Where to stay in Barcelona for first time: 6 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Barcelona without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Barcelona for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Barcelona and recommend some of the best hotels in Barcelona for various budgets.

Before going into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Barcelona:

Barcelona is a vibrant and historic city located in the Catalonia region of Spain, on the northeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, beautiful beaches, and a lively atmosphere.

The city is home to Sagrada Família, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. It is known for its unique and intricate architecture, and it’s still under construction, despite work having begun in the late 19th century.

It is also home to Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), a historic neighborhood featuring narrow, winding streets, medieval buildings, and a rich history dating back to Roman times.

Another famous place to visit is the La Rambla, a popular tree-lined street in the heart of the city, known for its street performers, shops, restaurants, and vibrant atmosphere.

You can also find Montjuïc, a hill overlooking the city, which is home to several attractions, such as the Magic Fountain, the Montjuïc Castle, and various museums.

Barcelona offers several beautiful urban beaches along the Mediterranean coastline, such as Barceloneta Beach, which are popular for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

History buffs and art lovers can explore its wide range of museums and art galleries, including the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and the Joan Miró Foundation.

Barcelona is known for its delicious Catalan cuisine, including dishes like paella, tapas, and seafood, as well as its famous markets like La Boqueria.

The city is also home to  FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most famous football clubs. Their stadium, Camp Nou, is a pilgrimage site for football fans.

Is Barcelona safe to visit?

Yes, Barcelona is generally a safe city for tourists with a relatively low violent crime rate. But, like any major city, Barcelona has its share of petty theft, particularly pickpocketing in crowded places and public transport hubs like La Rambla, Park Guell, and Sagrada Familia. 

You should take common-sense precautions, such as taking care of your belongings, be cautious at night, stick to well-lit areas, and avoid poorly lit alleyways.

Protests and demonstrations occasionally occur, so it’s advisable to stay informed about local events and follow instructions from local authorities.

Where to stay in Barcelona for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Barcelona for first-timers and tourists are The Gothic Quarter, Plaça de Catalunya, Eixample, Gràcia, La Barceloneta, and El Born. While these areas are generally safe, it’s essential to take common-sense precautions wherever you stay.

Also take note that Barcelona’s public transportation system is efficient, so even if you don’t stay in the exact center, you can easily explore the entire city.

The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) is the most popular area in Barcelona for first-timers who want to stay in the historic heart of Barcelona. This area is known for its narrow medieval streets, historic architecture, and charming squares. You’ll have easy access to famous landmarks like the Barcelona Cathedral.

Plaça de Catalunyas is the main square in Barcelona and serves as a transportation hub, making it a convenient location for accessing different parts of the city. You’ll be close to the shopping areas along Passeig de Gràcia and the famous La Rambla.

Eixample is known for its wide streets, modernist architecture, and upscale shopping and dining. This area is divided into “Eixample Esquerra” (left) and “Eixample Dreta” (right). It’s a good choice if you want a more spacious and upscale atmosphere. It is home to the famous Sagrada Família.

Gràcia is a trendy and bohemian neighborhood with a vibrant arts and cultural scene. It’s known for its independent shops, bars, and restaurants. Staying in Gràcia offers a more local and laid-back experience.

If you’re a beach lover, La Barceloneta is the area closest to the city’s beaches. It has a relaxed seaside atmosphere and is well-suited for those who want to spend a lot of time by the water. 

El Born is a great area for nightlife and trendy restaurants. It is centrally located close to the famous Gothic Quarter, the beach area, and Ciutadella Park. This area is known for its narrow streets, boutique shops, and the Picasso Museum.  

When visiting Barcelona, it’s wise to avoid certain areas to ensure a safe and pleasant stay. Raval has a reputation for higher crime rates with pickpocketing and drug-related crime and can be less safe at night. The bustling La Rambla is a tourist hotspot but is also known for pickpocketing and scams.  

