Digital Nomads in Barcelona: Everything You Need to Know
One of the best cities in western Europe for doing some remote work, Barcelona is rapidly becoming much more popular with laptop-clutching freedom-seekers. Around 20% of the city’s residents are foreign born—and a large chunk of those globetrotting guys are digital nomads.
And, because you’re reading this, you probably want to join them. So in this useful guide, your buddies at Homelike have covered everything you need to know about living and working in the city.
We’ve included information on places to eat, drink, party and live, along with insights on costs, neighborhoods, things to do, and plenty more.
We’ve also brought you lots of specific details for digital nomads, including how to build a community, how to quickly find a short-term rental, and all the best cafes and co-working spaces for having a cute little date with your laptop.
In short, we’ve brought you everything you need to know about becoming another of the life-loving digital nomads in Barcelona (and why the city is one of the best places to live in Europe).
So finish your tapas, grab your Gaudi guidebook, and slip into your swimsuit. Today, Homelike are taking a tell-all trip to Barcelona—and you’re coming along for the ride!
Why Barcelona is a great place for digital nomads
For digital nomads in Barcelona, living in the city offers many perks. Some of the best of them are…
- It’s easy to build a community: Barcelona is home to pretty much every nationality on the planet, with a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and personalities. Whoever you are, you’ll fit right in—and because there are many digital nomads here, you’ll easily find remote-working buddies. For making friends, it’s one of the best places to live in Spain.
- Relatively affordable cost of living: possibly the biggest perk of remote working is being able to live in low-cost places. Okay, Spain admittedly isn’t as cut-price as other remote-working hotspots; but for big-city western-European standards, you won’t find much more affordable than this.
- You’ll be part of a growing scene: Barcelona is beginning to emerge as a hugely popular spot for digital nomads… and the nation has proposed a digital nomad visa that it’ll hopefully roll out soon (more on that coming up later). If you want to be ahead of the curve, head here now.
- Excellent year-round weather: the city receives very little rain, and its temperatures are always invitingly comfortable (or at least tolerable). In January, average temperatures are around 10°C—and average August temperatures are around 24°C.
- You’ll always find plenty of interesting things to do: Barcelona is packed with action and adventure. You’ll always find arty events, interesting activities, and lots of year-round fun and festivals. No matter who you are or what you’re into, you’ll never get bored here.
Endless outdoor adventures: Barcelona is a great city for enjoying (and adventuring around in) the outdoors. So when you’re not remote working in the city, you can explore mountains, beaches, hikes, bike rides, kayaking, paddle boarding, and plenty more.
Why Barcelona isn’t always a great place for digital nomads
Barcelona is outrageously well-suited to remote workers… but it obviously isn’t perfect. Some of the biggest drawbacks of joining the digital nomads in Barcelona include:
- It’s full of tourists: for most digital nomads in Barcelona, this isn’t a major problem (cos, let’s be honest, you’re just a glorified tourist too). But if you like slipping effortlessly and easily into the charm of local life, you might not like living in Barcelona. In some ways, no matter how long you stay, you’ll always feel like a tourist here.
- Slow Sundays: as a digital nomad, you want to maximize any time you have away from work. But Sundays are a strangely traditional time in Barcelona; and lots of places are closed, or only partially open. So if you want to fill your weekends with action and adventure, this can be annoying and disruptive.
It can be difficult to find a place to live: as is the case in most major cities in western Europe, Barcelona’s real estate market is a labyrinthine mess. For a long while, you’ll likely struggle to find a pleasant place to live… unless you choose the speedy and convenient solution of a serviced apartment or a serviced flat instead.
Is a visa required for digital nomads in Barcelona?
The answer to this question depends on where you’re from, what your plans are, and how much time you’ll be spending in Barcelona.
But soon, things hopefully might not be so complex. Digital nomads in Barcelona might shortly have access to Spain’s proposed digital nomad visa. For now, the details are all unclear and uncertain… but if the nation does indeed roll out this visa, it seems as though successful applicants might be able to stay in (and live and work in!) Spain for up to 5 consecutive years.
But like all digital nomad visas, the scheme won’t just be open to anyone. Instead, you’ll probably need to prove and provide some pretty basic things (such as proof of your income, proof of your address, and proof that you’re not an on-the-run criminal mastermind).
Until then, your best option is the Spain Freelance Visa, which potentially allows you access to the nation for up to one year.
If you’re looking for longer-term alternatives, the nation also has a golden visa and a Spanish residence visa (both of which we’ve detailed here)… but those schemes aren’t suited to the needs and lifestyles of (most) digital nomads.
