A complete guide to where to stay in Barcelona for the first time (+ the best areas and hotels for tourists, nightlife, near the beach, and before a cruise).
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Barcelona is known for its sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife and Art Nouveau architecture. It is the second-largest city in the country and the capital of the Catalonia region.
The city is divided into 10 different neighbourhoods (called barrios), which are further subdivided into smaller districts. The unofficial city centre comprises the Old Town (Ciutat Vella) and the east section of L’Eixample. The most popular attractions, including Sagrada Família and the Gaudí houses, are spread all over this big area.
Choosing where to stay in Barcelona, especially if you’re visiting the city for the first time, is crucial for your trip. That’s why I wrote this extensive guide, where you’ll find the best area to stay for sightseeing, nightlife, shopping and one night. I’ve also listed some great hotels near the beach and a few convenient places to stay before a cruise.
Where I stayed in Barcelona
During my first trip to Barcelona, I stayed in the northern part of Dreta de l’Eixample, close to the El Born district. I chose this location, as this is the most central you can get. I was able to walk to most of the tourist attractions (except for Park Güell) and there were plenty of restaurants around. In addition, Plaça de Catalunya (where the airport shuttle bus stops) was just a 10min walk.
My favourite place to stay in Barcelona: Yurbban Passage Hotel & Spa
Why: perfect location, just a short walk from a metro station and Plaça de Catalunya
What I like: excellent Spa, nice rooftop bar and swimming pool
If you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time and want to be able to walk almost everywhere, stay in Dreta de l’Eixample. This is the most central and convenient location for sightseeing and dining out. Moreover, El Born with its numerous tapas restaurants and bars is within walking distance, and the beach is just 2 stops away via the metro (yellow line L4).
Most popular hotel in Barcelona
Searching for an excellent hotel in a convenient location? Look no further than Seventy Hotel, one of the most popular hotels in Barcelona.
Seventy – Most popular
Seventy is centrally situated in the Eixample district, offering convenient access on foot to all major attractions. Passeig de Gràcia, known for its upscale shops, is just a short distance away. And after a day of exploring, you can unwind with organic treatments at the wellness centre or take a dip in the indoor pool.
Why book – great location for sightseeing, next to 2 metro lines (L3 and L5), rooftop pool
Tips for booking a hotel in Barcelona
Public transport proximity – the city’s tourist attractions are spread out, so make sure to book a hotel near a metro station. L2 (purple line) takes you to Sagrada Família and Passeig de Gràcia (the city’s most famous shopping street), while L3 (green line) – to Park Güell and Plaça de Catalunya (transportation hub). And L4 (yellow line) gives you access to the beach.
Visiting Barcelona for the first time? Then take a look at my complete itinerary for 4 days in Barcelona, which covers all popular attractions and my favourite restaurants.
Where to stay in Barcelona, Spain (first time)
- Dreta de l’Eixample – the best area for sightseeing
- Plaça de Catalunya – for one night
- Barceloneta – for beach
- El Born – for nightlife
- Passeig de Gràcia – for shopping
- Plaça de les Drassanes – before a cruise
- Best 5-star hotels near Las Ramblas – my favourite picks
Dreta de l’Eixample – best area to stay in Barcelona first time
The best place to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors is Eixample, in particular, Dreta de l’Eixample. This is the city’s most iconic neighbourhood with wide tree-lined avenues and octagonal blocks with courtyards. Also, Eixample is home to many of Gaudí’s masterpieces including Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
The neighbourhood was developed in the late 19th century to connect the Old Town (Ciutat Vella) and the former nearby suburbs (for example Gràcia). In fact, l’Eixample in Catalan means an extension. The district spans a wide area, all the way from Plaça d’Espanya at the west to Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes to the eastern end. I’d recommend staying in Dreta de l’Eixample, which is the most central part of the district.
