Posted: 9/28/2021 | September 28th, 2021
Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in all of Europe. It has medieval neighborhoods, fairytale architecture (¡hola, Gaudí!), incredible restaurants, world-class art museums, and a vibrant city life all hugged up against the azure Mediterranean Sea.
The city has roots that stretch back to the Roman Empire, though it was in the Middle Ages (when it was its own country) that it came into its own as an economic powerhouse in the Western Mediterranean.
Today, Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous Catalonia region (which has sought separation from Spain on numerous occasions) and is the second most populous city in the country. I have loved the city since I first visited as a backpacker in 2006. It lived up to all the expectations I had and subsequent visits on endeared the city to me.
With a population of 1.6 million spread out over 10 districts (and 73 neighborhoods), travelers have a lot of areas to choose from that isn’t the Gothic center
To help you figure out where to stay, in this post, I’ll break each neighborhood down and give you suggested places to stay for each of them.
But, first, I want to quickly answer some questions I frequently get asked about Barcelona:
What’s the best neighborhood for budget travelers?
Sant Antoni is crammed with lots affordable accommodation options and cheap tapas bars.
What’s the best neighborhood for nightlife?
La Barceloneta features a bounty of bars, restaurants, and clubs that line the beach. The Gothic Quarter is also another good area if you want to party, though it’s more touristy.
What’s the best neighborhood for families?
Gràcia is a quiet, pedestrian-friendly part of town that is perfect when you (or your kids) want to get some rest from all that sightseeing.
Barcelona Neighborhood Overview
Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: La Barceloneta
The seaside area known as La Barceloneta might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for fun clubs with an ocean breeze, this is it. Just gravitate toward the iconic Hotel Arts building and you’ll be met by handfuls of bars, restaurants, and clubs. And be sure to stop and gawk at the Frank Gehry–designed sculpture of a fish called “Peix.” Be sure to watch your stuff at the beach!
Best places to stay in La Barceloneta
- BUDGET: Sea Hostel Barcelona – This hostel is right on the beach. The beds aren’t anything to write home about but it’s the only hostel in the area, making it the best budget choice for anyone looking to soak up La Barceloneta without breaking the bank.
- MID-RANGE: Hotel 54 – This stylish hotel offers terrace views over the beach, as well as free Wi-Fi and AC. There’s a bar on-site and the hotel is just a short jaunt to the metro. They offer a continental breakfast too.
- LUXURY: W Barcelona – With an infinite pool, rooftop bar, and posh rooms boasting Nespresso machines and Bluetooth Bose stereos, this is the peak of luxury in the neighborhood. The views aren’t bad either!
Best Neighborhood for Families: Gràcia
Gràcia is far from where tour buses and groups roam. It’s quiet and tranquil, and many of its streets are pedestrianized, so no need to worry about those pesky cars, especially if you have kids in tow. And the neighborhood hugs Gaudí’s wonderfully weird Park Güell. His Casa Vicens can be found here too, as well as the 19th-century clock tower in Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia.
Best places to stay in Gràcia
- BUDGET: Factory Hostels – This has dorm rooms, mixed rooms, female-only dorm rooms. And a great location right next to Park Güell. Breakfast is included too.
- MID-RANGE: Hotel BestPrice Gràcia – Ignore the generic name of this affordable, centrally located spot in Gràcia and cozy up in one of the slightly funky rooms that offer enough comfort to keep you happy for a few days. Families may want to opt for the Deluxe Family Room.
- LUXURY: Sonder Le Palacete – Housed in a building from the 1920s, the 10-room La Palacete has a modern vibe. Some rooms have freestanding bathtubs and others have terraces.
Best Neighborhood for Foodies: Sant Antoni
A relatively off-the-radar neighborhood for visitors, Sant Antoni is a hip part of town and a great place for those who like to indulge in food and drink. Browse the dozens of food stalls at the Mercat de San Antoni (there will be fewer tourists there than at La Boquería) and then go on a vermouth crawl, sipping low-priced glasses of the libation while trying to decide which of the neighborhood’s great restaurants you’re going to dine in. Be sure to snap some photos of the Torres Venecianes, a monument from the 1920s inspired by Venice.
