Where to stay in Barcelona: neighbourhood reviews
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and the most visited city in Spain, located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of 10 districts with a total population of more than 1.6 million people. All districts of Barcelona are special. One is known for its historic buildings and colorful pedestrian streets, in another you’ll find youth hostels and beaches, in a third you’ll meet people of creative professions.
The city is popular with tourists for its unusual architecture, dozens of museums and proximity to the sea. Every year, more than 18 million foreign visitors come here to see with their own eyes the famous houses designed by Antoni Gaudi, to walk through the huge park of the Ciutadella and have a look at the Sagrada Familia, which is currently under construction. In our article you will find a list of the best places to stay in Barcelona.
As for lodging, the price for a room at a 3* hotel can range from $40 to $500 depending on the area and proximity to attractions. A 5* hotel will cost $130 to $560 per night.
The Gothic Quarter is the most colorful area of Barcelona where the original buildings of the 14-15 centuries have been preserved. The narrow mazes of the streets, the Gothic temples and the mass of old houses are all about the Gothic Quarter.
Many tourists are advised to stay here because of its stunning atmosphere and very good location. It is also worth noting the developed transport infrastructure, a number of colorful cafes and cozy homely hotels.
Disadvantages: the lack of metro stations in the old city (you have to walk 15 minutes to the nearest one), high prices, the lack of conventional grocery stores nearby, the crowds of tourists.
- Jewish Quarter.
- Barcelona City Hall.
- Santa Maria del Pi church.
Raval is one of Barcelona’s main neighbourhoods, with many attractions and less than a 10-minute walk to the beach.
It used to be a very dysfunctional neighborhood, known to be home to girls of easy virtue and drug addicts. That has changed over time, but many locals still don’t recommend coming here at night – there are a lot of African and Asian immigrants living here now.
As for the pluses of the area, there are very low prices, a large number of second-hand and retro stores, better than which you can’t find in other parts of Barcelona. There are not many hotels, but a number of locals rent out their apartments to tourists. The nearest metro station is a 5-10 minute walk away.
- A gallery of modern art.
- Palau del Guell.
- Market San Antoni.
In Sant Pere is a neighborhood of narrow noisy streets surrounded by high medieval walls. It borders with the most popular touristic areas of Barcelona, the Eixample and the Gothic Quarter. The main pedestrian street is the Via Laietana, which links Sant Pere to the port.
There are always lots of tourists in this part of Barcelona because it has preserved its unique historical buildings and has a lot of cafes, restaurants, stores and hotels. The prices are above average. The markets are well worth a visit as the atmosphere here is simply breathtaking.
As for the disadvantages, it is too many tourists, the lack of normal transport links (because of the old buildings) and the abundance of pickpockets.
- Old Born Market.
- The palace of the eighteenth century in the Gothic style of Lonja de Mar.
- French railway station.
- Gothic 14th century church of Santa Maria del Mar.
- The new market of Santa Caterina.
Barcelonetta is one of the tourist areas of Barcelona where there are several times more tourists than locals. The reason is simple – the sea is nearby and most of the historical buildings are within walking distance.
There are a huge number of restaurants and cafes where tourists recommend to try freshly caught fish. There are no problems with nightlife either – dozens of bars and nightclubs stretch all along the coast.
As for the minuses, it’s always very noisy and crowded, the prices are quite high and it’s difficult to book a hotel room if you have less than two weeks to go. Grocery stores and museums are also hard to find in the Barceloneta area.
- The Aquarium.
- Museum of the History of Catalonia.
Among those districts of Barcelona, where it is better to stay a tourist should include the Eixample. This is one of the most comfortable neighborhoods in terms of layout and infrastructure. This is the center of Barcelona, but it is not as noisy as the waterfront, and you can always find a cozy hotel. The prices are above average.
The neighborhood is conventionally divided into the Old Eixample, the New Eixample, San Antoni and Fort Pius (where many Chinese live). The area is best known for the Ramblas and Gracia Boulevard which are the main tourist streets in the city.
Many tourists say it is better to stay here because all the attractions are within walking distance, and the local architecture (mostly houses of the XIX-XX centuries) causes much interest. For example, only in this part of town you can see buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi.
If your goal is to see the most colorful and interesting places of Barcelona, it is better to stay in an apartment or rent a hotel in this part of town.
The most interesting places are:
- The House of Spikes.
- Palau de la Música Catalana.
- Casa Batlló.
- Casa Mila.
- Casa Amalle.
- Casa Calvet.
