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The best places to stay in Barcelona

By Jeanette Parkin

21 August 2018 | Updated 24 November 20237 min read

Aerial view of Port Vell, Barcelona beach and city of Barcelona

Deciding to visit Barcelona is the easy bit. And booking cheap flights to Barcelona is a doddle. But figuring out the best places to stay in Barcelona can be a challenge.

In this bustling sun-drenched city, you can go for beachside stays with the children, romantic breaks for two with rooftop pools and bags of style, or weekend journeys into Barcelona's food or nightlife scenes.

Do you stay in a boutique pad by the beach? Go for hip hotels in gentrified districts? Sleep close to the best bars and clubs?

Our expert guide breaks down Barcelona's best neighbourhoods to stay in for every type of traveller.

Vila Olimpica

Best places for families

With plenty of nearby green spaces and easy access to beaches, plus larger hotels featuring family rooms and facilities, one of the best places to stay in Barcelona with a family is Vila Olimpica.

The former Olympic Village sits just along the coast from the districts of Barceloneta and El Born and has good transport links into the rest of the city if you’re looking to rally the troops for sightseeing days out.

Vila Olimpica’s beach, Platja de la Nova Icària, is a long, family-friendly sandy sweep with all the usual seaside amenities and watersport activities. A promenade separates the sand from a bustling strip of restaurants, cafes and shops where you’ll find something to entertain all ages - from a local shopping mall to chilled beach bars.

If in need of a break from the beach, Parc de la Ciutadella is located just to the south – the boating lake and Barcelona Zoo are sure to prove popular with little ones.

The Barri Gòtic

Best places for nightlife

Looking for the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife? With heaps of after-dark dancing and drinking, the Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter) is a top choice.

The medieval core of Barcelona and as central as you can get (just steps from La Rambla), Barri Gòtic is one of Barcelona's buzziest neighbourhoods - all alleyways and squares, bars and nightclubs.

As you can expect, it's a big draw for younger crowds, so if you’re looking for a quieter night's sleep, this is probably not the base for you. But if you’re looking to sip sophisticated sundowners from a rooftop bar or dance the night away until dawn, there’s something for all types of night owl.

Eating and drinking options abound here – one of the most atmospheric spots is Can Culleretes. Claiming the title of Barcelona’s oldest restaurant, it’s a great place to fill up on classic Catalan dishes before hitting up a boho bar for after-dinner drinks.

ZT The Golden Hotel Barcelona

  • Barcelona, Barcelona Area, Spain
  • 9 July 2024
  • Half board
  • From Manchester

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£538

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Eixample

Best for couples

If shopping and sightseeing rank above nightlife on your couples break to Barcelona, consider staying in Eixample.

This upmarket neighbourhood is right at the heart of the action and has some of the best romantic boltholes, ranging from large modern hotels to boutique hideaways. There are plenty of charming restaurants and bars to match - take your pick of stylish eats around the iconic Plaça de Catalunya square or head for tapas at La Bodegueta.

Dreta de l'Eixample (the 'right' side of the district) is where you’ll find some of Gaudi's finest works, including the Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and the Passeig de Gràcia. Should you be in need of any more romantic architecture, La Sagrada Familia is close by, to round off your Gaudi education.

The area is also a mecca for shopping, with both high-street fashion chains and designer boutiques. For a more local feel, check out the pedestrianised Rambla de Catalunya.

Hotel Soho Barcelona

  • Barcelona, Barcelona Area, Spain
  • 2 June 2024
  • Room only
  • From East Midlands

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El Raval

Best for foodies

Trailblazing, evolving, ambitious – whatever it is they say about Barcelona's food scene, you know that dinner in the Catalan capital is going to be memorable. And the up-and-coming neighbourhood of El Raval is no different.

Packing a punch with its rejuvenated food scene and cosmopolitan attitude, this gentrified neighbourhood is making a name for itself for food-focussed breaks. Along with the Barri Gòtic and El Born, El Raval makes up the final part of the Old City, and after a big push by the council to modernise the area, it now boasts some of the city’s most hip restaurants and lively pubs.

