6 Best Areas to Stay in Barcelona During Your First Trip (2020 Updated)

Barcelona. The heart and soul of Spanish life and culture, this town is in the bucket list of travelers and adventurers from all corners of the world. Whether you want to experience a memorable vacation, a soul-searching trip or a loving honeymoon, Barcelona will call you to herself and show you the wonders of life in Europe.

To make your first trip to Barcelona perfect and worth it, it is necessary to plan for everything ahead. One of the most important factors of any trip is the accommodation and figuring out the best areas to stay in Barcelona.

Barcelona offers a lot of options regarding places to stay, and if you go in without the first idea about its local areas and towns, then you are bound to make regrettable choices. These mistakes can affect your trip and in the worst case, can make it miserable.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about some of the best areas to stay in for your first trip to Barcelona. Here, you will know about the key qualities of these towns, where you should go for the best experiences and some of the lodging options in each town.

You should know that the city is not very big and you can actually walk from one place to the other. Each destination is close by when you stay in Barcelona.

6 Best Areas to Stay in Barcelona

Let’s get started.

1. Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter
Photo credit: Catharina Rytter

This beautiful medieval town forms the heart of the old-town Barcelona. Most of the buildings in this town are from the 14th and 15th centuries. This picture-perfect town, with its signature museums, galleries, shops, bars, restaurants, is guaranteed to take you off your feet.

Like the sort of travelers that frequent here, this town beautifully blends the old with the new. Therefore, if you like strolling through history and hip bars, this town is calling for you.

Best Attractions

With its picturesque architecture and archeological remains, just walking around and sightseeing will take up most of your day. The Barcelona Cathedral, the remains at Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, the Picasso museum, Museu Frederic Marès, Placa Reial and Citadel Park are some of the iconic landmarks of this town. 

You can also take part in the walking tours. These are the best ways to learn about the history and legends made up about this town. Some of the popular tours take you through August’s Temple, the Palatine Chapel of Santa Agata and the Cloister Cathedral.

Apart from the historical sights and buildings, the Gothic Quarter offers impeccable dining. If you want a fun and engaging food tour, then you should partake in the “Traditional Barcelona Food Tour with Tapas, Wine & Dinner”.

If you can’t participate in any of that, just walking through the atmospheric alleys or sitting in a quiet café table in one of the squares is good enough.

Places to Stay

You can find most of Barcelona’s cheap lodgings in the Gothic Quarter. That does not mean they are low quality though. You will find some that of the best places to stay in Barcelona are in the Gothic Quarters. The accommodations range from classy boutique hotels to small and modest choices.

If you want a sophisticated impeccable experience, then you should go to the Hotel Do. It is a neoclassical building design by renowned architect Oriol Bohigas. It was renovated to give you a timeless and contemporary experience.

Wanna know what it’s like to live in a castle? For a luxurious stay in a palace, the Neri Hotel is a great choice. This stunning 18th-century palace was renovated to hold only 22 rooms and suites which were furnished with rescued timber, flowing swags and granite-toned bathrooms.

2. El Raval

El Raval - Best Areas to Stay in Barcelona
Photo by trolvag

Another part of the old town, El Raval is rich in historical footprints. Unlike the Gothic Quarter, this area went through a few changes over time. During the medieval ages, this town had a high density in churches, hospitals and monasteries. Then by the 20th century, it took a complete turn and became the city’s prominent red-light district.

This area went through remarkable changes during the last two decades. And right now, it is home to some of the inventive galleries, museums, hip bars, designer restaurants and more. This town gets especially lively at night because of its popularity among the younger tourists. So, don’t plan a family vacation here.

Best Attractions

As I mentioned earlier, the main features of this town are it’s bohemian shops, restaurants, food market and art museums. The city’s contemporary art museum MACBA is located here. 

One of the most famous spots in this town is the enormous food market, La Boqueria. It is a great place to check out if you want to know more about the Catalonian culture and its delicacies. You can find a vast assortment of local meat and cheese here. Among the designer bars, “Bar Marsella” is particularly popular. This is a 19th-century absinthe bar that still holds it’s original ambiance and is frequented by artists. Hemingway and Picasso used to be regulars in this bar.