Best places to stay in Sant Antoni
- BUDGET: TOC Hostel Barcelona – The social hostel offers backpackers a super secure place to stay (they have fingerprint scanners at the door). There’s a laid-back lounge and common area with games, and outdoor pool, and cozy pod beds that ensure you’ll get a decent sleep.
- MID-RANGE: Market – A stylish mid-range hotel in Sant Antoni, Market’s 68 rooms offer all the perks you’d expect from a sleek hotel, plus bathrooms with large showers and magnifying mirrors.
- LUXURY: Eric Vökel Gran Via Suites – A series of luxury apartments with spacious guests’ quarters. Some apartments have balconies; all have complimentary breakfast.
Best Neighborhood for History: The Gothic Quarter
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gòtic in the local parlance, is oozing with two thousand years of it. You can dine at the oldest restaurant in town — Can Culleretes — and then stroll the narrow streets, taking in the ancient ambiance. And don’t miss the La Boquería, the famed food market, as well as the towering Barcelona Cathedral.
Best places to stay in the Gothic Quarter
- BUDGET: Kabul Party Hostel – Kabul is my favorite hostel in the city (and is tied for my favorite hostel in all of Europe). It’s a full-on party place, where they organize nightly events and pub crawls. Surprisingly, the dorms are clean and the beds are decent (the bunks do squeak a bit though). It’s super social and really easy to meet people here.
- MID-RANGE: Hotel Colón – Located across from Barcelona Cathedral, Colón’s 129 design-friendly rooms boast Nespresso coffee machines, teakettles, and bathrobes. Many rooms have spectacular views of the cathedral.
- LUXURY: Serras – Comfort to the max, Serras offers soundproof rooms with balconies, a nightly turndown service, plus-sized rain showers, USB ports, international electrical outlets, and complimentary newspapers and bottled water. The rooftop restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef is good too!
Best Neighborhood for Luxury: Eixample
If you like Gaudí, modern design, and high-end shopping, Eixample is where you should be hanging out while in Barcelona. The elegant neighborhood, known for its 19th-century street-grid design, has avenues flanked by upscale restaurants, cafés, and boutiques. Many of Gaudí’s works can be found here too, including Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia (which is still not quite complete).
Best places to stay in Eixample
- BUDGET: St. Christopher’s Inn – This is one of my favorite hostels in Europe. It has co-ed and female-only dorm rooms, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary breakfast. There’s also a laid-back bar on the premises and a shared kitchen, so it’s easy to hang out and meet people.
- MID-RANGE: Hotel Praktik Vinoteca – Got wine? This sweet hotel does. Plenty of it. You can arrange to have a tasting of four different wines, led by the in-house master sommelier and accompanied by cheese and snacks.
- LUXURY: Cram – Yeah, it’s kind of an odd name, but once you scan your card key and open the door to your ultra-comfy room, complete with huge beds, plush robes and slippers, and all the other trappings of luxury, you won’t care what the name of the hotel is. Bonus: the in-house restaurant has two Michelin stars.
Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world. Everything you’ve heard about it is true. Any one of these neighborhoods will ensure you’re central to everything. With a little planning, you’ll be able to find the best neighborhood in Barcelona for your budget and travel style, ensuring you have the best visit possible.
Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!
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Book Your Trip to Barcelona: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in Barcelona!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for nomads)
- World Nomads (most comprehensive)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Need a Guide?
Barcelona has some really interesting tours. My favorite company is Take Walks. This day tour company will give you inside access to attractions and places you can’t get elsewhere. Their guides rock too!
If you want to do a bike tour, check out Fat Tire Tours. They offer tours that are fun and informative. They’re my favorite company to go with. They even have some food-themed tours too.
Want More Information on Barcelona?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to Barcelona for even more planning tips!