Sants Monjuïc is the largest district of the city, located in the southern part (the exact location of this district of Barcelona can be seen on the map). It also includes the port, the Sants station and a number of villages that are part of the city. There are few museums and parks in this part of Barcelona, so not everyone will want to stay here.
The advantages are low prices, close beaches, beautiful sea views and a lot of green areas. An important factor is that tourists who come to Barcelona, get to this area is the easiest – it is the closest to the airport, and there is a station Sants.
The only thing tourists should be aware of is that it is better not to visit some streets at night, because it can be unsafe (mainly for the southern and western outskirts of the city).
- Montjuïc TV Tower.
- Olympic Park.
Les Courts is an exclusive district of Barcelona where you can find famous corporate skyscrapers and homes of wealthy local residents. This is also where you’ll find popular chain hotels and a huge number of restaurants. The prices are high.
It is safe, but also quite boring. The only potential place to relax is Elefhant nightclub, where the wealthy crowd gathers in the evenings.
It’s the same with the sights. The only thing worth checking out is FC Barcelona’s stadium – it’s better to do it during one of the matches.
This is probably the most boring and costly area for travelers, where not everyone wants to stay.
Pedralbes is the most expensive district of Barcelona, where you can meet famous politicians and stars of the first magnitude. Tourists shouldn’t stay here because this part of the Catalan capital is completely built up with elite houses and there are no sights there. The entertainment is worth including only the most expensive tennis club in Spain and a very popular polo club, but the prices in them are appropriate.
In fact, it is a very expensive bedroom community, which is far from the tourist trails and interesting cultural institutions. It is also important to know that transport links here are poor – the locals drive cars.
Sarria San Gervasi is Barcelona’s most luxurious neighborhood. Here you can find boutiques of the coolest brands as well as the most expensive cars and meet the most affluent people. You can’t stay cheap in this part of Barcelona – there are very few hotels, and all of them are 4 or 5*. But you can eat here – there are a lot of cafes and restaurants.
On the plus side, it’s very quiet. This is the part of Barcelona that is as safe as possible and there are no noisy nightclubs. You can say that it is a “home district”, where it is very comfortable to stay. The residential complex does not have any historical places, so it is rarely visited by tourists.
Gracia is the most creative district of Barcelona. It is a perfect place for artists, musicians, and poets. Students and locals like to spend time here as well. Despite the proximity of the city center (detailed map of districts of Barcelona in Russian below), there are very few tourists.
If we talk about the pros, it’s worth noting the safety, the large number of cultural institutions and cafes, the lack of crowds of tourists. In addition, the prices for housing are low, and many will be able to afford to stay here.
The main and only disadvantage is the minimal number of attractions.
Horta Guinardó is not the most popular district of Barcelona, because it is far from the famous sights and the local architecture is very distinctive. The pros of this half of the Catalan capital are the presence of three parks (the largest is Colserola), the lack of crowds of tourists and a measured lifestyle of the local population.
Interestingly, the majority of the population of Horta Guinardó are elderly people, so entertainment (especially at night) is quite a bit. You will not find a large number of cafes and restaurants here. But this is one of the places where you can cheaply stay in Barcelona.
The most interesting places are:
- Horta Labyrinth.
- El Carmel Bunker.
If you still don’t know which area of Barcelona is best to stay in, check out San Marti. It is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods that tourists love to live in. The reason is simple – there are many beaches nearby and, at the same time, the sights can be reached on foot.
This is the part of Barcelona with the highest concentration of hotels, where the prices vary a lot. If you take care of housing in advance, you can save a lot.
Another plus is the abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs, which are open until late at night. The area is safe enough, so you can not be afraid to walk along the waterfront in the evening.
The disadvantages are the crowds of tourists (especially many Russian-speaking) and very high prices in restaurants and stores during the season from May to September.
- Olympic Village.
Among the places worth staying in Barcelona is Poblenou, one of those European neighborhoods that were given new life at the beginning of the 21st century. It used to be an ordinary industrial quarter, where factories smoked day and night and hundreds of ordinary Spaniards worked. After the closing of a number of factories, the neighborhood was for a time unused, but at the beginning of the 2000s, a project was developed that made Poblenou one of the most creative and creative districts of the Catalan capital.
A large part of the neighborhood’s population are photographers, artists, filmmakers, writers and other creative people. Now many Catalans dream of living here. For tourists, this location could well be considered ideal. Firstly, the apartments in the area are quite large. Secondly, it is a short walk to the sea. Thirdly, it is not too many people. The prices will also be nice.