One other unique spectacle of this town is the “El Gato de Botero”. It is a huge cat statue made by a guy named Fernando Botero. This should be the sole reason for you to stay in this town.

Places to stay

There are different options to choose from regarding accommodations around El Raval. Depending on your budget you can select your preferable inn or hotel that can give you a good taste on the life and culture of Barcelona.

If you would like to stay in a local landmark, then you can check out the Barcelo Raval. It has a huge top-floor terrace with a 360-degree view. Other than that, there’s also a plunge pool and bright and open rooms. The best part about it though is that it’s only a 5-minute walk away from the MACBA.

If you want something extravagant and classic, Hotel Espana Ramblas is a fine place. It is a 19th-century building that has been redone to fit the modern style. It also houses a Mediterranean restaurant run by the famous chef Martín Berasategui. With it’s one of a kind qualities, this hotel gained immense popularity in a very short time.

3. La Rambla

La Rambla

Unlike all other areas we are going to talk about, this one is actually a street. It goes through the district of Ciutat Vella, with the Gothic Quarter on it’s east and El Raval on the west. This street is a bright reflection of the heart and life of Barcelona with its cafes, restaurants, flower stalls, newspaper stands, pet canaries and a lot more.

Whether you decide to stay here or not, a trip to Barcelona without a day spent in the Ramblas would be a pity. The famed poet Federico Garcia Lorca described it as, “the only street in the world which I wish would never end”.

Best Attractions

Staying in La Rambla means staying in center of all the action. This street is the best for shopping and eating with its restaurants, bars, markets, artisan vendors and street performers. You can spend the day strolling through the souvenir stores, restaurants, pet canaries, and book stores. You can get your palms read, your portrait painted, buy jewelry, or goof around the human statues and buskers.

Places to Stay

Compared to other parts, this street does have a steeper bargain.

However, if you are on the younger side and looking for some value for money lodgings, you can go for Hostal Benidorm. This is a common choice among young travelers. It has rooms available for 1 to 5 people.

If you are looking for a luxury stay, then it can’t get better than the Hotel 1898. It is restored from a 19th-century tobacco company HQ. The colonial-style architecture houses different styles of suites, some with their private gardens, pools and Jacuzzis.

4. Barceloneta

Barceloneta - Best Areas to Stay in Barcelona
Photo: Markus Schieder/iStock

If you prefer bunking up by the sea, then look no further than Barceloneta. This 18th-century town has a beach on one side and the harbor on the other. It was initially designed as a street grid which is still evident by it’s long, narrow streets and squares.

Once home to fishermen and metal workers, this town was hugely gentrified during the ’92 Olympics. Now it is home to luxurious beach hotels and boutique bars and clubs. 

Best Attractions

Barceloneta is famous for its seafood restaurants. So, if you plan for a fine lunch in the open sun, then any of the harborside restaurants in this town will scratch your itch. 

If you want to enjoy the classic Barcelona nightlife, you can check out the many bars and clubs of Barceloneta. Some of the night clubs are active till 7 a.m.

To take in the entire view of the Balearic sea, nothing can top a ride on the cross-harbor cable car. This thrilling ride will take you across the inner harbor, starting from the Torre Sant Sebastia, at the foot of Barceloneta, to the Torre Miramar in Montjuic.

Places to stay

For a luxurious stay, check out the W Barcelona, this signature sail-shaped building is also one of the city’s most iconic architectures. Include the rooftop bar, infinity pool and rooms with wide views of the harbor and city, and you’ll have a memorable trip to Barcelona.

5. Eixample

Eixample

Okay, first thing’s first, it’s pronounced “aye-sham-pla”. The name literally means “extension”. Not unlike Barceloneta, this area was designed as a street grid during the 19th century. Now it has some of the most iconic modernist buildings like Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.

This vast street grid can be called Barcelona’s main business and shopping district because it has some of the fanciest shops, restaurants, galleries and bars. Some of the most luxurious hotels in Barcelona are also in this district. The main street of Eixample, the Paseig de Gracia offers a more upscale stay with its 4 and 5-star hotels and posh stores like Dior, LV and Valentino. 