All that said, things are very easy if you’re from an EU/EEA nation (and have a passport to prove it). If that’s the case, you won’t be eligible for Spain’s digital nomad visa. But that’s because you won’t need it—as an EU/EEA citizen, you can live and work in Spain with no visa, no hassle, and very little bureaucracy.
If that’s the case, you simply need to officially register your presence in the country within three months of arriving. After that, you’ll receive your residence certificate and your Foreigner’s Identity Number (NIE)… and you’re free to stick around forever!
If you’re from the EU/EEA area and you want to spend less than three months in Barcelona (or any part of Spain!), you don’t need to deal with any bureaucracy at all.
Some digital nomads arrive in a new nation and work without declaring their presence or their income. People from these nations are able to arrive in Spain with no visa… and it’s of course possible for those people to work without declaring their income (as many digital nomads routinely do!). But because it’s illegal, risky, and could land you in some major trouble, we definitely don’t recommend it. So always look into your official options instead…!
Importantly, no matter where you’re from (even if that’s another part of Spain), you’ll need to get your so-called ’empadronamiento’ in Barcelona (but only if you’ll be sticking around for 6 months or more).
Best neighborhoods to stay in Barcelona
Barcelona, like any big city, has a massive number of different districts.
But as you’re one of the planet’s lucky remote workers, they’re not all suited to your lifestyle. So some of the best neighborhoods for digital nomads in Barcelona are…
- The Gothic Quarter (average monthly rental cost, €1,300): the very center of the Old Town area, this is where the most of the city’s tourists hang out… and where you’ll find most famous sites. It’s therefore popular with short-term digital nomads in Barcelona, and anyone who likes making friends with tourists and travelers.
- Barceloneta (average monthly rental cost, €1,000): sitting beside the beaches, on the outskirts of the city, Barceloneta is sleepy, sunny and peaceful—and offers great seafood. That said, this area is much more ‘local’ than most other regions in the city—that’s a big draw for some expats, but it means you’ll find fewer foreign friends.
- El Raval (average monthly rental cost, €900): the trendiest part of the city, El Raval is edgy, unusual, and bohemian. If you like nightlife, staying out late, and buddying up with hipsters, El Raval is for you. This place once had a reputation for being a little dangerous and shady, but it’s since emerged as a happening place to hang.
- El Born (average monthly rental cost, €1,200): bordering the Gothic Quarter, El Born is still right in the middle of tourist-ville… but it’s somehow managed to retain its Spanish vibes, its old-school atmosphere, and its classy charm. It’s also home to lots of (both long-term and short-term) expats… so it’s a great neighborhood for making friends.
- Gracia (average monthly rental cost, €1,200): for family-carrying digital nomads in Barcelona, this is the city’s best district. It’s not the most exciting part of the city, but it offers great green spaces, a safe and clean environment, and lots of excellent schools. You’ll also find many family-friendly restaurants, and lots of buddies for your little ones.
We’ve covered all these neighborhoods and more in our hefty guide to the best neighborhoods to live in Barcelona.
How to find a rental in Barcelona to spend a few months as a digital nomad
As we’ve mentioned, Barcelona’s real estate market is an ugly one. There are more home-hunters than vacant places, it’s difficult to find a pleasant place to call home, and the city is stuffed with opportunistic landlords who like charging exorbitant amounts of money for substandard housing.
And lots of digital nomads in Barcelona don’t realize just how bad it is until they’re forced to endure the chaos themselves. You’ll spend hours viewing homes, hours traveling to and from these potential homes, and (probably) hours crying over the sorry state of your homeless existence (that last one was a joke, but only partially).
You can shortcut all the strife by moving into a serviced apartment or a serviced flat instead. With one of our fully-furnished rentals, you don’t need to waste endless hours finding a place to live, and you can arrive in the city with a comfy and cozy ready-to-go home.
And for digital nomads in Barcelona who’ll only be in the city for a short while, we also offer lots of convenient and comfortable short-term rentals.
Of course, with a bucket-load of patience and persistence, it’s absolutely possible to find a home in the traditional way. If you like to be all independent, your best resources are Idealista and Fotocasa, which feature many types of homes, across the entire sprawl of Barcelona. For finding something a little more casual (or a houseshare), explore Facebook. The site has a huge number of popular Barcelona rental groups—start with this one, and this one.
