This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Barcelona. To help you make friends with Barcelona before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
There are a few things you should know about hostels in Barcelona and the city in general. Besides comparing the best and cheapest hostels in Barcelona for you, we also highlight what we have liked, disliked and things to look out for.
First of all, I would love to solve all your doubts about hostels in Barcelona. After that, I will give you some recommendations and tips for Barcelona and how to make the most of your time in the city. If you want to skip directly to the Barcelona recommendations click here.
Hostels in Barcelona
Let's dip in to the most important hostel questions:
1. Are hostels safe in Barcelona?
Hostels, in general, are safe. Nevertheless, it will also depend on you, the people who stay at the hostel and the behavior of all these people all together. If you leave your wallet open in the sofa, it might be lost, or maybe the person who finds it will give it directly to the receptionist...
We never know how other people will react in this situations, right? People who stay at hostels are backpackers, like you, like me.
Read: Are Hostels Safe? 11 safety tips for hostel travel.
The stories about having someting stolen at hostel are very few, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, you should always use the lockers on the room to put all your valuables. And use a good padlock to lock it.
Another good thing to look at is to check that the hostel has reception 24/7. The receptionist on the desk always has an eye on people going in and out and will be checking that nobody who is not staying in the hostel enters.
Next time, if the receptionist asks you which is your room number, remember it is good as it is a security issue. For Barcelona hostels, you should make sure the hostel is not in a bad neighborhood so you feel safe also and good when you go in and out.
For solo-female travelers specially, avoid staying at el Raval. This area is a bit sketchy nowadays. You won't feel good walking alone at night after a party.
2. Where should I stay in Barcelona?
There are many nice and good areas in Barcelona. It is a big city so it will depend what you are looking for. Nevertheless, think about these 2 facts before choosing your hostel:
a) Barcelona is big, so the more central you stay, the less time you will be commuting. The most central areas are: Sant Antoni, Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gràcia.
Nevertheless, Barcelona is a well connected city, so as long as you are near a metro stop, you will be ok. Try and find a hostel that's just a few minutes walk from a metro.
b) When having a specific request, try to stay in an area that accomplishes that request. E.g:
- If you want to stay in a local hipster area, stay in Gràcia. A good hostel in Gràcia is Yeah Barcelona Hostel.
- Looking for a hostel with many social activities? Black Swan Hostel Barcelona is good for that.
- Wanna spend most of your time at the beach? Staying at Unite Hostel Barcelona is just a short walk to one of the best beaches in the city.
- A hostel in Barcelona with private rooms is what you are looking for? Check Urbany hostel
- The priority is having a bar in the house? Generator Hostel Barcelona has one.
- Great social vibes for youths can be had at Mediterranean Youth Hostel Barcelona.
- 360 Hostel Barcelona is a top choice in El Born area.
- Are you an older traveller? Born Barcelona Hostel is great for +50 travellers.
- TOC Hostel Barcelona is excellent for digital nomads.
- The most beautiful boutique hostel in the city is Casa Gracia.
- A top option for the female solo traveller is Pars Teatro Hostel.
- A cheap hostel Barcelona offers is Bedcelona Gracia Hostel. In fact, it's the cheapest hostel in Barcelona!
Sant Jordi hostels are big in Barcelona - there are 3 located in different areas of the city! The best one has to be Sant Jordi Hostel Gracia.
Looking for a hostel located in a quiet area? Eixample is the place. If you prefer a quiet rest, we suggest booking your stay at Barcelona Central Garden Hostel.
These are just some of the best hostels in Barcelona!
Use the filters to make sure the hostel has what you are looking for. When a cheap hostel is your priority, select sort by price, and the system will order the hostels by price.
Remember to add your travel dates, as prices change during the year. You can find a hostel under 15€/ night in January, but most probably not in August.
You can also check the cheap hostels page, where we collected a graphic which displays prices per month.
What about hostels in Barcelona Spain near airport? Barcelona International Airport is only 20-minutes from the city centre. So really, it doesn't matter too much which hostel you stay in as they are all within easy reach.
Which are some cute neighborhoods to stay?
I love Barcelona and know a lot about the city, so I could argue that most of the neighborhoods offer a unique stay in a different way. But I have many friends that came to Barcelona from abroad to visit, so I noticed their reactions to the different places.
The most loved districts, where you can also spend time because they have cool vibes, are:
- Sant Antoni
- Gothic Quarter in the city centre
As mentioned, if you want to stay in any other area go for it. As far as you are near a metro stop, you will be well connected in Barcelona. Metro runs daily until 12 at night. That means Barcelona central is never far away.
