Barcelona Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Barcelona gay guide to where to stay, gay hotels, beaches, gay bars, clubs, parties, & saunas.
The Gay Travel Experience: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona has the hearts of gay travelers from all around the world, and rightly so. With famous gay beaches, high-energy nightlife, handsome locals, and a vibrant gay district, what’s not to love?
I had such a blast dancing in Barcelona’s huge gay clubs, perusing incredible classic architecture, and enjoying the relaxed life of Catalonia. If you haven’t visited yet, start planning a trip! Barcelona is without a doubt one of the best gay cities in Spain.
Meeting gay locals or other travelers is super easy in Barcelona. The city is quite international and attracts tons of tourists. Many gay ex-pats also live here too, so there will be plenty of opportunities to make new friends.
During the summer months, many people visit the city from inland Spanish cities like Madrid. This includes lots of gay locals, too, making Barcelona’s already large gay scene even larger.
In this Barcelona gay guide, I’ll fill you in on the best hotels and where gay travelers should stay, plus recommendations for the best things to do, gay nightlife venues, saunas, and more.
Gay Barcelona: Hotels & Where to Stay
Barcelona is a huge city, which actually isn’t so obvious from looking at a map of the city’s street grid. So, it’s best to book a hotel near the attractions or venues you plan to spend the most time visiting.
Here are some of the best areas for LGBT tourists to stay, followed by the most well-known Barcelona gay hotels.
El Poble-Sec Hotels & Apartments
Hotels in El Poble Sec are best for the most local, authentic gay travel experience. With few tourists around, prices are cheaper. Locals rave about the amazing tapas restaurants in this working-class neighborhood. I stayed here myself and loved it!
The El Poble Sec neighborhood is about a 35-minute walk to the tourist epicenter of Barceloneta (where the famous W hotel is located). But fantastic public transit in the neighborhood can get you there in just over 15 minutes.
The cheaper prices of El Poble Sec vacation apartments were definitely worth it in my opinion.
Luxury rentals in Barcelona curated by Plum Guide are the absolute best option if you’re looking superior quality. There’s quite a few listings throughout the city.
Hotels in Barceloneta & The Gothic Quarter
W Hotel Barcelona
The luxurious W Hotel Barcelona is definitely the exception to my above recommendation to stay in the more authentic Barcelona neighborhoods.
One of the most iconic W Hotel locations in the world, I’ve never met any gay traveler who didn’t love staying here. It’s so popular among gay travelers, you can pretty much consider the W to be a Barcelona gay hotel!
It’s certainly a gay-friendly hotel option. Check out the stunning design in the video above.
Eixample Gay Neighborhood Hotels
Eixample hotels are great for quick access to Barcelona’s gay nightlife. If you’re traveling with friends, I recommend staying here, because obtaining several cabs from other parts of town can sometimes be difficult.
VRBO rentals in Eixample are super affordable and usually quite stylish. There’s plenty of nearby restaurants, bars, and saunas, too.
The Eixample neighborhood has great access to the metro. Being nearby a metro station can be a great convenience.
Check out Barcelona’s metro system map before booking your place to stay. The Metro runs almost 24 hours and usually gets you places faster than a taxi.
Barcelona Gay Hotels
Many gay travelers prefer to stay in one of Barcelona’s traditional gay hotels. These are the hotels where you’ll find a ton of sexual energy among hotel guests as well as spaces perfected for the gay community.
Axel Hotel Barcelona
The hotel has an elegant wellness club and a sophisticated sky bar, both great spaces to socialize and meet friends. Axel is also adults only!
Two Hotel by Axel
Two Hotel by Axel is another official Barcelona gay hotel, also owned by Axel. With the original Axel Hotel’s popularity, they opened Two Hotel in the southern part of the Eixample gay area.
Rooms in Two Hotel are a bit more modern than those in the original Axel Hotel. They also have a sweet rooftop with a small pool and fun bright pink lounge chairs.
Barcelona Gay Travel Experiences
Barcelona is quite large and spread out, so you’ll definitely be better off planning your activities before starting your day. The city is also quite touristic, so try to stick to some more authentic attractions after you hit the must-see spots.
Roman Ruins in the Gothic Quarter
Peruse the Gothic Quarter‘s busy streets, especially if you love history and architecture. In the exact center, you can enter the old Roman city, so check out the striking change in architectural styles.
