In the heart of the Catalonia region of Spain by the Balearic Sea is the vibrant city of Barcelona. Ripe with generous pours of wine, paella, and a bustling city life, this Spanish hub is renowned for its arts, culture, and history.
Whether you’re traveling with friends, your partner, your family, or by yourself, each neighborhood offers a different sort of immersion into the culture and charm of Barcelona. From areas that offer awe-inspiring views of the Sagrada Familia to those that put you in the backyard of Antoni Gaudí, here’s where to stay, eat, and drink.
Where to Stay As a Family: Gràcia
For families who are making their way to Barcelona — with strollers, travel-sized cribs, and plenty of nappies — it’s a smart rule of thumb to stay where local moms and dads call home. Because these neighborhoods tend to be more kid-friendly, you’re more likely to find a hotel with amenities for kiddos, or an Airbnb, if that’s your style.
One option in Barcelona is Gràcia, which used to be a quaint village before it became part of the larger city. As you venture through the pedestrian walkways, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped from the bustle of urban life to a small town, complete with locals who will offer you a smile. In addition to other young families, you also have easy access to the infamous and beautiful Park Güell — which offers plenty of space for your kids to burn off excess energy before taking a siesta.
Best Hotels in Gracia
This large, five-star hotel can be found just outside Gràcia in the neighborhood of Eixample, but its Gràcia-adjacent location and position on the infamous Passeig de Gràcia make it too perfect to pass on.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 75
Casa Bella Gracia
In the middle of Gràcia, not too far from Park Güell, is Casa Bella Gràcia. This property caters to traveling groups of all sizes. Depending on how many kiddos you’re taking with you on the plane, consider booking the superior family suite, which comes with everything — and anything — your group needs for a happy stay.
Address: Carrer de Sant Agustí, 4
Where to Stay For a First-Time Visit: La Barceloneta
The thrill of touching down in a new city is often the pulse that keeps travelers going. For those who are new to the hubbub of Barcelona, it’s not a bad idea to stay in a part of the city that offers a healthy mix of action and relaxation. Enter: La Barceloneta. Here, you’ll find easy access to the metro (or a tour bus) that can transport you around town or to the beach. Scattered throughout the streets and along the shore are several tapas spots, all serving great dishes and of course, seaside paella.
If you’re traveling during the hottest months of the year — from late May to early September — taking a sunset dip in the sea is a great way to recover from sightseeing.
Best Hotels in La Barceloneta
Hotel Arts Barcelona
Located near the beach, the Hotel Arts Barcelona boasts views of both the city and the sea. This five-star beauty sits where the neighborhood of La Barceloneta meets Vila Olimpica (Olympic Village) and offers plenty of extras for guests, including access to nightclubs, tours to La Roca Village, and plenty of other amenities.
Address: Marina 19-21
Pullman Barcelona Skipper
Sitting near Barceloneta Beach on the edge of La Barceloneta, this resort-like property will give you a tropical-inspired escape from city life. Here, you can toast to your vacation at the classy cocktail bar or unwind in the property’s two pools. Make sure you don’t miss the solarium or a meal at the on-site TENDIEZ, a restaurant serving traditional, flavorful Spanish tapas.
Address: Avda. Litoral, 10
Where to Stay For Nightlife: El Born
If you’re accustomed to leaving a bar at midnight to get in a full eight hours of sleep, consider yourself warned. Like many Spanish-speaking countries, in Barcelona the party doesn’t really get started until after 12 a.m., with typical dinner seatings starting as late as 10 p.m. While you might need a nap (or two) to prepare you for the long night ahead, save yourself the commute and stay in El Born, the center of the city’s nightlife.
Historically, El Born was a place for medieval jousts, and today, it carries the same attitude. In the daytime it offers countless art shops and cafes — as well as the Picasso Museum — and at night the cobblestone streets come alive with countless clubs, bars, and discos.
Best Hotels in El Born
Hotel Catalonia Born
This 19th century building has been restored into a charming hotel that offers rooftop views, a central courtyard, and easy access to numerous sites. If there’s room in your budget, consider booking a terrace room so you have a private place to uncork some wine and detox from the day.
Address: Rec Comtal, 16-18
K+K Hotel Picasso
This recently-opened hotel features avant-garde architecture that draws from the nearby Picasso Museum. Luxurious, but at an affordable nightly rate, you can choose from the classic to the executive level when you book your stay. Don’t miss a dip in the rooftop pool, if the weather allows it.
Address: Passeig de Picasso, 26-30
Where to Stay For the Heart of the City: Barri Gòtic
While some travelers prefer to venture off the hop-on, hop-off approved routes, others enjoy the opportunity to be part of the action. If you’re in the latter group, consider staying in the city’s Gothic Quarter, Barri Gótic. Here is where you’ll live amongst history with centuries-old buildings that blend with new construction, and plenty of placas, or plazas, with outdoor seating. You and your companions can nibble your way through the food market, wander your way along winding streets, and shop at endless stores, all within a few blocks of your hotel.
Best Hotels in Barri Gótic
Hotel Neri Relais & Chateaux
Occupying two historic buildings — including a 12th-century medieval palace — this five-star hotel is full of history and character. And thanks to its location — Las Ramblas, the Picasso Museum, and other must-see spots are a short walk away — you’ll never be too far from your next stop. For larger groups who desire more space, there are apartments to rent, too.
Address: Sant Sever, 5
For those who still want to be in the heart of the city but are on a budget, consider this hotel. Its central location — near Las Ramblas, the port, and La Boqueria market — gives you permission to explore from sunrise to sunset. It’s a three-star property, but delivers comfortable-enough beds to provide an adequate rest after a day of exploring.
Address: Carrer de Ferran, 40-42
Where to Stay With Friends: El Raval
For a group of friends who have probed the planet together, an upbeat, exciting neighborhood to crash in is a top priority. After all, once you’ve traveled enough, you know how to look for the right vibe for your tribe.
One area to consider in Barcelona is El Raval. It’s similar to Gràcia, but is more appropriate for friends than families. Here, you’ll find artists performing on the streets; a foray of small, genuine restaurants with local flavors; and several art museums, including the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. Since this museum is a popular spot for tourists and natives alike, be mindful of your belongings as you snap Instagram photos.
Best Hotels in El Raval
This 100-year-old hotel was originally a royal building on Bergara street and has maintained its character and charm over the century. For a group of friends, the triple room is a smart bet, offering plenty of space for everyone. All around the property, you’ll find restaurants, theaters, cafes, and other ways to fill up your schedule.
Address: Carrer de Bergara, 4
For a simple and modern hotel in Barcelona, consider staying at Andante. Here, you have an option of 134 rooms, ranging from double to family-sized rooms. Though the property has only three-stars, for friends who spend most of their time sightseeing and away from the room, it’s just about the perfect place for your post-multi-bottles-of-wine crash landings.
Address: Av. de les Drassanes, 23-25