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25 Top Tourist Attractions in Barcelona
Last updated on November 3, 2023 by Touropia Editors - 8 Comments
Barcelona is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions upon millions of visitors each year. So why is it so popular? Well, it has almost everything any holidaymaker would desire. Easy access, favorable weather conditions, attractive beaches and surrounding mountains, a buzzing nightlife, tasty local cuisine and it’s steeped in culture and history.
It’s also a sight-seeing wonderland, housing many recognizable monuments. Variety’s the word with Barcelona and the city has something for everyone; families, couples and singletons alike. There are the tourist attractions in Barcelona travelers shouldn’t miss if they ever decide to visit the Catalan capital:
See also: Where to Stay in Barcelona
In this post, we'll cover:
25. Monastery of Pedralbes
The quiet beauty of the Monastery of Pedralbes provides a safe harbor for travelers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. This gothic monastery was built in 129y by Queen Elsenda who sought forgiveness for her sins. It is considered an outstanding example of Catalan gothic architecture.
Arched outer corridors overlook swaying palm trees. Its original occupants were Poor Clares, nuns from mostly noble families; they were charged with protecting the city. Some nuns still live in the monastery, which today houses the city museum.
24. Palau Guell
Barcelona is filled with significant buildings designed by noted architect Antoni Gaudi. A good place for visitors to begin their appreciation of his work is Palau Guell or Palace Guell. It’s one of his first major works, and sets the tone for his designs to follow.
Gaudi designed Palau Guell for an extremely wealthy resident. Because the tycoon entertained a lot, the house was designed around a central hall, with other rooms designed to fit the family’s needs. Gaudi’s use of space and lighting in the Palau Guell was innovative for its time.
23. Poble Espanyol
Built in 1929, Poble Espanyol is a huge open-air museum four times the size of FC Barcelona’s football pitch. The complex is composed of various sections, each of whom represent a specific Spanish region.
There is also a flourishing handicraft market which is perfect for souvenir shopping. Here you can wander from Andalusia to the Balearic Islands in the space of a couple of hours, visiting surprisingly good copies of Spain’s characteristic structures. The village also hosts the Fondation Fran Daurel, where you can enjoy an interesting collection by artists like Picasso and Miró.
22. Fundacio Joan Miro
Joan Miro was one of Barcelona’s most famous artists, a master who created works known around the world. Usually foundations are set up after a person dies to honor their ideas, but Miro created his own legacy by setting up the Fundacio Joan Miro himself.
It was designed to be a place where younger artists could explore contemporary art, with Miro’s own works providing the nucleus for this study. The foundation opened in a modern building in 1975 and is a good place to see a great collection of Miro’s work in one place.
21. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Sitting atop a hill, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya looks more like a massive castle than an art museum, a museum that holds a king’s ransom in treasures. It is here, however, that visitors will find the greatest Catalan art from the 10th century to the 20th century.
Here visitors will find impressive Romanesque murals that graced church apses, and Gothic art from the era when Catalonia was expanding across the Mediterranean. The gallery also contains paintings by the great Spanish artists El Greco and Velasquez.
20. Arc de Triomf
The Arc de Triomf was constructed in 1888 to welcome international visitors to Barcelona’s Universal Exhibition, the world’s fair of its day. The massive decorative arch is located on the Passeig Lluís Companys, a promenade.
The classical style arch, now a famous Barcelona landmark, is noted for its sculptural decorations that are symbolic of Barcelona at that time. One frieze welcomes visitors to the exhibition, while reliefs extol agriculture, industry and commerce. The top of the arch features shields from Spain’s 49 provinces; they are topped by Barcelona’s coat of arms.
19. Sant Pau Recinte Modernista
Travelers who are fond of art nouveau will definitely want to put Sant Pau Recinte Modernista on their Barcelona bucket. The former hospital, with a façade that resembles a church, is the top-ranked art nouveau site in Europe. Sant Pau Recinte Modernista was built in the first third of the 20th century as a hospital and healthcare research center.
It served this purpose for 100 years, and today houses a variety of international organizations. The complex, with underground tunnels connecting the building has a pavilion that is devoted to the history of medicine in Barcelona.
18. Placa de Catalunya
Every city has a big square where people congregate to celebrate, mourn or just see each other. NYC has Times Square, Beijing has Tiananmen Square and Barcelona has Placa de Catalunya. The city’s nerve center is a place to meet friends, sit on the grass or take a break from shopping at nearby stores.
Integral to the square are six sets of sculptures that represent the four capitals of Catalonia, labor and wisdom. The plaza opened in 1927 on land that once fronted the gates to a walled Barcelona.
17. Palau de la Musica Catalana
People don’t go to the Palau de la Musica Catalana just to hear music, they go to see the concert hall’s over-the-top ornate interior. While the exterior is impressive, it just can’t compare to the main concert hall with its glass-top ceiling.
Built in the early 1900s, the Palau de la Musica Catalana is a tourist attraction in itself, with its stained glass windows and massive chandeliers. The inside of the old hall has been compared to the interior of a Faberge egg. A smaller hall is more modern and subdued, but still opulent.
Travelers who collect panoramic views should go to the top of Tibidabo, at 512 meters (1,880 feet) high the highest mountain overlooking Barcelona. The easiest way to get there is via Spain’s first funicular. But there’s more than just stunning views on this mountain top.
There’s the Sagra Cor church that took 60 years to build and is topped with a sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sharing space with this impressive church are an amusement park and a telecommunications tower. All three are visible from Barcelona below.
15. Parc de la Ciutadella
The Parc de la Ciutadella is a lot happier place today than when it was founded in 1714. After Philip V conquered Barcelona, he ordered a citadel – the largest in Europe – to be built by forced labor so he could maintain control over the Catalans.
Over the centuries it transformed into peaceful uses, becoming a major oasis of green in the city. Citadel Park was the site for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. Today it is home to a zoo, a small lake, the Museum of Natural Science, and Als Voluntaris Catalans, a sculpture honoring Catalans killed in World War I.
14. Barcelona Cathedral
Add Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, as it’s officially known, to the list of beautiful Gothic buildings in Barcelona. The church also known as Barcelona Cathedral or La Seu because it’s the seat of the archbishop.
The cathedral dates back to the 14th century and honors St. Eulalia, co-patron saint of Barcelona, who was killed by Romans by putting her in a knife-studded barrel and rolling her down the street. The entire church is ornate, with towers and spires reaching into the sky. It is a major tourist attraction and now boasts a gift shop that caters to visitors.
13. Museu Picasso
With over 4,000 works by the painter, the Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.
In particular, the Museu Picasso reveals Picasso’s relationship with the city of Barcelona, a relationship that was shaped in his youth and adolescence, and continued until his death. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s La Ribera.
12. La Boqueria Market
Foodies may think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they visit La Boqueria Market, a colorful market (and tourist attraction) in the old town. Located just off La Rambla, the market dates back to 1297 when meat was sold at the city gates. More than meat is sold there today.
There’s an array of foods, from farm-fresh produce, seafood, spices and candies being sold by more than 200 stalls. Buy the fixings’ for a picnic lunch or eat at one of the many restaurants before continuing sightseeing.
11. Santa Maria del Mar
The beautiful Santa Maria del Mar (Saint Mary of the Sea) is an icon for Catalan Catholics. Construction of this massive church began in 1329 when Aragon King Alfonso IV laid the foundation cornerstone. It was finished in 1384, a prime example of Catalan Gothic architecture.
Though the outside seems severe, the inside more than compensates for this. Beautiful stained glass windows, high narrow columns and simplicity of design invoke feelings of spaciousness and serenity. Over the centuries, the cathedral has been damaged by earthquakes and fire, yet always regains its beauty.
10. Camp Nou
One for the sports fans, yet still one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions. This stadium is home to formidable European football champions F.C. Barcelona.
With a capacity of 99,000 people, this breathtaking sporting arena is Europe’s largest. A tour of the ground is definitely worthwhile and you never know, you might be lucky enough to catch a game!
Montjuïc is a broad shallow hill with a relatively flat top to the southwest of the city center. The eastern side of the hill is almost a sheer cliff, giving it a commanding view over the city’s harbor immediately below. The top of the hill was the site of several fortifications, the latest of which remains today.
Another interesting sight is the Palau Nacional (National Palace), originally built as the central pavilion for the International Exhibition. The majestic building in neo-Baroque style is home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Montjuïc is also home to a number of sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympics.
8. Casa Mila
Built between the years 1906 and 1910, Casa Milà (La Pedrera) was the last civil work designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The colorful building is considered one of the artist’s most eccentric and enticing architectural creations with not one straight edge on the exterior.
Tours of the interior and the incredible roof structures are available. It also hosts a large exposition of Gaudi works, covering Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlio, not only La Pedrera itself.
7. Gothic Quarter
Old is good, especially when it’s the Gothic Quarter, located in the oldest part of Old Town Barcelona. Some say the quarter dates back 2,000 years, but what travelers will see today isn’t that old: a maze of narrow streets flanked by buildings from medieval times to the 19th century.
Travelers will see the Jewish Quarter, considered the Gothic Quarter’s prettiest section; walk the paths where a young Picasso went to school; eat at Can Culleretes, the oldest restaurant in Barcelona, dating to 1796, and shop at the colorful Boqueria market.
Out of Barcelona’s seven different beaches, stretching over 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of coastline, Barceloneta probably tops them all. It is one of the most popular and is closest to the city center. Along the 1,100 meter (3,600 feet) sandy beach runs a walkway popular with joggers and cyclist.
Not surprisingly this place can get crowded, especially during the summer months when the beach bars open up and the beach quickly fills up with locals and tourist.
5. Font Magica
Font Màgica is a fountain located below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuïc hill and near the Plaça d’Espanya and Poble Espanyol de Barcelona. The fountain, like most of the surrounding developments, was constructed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition.
On selected evenings, when the fountain is activated, it attracts hundreds of visitors who watch the spectacular display of light, water and music. At the same time, the Palau National is illuminated, providing a beautiful background.
4. Casa Batllo
It’s hard to find the words to describe Casa Batllo, perhaps because it looks like a carnival gone insane. One of architect Antoni Gaudi’s most famous buildings, Casa Batllo is a mish-mash of colors, building materials and what-have-you styles.
There’s a large onion-like dome that’s reminiscent of a mosque; a colorful wavy tiled roof line and lots of sculptures. Gaudi turned an nineteenth century building into Casa Batllo, sometimes called the “house of bones” because of the many jaws on one sculpture. It was a home without equal, but not one most people would feel comfortable living in.
3. Parc Guell
With other major works in the city including La Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, this has to be one of Antoni Gaudí’s most celebrated and it is certainly one of the most emblematic of Barcelona.
The area was originally meant to be a residential property development with Gaudi doing much of the planning and landscape design. Only two houses were built and the land was later sold to the city of Barcelona and turned into a park. It is home to the famous Salamander sculpture, as well as other buildings and structures designed by the architect. With stunning views of the city, this is a magical experience.
2. La Rambla
This is probably the city’s most famous street and is a bustling hive of activity. It is often called Las Ramblas, because it is actually a series of several different streets that all have a distinct feel.
Located just off Plaza Catalunya and leading right down towards the port and beach, visitors will find street performers, lots of bars and restaurants and the fabulous Boquería Market, a true feast for the eyes.
1. Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is the most popular attractions in Barcelona, attracting nearly 2.8 million visitors each year. It is a large and intricate basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi, a Catalan architect. Construction began in 1882 and continues to this day. The building is predicted to be completed within the next 30 years. It should be noted that this beautiful basilica has been funded completely by donations, as Gaudi had intended.
The design of La Sagrada Familia incorporates interpretations of many architectural styles, such as Arat Nouveau, Gothic and Catalan Modernism. Gaudi’s original plans called for a temple large enough to seat 13,000 people. Because he disliked straight lines, his towers were inspired by the peaks of Montserrat Mountain outside Barcelona, and had similar uneven lines.
Anyone interested in architecture will find this building fascinating to study. The plans include 18 spires, which represent Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and the Twelve Apostles. Work is still taking place on some of these spires, while others are open to the public.
The design also calls for three facades on the building. These include the Nativity Facade facing east, the Passion Facade facing west and the Glory Façade facing south. The Nativity Facade was completed in 1930. The Passion Façade and the Glory Façade are still under construction.
In his plans, Gaudi knew that his masterpiece would not be completed during his lifetime. He planned for it to be built in parts, thus assuring that each generation might be able to concentrate on one of the sections. This beautiful basilica is nearly finished, and when it is, Gaudi’s vision will finally be fulfilled.
Map of Barcelona
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January 29, 2016 at 12:15 am
I never knew there were so many beautiful attractions in Barcelona. Montjuic – the evening light and sound at the fountain, Sagrada Familia – architecture, La Rambla Street etc. – just marvelous. A visit to Montsarat is a must. The Crypt designed by Goudi and built with recycled material is a marvel indeed.
December 28, 2015 at 1:47 am
Our holiday in Barcelona dedicated an entire day to the city center. Morning visit the Boqueria market and the Ramblas where we also ate. Then we were all afternoon store Paseo de Gracia and took advantage and had dinner there. We left the shop at the hotel and visited the quarry. I recommend going at night to this monument. It is amazing and well worth going.
September 15, 2015 at 1:52 am
Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, in my opinion are the best. I love the architecture of Gaudi. His style is awesome. Also the place where are located are perfect. You must have to visit if you are there.
September 8, 2015 at 4:25 am
My favorite place is Casa Mila, Casa Batlló and Sagrada Familia. Love it the architecture of Gaudi. But in my opinion, the place where are located Casa Mila and Batlló is better than Sagrada Familia. The avenue of Paseo de Gracia is amazing, full of art, best restaurants, hotels, stores. Perfect to shop and visit attractions 🙂
July 27, 2015 at 2:10 am
Casa Batllo and Pedrera are an amazing buildings. I love Gaudi’s architecture. I think that every body that comes to visit Barcelona have to go there. Also the location of these two buildings is perfect, in the middle of Paseo de Gracia, one of the best streets.
June 23, 2015 at 5:14 am
My favorite place in Barcelona is Paseo de Gracia street. It is amazing street with Gaudi’s buildings and luxury shops!!!!!
May 3, 2015 at 10:53 am
I love Spain and Barcelona is one of my favorite places to visit. This page gives great information thank you.
August 3, 2014 at 11:02 pm
My favourite is of course La Sagrada Familia. The sheer marvel of architecture.
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20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Barcelona
Written by Lisa Alexander Updated Mar 6, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
Catalonia's vibrant capital, Barcelona is a stunning seaside city that flaunts her beauty and sunny lifestyle. Gorgeous scenery, breathtaking architecture, and superb cultural attractions make for an alluring destination. Of course, the balmy Mediterranean climate adds to the charm.
Barcelona has an atmospheric medieval quarter, the Barri Gòtic , with an almost magical old-world ambience, but it's even more famous for its Modernist architecture. Antoni Gaudí left a lasting mark on Barcelona with his avant-garde Surrealist buildings; several are UNESCO listed.
After all the sightseeing, tourists will want to simply relax and soak up the city's joyous vibe. Visitors will enjoy strolling down La Rambla, where the locals hang out; sunbathing at the sandy beaches near the harbor ; and lingering over leisurely meals on outdoor terraces.
One of the best ways to discover Barcelona is by wandering aimlessly and stumbling upon hidden side streets with small cafés or stopping to relax at peaceful town squares, where street musicians strum melodies on Spanish guitars. Delightful surprises abound at every turn.
Learn about the best places to visit and things to do with our list of the top attractions in Barcelona.
1. Basílica de la Sagrada Família
2. barri gòtic (gothic quarter), 3. casa milà (la pedrera), 4. la rambla: barcelona's social hub, 5. bogatell beach, 6. palau de la música catalana (palace of catalan music), 7. catedral de la santa cruz y santa eulalia, 8. parc güell: gaudí's surrealist park, 9. casa batlló, 10. museu picasso de barcelona, 11. plaça del rei, 12. camp nou, 13. magic fountain of montjuïc, 14. scenic views and art museums in montjuïc, 15. la barceloneta, 16. reial monestir de santa maria de pedralbes, 17. mercat de la boqueria, 18. fundació joan miró, 19. parc del laberint, 20. quadrat d'or, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to barcelona.
The Basílica de la Sagrada Família stands in the northern part of the city, dominating its surroundings with its 18 spindly towers soaring high above all the other buildings. One of Europe's most unconventional churches, this amazing monument is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site .
The renowned Catalan architect of modern times, Antoni Gaudí was commissioned in 1883 to design this Basilica as a neo-Gothic church. But instead of following the plans, he created a signature example of his famous surrealistic Art Nouveau architecture. He had no firm ideas in mind, preferring to alter and add to the plans as work progressed.
Although Gaudí had originally forecast between 10 and fifteen years, the church was never completed during his lifetime. Since 1926, several other architects have continued work on the Basilica based on Gaudí's plans. In 2010, the main nave was completed, and the Basilica was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI (although construction is still ongoing and expected to be completed by 2026).
Visitors are first struck by the lavish exterior with its expressive Nativity facade depicting the birth of Jesus, and the evocative Passion facade that illustrates the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Even though the Basilica is unfinished, tourists may visit the interior to admire the awe-inspiring sacred space and its dazzling artworks. The main nave of the sanctuary is an immense space of 90 meters long by 60 meters high. The ceiling sparkles with opulent decorative details, and colorful stained-glass windows allow ethereal light to flow in.
The apse features an unusual Crucifix rendered as a canopy with lanterns. The overall effect is jaw-dropping. Gaudí best captured the essence of his architectural masterpiece when he described it as "a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people."
The Basilica of the Sacred Family is also known in Spanish by its official name: Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família .
Address: 401 Carrer de Mallorca, Barcelona
For 2,000 years, the Gothic Quarter has been the spiritual and secular center of the city. Relics of ancient Roman buildings are still found here, but the Middle Ages are best represented by the historic monuments packed into this quarter.
Mainly built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia is the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Surrounding the cathedral is a maze of cobblestone streets and alleyways.
Tourists will enjoy wandering the narrow pedestrian lanes, and stopping to discover the neighborhood's quaint boutiques and restaurants. By getting lost here, visitors become immersed in the magical ambience of a traffic-free medieval world.
Picturesque squares are enlivened by the sounds of people chatting and laughing or the strumming of Spanish classical guitar. Children often play a pickup game of soccer in the Gothic Quarter's hidden corners, and local residents socialize at the sidewalk terraces of cafés that are tucked away in courtyards.
In the Eixample district off the elegant boulevard of Passeig de Gràcia, the UNESCO-listed Casa Milà is Antoni Gaudí's most famous secular building. Casa Milà is also affectionately known as "La Pedrera," which translates to "The Stone Quarry" because the building resembles an open quarry.
Built between 1906 and 1912, this flamboyant avant-garde dwelling looks more like a sculpture than a functional building. Every line of the natural stone facade is curved, with rounded windows and metal balcony railings twining around in plant-like shapes. Even the roof has an undulating form, complemented by the decorative chimneys.
The entrance to the building is on the Carrer de Provença, through a remarkable wrought-iron gate that leads to an inner courtyard. The building is supported by ribbed arches that were designed for load-bearing purposes, a feature that reveals Gaudí's genius as a structural engineer.
Visitors may walk around the rooftop terrace for an up-close look at the strangely shaped mosaic-adorned chimneys. The roof area also rewards visitors with sensational views across the city, with the outlook extending to the Basílica de la Sagrada Família in the distance.
Casa Milà houses the Fundació Catalunya cultural center that organizes events (such as lectures, dance performances, and art exhibitions) throughout the year. The monument is open to the public daily for self-guided visits, and audio guides are available. Guided tours are available on various themes, including a nighttime experience with a light show, music, and refreshments.
Well designed to welcome tourists, Casa Milà has boutiques and a stylish restaurant on the building's mezzanine, Cafè de la Pedrera , which offers gourmet Catalan cuisine for lunch and dinner. This restaurant also serves brunch and tapas.
Address: 261-265 Carrer de Provença, Barcelona
Official site: https://www.lapedrera.com/en/home
The heart of Barcelona's social life is found on La Rambla, a wide tree-shaded avenue that divides the Old Town into two parts. La Rambla stretches from the Plaça de Catalunya, where the beautiful Romanesque 12th-century Convent of Santa Anna stands, all the way down to the port.
This street features expansive pedestrian sidewalks, lined with shops, restaurants, and outdoor cafés, making it one of the most popular hangouts in the city.
During the day, many locals are found here doing their everyday shopping at the Mercat de la Boqueria . At night, groups of friends and families take their evening paseo (stroll) on La Rambla to enjoy the fresh air and lively ambience. On some days, onlookers might be treated to live music, a mime show, or other impromptu street performances.
On its northeast side, La Rambla borders the Barri Gòtic , and halfway down the avenue is the Plaça Reial , a lovely palm-fringed square enclosed by historic houses. These elegant buildings have arcades filled with shops, cafés, and restaurants. At the center is the Fountain of the Three Graces and a pair of street lamps designed by Antoni Gaudí featuring winged dragons.
Another important monument on La Rambla (number 3-5) is the UNESCO-listed Palau Güell , an ostentatious mansion designed in 1886 by Antoni Gaudí. The owner, Eusebi Güell, was a great patron of the arts, and the building was constructed with a large domed hall intended for poetry readings and private concerts. Open to the public for visits, the building is adorned with sumptuous décor, valuable textiles, and handcrafted furniture created by Gaudí.
One of the best beaches of Spain is found within the city limits of Barcelona. Locals flock to Bogatell Beach to sunbathe, socialize, relax, play volleyball, or go windsurfing. Other things to do include kitesurfing and kayaking.
The 600-meter-long beach features a sandy shoreline and excellent amenities: restrooms, showers, parking, a beachfront promenade, snack bars, and ice-cream shops. There are also multiple lifeguard towers to ensure beach safety.
Address: Sant Martí District, Barcelona
Built between 1905 and 1908 as a concert hall for the choral society Orfeó Català, the Palau de la Música Catalana was designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, in the Catalan Modernist style. The UNESCO-listed building exemplifies an ornate Art Nouveau decorative style. The facade is a profusion of intricate mosaics, sculptural elements, and exquisite ironwork.
The interior décor is just as colorful and fanciful within the Concert Auditorium . Adorned with Art Nouveau floral patterns and fruit motifs, this enchanting auditorium provides a marvelous setting for musical performances. The concert hall, which seats about 2,200 people, is the only auditorium in Europe illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light.
Eye-catching artworks cover every square inch of the Concert Auditorium's walls and ceiling. The walls on two sides consist primarily of stained-glass panes. The ceiling features an enormous skylight of stained glass designed by Antoni Rigalt whose centerpiece is an inverted dome in shades of gold surrounded by blue that suggests the sun and the sky. Elaborate sculptures of muses frame the concert stage.
A program of evening music performances (including pop music, Spanish guitar, flamenco, jazz, opera, and classical music) is held at the Palau de la Música Catalana throughout the year.
It is possible to see the interior of the Palau de la Música Catalana outside of concert performances by taking a guided tour.
The Palau de la Música Catalana has a gift shop and a café-restaurant, the Cafè Palau, which serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon refreshments in a cozy indoor space or on a pleasant outdoor patio.