On Fridays you have metro from 5am until 2am and on Saturdays there is metro all night long.
Barcelona Hostel Reviews
A good way to check the hostel you like is what you are looking for is also to read the reviews.
People talk about if they liked the activities (a way to discover if the hostel organizes activities regularly), will describe if the hostel was clean or not so you will detect if it meets your high cleaning standards or not... and so on.
Check out the reviews of the #1 rated hostel in Barcelona: Hostel One Paralelo - it has a rating of +9.5 from over 6,000 reviews. Wow. It's also in the perfect location.
Cool Amenities Hostels Barcelona offer
Just quickly, here are some things we've seen are commonly included at hostels in Barcelona:
- Fully equipped kitchen (save money)
- Key card access to rooms (extra safety)
- Free WiFi (always appreciated)
- Free breakfast (yes please!)
- Laundry facilities (great for long-term travellers)
- Fun, memorable staff
Let's reveal what you will find in this marvelous city. I could tell you Barcelona has it all: culture, beach, party, tasty food, happy people... and talk about it for hours and hours.
But let's get straight to the point and see what you should see, eat, and expect.
Also what you should avoid - this city is not perfect.
In this section you will find:
1. What to see in Barcelona
There are plenty of things you can see in Barcelona, but there is a top 5 Barcelona essentials you should not miss:
2 Days in Barcelona
1.1 Sagrada familia
This majestic church (yes, it is a church) is a Gaudí masterpiece. It has not been finished yet, so it is also interesting to see the evolution of it. For those willing to see the interior - it is worth it - I recommend you to purchase the tickets in advance.
Having the tickets beforehand you won't have to queue. I saw queues as long as 1-3 hours... The best moment to enter Sagrada familia is around 1 hour before sunset. The color changing inside the church adds even more beauty to the experience.
Not willing to enter? Make sure you go at least to watch it from the outside.
1.2 Park Güell
Another Gaudí masterpiece. The park offers also nice views of the city, so you have 2x1 here. Kindly note that in order to enter the most beautiful area in the Güell Park you need a ticket.
This ticket must be bought beforehand, you cannot just show up there and expect to get inside instantly, as the area has a limited amount of people per hour. In the best case scenario, if tickets are available, you would be able to enter in around 20-30 minutes.
Therefore, it is much better if you buy your entry beforehand. You will get a slot time where you can enter the closed area and enjoy it. At the park, there is still an area which is free, and it is Ok. You still have the views. And you might get to experience some street artist shows that are around that area. The ticket entry to the main area is totally worth it.
Tip: If you want to enter to the main area for free - and leagally - No wall squalling necessary! - go to there before/after the opening times. The park schedule is from 7.30 to 21.30.
1.3 Walk Passeig de Gracia and Las Ramblas
There are still free activities around Barcelona, at least, if you just wanna appreciate the beauty of the buildings from the outside. In Passeig de Gracia you will find also 2 more Gaudí Buildings:
Both require an ticket to enter, so if you already invested your budget on Sagrada Familia and Park Guell (I think these 2 are the must-go-in) then just walk Passeig the Gracia and observe them from the outside.
Of course, if you love Gaudí and your budget allows it, you could go in. Las Ramblas is one of the most famous walk areas in the city. You will find many artists in Las Ramblas offering "their shows".
Please be aware there are many pick-pockets in this area. Pay attention to your belongings!
1.4 Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
Narrow streets, beautiful arches, medieval feelings... The gothic quarter is that romantic area that detaches history. There are some cathedrals, many restaurants and it is one of the oldest parts of the city. If you want to know things about history, locals, architecture... join a free tour.
They normally give lots of information about the city. In the Gothic quarter, go to Felip Neri square (my favorite square). One of the most energetic places around Gothic quarter. There are many hidden alleys and cute corners in this neighborhood, that is why I recommend you to get lost in it. You can comment below your favorite place and share it with all of us - I just shared with you mine.
1.5 Enjoy the beach vibes
One of the coolest things of Barcelona is that it has also a beach. It is not the most beautiful beach in the world but it is a beach. Get some drinks in the supermarket and some snacks, and go to the beach to get your vitamin D of the day. Or to enjoy the sunset vibes.
There are many restaurants on the beach, the so called "chiringuitos", but drinks there are a bit expensive. Save your money for some tapas! Relaxing a bit - on the beach or in a bar - is part of the Barcelona culture.
Many locals do go to the beach after work, or go to the bar to drink with their friends...
That is part of joining the Barcelona way of living.
EXTRA: tapas, tapas, tapas!
Enjoy your time in the city eating like a king! There are many places to eat tapas all around the city.