If you still do not know where to stay in this area of Barcelona, choose a spacious loft – such housing is the cheapest and most atmospheric.
As for places of interest, the area offers few historical buildings but in recent years, many cafes, restaurants, second-hand and vintage stores have appeared.
- Poblenou Cemetery. This is a historic cemetery in Barcelona where the first graves were made at the end of the 18th century. Tourists love this place for its hundreds of unusual sculptures and lush crypts.
- Park del Poblenou is an installation park where you can see a lot of unusual objects.
- Agbar Tower or “Cucumber” is one of the most controversial buildings in the Catalan capital, which nevertheless attracts a lot of tourists.
Diagonal Mar is the newest district of Barcelona, introduced in the northern part of the Catalan capital after the 2004 Cultural Forum. Plants and factories once stood there, but now it’s one of the fastest developing areas of the Catalan capital, where rich Catalans live.
The advantages of this area for tourists are: the proximity of the sea and beaches, well-developed transport infrastructure, the Diagonal-Mar Park and a small number of tourists.
The disadvantages are the complete lack of historical sites and a small number of hotels. But a lot of cafes and boutiques of famous brands.
We hope you’ve found the answer to the question of which area of Barcelona is best for a tourist to stay.
To summarize, we want to distinguish 4 types of districts in Barcelona:
- Youthful, where you can party until morning. These are Barceloneta, San Martí, Sant Pere and the Gothic Quarter.
- Family-oriented, where it’s cozy and not too noisy. Horta Guinardó, Sants Monjuïc, Eixample.
- Upscale. Diagonal Mar, Sarria-San Gervasi, Pedralbes, Les Corts. Lacking attractions and a ton of entertainment, these are the safest neighborhoods in Barcelona.
- Neighborhoods best suited for creative types. Poblenou, Gracia and Raval fall into this category. Their main feature is not historical buildings and museums, but unusual places to stay.
Neighborhoods of Barcelona, like cities, very different from each other with their history, culture and traditions, but each of them in its own interesting.
Where is the best place for a tourist to live in Barcelona:
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Which Barcelona neighborhood is better to stay in: pros and cons
Barcelona is a big and diverse city, full of many attractions, sometimes they become entire neighborhoods. On the hotel aggregators even experienced tourists have their eyes diluted. Choosing the right room or apartment can be difficult, because you do not know the city and do not understand in which area it is best to stay.
To help you with that, we’ve prepared an overview of the districts of Barcelona in terms of convenience for travelers. You’ll find even more useful information right away with a map in our app.
Barcelona consists of ten main districts:
Ciutat Vella or Old City – the historical center of Barcelona, Eixample or New City – the most densely populated area of Barcelona, Sants-Montjuic in the center of the area is Mount Montjuïc with the castle of the same name and a magnificent panorama of Barcelona, Les Corts, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Gràcia, Horta-Guinardó, Nou Baris, Sant Andreu, Sant Martín.
Not all of them will be of interest to tourists. We will talk about them below.
All links to hotels that we recommend are links to our partner site Booking.com. But since some time it became impossible to pay for hotel through them with a Russian card. There are two ways to solve this problem:
- Choose hotels with free booking and payment on the spot. There are such hotels, but they are sold first. Choose a hotel in advance and pay cash on the spot.
- Look for hotels on Hotellook. All methods of payment still work on that site. Here is the link.
The 7 best districts to stay in in Barcelona, and why?
Why stay here: Best restaurants in the city, non-mainstream shopping.
Disadvantages: The neighborhood is remote from the sea.
Gracia was an artisan village for a long time and didn’t join Barcelona until the end of the 19th century. This area was graced by the bohemia of artists, painters and young designers in whose stores you can buy exclusive clothing and vintage. In Gracia, Gaudí erected his first building, the Casa de Vicenç, and later the famous Park Güell. The area is home to restaurants of perhaps all the cuisines of the world. It’s a good neighborhood to stay in in Barcelona, it’s fun to walk around. There is even a separate tour of the neighborhood.
Eixample or Upper Town
The Eixample or Ensanche from “expansion” is a neighborhood of the city built after the walls of the Old City were torn down in the mid-19th century. The neighborhood is divided into blocks in the form of a grid. The original layout of the squares called for buildings to be on only two sides, with gardens and parks in the middle, but the economy of space eventually led to the blocks being built up with houses on all four sides. Some inner squares have been opened up in recent years to become small parks.
Why stay in Eixample: cleanliness, lots of big supermarkets, good transport infrastructure.
Disadvantages: Is remote from the sea.