I had a local gay friend who grew up in Barcelona show me these amazing sites!
While the Barcelona Gothic Quarter is very pretty and full of shops, it’s not a place where you can expect to find much authentic Spanish/Catalonian culture. Definitely go for the beautiful architecture, but take note that you’ll be mostly surrounded mainly by tourists.
Parc Güell is a must-see, even though it’s one of the most touristic areas in Barcelona. The stunning views are very much worth it. I recommend completely skipping the tourist lines for the observation area because you can get a better view without paying.
Continue walking along the path toward the top of the mountain. There is a large rock platform with steps up to 360-degree views. It’s completely free!
Pack a pair of dark-colored sneakers that will stand up to the dirt trails and rocky lookouts at Parc Güell. Getting your good shoes dirty is no fun!
The Sagrada Familia
The world-famous Sagrada Familia is on many visitor’s must-see lists. Get there at sunrise to beat the tourists! It’s beautiful to see the sun’s reflection early in the morning.
The experience of waiting in line to go inside gets mixed reviews. Some prefer just to see it from the outside, which is what I did. But, a great way to get the best of both worlds is to buy a fast-track Sagrada Familia tour ticket.
Barcelona Gay Beaches
A second beach option near Mar Bella is Platja de Bogatell.
Walking through Barceloneta is great after some time at the beach. My first time in Barcelona, I saw the sunset behind the W hotel from the water. It was a picturesque view I will never forget.
The next day my friends and I rented one of those “banana boats” that whips you around out on the water. A few bruises and a ton of laughter later, we regretted nothing.
Barcelona Gay Bars
Gay bars in Barcelona range from lounge-like gay bars to mega dance clubs. There are a lot of them, too!
With all of Barcelona’s gay nightlife and so many friendly locals, I consider Barcelona to be one of the best destinations for single gay travelers. Here are some of my favorite gay bars.
La Chapelle is a smaller, cozy Barcelona gay bar. Local gay residents frequent this spot in Eixample, Barcelona’s gay neighborhood.
It’s super easy to pay a visit to La Chapelle as a solo traveler. The layout is narrow and the space is relatively small, so you won’t feel like you’re showing up to a huge space without a wingman.
Blending in is pretty easy while enjoying a few drinks served by the handsome bartenders.
Punto BCN is right across the street, quite popular among LGBT tourists visiting Barcelona. The space is quite big, but it’s not common to dance here.
The overall vibe is friendly normally attracts groups of friends looking to socialize before moving on to another gay bar.
Punto BCN is a fantastic and inclusive place to start your night. They also seem to have the largest number of queer/lesbian patrons out of all the local gay bars.
On the smaller side, GinGin gay bar is a great option for a mid-week hangout or a spot to start your night out on weekends. There’s a mix of English and Spanish-speaking people, both locals and tourists.
I visited GinGin Bar on a Tuesday and they had great drink specials. They pour a deliciously strong drink, too.
BoysBar BCN is another popular little gay bar in Barcelona. It gets a little more rowdy and risqué here, with sexy dancers showing off behind towels. Definitely worth stopping by. Sunday evenings are also a great time to visit BoysBar!
Barcelona Gay Clubs & Parties
Gay clubs in Barcelona are some of the best in Spain. Lots of LGBT travelers come here specifically to party. Here are some of the top venues.
The Black Room
The Black Room is my favorite gay club in Barcelona. I have been to this club a bunch of times. They have unbeatable music, sexy go-go dancers, and pretty good drink specials.
If you arrive earlier in the night, you usually get a free drink upon entry. Don’t forget that the guys in Barcelona start the party late! It’s common for most to show up to the club at 1:00 AM to start the night. Don’t forget to wear your sexy gay circuit gear.
Yass! Gay Party
Yass! didn’t exist when I visited, but has since grown to be a local favorite. My friend Xavier, who spent several years living in BCN, loves this party and recommends we all get there as soon as possible.
Entry to the party with a drink included is 12 Euro until 1:00 AM, then 15 Euro afterward. There seems to be a great mix of different types of gay guys at Yass!
Locals always mention the Tanga! Party as one of their favorites. Although its open during the week, there may only be a few people on these nights. It will definitely be fuller on weekends.
Most Barcelona gay clubs charge an entrance fee at the door, usually 10 Euros, but this includes a drink voucher.
Barcelona Gay Saunas
Sauna Casanova is the most well-known gay sauna in Barcelona. They’re open 24 hours a day and located in the city’s Eixample neighborhood near various gay bars.