The restaurants where I bring my friends are: Taller de tapas, Quimet i Quimet, Bodega 1900, La Plata, and Xampanyet. You cannot go wrong in any of these places.
What to do in Barcelona
For those having more than 2-3 days in Barcelona, the list continues! Places you should see in Barcelona:
1.6 Parc de la ciutadella
Perfect place to relax, enjoy your time, you could even consider going to the Zoo which is nearby.
1.7 Arc de Triomf
Just next to Parc de la Ciutadella, there is Arc de Triomph. It is called a Triomph Arch but it has nothing to do with war. This monument was building for an exposition.
1.8 Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral is quite stunning, and you can go on the top of it and get a birds view! This is something that you can do since a couple of years and it is totally worth it.
The terrace opens only from 11am to 12pm. There is an entrance fee
1.9 Magic Fountain
Located in Plaça de Espanya you will find the Magic Fountain. A free show made with the fountain lights and water. Check the schedules here, as they change from season to season.
1.10 Camp Nou
The Barcelona football team is worldwide recognized. The best moment to go to the stadium is for watching a match, but if there is no match going on you can always go to the Stadium and museum and learn about their history, fun facts, and see the (empty) stadium.
Note: only recommended for football lovers.
1.11 Boqueria Market
This market has it all! Tasty food to take away or food-to-go, smoothies, tasty ingredients to cook or even some foodie souvenirs. It has also some famous restaurants inside, like Pinotxo, a famous restaurant loved by locals and tourists.
1.12 Picasso Museum
The famous Picasso artist spent much time in Barcelona. Lots of his paintings are in Barcelona, in the Picasso Museum. It is a busy Museum, so I do totally recommend you to buy the tickets in advance.
Tip: this museum offers free entrances Thursday after 18:00 and the first Sunday of each month. You have to book the free entry here (it can be booked 4 days in advance).
1.13 Music Palace
A modernist building from Lluís Domenech i Muntaner. Concerts inside this building are just a visual and auditive org****. The combination of your favorite music in this music hall, which is impressive, won't deceive you.
As there are not many concerts, you can visit the Music Palace and learn about it, see it, and visit the hall. There will be an orchestra in the hall so you can feel also how it would be to enjoy a concert there.
2. Where to eat in Barcelona
Barcelona is full of good-quality restaurants, as well as crappy restaurants, it is a big city! Sometimes is challenging to find a good restaurant to satisfy your needs, but worry not.
Ask around in your hostel, other travelers, and they will point you to some great places. You should try tapas, that's for sure! Tapas are small dishes.
The best way to try as many tapas as you can is to share food with other friends. So pack your new hostel friends, and bring them to these places. They will love you!
2.1 Taller de tapas
This local chain (they have 4-5 restaurants in the city) is a good established restaurant that offer tasty tapas with local products.
The first Taller de tapas opened 15 years ago, and they did it so well that they have been adding more restaurants to their list.
The original one is in Gothic Quarter, and my favorite in Carrer Argentería.
2.2 Quimet i Quimet
This restaurant started adding some olives and sardine preserves to the beer orders they received. That's how they developed their slogan "The art of combining preserves".
Quimet i Quimet offers more than 500 varieties of wine, and tasty tapas. It is a small (familiar) and busy bar, so do not come here expecting to be alone.
2.3 Bodega 1900
An upscaled tapas bar part of the Ferran Adria (worldwide recognized chef) properties. At Bodega 1900 they try to combine tradition with innovation. It is mandatory to book a table.
2.4 La Plata
An authentic bar with a small tapas selection. La plata is very traditional place full of charm and tasty food!
One of the most popular tapas place all around the city. The environment at Xampanyet is one of the best to taste tapas with your new friends.
This one is my favorite of all the bars I mentioned.
Places to get Cheap Food in Barcelona
For those looking to save money and eat cheap, worry not, Barcelona has also cheap food.
This place offers tasty Argentina-style empanadas, sandwiches, salads and some tapas. It is really aforrdable - you can find empanadas at 2,10/piece.
Burgers always satisfy my stomach (veggie burgers in my case) and they are normally full-filling if you order some chips with them. Bacoa is a burger chain with one restaurant near Barceloneta beach. I totally recommend you to choose a table on the terrace and enjoy the sun.
The concept of take away is not so accepted in the spanish culture. People like to sit and eat, enjoy the meal and chat with their friends. But you can always take the sir-fry noodles to the park and enjoy them there, right?
