10 Best Areas to Stay in Barcelona the First Time (2024)

Example of a street where someone can stay in Barcelona the first time.
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So you’re plotting your first trip to Barcelona and can’t figure out just where to drop your bags? Trust me, with a city as dynamic as this one, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

But that’s what you have me for! By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have everything you need to work out where you should stay in Barcelona for a first time visit based on whatever travel vibe you’re looking for.

After all, I live in Spain and have spent tons of time in Barcelona. This means that I’ve wandered its streets, sipped coffee in its hidden corners, and now, I’m here to share my picks on exactly where you want to be during your trip. 

Keep reading to discover the real Barcelona and find that perfect spot for your first stay.

Example of a street where someone can stay in Barcelona the first time.

Where should I stay in Barcelona for the first time?

1. Eixample

Situated right at the heart of Barcelona, the Eixample district is known for its iconic grid system and is synonymous with luxury. It’s also my pick for the best place to stay in Barcelona for first time visitors.

The area is teeming with architectural marvels, with the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí taking the spotlight. Stroll around, and you’ll be dazzled by structures like Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (Casa Milà). 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Eixample: H10 Casa Mimosa – If you’re looking for a place that perfectly captures the spirit of Barcelona, H10 Casa Mimosa is it. It’s right in the heart of Eixample, blending beautiful modern comforts with the area’s rich history. Plus, you’re just a stone’s throw away from some amazing sights.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Eixample: ME Barcelona – Imagine waking up to breathtaking views of Barcelona, right from your room. That’s what ME Barcelona offers, along with some seriously stylish decor and top-notch service. It’s luxury with a cool, contemporary twist.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Eixample: Hotel Omnium – Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the Barcelona experience. Hotel Omnium is super cozy, has a friendly vibe, and puts you right in the mix of things without breaking the bank. It’s a great base for your city adventures.

And if shopping is your scene, Passeig de Gràcia, which runs right through Eixample, is your playground. From high-end boutiques to cozy tapas bars, Eixample ensures your days are as eventful as your nights.

Safety in a new city is paramount, and Eixample stands tall in this regard. Well-lit streets paired with a vigilant police presence makes it easily one of the safest areas to stay in Barcelona

In terms of convenience? The central location and its network of metro lines ensure you’re never too far from the city’s heartbeat.

Eixample as the best place to stay in Barcelona the first time

When it comes to where exactly to stay, Eixample offers a broad range of accommodation options. Whether you’re eying boutique hotels or more opulent stays, you’re covered. 

Sure, if you’re here for sightseeing, you can choose something like one of the hotels near the Sagrada Familia, but even staying elsewhere in Eixample puts you close enough to everything you’ll want to see.

Another reason why I recommend Eixample to first-timers: if a peaceful night’s rest is on your list, Eixample’s serene ambience is perfect, especially compared to the bustling Old Town.

H10 Casa Mimosa rooftop pool as a hotel where you can stay in Barcelona

H10 Casa Mimosa


Perfect location in the heart of Eixample, ideal for exploring Barcelona’s iconic sights

Combines modern luxury with a historical charm unique to Barcelona

✅ Stunning city views from the rooftop terrace and pool

2. Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

Switching gears, let’s dive into the magic of the Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gòtic. Basically, this district feels like a step back in time. 

Cobblestone lanes, sprawling squares, and an air of mystery make it a sightseeing paradise. Hotels might pinch the pocket slightly more here, but the experience, tucked away amidst all that history, justifies the spend.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in the Gothic Quarter: Colón Hotel Barcelona – Colón Hotel Barcelona isn’t just about comfortable stays – it’s about experiencing the heart of the city. Located opposite the stunning Barcelona Cathedral, it offers amazing views and an unbeatable location.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in the Gothic Quarter: Ohla Barcelona – Ohla Barcelona is a synonym for luxury. With its exquisite design, personalized service, and arguably the best rooftop terrace and pool in the city, this hotel is an oasis of elegance in the bustling Gothic Quarter.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in the Gothic Quarter: Hotel Denit Barcelona – Hotel Denit offers a fantastic budget-friendly option without sacrificing style or location. Its modern, chic design and close proximity to key attractions make it a smart choice for value-conscious travelers.

