Fairy-tale architecture joins hands with a rambunctious nightlife scene right on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea to make Barcelona one of the most attractive city break destinations in the world. There’s a little bit of everything here. Your culture comes from the glut of museums that showcase everything from Catalan painting to Picasso. Your hedonism is courtesy of the bohemian pubs of Raval and the clubs of La Rambla. Your taste buds will be satisfied by the tapas holes of the Gothic Quarter and seafood haunts of the beach, where deep-fried octopus mingles with patatas bravas and cold beer. Your eyes will be drawn to the strange and stunning creations of Antoni Gaudi, dotted throughout but hitting a high with the La Sagrada Familia – unquestionably one of the most impressive cathedrals on Earth.
Airbnb in Barcelona is a fantastic way to ferret out a place to stay in an enthralling part of the Catalan capital. Because there’s a limit on the number of short-term rentals that can exist in BCN, most will be of uber-high standard just to compete. So, you’re looking at luxurious penthouses with solariums and even swimming pools, along with contemporary flats with a hipster feel and comfy king beds. Let’s take a look…
There’s been a lot of pressure from residents to regulate the short-term rentals market in Barcelona over fears locals are being priced out of their home neighbourhoods. Consequently, the city’s authorities haven’t issued a single new license for an Airbnb in Barcelona since 2014. There’s still a cap on that, along with dedicated enforcement teams who scour the town for illegal listings. As a traveler, you’re unlikely to get wrapped up in any of that. You’re still free to browse and book as you would anywhere else, although it might be wise to double check with your prospective host that their place is above board and registered.
Where should I stay in Barcelona Airbnb?
Wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish sierras, Barcelona really finds its heart on the tree-lined walks of Las Ramblas(1) – a district of buzzy nightlife and fantastic dining. The next-door Gothic Quarter(2) is for those who want to be immersed in the rich history of the town, while Eixample(3) sports most of the major landmarks, like La Sagrada Familia. Gràcia(4) is to the north of those, offering a cool and chilled escape with plenty of parks. El Raval(5), meanwhile, edges closer to the marina with its bohemian jazz dives, while Barceloneta(6) is the place to go to swim in the Med and get sand on your feet.
Loads of energy
Close to major sights and attractions
Very well connected
Always really busy
The 1.2km of La Rambla is probably the closest you could get to the soul of the city. Famed around Spain for its buzzy character, it’s a tree-speckled avenue that’s adorned with gorgeous Art Deco playhouses and more pubs than you can shake a cerveza at. It’s totally pedestrianised, but don’t be fooled – it’s busy here from midnight to midnight. Fountains and mosaics dress some of the corners, there are ample spots for people watching with a coffee, and it’s where you’ll catch Barcelona’s famous flower kiosks.
More than two millennia of history converges on the haunting Gothic Quarter. Layers of Roman past are topped with mighty medieval-era churches and cloisters. It’s a maze of a place, wreathed in cobbled alleys and shadowy side streets that suddenly emerge onto grand plazas topped by pretty palaces and striking ecclesiastical sights. There are sub sections within the Gothic Quarter itself. Check out the age-old synagogues of the stony El Call Jewish area. Or, head to the hipster enclave of El Born to the west, which has artisan coffee roasters and vintage boutiques between its tight-knit lanes.
From the fountain-spurting Plaça de Catalunya all the way to the mind-boggling towers of La Sagrada Familia (by far Barcelona’s most famous landmark), the district of Eixample is a chocolate box of treasures for the first-time visitor. It’s busy, for sure. In fact, it’s the busiest, most traffic-packed corner of town. But this is where local Barcelona life carries on in the streets, on rooftop terrace bars, in underground jazz dives, and in the sidewalk cafés. There’s also a real abundance of Airbnbs tucked into the blocks of Eixample – you’ll be spoiled for choice.
If in doubt – pick Gràcia. Why? Well, this lovely district offers both energy and relaxation, family vibes and plenty of culture, all neatly packaged into the green and leafy streets that roll north-west from La Sagrada Familia. You can spend your days seeking out some of the most enchanting Art Nouveau creations of Antoni Gaudi, particularly at the weird and wonderful Parc Güell. Alternatively, go shopping for local handicrafts and ingredients down the bustling Carrer Verdi, or enjoy the hidden cantinas with their rustic Catalan tapas dishes.
