If you are visiting Barcelona for the first time, you will be in a great dilemma regarding where to stay and how to organize sightseeing tour of the city. Barcelona is a very large city offering so many possibilities for living, temporary or permanent, for entertainment, as well as professional business development.
Regardless the nature of your visit, you will have a lot of different options for renting a place to stay in Barcelona. However, plenty of opportunities that are available to you do not make things easier. In fact, it is much more difficult to choose, with all of these neighborhoods and different types of accommodation. Before you make a choice, you should use this guide to help you decide where to stay in Barcelona.
This is why, we want to focus this guide on recommending the parts of the city where you should stay, as well as the types of accommodation you can find, in order to help you choose the accommodation, and successfully plan your trip to Barcelona.
Central districts in Barcelona
Barcelona has more than one and a half million people, and the city is divided into several districts, which are then divided into quarters.
Ciutat Vella means the Old City in Catalan, and it is the oldest part of the city. Being the oldest, this district is home to many famous buildings, attractions and monuments that were built during the process of development of the city in the past centuries. The great value of this district is that is preserves a lot of priceless historic monuments from Barcelona’s history. It is located in the center of the city and this district is divided into four quarters:
- Barri Gòtic – It is the oldest part of Ciutat Vella, with lots of pedestrian areas, which is perfect for visitors to enjoy walking and learning about the history of the city. Stunning architecture and magnificent monuments are great remnants of city’s past.
- Barceloneta – This area is close to the city center and to the beach, which is why it is popular place to visit or stay in Barcelona.
- La Ribera – This is the large area of the city with lots of shops, bars and restaurants scattered around this quarter. This part of Ciutat Vella has its historic importance as well, as some of the famous landmarks are located at La Ribera quarter.
- El Raval – Although not as important in historic sense, as the previously mentioned quarters, El Raval is still frequently visited due to a lot of bars and cafes, which is why it is considered a vibrant place for nightlife.
This district of Barcelona was greatly developed during the 19th century, as the city slowly spread from the Ciutat Vella to the neighboring area. A lot of modernist buildings and some of the masterpieces of Barcelona’s architecture are located in this districts. Those include La Sagrada Família, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.
The long narrow streets and beautiful avenues are some of the characteristic of this district, which is divided into five neighborhoods:
- Esquerra de l'Eixample (the left side of Eixample district)
- Dreta de l'Eixample (the right side of Eixample district)
- Sant Antoni – Secondhand book sale is a great event of this district, organized on Sunday mornings.
- Sagrada Família – The name of the neighborhood comes from Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece situated in this area.
- Fort Pienc – It is particularly famous for a great number of people from different cultures, mostly Asian, which is why there are lots of Asian shops and restaurants here.
Passeig de Gràcia connects Eixample district with the neighboring Gràcia district.
As you move up north from the city center, you get to Gràcia district. Although it is not quite in the city center, it is still within walking distance from the central area, which is why a lot of tourists consider staying in this part of the city. While you are away from all the hustle and crowds of tourists, you can easily get to the center and enjoy sightseeing. This district is full of modernist houses and it has somewhat cosmopolitan feeling, being an upscale neighborhood.
The most famous landmark in Gràcia district is Güell Park, located on a hill, and thus providing an amazing view of the city and the coast.
Here is the list of the neighborhoods of Gràcia district:
- Vila de Gràcia
- Vallcarca i els Penitents
- El Coll
- La Salut
- Camp d'en Grassot i Gràcia Nova
Sants-Montjuïc is another district next to the beach. It borders with Eixample and Ciutat Vella. You should stay in this district if you want to be near the beach, as well as near central, commercial area of the city. Most of the landmarks and other neighboring districts are within walking distance, but you can always use metro to get to other parts of the city.
The hill Montjuïc, Plaça d'Espanya and the Port of Barcelona are some of the most prominent places to visit in this district of Barcelona.
Sants-Montjuïc district consists of the following neighborhoods:
- La Bordeta
- La Font de la Guatlla
- La Marina de Port
- La Marina del Prat Vermell
- El Poble-sec
Located opposite from Sants-Montjuïc, next to the Eixample and Ciutat Vella districts, this is another part of the city near the beach and near the central area. The area is well developed part of the city, with lots of modern residential buildings, including a large shopping mall located in the middle of the neighborhood. The vicinity of the beach and lots of residential opportunities are some of the things that make this quarter a desirable location for tourists which is why they choose to rent accommodation there.