Address: 4-6 Calle Palau de la Música, Barcelona
Official site: https://www.palaumusica.cat/en
At the center of the Gothic Quarter on the Monte Tabor is the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia (Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia). This medieval cathedral is a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic architecture with an ornately sculpted facade.
The sanctuary contains magnificent works of art, including the Altarpiece of the Transfiguration by Bernat Martorell, as well as other medieval altarpieces and a remarkable gilded, jewel-encrusted monstrance. The cathedral also has an exquisite Gothic choir and keystones that date to the 14th and 15th centuries.
Surprising many visitors, the cathedral's cloister and garden shelter 13 live geese that symbolize the martyrdom of Saint Eulalia. The cloister's pond provides habitat for the geese.
The Cathedral Museum displays a collection of medieval paintings. The painting of La Pieta by Bartolomé Bermejo is particularly noteworthy.
Mass is celebrated at the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia several times daily. Services are held in Spanish or Catalan; there is at least one Spanish-language Mass every day.
Address: Plaça de la Seu, Barcelona
Colorful, cheerful, and full of whimsy, this luxuriant 19-hectare hillside park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Created between 1900 and 1914, the Park Güell includes 12 acres of landscaped gardens featuring Surrealist architectural elements created by Antoni Gaudí and eight acres of pristine woodlands (pine forest and olive groves).
Splendid fountains, viaducts, grottoes, a colonnaded hall, winding staircases, and semi-closed conversation seats are scattered throughout the garden space. These creative structures are decorated with vibrant mosaics made of ceramic fragments.
There are picnic areas and a spectacular terrace that offers panoramic views of the city and the sea. Gaudí himself loved this area of the city (the Gràcia district), and his home was located here.
Within the Park Güell is the Casa Museu Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum) where Gaudí lived for nearly two decades. The museum educates visitors about Gaudí's life and architectural work. The collection includes decorative objects and furniture, designed by Gaudí.
Entrance tickets are required to visit Parc Güell. Because this is one of the most popular tourist sites in Barcelona, it's recommended to arrive early (in the morning if possible) to avoid the crowds. Guided tours are available.
Address: Carrer d'Olot, Barcelona
Yet another amazing Gaudí creation, the UNESCO-listed Casa Batlló is one of the most characteristic Modernist buildings in Barcelona. The fantastical mansion was designed as a private residence for the textile manufacturer Josep Batlló i Casanovas. With its freely swinging shapes and ornamental facade, this dreamlike building looks like a castle from a surreal fairy tale.
Most of the design details depart completely from any architectural precedent. The window frame on the first floor is bordered by swinging shapes that suggest plants, others resemble entrances to caves. On the facade, decorative glazed ceramic tiles in green, blue, and ochre colors add to the flamboyance. The wave-shaped roof, like that of Casa Milà, has numerous richly adorned chimneys.
Gaudí also created the interior decorations, which can be seen in the Casa Museu Gaudí in the Parc Güell.
For those seeking a superb gourmet meal, the elegant Moments Restaurant , with two Michelin stars, is just a few steps away at 38-40 Passeig de Gràcia in the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona . This upscale fine-dining restaurant serves modern gastronomic Catalan cuisine prepared from seasonal ingredients.
Address: 43 Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona
Official site: https://www.casabatllo.es/en/
Inaugurated in 1963, the Picasso Museum occupies five medieval palaces in the Gothic Quarter on the Calle de Montcada, named after an important local family of the 12th century. The Calle de Montcada is listed as a Conjunto Monumental Histórico-Artístico (Historic-Artistic Monument), and the five palaces are remarkable Catalan Gothic landmarks dating to the 13th and 14th centuries. The architecture of each building features a central patio and a grand exterior staircase.
The collection of the museum focuses on works created by Pablo Picasso as a young artist. Containing over 4,000 works, the collection reveals the talents of the artist during his formative years. An exhaustive assortment covers paintings created from 1895 and up until Picasso's Blue Period (1901 - 1904).
Other highlights of the collection are several paintings created in 1917 including Arlequín , featuring a harlequin character (the model was a dancer from a Russian ballet company); El Paseo de Colón , illustrating the Hotel Ranzini at number 22 on the Colón passageway; and Blanquita Suárez , depicting a famous singer of the time. Also not to be missed is the series of paintings titled Las Meninas , which portray the Infanta Margarita María.
Address: 15-23 Calle de Montcada, Barcelona
Official site: http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en/
The Plaça del Rei is a quiet square in the Gothic Quarter lined with imposing medieval buildings. The grand architecture speaks to the importance of the monuments: a palace of Catalan counts (the Palau Reial Major ), a 16th-century lieutenant's palace, and a 14th-century royal chapel.
One of the most impressive historic landmarks on the square is the 16th-century Casa Clariana Padellàs, which houses the Museu d'Història de la Cuitat de Barcelona (Barcelona History Museum). This fascinating museum traces the history of Barcelona over 2,000 years, beginning with the ancient Roman era, continuing through the Renaissance and Baroque periods and up until the Spanish Civil War.
The Plaça del Rei is also used as an outdoor venue for music concerts.
Just as Catalan Modernist buildings are must-see attractions for architecture fans, Camp Nou is a must-see for football (soccer) fans. Camp Nou was one of the venues for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and today is home of the FC Barcelona team. The 99,354-seat stadium is the largest in Europe and second largest in the world.
Camp Nou offers guided tours , led by bilingual Official FC Barcelona Guides. The tours (in English and Spanish) cover highlights of the stadium such as the playing field, the team's changing room, players' tunnel, and the commentators' boxes.
Guided tours also include a visit to the Barça Museum. The Barça Museum presents trophies, photos, and multimedia exhibits, including videos of the FC Barcelona's winning goals.
The Barça Cafe at Camp Nou is a fun place to watch live and recorded games on big-screen televisions. The chefs work in an open kitchen, where guests can watch the action, preparing traditional Catalan dishes such as grilled meat and fish cooked on a wood-fired oven, as well as some of the FC Barcelona players' favorite tapas. The Barça Cafe is open daily from 10am until 7pm.
Address: 12 Calle d'Aristides Maillol, Barcelona
Topping the list of things to do in Barcelona at night is watching the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, near the Plaça d'Espanya in the Montjuïc neighborhood. The large Art Deco fountain was designed by Carles Buigas for the 1929 International Exhibition, which took place in Montjuïc.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc delights all ages with its choreographed light and fountain shows that are set to music. The shows take place Thursday through Sunday during the summer and Friday and Saturday in the off-season. The evening shows last for a few hours, with music sessions every half hour.
Address: 1 Plaça de Carles Buïgas, Barcelona
This hilltop neighborhood is on the site of an old Jewish cemetery, explaining its name, "Mont Juïc," which translates to "Mountain of the Jews." Standing 213 meters above the sea, the hillside is crowned by a fortress (the Castell de Montjuïc ) on its summit and slopes steeply down to the waterfront. Crowning this scenic area is the Parc de Montjuïc , a beautiful natural park with great views.
One of the top attractions of Montjuïc is the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia). Housed in the Palau Nacional , the museum has an exceptional collection of Catalan Art from the 10th to the 20th centuries, including sculpture, paintings, drawings, engravings, and photography. The museum also displays European Renaissance and Baroque Art, as well as a collection of modern art that includes avant-garde works created after World War Two.
The Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) is another popular place to visit. This charming fabricated village was created for the 1929 World Exhibition.
Montjuïc was a venue for the 1992 Summer Olympics , and tourists can visit the stadium where Olympic competitions were held.
Adjacent to the cruise port, the old fishing village of La Barceloneta (now a seaside neighborhood of Barcelona) borders the long, wide Sant Sebastià Beach , where locals go to sunbathe, surf, and socialize in the many seafood restaurants and tapas venues that overlook the sea.
Sant Sebastià Beach has a wide range of amenities: lifeguards, public restrooms, showers, recreational sports areas, lounge chair and sun umbrella rentals, ice-cream stands, and snack bars. A long promenade lined with palm trees connects the Sant Sebastià Beach area to marinas filled with yachts.
The popular Barceloneta Beach is also found in La Barceloneta neighborhood. This beach has excellent facilities: lifeguards, public restrooms, changing rooms, showers, lounge chair and sun umbrella rentals, snack bars, ice-cream stands, areas for recreational sports (including beach volleyball and ping pong), and restaurants.
To admire views of La Barceloneta's coastline, marinas, and port area, take a ride on the Port Cable Car , which ascends from here to hilltop Montjuïc.
A wonderful example of Catalan Gothic architecture, the Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes is nestled on the gentle slopes of the Sant Pere Màrtir hillside in the outskirts of Barcelona. Queen Elisenda de Montcada founded the convent in 1327 for the Order of Saint Clare.
The monastery has two places of worship: a 14th-century Catalan Gothic church and a small chapel, Saint Michael's Chapel , decorated with magnificent murals. Dating to the early 14th century, the murals were created by Ferrer Bassa in the Italianate Trecento style (influenced by Italian masters such as Giotto). The murals still reveal their original glory, thanks to a careful restoration project.
A distinguishing feature of the monastery is its serene three-story cloister , which is the largest Gothic cloister in the world. The main buildings (chapter house, refectory, dormitory, etc.) of the monastery surround the cloister. At the center of the cloister is a tranquil garden designed to inspire spiritual contemplation and meditation.
The monastery displays an outstanding collection of medieval ecclesiastical art from the 14th century, as well as later religious art created through the 20th century.
The Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes is still managed by the Saint Clare nuns, but the monastery has been converted into a museum that is open to the public year-round (except Mondays) for an admission fee. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of every month. Visitors are expected to respect the quiet ambience of the religious community.
Address: 9 Baixada del Monestir, Barcelona
Colorful displays of fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, glistening candied fruits, savory and sweet pastries, chocolates, whimsical marzipan figures, fresh-mixed smoothies, Spanish almonds, burritos, breads, bins of olives, bright strings of peppers – la Boqueria is a riot of colors and aromas.
Since 1836, this traditional open-air market has been a centerpiece in the heart of the city on La Rambla. Locals frequent the market regularly, and shoppers come from all corners of Catalonia to this truly special gourmet food and produce market.
It feels as if half of Barcelona is here on a busy day as they shop for that night's dinner. Tourists gawk at the abundance of authentic specialty foods and then deliberate about what to choose for a to-go lunch or picnic provisions. Mercat de la Boqueria also has casual tapas bars, where tourists can sample local dishes and mingle with locals.
Address: 91 La Rambla, Barcelona
Anyone who appreciates modern art will want to visit the Fundació Joan Miró within the Parc de Montjuïc . Opened in 1975, the Fundació Joan Miró was created by the artist himself as a center for contemporary art research.
Today, the Fundació is dedicated to the study of Miró's work, as well as the presentation of contemporary art. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions of 20th- and 21st-century artists. Visitors will enjoy the permanent collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Joan Miró as well as the thematic exhibitions.
The architecture and design of the museum perfectly suits the avant-garde style of Miró's art. The sleek interior features bright, spacious galleries illuminated by skylights and large windows that look out onto an interior courtyard or gardens. A rooftop terrace affords sweeping views of the Barcelona cityscape.
The museum is open to the public for self-guided visits, as well as guided tours. The guided tours are available in Spanish, Catalan, French, and English.
The Fundació Joan Miró also features a gift shop, bookstore, and restaurant. Special art workshops and educational programs are held at the museum throughout the year.
Address: Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona
Official site: https://www.fmirobcn.org/en/
Nestled behind the Collserola Ridge in the Horta-Guinardó district, this 55-acre park dates to 1792 and is the oldest landscaped green space in Barcelona . The park blends formal gardens with a romantic garden that includes a waterfall and woodland.
Taking a stroll through the Parc del Laberint leads to discoveries of small squares, vibrant flower beds, neoclassical sculptures of mythological characters, and a labyrinth. Another treasure found within the park is the Torre Soberana , a 14th-century manor house restored in the 19th century in Moorish style.
Address: 1 Passeig dels Castanyers, Barcelona
The Quadrat d'Or (Quadrant of Gold) is an area of the Eixample district renowned for its Modernist architecture . The quadrant is found between the Plaça de Catalunya , the Avinguda de la Diagonal , the Passeig de Sant Joan, and the Carrer de Muntaner . The main road through the Quadrat d'Or is the Passeig de Gràcia .
In this area, the exceptional avant-garde buildings were inspired by the work of Antoni Gaudí and constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. Different architects made their mark on the neighborhood, and the result is a diversity of Modernist styles.
A veritable open-air museum, the Quadrat d'Or offers delightful surprises every step of the way. Visitors discover interesting details of ceramic art, stained-glass windows, wrought ironwork, decorative reliefs, mosaic, and statues.
(1) Casa Victoriá de la Riva (2) Casa Modest Andreu (3) Cases Joaquim i Antoni Marfà (4) Casa Joaquim Cairó (5) Casa Conrad Roure (6) Cases Pascual i Cia (7/8) Casa Societat Torres Germans (9/10) Cases Manuel Felip (11) Casa Antonia Puget (12) Cases Francesc Borés (13) Cases Antoni Roger (14) Cases Tomás Roger (15) Casa Antónia Borés (16) Casa Francesc de Paula Vallet (17) Casa Jaume Sahis (18/19) Casa Rossend Capellades (20/21) Cases Josep J. Bertrand Carrer (22) Cases Antoni Miquel (23) Casa Jeroni Granell (24) Cases Joan Pons (25) Casa Jaume Larcegui (26) Cases Frederic Vallet Xiró (27) Casa Josep Filella (28) Casa Francesc Fargas (29) Cases Adolf Ruiz (30) Casa Lluis Pérez Samanillo (31) Casa Emilia Carles de (32) Casa Uorenç Camprubí (33) Casa Antoni Salvadó Carrer (34) Casa Calvet (35) Casa Bosch i Alsina (36) Casa Pia Batlló (37) Casa Heribert Pons (38) Casa Jaume Moysi (39) Casa Sebastià Pratjusà (40) Casa Climent Asols (41) Casa Rodolf Juncadella (42) Casa Miquel A. Fargas (43) Casa Dolors Calm (44) Casa Bonaventura Pollés (45) Casa Asunción Belloso de Gabriel (46/47) Casa Evarist Juncosa (48) Casa Francesc Farreras (49) Casa Josep i Ramón Queraltó (50) Casa Pilar i Josefa Albiñana de Regàs (51) Casa Ferran Cortés (52/53) Casa Manuel Verde (55) Cases Godó-Lallana (56) Casa Antónia Costa (57) Casa Lorenç Armengol (58) Casa Serra (59) Casa Antoni Piera (60) Casa Pau Marti (61) Casa Pilar Bassols (62) Palau Baró de Quadras (63) Casa Terrades (Casa de les Punxes) (64) Casa Miquel Sayrach (65) Casa Comalat (66) Casa Josep J. Bertrand (67) Casa Clapés (68) Casa Miquel Ibarz (69) Casa Rupert Garriga Nogués (70) Casa Marcelli Costa (71) Casa Josep Fabra (72) Casa Antoni Pàmies (73) Casa Doménech i Estapà (74) Casa Leandre Bou (75) Casa Anna Salvadó de Guitart
(76) Casa Adolf Ruiz (77) Casa Francesc Cairó (78) Casa Enric Llorens (79) Casa Enric i Voctória de la Riva (80) Casa Antoni Roger (81) Casa Enric Roger (82) Casa Ramon Vilà (83) Casa Jacinta Ruiz (84) Casa Esperança Isern (85) Casa Isabel Pomar (86) Casa Eduardo de Lamadrid (90) Cases Pons i Pasqual (91) Cases Antoni Rocamora (92) Casa Manuel Margarida (93) Casa Lleó Morera (94) Casa Ramon Mulleras (95) Casa Amatller (96) Casa Batlló (97) Cases Alexandre i Josefina (98) Casa Marfà (99) Casa Joan Coma (100) Casa Enric Batll6 (101) Casa Milà (La Pedrera) (102) Casa Josep Codina (103) Casa Ramon Casas (104) Casa Rupert Garriga (105) Casa Bonaventura Ferrer (106) Casa Lluís Ferrer-Vidal (107) Casa Fuster (108) Casa Jeroni Graneli (109) Casa Josep Portabella (110) Casa Camil Mulleras Garrós (111) Casa Ramon Oller (112) Cases Jeroni Granell (113) Casa Gustau Peyra (114) Casa Angel Batlló (115) Casa Marqués de Julià (116) Cases Amadeu Maristany (117) Palau Ramon de Montaner (119) Casa Thomas (120/121) Cases Dolors Xiró de Vallet (122) Casa Carme Carsi de Puig (124) Casa Josep Batlles (125) Casa Teresa Vallhonrat (126) Casa Rafael Barba (127) Cases Leandre Bou (128) Casa Dolors Xiró de Vallet (129) Casa Segarra (130) Casa Francesc Pastor (131) Casa Josep Ferrer-Vidal (132) Casa Francesc Lalanne (133) Cases Joaquim Cabot (134) Casa Pere Salisachs (135) Casa Agustí Anglora (136) Cases Castillo Villanueva (137) Casa Jaume Forn (139) Casa Esteve Recolons (140) Casa Baldomer Rovira (141) Casa Leonor Matas (142) Casa Alexandre Gioan (143) Casa Enric Laplana (144) Casa Eulàlia Artés de Mayolas (145) Casa Macaya (146) Casa Dolors Alesan de Gibert (147) Casa Marti Llorens (148) Casa Domènech i Estapà (149) Casa Pau Ubarri (150) Casa Manuel Llopis
Take a Sightseeing Tour :
- Visit the city's most iconic landmarks on the Best of Barcelona Tour , which provides commentary about the history and art. This guided excursion includes a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter and skip-the-line admission to the Basílica de la Sagrada Família.
Explore the Countryside :
- Picturesque towns dot the countryside around Barcelona. An organized tour is an easy way to explore the area. The Small-Group Medieval Villages Day Trip takes you to the lovely towns of Besalú, Castellfollit de la Roca, and Rupit, where you can explore historic buildings, meander down the cobblestone lanes, and relax at a small outdoor café.
Admire Dalí Artworks :
- For fans of Salvador Dalí, the Costa Brava is not to be missed. This sunny coastline is home to Dalí's birthplace and several museums dedicated to his art. The Salvador Dalí Museum, Port Lligat, and Cadaques Day Trip from Barcelona takes travelers to these fantastic Dalí museums while providing interesting commentary along the way.
Visit Beautiful Villages and Mountains :
- Discover charming historic towns and admire refreshing alpine landscapes on the France, Andorra, Spain from Barcelona One-Day Tour from Barcelona . This full-day tour includes stops at the medieval village of Baga and the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes, plus a scenic drive through the Pyrenees Mountains of Andorra.
More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com
Highlights of Spain: To learn about the best places to visit, see our article on the top tourist attractions in Spain . For more in-depth information about each city, read our guides about Madrid , Seville , Granada , Cordoba , and Toledo . To explore some of the regional highlights, turn to our articles on the top attractions of Andalusia and Catalonia .
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The 49 best attractions and places to visit in Barcelona
From massive museums and parks to modernista buildings, these are the best things to see and do in Barcelona
In many ways, Barcelona itself is one big attraction. The centre of Catalan culture is one of the most popular destinations on the planet, a shimmering stunner of a city packed with museums , restaurants , famous sights and beautiful people. No matter your preferred form of travel, you’ll find something to love here.
From the world-famous to the decidedly local, our pick of the best attractions and places to visit in Barcelona covers a lot of ground. This place has enough to fill a lifetime, but these are the bucket list items for those short of time. You’ll need plenty of it to cover all 50 in one trip, but you can always come back.
Recommended: Barcelona's best Airbnbs Recommended: The best hotels in Barcelona
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Best Barcelona attractions
1. Sagrada Família
- Religious buildings and sites
- Sagrada Família
Soaring above Barcelona’s cityscape, the Sagrada Família will be the world’s tallest church upon completion (estimated for 2026). This 130-year labour of love, dreamt up by Antoni Gaudí, is one of the world’s most controversial basilicas but also one of the most visited. Three million tourists flock here each year to gawk at the architectural achievement that has brought nature, light and religion together into one stunning ensemble. The interior is like a giant jigsaw puzzle, with each new style blending into the rest of Gaudí’s visionary design.
2. La Rambla
This is undoubtedly the most famous street in Barcelona. Stretching from Port Vell to Plaça de Catalunya in the centre, La Rambla offers a bevvy of shops, flower stands, artworks and attractions. Don’t miss the ornate Canaletes fountain, Boqueria market, Liceu opera house and Teatre Principal.
3. Barcelona Cathedral
- Ciutat Vella
It’s always worth checking out the cathedral of the city you’re visiting, and Barcelona is no exception. Its cathedral is an impressive example of Gothic architecture that’s now a Cultural Heritage Site and, since 1929, a National Historic Monument. It’s dedicated to the Holy Cross and to Saint Eulalia, patron saint of Barcelona, who was martyred by the Romans and whose remains lie in the crypt. Aside from the artistic and architectural riches of the interior, you should also visit the cloister with its 13 white geese (one for each year of Saint Eulalia’s life) and the well-worn engravings on the floor detailing which guild paid for each part of the chapel. If you visit on Saturday or Sunday morning, you might even witness another Catalan tradition, the Sardana dance, performed in the square in front of the cathedral.
4. Picasso Museum
If the quality of a museum is measured by the number of people queuing to get in, the Picasso Museum takes first place. The museum was created by Picasso and his friend and secretary, Jaime Sabartès, who donated his collection to the cause. More than 3,800 works make up the permanent collection, and it also hosts an array of temporary exhibitions.
5. La Boqueria Market
- Markets and fairs
Its stallholders have had to learn languages and indulge in public relations because as well as being the main food market in Barcelona, La Boqueria is now a major tourist destination. Just off La Rambla, this is the biggest market in Catalonia, with more than 300 stalls and a surface area of 2,583 square metres. That is a lot of people selling bits, lots of canvas roofs. Think of some obscure delicacy, and you’re almost guaranteed to find it here. And artisanal produce is in abundance.
Barcelona has more than 4.5 miles of beaches, from Sant Sebastià to Llevant. Many can be found in Barceloneta, the famous maritime and workers’ neighbourhood that sprung up on the island of Maians in the 17th century. It’s worth wandering through the streets of Barceloneta to admire its modest yet charming two-storey houses. Another draw is the area’s excellent and varied cuisine, ranging from tapas and vermouth to paella and seafood. You can also spend a few hours checking out the glitzy yachts lining the marinas, such as the Port Olympic complex.
7. Casa Milà
- Dreta de l'Eixample
It has been described as looking like rising dough, molten lava or a stone lung. You can make up your own description of this weird and wonderful-looking bit of modernism, let's put it that way. Casa Milà is a daring example of Gaudí’s use of stone. When La Pedrera, his last civic project, was first commissioned in 1906, the building became a laughing stock for its undulating façade, wrought-iron balconies and vast windows. Today, of course, it is viewed quite differently, and Gaudí’s innovative self-supporting stone exterior has won it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
8. Botanical Garden
- Sants - Montjuïc
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through 14 hectares of beautiful greenery from around the globe in Barcelona. The botanical garden is split into five areas, with Australian, Californian, Mediterranean, South African and Chilean plants grouped neatly into each. Plus, if you look past the fauna, you’ll get a cracking view of the city. There are about 1500 species in the Jardí Botànic, so get ticking them off.