The home of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is a suitable place for the city’s hipsters and poets to congregate. Cue El Raval, where thought-provoking exhibition spaces mingle with beatnik coffee dives and jazz venues. It’s probably the perfect area to be if you’re looking to taste Barcelona’s more off-beat character, or simply prefer hidden speakeasies and local markets to major sights. Look out for fantastic street art and don’t forget to visit Platja de Sant Sebastià for one of the finest urban beaches of all.
Life in Barcelona spills onto the soft-sand beaches of the Med whenever the sun’s a-shining. Barceloneta Beach is probably the most famous in town, and it’s also backed by a district of enticing seafood tapas joints, beer bars, and wonderful Airbnbs. They won’t put you within walking distance of La Sagrada Familia, but they do come ringed by palm-spotted promenades and some of the best swimming spots in the city. For families and groups alike, it’s a cracking area to look for Airbnb rentals during the hot Spanish summer.
Elegant Zen Studio with Superb View of Las Ramblas
Cosy yet cool, this beautiful flat spills out onto a trio of iron-wrought balconies right above the bustling courses of La Rambla – the city’s main drag. That means people watching galore from the windows of your very own bedroom, or – if you’d prefer – from the window-ringed dining nook. A kitchen with a small hob adjoins a lounge with an L-shaped sofa that’s done in soothing tones of light blue and grey to offer a space you’ll look forward to returning to each evening.
Huddling into the tree-spotted streets behind the beautiful reaches of the Park Güell in Gràcia is this six-bedroom house. Modern and airy, it’s got all the conveniences you could want, from a large kitchen-diner to a spacious lounge with L-plan sofa. What’s more, the garden is a real plus for those hot summer evenings, sharing Catalan wines and local food with your travel pals.
Take the family to the top floor of an ancient building in the midst of the fairy-tale Barcelona Gothic Quarter with this penthouse apartment. Its piece de resistance is a large solarium terrace where the whole crew can soak up the Spanish rays whenever the sightseeing is on the backburner. Inside is simple but stylish, with a good-sized kitchen and three individual bedrooms.
Fork out a little extra and you could find yourself unwinding in a jet-setter villa on the hills above Barcelona. With a prestigious Airbnb Luxe rating, the eight-bedroom house is surely one of the most spacious in the entire city. But the capacity is just the beginning, because guests also enjoy an on-site swimming pool, a private hot tub, a games room, and even their very own bar.
Looking to save as many euros as possible for those nights of sangria in the bars of El Raval? Choose this 24-bed dorm in the Hola Hostal, which can whisk you down to the vibrant streets of Eixample, close to where La Sagrada Familia rises high above the blocks. Clean and minimalist, the establishment has bunk-style rooms that are well aired and spacious. There’s also a fantastic common area with pool tables where backpackers meet and mingle and clink beers come the evening hours.
If you’re keeping a close eye on the travel budget, you might find that an Airbnb in Barcelona offers extra bang for your buck compared to a traditional hotel. There are listings on the service that will set you back just a handful of euros per night. What’s more, large flats with multiple bedrooms can be shared with your whole travel crew, and often come with self-catering facilities to boot, which means less cash lost to tapas and sangria when you’re out and about!
We would say that hotels in Barcelona offer a little more service than an Airbnb. That’s worth bearing in mind if you’re the sort of traveler who likes to wake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and prepared breakfast buffets, or want to have your room cleaned each day while you’re busy sightseeing. And the bonuses don’t end there. Just take the stunning H10 Casa Mimosa. It’s a highly rated establishment with all the frills of a hotel stay, set deep in the vibrant blocks of Eixample with a rooftop pool and a private gym.
Bucket lists get shortened in Barcelona. Unforgettable draws like La Sagrada Familia and maze-like neighbourhoods like the Gothic Quarter see to that. On top, you’ve got sandy Mediterranean beaches and some seriously lively nightlife to look forward to. What are you waiting for? But first check out our guides: Barcelona to Salou, Barcelona to Madrid and Barcelona to Valencia.