While gay saunas in general don’t get the best reviews regardless of what city they’re in, I’ve had good experiences at Sauna Casanova. It’s nothing glamorous, but it does the job.
Peak hours at Casanova are usually Saturday and Sunday mornings between 5 AM and 8 AM. The facilities have everything you’ll need from lockers to showers. Wear your best jockstrap!
Sauna Bruc is now the most popular gay sauna in Barcelona. The facilities are more modern and the entry price is much lower than the city’s other gay bathhouses.
With Sauna Bruc’s never-ending list of amenities, I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself no matter when you visit.
Explore the video room, dark room, jacuzzi, hydromassage pool, Finnish sauna, smoking terrace, and the new “Egyptian Zone,” where you can regulate the intensity of the lights.
Sauna Thermas is a medium-sized gay sauna located in the southernmost part of Eixample that is known for attracting super sexy ex-pats.
Travelers often mention that Sauna Thermas is an excellent alternative to Sauna Casanova (mentioned above) because the prices are more affordable and the facilities tend to be in better shape.
Sauna Thermas’ facilities are pretty modern and include a pool, dry sauna, a massive steam room, private rooms, a video wall, and plenty more.
Sauna Condal is also open 24/7 located in the Gothic Quarter.
Facilities include dry saunas, steam rooms, private cabins, jacuzzis, hammocks, a relaxation zone, and more, all spread over several levels. The condition of the facilities are decent, similar to what you’d find in Sauna Casanova.
No matter which gay sauna you choose, wear your sexiest gay underwear.
Barcelona Gay Travel Tips
When to Head to the Clubs
If you’re going out to the gay clubs on the weekend, don’t expect anyone to show up until at least 2 AM in the morning!
Drink specials usually encourage arriving prior to 1 AM, so people filter in from 1 AM to 2:30 AM. Local gay men party all night, often until 6 AM in the morning!
Grab Some Inexpensive Snacks
The cheapest grocery store around is Mercadona. Food in Spain is quite inexpensive. But watch out, because you can easily pay double at a small supermarket without realizing it.
Traveling to Barcelona by Bus
Traveling between cities in Spain and nearby France is quite convenient by bus. I traveled all around the Mediterranean coast, including Barcelona via FlixBus buses, which are almost always exactly on time, comfortable, civilized, and safe. They’re also pretty cheap.
Taxis in Barcelona
Taxis are not too expensive in Barcelona unless you are stuck in traffic! Late-night rides home across the city are usually less than 10 Euro but can be a bit more if you’re hitting lots of traffic lights on the way to the beach on a busy summer day.
When it comes to your ride to and from Barcelona’s airport, the easiest and lowest stress option is to book a private airport transfer in advance. This way you don’t have to deal with negotiating a price, finding an available taxi, or waiting in any taxi lines.
Keep Your Belongings Secure
Whether you’re walking busy streets or dancing at a nightclub, pickpocketing is a huge crime in Barcelona. I personally have been pickpocketed at a club in Barcelona, a result of being an easy target with my phone hanging out of my pocket.
Tourists in Barcelona are victims of petty theft all the time. Make sure you have your phone and wallet secure in a front pocket.
Barcelona Local Language & Identity
If you meet someone born and raised in Barcelona, you may learn they often don’t consider themselves to be “Spanish,” but “Catalan.”
Catalunya has been fighting for Independence from Spain for hundreds of years, but recently tensions have grown significantly. If you get a chance to ask a local about their opinions, I bet you won’t be bored!
Catalan is the local spoken language. It’s sort of like a mixture of Spanish and French. Locals usually speak both Catalan and Spanish, so don’t worry about too much of a language barrier.
Gay Life in Spain
Back in the Roman Empire, marriage between men was actually commonplace! Later regimes were responsible for deeming same-sex activity illegal.
Gay marriage in Spain has been legal since 2005, along with LGBT adoption and the ability of MSM’s to donate blood.
The workplace has protected sexual orientation discrimination since 1995. Gender identity is protected in some regions, but not everywhere. One of the highest acceptance rates of homosexuality is in Spain, with 89% of the population supporting it as of 2013.
Rates of hate speech nationwide have slightly increased in recent years. This has been taken seriously. And in 2014, the Catalan government passed a law imposing fines for hate crimes against the LGBT community.
For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.