If it’s your first time in Barcelona, you’ll want to base yourself near the most popular attractions. Note, that Barcelona is very spread out. The distance between some of the sights could vary from about 2km (1.2 miles – Casa Batlló and Sagrada Família) to 4km (2.5 miles – Park Güell and the Gothic Quarter). So even if you base yourself right in the city centre, you’ll have to use public transport to get to some of the attractions (particularly Park Güell). Considering this, Eixample is the best area to stay in Barcelona, if you want to be close to everything.
Why stay in Dreta de l’Eixample for sightseeing
- most central and convenient area for first-timers
- you’ll be able to walk to many popular sights, including Sagrada Família, the Gaudí houses and the Gothic Quarter
- for high-end shopping head to Passeig de Gràcia, the city’s most famous shopping boulevard
- great brunch options (Cremat Lounge, EatMyTrip and Billy Brunch & Garden)
- excellently connected to the rest of the city with multiple metro lines running through the area
- easy access to the airport via the shuttle Aerobus from Plaça Catalunya
Hotels in Eixample (Best for couples)
Catalonia Passeig de Gràcia – Best rated
Catalonia Hotel is perfectly situated next to the famous shopping street Passeig de Gracia Boulevard and Plaça de Catalunya (where the airport shuttle stops). The hotel’s restaurant, Gourmet Corner, offers delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
Why book – convenient central location for sightseeing and easy access to the airport, private parking, outdoor pool
Seventy – Most popular
Located at the heart of the Eixample district, Seventy is within walking distance to everywhere. In addition, Passeig de Gràcia, with its fine shops, is just around the corner. The hotel boasts modern rooms with Mediterranean charm and floor-to-ceiling windows. And after a long day of sightseeing, you can enjoy a treatment with natural, vegan products at the wellness centre or just relax in the indoor pool.
Why book – great location for sightseeing, next to 2 metro lines (L3 and L5), rooftop pool
Hotels in Eixample (Best for families)
ICON Bcn – Most popular
A great family hotel with a central location, a short walk from Plaça de Catalunya (where the airport shuttle stops). The hotel offers a great restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine, a rooftop pool with sofas and tables and an amazing free breakfast.
Why book – prime location for sightseeing, next to 2 metro lines (L1 and L4), rooftop pool
H10 Casa Mimosa – Best rated
Housed in a 19th-century modernist building, H10 Casa Mimosa offers views of Gaudí masterpiece, La Pedrera. The hotel features a chill-out terrace with a plunge pool and a garden with palm and lime trees, a swimming pool and a sun lounger area. The modern rooms are spacious and include Rituals amenities.
Why book – prime location for sightseeing, next to 2 metro lines (L3 and L5), outdoor swimming pool
Luxury hotels in Eixample
Hotel El Palace – Most popular
Originally opened in 1919, El Palace with its gorgeous neo-classical façade, will transport you back to a world of elegance and glamour. The hotel offers a few dining options – Amar al Mar Restaurant, a rooftop restaurant, and the Bluesman Cocktail Bar.
Why book – great location for dining out and sightseeing, outdoor pool, Mayan-style spa with a Temazcal Sauna
ME Barcelona – Best rated
With a prime location in Barcelona alongside the Passeig de Gràcia, ME Hotel offers an unforgettable stay. The hotel’s BELBO Terrenal Restaurant, set in a beautiful garden, serves healthy Mediterranean cuisine, while BELBO Fasto – delicious Italian food.
Why book – perfect location for dining out and sightseeing, organic and vegan Spa, rooftop pool and a bar
Apartments in Eixample
Paseo de Gracia Bas Apartments by Aspasios – Most popular
Aspasios Apartments are located on a quiet street, just a few minutes away from Plaça de Catalunya and the main shopping boulevard. The accommodation boasts modern and functional décor with floor-to-ceiling windows and wooden flooring.