The best sandwiches in the city center of the city. Bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches) are the cheapest meal and very satisfying for your stomach. This is the thing all students will buy for their lunch, the sandwich is your life-saver after a night out. Well, you will find bocadillos in most bars, but if you want the best ones in the city, go to Conesa, near the city hall.
The cheapest meal in Barcelona
If you want to eat really cheap in Barcelona, just buy some pasta in the supermarket and go to the hostel to cook. The "student way of traveling" consists of:
- enjoy the breakfast at the hostel,
- eat a sandwich for lunch,
- come "early" to the hostel so you can cook your dinner,
- invest all the money you saved in more traveling (the reality is that it is spent in going-out and alcohol, right?)
3. How to prepare for Barcelona?
You might think the only thing you need to prepare before coming to Barcelona is to pack your suitcase... that worked many many years ago, when there was no internet and not so many people where traveling around the world.
3.1 Book Sagrada familia ahead of time
Nowadays, if you want to enjoy your Barcelona trip, you should at least book entries to:
3.2 Watch your purse
It is also important that you explore the city in a relaxed way but avoiding pick-pocketing. There are many pick-pockets all around the city, and that is a pity, but it is a reality.
Therefore, make sure you bring a daily backpack with you but you do not have your valuables in there, or you carry your bag in front of you so nobody can open it while you are walking.
Do not carry the cell phone on your trouser's back pocket. Be aware to maintain distances in places like Las Ramblas, the metro.... all these places are hot spots for pick-pockets.
I would recommend you also to leave the valuables you do not need at your hostel locker and bring with you only the necessary items to explore the city.
You won't experience violence if you are robbed, but pick-pocketing is also annoying, so try to avoid it.
3.3 Be aware of festivals dates
There are many festival and concerts in Barcelona. some of them are free and will add really cool stuff to your list if you are in Barcelona those dates, like Gracia neighborhood festival.
Some concerts (with an admission fee) will just make that the prices of the accommodation increase, so try to avoid them. Before choosing a date, make sure you know if there is a concert or festival going on. And if they offer free activities... make sure you join them!
3.4 Take advantage of the freebies
Inform yourself about the free things to do in Barcelona. There are many of things you can do for free!
There are also some days where some museums are free - you can take advantage of this if you plan accordingly and save some money.
3.5 Barcelona might differ with your Spanish stereotypes
Barcelona has some cultural differences from Madrid or Seville. While you might think flamenco is the official dance here, it is not.
The traditional dance in this region is Sardanas. That does not mean you won't find any flamenco show, there are some around the city. But not as many as in Seville or south of Spain. Also, bullfighting is forbidden in Barcelona.
The bullfight rings have been converted to shopping malls or concert halls.
3.6 Specific dining times
The schedule in restaurants and bars are very different from other places in Europe.
People eat lunch around 2:30pm and dinner no earlier than 9pm. That means restaurants will start offering lunch menus at 12 until 4pm and dinners from 7pm to 11:30pm.
3.7 Barça is not Barcelona
The term Barça is used only for the football team in Barcelona, not the city. If you want a nickname to the city, use Barna. That is the local term.
I know it is not as easy to pronunce as Barça, but that's how things are.
3.8 Drinking alcohol on the streets is forbidden
Even though you will see the city full of vendors selling "Cerveza, Beer, cola, Agua" technically, the whole transaction is not legal. It is as well forbidden to walk with your friends with a cold beer on the hand and partying loud.
That is what police will call: botellón. Normally, policemen are very loose and would ignore that you have a beer on your hand, but it will be better if you hide your beer.
Las Ramblas is expensive. As you walk through las ramblas you will see there are many restaurants and bars. All those bars are overpriced, with no expception. It is the price you pay to get the "people-show". Just go one or 2 streets behind and you will cheaper prices for the same (or bigger) dishes.
3.9 Sundays are not fun-days
You will notice on Sundays many shops are closed. Also local markets, and even restaurants. This is a tradition that remains from the Catholicism, as Sunday was the day that people went to church. Worry not, if you go out on Saturday night, this is the perfect day to do a recover-day.
There is also lots of activity at the pre-lunch hour, from 12 to 2pm, where people gather to drink a Vermut and eat some tapas before they all go to have lunch with their family members. Also, many clubs started to throw some parties on Sunday night - and these clubs tend to be cheaper on Sunday.
3.10 Sangria is not the local drink
I know I know... that is a bummer. But just because you did not try cava! Cava is similar to champaigne, and you will find it in different colors: white cava, rosé... Give it a try.
A very traditional drink is also vermut, similar to campari, but this is a Sunday pre-lunch drink, if you order it in the club people will look at you strangely.
Note: you can still order sangria, try the Cava Sangria and be carefull, it goes to your head faster than the traditional one.