9. Park Güell
- Historic buildings and sites
- price 1 of 4
Up in Barcelona’s Horta-Guinardó neighbourhood, this maze of walls and walkways consisting of a bunch of gardens, little architectural displays and more, all boasting breathtaking hillside views of the whole city. Highlights include the Hall of One Hundred Columns (though it actually has 86), the mosaic serpent bench, and the salamander on the main steps. You can enter the park for free, but if you want to get into the Monumental Zone, you’ll pay around €10 to see the iconic mosaic bench and dragon (and more).
10. Montjuïc Magic Fountain
Most locals will only see this light, music and water show when they are little kids or have to act as tour guides for visitors. But whether you’ve got your own offspring in tow or not, the show brings out childlike wonder in us all. After all, it is MAGIC. Designed by Carles Buïgas, it is one of the last remaining attractions made for the 1929 International Exposition.
11. Olympic Ring
In 1992, Barcelona captivated the world with the Olympic Games, and the Olympic Ring was built on Montjuïc hill. Covering more than 400 hectares, it includes the Calatrava communications tower, the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium , the Palau Sant Jordi sports hall, the Picornell swimming pools, the head office of the Catalan Institute for Physical Education, as well as the Joan Antoni Samaranch Olympic and Sports Museum, which opened in 2007. In addition to hosting sporting events, Olympic Stadium and Palau Sant Jordi are now major music venues. The ring looks more like a sewing needle to us, but that's fine too.
- Art and design
- La Font de la Guatlla
CaixaForum is another example of a brilliantly restored building. Puig i Cadafalch built this former textile factory at the foot of Montjuïc for the entrepreneur Casimir Casaramona. After being abandoned for years, the Fundació La Caixa bought the building and gave it a new role as a cultural, social and educational centre. As well as permanent collections of contemporary art, there are three spaces for temporary exhibitions and a programme that includes concerts, lectures, screenings, guided tours and child-friendly activities. So yes, it might sound like a pharma company, but it is a wonderful place to visit, with scenery like no other. And the art is pretty good too.
13. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
For many in Barcelona, Sant Felip Neri is the prettiest square in the city – perhaps because of its sheer simplicity. The square is built over the old medieval cemetery of Montjuïc del Bisbe and features a church and school of the same name, some Renaissance buildings and the former head offices of the tinker and shoemaker guilds, the latter now housing the Shoe Museum. If you look closely at the façade of the Sant Felip Neri church, you might notice shrapnel from a bomb thrown by Franco’s forces during the Civil War, tragically killing 42 people, most of them children.
14. Maritime Museum
Barcelona’s dockyards (declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1976) look better than ever. The Maritime Museum is responsible for preserving, studying and publicising one of the most important collections of maritime heritage in the Mediterranean. They are worth a look simply for their architecture, the museum hosts a variety of exhibitions, and the garden and café make for a thoroughly pleasant pit stop.
15. Illa de la Discòrdia
In just one block in Barcelona, the section of Passeig de Gràcia between C/Aragó and C/Consell de Cent, there are five major buildings from the Catalan modernist era: Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Casa Mulleras by Enric Sagnier, Casa Bonet by Marcel·lià Coquillat, Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí. It was named the Block of Discord because of the rivalries between the five architects, and who doesn't love some good juicy architecture drama? Go with some mates, and choose your favourites.
16. Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
Not far from the Sagrada Família is another modernista gem, the spectacular hospital by Domènech i Montaner. The architect was inspired by hygiene ideals and state-of-the-art hospitals in Europe at the time, so he designed a centre with isolation wards (each for a particular speciality), surrounded by gardens and connected by underground passages. Domènech i Montaner believed that aesthetic harmony and a welcoming atmosphere were good for health. After more than 80 years of service, the hospital moved to a more modern building, and renovation of the old building began. You can now visit with or without a tour guide to discover the history of one of the oldest hospitals in Europe. It is, and was, a city within a city.
17. The Carmel Bunkers
These never feature on the standard city tours, which is a shame because if you don’t visit them, you’ll miss some of the best views of Barcelona . The anti-aircraft guns were built in 1937, during the Civil War, when Barcelona was hit by almost 200 bombings a day. From the 1950s, with the boom in immigration, people moved in. A shantytown sprung up, and the residents fought for improvements (electricity, water, bins) and were later rehoused in buildings with better conditions. When Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games in 1992, the city demolished the shacks and abandoned the space. Locals later fought for its recognition as a place of historical importance.
18. Estació de França
The ‘French Station’ is a product of the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition and is the second largest station in Barcelona after Sants. Comparable in elegance and grandeur to Paris’s former Orsay station, its vast metal arches are a fine example of cast-iron architecture. The lobby, by Duran i Reynals in the Noucentisme style, today hosts events, including vintage fairs.
19. Bellesguard Tower
- Sant Gervasi - La Bonanova
In September 2013, the Bellesguard Tower, one of the lesser-known works by Gaudí, opened its doors to the public. The architect was commissioned by Jaume Figueras, and the building is influenced by Gothic and Modernisme styles. Five centuries earlier, in 1409, Martin the Humane, the last king of the House of Barcelona, built his residence in the same spot at the foot of Tibidabo.
20. Born Centre of Culture and Remembrance
- Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera
After years of excavations, renovations and more than one dispute with the neighbours, the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria finally opened in 2013 as a multipurpose cultural centre in the former El Born marketplace. The iron-and-glass structure was designed by Josep Fontserè in 1876 and was the city’s first market to be built in a Parisian style. Today visitors can see the archaeological remains of the Vilanova de Mar neighbourhood from 1700 and better understand the siege the city suffered in 1714. Huge walkways now criss-cross this impressive cultural centre, which also features exhibition spaces, a bookshop and a food hall. There are tonnes of choices around here for food, drink, things to buy, and things to see.
21. Colònia Güell
Jump on the train or car and head to Santa Coloma de Cervelló, in the Baix Llobregat area, to visit the Colonia Güell. The textile industrialist Eusebi Güell moved his facilities from the Sants neighbourhood to this small town to escape social unrest. Gaudí and his team were commissioned for the project, which included a hospital, food hall, school, theatre, shops, co-operative and chapel, plus factories and housing for the workers. Gaudí built the church crypt when Güell’s death changed everything, and the project was abandoned halfway through.
22. Botero’s Cat
This is the most famous cat in the Raval – in fact, in Barcelona. Since the Council bought it from Colombian artist Fernando Botero in 1987, the poor cat has been moved several times. First, it was in Parc de la Ciutadella, near the zoo; then, to coincide with the 1992 Olympic Games, it was moved to the Olympic Stadium; several years later, it was moved again to a square behind Drassanes. Now it seems very happy in its home in the Rambla del Raval, and the neighbours love it.
23. Parc del Laberint d’Horta
- Horta - Guinardó
This vast and incredibly well-manicured maze sits within the oldest park in the city. You’ll find it in the Horta neighbourhood, where, if you ever make it out of the labyrinth, you can mooch around a Neoclassical 18th-century garden and a 19th-century romantic one, plus the Desvalls mansion and an array of fountains and sculptures of mythical Greek characters.
Cemetery visits help cultivate an appreciation for those who came before us. Graveyards don’t have to be gloomy – instead, consider their artistic value. In Poblenou and Montjuïc, the largest cemeteries in Barcelona, you can find examples of a marvellous array of architectural styles, funerary art and permanent works by renowned artists. Don’t miss the popular night-time excursions ( Montjuïc in March and Poblenou in October). Plus, they are generally free, surrounded by nature, and full of benches.
25. Museu Nacional (MNAC)
Catalonia’s national art museum offers a complete overview of Catalan art from the 12th to the 20th centuries. The highlight is its Romanesque collection, featuring one of the oldest and biggest collections of paintings on wood in Europe. The museum’s modern art floor boasts pieces from an array of media up to the 1950s, including sculpture, painting, photography, posters, cinema, architecture and decorative arts. The climb from Plaça d’Espanya up to the museum is just as worthwhile as the museum.
26. Palau de la Música Catalana
- Music venues
When you visit the Palau de la Música, all your senses sit up and take notice because every inch tells a story of modernisme, music and Catalonia. It was built in 1908 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Muses watch over the main concert hall, and on the façade, you’ll find busts of Palestrina, Bach, Beethoven and Wagner. The programme, predictably, is stellar.
27. Camp Nou
- Sport and fitness
FC Barcelona’s home ground, or Lionel Messi’s former stomping ground, as it is now (un)officially known. Camp Nou is one of the most visited places in the city and is high up the bucket list of any big football fan (or fan of stadiums), but it is still incredibly impressive. And tall. Standing at the top and looking down is something else. Die-hard fans must check out the Camp Nou Experience, which offers a peek inside various players-only areas.
28. Tibidabo Funfair
- Theme parks
- Vallvidrera, el Tibidabo i les Planes
This is possibly the coolest location for a theme park – on top of a mountain. It’s the only one in the city, and you take the steep funicular to get there. There’s a good mix of classic and modern rides, with many suitable for all ages. It’s also next door to Sagrat Cor , with a gigantic statue of Jesus, and you can climb up to its base.
29. Casa Planells
In the middle of Avinguda Diagonal stands Casa Planells, a building by Josep Maria Jujol – another of the great Catalan modernists, but more discreet than his contemporaries. In a tiny area, he managed to design an impressive building without overdoing the embellishments and with a rounded façade. Inside, the most striking aspects are the staircase and wrought iron railing. It doesn't look boring from the outside, either. It's small and quirky, unlike La Sagrada Família (which is just up the road) – that's massive. And quirky. Well, Gothic.
It’s hard to imagine a hill with more things to see and do. If you fancy a day’s walk through parks and gardens, Montjuïc is a good option. You can visit the castle (originally a fortress and, after the Civil War, a military museum), eat in the Caseta del Migdia with Barcelona at your feet, and then explore some of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in Europe. Among the very best are the Gardens of Laribal (with their lovely waterfall), the Albéniz Mansion , the Gardens of Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer (dedicated to bulbs, rhizomes and aquatic plants), and the Gardens of Joan Brossa (a brilliant example of land restoration; for more than 30 years this was the Montjuïc amusement park).
31. Joan Miró Foundation
The Miró Foundation has it all. First, the collection of more than 104,000 Miró works, including paintings, sculptures and tapestries, plus almost all of his drawings. Second, the setting, with its spectacular gardens and views of Barcelona from the top of Montjuïc. Third, the building was designed by Josep Lluís Sert, architect, co-founder of GATCPAC (Catalan Architects and Technicians for Progress in Contemporary Architecture) and a great friend of Miró. Fourth, the events they put on, many of which are for families. You can’t afford to miss it!
32. Barcelona University
The most important building in Plaça de la Universitat is, obviously, the historic home of Barcelona University. It became a centre for education in 1871 and housed Barcelona’s main faculties and departments for an entire century, divided into an Arts quadrangle and a Science quadrangle. It now houses the maths and philology departments. If you want to visit, you don’t need to be a student – there are group guided tours of the most impressive areas of the building: the main lobby, the staircase of honour, the cloisters and the assembly hall.
33. Mercat de les Flors / Teatre Lliure
- El Poble-sec
British theatre director Peter Brook is credited with transforming this former flower market into a venue for the performing arts in 1985 when he was looking for a place to stage his legendary production of ‘The Mahabharata’. After decades of relatively diffuse programming, the Mercat has finally focused on national and international contemporary dance and offers a strong programme that experiments with unusual formats and mixes in new technologies and live music.
34. Ciutadella Park
- Parks and gardens
Ciutadella Park is close to the city centre and is the green space most frequented by locals. There’s much to see across its 17 hectares; the zoo , the Catalan Parliament buildings, the church, the lake, the bandstand, and more. It is also alive with activities like markets and fairs, sporting events, concerts, DJ sessions, children’s parties, charity events and much more.
35. Palau Güell
Palau Güell may not be Gaudí’s most well-known work, but it was his first major project for the Catalan capital. A perfect combination of old-fashioned opulence and stylised modernism, this UNESCO World Heritage mansion will have you picturing yourself rolling up in a horse-drawn carriage. Tucked down a narrow street in the Raval, Palau Güell, designed by Gaudí for his patron, Count Güell, stands today as a symbol of Catalan nationalism. As you explore the house, notice how the rising levels (from the modest basement to the ostentatiously colourful roof with 20 mosaic chimneys) reflect the motif of wealth.
36. Santa Maria del Mar
One of the best surviving examples of the Catalan Gothic style, this graceful basilica stands out for its characteristic horizontal lines, plain surfaces, square buttresses and flat-topped octagonal towers. Its superb unity of style is down to the fact that it was built relatively quickly, with construction taking just 55 years (1329 to 1384). There’s also some stunning stained glass, especially the great 15th-century rose window above the main door. The original window fell down during an earthquake, killing 25. The incongruous modern window at the other end was a 1997 addition, belatedly celebrating the Olympics.
37. The Jewish Quarter (El Call)
The ancient synagogue of Barcelona – the oldest in Europe – can be found in the Old Jewish Quarter between C/ del Call, Plaça Sant Jaume, C/ Banys Nous and C/ Sant Sever. The narrow streets are a joy to wander and contain an array of Jewish cultural institutions. At the MUHBA El Call , you can see ritual lamps, headstones, and some great temporary exhibitions.
38. Plaça de la Virreina
Gràcia is full of beautiful squares and great bars; this plaça , however, has the most appeal for us. For its friendly, cosmopolitan atmosphere, for the church that overlooks it, for being a meeting place for locals and the rest of Barcelona, and for the healthy rivalry between the three main bars. Try them all!
Spain’s largest cultural centre was opened in 1994 at the Casa de la Caritat, a former almshouse constructed on the site of a medieval monastery. The massive façade and part of the courtyard remain from the original building; the rest was rebuilt in dramatic contrast, all tilting glass and steel, by architects Piñón and Viaplana, known for the Maremagnum shopping centre at the Barcelona port. Most of the building is given over to exhibitions, but it also hosts music festivals, films, lectures and debates. And on the first Sunday of every month, you can visit its lookout for free.
40. Plaça Reial
- Ships and boats
If you head towards the ocean, you’ll probably stumble through Plaça Reial. It contains a handful of palm trees and has a fountain in the middle known as Three Graces. This Neoclassical water feature was designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias, while the chunky lampposts are Gaudí’s. Restaurants and bars surround the square, making for a lively evening hub. And yes, it’s worth keeping a keen eye on your belongings as you pass through.
41. Sant Antoni Market
After almost a decade of renovations, the traders of the provisional market of Sant Antoni returned to the impressive Rovira i Trias building in 2018. The octagonal dome is the crown that structures the market’s cross-shaped corridors. In those closest to the market façade, you’ll find the Encants market. Each part can be visited since they have different schedules.
42. Plaça dels Àngels and MACBA
Slowly the skaters are taking over this square, but they cannot take away from the imposing Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, or MACBA . It’s an impressive building, designed by the American architect Richard Meier, with a large glass façade and a combination of straight lines and cylindrical shapes. Since its opening in 1995, the MACBA has become the city’s top institution for contemporary art in all its forms.
43. Plaça de Sant Jaume
This square is the administrative centre of Barcelona, housing the Catalan Autonomous Government and City Hall. It’s named after the church that once stood here in medieval times and was the site of the main crossroads in the Roman settlement of Barcino. The Roman Forum and Temple of Augustus were also located here, and four columns can still be seen in C/Paradís. Today, most major protests and demonstrations pass through the square, while at Christmas, it features a mighty impressive nativity scene.
44. Monestir de Sant Pere de les Puel·les
Sant Pere de les Puel·les may not be one of the better-known churches in Barcelona, though it should be. It was formerly a Benedictine monastery, but only the church remains from the original building, which was rebuilt after a fire in 1909. Along with its pretty square, packed with restaurants and terraces, this little-known gem is more than worth a visit.
45. Santa Maria del Pi
The main façade of this Catalan Gothic-style church in Plaça del Pi features a large rosette of 12 branches from the 14th century. It was destroyed in the fire of 1936 and rebuilt between 1939 and 1943 by architect Josep Maria Jujol. As well as admiring the two octagonal towers that flank it, the enormous bell tower and the image of the Virgin Mary with a child on the tympanum, visitors can catch classical guitar concerts and exhibitions here.
46. Temple of Augustus
Four stunning fluted Corinthian columns dating from the first century BC soar out of their podium in the most unlikely of places: a back patio of the Mountaineering Centre of Catalonia. Part of the rear corner is devoted to the Roman emperor Augustus, and the columns were discovered and isolated from the structure of a medieval building in 1835. The current layout is a slight fudging of the original, as the right-hand column resided separately in Plaça del Rei until it was slotted next to the other three in 1956.
47. Plaça de Prim
Poblenou’s most emblematic square is also home to some of its oldest residences. The humble, white 19th-century buildings that line the square were home to fishermen when Poblenou was a fishing village. Plaça de Prim doesn’t need a lot of frills to seduce passers-by. Three fantastic ombú trees, a less-than-spectacular fountain, a few benches and a single restaurant ... but what a restaurant! Els Pescadors has the privilege of exclusive terrace rights, and you must get stuck into a selection of their fresh seafood dishes to set everything right with the world.
48. Torre Glòries
All around Plaça de las Glòries, you’ll find quite a few of Barcelona’s architectural and cultural landmarks. On one side, you’ve got the Torre Glòries (formerly Torre Agbar), the work of architect Jean Nouvel that changed the city’s skyline. On the other is the Mercat de Bellcaire (aka ‘Encants’) flea market with its impressive wavy roof designed by Fermín Vázquez. But there’s also the Disseny Hub Barcelona , home to the city’s design museum; the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya , by Ricardo Bofill; and L’Auditori , by Rafael Moneo.
49. Santa Caterina Market
Opened in 1846, the Mercat de Santa Caterina is the city’s second oldest market. The renovation project was carried out by a team of architects led by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, its most distinctive feature probably being the gorgeous mosaic roof made with 325,000 pieces whose colours echo the fruit and vegetable stands beneath. If wandering among so much fresh produce makes you hungry, you can eat at Cuines de Santa Caterina , a bustling restaurant with international dishes available from its various bars.
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Must-see attractions in Barcelona
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona by many residents, and the…
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In the top tier of Gaudí's achievements, this madcap Unesco-listed masterpiece, with 33 balconies, was built in 1905–10 as a combined apartment and office…
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Barcelona Bucket List: 25 Best Things to do in Barcelona
Julie Last updated: November 9, 2023 Spain 27 Comments
Barcelona, Spain…this is a city that deserves to be on every traveler’s must-see list. Why? Barcelona is a beautiful city. Think Rome meets Paris. This city is spotless, with wide streets, beautiful architecture, beaches, palm trees, cafés, and boutique shopping. Throw in some tapas, Gaudí, and cava, and you have yourself a fabulous destination just waiting to be explored. For one week Tim and I explored this city and its surrounds, and here is our list of the best things to do in Barcelona.
Table of Contents
Best Things to do in Barcelona
#1 wander the gothic quarter.
For us, the Gothic Quarter was one of the highlights during our time in Barcelona.
The Gothic Quarter is the old city centre of Barcelona. Wandering its labyrinth of narrow, cobblestoned streets will take you back in time. Go shopping at the small boutiques and pop into the small restaurants for tapas or cava. You could easily spend all day here, but a few hours is all that is needed to get a feel for the Gothic Quarter if you are limited on time.
Plaça Reial | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
Barcelona Old Quarter | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#2 Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudí. Although it is still under construction, this church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction is forecast to be completed by 2026.
The Sagrada Familia, without a doubt, is a place you must visit while in Barcelona. Most love it, some think it is incredibly ugly. The Sagrada Familia is the most unique church we have ever seen.
From the outside, the front of the church looks like a sandcastle that is slowly crumbling into the ocean. Our first impression was not a good one. But once inside, it is beautiful. Modern, colorful, whimsical…like so much of Gaudí’s artwork in Barcelona. I love the inside…for the colors and its incredible uniqueness. Gaudí broke out of the mold of how churches are traditionally designed and came up with this masterpiece.
During your visit, you have the option to climb one of the two towers. We chose the tower on the Passion façade , hearing that the views over the city centre are amazing. Well, this was a total disappointment. An elevator whisked us up the tower. From the top, our view was through a small window covered with a metal grate. All we could see was the scaffolding from the current construction work. We never saw those epic views that people told us about.
Your other option is to climb the tower on the Nativity façade . This tower looks out over east Barcelona. Whether or not the views are any better, we have no idea.
For those who want to do this, please note, the only way down either tower is via a spiral staircase.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: This is very important! Book your tickets in advance or join a tour of the Sagrada Familia. Without pre-purchased tickets, you risk waiting up to two hours in line to enter the Sagrada Familia. To purchase your tickets online in advance, and get updated pricing and hours, visit the Sagrada Familia website.
#3 Our Favorite Gaudí Masterpiece, Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is one of Gaudi’s most famous designs. This colorful building sits on Passeig de Gràcia , one of the major thoroughfares through the city.
If you are short on time (or money) view Casa Batlló from the outside. For those with an interest in Gaudí and his architecture, it is worth paying the fee to tour the house. Tickets are pricey and lines can be long. This is another site where it is definitely worth purchasing your tickets in advance. To do so, visit the Casa Batlló website. Entry tickets can also be purchased through GetYourGuide.
#4 Casa Amatller
Located to the left of Casa Batlló is Casa Amatller, another unique building in Barcelona. This building was designed for the chocolatier Antoni Amatller.
Take a peak of the outside (easy to do since it stands adjacent to Casa Batlló) and then enter the building. Inside is a store selling Amatller chocolate. It is delicious! We recommend visiting the café and ordering the melted chocolate served with bread. And don’t forget to buy some chocolate to bring home. Yum!!
Casa Amattler and Casa Batlló | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#5 Casa Milà aka La Pedrera
Here is yet another Gaudí work of art. Gaudí really left his mark on Barcelona.
Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera, is located just a few blocks north of Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia. This was the last civil work designed by Antoni Gaudí and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Casa Milà is another icon of Barcelona but not quite as popular as Casa Batlló. We walked by La Pedrera several times and never saw the queues like we did at Casa Batlló.
You can purchase tickets online in advance for Casa Milà. To learn more, visit the official website.
La Pedrera | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#6 Park Güell…One of Barcelona’s Most Popular Sites
Park Güell is one of Barcelona’s most popular sites, but is it worth it? During peak season, expect huge crowds of people here. Entry is limited to 400 people every half hour, which sounds like a lot, but tickets can sell out early in the day. Putting a limit on the number of people makes the visit much more enjoyable, just be prepared to buy your tickets in advance.
Park Güell is another work of Antoni Gaudí and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s another colorful spot in Barcelona with buildings that resemble gingerbread houses and a long, tiled bench designed to represent a serpent.
So, is it worth it? If you want to see more of Gaudí’s designs, yes. If you like visiting parks and natural areas, yes. If you feel like you’d be missing something if you didn’t check this one off the list, then yes.
I am glad we saw it but we did not fall in love with this one. Even with the limit on the number of people, it felt crowded and overrated.
If you are short on time, make Casa Batlló and Sagrada Familia your main Gaudí visits. There is so much more to see in Barcelona.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you plan on visiting Park Güell, purchase your tickets in advance. Visit the official website here.