The Barcelona Cathedral, with its towering spires, is the crown jewel of the Gothic Quarter. But in fact, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

With a myriad of historic sights to explore, coupled with the buzzing La Rambla and Plaça de Catalunya close by, you’re in for a treat.

Transport-wise, the Gothic Quarter keeps you connected. Proximity to various metro lines ensures you can dart around Barcelona with ease. 

The streets of Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic). One of the best where to stay in Barcelona for the first time.

Just a heads-up, though – always keep an eye out for pickpockets, especially in crowded tourist hubs, as they’re pretty active around here.

By evening, the district takes on an even livelier tone. Musicians, artists, and the general hustle-bustle lend it a unique charm, ensuring there’s never a dull moment. 

The various squares, like Plaça de Sant Jaume and Plaça Reial, each have their own vibe and are worth a visit. And if you have the time to sit down for a drink to people watch, even better!

rooftop views from Colon Hotel

Colón Hotel Barcelona


✅ Directly opposite Barcelona Cathedral, it offers some of the most iconic views in the city

✅ Situated in the heart of the city, it’s a gateway to exploring Barcelona’s rich heritage

✅ Experience the awe of the Cathedral right from your room, making every moment of your stay memorable

3. El Born

El Born is an interesting choice, especially if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history. Located just a whisper away from the iconic Barrio Gótico, its streets resonate with tales from the past. 

The Passeig del Born, with its contrasting history of grim executions and today’s hip bars, is a testament to the city’s evolution. And if you’re an art and history buff, places like the Picasso Museum and the Palau de la Musica Catalana are bound to draw you in. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in El Born: Decô Apartments Barcelona – Decô Apartments are more than just a place to stay – they’re your home away from home in El Born. Offering spacious, well-equipped apartments in a vibrant neighborhood, they’re perfect for travelers who want comfort and independence.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in El Born: Exe Laietana Palace – Exe Laietana Palace stands as a beacon of luxury in El Born. With its elegant interiors and first-class service, this hotel is a haven of sophistication in one of Barcelona’s most charming districts.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in El Born: Hotel Oasis – Hotel Oasis offers an affordable stay without skimping on the essentials. Its fantastic location and cozy atmosphere make it a great choice for budget-conscious travelers looking to explore the heart of Barcelona.

But El Born isn’t just about the past. As evening arrives, this district lights up with its array of cafes and eateries, promising delightful gastronomical adventures. 

Another bonus of this area is that while it’s not sprawling, it’s well connected, thanks to the city’s efficient metro system. 

For stay options, El Born provides quality over sheer numbers. You’ll find a good mix of plush hotels and cozy guesthouses, ensuring there’s a spot just right for you.

Deco Apartments Barcelona

Decô Apartments Barcelona


✅ Enjoy the space and amenities of an apartment, perfect for those who appreciate comfort and privacy

✅ In the heart of El Born, these apartments offer a genuine taste of Barcelona’s local life

✅ Ideal for those seeking independence and easy access to major sights and local hotspots

4. Barceloneta 

If you’re dreaming of sun, sand, and a bit of city magic, Barceloneta might just be your spot. Once a quaint fishing village, Barceloneta catapulted to fame during the 1992 Olympics. 

Today, its beaches, such as Sant Sebastià and Somorrostro, are perfect for those lazy days by the sea or active paddleboarding sessions. And once you’ve had your fill of the sun, the local eateries beckon with their fresh seafood offerings. 

⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Barceloneta: Hotel 54 Barceloneta – Hotel 54 Barceloneta is a gem in the heart of Barcelona’s beach district. With its stunning sea views and modern facilities, it’s the perfect spot for beach lovers and city explorers alike.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Barceloneta: W Barcelona – The W Barcelona is an icon of luxury and style. From its unique architecture to its world-class amenities, this hotel is a destination in itself, offering an unforgettable experience by the sea.

⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Barceloneta: Barcelona Beach Apartments – Barcelona Beach Apartments provide a budget-friendly way to enjoy the best of Barceloneta. These comfortable apartments offer great value, combining convenience with the freedom to explore the beachfront and beyond.

As nighttime rolls in, the district doesn’t disappoint with its lively bars and clubs, especially around the Port Olímpic. 

But it’s not all about adult fun; families can also have their share of adventure, with attractions like the Aquàrium Barcelona. 

W hotel as seen in Barceloneta beach and its buildings is one of the best where to stay in Barcelona for the first time.

When it comes to accessibility, Barceloneta boasts a prime location. You’re close to major attractions, including Ciutadella Park and the Gothic Quarter. 

Just remember, due to its beachfront allure, accommodations here might be a tad pricier than other parts of the city. But waking up to that view may just make it worthwhile.

Hotel 54 Barceloneta terrace

Hotel 54 Barceloneta


✅ Wake up to breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, right from your room

Perfectly located for beach enthusiasts, with easy access to Barceloneta Beach

Combines contemporary style and amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay in Barcelona’s famous seaside district

5. La Rambla

La Rambla, is one of Barcelona’s most iconic boulevards. Starting from Plaça de Catalunya and extending right to the Christopher Columbus Monument at the harbor, it’s like the heartbeat of the city. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall on La Rambla: Yurbban Ramblas Boutique Hotel – Yurbban Ramblas Boutique Hotel is a true urban retreat right on La Rambla. Its chic, modern design and incredible rooftop terrace make it a standout choice for those looking to immerse themselves in Barcelona’s lively urban culture.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel on La Rambla: Hotel Bagués – Hotel Bagués is an epitome of luxury the center of Barcelona. This hotel combines elegance and sophistication, offering an exclusive experience with its exquisite rooms and exceptional service in the heart of the city.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel on La Rambla: Hostal Las Flores Ramblas – For a budget-friendly stay without compromising on location or comfort, Hostal Las Flores Ramblas is the ideal choice. Its welcoming atmosphere and proximity to key attractions make it a smart pick for cost-conscious travelers.

During your stroll down here, you’ll find it flanked by trees and dotted with cafes and restaurants, making it a lively spot to just sit back and people-watch. But if shopping is your thing, the northern end is where you want to be, with the legendary Boqueria Market and proximity to Barri Gòtic.

I’ll be honest about one thing on this area: it wouldn’t necessarily be my top pick to stay. The primary reason is its touristy nature, which might be a bit overwhelming for some.

Buildings in La Rambla is one of the best place where to stay in Barcelona for the first time.

However, for many visitors, the convenience and vibrancy it offers make it their number one choice. And yes, if you’re setting sail on a cruise, the main ports are right at the end of La Rambla, making it super convenient for you.

A quick word of caution: Due to just how popular it is with tourists, it does tend to attract pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and on the metro. So always stay alert and keep your belongings secure.

Yurbban Ramblas Boutique Hotel

Yurbban Ramblas Boutique Hotel


✅ Offers a modern and stylish stay, reflecting the dynamic spirit of La Rambla

Incredible rooftop terrace to unwind and soak up Barcelona’s vibes

Located in the vibrant heart of the city, the perfect base to explore main sights

6. Poblenou

Shifting gears a bit, let’s head over to Poblenou, a neighborhood that seamlessly blends its industrial past with a trendy and modern present.

