Compared to sprawling Madrid, Barcelona is compact and easy to cover on foot or by public transportation. Nevertheless, if you’re coming for a short trip to the city, staying in a central location and near a popular sight will save you a lot of money and time.
There are several budget hotels to choose from in Barcelona, whether you are looking to stay near the sea, the charming Gothic Quarter or close to the world-famous cathedral designed by Gaudi.
Here are our top hotel picks near three of the city’s must-see landmarks.
This one is on everyone’s list, and if it’s not on yours, then it should be. The whimsical basilica is awesome in the real sense of the word, and even though it’s incomplete, it manages to dazzle and surprise visitors of all ages. For about a year I lived right next to the church. It was a treat to see the Gaudí building, with its organic forms and climbing spires, at different times of the day—in the morning when the sun moved across its elaborate façade, in the afternoon when school children played in the park in front of it, and at night when the perimeter was crowd-free and the moon shown down upon it giving it an even more magical effect.
Related: Tips for getting the most out of your visit to Sagrada Familia
If you, too, want to experience La Sagrada Família from many angles while walking to the metro, buying bread, or stepping out for tapas, then book one of the following hotels.
Eddy Rooms$74 and up
This 19-room pension is furnished with antiques in an area of the city that is close to everything without being in the hustle and noise. Shopping bargains are found nearby on Girona street.
The elegant stairway in Hostal Girona. Photo: Michael Shade
Hostal Girona$63 and up
This small hostal is located in a beautiful old building with an intricate floral façade. The building is in a local, residential area which is safe and quiet.
Enjoy the beach in Barcelona when you book a hotel just a short walk away. Photo: Stuart Pinfold
The sea is Barcelona’s big swimming pool from May to October, and a darn fine place to go for a walk or sit in the sun year-round. Whenever I’m asked why I prefer to live in Barcelona, as opposed to Madrid, my answer is always ‘the sea.’ Madrid is wonderful for so many reasons, but living next to the Med, well, it’s pretty special. Some of the best seafood in the city is found along the waterside, and when the weather is warm the beach buzzes with sunbathers, paddle boarders, hopeful surfers, vendors of all kinds (massage, coconut slices, water, beer, doughnuts?), rollerbladers, plus locals and tourists strolling the boardwalk.
Catalonia’s history museum is down by the seaside in an ancient shipping warehouse. If you want to get an idea of how Catalonia was formed, and why there is a call for independence among many Catalans now, then stroll through this well curated museum (all displays in English in addition to Spanish and Catalan).
Check these hotels for rooms within walking distance from the coastline.
Hotel del Mar$95 and up
Located on the border between the seaside ‘hood of La Barceloneta and La Ribera, this is a great location especially if you like sunshine and nightlife.
Park Hotel offers modern rooms very close to the seaside. Photo: Courtesy of the hotel
Park Hotel$107 and up
An elegant hotel with vintage touches, this property is located in a lively area right across from the train station. It also has a nice bar with a street terrace and is only a ten minute stroll to the waterfront.
A scene from the Gothic Quarter. Photo: Eric Goodwin
Mammoth worn stones from the Roman era mix with newer bricks around every corner in Barcelona’s most charming ‘hood. As an American from the western United States, it’s the Gothic Quarter that has always enchanted me the most, probably because there aren’t many Roman pillars and medieval palaces where I come from. Iron street-lamps cast their golden beams along twisting alleyways where obscure bars buzz seven nights a week. Gargoyles and other creatures watch from their perches atop the cathedral as visitors rotate their maps and buskers serenade the night.
While pickpockets and getting lost can be an issue in the Gothic Quarter, it is one of the most romantic areas to be in, with plenty of food and shopping close at hand.
Try one of these budget hotels to stay in the oldest part of Barcelona.
Hostel Itaca$76 and up
This is a true backpacker hostel located right next to the cathedral in a very hip part of the neighborhood. They also have double private rooms if you don’t want to share.
Hostal Fernando offers a perfect central location. Photo: EuroCheapo
Hostel Fernando$50 and up
Conveniently situated right off La Rambla, this means it’s very easy to find—even at night after a bottle of Spanish red wine.
So what will it be? The tall towers of the swooping, psychedelic Sagrada Família? The gentle waves of the Mediterranean Sea? Or the puzzling side-streets of the Gothic Quarter? A stay in any of these areas will put you close to the source that gives Barcelona its intoxicating buzz.