Given that you're reading this, odds are we don't need to convince you to book a flight to Barcelona. Between the iconic (and famously unfinished) La Sagrada Familia designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the modern artwork on display at the stunning Museu Picasso, and the delicious tapas, there are plenty of reasons to plan a trip to the Catalan capital. Have your sights set on this seaside city? Trust us, you're not going to want to book your accommodations until after scrolling through this article.
For insider intel on where to stay, find the best tapas, and watch the sunset in Barcelona, we turned to Catalonia local Jessie Bush of We the People. "Barcelona is an easy city to love, whether you come for a weekend, a week, or longer," explains Bush. "It's a city that's always simultaneously relaxed and ready for a good time all at once." From the hip neighborhood of El Born with its trendy restaurants to the historic Barrio Gotico with its picturesque plaza, these are the best areas to stay in Barcelona, hands down.
Known for its narrow, maze-like alleyways, this neighborhood boasts tons of trendy restaurants, ranging from hole-in-the-wall eateries to Michelin-starred establishments. As far as must-see cultural attractions, the ever-popular Museo Picasso and the Gothic cathedral Santa Maria del Mar both deserve a spot on any El Born itinerary.
Where to Stay: Located in the nearby Eixample neighborhood, Bush recommends booking a room at Casa Bonay. "They have a relatively secret rooftop terrace, which is open during summer, a few rooms with private terraces, and an opulent speakeasy-style bar downstairs," she explains.
Consider yourself a foodie? Raval is where you want to be thanks to the neighborhood's famed open-air market, Mercat de la Boqueria. "Yes, it is pretty touristic, however, locals do actually come here to purchase their weekly produce, and it's the best spot to sample as much Spanish cuisine as your stomach desires," says Bush. "So make sure you schedule in an hour to admire the stalls and snack on a whole lot of tapas."
Where to stay: Deemed "Barcelona’s original hipster hotel" by Condé Nast Traveler, Casa Camper is a great budget-friendly option for penny-pinching travelers, complete with a 24-hour tentempié, a buffet that serves a selection of sandwiches, salads, and snacks, in lieu of a minibar.
A great area to stay if you want to be close to the beach, Barceloneta exudes village vibes despite being so close to the city center. "Walk along the beachfront boardwalk at sunset and then grab a drink at one of the local chiringuitos (basically an open shack built on sand)," recommends Bush.
Where to Stay: The Serras is located a short walk (or bike ride) from the beach. "Don't leave without enjoying a view of the water from the rooftop pool, cocktail in hand," advises Condé Nast Traveler.
The oldest neighborhood in Barcelona, Barrio Gotico lures visitors with its picturesque plazas and its quaint terraces—and, of course, its great tapas. "For a modern take on authentic Spanish tapas, Sensi is my favorite spot in the city," divulges Bush. "It's authentic, fresh, and the tapas are always thoughtfully put together."
Where to Stay: "If you like the idea of staying in a restored medieval castle hidden down a tiny, quiet alleyway off one of the prettiest squares in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, Hotel Neri is the choice for you," according to Condé Nast Traveler.
This tranquil, hilly neighborhood offers a welcome respite from the bustling city center. Here, you can wander through galleries showcasing modern art at the Joan Miró Foundation, stroll through the peaceful botanical gardens, and max out your phone's storage taking photos of blooming flowers at the Jardines de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer.
Where to stay: "With its hidden rooftop pool, chic courtyard and thoughtfully designed rooms, Hotel Brummell is always a winner," recommends Bush.