Once the heart of Barcelona’s industrial sector, the factories here have transformed into quirky tapas bars, chic cafes, and unique shops, all converging at Bogatell Beach, a popular local haunt.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Poblenou: Lugaris Beach Apartments – Lugaris Beach Apartments offer a refreshing blend of comfort and modernity, perfect for those seeking a home away from home by the sea. With its close proximity to the beach and contemporary facilities, it’s a top choice for a relaxed and independent stay.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Poblenou: The Level at Melia Barcelona Sky – Elevate your stay at The Level at Melia Barcelona Sky, a symbol of luxury and sophistication in Poblenou. Its exclusive services and breathtaking city views offer a premium experience in one of Barcelona’s most modern neighborhoods.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Poblenou: Acta Voraport – Acta Voraport provides a fantastic budget-friendly option without compromising quality or location. Its modern, clean design and excellent amenities make it a great value for those looking to explore Barcelona on a budget.

What I personally love about Poblenou is the slightly off-the-beaten-path vibe it offers. It’s not as packed with tourists as some other parts of the city, which means you get a more authentic Barcelona experience. 

You’ll find the main action along its own boulevard, especially during weekends with street performances. And for those quiet moments, Parque de Poblenou provides the perfect respite.

Bogatell Beach

For night owls, this neighborhood doesn’t disappoint. Its nightlife scene is buzzing, with former factories turned bars and some unique clubs. 

But, if sightseeing’s your main goal, keep in mind it’s not the most central location. However, the beach proximity is hard to beat!

Accommodation-wise, Poblenou can be kinder on the pocket compared to central Barcelona. The Hoxton is a personal favorite, encapsulating the district’s artsy spirit.

Safety-wise, Poblenou is right up there with L’Eixample and Gràcia as one of the safer places in Barcelona.

In short, if you’re seeking a laid-back vibe with a hint of the unconventional, close to the beach, and without burning a hole in your pocket, Poblenou is your place. 

Lugaris Beach Apartments

Lugaris Beach Apartments


✅ Just steps away from the beach, the perfect mix of city life and seaside relaxation

✅ Modern, well-appointed apartments providing all the comforts of home

✅ Ideal for travelers seeking a self-sufficient stay with easy access to Poblenou’s vibrant atmosphere and attractions

7. Plaça de Catalunya 

When looking for where you should stay in Barcelona for the first time, Plaça de Catalunya is a solid choice. 

Think of it as the city’s central point, a key junction that smoothly connects to various parts of Barcelona. If you’re looking to explore, this square is a gateway. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Plaça de Catalunya: Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona – Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona offers a stylish retreat right in the city’s heart. Known for its chic design and vibrant rooftop terrace, it’s the go-to for travelers seeking a blend of comfort and urban energy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Plaça de Catalunya: Hotel El Palace Barcelona – Hotel El Palace Barcelona is a landmark of luxury and elegance. With its grandeur, exquisite service, and timeless charm, it provides an unparalleled luxurious experience in one of Barcelona’s most prestigious locations.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Plaça de Catalunya: Hotel Turin Barcelona – Hotel Turin Barcelona is an excellent choice for those seeking value without sacrificing quality. Its central location, modern amenities, and comfortable rooms make it an ideal base for exploring the city on a budget.

It’s not just about the convenience – the plaza itself is a piece of art. Fountains, statues, trees, and even underground mosaics make wandering around a joy. 

And if you’re into the lively city vibe, Plaça de Catalunya is buzzing with energy. Street musicians, cultural events, and festivals, it’s all right there. 

Plaça de Catalunya

The surrounding malls cater to the shoppers among you, and the plethora of dining options ensures you’re never too far from a good meal. Safety-wise, it’s one of those places that always feels secure, thanks to its steady foot traffic and significant police presence. 

As for places to stay, the area offers everything from luxury hotels to budget-friendly spots.

