Central and Safe Areas to Stay in Barcelona (+ Hotel Recommendations)
Are you thinking of visiting the glamourous Spanish city of Barcelona? With attractions such as the Sagrada Familia, one of the best city beaches in the world and some excellent museums, buildings and works of art, it’s certainly a destination that should be high up on any tourist’s list. And did we mention the food? Barcelona has some of the best restaurants in the country!
However, it’s no secret that Barcelona is known as the pickpocketing capital of the world. Petty theft is quite common here compared to other European cities. Nevertheless, it’s still a safe place to visit overall, as long as you keep your belongings secure and don’t make yourself a target. Some areas are also safer than others.
In this guide, we’ll share the best safe areas to stay in Barcelona, along with hotel recommendations for every budget. Each area is centrally located near the top attractions and has lower crime rates.
L’Eixample is Barcelona’s premier shopping district and city centre entertainment hub. A higher-end place to stay and live in the city, it’s full of nice tapas bars and restaurants. It’s also the locations of some of Antonio Gaudi’s most famous works of art. At the bottom of the district, you’ll find Place de Catalunya, a bustling square with chain hotels, shopping malls and flagship fashion stores such as Zara and Mango.
You then have the long street known as Passeig de Gracia, which houses two Gaudi attractions and a series of high-end fashion boutiques. Away from the busy shopping streets, L’Eixample is a quiet residential neighbourhood with beautiful buildings and perfectly straight, intersecting streets. Look at the district from above and you’ll notice its unique layout compared to the rest of the city.
We recommend a stay in L’Eixample for those that want a central and safe area to stay in Barcelona, a short walk from some excellent attractions. You’ll still need to take transport to get to areas such as the beach, Montjuic and Mount Tibidabo. Hotels in L’Eixample tend to be smaller boutique options over large chain hotels. It’s also a little more expensive than other areas, but well it’s worth the added cost, if you can afford it.
Top reasons to stay in L’Eixample
- In our opinion, L’Eixample has the best restaurant selection in Barcelona. You’ll find some excellent tapas bars and local eateries, but also other cuisines. Argentinian steakhouses, Malaysian restaurants and Japanese grills are all within a short walk.
- One of the safest and most exclusive areas to stay in Barcelona. Crime rates are low, and you can walk around at night with no issues.
- Centrally located for some of Barcelona’s best attractions, including the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and the main tourist shopping areas.
Reasons you might not want to stay here
- L’Eixample is one of the more expensive areas to stay in Barcelona and budget hotel options are limited.
- A more commercial area to stay, with lots of buildings. It lacks the scenic views of areas near Barcelona’s seafront and port.
The best L’Eixample hotels
The Gothic Quarter is one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona for those that want to be in the charming old centre of the city. The narrow, cobbled streets, grand baroque architecture and trendy, dimly lit bars and restaurants will immerse you into Barcelona life. It’s a great place to be on an evening, where the streets come alive with people dining or enjoy a glass of wine outside.
It’s also a great location for sightseeing. Some of the city’s best buildings and museums are in the Gothic Quarter. Barcelona Cathedral, historic squares, art galleries and magnificent architecture make it one of Barcelona’s most diverse neighbourhoods. Next door, you have El Born and Las Ramblas, two more thriving tourist areas with plenty of attractions, shops and restaurants. You’re in the very centre of everything, making it great for first-time visitors.
The only real downside of staying in the Gothic Quarter is the tourist crowds. As one of the most popular places in the city, it has a fair share of touristic restaurants, and the streets are full of walking tours during the day. Whilst safer than other areas, it still has opportunistic pickpockets, being a main tourist area.
Top reasons to stay in the Gothic Quarter
- The most central area to stay in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful area of the city with amazing architecture and a unique, historic façade. Many key attractions are within walking distance.
- Well located for good nightlife. The area is full of lively restaurants, bars and shops.
- Easy access to Barcelona’s beaches and seafront port on one side, and many shopping streets and central attractions on the other. You won’t have to use public transport unless you venture away from the main area.
Reasons you might not want to stay here
- Whilst still relatively safe compared to other areas to stay in Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter is a main tourist hub. Therefore, it still has its fair share of pickpockets. You wouldn’t want to go wandering about some of its dark, narrow streets during the early hours.
- Hotels here can be a little more expensive than elsewhere due to it being a highly popular tourist area.
