we skip the cruise tours and get the Travel Pass and go on our own? What should we do the afternoon and evening once we disembark from the ship and where should we stay while there on our one night? Appreciate your help and your site! Kim
    • August 24, 2019 at 1:01 pm
      Team Member
      Hi Kim, Thanks so much for the kind words :) Unfortunately I'm quite ignorant about the cruise tours... what exactly is involved there? Without knowing it's hard for me to suggest an alternative plan. If you prefer independent travel I would definitely just do the first two days of my 3 day itinerary as it would cover the main sights and sounds of the city. I even have an article for cruise passengers with a tailored tour with the Bus Turistic and some hotel suggestions. I would check that out as I couldn't have worded it any better than there :) Cheers, Ash
  • August 19, 2019 at 9:32 pm
    we are traveling with 2 kids 4 & 8 and we have 4 nights in Barcelona. Which area would you suggest?
    • August 20, 2019 at 9:18 am
      Team Member
      Hi Moumita, With kids I usually recommend El Born (for beach and park proximity) or Gracia for its tranquility, lack of cars, and plethora of squares :) Cheers, Ash
      • August 20, 2019 at 7:14 pm
        we will be traveling in december, so not sure how much of the beach we can use Thanks for your response
        • August 21, 2019 at 2:08 pm
          Team Member
          Ah yes! In this case it's good for an afternoon stroll but not much else :) You're welcome.
  • August 12, 2019 at 11:35 pm
    Hello Ash! Thanks for the really useful and detailed article! My friend and I would be taking a short trip down to Barcelona in Dec. We only have 4 days in Barcelona and we have a early morning flight. Which area do you suggest which is closest to the attractions but also safe? It will be nice if this place is well connected to the airport so that its easy for us to travel out of Barcelona. Also is there something special that you would suggest for us to see during Christmas period in Barcelona? Thanks so much for your help
    • August 13, 2019 at 10:14 am
      Team Member
      Hi Sija, Thanks for your very kind words :) The neighbourhood that comes to mind for me is El Born since you'll be able to walk up to the Aerobus in the early morning (or grab the city bus if it's really really early) and it's really convenient for sightseeing and has tons of cafes and bars. I would also recommend as a second choice the area of Gracia, though it'll be slightly less convenient for the airport transport. During Christmas the events haven't been announced yet but you can get some good ideas from my post on visiting Barcelona over Christmas holiday. Cheers, Ash
  • August 9, 2019 at 2:19 am
    Hi Ash, i felt so lucky to have found your website!! It is so helpful and informative!! Thank you for providing us with such detailed information!! I will be travelling to Barcelona with husband, my dad and our 11 years old daughter but we will only be here for 4 days. We would like to make good use of these 4 days. We are looking for a hotel with spa facilities (hopefully can have adjoining rooms) or an apartment if we cant find the right hotel. Can you recommend a place to stay that is easy to get to tourist attraction places, not too far from the beach, lots of good food to eat and a more decent place (like not partying but more of family type) please? Please advice how we can make the most of the 4 days. Which beach has snorkelling for both adult and child please? Thank you very much for you help!!
    • August 9, 2019 at 8:45 am
      Team Member
      As for specific places I've run a search for you given your criteria (minus the spa, since there are few) in El Born so you may want to use this as a jumping off point.
    • August 9, 2019 at 8:41 am
      Team Member
      Hi Adele, Thank you so much for your very kind words! :) For beach proximity and not valuing nightlife but wanting amazing food the first two things that come to mind are Barceloneta or El Born. El Born is much nicer and less chaotic so I'd lean towards that neighbourhood. Honestly Barcelona isn't really a place for snorkeling, in fact I haven't heard of anybody doing it... there are usually consistent waves and most sea life probably stays clear of the crowds and subsequent rubbish that tends to accumulate, especially in summer. You'll need to go elsewhere to places like the Medes Islands or Vilanova which are both quite a trek. For how to take full advantage of the city I'd recommend reading my 3 day itinerary article, which is actually 4 days ;) If you need anything a little more custom though please don't hesitate to write back! Cheers, Ash
  • August 7, 2019 at 3:05 am
    Hi We r staying at Iiunion Almirate for 2 days before getting onto cruise. We have book to see the Sagrada Familia on the 2nd day at 2pm. We were wondering what order should we see Casa Mila, La Bogueria, Park Guell & Barcelona City History Museum. Also wondering what place is good to go to at night - heard about Flamengo & Tapas (is this place ok)
    • August 7, 2019 at 10:03 am
      Team Member
      Hi Joanne, I would walk over to La Boqueria first thing in the morning on day 2... then move up to see Park Guell around 10:00 or 11:00 before moving onto Sagrada. That should be a decent core of that day. You could then see Casa Mila and the City History Museum on the other day... this would be a good spacing out of time without getting too busy. I highly recommend seeing a flamenco show but you could also go to one of the city's rooftop bars or even check out the Magic Nights rooftop series at Casa Batllo. Cheers, Ash
  • July 31, 2019 at 2:32 pm
    Hello! Thank you for this and offering to help people out individually! I am travelling with my family to Barcelona for 6 days. While we want to have accessibility and public transport options (as my grandmother is joining as well) we don't want to stay where a lot of tourists convene. Our sightseeing is probably going to be limited to one day and walking around, eating good food and getting a more chill local feel of the city is more important to us. Ive found most apartments in Eixample or Gracia. I am leaning more towards Gracia just because of the Eixample apartments proximity to Sagrada Familia assuming its going to be swarming with tourists. Any thoughts, suggestions? Also found a nice sweet apartment in Sants Montjuic- is this part of the Sants area that you posted about and what are your thoughts? Thanks a bunch!
    • August 1, 2019 at 7:40 am
      Team Member
      Hi Diva, Eixample is a massive area so it's actually hard for me to comment without knowing exactly what part of Eixample your potential hotel is in. That said, if you're looking for less crowds but still being central and having a local feel then Gracia is just the perfect spot, especially if they're within short walking distance to either Fontana or Joanic metro stations. Sants is indeed the Sants I mentioned above. I lived there for 4 years and must say it was super convenient for transport and getting to the airport. Again though, its would depend on exactly where you find yourself. If you had some specific streets or even numbers I could probably comment better. Cheers, Ash
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