Parc del Fòrum, Avinguda Diagonal, Diagonal Mar shopping mall and Torre Agbar are some of the landmarks located in Sant Martí district. Needless to say, this part of the city offers great connection with other parts of the city. Regardless if you use metro, buses or tram, you can easily explore the city of Barcelona.
Sant Martí district is divided into these neighborhoods:
- El Besòs i el Maresme
- El Camp de l'Arpa del Clot
- El Clot
- Diagonal Mar i Front Marítim del Poblenou
- El Parc i Llacuna del Poblenou
- El Poblenou
- Provençals del Poblenou
- Sant Martí de Provençals
- La Verneda i la Pau
- La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou
Staying in the center of the city
Most of the tourists, especially those visiting the city for the first time, choose to stay in the center of Barcelona. There are several reasons why they make such choice.
First of all, staying in the center of the city is very convenient for people who have never been in the city, so they are not familiar with public transportation system and they want to make sure they can easily get from and to the airport or station. This way, people choose to look for accommodation in the city center because they will find it much easier to find and reach accommodation they have rented, as there are shuttle buses that take passengers to and from the airport or station.
Most of the Barcelona’s landmarks are in the central area of the city, so those would be quite near if you choose this part of the city. Therefore, staying in the center allows you to easily explore the city on foot. All you need is a map of the central area, the list of places you are going to visit, and you are ready to start sightseeing of the internationally famous tourist destination.
Furthermore, central area is the place where most of the cafes, restaurants and shops are located, so if you stay in the city center you will always have a restaurant or a cafe close by. Any of the central districts is very convenient for visiting the attractions of the city and visiting the beach, which is why this location is considered prestigious and convenient.
Staying in other districts
Barcelona is divided into ten districts. While the five we mentioned above are perfect if you want to stay
in the central area, the following district also offer accommodation opportunities:
- Les Corts
- Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
- Nou Barris
- Sant Andreu
Although they are not in the city center, they are certainly worth visiting, as some of the landmarks, such as Tibidabo, the Observatori Fabra and the Serra de Collserola are located in these districts.
Another benefit of staying in other districts is the price. While the convenience of staying in the center cannot be denied, this is precisely the reason why the accommodation can be a bit more pricy than to the accommodation you can find in other districts.
If you are in the city on business, or if you have already been to Barcelona and you know how to go around the city using the public transportation, staying in the districts that are away from the center, might be a very good choice. You should just make sure that you do not end up spending too much time in public transport, getting to different locations, as in this case, it might not be worth it.
Types of accommodations
Different types of accommodations are available to you when visiting Barcelona. Depending on each situation, requirements and budget, you can choose between staying in an apartment, hotel or hostel.
While each of these types of accommodation has its pros and cons, when it comes to finding the most convenient solution, renting an apartment is certainly the best choice.
An apartment, unlike a hotel or hostel room, is usually much more spacious, which makes it more home like. This kind of comfort can rarely be obtained in hotels, and almost never in hostels, as these two types of accommodation offer rooms, which can be rather small. On the other hand, the size of the apartment can vary, so you can find lots of different opportunities, depending on what you need, how many people will accompany you on your travel, etc. This is particularly useful for families, especially those with children.
When it comes to types of apartments, there are so many opportunities in Barcelona, and there is no doubt that you will be able to find the one that suits your needs. Do you want to have an apartment with a terrace and large windows? Have you chosen the district or are you not concerned with location, as long as the apartment looks the way you imaged? What should the apartment have, in terms of furniture, appliances, parking space, garage, etc?
All of these are the question you need to focus on, before you choose where to stay in Barcelona. Different requirements and personal desires will affect your search for the accommodation, but what you need to do is to evaluate all aspects before you make a decision. Use this guide to get acquainted with different parts of the cities, and the benefits of renting an apartment.
Once you have listed you requirements and needs, you are ready to use the internet for online browsing of the accommodation. Online browsing allows you to explore the accommodation opportunities in terms of different features. You can start by using the filters, to narrow down the search based on location or district of the city.
Then you can go on to other features, which you do or do not need, such as swimming pool, internet, air conditioning, etc. Additionally, you can sort the apartments based on the price, or by rating, in order to explore the apartment that already received good reviews from the travelers. You should apply filters you want to generate the list of results that match your interests. Go through the list and find the apartment that would be perfect for your stay in Barcelona.