#7 Palau Güell, Our Final Gaudí Recommendation
Palau Güell, located just off of La Rambla near the Gothic Quarter, is a palace designed by Gaudí for industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell. This one is only worth the visit if you are a big fan of Gaudí or want an interesting perspective over Barcelona from the rooftop.
Palau Güell rooftop | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#8 Watch the Sunset from a Rooftop Bar
Rooftop bars dot the skyline in Barcelona. What better way to watch the sunset over the city from a rooftop bar with a glass of cava or wine?
Our two favorites were Alaire Terrace Bar and 360° Terrace.
Alaire Terrace Bar | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
View of Passeig de Gràcia and Casa Milá from the Alaire Terrace Bar
Tibidabo is very small amusement park perched on a hillside overlooking the city of Barcelona. This is a great spot to take the kids when you need a break from sightseeing. To get here, you can take Bus 196 or the Blue Tram (when it’s running) to the funicular.
Tibidabo and it’s view over Barcelona | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#10 Sagrat Cor and It’s Amazing View
Sagrat Cor, also known as the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a Roman Catholic Church located on Mount Tibidabo. Wherever you go in Barcelona, this church, on its perch overlooking the city, can be seen. For one of the best views of Barcelona, come here.
Sagrat Cor | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
Sagrat Cor sits adjacent to the Tibidabo amusement park. For one of the best views of the city, ascend to the highest point of the church.
For us, the visit to Sagrat Cor was a highlight of our time in Barcelona. This was wonderful. The views are unbelievable and there were very few people here. Later, when we shared our photo on social media, many people who had visited Barcelona knew nothing about Sagrat Cor. We highly recommend a visit here, especially on a clear day. Hopefully, you will have just as wonderful of an experience as we did.
#11 Sip Cava or Vermouth at an Outdoor Cafe
Outdoor cafes are easy to find throughout Barcelona, as are glasses of vermouth and cava. Barcelona is in the midst of a vermouth renaissance. It’s found on most menus, and if you want a great place to try it out (and have some amazing tapas) try Bodega 1900.
Cava is Spain’s sparkling wine. Found at almost every bar and restaurant in Barcelona, people usually drink cava at the start of a meal.
Outdoor Cafe in Barcelona | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#12 Take a Peak Inside the Cathedral of Barcelona
Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, this cathedral sits just to the north of the Gothic Quarter. It’s worth a visit if you are in the area.
Cathedral of Barcelona | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#13 Take a Stroll through Parc de la Ciutadella
If you need a break from the streets of Barcelona, or like to explore parks, the Parc de la Ciutadella is a great place to visit. This park is located near the Gothic Quarter. Gravel paths wind through the park, lush with palm trees and tropical vegetation.
Parc de la Ciutadella | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#14 See the Arc de Triomf
Sitting just to the north of Parc de la Ciutadella is the Arc de Triomf. It may not be not is impressive as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but it still is worth a quick visit. This arch was the main access gate for the 1888 World’s Fair.
Arc de Triomf | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#15 Dine on Tapas
This is a must-do! Tapas are small, savory plates of food, usually eaten as snacks or as a meal. There are tapas restaurants in abundance throughout Barcelona. Try as many as you can while here! The best part of eating tapas…being able to order an assortment of delicious treats to sample.
READ MORE: Tapas! Tapas! Tapas! Restaurants and Rooftop Bars
Bomba de la Barconeta
El Nacional | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#16 Watch a Game at Camp Nou
Camp Nou is the official football stadium of Barcelona and the largest stadium in Spain. It is the home of FC Barcelona. Watch a game, tour the stadium, and visit the museum. For more information, click here.
#17 Visit Mercado de la Boqueria
Mercado de la Boqueria is a large market in central Barcelona. It’s a tourist landmark and worth a visit. It’s a great place to go shopping for fish, fruit, fresh juices, and an assortment of foods. There are also small tapas restaurants that are excellent. We recommend Pinotxo Bar and El Quim de la Boqueria.
#18 Take a Day Trip
If you have the time, you can take some excellent day trips from Barcelona. Visit Montserrat , a mountain range with amazing views, Girona , a medieval, delightful small town to visit, or Tarragona, a small town known for its Roman ruins.
#19 Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
This cathedral is located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. It’s free to visit and worth a quick stop.
Santa Maria del Mar | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
Barcelona Old Quarter street and Santa Maria del Mar
#20 Enjoy the View from Bunkers of Carmel
For another fantastic view of Barcelona, visit the Bunkers of Carmel. These abandoned aircraft defenses are now one of the most popular spots to watch the sunset.
View from the Bunkers of Carmel | Noppasin Wongchum/shutterstock.com
#21 Take a Stroll on Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is the main pedestrian thoroughfare through Barcelona. It connects Plaça de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus monument. Tourists and locals can be found here and expect it to be busy!!
As a visitor to Barcelona, it’s worth walking on Las Ramblas for a few blocks. But we think wandering the twisting lanes of the Gothic Quarter and Passeig de Gràcia are much more interesting. Another nice street for strolling is Rambla de Catalunya …similar to Las Ramblas but much less crowded.
Las Ramblas | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#22 Palau de la Musica Catalana
This gorgeous concert hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Designed in modernista style, it was constructed between 1905 and 1908. You can take a guided tour or attend a musical performance here. Learn more on the official website.
Palau de la Musica Catalana | Christian Bertrand/shutterstock.com
#23 The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
This fountain puts on a display of color, water, and music several nights a week, depending on the season. People who watch the show rave about it. Get show times here.
Montjuïc Fountain Show | pixelshop/shutterstock.com
#24 Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
This is the national museum of Catalunya art from the 19th and 20th centuries. We never made it inside but for art lovers this makes a great stop while in Barcelona.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya | Best Things to Do in Barcelona
#25 Ride the Cable Car to Montjuïc Castle
Located on top of Montjuïc Hill, Montjuïc Castle is a military fortress that is almost 400 years old (it dates back to 1640). In the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 1700’s, the fort was an important defense point for Barcelona. Since this time, the castle has been renovated. Ride the Montjuïc Cable Car (Teleferic de Montjuïc) to get here. Tour the castle and enjoy the view over Barcelona.
Montjuïc Castle | saiko3p/shutterstock.com
Best of Barcelona: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and restaurant recommendations). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest. If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Note: This map includes 14 restaurant and rooftop bar recommendations. For more information about these restaurants, read our article Tapas! Tapas! Tapas! Rooftop Bars and Restaurants.
How Many Days Do You Need in Barcelona?
Ideally, plan on spending at least three days in Barcelona. This gives you enough time to visit the main highlights of the city. With more time, you can add on day trips to places such as Girona and Montserrat.
If you are planning your Barcelona itinerary, take a look at our guide for the best way to spend 3 days in Barcelona. It also covers important information about how to get around Barcelona and about the various travel passes.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is organized into neighborhoods, such as the Gothic Quarter, Plaça de Catalunya, El Raval, and El Born, just to name a few. When choosing your hotel in Barcelona, do only do you have to pick a property that works with your budget, but you also have to decide which neighborhood to stay in. In our Barcelona Hotel Guide, we cover the best hotels in Barcelona, organized by location and budget.
Tours of Barcelona
Do you have questions about the best things to do in Barcelona? Comment below if you have any questions or if you want to share your favorite experiences.
More Information for Your Trip to Barcelona:
BARCELONA, SPAIN: Plan your visit with our 3 Day Barcelona Itinerary , our guide on Where to Stay in Barcelona, and get recommendations on where to eat in Barcelona.
BARCELONA DAY TRIPS: From Barcelona, spend the day in Girona or day trip to Montserrat to visit the Monastery and hike to spectacular viewpoints.
MORE CITIES AROUND THE WORLD: Visit more cities around the world with our guides to Rome , Paris , New York City , London , Athens, and Sydney.
EUROPE ITINERARIES: Check out our article 10 Days in Europe: 10 Amazing Itineraries for 10 different ways to visit the best places in Europe. And if you have less time, check out our guide to 25 Ways to Spend One Week in Europe.
Planning a trip to Spain? Read all of our articles in our Spain Travel Guide.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.
All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.
I really enjoy this blog. Thanks for sharing useful information.
Amazing post!! I would add to do a boat trip along the coast of Barcelona. We did it with http://www.rentaboatbarcelona.com and it was the best part of our trip. Enjoy Barcelona!!
That’s is an amazing and beautiful Article. I really love it. It makes my day super. thanks for it
Amazing review about Barcelona, I really love this place we will go there after our 1st come to the world. thanks for sharing. pinned for furure
Great review of Barcelona. When would you say is the busiest time of year? We’d like to visit and avoid the crowds but also enjoy decent weather. Thanks, keep up the great content!
The busiest time of year is June, July and August. September can be busy also. If you want to avoid the crowds but want decent weather, consider the end of April into May and October. I’m glad you like our site! Cheers, Julie
Thanks so much. I think May might be the month for us. So excited to start planning!
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What to see in Barcelona: 36 essential things to do in the city
Barcelona is full of surprises. The cosmopolitan, Mediterranean city, full of light and life, is home to countless interesting places made for enjoyment. To help you plan your visit and so you get the most out of your city break, we have compiled a list of the essential things to do in the Ciudad Condal, as it is often referred to, that you cannot miss. Modernist buildings, parks, squares, museums and gourmet markets await, ensuring that your Barcelona city break is absolutely unforgettable. The Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, the Palau de la Música, Barceloneta beach, the Cathedral and Las Ramblas are just a small example of the many attractions that make Barcelona one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Legend has it that Barcelona was founded by the Carthaginian leader Hamilcar Barca, although other more spiritual types maintain that it was the god Hercules himself who founded the city after finding his ninth boat (barca nona) moored on the beach. What is documented is the presence of Romans from the first century B.C. Today the city’s streets and monuments bear traces of its long history and its attractions are enjoyed by the scores of visitors that come to the city to enjoy its many charms. In this guide you can find all of Barcelona’s must-visit places so that you get the most out of your trip to the city. So whether you are staying for three days or a weekend , don’t miss a thing.
- The Sagrada Familia
Palau de la Música
- Caso Batlló
Plaza de Catalunya
- La Boquería
- Montjüic fountain and Plaza de España
- Monjüic castle
- Arco del triunfo
Santa María del Mar basilica
Gran Teatre del Liceu
Passeig de Gràcia
The Carmel bunkers
- Tibidabo hill and Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
Las Arenas shopping centre
- Barcelona neighbourhoods in which to lose yourself
- Where to stay in Barcelona
PLACES YOU CANNOT MISS IN BARCELONA
Sagrada Familia basilica
The Sagrada Familia is perhaps the most famous and most visited landmark in Barcelona – an emblem of the city. The architect Antoni Gaudí dedicated 40 years of his life to its construction and it is for this reason that he was laid to rest beneath one of the basilica’s naves. His particular, striking brand of architecture leaves no one indifferent. The Sagrada Familia is a true gem and an emblem of modernist Barcelona that you cannot miss.
Sagrada familia Barcelona
Declared a Unesco Heritage Site in 1984, Park Güell is one of Gaudí’s most outstanding creations, since it blends the unique style of his modernist works with other natural motifs. The dragon, on the main stairway, is the park’s icon.
If you like sport, especially football, you cannot miss the stadium of one of the world’s biggest clubs. The Camp Nou is the inner sanctum of blaugranas , as supporters are known, as well as an impressive, magnificent stadium with a capacity of 98,000 people that is well worth a visit.
Built in 1908 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the Palau de la Música encapsulates the history of modernism and world music and is one of the most spectacular auditoriums in the world with a large, beautiful concert hall. Be sure not to miss the main façade too. The building is a Unesco World Heritage Site for good reason.
Palau de la música
Commonly known as La Pedrera, Casa Milá is also categorised as a World Heritage Site. It is a work of art in itself due to its extraordinary architecture and the large windows dotted across its façade. Decorated with sea and mythological motifs, the building also houses an exhibition room and concerts are held on its roof terrace.
Casa Batlló , designed by Gaudí, was built between 1902 and 1906, converting an ordinary building into an impressive creation. Its multi-coloured walls, balconies and roofs covered in scales will leave you in awe.
Barcelona cathedral is an impressive example of Spanish Gothic architecture declared a Cultural Interest Site and a National Historical Monument. In addition to the interior, the cloister is also well worth a visit.
Catedral de Barcelona
The most famous street in Barcelona, on La Rambla you can get a feel for the hustle and bustle of the city with people everywhere you look, shops, street artists and stalls selling crafts, souvenirs and flowers. Be sure to walk the full length from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell.
Standing at a height of 142 metres, Torre Agbar dominates the Barcelona skyline. It was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, who took inspiration from the architecture of Gaudí. One of the building’s most interesting details are the lights that change colours, which are even more special at certain times of the year.
One of the city’s main hubs and a meeting point that separates the old city from the Eixample district, Plaça de Catalunya was built in 1889 after the International Exposition that was held in Barcelona the previous year. It is lined with important buildings and boasts two large fountains.
In addition to being a municipal market, Boquería market has become one of Barcelona’s most important tourist attractions. Situated on Las Ramblas, its culinary offerings are so appetising that you won’t be able to resist trying the gourmet delicacies sold at its varied stalls.
The Montjuïc magic fountain and Plaza de España
After Plaça de Catalunya, Plaça d’Espanya is one of the most important places in Barcelona. One of its great attractions is the Montjuïc magic fountain , where you can enjoy a water, light and music show. It is also home to the former bullring, which is now a large shopping centre.
On the top of the hill, Montjuïc castle is a former military stronghold categorised as a Site of Cultural Interest and a National Heritage Site. Its walls have borne witness to countless battles throughout the history of Barcelona.
Barcelona’s quintessential park, across 17 hectares you will find a zoo, buildings of the Catalan Parliament, a church, a secondary school and even a lake. Ciutadella park also hosts fairs, open-air markets and sporting events. You can reach this lovely park by metro getting off Arc de Triomf (L1), Ciutadella/Vila Olímpica (L4) or Jaume I (L4).
Arc de Triomf
The Arc de Triomf was built in 1888 as an entrance to the International Exposition that took place in Ciutadella park. Although its shape and proportions are built in classical style, its decoration is full of symbolic motifs. The arch is an emblem of Barcelona’s transition into modernity.
The Santa María del Mar basilica is a simple, austere construction that is nevertheless steeped in a type of beauty especially associated with the Catalan Gothic. Particularly notable are its beautiful stained glass windows. The basilica served as inspiration for the writer Ildefonso Falcones and his famous novel Cathedral of the Sea . It is the resting place of the patron saint of sailors.
Situated on Las Ramblas, since 1847 the Gran Teatre del Liceu has played host to the very best opera singers and is regarded as one of the most important opera theatres in the world. A guided tour is a great way to explore it in depth and not miss any of its beautiful details as is, of course, catching a performance.
Port Vell is the oldest part of the port of Barcelona. Its facilities are currently used for recreational boats and the middle part is home to the Maremagnun shopping and entertainment centre.
In 1992, Barcelona’s Port Olimpic was the setting of the sailing competitions of the Barcelona Olympic Games and today it is one of the city’s liveliest entertainment areas. It is situated close to the beach where you can do water sports and boasts scores of restaurants where you can sample food typical of Barcelona.
The Palacio Güell was designed by Gaudí for the Güell family. The building remains practically the same as when the artist designed it. Touring through this unique building from the basement to the rooftop, passing through the house’s different rooms, is an experience you cannot miss.
Passeig de Gràcia is one of the best shopping streets in the city where you will find high-end fashion and accessories brands as well as more budget-friendly options. The street is also home to many of Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s most famous buildings.
Paseo de Gracia
One of the prettiest parks in Barcelona, this romantic space combines nature and interesting architecture to perfection. Situated at the foot of the Collserola mountains, it is named after the labyrinth made of trimmed Cypress trees that you can visit and explore in the lower part of the garden. In its day the land on which the park lies belonged to the Desvalls family, who donated it to the City Council in 1967. The garden-museum has been open to the public since 1971.
Located at the highest point of Turó de la Rovira, the bunkers in the Carmel neighbourhood are a fantastic viewpoint from where you can enjoy spectacular views of Barcelona. Despite its name, there have never been any bunkers on the top of Turó de la Rovira but rather an anti-aircraft battery, which was key to the city’s defence system during the Spanish Civil War. The site is very popular with young people and a popular tourist destination. It has served as a backdrop for adverts, films and TV series and countless images of it can be found on social media.
Tibidabo hill and the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
Tibidabo is one of the most emblematic and magical places in the city of Barcelona as well as the highest point in the Collserola mountains providing almost unbeatable views of Barcelona and the Vallés region. Tibidabo amusement park offers visitors over 30 attractions for all ages in addition to lovely restaurants and a picnic area. Tibidabo is also the site of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor (Temple of the Sacred Heart), designed by Enric Sagnier in 1902 and completed in 1961. The neo-Gothic-style building is crowned by a large bronze statue of the Sacred Heart. A lift will take you to the highest part of the temple, 500 metres above sea level, from where you can enjoy incredible views of the city – a true window onto Barcelona.
Situated on Plaça d’Espanya, the Las Arenas shopping centre is housed within Barcelona’s former bullring, which had remained unused from 19 June 1977, the day on which the final bullfight took place. The complex was redesigned by the architect Richard Rogers and since 2011 it functions as a shopping centre, sports centre and music centre with 360-degree panoramic views of the city. The top floor is lined with restaurants, the one below houses a cinema and the rest are occupied with shops and small businesses.
BARCELONA NEIGHBOURHOODS IN WHICH TO LOSE YOURSELF
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter
One of the oldest neighbourhoods in Barcelona, with narrow medieval streets and hidden squares, the Gothic Quarter is one of the most charming places to stroll around and enjoy the city. Don’t miss walking through the square in front of the Cathedral, Carrer del Bisbe and Plaça Reial and sitting at one of its terraces.
Barceloneta beach and neighbourhood
Barceloneta is not just the name of a famous beach, although that is often what we identify it with, but a neighbourhood with a seafaring spirit. Situated within the Ciutat Vella district, it was built to provide housing for residents from the La Ribera neighbourhood, who were evicted in the eighteenth century to make way for Ciutadella park.
Aside from its history, today Barceloneta is the place to go to eat at a seafood restaurant, go shopping, sunbathe, and enjoy the beach. Much of the city’s 4.5 kilometres of beaches are situated in the area. Make the most of your time in Barcelona to explore this authentic corner of the city.
The Raval neighbourhood
Somewhere that you should not miss on a trip to Barcelona is Raval , because, however many times you go there, you will always find something new. The ever-evolving neighbourhood is a favourite among art lovers, since it is home to MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum) and CCCB (Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture). What’s more, its design shops, art galleries and graffiti, which give the area an even more urban feel, always offer surprises. It is also the perfect place to go for tapas in bohemian bars and, if you like the atmosphere of markets, be sure to visit La Boquería, a real institution in the Catalan capital.
The Gràcia district
The Gràcia district, made up of five neighbourhoods, is the smallest district in Barcelona, which does not mean to say that it isn’t an essential place to visit on a city break. One of its most emblematic neighbourhoods is Villa de Gràcia, which dates back from the seventeenth century. Although it is today integrated into the city, the area still maintains its own identity and sense of belonging. It is a lovely place to take a stroll, have a drink on one of its terraces, visit an art workshop or listen to some Catalan rumba, since the district is the birthplace of artists such as El Pescaílla, and, of course, visit Park Güell , one of Gaudí’s greatest works.
Try not to confuse the Gràcia neighbourhood with Passeig de Gràcia, which has a very different feel.
BARCELONA’S MOST IMPORTANT MUSEUMS
Nacional Art Museum of Catalunya
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is housed in the National Palace, one of the most emblematic buildings from the 1929 International Exposition. It can be seen up high from Plaça d’Espanya, from where it can be reached via a lovely staircase. Works from throughout history await to be discovered.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
CosmoCaixa and CaixaForum
Belonging to Fundació La Caixa, these two cultural centres play an important educational role and are housed in historical buildings that have been painstakingly renovated. CosmoCaixa , on the site of the former Science Museum, is housed in an old asylum for the blind built by the famous architect Josep Domènech i Estapà. Today it brings visitors of all ages in touch with nature and science. CaixaForum , meanwhile, is more linked to art, and is housed in a former modernist-style factory on Montjuïc hill designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
Poble Espanyol museum
Poble Espanyol is an open-air museum situated on Montjuïc hill built for the 1929 International Exposition as a showcase of Spanish culture and architecture. In it you will find reproductions of the most representatives places from many Spanish cities.
The Picasso museum possesses the largest collection of pieces from the Malaga-born artist’s youth and formative years in Barcelona. Touring this large art gallery housed in several medieval palaces is a true privilege in light of the paintings that hang from its walls and its sculptures and prints. It is worth stopping to observe some pieces that demonstrate the relationship that Picasso had with other contemporary artists, who he would meet up with at the famous café Els Quatre Gats.
MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum)
In this museum, more commonly known by the acronym MACBA , art from the second half of the twentieth century takes centre stage. Over 5,000 artworks are distributed throughout a building that exudes modernity, spanning more than 14,000 m2. Its large white rooms, vast windows and the abstract art on offer help create an experience that you should not miss when in Barcelona.
The museum also boasts an extensive artistic and culture programme as well as interesting temporary exhibitions.
Fundación Joan Miró
The space housing the collection of Joan Miró was conceived by the artist himself and the architect Josep Lluís Sert in the heart of Montjuïc hill. A visit to this art sanctuary is made all the more powerful by the building itself, the surrounding gardens and the dialogue that the Catalan artist’s works establish with the whole ensemble. To visit the Fundació Miró it to get lost amid its courtyards, terraces and exhibition rooms and round it all off by enjoying the surrounding nature.
As part of its permanent exhibition, in addition to admiring paintings, sculptures and tapestries by Joan Miró, you can also see works by other artists such as Chillida, Tàpies and Calder.
Situated within the Park Güell complex, the Gaudí house-museum was the artist’s former residence for almost 20 years, between 1906 and 1925. In 1963 it opened for the first time as a museum and today houses a collection of furniture and objects designed by the architect, in addition to pieces by people that worked with him. After being put up for sale unsuccessfully, the building—designed by Francesc Berenguer, a regular collaborator of Gaudí between 1903 and 1905—was bought by Gaudí, in 1906, who took up residence in it together with his niece and father until 1925, several months before his death when he moved his studio to the Sagrada Familia.
The house-museum, which shows the architect’s most personal side with object and documents related to his life, is set across three floors. Visitors can view the bedroom, studio and the inner entrance door, in addition to the furniture designed by Gaudí for buildings such as Casa Batlló, Casa Calvet, Casa Milà, Casa Vicents and the crypt of Colonia Güell.
Dónde alojarse en Barcelona
Hotel barceló raval.
Rated with four stars and boasting excellent value for money, the hotel Barceló Raval is situated next to Las Ramblas and, therefore, is just a short walk from Plaça de Catalunya, the Teatre del Liceu, Boquería market and the Cathedral. Its 182 rooms and four suites boast all creature comforts and look out onto the Raval neighbourhood. The whole hotel exudes modernity, a cosmopolitan feel and urban DNA. The B-Lounge is the place to go for signature tapas, cocktails and one of the most famous Sunday brunches in the city.