Hotel Pulitzer

Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona


✅ A fashionable hotel with a contemporary design and a unique and vibrant atmosphere

✅ Located right in the bustling heart of Barcelona, perfect for city exploration

✅ Relax on the hotel’s popular rooftop terrace, a perfect spot to unwind

8. Poble Sec

If you’re keen on a deeper dive into Barcelona’s spirit, especially its culinary scene, Poble Sec could be more up your alley. Beyond its reputation as a foodie’s paradise, this neighborhood is also super convenient for sightseeing. 

With easy metro connections, including a line to the iconic Basílica de la Sagrada Família, getting around is a breeze. Poble Sec seamlessly blends the old with the new, allowing you to move between Barcelona’s historic Old Town and the chic Eixample district. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Poble-Sec: Hotel Brummell – Hotel Brummell is an oasis in Poble-Sec, offering a unique blend of modern design and warm hospitality. It’s the perfect spot for those who appreciate an artistic touch and a relaxed atmosphere in their stay.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Poble-Sec: InterContinental Barcelona – InterContinental Barcelona redefines luxury in Poble-Sec. With its elegant rooms, top-tier amenities, and impeccable service, this hotel promises a stay that’s nothing short of extraordinary.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Poble-Sec: Paral·lel – Hotel Paral·lel offers a fantastic option for travelers watching their budget. Its clean, comfortable rooms and convenient location make it a practical and appealing choice for an affordable stay in Barcelona.

It’s a locale where you can truly experience the city’s rhythm, wandering its streets and absorbing its dynamic lifestyle. And just like Plaça de Catalunya, you’ll feel comfortable and safe here. 

While accommodation options might be a bit limited compared to the plaza, there’s still a decent range, catering to various budgets.

Hotel Brummell Barcelona

Hotel Brummell


Modern hotel with an artistic edge, perfect for those who love a blend of style and comfort

✅ Known for its friendly, relaxed vibe, making your stay as comfortable as it is memorable

✅ Situated in the heart of Poble-Sec, a great base for exploring the local culture and cuisine

Happy woman walking down street in Spain

What’s your perfect destination for your dream trip to Spain?

Want to discover a city or live your island dreams?

Embrace the food scene or step through the pages of history?

Whatever your travel style, discover the perfect Spanish city to add to your trip here!


9. Gràcia

Gràcia is definitely not a bad choice at all! Situated a touch north of Barcelona’s ever-busy center, Gràcia offers a vibe that’s genuinely one of a kind. 

It’s like stepping into a time warp where you get to savor the essence of local daily life. You see, Gràcia isn’t your typical touristy spot – it’s a bohemian hideout. 

As you stroll around, you’re met with a maze of narrow streets, chill cafes, squares buzzing with energy, and a diverse collection of shops and eateries that won’t break the bank.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Gràcia: Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel – The Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel combines comfort with a touch of luxury, making it my top pick in Gràcia. Its stylish design and commitment to sustainability (not to mention incredible rooftop terrace and pool overlooking the Sagrada Familia) make it a modern oasis in this charming neighborhood.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Gràcia: Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento – Hotel Casa Fuster isn’t just a hotel – it’s a landmark. With its breathtaking architecture and top-tier amenities, it offers an unparalleled luxury experience in the heart of Gràcia.

⭐⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Gràcia: Boutique Apartments 23 Barcelona – For those who want to explore Barcelona without overspending, Boutique Apartments 23 is the perfect fit. These apartments offer comfort, style, and a fantastic location, all at a budget-friendly price.

And for the history buffs, Gràcia’s past is intriguing. It once stood as its own city in the 17th century, and even after merging with Barcelona, it never lost its unique, village-y feel.

Key spots to check out? Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia is a hot favorite, always abuzz with life, and surrounded by cool spots to grab a bite or a drink. 

Don’t miss Plaça de la Virreina and Plaça del Sol either; they’ve got their own charm and are famous for various reasons, from historic churches to kicking nightlife.

street in Gràcia

For the food lovers, Gràcia won’t disappoint. It’s home to a spectrum of dining choices. Traditional Catalan dishes, international bites, or just some trendy spots to hang – it’s all there. 