Best Attractions

As mentioned above, the show-stopping modernist architecture is one of the unique features in this area. You can take a walking tour of the area that would take you through the most iconic buildings in the town. There is also an open-air museum called the Dreta de l’Eixample which features some of the notable buildings, focusing on the works of Antoni Gaudi I Cornet, Lluis Domenech I Montaner and Josep Puig I Cadafalch.

This town can be a shopper’s heaven with its array of designer storefronts and brands. There are also some of the premium galleries, shops, boutiques and restaurants. If you feel like dining at one of the best tapas spots in Barcelona, you can try the Cerveseria Catalana. Try getting there during off-peak hours to avoid long waiting lines.

Eixample is also popular among young tourists, especially the area of Sant Antoni is a big hit among millennials for its trendy bars and clothing stores. This town is also center of Barcelona’s LGBT community.

Places to stay

As you already know, this town has some of the most extravagant hotels in Barcelona. If you seek a pampered and luxurious stay, you have a lot to choose from. But don’t worry, there are lots of budget-friendly and economical lodging options too.

For a lavish 5-star accommodation with a full spa and rooftop pool, you can opt for the Majestic Hotel and Spa. You can easily quench your shopping needs as it is located right at the heart of the shopping square of the town, sandwiched between Burberry and Gucci and climbed on top of Chanel. 

If you’re looking for an atmospheric and cheerful Bed & Breakfast, then check out the BarcelonaBB. It’s an apartment designed as a B&B lodging. The best features of this B&B are its lovely rooms, variant breakfast and cordial hosts.

For a fashionable high-spec experience, we recommend the 5Rooms. With its beautiful rooms, original artwork (some of these are for sale), and drop-dead gorgeous bathrooms, the impeccable taste and style shines brightly around this guest house.

6. Garcia

Garcia - Best Areas to Stay in Barcelona
Photo: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/

Let me ask you this, do you want to experience the actual daily life of a Barcelona local? Are you tired of the touristy vacation and want to relax? Look no further than Garcia. This town is far away from the center of the city.

Garcia is perfect for those who want to dive in the culture and local vibe of Barcelona. With its lack of tour buses and quiet ambiance, it will give you a care-free and relaxed experience to end your Barcelona tour.

Best Attractions

Since this town is ideal for travelers who want a relaxing experience away from the city’s noise and traffic, one of the best attractions of this area is its pedestrian-only streets. This town with a soul is perfect for casual strolls around the alleys and narrow streets. I’m telling you, most of your days will pass by just aimlessly walking down one of its streets.

Other than that, you can hit one of the magnificent local bars or restaurants or even catch a movie in one of the theatres. The Plaça del Sol is the best place to experience the town’s nightlife. Also, for a good brunch, you can check out the clock-tower square.

A must-see attraction in this area is the surreal Parc Güell by architect Antoni Gaudi.

Places to stay

Most of the accommodations in this part of Barcelona are very local and simplistic, matching the town’s ambiance.

If you are looking for a hostel-style lodging, then go for the Casa Gracia. This simple and stylish space is housed in a modernist building that will give you a hotel-style experience despite being a hostel.

For a deluxe stay at a designated UNESCO world heritage site, try the Hotel Casa Fuster. Built by the renowned modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, this hotel is an elegant monument in itself. Its beautiful panoramic roof terrace, gorgeous bathrooms, pool and enormous rooms will definitely take your breath away.

Conclusion

Barcelona is a haven for beauty and tradition. It is enriched with architectural and historical monuments from all stages of time. With its vibrant traditions and local beauty, it has always attracted travelers and thrill-seekers from all around the globe.

On his 1862 visit to the city, Danish author Hans Christian Anderson named this city as the “Paris of Spain”. Describing the effects, it can have on a traveler, the Irish author Colm Toibin stated, “I stopped because I went to Barcelona, where life is too exciting to write”.

In this article, we gathered the best areas to stay in Barcelona and also mentioned some of the best areas to stay in Barcelona. Have a splendid and memorable stay.

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