Hotel Barceló Sants
Situated above Sants station, the four-star hotel Barceló Sants resembles a spacecraft, inviting guests to enjoy a imaginary journey through space. Although the hotel has a futuristic, cutting-edge look, its 312 Orbital rooms, 52 Stratosphere rooms and 14 Orbital suites offer a cosmic ambience in which comfort and amenities come before design. In addition to being one of the best-located hotels in the city, it boasts floor space spanning 3,000 square metres distributed across 15 lounge areas, two restaurants, a cafeteria, a bar and a gym.
Hotel Occidental Diagonal 414
Situated on Avinguda Diagonal, this boutique design hotel is just a short walk from Casa de les Punxes, one of Barcelona’s modernist icons, and very close to Passeig de Gràcia and the city’s most important tourist attractions. The hotel boasts 100 well-decorated, welcoming rooms, a 25-square-metre gym open 24 hours a day and a private car park for hotel guests. In terms of dining options, the hotel Occidental Diagonal 414 has a buffet restaurant decorated in Nordic style serving a selection of Mediterranean and international specialities as well as a snack bar with a tapas and vermouth menu.
Hotel Occidental Atenea Mar – Adults Only
This four-star urban hotel is adults only and has an excellent location, 150 metres from Nova Mar Bella beach and a 15-minute walk from CCIB (Barcelona International Convention Centre). The hotel Occidental Atenea Mar – Adults Only boasts 191 modern, spacious rooms with sea or city views and a wealth of details. It also has a car park, a free-to-use fitness room, five lounge areas, a gourmet restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, a terrace with a snack bar, a 48-square-metre infinity pool and a solarium with Balinese beds and sun loungers.
At Barceló Experiences you can continue your journey discovering Spain’s many charms by visiting our comprehensive tourist guides of other must-visit destinations such as Madrid , Cádiz , Asturias , Valencia , Seville and Granada .
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you not miss in Barcelona?
Barcelona is known for its wide range of options and attractions. Your first stop should be the Sagrada Familia followed by a stroll along Las Ramblas. You should also make a stop to see Boquería market as you make your way up to Plaça de Catalunya. Park Güell and Barcelona cathedral are other must-visits.
What is there to do for free in Barcelona?
There are many things to do in Barcelona for free, from strolling along Las Ramblas or through Plaça de Catalunya to visiting Plaça d’Espanya, where you can enjoy the Montjuïc magic fountain. We also recommend seeing Ciutadella Park and the Arc de Triomf and rounding off the day by walking along Port Vell and the Port Olimpic.
What transport options are there in Barcelona?
The best way to move around Barcelona on your city break is by public transport. Barcelona has an excellent metro and tram network as well as a very extensive bus network (urban, interurban and tourist buses). Not forgetting of course taxis and private hire vehicles.
How many days should you spend in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a very large city and in order to see its most important attractions we recommend a minimum stay of four to five days. Bear in mind that aside from the countless things on offer in the city, many nearby places are also well worth visiting.
What neighbourhoods should you visit in Barcelona?
Be sure to visit, in this order, the Gothic Quarter, Raval, Barceloneta and the Grácia neighbourhood.
What museums should you visit in Barcelona?
The Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Cosmocaixa, CaixaForum, Poble Espanyol museum, the Picasso museum, MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art), Fundació Joan Miró and the Gaudí house-museum.
What are the best beaches in the city of Barcelona?
The most famous and most beautiful beach in the city is Barceloneta beach, although there are others worth visiting such as Somorrostro, Sant Miquel, Sant Sebastià, Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant.
La rambla, barcelona’s most emblematic boulevard, camp nou, barça’s temple, the basilica of santa maria del mar, a place of worship built by and for the people, park güell, the garden shaped by gaudí’s imagination.
Barcelona Travel Guide
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Barcelona – Spain’s second city, and the self-confident capital of Catalunya – vibrates with life, and there’s certainly not another city in the country to touch it for sheer style, looks or energy. It’s long had the reputation of being the avant-garde capital of Spain, its art museums are world-class, its football team sublime, while its designer restaurants, bars, galleries and shops lead from the front.
What to see in Barcelona
Best time to go to barcelona, where to go in barcelona, along the ramblas, barri gòtic, barceloneta, port olímpic, diagonal mar, museu nacional d’art de catalunya (mnac), the eixample, les corts and pedralbes, tibidabo and parc de collserola, festivals in barcelona, accommodation in barcelona, eating in barcelona, barcelona drinking and nightlife, shopping in barcelona, arts, culture and entertainment in barcelona, things to do, #01 la pedrera, #02 the city beaches, #03 a tapas tour, #04 camp nou, #05 fundació miró, #07 museu del modernisme català, #08 tibidabo, #09 casa batlló, #10 la boqueria, #11 museu nacional d’art de catalunya (mnac), #12 the ramblas, #13 parc güell, #14 museu picasso, #15 sagrada família, #16 museu d’art contemporani de barcelona (macba).
In terms of things to do in Barcelona, in Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary church of the Sagrada Família, the winding alleys and ageing mansions of the picture-postcard Gothic Quarter, and the world-famous boulevard that is the Ramblas, you have three sights that are high up any Spanish sightseeing list. There's also great things to do for free in Barcelona such as the magic fountains or creating your own modernist house hop.
As a thriving port, prosperous commercial centre and buzzing cultural capital of three million people, the city is almost impossible to exhaust – even in a lengthy visit you will likely only scrape the surface.
Book tickets and tours in Barcelona
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A trip filled with history, amazing landscapes and cultural attractions. Starting with walking tours around the cities hearts, to exploring the gastronomy, the arts and the folklore. Your trip begins in Barcelona before proceeding to Madrid and finishing in Seville - Andalusia's capital.
Everyone starts with the Ramblas, and then dives straight into the medieval nucleus of the city, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), but there are plenty of other central old-town neighbourhoods to explore, from La Ribera – home to the celebrated Museu Picasso – to funky El Raval, where cool bars, restaurants and boutiques have mushroomed in the wake of the striking contemporary art museum, MACBA. Even if you think you know these heavily touristed neighbourhoods well, there’s always something else to discover – tapas bars hidden down alleys little changed for a century or two, designer boutiques in gentrified old-town quarters, bargain lunches in workers’ taverns, unmarked gourmet restaurants, craft outlets and workshops, fin-de-siècle cafés, restored medieval palaces and neighbourhood markets.
But endlessly fascinating as these districts are, Barcelona is so much more than just its old-town areas. The fortress-topped hill of Montjuïc, for example, contains the Olympic stadium used for the 1992 Games as well as some of the city’s best art museums, notably MNAC, ie the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – note the word “nacional”, which tells you all you need to know about Catalunya’s strong sense of identity. Other museums too explore the work of internationally famous Catalan artists, from Joan Miró to Antoni Tàpies, while in the nineteenth-century, uptown extension of the city – the Eixample – are found most of Barcelona’s celebrated modernista architectural wonders, from private houses to Gaudí’s peerless church.
If Barcelona sounds a bit too much like hard cultural work, then simply look instead for entertainment to the city’s harbour, parks, gardens and beaches. Indeed, it’s remarkably easy to forget you’re in a big city at all some times – just to take one example, walking from the Port Vell harbour takes you along the marina, through the old fishing and restaurant quarter of Barceloneta, past the leafy Parc de la Ciutadella , and out along the beachside promenade to the bar-and-restaurant zone that is the Port Olímpic.
Other easy city jaunts include a trip out to the Diagonal Mar conference and exhibition district for the new natural science museum, or up to the distinctive neighbourhood of Gràcia, with its small squares, lively bars and Gaudí’s amazing Parc Güell. If you’re saving yourself for just one aerial view of Barcelona, wait for a clear day and head for Tibidabo, a mountain-top amusement park backed by the Collserola hills, while beyond the city limits the one day-trip everyone should make is to the mountain-top monastery of Montserrat , 40km northwest.
Barcelona is an established city-break destination with a year-round tourist, business and convention trade. Different seasons have different attractions, from summer music festivals to Christmas markets, but there’s always something going on.
Weather in Barcelona
As far as the weather is concerned, the best time to visit Barcelona is late spring or early autumn, when the weather is still comfortably warm (around 21–25°C) and walking the streets isn’t a chore. There might be a chill in the air in the evening, but Barcelona in these seasons is sometimes nigh on perfect.
However, in summer the city can be unbearably hot and humid, with temperatures averaging 28°C (but often a lot more). August, especially, is a month to be avoided, since the climate is at its most unwelcoming and many shops, bars and restaurants close as local inhabitants head out of the city in droves. It’s worth considering a winter break, as long as you don’t mind the prospect of occasional rain. It’s generally still warm enough to sit out at a café, even in December, when the temperature hovers around 13°C.
As with most Catholic countries, Carnival is celebrated before lent. Taking place between Febuary and March, Barcelona's main streets see a parade of fancy dress, floats and fireworks as a means of going wild before forty days of abstinence.
September 11th sees Diada Nacional de Catalunya, or Catalonia Day. Thousands take to the streets proudly wearing the Catalonian flag to celebrate culture. In recent years, the day has been used for independence demonstrations, making the day more lively and with a buzzing atmosphere.
Places around Barcelona
Out of Barcelona, the weather varies enormously from region to region. On the coast it’s best – naturally enough – in summer, though from June to September tourist resorts like Sitges are packed. Tarragona, too, can be extremely hot and busy in summer, though it’s worth knowing that Girona is considered to have a much more equable summer climate, and escaping from the coast for a few cool days is easy.
Despite being one of the largest cities on the Mediterranean (population 1.6 million, with a further 3.4 million in its metropolitan area), Barcelona is a pretty easy place to find your way around. In effect, it’s a series of self-contained quarters or neighbourhoods (known as barris) stretching out from the harbour, flanked by parks, hills and woodland.
Many of the best places to visit in Barcelona are in the city centre – the Gothic cathedral, Picasso museum, markets, Gaudí buildings and art galleries – can be reached on foot, while a fast, cheap, integrated public transport system takes you directly to the peripheral attractions and suburbs.
Start, as nearly everyone does, with the Ramblas, a kilometre-long, tree-lined avenue of pavement cafés, performance artists and kiosks that splits the old town in two. On the eastern side of the Ramblas is the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), the medieval nucleus of the city – a labyrinth of twisting streets and historic buildings, including La Seu (the cathedral) and the palaces and museums around Plaça del Rei.
Further east lies Sant Pere, set around its terrific market, which adjoins the fashionable boutique-and-bar quarter of La Ribera to the south, home to the Picasso museum. Over on the western side of the Ramblas is the edgier, artier neighbourhood of El Raval, containing both the flagship museum of contemporary art (MACBA) and the pick of the city’s coolest bars and restaurants.
At the bottom of the Ramblas is the waterfront, whose spruced-up harbour area is known as Port Vell (Old Port). Walking east from here takes you past the aquarium and marina, through the old fishing and restaurant quarter of Barceloneta, past the Parc de la Ciutadella and out along the promenade to the cafés and restaurants of the Port Olímpic. This whole area is where Barcelona is most like a resort, with city beaches all along the waterfront from Barceloneta as far as the conference and leisure zone of Parc del Fòrum.
Art- and garden-lovers, meanwhile, aim for the fortress-topped hill of Montjuïc to the southwest, where Catalunya’s national art gallery (MNAC), the Miró museum, botanic garden and main Olympic stadium are sited, among a host of other cultural attractions.
At the top of the Ramblas, Plaça de Catalunya marks the start of the gridded nineteenth-century extension of the city, known as the Eixample, a symbol of the thrusting expansionism of Barcelona’s early industrial age. This is where some of Europe’s most extraordinary architecture – including Gaudí’s Sagrada Família – is located.
Beyond the Eixample lie the northern suburbs, notably Gràcia, with its small squares and lively bars, and the nearby Parc Güell, while you’ll also come out this way to see the famous Camp Nou FC Barcelona stadium. It’s worth making for the hills, too, where you can join the crowds at Barcelona’s famous Tibidabo amusement park – or escape them with a walk through the woods in the peaceful Parc de Collserola.
The good public transport links also make it easy to head further out of the city. The most obvious place to visit is the mountain-top monastery of Montserrat , not least for the extraordinary ride up to the monastic eyrie by cable car or mountain railway. Sitges is the local beach town par excellence, while with more time you can follow various trails around the local wine country, head south to the Roman town of Tarragona or north to medieval Girona or the Dalí museum in Figueres.
It is a telling comment on Barcelona’s character that one can recommend a single street – the Ramblas – as a highlight. No day in the city seems complete without a stroll down at least part of what, for Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, was “the only street in the world which I wish would never end”. Lined with cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops, flower stalls and newspaper kiosks, it’s at the heart of Barcelona’s life and self-image.
The Ramblas splits the old-town areas of Barcelona in half, with the Barri Gòtic on the east flank of the avenue and El Raval on the west. It also actually comprises five separate sections strung head to tail – from north to south, Rambla Canaletes, Estudis, Sant Josep, Caputxins and Santa Mònica – though you’ll rarely hear them referred to as such. Here, under the plane trees, you’ll find pet canaries, tropical fish, flowers, plants, postcards and books. You can buy jewellery, have your palm read and your portrait painted, play cards with a man on an upturned cardboard box (not a good idea), or while away time with the buskers and human statues.
Mercat de la Boqueria
Beyond the Palau de la Virreina lies the city’s most famous market, known locally as La Boqueria, though officially the Mercat Sant Josep. While others might protest, the market really can claim to be the best in Spain. Built between 1836 and 1840, it’s a riot of noise and colour, with great piles of fruit and vegetables, dried herbs, exotic mushrooms, cured meats and an amazing variety of fish and seafood. If you’re going to buy, do some browsing first, as the flagship fruit and veg stalls by the entrance tend to have higher prices than those farther inside. There are some excellent stand-up snack bars in here, open from dawn onwards for the traders – Pinotxo near the Ramblas entrance is the most famous.
The Ramblas statues
You can’t move for human statues on the Ramblas, standing on their little home-made plinths. Classical figures and movie characters have always formed part of the parade, but there’s also some real wit and invention on display, like “Fruit Lady”, a one-woman mobile market stall, or the twin “Bicycling Skeletons”. Then there’s just the plain weird, like “Lady Under Rock”, crushed under a boulder, issuing plaintive shrieks at passers-by. And quite what demons drive “Man Sitting on Toilet”, only he can say.
On the Miró trail
Halfway down the Ramblas, just past La Boqueria, look down at the pavement – that’s right, the large circular mural under your feet is by Joan Miró. The famous Catalan artist was born just a couple of minutes’ walk off the Ramblas in the Barri Gòtic (there’s a plaque to mark the building on Passatge del Crèdit, off c/de Ferran) – and when you’ve seen one Miró in Barcelona, well, you start to see them everywhere, whether it’s T-shirts for tourists or branding for businesses. There’s another large ceramic mural at the airport, for a start, while Miró designed the starfish logo for the Caixa de Pensions savings bank (there’s one splashed across the Caixa Forum arts centre on Montjuïc). And this is all on top of the Montjuïc museum devoted to his life’s work. In many ways, it’s a Miró city, whatever Picasso fans might think.
The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, forms the very heart of the old town in Barcelona, spreading out from the east side of the Ramblas. It’s a remarkable concentration of medieval buildings principally dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when Barcelona reached the height of its commercial prosperity before being absorbed into the burgeoning kingdom of Castile.
Things to do in Barri Gòtic
It takes the best part of a day to see everything here, with the cathedral – La Seu – a particular highlight, and you certainly won’t want to miss the archaeological remains at the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat or the eclectic collections of the Museu Frederic Marès. That said, sauntering through the atmospheric alleys or simply sitting at a café table in one of the lovely squares is just as much an attraction.
A good way to see the Gothic Quarter, and to learn about the stories and legends that make up the history here, is to partake in a walking tour. Typical routes walk you through August's Temple, the Cloister Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel of Santa Agata (Place del Rei).
The picture-postcard images of the Barri Gòtic are largely based on the streets north of c/de Ferran and c/de Jaume I, where tourists throng the boutiques, bars, restaurants, museums and galleries. South of here – from Plaça Reial and c/d’Avinyó to the harbour – the Barri Gòtic is rather more traditional (or sometimes just plain run-down).
Boho Barcelona and the Four Cats
There’s not much to see in the shopping zone north of the cathedral, but a century or so ago a tavern called Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats; c/Montsió 3, wwww.4gats.com) burned brightly as the epicentre of Barcelona’s bohemian in-crowd. It was opened in 1897 as a gathering place for artists and literary types, with the building gloriously decorated in exuberant Catalan Art Nouveau style. Els Quatre Gats soon thrived as the scene of poetry readings and the venue for cultural debate, while a young Picasso designed the menu. Today, a modern restoration displays something of its former glory, with the bar-restaurant overseen by a copy of Ramon Casas’ famous wall-painting of himself and café founder Pere Romeu on a tandem bicycle (the original is in MNAC).
A tour of Jewish Barcelona
Barcelona’s medieval Jewish quarter lay nestled in the shadow of the cathedral – under the Church’s careful scrutiny. It was centred on c/Sant Domènec del Call, where you’ll find the most notable surviving landmark, the Antiga Sinagoga (c/Marlet 5, corner with c/Sant Domènec del Call; Mon–Fri 10.30am–5.30pm, Sat & Sun 10.30am–3pm, sometimes closed Sat for ceremonies; €2.50; t933 170 790, w calldebarcelona.org ; mLiceu) – not many people stop by, and if you do, you’ll get a personalized tour of the small room by a member of the local Jewish community. The prosperous settlement persisted until the pogrom and forced conversion of 1391, after which most of the buildings used by the Jews were torn down. However, a plaque further down c/Marlet (junction with c/Arc Sant Ramon del Call) marks the site of the former rabbi’s house, while in nearby Plaçeta Manuel Ribé another house – originally belonging to a veil-maker – now serves as a small museum, the Centre d’Interpretació del Call (Pl. Manuel Ribé; Wed–Fri 11am–2pm, Sat 11am–6pm, Sun & hols 11am–2pm; free; t932 562 100, w museuhistoria.bcn.cat ; mLiceu).
Perhaps the greatest recent transformation in the city has been along the waterfront, where harbour and Mediterranean have once again been placed at the heart of Barcelona. The glistening harbourside merges seamlessly with the old town, with the tourist attractions of Port Vell (ie, Old Port) just steps from the bottom of the Ramblas. Meanwhile, the pleasant walk around the harbour along the waterfront to Barceloneta takes you past the marina, where a boat has been converted into a floating bar, the Luz de Gas, which is a particularly good place for a sundowner.
The old-town area west of the Ramblas is known as El Raval (from the Arabic word for “suburb”). In medieval times, it was the site of hospitals, churches and monasteries, but by the twentieth century, it had acquired a reputation as the city’s main red-light district, known to all as the Barri Xinès – China Town. Even today in the backstreets around c/de Sant Pau and c/Nou de la Rambla are found pockets of sleaze, while a handful of old bars trade on their former reputations as bohemian hangouts. Over the last two decades, however, El Raval has changed markedly, particularly in the “upper Raval” around Barcelona’s contemporary art museum, MACBA. Cutting-edge galleries, designer restaurants and fashionable bars are all part of the scene these days, although you’d hesitate to call El Raval gentrified, as it clearly still has its rough edges.
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Anchoring the upper Raval is the huge, luminous Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona , known as MACBA. Once inside, a series of swooping ramps from the ground floor to the fourth floor afford continuous views of the square below – usually full of careering skateboarders. The collection represents the main movements in contemporary art since 1945, mainly in Catalunya and Spain but with a good smattering of foreign artists as well. The pieces are shown in rotating exhibitions, so you may catch works by Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberg or Paul Klee. Joan Brossa, leading light of the Catalan avant-garde “Dau al Set” group, has work here, too, as do contemporary Catalan conceptual and abstract artists.
The Barri Gòtic is bordered on its eastern side by Via Laietana, which was cut through the old town at the beginning of the twentieth century. Across it to the east stretches the quiet neighbourhood of Sant Pere, home to two remarkable buildings, the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall and the restored neighbourhood market, Mercat Santa Caterina.
There’s no finer place for lunch on a sunny day than Barceloneta, an eighteenth-century neighbourhood of tightly packed streets with the harbour on one side and a beach on the other. It was laid out in 1755 – a classic eighteenth-century grid of streets where previously there had been mudflats – and the long, narrow streets are still very much as they were planned, broken at intervals by small squares and lined with multi-windowed houses. The local market, Mercat de la Barceloneta, was stylishly refurbished in 2007, while at Barceloneta’s famous seafood restaurants – most characteristically lined along the harbourside Passeig Joan de Borbó – for most of the year you can sit outside and enjoy your meal.
The cross-harbour cable Car
The most thrilling ride in the city centre of Barcelona is across the inner harbour on the cable car . The Trasbordador Aeri, which sweeps from the Torre Sant Sebastià, at the foot of Barceloneta, to the Torre Miramar in Montjuïc, with a stop in the middle at Torre de Jaume I (though this middle stop is currently closed for long-term repairs).
Departures are every fifteen minutes (daily 10.30am–6pm, June–Sept until 8pm), though in summer and at weekends you may have to wait for a while at the top of the towers for a ride, as the cars only carry about twenty people at a time. Tickets cost €10 one way or €15 return.
Approaching the Port Olímpic along the Passeig Marítim, the shimmering golden mirage above the promenade slowly reveals itself to be a huge copper fish (courtesy of Frank O. Gehry, architect of the Bilbao Guggenheim). It’s the emblem of the huge seafront development constructed for the 1992 Olympics, and is backed by the city’s two tallest buildings – the Torre Mapfre and the steel-framed Hotel Arts Barcelona – while the surrounding area has filled up with restaurants, cafés and bars. The whole zone turns into a full-on resort in summer, backed by a series of class-conscious clubs along Passeig Marítim that appeal to the local rich kids and A-list celebs.
Beyond the Port Olímpic, the city beaches are split into separate named sections (Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant), each with showers, playgrounds and open-air café-bars. It’s a pretty extraordinary leisure facility to find so close to a city centre – the sands are regularly swept and replenished, while joggers, cyclists and bladers have one of the Med’s best views for company.
The waterfront convention-and-business district of Diagonal Mar was developed in the wake of the Universal Forum of Cultures Expo, held here in 2004. Everything is on a grand scale, starting with Jacques Herzog’s dazzling blue biscuit-tin of a building hovering – seemingly unsupported – above the ground. This houses the main exhibitions of the Natural Science Museum (the Museu Blau), while the vast, landscaped area beyond is one of the city’s showpiece urban leisure projects, the Parc del Fòrum.
You’ll need to reserve at least a day to see Montjuïc , the steep hill and park rising over the city to the southwest. There’s been a castle on the heights since the mid-seventeenth century, but since it was chosen as the site of the International Exhibition of 1929 Montjuïc has been firmly positioned as a cultural leisure park, anchored around the heavyweight art collections in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). This unsurpassed national collection of Catalan art is supplemented by works in two other superb galleries, namely international contemporary art in the CaixaForum and that of the famous Catalan artist Joan Miró in the Fundació Joan Miró . In addition, there are several other minor museums, quite apart from the buildings and stadiums associated with the 1992 Olympics, which was centred on the heights of Montjuïc.