Eixample is Barcelona’s largest neighborhood, where most of the Catalan middle class lives. The streets here are strictly perpendicular to each other. This neighborhood is called the “cradle of modernism” because it is in the Eixample that Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló are located. For those who love shopping, the Eixample is home to large shopping malls including the El Corte Ingles department store and the brand stores of Passeig de Gracia. Not only can you stay in a hotel, but also in an apartment.
Why stay in Barceloneta: very close to the sea and nightlife, the area is centrally located.
Disadvantages: no big supermarkets, high prices.
Barceloneta – only for young, hardcore, party people and fans of clubs. In a season it’s very noisy, tourists from England and Italy make a lot of trouble for them, for example, to pee from the balcony or to go to the store in their clothes. The locals demonstrated and demanded to stop renting out apartments to tourists in the area, after which Barcelona stopped issuing licenses for tourist apartments.
There are many people who would say that to live in the Catalonian capital is in the area of Barceloneta, because it means to see the sea every day (the road to it takes maximum 10 minutes). The Catalans themselves, however, not much complain about the local beach: in the high season on it there is no place to fall, and the quality of the water leaves much to be desired. There are numerous seafood restaurants on Barceloneta, but they’re also well priced for tourists.
From a port area into a prestigious resort area, Barceloneta was transformed by the ’92 Olympics. Traces of the past can be seen, for example, in the apartments – they are cramped here, because they were built mainly for fishermen.
For party goers, the most popular nightclubs such as Opium, CDLC and the discotheque at the W Hotel are a few hundred meters away. And then there are the athletes. If you don’t take your exercise on vacation, the promenade along the Barceloneta is an ideal place for morning and evening jogs.
Transport is well developed – there’s a station on the Barceloneta yellow metro line and buses to the center.
The area is great to go to the beach or take a guided walk (you can book here), but be careful when choosing accommodation.
Why stay here: close to the sea, lots of museums and bars.
El Born is a quiet and comfortable area of Barcelona. Ideal for those who like to wander around the city without a map, stopping for a coffee. The main attractions are the church of Santa Maria del Mar and the Picasso Museum. In the evening, there are numerous bars with reasonable price tags. Born is adjacent to Barcelona, so the sea is easily accessible on foot. You can also get to the Estación de Francia, which will take you to Sitges, Gava or other beach destinations.
Why stay in Raval: Low prices for accommodation, a good choice of cafes and restaurants.
Disadvantages: not safe at night.
Raval is still notorious for being the site of brothels and gangs of robbers less than a century ago. This area of Barcelona is still home to many migrants and has been the scene of unpleasant incidents at night. At the same time, Raval has become the center of attraction for alternative youth in recent years. It is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA), around which skaters gather, and the Center for Contemporary Culture (CCCB). But for a true sense of Barcelona’s youthful vibe, this authentic district is worth a guided tour.
Why stay here: Practically the center of the city, landmarks, shopping and historical atmosphere.
Disadvantages: very noisy, touristy prices. The Born and Gothic Quarter neighborhoods are narrow streets that will not allow you to hail a cab to your hotel or the house where you have rented an apartment. If you flew in for shopping, you will have to stomp your feet with a pile of bags or heavy suitcases.
The neighborhood delights with its Gothic architecture (especially the Cathedral) and the intertwining of narrow streets. It is wonderful to walk (be sure to download our audio guide), but not very comfortable to live in. Firstly, in summer, especially on soccer match days, it will be difficult to sleep here because of the noise. Second, it’s adjacent to the Ramblas, where thefts occur every now and then.
Pedralbes is home to Barça stars Messi and Neymar, as well as politicians and showbiz stars. Here is the most expensive real estate in Barcelona, but the list of attractions is limited to the monastery after which the area is named. So, living in this area, you will certainly get comfort, but do not expect the sights to be within walking distance.
These are not the only districts in Barcelona – but the rest will not be as attractive to tourists because of their remoteness from the center.
Dangerous districts of Barcelona
Barcelona as a whole is a safe city. One exception is Lower Raval, the red-light district, where it can be unsettling in the evening and at night.
Also around the most famous attractions of Barcelona, especially on La Rambla, gangs of petty crooks operate. They work in groups of 2 or 3. Be on the alert, watch your belongings, follow the basic rules of security, and nothing will happen to you: do not take anything from suspicious individuals, do not lose sight of your pockets and purses.
Barcelona, like many megacities, is a city of contrasts. And so almost every tourist can find a neighborhood to his liking. We have told you about the main pros and cons of each of them, and the choice is up to you.