And if you’re keen to cook up a storm, the local markets, especially Mercat de la Llibertat and Mercat de l’Abaceria Central, are packed with fresh ingredients.

Also, here’s a tip. If you’re in town around mid-August, you can’t miss the Festa Major de Gracia. The streets transform into a colorful carnival, and the spirit? Absolutely infectious.

Now, it’s true, Gràcia is a smidge away from the main tourist hotspots. But don’t fret. With solid public transport links, getting around is smooth. 

And when it’s time to hit the sack, you’ll find Gràcia kind on the pocket. The accommodation leans towards the budget-friendly side but without skimping on the authentic Barcelona experience.

In essence, if you want to feel Barcelona’s heartbeat, make your base in Gràcia. It’s unpretentious, brimming with culture, and is bound to give you stories you’ll be itching to share back home.

view from the Radison Blue 1882 hotel

Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel


✅ A perfect blend of modern design and eco-friendly practices, setting a new bar for stylish, sustainable luxury

Prime location in Gràcia, offering easy access to local culture and attractions

✅ Breathtaking views of the Sagrada Familia from the stunning rooftop terrace and pool

10. Sant Antoni

If Gràcia is the bohemian artist in a cozy studio, Sant Antoni is the cool, urban cousin who knows where all the trendy spots are. Located just a stone’s throw from the city center, Sant Antoni is a mix of the old and new. 

It’s got that urban vibe, but it’s peppered with history, making it quite the interesting place to explore. 

⭐⭐⭐ Best hotel overall in Sant Antoni: Aspasios Market Balconies – Aspasios Market Balconies is the ideal blend of comfort and style, offering spacious apartments with balconies that let you soak in the local vibe. It’s perfect for those who want a more personalized, home-like experience in Barcelona.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury hotel in Sant Antoni: Casa Elliot by Bondia Hotel Group – Casa Elliot exudes luxury and sophistication. With its elegant design, attentive service, and central location, this hotel is a haven of exclusivity in the vibrant neighborhood of Sant Antoni.

⭐⭐ Best budget hotel in Sant Antoni: Hostal Centric – Hostal Centric offers an affordable and comfortable stay right in the heart of Sant Antoni. Its clean, modern rooms and friendly service make it a top choice for budget-conscious travelers looking to experience Barcelona’s local charm.

The neighborhood is structured around the Sant Antoni Market – a vibrant marketplace where you can find everything from fresh produce to vintage books. Sunday mornings here are especially lively, with a book market that draws locals and tourists alike.

But it’s not just about the market. Sant Antoni has its fair share of art nouveau architecture, and if you’re an architecture lover, you’ll appreciate the facades of many buildings in the area. 

Food-wise, the neighborhood is coming up as a gastronomic hotspot, with a number of chic cafes, brunch spots, and bakeries sprouting up. Yep, if you’re a foodie, Sant Antoni might just become your favorite haunt.

A tiny downside? While it’s gaining popularity, parts of Sant Antoni can be quiet in the evenings, especially compared to other parts of the city. But then again, that can be a plus if you’re looking for a chill spot to retreat to after a day of sightseeing.

Accommodation is versatile. From modern apartments to boutique hotels, there’s a good variety to pick from, fitting a range of budgets.

Bottom line? Sant Antoni is for those who want a touch of everything – history, modernity, food, and a dash of urban cool. 

It’s a slice of Barcelona that’s evolving, and being there means you get to see a neighborhood as it shapes its identity. 

Aspasios Market Balconies

Aspasios Market Balconies


✅ Enjoy the spacious, well-designed apartments that offer a taste of local living

✅ Each apartment’s balcony provides a perfect spot to relax and watch the city life

✅ Ideal for those seeking a personalized stay with the freedom to explore Sant Antoni’s unique culture and cuisine

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