The towering Palau Nacional, centrepiece of Barcelona’s 1929 International Exhibition, is home to one of Spain’s great museums, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) , showcasing a thousand years of Catalan art in stupendous surroundings. Its scope is such that it can be difficult to know where to start, but if time is limited it’s recommended you concentrate on the medieval collection, which you’ll be able to see in an afternoon. This is split into two main sections, one dedicated to Romanesque art and the other to Gothic – periods in which Catalunya’s artists were pre-eminent in Spain. The collection of Romanesque frescoes in particular is the museum’s pride and joy, while MNAC also has impressive holdings of European Renaissance and Baroque art, as well as an unsurpassed collection of “modern” (ie nineteenth- and twentieth-century) Catalan art up until the 1940s – everything from the 1950s and later is covered by MACBA. In addition, temporary blockbuster exhibitions (separate admission charge) change every two to four months.
The Romanesque collection is the best of its kind in the world. From the eleventh century, the Catalan villagers of the high Pyrenees built sturdy stone churches, which were then lavishly painted in vibrantly coloured frescoes. To save them from degradation, the frescoes were moved to the museum and now are imaginatively presented in reconstructions of their original church settings. Still luminescent after eight hundred years, the frescoes have a vibrant, raw quality, best exemplified by those taken from churches in the Boí valley in the Catalan Pyrenees – such as the work of the anonymous “Master of Taüll” in the church of Sant Climent; look out for details such as the leper, to the left of the Sant Climent altar, patiently suffering a dog to lick his sores.
The evolution from the Romanesque to the Gothic period was marked by a move from murals to painting on wood, and by the depiction of more naturalistic figures in scenes of the lives of saints and royalty. By the time of fifteenth-century Catalan artists like Jaume Huguet and Lluís Dalmau, works showed the strong influence of contemporary Flemish painting, in the use of denser colours, the depiction of crowd scenes and a concern for perspective. The last Catalan Gothic-era artist of note is the so-called Master of La Seu d’Urgell, responsible for a fine series of six paintings (Christ, the Virgin Mary, Saints Peter, Paul and Sebastian, and Mary Magdalene) that once formed the covers of an organ.
Renaissance and Baroque collections
Major European artists displayed include Rubens, Goya, El Greco, Zurbarán and Velázquez, though the museum is keen to play up Catalan works of the period, which largely absorbed the prevailing European influences – thus Barcelona artist Antoni Viladomat (1678–1755), whose twenty paintings of St Francis, executed for a monastery, are shown here in their entirety. However, more familiar to most will be the masterpieces of the Spanish Golden Age, notably Velázquez’s Saint Paul.
Modern art collection
MNAC ends on a high note with its modern Catalan art collection, which is particularly good on modernista and noucentista painting and sculpture, the two dominant schools of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rooms highlight individual artists and genres, shedding light on the development of art in an exciting period of Catalunya’s history, while there are fascinating diversions into modernista interior design (with some pieces by Gaudí), avant-garde sculpture and historical photography.
Fundació Joan Miró
Montjuïc’s highlight for many is the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona’s most adventurous art museum, opened in 1975 and set among gardens overlooking the city. Joan Miró (1893–1983) was one of the greatest of Catalan artists, establishing an international reputation while never severing his links with his homeland. He showed a childlike delight in colours and shapes and developed a free, highly decorative style – the paintings and drawings, in particular, are instantly recognizable, among the chief links between Surrealism and abstract art. Miró had his first exhibition in 1918, and after that spent his summers in Catalunya (and the rest of the time in France) before moving to Mallorca in 1956, where he died.
Inside the museum
Miró’s friend, the architect Josep Lluís Sert, designed the beautiful building that now houses the museum, a permanent collection of paintings, graphics, tapestries and sculptures donated by Miró himself and covering the period from 1914 to 1978. For a rapid appraisal of Miró’s entire oeuvre, look in on the museum’s Sala K, whose 23 works are on long-term loan from a Japanese collector. Here, in a kind of potted retrospective, you can trace Miró’s development as an artist, from his early Impressionist landscapes (1914) to the minimal renderings of the 1970s. Other exhibits include his enormous bright tapestries (he donated nine to the museum), pencil drawings and sculpture outside in the gardens. Young experimental artists have their own space in the Espai 13 gallery. There’s also a bookshop, and a café-restaurant (lunch 1.30–3pm, otherwise drinks, pastries and sandwiches) with outdoor tables on a sunny patio – you don’t have to pay to get into the museum to use this.
The Olympics on Montjuïc
The main road through Montjuïc climbs around the hill and up to the city’s principal Olympic area, centred on the Estadi Olímpic. Built originally for the 1929 exhibition, the stadium was completely refitted to accommodate the 1992 opening and closing ceremonies, while to one side a vast terrace provides one of the finest vantage points in the city. Long water-fed troughs break the concrete and marble expanse, while the confident, space-age curve of Santiago Calatrava’s communications tower dominates the skyline. Around the other side, just across the road from the stadium, the history of the Games themselves – and Barcelona’s successful hosting – are covered in the Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport, Avgda. de l’Estadi 60 (Tues–Sat 10am–6pm April–Sept until 8pm, Sun & hols 10am–2.30pm; €4.50; t932 925 379, museuolimpicbcn.com ; m Espanya then 25min walk, or bus #193 or #50 from Avgda. de la Reina María Cristina).
The 1992 Olympics were the second planned for Montjuïc’s stadium. The first, in 1936 – the so-called “People’s Olympics” – were organized as an alternative to the Nazis’ infamous Berlin Games of that year, but the day before the official opening Franco’s army revolt triggered the Civil War and scuppered the Barcelona Games. Some of the 25,000 athletes and spectators who had turned up stayed on to join the Republican forces.
Teatre Grec and the Barcelona Festival
Montjuïc takes centre-stage each year during Barcelona’s annual summer cultural festival ( barcelonafestival.com ), known locally as the Grec, when arias soar from the open-air stage of the Teatre Grec, a Greek theatre cut into a former quarry on the Poble Sec side of the hill. Starting in late June (and running throughout July and August), the festival incorporates drama, music and dance, with the opening sessions and some of the most atmospheric events staged in the theatre, from Shakespearean productions to shows by avant-garde performance artists. These can be magical nights – a true Barcelona experience – though you’ll need to be quick off the mark for tickets (which usually go on sale in May).
The vast nineteenth-century street grid north of Plaça de Catalunya is the city’s main shopping and business district. It was designed as part of a revolutionary urban plan – the Eixample in Catalan (pronounced aye-sham-pla, the “Extension” or “Widening”) – that divided districts into regular blocks, whose characteristic wide streets and shaved corners survive today. It’s not a neighbourhood as such – and, in fact, is further split into two distinct sections, namely the Dreta de l’Eixample (ie, the right-hand side) and Esquerra de l’Eixample (left-hand side), which fall either side of the two central parallel avenues, Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya. It’s on and around Passeig de Gràcia, above all, that the bulk of the city’s show-stopping modernista (Catalan Art Nouveau) buildings are found, along with an array of classy galleries and some of the city’s most fashionable hotels, shops and boutiques.
Building a designer city
As Barcelona grew more prosperous throughout the nineteenth century, it was clear that the city had to expand beyond the Barri Gòtic. A contest was held to design the city’s new quarters and the winning plan was that of utopian engineer and urban planner Ildefons Cerdà i Sunyer, who drew up a grid-shaped town marching off to the north, intersected by long, straight streets and cut by broad, angled avenues. Work started in 1859 and the Eixample immediately became the fashionable area in which to live, as the moneyed classes moved into luxurious apartments on the wide new avenues. As the money in the city moved north, so did a new class of architects who began to pepper the Eixample with ever more striking examples of their work, inspired by modernisme, the Catalan offshoot of Art Nouveau. Three architects in particular came to prominence in Barcelona and, in doing so, introduced a building style that has given the city a look like no other.
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet Born in Reus, near Tarragona, to a family of artisans, the work of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852–1926) was never strictly modernista in style, but the imaginative impetus he provided was incalculable. Fantasy, spiritual symbolism and Catalan pride are evident in every building he designed, while his architectural influences were Moorish and Gothic, embellished with elements from the natural world. Gaudí rarely wrote a word about the theory of his art, preferring the buildings to demand reaction – no one stands mute in front of an Antoni Gaudí masterpiece.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner With Gaudí in a class of his own, it was Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850–1923) who was perhaps the greatest pure modernista architect. Drawing on the rich Catalan Romanesque and Gothic traditions, his work combined traditional craft methods with modern technological experiments, seen to triumphant effect in his masterpiece, the Palau de la Música Catalana.
Josep Puig i Cadafalch Like other modernista architects, the work of Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867–1957) also contains a wildly inventive use of ceramic tiles, ironwork, stained glass and stone carving. His first commission, the Casa Martí, housed the famous Els Quatre Gats tavern for the city’s avant-garde artists and hangers-on, while in various Eixample mansions Puig i Cadafalch brought to bear distinct Gothic and medieval influences.
Other modernista craftsmen Modernisme was often a true collaborative effort between the architects and their artisans. Antoni Gaudí, for example, always worked with skilled craftsmen, including his longtime collaborator – and a master of mosaic decoration – Josep María Jujol i Gilbert (1879–1949). The other significant name is that of Eusebi Arnau i Mascort (1864–1933), who provided meticulous carvings for all the main modernista architects – much loved is his tour-de-force carved fireplace in the Raval’s Hotel Espanya. Some projects brought together the cream of craft talent, so at Domènech i Montaner’s Palau de la Música Catalana, for example, the glorious stained glass by Antoni Rigalt and elaborate facade sculpture by Miquel Blay form an integral part of the whole.
Treasure-hunting at Els Encants Vells
At the city’s traditional open-air flea market, Els Encants Vells (c/del Dos de Maig; Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat 7am–3pm, plus same times Sun & hols from Dec 1–Jan 5; encantsbcn.com ; mEncants/Glòries), you name it, you can buy it: old sewing machines, cheese graters, photograph albums, cutlery, lawnmowers, clothes, shoes, CDs, antiques, furniture and out-and-out junk. It’s best in the early morning, and haggling for any “old charms” (encants vells) you might fancy is de rigueur, but you’re up against experts. The market is due a new home with the completion of the Glòries renovations, so access, hours and location are subject to change over the next few years.
Gràcia – the closest neighbourhood to the Eixample – was a village for much of its early existence before being annexed as a city suburb in the late nineteenth century. There’s still a genuine small-town atmosphere here, very distinct from the old-town neighbourhoods, while Gràcia’s vibrant cultural scene and nightlife counters the notion that Barcelona begins and ends on the Ramblas. That said, there’s not that much to see, but wander the narrow, gridded streets, catch a film or hit one of the excellent local bars or restaurants, and you’ll soon get the feel of a neighbourhood that – unlike some in Barcelona – still has a soul. Most of the boutiques, galleries, cinemas and cafés are near pretty Plaça de la Virreina, with c/Verdi in particular always worth a stroll. A short walk to the southwest, Plaça del Sol is the beating heart of much of the district’s nightlife, while Plaça Rius i Taulet, the “clock-tower square”, a couple of minutes to the south, is another popular place to meet for brunch. However, the one unmissable attraction is just on the neighbourhood fringe, namely the surreal Parc Güell, by architectural genius Antoni Gaudí.
Parc Güell , Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary urban park on the outskirts of Gràcia, was originally planned as a private housing estate of sixty dwellings, furnished with ornamental paths, recreational areas and decorative monuments. Gaudí worked on the project between 1900 and 1914 but in the end only two houses were actually built, and the park was officially opened to the public instead in 1922.
Laid out on a hill, which provides fabulous views back across the city, the park is an almost hallucinatory expression of the imagination. Pavilions of contorted stone, giant decorative lizards, a vast Hall of Columns (intended to be the estate’s market), the meanderings of a huge ceramic bench – all combine in one manic swirl of ideas and excesses.
Casa Museu Gaudí
One of Gaudí’s collaborators, Francesc Berenguer, designed and built a turreted house within the park for the architect. In the Casa Museu Gaudí, his ascetic study and bedroom have been kept much as they were in his day, while other rooms display a diverting collection of furniture he designed for other projects – a typical mixture of wild originality and brilliant engineering.
Entrance to Parc Güell
Although you can freely enter and explore Parc Güell, if you wish to access the Monumental Core, you will need to purchase a ticket, as with the Gaudi House Museum. Tickets can be purchased on site, although there is also an option to buy online up to three months before your visit.
To the northwest of the city centre, what was once the village of Les Corts is now largely indistinguishable from the rest of the modern city, save for the hallowed precincts of Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s stupendous football stadium. Nearby, across Avinguda Diagonal, the Palau Reial de Pedralbes combines the city’s applied art collections (of clothes and textiles, decorative arts and ceramics), while a half-day’s excursion can be made by walking from the palace, past the Gaudí dragon gate at Pavellons Güell to the calm cloister at the Gothic monastery of Pedralbes.
Camp Nou and FC Barcelona
It’s no exaggeration to say that football in Barcelona is a genuine obsession, with support for the local giants FC (Futbol Club) Barcelona raised to an art form. “More than just a club” is the proud boast, and certainly during the dictatorship years the club stood as a Catalan symbol around which people could rally. Arch-rivals, Real Madrid, on the other hand, were always seen as Franco’s club. The swashbuckling players in the famous “blaugrana” (claret and blue) shirts have transcended national barriers to become every football fan’s second favourite team; indeed, the four-times European champions (most recently in 2011) – mercurial masters of the elegant tiki-taka, pass-and-move style – are often hailed as the world’s best team.
Museum and stadium tour
Together, the 98,000-seat stadium and museum – billed as the “ Camp Nou Experience ” – provide a magnificent celebration of Spain’s national sport. The self-guided tour, complete with audio-guide, winds through the changing rooms and players’ tunnel onto the pitch and up to the press gallery and directors’ box for stunning views. The museum is jammed full of silverware and memorabilia, including the six cups won in 2009 alone, Barcelona’s annus mirabilis, while a cracking multimedia zone profiles historic games and famous players and relives the match-day atmosphere. Finally, you’re directed into the FC Botiga megastore, where you can buy anything from a replica shirt down to a branded bottle of wine.
The views from the heights of Tibidabo (550m), the peak that signals the northwestern boundary of the city, are legendary. On a clear day you can see across to the Pyrenees and out to sea even as far as Mallorca. However, while many make the tram and funicular ride up to Tibidabo’s wonderfully old-fashioned amusement park, few realize that beyond stretches the Parc de Collserola, an area of peaks, wooded river valleys and hiking paths – one of Barcelona’s best-kept secrets. Meanwhile, don’t miss CosmoCaixa, the city’s excellent science museum, which can easily be seen on the way to or from Tibidabo.
Festes de Santa Eulàlia A week’s worth of music, dances, parades of gegants (giants), castellers (human castle-builders) and fireworks in honour of one of Barcelona’s patron saints – the saint’s day falls on February 12.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) There’s a procession from the church of Sant Agustí on c/de l’Hospital (El Raval) to La Seu, starting at 4pm on Good Friday, while Palm Sunday sees the blessing of the palms at La Seu.
23: Día de Sant Jordi St George’s Day, dedicated to Catalunya’s dragon-slaying patron saint – the city fills with roses and books, exchanged by sweethearts as gifts.
Last week: Primavera Sound The city’s hottest music festival heralds a massive three-day bash, attracting top names in rock, indie and electronica.
Last week: Festival de Flamenco de Ciutat Vella Five days of guitar recitals, singing and dancing, plus DJ sessions and chill-out zone.
Usually 2nd or 3rd week: Sónar Europe’s most cutting-edge electronic music, multimedia and urban art festival attracts up to 100,000 visitors for three days of brilliant noise and spectacle. By day, the focus is on events at MACBA/CCCB; by night, the action shifts to out-of-town L’Hospitalet, with all-night buses running from the city to the Sónar bars and clubs.23/24: Verbena/Día de Sant Joan The “eve” and “day” of St John is the city’s wildest annual celebration, with bonfires and fireworks (particularly on Montjuïc), drinking and dancing, and watching the sun come up on the beach. The day itself (24th) is a public holiday.
End June to August: Festival de Barcelona Grec The summer’s foremost arts and music festival, with main performances at Montjuïc’s open-air Greek theatre.
First week: Montjuïc de Nit Once a year, Montjuïc’s galleries throw open their doors for the night, while parks, spaces and buildings across the whole hillside throb with free gigs, dance, theatre, films, street art and family events.
Mid-month: Festa Major de Gràcia Music, dancing, fireworks and castellers in the neighbourhood’s streets and squares.
11: Diada Nacional The Catalan national day is a public holiday in Barcelona.
24: Festes de la Mercè The city’s biggest traditional festival lasts for a week around the 24th – the 24th itself is a public holiday (and there’s free entry that day to city museums). Highlights include costumed giants, breathtaking firework displays and competing teams of castellers.
Third week: Festival de Tardor Ribermúsica Wide-ranging four-day music festival held in the Born, with free concerts in historic and picturesque locations.
End October to November: Festival de Jazz The biggest annual jazz festival in town highlights big-name solo artists and bands.
1–22: Fira de Santa Llúcia A Christmas market and crafts fair outside La Seu.
Finding a hotel vacancy in Barcelona can be very difficult, so it’s always best to book in advance, especially at Easter, in summer and during festivals or trade fairs. Prices are high for Spain – absolute cheapest rooms in a simple family-run hotel, sharing a bathroom, cost around €50 (singles from €30), though for private facilities €70–80 a night is more realistic. Places with a bit of boutique styling start at around €100, while for Barcelona’s most fashionable hotels, count on €250 to €400 a night. In youth hostels, or cheap hotels with dorms, a bed goes for between €15 and €30 a night, depending on the season. You can reserve hotel accommodation online with the city tourist board or make same-day bookings in person only at their tourist offices.
You’ll probably do most of your eating where you do most of your sightseeing. However, if you venture no farther than the Ramblas, or the streets around La Seu, you are not going to experience the best of the city’s cuisine – in the main tourist areas, food and service can be indifferent and prices high. Instead, explore the backstreets of neighbourhoods like Sant Pere, La Ribera , El Raval and Poble Sec, where you’ll find excellent restaurants, some little more than hole-in-the-wall taverns, others surprisingly funky and chic. Most of the big-ticket, destination-dining restaurants are found in the Eixample, while Gràcia is a pleasant place to spend the evening, with plenty of good mid-range restaurants. For fish and seafood, you’re best off in the harbourside Barceloneta district or at the Port Olímpic.
Most cafés are open from 7 or 8am until midnight, or much later – so whether it’s coffee first thing or a late-night nibble, you’ll find somewhere to cater for you. Restaurants generally open 1 to 4pm and 8.30 to 11pm, though in tourist zones like the Ramblas and Port Olímpic, restaurants tend to stay open all day.
Whatever you’re looking for from a night out, you’ll find it somewhere in Barcelona – bohemian boozer, underground club, cocktail bar, summer dance palace, techno temple, Irish pub or designer bar, you name it. Best known of the city’s nightlife haunts are its hip designer bars, while there’s a stylish club and music scene that goes from strength to strength fuelled by a potent mix of resident and guest DJs, local bands and visiting superstars.
Local listings magazines Guía del Ocio ( guiadelociobcn.com ) and Time Out Barcelona ( timeout.cat ) cover current openings, hours and club nights, and most bars, cafés and music stores carry flyers and free magazines containing news and reviews. For the Barcelona music scene, check out the websites watiza.com and wbarcelonarocks.com.
Opening hours and closing days Most bars stay open until 2am, or 3am at weekends, while clubs tend not to open much before midnight and stay open until 5am, or even later at weekends – fair enough, as they’ve often barely got started by 3am. Unlike restaurants, bars and clubs generally stay open throughout August.
Admission charges Some clubs are free before a certain time, usually around midnight. Otherwise, expect to pay €10–20, though this usually includes your first drink (if there is free entry, don’t be surprised to find that there’s a minimum drinks’ charge of anything up to €10). Tickets for gigs run from €20 to €50, depending on the act though there are cheaper gigs (€5–20) almost every night of the year at a variety of smaller clubs and bars.
While not on a par with Paris or the world’s other style capitals, Barcelona still leads the way in Spain when it comes to shopping. It’s the country’s fashion and publishing capital, and there’s a long tradition of innovative disseny (design), from clothes and accessories to crafts and household goods. The annual sales follow the main fashion seasons – mid-January until the end of February, and throughout July and August.
As you would expect from a city of its size, Barcelona has a busy entertainment calendar – throughout the year there’ll be something worth catching, whether it’s a contemporary dance performance, cabaret show or night at the opera. Classical and contemporary music, in particular, gets an airing in some stunning auditoriums, while the city boasts a long tradition of street and performance art, right down to the human statues plying their trade on the Ramblas. A useful first stop for tickets and information is the Palau de la Virreina, Ramblas 99 (daily 10am–8.30pm; 933 161 000; Liceu). ServiCaixa (902 332 211, servicaixa.com ) and TelEntrada (902 101 212, telentrada.com ) are the main advance booking agencies.
The city council’s Institute of Culture website, bcn.cat/cultura , covers every aspect of art and culture in the city. Otherwise, the best listings magazines are the weekly Guía del Ocio ( guiadelociobcn.com ) and Time Out Barcelona ( timeout.cat ), online or from any newspaper stand.
Catalunya’s national folk dance, the sardana, is danced every week in front of La Seu, in Plaça de la Seu (every Sunday at noon, plus every Saturday at 6pm from Easter until the end of November). Mocked in the rest of Spain, the Catalans claim theirs is a very democratic dance. Participants (there’s no limit on numbers) all hold hands in a circle, each puts something in the middle as a sign of community and sharing, and since it is not overly energetic (hence the jibes), old and young can join in equally.
The main event in a traditional Catalan festival is usually a parade, either promenading behind a revered holy image (as on saints’ days or at Easter) or a more celebratory costumed affair that’s the centrepiece of a neighbourhood festival. At the main Eulàlia (Feb), Gràcia (Aug) and Mercè (Sept) festivals, and others, you’ll encounter parades of gegants, five-metre-high giants with papier-mâché heads based on historical or traditional figures. Also typically Catalan is the correfoc (“fire-running”), where brigades of drummers, dragons and devils with spark-shooting flares fitted to pitchforks cavort in the streets. Perhaps most peculiar of all are the castellers, the human tower-builders who draw crowds at every traditional festival, piling person upon person, feet on shoulders, to see who can construct the highest, most aesthetically pleasing tower (ten human storeys is the record).
Is it an apartment building or a work of art? Both, when the building in question – the undulating Pedrera , or “Stone Quarry” – is designed by Antoni Gaudí.
© Loredana Bitculescu/Shutterstock
Barcelona has a golden seafront, with 5km of sandy beaches stretching from Barceloneta to Diagonal Mar.
Hopping from bar to bar, sampling the specialities , is the best way to experience some of Barcelona’s finest food.
The magnificent Camp Nou stadium is the home of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s premier sides, with a cabinet full of trophies to prove it.
© Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock
The adventurous Fundació Joan Miró celebrates the work of one of the greatest Catalan artists.
Marvel at the soaring spaces in one of the greatest Gothic cathedrals in Spain.
© Jordi C/Shutterstock
Explore the art, sculpture and furniture of modernista Barcelona in this wonderful collection of paintings and artefacts .
Scale the heights of Mount Tibidabo for fantastic views and a wonderful amusement park.
The “ House of Bones ” is another modernista masterwork by Antoni Gaudí.
© Dunaeva Natalia/Shutterstock
The city’s best-known market presents an extraordinary range of fresh produce.