Why book – central, but quiet location, luggage lockers, lovely terrace and well-equipped kitchen
Midtown Apartments – Best rated
Situated at the intersection of Casp and Bruc Streets, Midtown Apartments offers stylish and modern accommodations with a rooftop terrace with a pool. Easy access by foot to the major sights, with plenty of restaurants and supermarkets nearby.
Why book – central location, private parking, luggage lockers, rooftop pool
Plaça de Catalunya – Where to stay in Barcelona for one night
The best area to stay in Barcelona for one night is Plaça de Catalunya. This is the city’s most central square and the main transport hub, making it convenient to access the major attractions by foot or via the metro. From Plaça de Catalunya you can easily walk to famous sites such as La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and the charming Gothic Quarter.
Plaça de Catalunya itself is a beautiful square with fountains, gardens, statues, and trees. It is surrounded by large shopping malls and numerous restaurants and bars. For delicious tapas head to Tosca del Carme, then finish your dinner with some gelato at OGGI Gelato.
Why stay near Plaça de Catalunya for one night
- most convenient area for a one-night stay due to its central location and excellent transport links
- easy access to the airport (the shuttle bus Aerobus stops at Plaça Catalunya) and trains (Plaça de Catalunya Train Station)
- walking distance to the famous Gaudí houses and the Gothic Quarter and 5min by metro (purple L2 line) to Sagrada Família
Olivia Plaza Hotel – Best mid-range
Olivia Plaza boasts a prime location right on Plaça de Catalunya, providing easy access to the city’s main attractions. The hotel’s Nineteen Restaurant & Terrace offers a tasteful combination of Catalan and Mediterranean cuisine.
Why book – great location for sightseeing, easy airport access, 24-hour front desk, terrace bar with nice views
ME Barcelona – Best luxury
Located alongside Passeig de Gràcia, ME Hotel offers a memorable stay. The hotel features BELBO Terrenal Restaurant, located in a lovely garden, where you can enjoy healthy Mediterranean cuisine. Additionally, BELBO Fasto offers delicious Italian food.
Why book – perfect location for one-night stay, organic and vegan Spa, rooftop pool and a bar
Barceloneta – best place to stay in Barcelona near beach
If you’re visiting the city for a seaside holiday, Barceloneta is the best area to stay in Barcelona. Home to some of the city’s most popular beaches, this neighbourhood is just a short walk away from the Gothic Quarter and La Rambla. Barceloneta is the ideal destination for beach lovers who want to combine relaxation with some sightseeing.
A former fishing village, today Barceloneta is a part of the beating heart of the city. There are four main beaches to choose from – Sant Sebastià, Barceloneta, Sant Miguel and Somorrostro beaches. In addition, La Vila Olimpica and El Poblenou districts with their golden sandy beaches are about a 10min walk.
Why stay in Barceloneta for beach
- the best location for beach lovers, just steps away from the Old Town, La Rambla, the bars and restaurants in El Born
- watch the sun sets over Barcelona by taking this Sunset Catamaran Cruise (more than 1,100+ excellent reviews)
- 4 main beaches to choose from and a short distance away from the sandy beaches of Nova Icària and Bogatell
- easy access to Plaça de Catalunya (where the airport shuttle bus stops) and the main popular attractions (yellow line L4)
- for some shopping and great views over the port, head to the Maremagnum shopping centre
H10 Port Vell – Best mid-range
H10 Port Vell boasts an excellent location – only metres away from the picturesque El Born district and a short walk from Barceloneta Beach. There is a rooftop chill-out terrace with a pool with amazing views of Port Vell and the Mediterranean Sea.
Why book – 15min walk to the beach and 5min to a metro station, rooftop terrace with a plunge pool and views
Sofitel Skipper – Best luxury
Sofitel Skipper is situated 100 metres from the city’s largest beach and just a stroll from the historic Gothic Quartier. There are two swimming pools to choose from – the ElCielo rooftop pool with views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Blue pool surrounded by a peaceful garden. The hotel’s restaurant, Tendiez Bar, offers delicious food made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Why book – 5min walk to the beach and a metro station, 2 outdoor swimming pools, rooftop bar
El Born – best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife
El Born is the best location in Barcelona for cocktails, bars and tapas. The neighbourhood is a part of the Old City (Ciutat Vella) and it’s just a short stroll away from Barceloneta Beach and the Gothic Quarter. El Born is the place to stay if you want to experience the nightlife in the heart of Barcelona and be close to everything at the same time.