3.11 The sights are spread out throughout the city
Barcelona has so many beautiful sights that they are not all together. Worry not, the public transportation is good, so that won't be a problem.
4. Barcelona Nightlife
You might have heard...the nightlife in Barcelona is awesome. And I guarantee it! This city is one of the easiest places in Spain to end your party night at 6am with a "Chocolate con churros" filling your stomach before going to sleep.
Nevertheless, you have to plan a bit, as going to a club might be expensive. Let's go through the perfect plan together. This is a Barcelona travel guide for students that want to party hard (a mastered plan after many years of partying Barcelona with friends).
4.1 People go out late
While in some countries clubs end at 3am, this is the moment where the clubs in Barcelona start getting full. Bear in mind clubs open at 12am, but there won't be many people until 2am.
4.2 Free entry to the club
Nevertheless, you will learn that in order to save the entry fee, you have to be in the queue at 1am. Most guest lists will give you free entry only until 1:30, and if you arrive at 1:20, you will be at the entry later than the free deadline.
4.3 Drinks at clubs are expensive
The drinks at the clubs are very expensive. Even a beer is marked at 6-7€, so make sure you get to a bar earlier and have some drinks with your friends there first.
4.4 Pub crawls
To meet other people while traveling solo I do totally recommend you join a pub crawl. It is the easier way to meet other solo-travelers that want to party hard. Remember to ask your "guide" which club shall you go next before the pub crawl ends!
4.5 The cheapest drinks
The cheapest drinks are always in the supermarket, but supermarkets are only allowed to sell alcohol until 23h. Make sure you do the last round before that time.
4.6 Safe streets
As mentioned before, Barcelona is a safe city, but full of pick-pockets. There is a saying in Spanish "At night, all cats are brown". Meaning, it is more difficult at night to distinguish due to the darnkess.
At night, pick-pockets have 2 advantages: less light and drunk people. Make sure you don't get too wasted, as you will be the perfect victim. Plan your night, and get the taxi telephone number on your phone in case you are too drunk to get the metro.
Nevertheless, bear in mind you cannot act dunk, as many taxis won't stop if they notice that you are too drunk. Walking back to your hostel shall be no problem, nevertheless, try to walk in main streets and when taking the metro make sure you go in a cabin where more people go in.
4.7 Time to party
If you want some names for clubs to party hard, here you've got a local selection for having fun. I will separate them in 3 types:
"Upscale" clubs: these clubs are where you should wear fancy clothes to get in easily. Fashion in Barcelona is very loose, so you will be able to bring your sport shoes here, but the security at the door can be a bit harsh and do not let you go if you are too loose.
- Bling Bling
Normal Clubs: clubs where you don't have to be so dressed up to get in, with good music and great parties.
- Otto Sutz
Fun clubs: these clubs where you go to have fun, not to show-off. Me and my friends, when we were very young students and could not get in the other clubs, went to these ones. These are less-known clubs among the tourist, but full of locals. They offer very fun nights.
Remember these clubs will start to fill up around 1:30-2 am. If they offer a guest list, just use google to find out, the guest list to enter for free will be opened 1-1:30. Nevertheless, it is worth it, as the entry fee might be around 15€.
4.8 Bars to go before the club
As i told you, the good time to get in the club is around 1.30pm. Normally, local people go to dinner at 22-22:30 and they finish dinner around 12, so they just go for a drink before entering the club. where can you go for a drink?
There are many bars around the city that offers music, cocktails, and great environment. These are also perfect places for those who just want to go out and have a drink, but do not want to join the club.
- Coco Vail
- Ovella Negra
- Bar Marsella
You can also find bars to have a drink nearby the clubs you want to go, do some research in Google and read the comments before you decide which is a great place to go drinking. Some of them are just regular bars where people go to have a sandwich or do not offer a wide range of alcoholic drinks.
Summary Backpacking Barcelona
As you can see, you can travel to Barcelona on a budget with no problems. Transport in Barcelona is not expensive - buy travel cards instead of single rides - and many places are reachable within walking distance. when touring in Barcelona on your own, make sure you pay attention to your belongings.
Remember, if you want to swim at the beach, you should go with somebody that can take care of your belongings while you are in the water - if you go with your friends group one must stay watching the belongings while the others swim.
I know, that is not ideal, but please, please, avoid pick-pockets! I do not like to hear stories of pick-pocketing in my beloved city. I hope you found all the information you needed for your Barcelona trip. If you are traveling to Spain, check our backpacking Spain information site.
Written by local enthusiast for Barcelona hostelsMona