The National Museum of Art celebrates the grandeur of Romanesque and Gothic art, two periods in which Catalan artists were pre-eminent in Spain.
A stroll down Barcelona’s famous thoroughfare is a must for both tourists and locals alike.
The city’s most extraordinary park is a fantasy land born of Antoni Gaudí’s fertile imagination.
© VLADYSLAV DANILIN/Shutterstock
Trace the genesis of the artist’s genius in the city that Picasso liked to call home .
The temple dedicated to the Sacred Family is the essential pilgrimage for Gaudí fans .
© R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock
Cutting-edge contemporary art exhibitions are at home in El Raval’s signature building .
© Teo Stuivenberg/Shutterstock
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Barcelona Travel Guide
Why Go To Barcelona
Barcelona contains both the authentically historic and the wildly bizarre. From the scenic trails of the colorful Park Güell to the romantic narrow alleys of the Barri Gòtic , this city by the sea seems to attract all types – the adventurer, the romantic, the partier, the culture lover – with an almost overwhelming variety of things to do. You could stay for a few days exploring its architectural marvels, but chances are you'll need a whole week to explore.
And while the beach lures locals and visitors in droves, it’s the cosmopolitan city that really dazzles. Much of the activity revolves around the Ciutat Vella (or Old City), a series of narrow streets and alleys packed with restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, and the home of Las Ramblas – the wide, tree-lined thoroughfare that’s long been the hub of the city.
Just as unmissable are Antoni Gaudí's masterpieces; the architect, famous for his distinctive Catalan art nouveau style was the brains behind the city’s wavy, whimsical creations, from Casa Milà and Casa Batlló to La Sagrada Família . Beyond Gaudí’s influential mark, you’ll find an eclectic shopping scene, a slew of museums, plenty of parks and exquisite food and wine. You see why we suggest a week vacation? To get a lay of the land, consider signing up for one of the city's best guided tours .
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- # 1 in Best Places to Visit in Spain
- # 1 in Best Places to Visit in March 2024
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- # 1 in Hotel Arts Barcelona
- # 2 in Hotel El Palace Barcelona
- # 3 in Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection
Best Things to Do in Barcelona
- # 1 in La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family)
- # 2 in Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
- # 3 in Casa Batlló
Interactive Spanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona
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Barcelona Travel Tips
Best months to visit.
The best time to visit Barcelona is from May to June, when balmy temperatures in the low to mid-70s mesh with a flurry of festivals that trumpet the advent of summer. The actual summertime is sticky with humidity – locals leave their beloved city in droves to catch a breeze somewhere else. They come back for the fall when the average highs drop back in to the 70s. Winter is mild compared to other Spanish destinations, with highs in the high 50s. And while coming during the spring may seem like smart idea for avoiding crowds, April sees frequent showers, which may put a literal damper on sightseeing plans (most of Barcelona's top attractions are experienced outside). Keep in mind that no matter what time of the year you'll visit, there will be other tourists: Barcelona is the most-visited city in Spain.
Weather in Barcelona
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
What You Need to Know
Don't visit in August Swarms of locals leave the city in August to catch some relief from the sweltering humidity, which means some of the smaller restaurants and shops are closed until September.
Spanish vs. Catalan Most residents who grew up in the region consider themselves Catalan and speak the Catalan language to each other, instead of Spanish. But don't worry – Barcelona is an incredibly international city and most residents are bilingual. Many are also trilingual, especially in the tourist areas.
Cover up at church Religious sites, such as Barcelona Cathedral and La Sagrada Família, ask that visitors cover up knees and shoulders when entering. If you don't have the proper attire on hand, you won't be admitted (although shawls are for sale at the cathedral).
Take a tour According to visitors, one of the best ways to acquaint yourself with the city is to take a guided tour .
How to Save Money in Barcelona
Go big on lunch Eat a big meal at lunch and you can cash in on the menú del día (menu of the day), which is usually an affordable and tasty three-course meal (they’re normally served on weekdays, although some restaurants offer them on weekends too). A similar meal in the evening costs much more.
Don't eat in touristy areas The more-visited parts of the city like Las Ramblas are known to serve mediocre food at exorbitant prices. Instead, venture away from the crowded areas and you’ll find something better for much less.
Stay in an apartment Cut down on food costs by renting an apartment (rather than staying in a hotel), where you can buy groceries and cook your own Catalan feasts.
Culture & Customs
Barcelona is part of the Spanish province of Catalonia, making its culture a little different from what you'd experience in Madrid , Seville or Granada . The most noticeable difference is the language. In Barcelona, both Spanish and Catalan are official languages; Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish. The language was derived from Latin during the occupation of the Romans several thousands of years ago. While in Barcelona, you'll see street and roadway signs in both Catalan and Spanish as well as some restaurant menus. However, considering Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe, you will likely find English speaking residents in hotels and tourist areas.
Barcelona's official currency is the euro (EUR). Since the euro to U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuates often, be sure to check what the current exchange rate is before you go. Major credit cards are accepted at most restaurants and shops. Like the rest of Spain, tipping is not common in Barcelona. Depending on where you dine, a service charge may be added to your bill. However, if you do want to tip, 10% is more than sufficient. Also similar to the rest of Spain, Catalans eat late and party even later. Restaurants are typically open for lunch between 1 and 4 p.m. and for dinner from 8 to 11 p.m. For locals, dinner usually starts at 9 p.m. at the earliest, going out starts at 12 a.m. and clubs stay open until 5 or 6 a.m.
What to Eat
In Barcelona, expect to find a mix of traditional Spanish dishes along with Mediterranean-infused Catalonian classics. While here, make sure to sample Spanish staples including jamón ibérico, manchego cheese , tortilla española (potato omelet), gazpacho (cold soup), and patatas bravas (sautéed potatoes typically served with a spicy aioli). And considering the city borders the Mediterranean Sea, you should indulge in paella accordingly. But when in Catalonia, try the Catalan versions of paella. There's arròs a la catalana , which features much of the same ingredients of paella except the dish doesn't use saffron, a key ingredient in Spanish paella. Fideuà is another paella-like dish with a Catalan spin, only instead of rice you get noodles.
Catalonian cuisine is big on meat and fish. And while that may not sound too far off from the rustic, meat-heavy fare found throughout the rest of Spain, the difference here is that the Catalans like to mix both of them together in one dish. Mar i muntanya is the name of the phenomenon , so don't be alarmed if while in a restaurant, you notice a dish coming out with chicken and shrimp together on a plate. If that sounds too heavy for your liking, there are plenty of lighter options that are quintessentially Catalan. Grilled vegetables are surprisingly big for a place that loves pork. (Sausage is another staple here. Instead of focusing on chorizo, go for the regional botifarras sausage). One of the most traditional Catalan dishes available is escalivada , which is grilled eggplant and red peppers mixed with olive oil and garlic (sometimes with anchovies) served on top of bread. There's also the vegetarian-friendly, and favored pa amb tomàquet snack, or bread spread with a mix of olive oil, garlic and crushed tomatoes. And if you're visiting from December to early May, seek out a calçot cookout. Calçots are a type of spring onions native to the province, and it's a Catalan pastime to char them on a grill and dip them in romesco sauce. Also part of the pastime? Wearing bibs (often emblazoned with calçots) and eating outside, where the grilled calçots are spread among newspaper. (If that sounds familiar, it's the same way crab and lobster is consumed in the USA.)
Whatever you decide to eat while in Barcelona, make sure to leave room for dessert. Crema catalana is the Catalan version of creme brulee. Cheese is also dessert here. Mel i mató is a goat cheese drizzled with warm honey and accompanied by walnuts. Cava, or Catalan sparkling wine, goes great with these too.
Barcelona is a major tourism hotspot and pickpockets know it. Be mindful of your surroundings especially while touring Barcelona's major attractions. The city sees a moderate rate of conventional crime and principal tourist areas and metros are often the most targeted spots. Men should keep their wallets in their front pockets and carry backpacks in front when traveling on the metro and women should make sure their purses are zipped or secured as best as possible.
Getting Around Barcelona
The best way to get around Barcelona is by metro. A handful of numbered and color-coded lines weave throughout the city, making stops near many of the city's most popular attractions as well as the Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN). City buses are also an option for getting around the city, but be aware that ever-present traffic jams make commuting this way rather time-consuming. You could hail taxis on the street, but if you want to burn a few calories, conduct your tour on foot or by bike. Driving is not recommended.
Entry & Exit Requirements
A passport is required for entry into Spain. The passport must be valid for three months beyond your departure date. Tourists from the United States can stay for up to 90 days without a tourist visa. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State's website .
Park Güell is one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona, thanks to its excellent views and colorful atmosphere.
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Home » Europe » Spain » Barcelona
EPIC BARCELONA Itinerary! (2023)
Jam-packed outdoor markets, restaurants, museums, and cathedrals, the Spanish-Catalan city of Barcelona is an incredible travel destination!
Come to Barca to visit Gaudi’s vibrant masterpieces and enjoy the Catalonian and Spanish traditions! These include a long-standing love for good chocolate, chorizo and the seductive art of Flamenco.
There’s so much to see and do in the beautiful, busy city of Barcelona so we’ve put together a 3 day Barcelona itinerary consisting of all the very best attractions to help you out! So if you’re spending 3 days in Barcelona, or much longer, here’s all the things you should be sure to tick off the list. As well as tips on how and when to do it!
The best way to experience the city is by staying at one of the affordable hostels in Barcelona . That way you can spend your money on some really cool attractions!
A Little Bit About This 3-Day Barcelona Itinerary
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This awesome 3-day Barcelona itinerary has been designed to help you maximise your time in this awesome city. So whether you’re backpacking around Spain or you’re on a short city break, you can be sure to see the best of this incredible city.
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3 Day Barcelona Itinerary Overview
- Day 1 in Barcelona: Casa Batllo, Barcelona History Museum, Taperia Princesa, Picasso Museum, La Boqueria Market, Flamenco Dance Show
- Day 2 in Barcelona: Park Güell, Palau de la Musica, Las Ramblas, Barceloneta Beach,
- Day 3 in Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Cathedral, Gothic Quarter, Camp Nou, Parc de la Ciutadella
- More Places to See in Barcelona: City Sights Highlight Bike Tour , Montjuïc Cable Car , Paella Cooking Class & Boqueria Market Tour
Barcelona, like most modern cities in Europe, has a great variety of neighbourhoods. Choosing where to stay in Barcelona is a question of working out what you want. From bohemian to ancient, and even super-chic, you can find an environment that suits you perfectly, or get totally out of your comfort zone.
Stay in the charming Gothic Quarter, with narrow medieval streets filled with food-and-flower vendors, unusual bars, clubs, and exciting restaurants. The neighbourhood’s Gothic church is really impressive and hosts a weekend art market. There’s so much to see in this old-town area, you’ll always enjoy the walk back to your hostel every evening.
For something a little different, look for Barcelona hostels in the neighbourhood of Gràcia on Carrer de Les Carolines. The first house designed by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Vicens Gaudí, can be found here. It is a great example of Art Nouveau, which Barcelona embraced, and is super cool! There are lots of trees and old buildings in the neighbourhood – a beautiful combination.
There are also loads of top-quality Airbnbs in Barcelona in case you fancy living like a local.
Best Hostel in Barcelona – Hostel One Paralelo
This is a lovely place to stay and get to know the locals! The staff are experienced and multilingual and love to chat. It’s a perfect place for chilled-out travellers, with a great atmosphere. It’s a bit out of the way, but the dorm room rates are some of the lowest prices you can find, and it’s well worth the easy trip!
Best Airbnb in Barcelona: Your Romantic Beach Getaway
This is one of the best places to stay in Barcelona for backpackers or couples on a budget. Perfectly situated for exploration—so much so that you won’t need to spend much time inside. This charming apartment is located in the heart of Barceloneta right by the beach and gives you easy, walkable access to most of Barcelona’s major sites. With a double room and sofa bed, modern amenities, it’s perfect for two to three guests.
Best Budget Hotel in Barcelona – Hotel Pelayo
Just a two-minute walk from the famous La Rambla, this value-for-money hotel is a great stay! It’s vibrant and clean. The rooms have great views, and there’s a snack bar! It’s right in the middle of everything. With clean, comfortable rooms, you’ll find you have everything you need!
9:00 AM – Casa Batllo
This brightly coloured fairytale building is an absolute must-see for your first time in Barcelona. A modernist masterpiece by the UNESCO respected Antoni Gaudi , you’ll find no straight lines here. Multicoloured mosaics and organic shapes make it really unique and super vibrant.
Marvel at the details and the building’s utter rejection of traditional architecture. This house is more of a sculpture than a building. The morning sun does wonders with the colourful glass.
Inside, you can go on an augmented reality tour. It brings the experience to life in weird and wonderful ways and is a really exciting innovation in tourism. Totally different to anything else you’ll see, you will be really glad you didn’t miss it, trust us.
- Cost – $28, $44 for an early tour or $42 for a theatrical tour
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 hr
- Getting There – It’s centrally located. Walk or take the bus from your base.
10:30 AM – Museum of the History of Barcelona
This is a Barcelona city highlight. The medieval museum conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the historical heritage of the city of Barcelona. From the city’s origins in Roman times until the present day, it has everything!
The coolest part of the museum tour is the excavations of the Roman ruins beneath the museum. Here you can see that there is a whole city beneath the streets of modern Barcelona.
It is the best opportunity to really see the way Barcelona has developed over the millennia. You’ll see an ancient launderette, factory, dyers, and winery! Pretty cool!
The audio tour is excellent and allows you to go through the museum at your own pace, with all the information you need to understand and appreciate what you’re seeing.
Also, go check out the close-by Montjuic that has an amazing mirador overlooking the sea and the city. Check the Magic Fountain lighting times to watch the amazing light show that happens a few times a week.
- Cost – $10
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 – 1.5 hr
- Getting There – It’s a 3 minute walk from the History Museum
12:00 AM – Lunch at Taperia Princesa
By this point, you may well be feeling a bit hungry. This delightful Taperia is located a mere 1-minute walk from the Picasso museum (your next stop) and despite its being near a major tourist attraction, it actually serves good quality food! They do good quality tapas and Catalan food served with great wine.
- Cost – $15 per person will be enough
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 60 minutes
- Getting There – Walk from Picasso museum
1:00 PM – Picasso Museum
This incredible museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.
Before he died the artist himself began the project, and now a massive 4,251 works are exhibited here. The fact that one artist could have painted so many pieces blows our minds, never mind the fact that most of these are his early works.
If you’re interested in art, the museum is a key reference for understanding the artist’s formative years. Picasso spent his apprenticeship as an artist in Barcelona and returned to live here later.
The museum is well set out and highly informative. A lovely touch is that the story of Picasso’s life is overlaid with the paintings – the way you can see the important transitions in his style reflected in key life events is fascinating! No matter how well you know the artist and his work, you’ll come away knowing more about him than before.
- Cost – $15
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 90 minutes
- Getting There – It’s a 12 minute walk from Casa Batllo
3.00 PM – La Boqueria Market
This huge public market has been around since the 13th century. It’s amazing to stroll through it and think about everything that must have changed, and everything that has stayed the same!
Locals sell fresh produce and haggle at all the stalls. You can find fresh fruits, fish, vegetables, and seafood, among other things. We recommend you try the fruit smoothies, they are seriously phenomenal.
Full of different colours and smells, the market is a sensory cornucopia. There’s so much to experience, you will want to dedicate at least 2 hours to it. The stall-holders and merchants are very fast and friendly.
You can really find a lot of interesting products. Buy some local handmade chocolates for the folks back home, and some exotic fruits to eat while you walk. It’s a foodie’s heaven – and those chocolates are famously good… Actually… Forget the folks back home, buy a bunch for yourself!
Worried about going in the afternoon? Don’t be, other than the early morning the late afternoon is ideal as the tourist crowds have subsided and the locals are back to pick up some ingredients for dinner. The market is open until 8 pm so you’ll still have plenty of time to explore.
If you’re spending less than 2-3 days in Barcelona be sure to tick this one-off. It’s an integral part of the city.
- Cost – Whatever you buy
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 – 1.5 hrs
- Getting There – It’s a 10 minute walk from the Taperia
5.30 PM – Refresh Time
By now, you’re probably gonna be in need of a sit-down and a shower. Hopefully, your accommodation offers both. I suggest you go back to your digs for a power nap and a shower before tonight’s Flamenco show!
7.30 PM – Flamenco Dance Show at the City Hall Theatre
This traditional Flamenco show is a must-see. Appreciate the artistry of the talented performers and experience the vibrant spirit of this authentic form of Spanish dance and expression. Flamenco includes music, singing and dancing arranged together in a beautifully seductive atmosphere.
Some of the most talented artists in Spain perform at the City Hall Theatre. Watching the show, you can participate in the Jaleo , the hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and shouts of encouragement of traditional Flamenco. It is a lot of fun. You’ll also enjoy the lovely traditional features of the City Hall.
- Cost – $20
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 hr
- Getting There – Take Metro lines L1 and L2 to “Universitat” station, lines L1 and L3 to “Catalunya” station, lines L3, L4 and L2 to “Passeig de Gràcia” station
9.30 PM – Dinner
The Spanish are a truly debauched bunch and eat pretty late compared to most wholesome, righteous, God-fearing people. By 9.30 pm, the squares and tapas joints will be rammed with locals and tourists alike. Find a place you like the look of, dive in, and Bon appetite!
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10:00 AM – Park Güell
This huge public park system is composed of gardens and architectural elements designed by Gaudi. It’s a playful urban park, with plenty of winding paths and peaceful greens, as well as Gaudi’s many sculptures and mosaics. It gets really busy because of the park’s status as a primary landmark, so it’s good to get there early.
Enjoy the tranquillity of the early morning. You could even have a picnic in the park, with stunning views of Gaudi’s creations while you snack. The exceptional park is a beautiful mix of nature and art.
Since you don’t want to be one of the tourists waiting in line to get their tickets (which can be up to 1200 at a time and takes up hours of your day), you can make everything a lot easier by booking ahead of time. Click here and you can skip the line and get an expert guide for a tour around the park.
The staff ensures that the park does not get over-crowded by limiting the number of people in at one time – another reason to go early! With more than 17 hectares, it is one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s structures and unique, colourful fantasies are present throughout the park. The highest point in the park also gives you a great view over much of the Barcelona sights.
- Cost – $12
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 2 hrs
- Getting There – Take the L4 metro to Urquinaona.
12:30 PM – Palau de la Música Catalana
The concert hall itself is really something to see. If you’re lucky, you can even enjoy a performance here. The musical offerings range from symphonic orchestras and opera to jazz and Cançó, traditional Catalan songs.
Built-in 1908, the architectural style has been described as a ‘riot of ornament’. You will immediately see why, with the vibrant colours and patterns, and the decorative flourishes. Still, the function is prized over form here. Every seat in the house has a perfect view of the stage, and the sound is exquisite. It’s quite an experience just to see how function and beauty work together so beautifully.
If you plan ahead you can catch a show here in the evenings. However, for our Barcelona itinerary in 3 days we are only coming for a tour of the buildings as there are no concerts during the day.
- Cost – $12 for a self guided tour
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 60
- Getting There – Its a 6 minute walk from the Cathedral
With a Barcelona City Pass , you can experience the best of Barcelona at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!
1.30 PM – Las Ramblas & Port Vell
Las Ramblas is just a street! But it’s one of Barcelona’s top tourist destinations. This tree-shaded boulevard runs through the heart of the city and is an interesting but possibly overrated place to visit!
Take in the beautiful buildings on either side. Enjoy the street performances and artists. Some really great performers can be found here, and many go on to perform at live venues, but do be aware of scams and pickpockets.
This is also a great place to people watch, and just soak in the sunshine, but don’t spend too much time here.
Ok, so it’s a bit touristy and it can be pretty crowded. We don’t recommend having any food around here as it can be a bit overpriced and underwhelming, but the street is somewhere you just have to tick off when you come to Barca. We recommend having a stroll down to the bottom where the Statue of Christopher Columbus lives, it’s next to the Port area where you can see the historic Port Cable Car/ aerial tramway and the redeveloped area around Port Vell which includes some great shops and restaurants.
- Cost – It’s free
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 – 1.5 hrs including the port
- Getting There – Walk here from the concert hall. Takes 13 minutes
3:00 PM – Barceloneta Beach
Continuing the relaxing portion of your day, take a trip to Barcelona’s best beach . The white-sand beach stretches farther than you’d think for a city beach! If you’re inclined, you can walk the length of it and enjoy watching locals and tourists enjoying the sun, sand, and sea. Otherwise, join them!
You can rent a beach lounger, or lay a towel on the sand and catch a late-afternoon tan. Wash off the sweat of the day in the calm blue ocean. Barcelona is a Mediterranean city, and its beach attests to that. It’s also a top place to surf and you can easily rent a board if you’re into that!
The water is reasonably warm, and it’s really lovely to swim in Summer. If you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time in Winter, you may not want to swim but the beach is still worth a visit. All-year-round you’ll see a beautiful coastline whether you explore it from the boardwalk or the sands!
The beach can get quite crowded in Barceloneta, but this should be late enough in the day that it’s emptied out nicely. Either way, you’re sure to find a spot to lay down your towel and to swim. The brightly coloured towels and happy people only add to the scene and atmosphere here.
Stay here and give your feet a break for the rest of the evening, whatever time of year it is it’s a great spot for sunset.
- Cost – Free
- Getting There – Take the 59 bus from La Ramblas until Pg Marítim – Pepe Rubianes
7.30 PM – Dinner
stick around the area of Barceloneta for the evening, it’s home to a whole host of incredible restaurants serving some of the best seafood in the city. You can either enjoy the sunset from the comfort of the beach or retire earlier to a beachside restaurant and watch the sun go down over a glass of sangria and a plate of paella.
Bear in mind sunset varies a lot depending on the time of year.
In the winter months, it can be as early as 5:20 pm and in summer as late as 9:30 pm. So plan accordingly.
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9:00 AM – La Sagrada Família
Start off your adventures with a stop at the Antoni Gaudi masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia! The cathedral is like no other. Combining several architectural styles and ignoring the rules of all of them, this impressive and intricately decorated church is something to see!
It is still under construction, 140 years on. But that doesn’t stop it from dominating its surroundings and changing your mind about what a church should look like. Of all the many things to do in Barcelona , this one tops most lists.
The early morning sun shining through the coloured glass windows will leave you in awe. It also shows Gaudi’s love for organic shapes and nature in all their complexity and beauty. Even if you’re not religious, the architecture here is something you just cannot miss.
Arriving early will also miss out some of the crowds that develop during the day. Either way, you should pre-book tickets to avoid queueing.
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 2 hours including the museum
- Getting There – Take the L4 metro from Jaume 1 to Verdaguer.
11:30 AM – Cathedral of Barcelona
This Gothic cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The cathedral was constructed from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, and has been one of the most important structures in Barcelona since then!
The views from the exterior are amazing as you stand on the street in the sunshine. It’s easy to appreciate the magnitude of the architecture from any angle. The interior is equally beautiful and very gothic.
Throughout there are beautiful religiously themed paintings and sculptures. You can spend a long time wandering through the cathedral and admiring all it has to offer.