During my trip to Barcelona, I stayed at the popular 3-star Catalonia Avinyo in the Gothic Quarter. The hotel has a prime location in the heart of the city, so I was able to explore most things on foot. Barcelona Cathedral, Barceloneta Beach, Liceu/Jaume I Metro Stations are all a short walk away. I had a lovely breakfast, a comfortable bed, and a clean room.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Barcelona for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Barcelona first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Barcelona first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Barcelona, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Barcelona have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Safe areas to stay in Barcelona for first-timers and tourists

1. The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

The Gothic Quarter is a fantastic area to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors who want to be at the heart of Barcelona’s history and experience its vibrant street life. It’s a great location for sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying the city’s unique ambiance.

The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona and is known for its picturesque narrow streets, medieval architecture, and historic landmarks. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you explore the area.

Many of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks are located within or near the Gothic Quarter, including the Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça de Sant Jaume, and the Picasso Museum. This means you can easily explore these attractions on foot.

The neighborhood is filled with art galleries, artisan shops, and cozy cafes where you can experience the local culture. It comes to life at night with live music, street performances, and bustling tapas bars.

The Gothic Quarter is very pedestrian-friendly, making it easy to explore the area on foot. You can meander through its historic streets, discovering hidden squares and charming nooks.

While it’s an older part of the city, the Gothic Quarter is well-connected to public transportation, including the metro and buses, which can take you to other parts of Barcelona.

You’ll find a wide range of dining options, from traditional Spanish restaurants to modern tapas bars. It’s a great place to sample authentic Catalan cuisine.

The Gothic Quarter can be quite touristy, so it can get crowded, especially during the high season. This means you’ll need to book accommodations in advance to have the best deals.

While the area is generally safe, be aware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in Gothic Quarter for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Neri – Relais & Chateaux, great 5-star hotel centrally located in the center of Barcelona Old Town, easy walking distance from the bustling Las Ramblas and the Jaume I metro station. It has an Outdoor swimming pool, Superb breakfast, and private parking.
  • Mid-range ($$): Duquesa de Cardona 4 Sup, popular 4-star hotel conveniently located in the Gothic Quarter, in front of the marina, a short walk from Ramblas, Maremagnum Shopping Centre and Barcelona Aquarium. Easy access to Barceloneta Metro Station. It has a rooftop with city views, a swimming pool, and good breakfast according to more than 2k guests’ reviews.
  • Budget ($): Catalonia Avinyo, 3-star hotel, situated in central Barcelona, easy distance from Las Ramblas, Barceloneta Beach, Jaume I Metro Stations, and Barcelona Cathedral. You can find many many shops, bars and restaurants nearby. It has a rooftop pool, and 24-hour front desk.

2. Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya is a great base in Barcelona for first-time visitors who want easy access to the heart of the city and its major attractions. The location’s convenience, excellent transportation connections, and proximity to shopping and dining options make it a popular choice for many travelers.

Plaça de Catalunya is literally the center of the city, making it an ideal base for exploring Barcelona. Many of the city’s main attractions are within walking distance or a short metro ride away.

Plaça de Catalunya is a major transportation hub where multiple metro lines, buses, and trains converge. This makes it incredibly convenient for getting around the city and even taking day trips to nearby areas.

The area around Plaça de Catalunya is a shopper’s paradise, with famous shopping streets like Passeig de Gràcia and Portal de l’Àngel nearby. You’ll find a wide range of fashion boutiques, department stores, and international brands.

Plaça de Catalunya is the starting point of La Rambla, one of Barcelona’s most famous streets, known for its lively atmosphere, street performers, and numerous shops and restaurants.

Plaça de Catalunya is close to some of Barcelona’s nightlife hotspots, so if you’re interested in experiencing the city’s vibrant nightlife, you won’t have to go far.