Best areas for restaurants and bars in Barcelona
For digital nomads in Barcelona, the city’s bar and restaurant scene is one of the best parts of living here. So if you want to spend the bulk of your time chomping, chewing and sipping, these are the top neighborhoods for you…
- The Gothic Quarter: like any tourist-hotspot district, the Gothic Quarter is packed with places to eat and drink. Head to Michelin-starred Caelis, along with La Plata (where you’ll find lots of hyper-local treats), and simple and affordable Restaurant La Taverneta.
- Gracia: for avoiding the tourist crowds without venturing too far from the center, head here. It offers classy but affordable servings of local food, and lots of in-the-know residents. Start your food marathon here at Con Gracia and seafood-heavy Botafumeiro.
- Poblenou: for seafood-loving digital nomads in Barcelona, this is a top hangout. Offering a lovely balance between trendy and traditional, the best restaurants here include Xiringuito Escribà (for the city’s best paella), and charcuterie-stacked Can Recasens.
- Poble Sec: for up-and-coming or under-the-radar, head here. Because this quiet district is mainly made up of green spaces, people often overlook it. But gastronomic highlights include the strange fusion food of Casa Xica, and the laid-back seafood of Montalban.
Best areas for Barcelona nightlife
Because the city has one of the world’s best party scenes, lots of younger digital nomads in Barcelona spend their entire weekends drinking and dancing (then subsequently throwing up and weeping). To join their non-stop parties, head to these neighborhoods…
- El Raval: for boogying and boozing with a big bunch of bohemians, this is by far the city’s best district. Like in any gentrified hipster hangout, you’ll always find quirky events, and lots of live music. Three must-visit venues are Bar Pastis, La Confiteria, and Moog.
- The Gothic Quarter: as it’s right in the heart of the city (and because it’s perpetually brimming with tourists), you’ll always find a party here. Super-central IDEA Bar is surprisingly laid-back, while El Bombó Salsa and Karma are both good dancing spots.
- Port Olimpic: for dance-mad digital nomads in Barcelona, this beachside district is a weekend must-visit. Here, you’ll find late-night drinking, and you’ll dance ‘til dawn. Some of the best venues include Opium, Pacha Barcelona, and Shoka Club.
El Born: different to the other nightlife neighborhoods we’ve covered, El Born is your best option for a classy cocktail in an upmarket bar. Elegant Dr. Stravinsky has a dimly-lit vibe and an imaginative menu, while RUBI Gin Bar and ELDISET are equally popular.
Top things to do in Barcelona
Digital nomads in Barcelona will never run short of things to do. One of the most action-packed cities on the planet, it offers a big bunch of varied stuff. Here’s what you should start with…
- Get to know Gaudi…: you’re a digital nomad, so you probably appreciate some art. If that’s the case, make sure you explore all the city’s bizarre and bold Gaudi-crafted attractions. Start with La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló.
- … and explore other art: aside from all the Gaudi stuff, there’s plenty more culture in the city (it’s one of the most art-heavy places on the planet). Check out the Picasso Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and all the tucked-away smaller galleries.
- Laze around on some beaches: for sun-seeking digital nomads in Barcelona, this is one of the city’s biggest pluses. Both close to the city and far from it, you’ll find lots of sandy shores. Some highlights include Bogatell Beach, Sant Sebastià, and Somorrostro.
- Attend endless events: Barcelona is stuffed with year-round things to do. But it also offers a huge range of special events, annual festivals, and one-off spectaculars. You can find a new event every weekend if you want one.
- Head to nearby mountains: Barcelona is surrounded by lots of mountain ranges—you’ll find plenty within a two-hour drive (though many are much closer than that). Highlights include Montserrat, the Catalan Pyrnees, and Montseny Natural Park.
- Visit other towns and cities: one of the most exciting parts of joining the digital nomads in Barcelona is making good use of the freedom your life offers. So you should visit (or even live in!) other close-by places… such as Sitges, Begur, Tarragona, and Besalú.
Enjoy outdoor adventures: if you like spending your free time actively, you’ve chosen a perfect city. Options include kayaking and paddleboarding in the sea, riding around many of the city’s waymarked cycle routes, and nearby snorkeling and scuba diving.
Best cafes and co-working spaces for working in Barcelona
The top co-working spaces for digital nomads in Barcelona are:
- MOB Bailen: for most digital nomads in Barcelona, this is absolutely one of the best options. This branch of MOB (Makers of Barcelona) was the very first co-working space in the city… so it’s massive, popular, well-equipped, and full of friendly faces.