The best Gothic Quarter hotels
Gràcia is the perfect area to stay in Barcelona for those that want a charming neighbourhood, just outside of the action. It’s located to the north of the city, right on the border of L’Eixample. It’s quiet, safe, walkable and a top choice area to live for locals earning high salaries. It also has a good share of amenities, including supermarkets, metro stations and plenty of excellent cafes and restaurants. The main attraction here is Gaudi’s Park Guell.
The only things you won’t find in Gràcia are a lively nightlife scene and many of Barcelona’s top attractions. It’s a good place to use as a base for exploring other areas. As Gràcia is located slightly of out the tourist centre, you’ll find some excellent value hotels and apartments. 4-and-5-star hotels are also better value here, with plenty to choose from.
Gràcia is one of the best safe areas to stay in Barcelona on our list and we highly recommend it for those that want a quieter, more residential neighbourhood. It has all the charm and artistic edge of other neighbourhoods, but without the high hotel prices or overpriced tourist restaurants.
Top reasons to stay in Gràcia
- A quiet, more authentic area to stay in Barcelona, away from the main tourist area. Restaurants and hotels are better value than other areas and you have lots of facilities all within walking distance.
- One of the safest central areas of Barcelona to stay. General crime and pickpocketing occurrences are lower here.
- Well located for seeing Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Mount Tibidabo and the shopping streets of L’Eixample.
Reasons you might not want to stay here
- It’s a little further out from the main attractions. You’ll sometimes need to use buses, taxis or the metro to get around.
- There’s less going on in Gràcia compared to other areas. It’s not ideal for those that want to be in the heart of Barcelona’s nightlife scene.
The best Gràcia hotels
A great aspect of Barcelona is the fact it has a long sandy beach right by the city centre. It’s the perfect destination for both sightseeing and relaxation! Barceloneta Beach is the main beach in the city. However, it can be quite loud on an evening due to the vibrant nightlife scene. It’s also a little less safe than other areas. If you want a safe area to stay in Barcelona that’s right by a beautiful beach, consider El Poblenou.
Located just along the coastline from Barceloneta Beach, El Poblenou is a trendy area that has undergone huge development in the past several years. The south of the neighbourhood has retained its authentic Catalan neighbourhood vibe, whilst the north is full of tech start-ups, art galleries and quirky, modern buildings. It’s an area that combines old with new. You’ll find long-standing family-owned tapas bars alongside trendy brunch restaurants.
The best thing about staying in El Poblenou is its proximity to the beautiful Bogatell Beach. This beach is much nicer than Barceloneta and you can spend your time relaxing on the white sands whenever you like! You can then hop aboard the local metro to reach the attractions of the city centre in a matter of minutes.
Top reasons to stay in El Poblenou
- The perfect area to stay in Barcelona for beach lovers. It’s safe, scenic and relaxing compared to the sometimes-hectic other areas of the city.
- Well located for the nightlife of Barceloneta Beach and a few key attractions. You can easily reach other areas of Barcelona on the metro.
- The area is very modern, with some excellent, affordable hotel options and a mix of international and Spanish restaurants.
Reasons you might not want to stay here
- El Poblenou is a little further out from the main attractions compared to other areas on our list. You’ll need to use public transport to get around.
- It’s in the perfect location for beach relaxation. If beaches aren’t important to you during your stay, you’ll be better suited staying in another area.
The best El Poblenou hotels
Along with Gràcia, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is regarded as the safest area to stay in Barcelona. Situated at the foot of the towering Mount Tibidabo, this upmarket neighbourhood is full of mansion houses and beautiful 19th-century buildings. For over 200 years the upper class have chosen Sarrià as a quiet summer retreat. These days, the area has been gentrified and now has a good collection of more affordable accommodation options, quaint cafes and restaurants.
Sarrià is quiet, clean and picturesque. There are several scenic hikes on the mountainside, a local food market and easy access to Barcelona’s main attractions on the metro or bus. It’s located a little bit out of the action, but the blissful surroundings and affordable hotel options make it a great base for your stay. It suits those that want a safe, quiet area with less crowds and traffic.
Top reasons to stay in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
- An ideal area to stay for those that like quiet, safe surroundings and plenty of nature. Long walks around this neighbourhood are very enjoyable.
- Well located for visiting the must-see Mount Tibidabo.
- A feeling of ‘exclusivity’. Sarrià feels like the Beverley Hills of Barcelona, with grand mansions of the rich and famous on every corner.
Reasons you might not want to stay here
- Sarrià is a very quiet area, so it won’t suit those that like to have lots going on. It also lacks a nightlife scene.
- It’s a little far out from the main attractions, so you’ll have to use public transport to get around.