Best places to stay in Plaça de Catalunya for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Ohla Barcelona, 5-star hotel that has a prime location, in the historic center of Barcelona, within a short distance from Palau de la Música Concert Hall, Plaza Catalunya, Urquinaona Metro Station, the Cathedral and the Ramblas. It has a rooftop swimming pool with a lovely terrace with city views and paid airport shuttle services.
  • Mid-range ($$): Olivia Plaza Hotel, good value for money 4-star hotel, that has a central location, right next to Plaza de Catalunya, featuring a terrace bar overlooking Santa Ana Church. Short walk from the iconic Ramblas with its many restaurants and street performers.  
  • Budget ($): Room Mate Pau, popular good value for money 3-star hotel, centrally located just a few steps from  Plaza Catalunya, also close to the famous Las Ramblas and Passeig de Gracia where you can find many upscale shops and Gaudí monuments. Easy access to  Catalunya Metro/FGC Train Station, and Urquinaona Metro station for trains to Barceloneta beach.

3. Eixample

The Eixample district is a popular and attractive area to stay in Barcelona, particularly for first-time visitors. This area is known for its wide, grid-like streets, modernist architecture, and a more upscale atmosphere. 

Eixample is renowned for its stunning modernist buildings, most notably Antoni Gaudí’s iconic Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, and La Pedrera. Staying here allows you to admire these architectural wonders up close.

The Passeig de Gràcia, a major avenue in Eixample, is home to luxury boutiques and international brands. It’s a shopping paradise for those looking for upscale fashion and design.

Eixample is well-connected by public transportation, making it easy to explore other parts of the city. Multiple metro lines and buses serve the area.

While Eixample is a great choice for those who appreciate modernist architecture and a more upscale atmosphere, it may not provide the same historical charm as neighborhoods like the Gothic Quarter.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in Eixample for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Casa Sagnier, 5-star hotel located in a perfect location, close to major sights such as  La Pedrera, Casa Batllo and Passeig de Gracia. Very close to a  metro station and a taxi station. You can find many restaurants and cafes in its surroundings.
  • Mid-range ($$): Sixtytwo Hotel, popular 4-star good value for money hotel, located in the Barcelona city center on Passeig de Gràcia, next to Passeig de Gracia Station (direct airport trains) and Diagonal Avenue with its many restaurants and tapas bars. Easy access to the Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, and Plaza Catalunya. It has Superb breakfast and spacious family rooms.
  • Budget ($): Mosaic Barcelona by Ona, popular 3-star hotel centrally located on the Rambla de Catalunya, 5-10 mins walk from the famous Plaça Catalunya, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera. It has Good breakfast and 24-hour front desk. You can find several restaurants and cafes nearby.

4. Gràcia

Gràcia is a trendy and bohemian neighborhood, and it is a great area to book your accommodation if you if you want a more authentic, local atmosphere, and off-the-beaten-path experience.

The neighborhood is teeming with cozy cafes, lively bars, and a wide variety of restaurants, many of which offer authentic Catalan and international cuisine. It’s a great place to sample local dishes and enjoy the city’s gastronomy.

Gràcia is home to independent boutiques, vintage stores, and artisan shops. It’s an excellent area for shopping for unique and handmade goods.

Gràcia is famous for its charming squares (plazas) and hosts the famous Festa Major de Gràcia, a week-long neighborhood street party with decorated streets.

The neighborhood has a thriving arts and culture scene, with art galleries, theaters, and cultural centers. It’s a great place for those interested in the creative side of Barcelona.

Gràcia has several parks and green spaces, providing a pleasant environment for relaxation and outdoor activities.

Gràcia is not as centrally located as areas like the Gothic Quarter or Eixample. You’ll need to use public transportation, such as the metro or buses, to reach the city’s main attractions.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in Gràcia for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento, 5-star hotel, located in the middle of the  Passeig de Gracia Avenue, featuring a roof terrace with a pool, 24-hour front desk, and Fabulous breakfast. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel, Barcelona Sagrada Familia, popular 4-star hotel, Located within walking distance from Sagrada Familia, and La Pedrera is. It has an outdoor pool,  free bicycle service, and very good breakfast.
  • Budget ($): Aparthotel Silver, 3-star accommodation, situated in the popular Gracia district, within walking distance from  Casa Vicenç Gaudi building, Fontana Metro Station. It has rooms with a kitchenette. Short metro ride from the city center and the Parc Guell.