The district is divided into two parts – lower (a maze of tiny medieval streets lined with artisan boutiques and tapas bars) and upper (more residential and quiet). Passeig del Born is the main pedestrian street, filled with numerous tapas and cocktail bars. El Born has a vibrant nightlife scene with lots of trendy cocktail bars (such as Mariposa Negra Cocktail Bar and Dux Gin & Cocktail Bar) and tapas bars (like Ziryab Fusió Tapas Bar and El Casal Café Bar).
Why stay in El Born for nightlife
- perfect location for nightlife and dining out, close to the beach and tourist attractions
- discover the unique flavours of the vibrant El Born neighbourhood by joining this Tipsy Tapas Food Crawl Walking Tour
- 2 metro lines (yellow line L4 and red line L1) connect you to all the different major sites in the city
Catalonia Catedral – Best mid-range
Fabulous location, just around the corner from the Barcelona Cathedral and a short walk to Las Ramblas and El Born. From the hotel’s Ascent Restaurant, you can admire the views of the Portal de l’Àngel and the Palau Pignatelli, while enjoying Mediterranean cuisine.
Why book – 5min walk from El Born, rooftop pool with views of the cathedral
Ohla – Best luxury
Situated close to Palau de la Música Concert Hall, Ohla features a rooftop pool with fantastic city views. The hotel is home to Caelis (a Michelin-starred restaurant), La Plassohla (a tapas restaurant) and Monsieur Rouge (a steakhouse).
Why book – 5min walk from El Born and Plaça de Catalunya, rooftop pool, Michelin-starred restaurant
Passeig de Gràcia – best place to stay in Barcelona for shopping
If you’re visiting Barcelona for shopping, look no further than Passeig de Gràcia. This iconic boulevard in the heart of the city is often referred to as Barcelona’s version of Champs-Élysées. Passeig de Gràcia is one of the city’s most elegant areas, known for its concentration of luxury and high-end brands.
The famous avenue is home to flagship stores of world-famous designers such as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. In addition to luxury fashion, you’ll also find international brands and well-known Spanish labels like Zara, Mango, and Massimo Dutti.
Some of the most prestigious and beautiful buildings of the capital of Catalonia are located here, on Passeig de Gràcia. This includes the famous Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, two of Antoni Gaudí’s renowned masterpieces.
Why stay near Passeig de Gràcia for shopping
- perfect location for shopping (high-street and luxury brands) and sightseeing
- easy access to the beach (yellow metro line L4), Plaça de Catalunya (green metro line L3) and Sagrada Família (purple metro line L2)
- direct connection to the airport by train from Passeig de Gràcia Station
Sixtytwo Hotel – Best mid-range
Set in a historic 19th-century building, Sixtytwo Hotel is just a few steps away from the famous Casa Batlló. You’ll be within walking distance of many high-end fashion boutiques and designer stores such as Gucci and Chanel.
Why book – perfect location for shopping and sightseeing, right on Passeig de Gràcia
Monument Hotel – Best luxury
Located on the fashionable Passeig de Gràcia, Monument occupies a beautiful building from the 19th century. The hotel boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants – the 3 Michelin-starred restaurant Lasarte and the 1 Michelin-starred restaurant Oria (Mediterranean cuisine with Basque influence).
