Where To Stay In Barcelona - Best Neighborhoods Guide

By Jonathan Price; a paddle tennis player, mountain bike enthusiast, skier and lover Barcelona’s mishmash of cultures.
Edited by Holly Stark

With a huge choice of neighborhoods to explore, you might be wondering which are the best places to stay in Barcelona. The city is a mishmash of cultures, and its neighborhoods are just as diverse. So wherever you are in Barcelona, you’ll find jewels of Catalan architecture sitting alongside modern contemporary structures, treasures from the ancient Roman and medieval cities and plenty of green spaces where you can unwind. Wondering where to stay in Barcelona? The city has something for everyone, from peaceful and historic, to the quirky and lively, so check out this Barcelona neighborhood guide to figure out where’s best for you.

El Born

Located between the Gothic Quarter and Ciutadella Park, El Born is one of Barcelona’s coolest and most popular neighborhoods. Home to some of the oldest buildings in the city, it is not only one of the most historic areas of Barcelona but also one of its liveliest, funkiest and most chic. With a hippy feel and an artistic edge, as well as its great tapas bars and trendy bistros, the narrow, winding streets create quite a labyrinth of excitement. Check out Bar Bitácora; home to delicious tapas for really good value. Try some of the small dishes; croquettas, chipirones, patatas bravas, tuna tartar, calamares, tortilla (spanish omelette) and the deserts; a great place to stop by for a good mix of traditional and contemporary tapas. Or check out Longa de Tapas for a traditional, sit down tapas meal. Seeking trendy, hipster and an artsy vibe? You’ll find it here; and even better, El Born is off the typical Barcelona neighborhoods map. It’s undiscovered by a lot of visitors, and a really cool place to be.

Gracia

Amongst the narrow streets and leafy squares of northern Barcelona is Gracia; a neighborhood with a village feel. It was, in fact, an independent town until it was swallowed by the city in the late 1800s. Unlike the busy center, it’s an uncrowded, very local area and is considered one of the safest areas to stay in Barcelona. The local population is a diverse mix of cool hipsters, young families, and the elderly. Within a good distance of Barcelona’s main attractions, Gracia is a great place to stay for a quieter, more local vibe. Many of Gracia’s streets are pedestrian-only, and it’s a very walkable neighborhood with lots of backstreets, organic grocers, and cosy bookstores to get lost in and pretty squares to stop in for a rest on your wanders. Gracia is a very alternative and artsy area, so there are plenty of independent art galleries and many creative pursuits on offer, as well as lots of international eating places. Seeking trendy and chic with a sophisticated vibe? This is the place!

Eixample

For a truly Catalan experience, don’t miss Eixample. This is a cool part of the city that’s full of Catalan Modernist architecture, and some of the most iconic Gaudí buildings. L’Eixample, which means “the extension” in Catalan, is the upper part of Barcelona city center, and a complete opposite to the lower part, Ciutat Vella. Whilst Ciutat Vella is filled with small curvy, narrow and sometimes claustrophobic streets, the Eixample neighbourhood is a grid of large boulevards surrounding building blocks of the exact same size. It’s this grid layout which connected the old town (the present-day district of Ciutat Vella) with the other towns and villages on the Barcelona plain. Explore iconic streets like Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya, which are home to fancy boutique shops, countless restaurants serving Catalan cuisine and an endless array of places to eat, cafés and bars, which have made the area a strong favorite as one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona for many locals and visitors to the city.

Barceloneta

Barceloneta is a triangular spit of land that cuts into the sea in the old harbor, Barcelona's Port Vell, on one side, and sandy beaches on the other. Once the home of fishermen, the decision was taken to demolish the old beachfront restaurants, known as xiringuitos, and public baths, opening the city up to the sea. The modernisation and renovation of the area saw the rise of funky bars, street entertainment, cool cafes, casinos, some of the best nightclubs and great places to have food, such as Pacha, Choco and Opium. They serve food at lunchtime and in the afternoon they pack the tables away and start spinning discs. The charm of this neighborhood comes from both the countless restaurants and bars which line the sand, and more traditional images of locals sitting on chairs outside their houses, lines of washing strung across narrow balconies above their heads. Barceloneta also is one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona for nightlife, which coupled with its dreamy beachfront location make it one of the best options if you’re wondering where to stay in Barcelona for the first time.

El Poble Sec

Safe and residential, El Poble Sec is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona. Situated in the Montjuïc district, between the foothills of Montjuïc and the port, El Poble Sec is full of hidden gems, great tapas bars, creative drinking dens and traditional bodegas. However, the area was not always an up-and-coming corner of town with a great food scene, historically the area was working-class; with factory and fishing as the main industries. It transformed from a relatively poor, desolate area, into one of the best neighborhoods in Barcelona, without losing its true nature and roots as a working class neighborhood. Head to Quimet y Quimet; a tapas bar tucked away with only a tiny sign to indicate its there. Loved by locals who champion it as best tapas bars in the city, at Quimet y Quimet you can eat and meet in the tiny standing bar, sip vermouth and try some great Catalan plates.

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