5. La Barceloneta

La Barceloneta is a great option for travelers who want to stay close to the beach. This area offers a unique coastal vibe and easy access to water activities, beachfront dining, and a vibrant atmosphere.

La Barceloneta is right by the beach, and staying here means you can easily walk to the sandy shores of Barceloneta Beach. It’s an ideal location for beach lovers and water enthusiasts.

The neighborhood is known for its seafood restaurants and beachside chiringuitos (beach bars). You can enjoy fresh seafood dishes while taking in the sea breeze and scenic views.

If you’re into watersports, La Barceloneta is an excellent choice. You can try activities like windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking along the coast.

The seaside promenade, known as the Paseo Marítimo, is great for leisurely walks, cycling, or rollerblading. You can also find outdoor fitness equipment along the promenade.

While La Barceloneta is known for its beach, it’s not far from other attractions like the Gothic Quarter and El Born, so you can explore the city’s history and culture as well.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in La Barceloneta for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): W Barcelona, popular 5-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in Barcelona near the beach, featuring an infinity pool, rooftop bar, and paid airport shuttle. You can find a bus stop right next to the hotel and also 20 mins walk from Barceloneta Metro Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): H10 Port Vell 4 Sup, 4-star hotel, located close to  Port Vell Harbour and the beach. Within a reasonable walking distance from Francia Railway Station and Las Ramblas.
  • Budget ($): Hotel 54 Barceloneta, 3-star beachfront hotel, great base near the beach, easy walk to Barceloneta Beach, Born district, and Barceloneta Metro Station. It has Laundry services, 24-hour front desk, and a good breakfast.

6. El Born 

El Born is a great neighborhood in Barcelona  for first-time visitors who want central location, easy access to major attractions, and enjoy a vibrant nightlife. 

El Born is a historic quarter with narrow, winding streets that have retained their medieval charm. It’s home to numerous historic sites, including the stunning Santa Maria del Mar church, Mercat del Born, the Picasso Museum, and the Palau de la Música Catalana.

This area offers a wide range of dining options, from traditional tapas bars to modern and international cuisine. The area comes alive at night with numerous bars and clubs, creating a vibrant nightlife scene.

You can find boutique shops, artisan stores, and independent boutiques throughout El Born, making it a good choice for shoppers looking for unique items.

El Born seamlessly blends with the Gothic Quarter, offering easy access to even more historic sites and attractions.

Best places to stay in Barcelona in El Born for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Grand Hotel Central, Small Luxury Hotels, 5-star hotel, located 3 mins walk from  Born district,  with lots of trendy shops and restaurants. It features a  rooftop infinity pool with the views of the Gothic Quarter and the Cathedral.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Ciutadella Barcelona, 4-star hotel, located close to Santa María del Mar Church, Ciutadella Park and Barceloneta Metro Station. You can easily find many bars and cafés on Passeig del Born, as well as several seafood restaurants on Passeig de Joan de Borbó.
  • Budget ($): Ciutat de Barcelona, popular 3-star accommodation, located within walking distance from Picasso Museum and easy access to major sights. It features a 24-hour front desk, outdoor rooftop pool, soundproofed rooms.

In conclusion, The Gothic Quarter, Plaça de Catalunya, Eixample, Gràcia, La Barceloneta, and El Born are the best places to stay in Barcelona for first-timers and tourists. These are safe, central, and well-connected areas, making them great bases to book your accommodations.

You can continue reading about Barcelona and other destinations in Spain in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Barcelona. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Where to stay in Barcelona for first time: 6 Safe areas”

Leave a Comment