Why book – excellent location on Passeig de Gràcia, two Michelin-starred restaurants, Mediterranean Spa
Plaça de les Drassanes – Where to stay in Barcelona before cruise
The best area to stay in Barcelona, if you’re embarking on a Mediterranean cruise, is Plaça de les Drassanes. It is conveniently situated near the Port of Barcelona, one of Europe’s busiest cruise ports. At the same time, the square is within walking distance from La Rambla, Barceloneta Beach and a short metro ride from the tourist sights (green metro line L3).
All cruises in Barcelona leave from the main port, which is situated near the city centre. In particular, the cruises start from the World Trade Center Dock and Moll Adossat Dock. The most convenient area near both docks is Plaça de les Drassanes. It’s the perfect place to stay for 1 or 2 nights before your cruise.
Why stay near Plaça de les Drassanes before cruise
- great location to stay before a cruise, as the square is within walking distance from the port, the Gothic Quarter and the beach
- the city is a starting point for many cruises (see the most popular cruises from Barcelona)
- easy access to the city centre and tourist attractions (green metro line L3)
Duquesa de Cardona – Best mid-range
Duquesa de Cardona is ideally situated near the Port of Barcelona, making it incredibly convenient for cruise travellers. The hotel also features a rooftop terrace with panoramic views, 2 plunge pools and a bar.
Why book – easy access to the cruise terminals, rooftop terrace with views and a pool
Serras – Best luxury
Serras is the perfect choice to begin your cruise journey in style and create lasting memories. The hotel restaurant’s Informal serves contemporary Catalan cuisine by the Michelin-starred chef, Marc Gascons.
Why book – easy access to the cruise port, rooftop infinity pool, spacious modern rooms
5-star hotels in Barcelona near Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas, often referred to as La Rambla, is a famous boulevard located in the heart of the city. It stretches for about 1.2km (0.7 miles), connecting Plaça de Catalunya at its northern end with the Christopher Columbus Monument at its southern end, near Port Vell.
Lined with trees, cafés and restaurants, Las Ramblas is considered one of Barcelona’s most iconic and vibrant streets. If you’re looking for convenience, consider staying at the northern end of the famous boulevard. You’ll be just steps away from Plaça de Catalunya, Boqueria Market and Barri Gòtic.
Kimpton Vividora Hotel – Most popular
Kimpton Vividora is ideally situated in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, just a 3min walk from Las Ramblas. The hotel’s rooftop terrace with panoramic views is a perfect spot to relax and unwind with a cocktail and soak up the sun. There are several dining options, including the signature restaurant Fauna, GOT Cofee & Cocktails and Terraza de Vivi.
Why book – next to Las Ramblas, rooftop pool with views, free Social Wine Hour
Hotel Neri – Best rated
Hotel Neri Relais & Châteaux occupies two historic buildings – an 18th-century aristocratic house and a 12th-century medieval palace. Overlooking a secluded square in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, it’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Why book – 5min walk to Las Ramblas, pretty rooftop garden terrace with a pool
Faqs about where to stay in Barcelona
The best place to stay in Barcelona is Seventy Hotel. Located at the heart of the Eixample district, the hotel is within walking distance of Sagrada Família and the famous Gaudí houses.
The best area to stay in Barcelona is Dreta de l’Eixample. This is the city’s most iconic neighbourhood, home to many of Gaudí’s masterpieces including Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
The city centre is the Old Town (which means Ciutat Vella in Catalan). It is the historic core of Barcelona and comprises several neighbourhoods, including the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic), El Raval, El Born, and Barceloneta.
Best hotels to stay in Barcelona, Spain
|🔝 Most popular hotel||Seventy||9.0 | 2,670+ reviews|
|🏩 Best mid-range hotel||Olivia Plaza Hotel||9.3 | 2,520+ reviews|
|💎 Best luxury hotel||Ohla Hotel||8.9 | 2,150+ reviews|
|💖 Best hotel for couples||Catalonia Passeig de Gràcia||9.1 | 2,220+ reviews|
|👨👩👧👦 Best hotel for families||ICON Bcn||8.9 | 2,270+ reviews|
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