The best Sarrià-Sant Gervasi hotels
Areas to avoid in Barcelona
El Raval is an up-and-coming, gentrified neighbourhood, between the main tourist Las Ramblas street and Barcelona’s dock area. Whilst it has some nice restaurants and a few popular hotels, it can be a little sketchy on an evening. It has higher crime rates compared to other areas to stay in Barcelona.
Las Ramblas is the main tourist hub of Barcelona, and unfortunately, with many tourists, brings many opportunistic pickpockets. It’s fine during the day – you just have to watch out for pickpockets and keep your belongings close to you. On an evening, it can get a little sketchier. Watch out for people trying to sell you drugs and prostitution. It may be central, but there are nicer places to stay.
Like Las Ramblas, the Ciutadella Park area is a beautiful place to visit during the day. It’s full of great attractions, cafes and restaurants. However, visit on a night-time and the area can be a little quieter and sketchier. Many areas of this neighbourhood are fine, but it does have some rough parks and streets you wouldn’t want to wander down at 3am.
Areas outside of city centre
There are many areas to stay in Barcelona with excellent accommodation options and affordable prices. However, staying in areas further out of the city centre means you have to constantly use public transport to get around. This is great if you’re on a budget, but we strongly encourage you to find a more central area to stay in you can. Location is everything when you’re out exploring all day! It’s nice to have a handy hotel to rest for a few hours before heading back out.
Frequently asked questions
Our top tips for choosing a hotel and area to stay in Barcelona
- Choose an area to stay in Barcelona that that’s central to the attractions you want to see. Are you wanting to be in the centre of the nightlife scene? Maybe you want to be within walking distance of top attractions? Alternatively, you might want a more relaxing area near a beach or park. Choose an area that suits your holiday interests.
- Book a hotel with breakfast included to save you time and money on a morning. We always find the breakfasts in 3-5-star Barcelona hotels to be excellent!
- If travelling solo, consider staying in a hostel. Hostels are very affordable in Barcelona and are a great way of meeting people.
- Choose a hotel near a metro station for easy access to other areas of the city. The local metro system is very good.
- Do you want to enjoy some relaxation in the sun during your time in Barcelona? Book a hotel with a swimming pool. Surprisingly for a city, a lot of 3+ star hotels in Barcelona have pools.
- Compare dates and booking websites to find the best price for your hotel.
- Consider booking an apartment if travelling as part of a large family or group. It’s more cost-effective.
- If visiting Barcelona for a short amount of time (1-4 days), stay as central as possible. You’ll see a lot more in a short space of time.
- Barcelona hotels charge a local government city tax, which can be as much as 5 euros per person, per day. Keep in mind that you’ll be charged the city tax when you check in or out of your hotel. Find out more about Barcelona city tax here.
- Travel outside of the peak summer months for less crowds. There’s also less of a chance of opportunistic tourist crimes outside of the peak season.
Barcelona safety tips
Our guide is all about nice and safe areas to stay in Barcelona. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to include some helpful safety tips. Keep the following in mind during your visit.
- Always keep your bag zipped up and under your arm, or to your front if possible.
- Don’t wear expensive jewellery or designer clothing. High value items make you a target for robberies.
- Don’t put anything in your back pockets.
- Make use of bum bags / fanny packs or hidden money belts.
- Travel with others, particularly if out at night.
- Avoid dark, dimly lit streets on an evening.
- Stick to the main tourist areas and don’t wander off into neighbourhoods you don’t know.
- Don’t carry much cash on you and try to travel light.
- If arriving in Barcelona at night, use a taxi or Uber to get to your hotel.
- Don’t get drunk. If out drinking, know your limits and have the occasional glass of water to slow your pace down.
- If out shopping, use generic shopping or supermarket bags to conceal your purchases. Avoid using designer store bags.
- Be careful in metro stations. They’re where a lot of pickpocketing and robbery crimes happen. We recommend booking a taxi if out late at night.
We hope we inspired you with some great, safe areas to stay in Barcelona, as well as some excellent hotel options. Barcelona is a great place to visit, full of history, culture and excellent food. Keep your wits about you, just as you would with any other new destination, and chances are, you’ll be completely fine.
Check out our other Barcelona travel guides on our website, to help you plan an upcoming or future trip.
BY RICKYAuthor bio:
An adventurer at heart that loves anything outdoors. Beaches, mountains and amazing scenery is everything I love about travel! I also enjoy home comforts and need a nice place to relax and re-charge after every trip.