- Itnig: this place looks more like a hip cafe than a boring ol’ co-working space. Sitting in an abandoned factory, it offers high ceilings, lots of natural lights, tasty coffee, and genuinely-relaxing breakout spaces. You can even take your pets!
- Cahoot: another unique co-working space in a city of unique co-working spaces, Cahoot sits in the trendy bar-studded neighborhood of Sant Antoni—and it attracts a pretty young crowd. So if you want some after-work drinks with co-working friends, head here.
If you prefer to work in cafes over co-working spaces, Barcelona has plenty of those places too. Some of the top cafes for digital nomads in Barcelona include…
- Juice Dudes Meridiana: many digital nomads in Barcelona like to be healthy. If you do too, get yourself here—it’s spacious, it offers a nutritious menu, and the coffee is great.
- Coco Coffice: halfway between a co-working space and a cafe, this pay-by-the-hour place has regularly-replenished food and drink, and a very welcoming atmosphere.
- Federal: sitting in El Raval, this is a very work-friendly venue. It offers lots of tables and chairs, a whole load of natural light, and some of the city’s best brunch food.
Public transport in Barcelona
Mostly made up of buses, trams and metros, the city’s excellent public transport system is reliable, regular and modern… and digital nomads in Barcelona can swiftly and easily get around the city with no need for a car.
If you’ll be in the city for a while, your best option for using Barcelona’s public transport system is getting a T-mobilitat card. You can use it on any and all methods of public transport, and you simply tap it onto the card reader when you enter your chosen method of transport.
Conveniently, the city’s public transport is very affordable, with some monthly passes costing only €40 (no matter how many journeys you take). And get this: no matter how many separate journeys you take within any 75-minute period, you’ll only ever be charged for one.
The city is also great for cycling. Ranked as the world’s 13th-best cycle-friendly city in 2019, you can easily get around Barcelona on nothing but a bike (as many locals do!). The city is home to a Barcelona-wide bike hire scheme, featuring 6,000 standard-style bikes, and 300 electric bikes (you’ll find them dotted around many different neighborhoods and areas).
The cost of living in Barcelona
When you join the digital nomads in Barcelona, these are the types of costs you can expect to find…
- 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,022
- 1-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: €791
- 3-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,692
- One-way ticket on local public transport: €2.40
- Regular monthly pass for local public transport: €40
- Meal for 1 at an inexpensive restaurant: €13
- 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant: €60
- Large draught domestic beer in a bar or restaurant: €3
- Regular cappuccino in a cafe or restaurant: €2.27
- Regular liter of milk from a supermarket: €0.94
- Loaf of white bread from a supermarket: €1.44
- 12 regular eggs from a supermarket: €2.43
- 1kg of chicken breast filets from a supermarket: €7.09
As always, we’ve taken these cost of living stats from Numbeo… who are a great resource for knowing what you can expect to spend.
The expat community for digital nomads in Barcelona
For lots of digital nomads in Barcelona, the city’s social scene is one of the best parts of living in the place—it’s super easy to make friends here.
So if you’re moving solo (as most digital nomads do!), it won’t be long until you’ve joined a happy little community of brand-new buddies.
Of course, your first online resource should be Facebook, where you’ll always find lots of groups, people, and events. Three of the best expat groups for finding other digital nomads in Barcelona (and events!) are here, here, and here. But if you want to find specific groups with specific hobbies (like running or hiking), you’ll likely be able to find them too.
Couchsurfing (as it is anywhere on the planet!) is also a good resource, and you’ll find lots of excellent people, events and future-friends on the platform.
And as a nice bonus, when you’re working in the cafes and co-working spaces we’ve outlined above, you’ll find lots of other digital nomads in Barcelona.
In short, making friends here is very easy, and you’ll rarely find yourself alone.
Digital nomads in Barcelona: final thoughts
Hopefully, we’ve now covered everything you need to know about joining the growing hordes of digital nomads in Barcelona.
Again, if you don’t want to struggle through the intolerable nightmare of attempting to find a nice place to live in the city, we have lots of serviced apartments and serviced flats on our site. They’re all comfy, homely and cozy, they’re all fully furnished, and they’re all ready to move into today.
For more information on moving to Barcelona, check out our guides to being an expat in the city, and everything you need to know about living in Barcelona.
And if you’re considering any other Spanish cities, here’s information on the best neighborhoods in Seville, the best neighborhoods in Malaga, and everything you need to know about living in Valencia.
Thanks for reading, thanks for choosing Homelike, and we’ll (hopefully!) see you on the sunny sands of Barcelona!