From tapas bars to Michelin stars, The Rambla del Raval and the Carrer de Joaquín Costa are the two main streets for all the food action. Top choices include the upmarket Suculent, and the more homely Ca L'Estevet.

Hotel Soho Barcelona

  • Barcelona, Barcelona Area, Spain
  • 2 June 2024
  • Room only
  • From East Midlands

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

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£483

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Barceloneta

Best for culture

Whether you’re looking to dine on fresh seafood, sunbathe on golden beaches or check out the city’s vibrant nightlife, Barceloneta is an excellent all-round base to get a taste of Barcelona’s culture.

With a prime spot on Bareclona’s coast, surfing and sunbathing are highlights of Barceloneta’s beaches. Finding a place to lay your towel won’t be a problem as Platja del Somorrostro, Platja de la Barceloneta and Platja de Sant Sebastià join together to form an epic 11km stretch (6.8 miles) of sand.

The two ports add a touch of glamour with swanky yachts filling the marinas and swish seafood restaurants lining the waterfront. It’s also where you’ll find the L'Aquàrium de Barcelona – great if you’ve got little ones in tow.

In the centre, Barceloneta Park makes an idyllic spot for sunny strolls and picnics, or if history is more your bag, dive deeper into Catalonian culture at the Museu d'Història de Catalunya.

Catalonia Park Putxet

  • Barcelona, Barcelona Area, Spain
  • 29 April 2024
  • Room only
  • From Gatwick

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El Born

Best for architecture

While blessed with an equal amount of medieval buildings as the adjacent Barri Gòtic, El Born tops the list for must-see architecture in Barcelona.

The magnificent 14th-century basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is hard to miss, taking centre stage on the neighbourhood's main avenue, Passeig del Born. Considered a groundbreaking build at its time of construction, it's well worth a visit to admire both its gothic exterior and the interior’s almighty pillared aisles. You can even take a tour up the towers to the rooftop.

Just around the corner lies the Museo Picasso - a building just as impressive as the masterworks of art that are housed within. Occupying five medieval palaces on Carrer de Montcada, the museum is an excellent example of Catalan civic gothic architecture, providing an incredible setting for Picasso’s works.

You're also close to the extravagant facades and ornate ceilings of the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall, which you’ll find just north west of El Born.

Grand Hotel Central

  • Barcelona, Barcelona Area, Spain
  • 9 June 2024
  • Room only
  • From Gatwick

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£915

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Gracia

Best for budget

Looking for the best area to stay in Barcelona on a budget? Consider Gracia.

Once a town entirely independent of Barcelona, Gracia retains its unique feel, despite being swallowed by the expansion of the Catalan capital. It's quiet and creative, with a mix of hip young families and traditional old folk.

Thankfully for the wallet, hotel prices in this neighbourhood are generally lower than in other parts of the city and you’ll find a selection of more modest hotels and B&Bs to base your stay.

It’s not particularly big on sights, although Gaudí’s renowned Park Güell and Casa Vicens are located here, but there are plenty of charming squares filled with cute cafes, traditional Catalan bistros and bohemian bars to enjoy.

And when you do want to tick off the city’s sights, La Sagrada Familia is within walking distance.

Hotel Soho Barcelona

  • Barcelona, Barcelona Area, Spain
  • 2 June 2024
  • Room only
  • From East Midlands

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£483

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El Poble-Sec

Best for location

While Barcelona isn’t a massive city (and good public transportation means it's easy to get where you want to be), staying centrally is a good idea if you want to be within walking distance of the liveliest bars, restaurants, shops and cultural attractions.

Enter El Poble-Sec. Just minutes from both the heart of the city and the green spaces of hilly Montjuic, it’s an ideal neighbourhood to look for cheaper accommodation without compromising on your location. You can expect an abundance of good-value hotels, from cheap B&Bs to popular chains with amenities such as spas and rooftop restaurants, as well as trendy bars and tapas joints.

Head north and you’re just 20 minutes away from La Rambla on foot or by public transport, while the best of Barceloneta’s beaches lie to the east. To the south, Montjuïc’s parks and gardens make for lovely strolling, with great views all around, particularly from Montjuïc castle.

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