- Cost – $8
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 hrs
- Getting There – Take the L4 metro to Jaume 1
1:00 PM – Gothic Quarter & Lunch
After exploring Barcelona Cathedral, the heart of the Gothic Quarter, it’s time to wander around the area as a whole.
Spend a few hours exploring the narrow streets and maze-like alleyways that make up one of the most historic areas in the city. The architecture will blow you away and despite it being quite touristy, it’s easy to find a quiet corner of this vast area.
The labyrinth of passages and squares will keep you easily occupied for a good few hours. There are heaps of cafes, bars and restaurants too if you get a bit peckish. Why not tour the area stopping by every now and then for a few small places of tapas as you go!
The cobblestone streets around here are pretty much all as enchanting as each other and you can’t take a wrong turn! But some of the highlights of the area include the Bishop’s Bridge on Carrer del Bisbe, the tragic history of Plaça Sant Felip Neri, the stunning palm treelined Plaça Reial and the lively Plaça de la Generalitat.
- Cost – Pay for what you drink or eat
- How Long Should I Stay Here? – 1 -2 Hrs
- Getting There – Walk from the Cathedral, Take the L4 metro to Jaume 1 from elsewhere.
3:30 PM – Camp Nou
Despite Spain being a Catholic country… it’s not the main religion here! Nah, that instead would be football and in Catalunya, their passion for the beautiful game is even more intense and with such a talented team as FC Barcelona, it’s no wonder. You just can’t visit this region and in fact, this city, without exploring this side of the local culture. Not only is visiting the Calderon like stadium of the Camp Nou a fascinating experience, but it’s also bloody impressive!
Holding over 99,000 people and playing host to some of the most talented footballers ever to play the game, the stadium is steeped in atmosphere and history. Walking up the terraces you’ll get a feeling of grandeur that could only be beaten on the day of a game!
On a stadium tour, you’ll not only get to sit in the seats of this famous stadium, but you’ll get to explore behind the scenes and see places like the dressing rooms and media areas. There’s also an extensive museum where you can see the myriad of silverware this team has brought home over the years alongside an incredible array of memorabilia… including some belonging to Messi!
Cost – $30 How Long Should I Stay Here? – 2 hours including the museum Getting There – Line 3: Metro stop Palau Reial or Les Corts / Line 5: Metro stop Collblanc or Badal
5:00 PM – Parc de la Ciutadella
Take an evening stroll around this beautiful and historic park to round off your last evening in this wonderful city. There’s quite a bit to see here including the Catalan Parliament buildings, but the star attraction is the fountain. Unsurprisingly, it’s another one of Gaudi’s creations, this one is an early piece whilst he was a student and is an interesting look into the beginnings of this master.
Other highlights include the lake where you can rent out a little boat for an idyllic and relaxing evening before heading onwards. There are also many historic buildings including the Umbracle, a tropical greenhouse, the Geological Museum dating back to 1882 and the Hivernacle which was built in 1888 for the World Exposition.
Technically not in the park but linked to it, the Arc de Triomf, built for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair is a must-see landmark too.
Cost – Free How Long Should I Stay Here? – As long as you like Getting There – Take the L4 metro to Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica or Arc de Triomf.
Looking at what to do in Barcelona for 3 days? There’s so much. Take your pick of these exciting classes, activities, and tours. They really round out the Barcelona experience!
City Sights Highlight Bike Tour
Get your day started right with this awesome bike tour. You join a fun and knowledgeable local guide and ride around the streets of Barcelona on a 3-hour tour. Explore the unique era of Spanish Art Nouveau amidst the modern city.
You will be able to see so much in this activity. That’s why we love cycle tours. It’s faster than by foot, but so much more engaged than by car.
On the tour, you’ll see ancient aqueducts, Barcelona’s first World Fair, parks, memorials, and plazas. 17th-century factories which epitomise the Industrial Revolution and a lovely ride along the beach promenade are two highlights of the tour.
It’s a brilliant combination of historic and contemporary Spain. And you’ll hear interesting facts and details about all of it.
This is a great tour for groups of friends or families. But if you’re alone, don’t worry! You’ll meet others in the group. The tours are conducted in English, French, and German. Local guides will show you the hidden corners of this exciting city and tell you their secrets.
The tour starts at 10:30 am and ends at the same place it starts. There are only two tours daily and it’s a popular one, so we suggest you book your ticket early. You can also request a private tour for something a little more intimate or personalised.
Catch the Montjuïc Cable Car
This hill above the city is one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona. Surrounded by woodlands, the historic castle is a sight to see. The original fortress dates back to 1640! Some of this structure remains, but it’s been bombed and resurrected multiple times since.
From the cable car, the castle is just a short walk up the slope. It’s steep, so pack some water and prepare to lean against a wall and breath heavily. It’s a classic pose in tourism and must be accomplished at least once on a trip. Here’s your chance.
The gardens are beautiful and exotic, carefully curated by the castle groundskeepers. You’ll be able to see all the other stops on your itinerary up here. Get some photos pointing to a few of your favourites. The views over the port and city are unbeatable.
For centuries the hill overlooking the harbour played a strategic role in Barcelona’s defence. The castle served as a political prison for some time and was a bit of a sinister symbol all-around. Now, however, its positive associations override the negative.
It’s a popular place to visit both for locals and tourists. You can learn its long history and appreciate the artefacts collected here on a self-guided tour.
The cable car was recently upgraded and refurbished. Now the 8-man cabins are super cosy, and the best way to get up to the castle! You can also take the bus – a handy option for those who are staying in Barcelona for a longer period and have a bus pass!
If you’re spending 3 days in Barcelona, this is a really worthwhile activity.
Paella Cooking Class & Boqueria Market Tour
You must have had a few great paellas in Barcelona by now. Here’s your chance to learn to make it yourself. Bring home a bit of Barcelona with you! There’s nothing that reminds us of a great trip like cooking the traditional food. And eating it.
This is a really great experience for those of you looking for an authentic Spanish activity. Explore the world-famous La Boqueria market, which dates back to the 13th century. You’ll have strolled through it on Day 1, but this is a totally different way to experience the market.
Here you’ll find fresh seafood, herbs, and vegetables for your paella, guided by the chef. You also tour the beautiful old town on your way from the market.
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Barcelona gets very hot in summer and is pretty mild in winter. Spring and Autumn are generally very pleasant with temperatures being ideal for walking around.
The summer months are the most popular and the city can and does get quite busy, prices go up and the pickpockets are in peak hunting season. However, the atmosphere is pretty electric. If you’re looking for cheaper prices and a quieter vibe, the winter months offer a much different vibe.
There’s no bad time to visit, it just really only depends on your preferences.
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Barcelona:
Barrio Gotico is the heart and soul of Barcelona. The oldest neighborhood in the city, it’s filled with charming narrow streets, picturesque boroughs, and quaint terraces and plazas, making it the best area to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors.
- Wander along Las Ramblas, a pedestrian street packed with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and stunning historic attractions.
- Explore the Palça del Rei, a Gothic style city square where royal receptions were held.
- Browse the stalls off fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and sweets at Mercat de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas.
There are rather a lot of places to visit in Barcelona but thankfully, it is super easy to get around with all the public transport options available. The trains and trams are completely safe and well-priced. You can even get a public transport ticket .
The great thing about Barcelona is that almost everything is within walking distance. If you’re a healthy walker, you won’t even need public transport.
If you’re feeling a little daring, rent a scooter for the day. So many locals get around with scooters, you’ll see them everywhere. They are lots of fun, and a great way to see the city. This is, of course, only for those with licenses. Often, rental places will accept a non-Spanish license, but they won’t let you drive if you have none at all.
However you’re getting around, this city is a great place to explore. Pack your walking shoes and sunscreen, this is going to be memorable.
Now let’s get into what to do in Barcelona for 3 days and more!
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As with all cities, there are some valuable safety precautions in Barcelona. This will ensure that you leave the city with as much or more than you came with!
Violent crime is really uncommon in Barcelona. It’s considered safe to walk around and take public transport during the day and night! Still, we suggest never walking around alone at night, particularly for women. Walk in groups and stick to the well-lit areas and apply common sense.
There are pickpockets in the busier areas, so keep your bag closed and close to you. It’s always better to stay alert and aware. So don’t walk while looking at your phone. That makes it clear you’re a tourist and not a very aware one at that.
Criminals choose easy victims – so if you make it clear you’re not going to be taken unawares, you’ll be just fine.
A popular scam in Barcelona is the distraction/theft scam. So if anyone asks you for directions or assistance in a public place, and you feel a little suspicious, trust your gut! It’s usually right.
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Find out what people want to know when planning their Barcelona itinerary.
Are 3 days in Barcelona enough?
A Barcelona 3 day itinerary will give you enough time to see all of the top sights. However, having an extra day is ideal if you don’t want to rush.
What can you do in one day in Barcelona?
You can do a lot in a day, but you’ll need to wear some comfortable shoes ! Start off in Park Güell, then make your way down to the Gothic Quarter via Casa Gatllo and the Cathedral of Barcelona for some top sightseeing experiences.
Where should you stay for a weekend in Barcelona?
The Gothic Quarter is ideal for a quick trip, putting you close to many of Barcelona’s top attractions. If nightlife is what you’re after, check out El Born.
When is the best time to visit Barcelona?
September and October are the best months to visit to enjoy warm weather without huge tourist crowds.
Now you know all the best things to do in and around Barcelona . It’s a really magical city, with so much to offer.
So whether you’re doing Barcelona in 3 days or more, this is the best way to see Barcelona. Barcelona has lots of exciting stops and a good range of things to do.
If you’re working with a shoe-string budget, don’t worry! Budget travel is more possible than ever. So save up, book your tickets and get pumped! Exploring Barcelona will be one of the best trips of your life.
Also, whatever you end up doing in Barcelona, make sure to take travel insurance ! 🙂 Better be safe than sorry.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
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Barcelona City guide
Tourism and attractions guide to barcelona, barcelona city guide.
Catalonia and Barcelona have become one of the first tourist destinations of Spain, it has everything to please the majority of visitors: with a history among the oldest in Europe, a capital, Barcelona, which never sleeps and an inland full of charm not to forget beautiful beaches in La Costa Brava. The variety of artistic treasures, the Romanesque churches and the great names in modern art and architecture, Dali , Gaudi , Miro , Picasso ..
Tip> We can help you find hotels in Barcelona close to the city's main monuments.
Barcelona "The city of Marvels"...
Barcelona sited between the sea and the mountains, has found a formidable balance: a foot in the traditional things and the other in the avant-garde. Barcelona has the reputation of being the most cosmopolitan, modern and avant-garde city in Spain and it was renewed for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Barcelona Pass Skip the lines tickets to : Sagrada Familia & Park Güell + Hop-On Hop-Off Bus + 10% discount Book it now !
BARCELONA in Flow Motion - A fast moving short film by Rob Whitworth. Gold prize winner at Timelapse Showfest 2014
While in Barcelona take a little time to visit Catalonia:
Costa Brava owes its name of "wild coast" to the uniqueness of the sudden encounter between mountain and sea. Nature, climate and history, the picturesque of its ports and certain villages have been enough to have a worldwide reputation. Costa Dorada , in the south of Barcelona, it is the color of gold, luminous, being in the maritime littoral the reason of its name "Costa Dorada" (Golden Coast).
The headings in this chapter " Barcelona City Guide " will enable you to book Barcelona tourist attractions before your arrival.
Tip! Tip! Think of the Hop On Hop Off Barcelona ! A good way to travel all over the city without ruining yourself and without getting tired ;-)
+ Find in Barcelona Tours Top-rated guided tours with local experts and best skip the line tickets.
And now follow the guide for the best places to visit in Barcelona !!!
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The ideal hotel for your stay.
Whether you are looking for a family or a business stay or just for a weekend, we have selected for you the best hotels in the city to choose from. All categories at all prices. But also the bargains according to your travel dates. Have a good stay!
Barcelona Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
Best city tour: one single ticket, 3 routes and 45 stops.
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Hola Transport Card
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FC Barcelona vs FC Porto
37 comments, travel - 02 wangmingru & 27 rao yujie (6 apr 2022 - 11:38).
Hi. We are students of English at Fujian University of Technology in China. In class, our teacher introduced us to the beautiful city of Barcelona and watched a video about Barcelona's scenic architecture, tourism and culture. Through the video, I learned that Barcelona is a world-renowned Mediterranean scenic tourist destination and a world-renowned historical and cultural city. I also saw that it is the most famous tourist destination in Spain, with its pleasant climate, beautiful scenery and monuments, as well as the "Pearl of the Iberian Peninsula". Everything there is artistic, the graffiti on the streets, the street food, the magnificent Romanesque buildings, and so on. Even the people of Barcelona say that "art and life are inseparable". Barcelona is full of art, and we are looking forward to it. We will come and see the beautiful city of Barcelona for ourselves some time.
Travel - linjie212,xiaopan206,ruihan231 (5 Apr 2022 - 08:36)
There's nowhere in the world like Barcelona. This city is magnetic. Food, Art, beaches, streets, buildings, and so on. Barcelona is all-inclusive. Summer is the best season to visit Barcelona because many festivals are celebrated in the summer, such as the European Music Festival. Barcelona is deeply proud of its Catalan heritage, which captivates me! Spaniards are elegant, even if they dress casually. Convenient traffic, a beautiful environment, and qualified talents are the advantages of Barcelona. As far as we know, if we have not seen the church of Barcelona, the trip to Barcelona is not complete. Therefore, this church also attracts us. Hopefully, after COVID-19 is over, we will be able to stroll through the streets of Barcelona and visit these famous churches.
travel - Yang Yinuo114 Chen Xin121 Zhou Yushu 123 (5 Apr 2022 - 08:36)
Hello, we are students from China. After browsing your website, we are interested in Barcelona. According to the information we got, Barcelona is also world famous because of Gaudi. We are very eager to have the opportunity to learn about the works left by this architectural genius, such as the famous architecture like Casa Vicens, Palau Guell, and Casa Milá. Can you offer us some suggestions for visiting these architectures? In addition, we have seen that Barcelona has a lot of delicious food and the island is surrounded by seawater, so we bet there are many desirable seafood dishes. Besides, we saw some flamenco dancing performances, which were very energetic. We hope that you will let us know about this kind of performance with Spanish passion and national spirit. I hope that we will be able to visit Barcelona after the epidemic is over.
Tavel - Yang Yinuo114 Zhou Yushu123 Chen Xin 121 (5 Apr 2022 - 08:36)
Travel - yu yunqin218 & tao kecheng222 (5 apr 2022 - 08:36).
Wow, so great! After browsing this website, we are particularly interested in Barcelona! Life in this city is really rich! In Barcelona, we can enjoy all kinds of Mediterranean cuisine and visit the art museum during the day. At night, the nightlife in Barcelona also attracts us. We can go to the bar to drink and listen to wonderful music, and we can dance in the discotheque. There are many special cultures that we really want to experience. We look forward to being here in person one day!
Travel - Linjie212 xiaopan206 ruihan231 (5 Apr 2022 - 08:36)
Travel - wang qiong 203 & xu chan221 (5 apr 2022 - 08:36).
Hello, we are Chinese students. We knew a little bit about Barcelona before. After your introduction, we have a better idea of it. Thanks to your website for giving us so many tips on visiting Barcelona. This guide is really useful for us. We have bookmarked this site and we hope we can use your guide on the day we go. We are looking forward to going to Barcelona.
comment - 08 Liu si qing 16 Wu seng ping 28 Jia mao zhen (5 Apr 2022 - 08:34)
Hello, everyone! Through this website, we have a simple and profound understanding of Barcelona. Barcelona has a long coastline. It has launched a "smoke-free beach" policy, which will better protect the environment. Besides, Catalan National Art Museum leaves a deep impression on us. There are the Renaissance and Baroque collections which attract us very much. Last but not least, music is everywhere. The Palace of Music has a stunning ornate appearance. There is a rule that photos cannot be taken during the performance. If you want to take pictures, you can do so before or after the performance. We are looking forward to going there one day.
comment - 08 Liu si qing 16 Wu sen ping 28 jia mao zhen (5 Apr 2022 - 08:34)
@zheng jiayi - barcelona.com (4 apr 2022 - 10:30).
Hello Zheng Jiayi, There is no taboo when visiting a religious place in Barcelona such as the Sagrada Família, but one must respect a dress code and have respectful behavior in the place. We find the same rules in many religious places in the world. Have a good stay in Catalonia,
Architecture - Zheng Jiayi216, Lai Xinying227 (4 Apr 2022 - 10:10)
Hi, we are Chinese students, after browsing this website, we have a further understanding of Barcelona and are deeply attracted by the ancient gorgeous architectural style of Barcelona. When we know that there are many famous artists in Barcelona, we are surprised by this kind of strong artistic atmosphere. I hope one day we can come to Barcelona and experience this atmosphere. By the way, we think many of the buildings in Barcelona have some religious elements, such as Barcelona Cathedral. However we are not very clear about religion, we wonder if there are any taboos when visiting?
Travel - Jianing224&Xiaoni226 (4 Apr 2022 - 10:08)
Costa Dorada, with its distinctive character and historical interest, is a place that I am longing for. The towns here have vineyards, olive groves, and even vegetable gardens that I would love to experience for myself. In addition, as far as we know, Barcelona has pickpockets, so the safety problem is one of our concerns. Besides, we are students who travel. The price is also something we need to consider. We are looking forward to the day of our trip to Barcelona.
living in Barca - zee (12 May 2019 - 14:12)
i am planning to live in this city ;)))
@jen harper - Barcelona.com (7 Mar 2019 - 09:20)
Hola jen harper, Barcelona is a city where people love to walk. The historical centre is not too extensive, you can visit it at any age without any problem. Of course, renting a segway or a bike makes it easier to get around. You can find some on this page of our website: https://www.barcelona.com/barcelona_city_tours/bike-tours-rentals/ Have a good journey!
Elder tourists - jen harper (7 Mar 2019 - 09:10)
How hard is the walking for elderly? Are there Segways or such to aid people?
thnks - all (18 Nov 2017 - 07:50)
from indonesia. just need visas europe . last week just trip asian. januari hope getting visas. i love BARCA
VERY HONEST TAXI DRIVER - Donna Lee (15 Nov 2017 - 08:28)
We had a great 2 week vacation in Spain but on our last night in Barcelona, we panicked when we realized that we left our luggage in the trunk of the taxi. Somehow I knew that the cab driver was a good man but we still prayed fervently that he will bring us back our luggage. ABDEL came back in 40 minutes!!! He sure reinstored our faith in the goodness of mankind. We commend ABDEL for his honesty. His cell is 691 073 391. May Abdel be blessed for his honesty.
I love tapas! - frank (18 Jul 2017 - 09:22)
can't wait to taste tapas and local natural wine... yeahhh coming soon!
food out let - jade (17 Sep 2016 - 09:34)
pls some can tell about the food outlet that available in this area when going baceolan i min tourism attraction too
barcelona - kamila (22 Jun 2016 - 09:28)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj3MdixcAjQ Barcelona- top attractions
access for disabled - abegail (3 Apr 2016 - 10:50)
I have hopes of holidaying in Barcelona this summer, but have concerns about how disabled friendly the city is? any guidance will be welcome
Statue of Pablo Casals - Carol Wilson (17 Jun 2015 - 08:54)
On my recent visit to Barcelona, I was disappointed to see that the statue of Pablo Casals near Placa de Francesc Macia has been vandalised. The cello bow has been broken off. Hope it gets fixed soon.
barcelona is safe - sheraz (17 May 2015 - 08:24)
Hi, to everyone coming to barcelona must keep in mind that barcelona is very safe city. means there is no chance of armed robbery or snatching. but to be honest pick pockiting is a common issue for those who come out of the bars really drunk and lost and it is always up to you to take care of your belongings especially in central area and las ramblas. in subways again u have such issues because pickpockets move on groups, they don't attack on you but always look for a chance to steel. A little care and nothing happens. I m living in barcelona since 2004 and I never get robbed.
confused - james franco (12 May 2015 - 08:58)
Hi, I just came back from a 6 days holiday in Barcelona 2 weeks ago. I am a 29 years old solo female traveller from Singapore. I agree that pickpocket is an issue in Barcelona. however, I would also like to add on that this is also an issue in many other countries, not just Barcelona alone. I was pretty scared at first but I did not let it stop me from going there. Barcelona is a very beautiful city with interesting cultures and delicious food. It is very convenient to explore as you can literally walk anywhere without getting lost. Just bring common sense along and carry your bag in front of you at all times. Do not bring too much cash and keep the cash separately. I did not face any problems or seen any crimes there. I can say Barcelona is a pretty safe city, and I am going back again in February 2015.
beautiful city - ronald (29 Mar 2015 - 11:04)
i have been to Barcelona a few times ,,, it changes with the years, but retains its beauty. never had a problem with any of the citizens and i did most of my touring on foot. my hats off to the city of Barcelona
Pickpockets - BarceLover (9 Dec 2014 - 09:30)
Pickpockets - nancy d. (19 nov 2014 - 08:45).
Hi, Pickpockets are an issue in Barcelona, but the police, as Tony suggested, are part of the problem. It is actually the Spanish Laws that need to be changed. Unless a thief is caught with more than €480 in cash on them, it is not consider a felony or major crime. So, within a matter of hours the thief is back on the streets. There are lots of uncover policeman now working all parts of the city, security cameras in Metro stations and on platforms and in particular a strong police presence at the most visited sites. It is Barcelona's interest to clean up this issue and there is no one who would like that more than the locals. After all, tourism is one of the biggest economic motors of this beautiful seaside city.
Barcelona Travel Video - Jay Ellard (16 Aug 2014 - 10:45)
I have just been to the beautiful city and have created a modern cinematic video of the wonderful place. The video shows the most popular places in Barcelona and some of the quiet spots. Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktArVmzb38U
transfer - Les (14 Nov 2013 - 09:30)
Does any one know if there is a bus service from the Pier to the Airport? Or, if there is any kind of service for transfer with a couple of suitcases?
Pickpockets - tony (24 Oct 2013 - 08:45)
Barcelona is one of the world's great cities, it has wonderful sights & a vibrant culture, great food & drink. It's a shame it's so corrupt ! 40 years ago, I went to Barcelona & was warned about pickpockets on Las Ramblas & now after all these years it's worse than ever, not good for the city's reputation. How can this problem still exist ?? the police MUST be part of the problem, & getting a kickback from the thieves, because if they wanted the thefts to stop, they would crack down & stop, but no, the pickpockets flourish year after year, praying on tourists & locals alike, on the streets & even in the Gaudi Cathedral Shame on you.....Clean up the problem !!
Street Art in Barcelona - Unknown (30 Sep 2013 - 09:00)
Details about street art in Barcelona. A different way of seeing this amazing city: http://vimeo.com/60149775
new luggage storage near Barcelona´s Port - Amparo (3 Jul 2013 - 19:30)
there is a new luggage storage called Hastavuelo in the World Trade Center, near Barcelona´s Port. Opened everyday from 9 am to 8pm. We offer airport delivery too, so if you want to visit Barcelona without worrying about your suitcases that´s the place!!
store your luggage - Alicia (15 Mar 2013 - 09:15)
Hi everyone, If you need to store your luggage while you're spending some time in Barcelona, you can leave it in City Lockers, we're in Francesc Pujols, 7 Street, near Portal de l' Àngel. We open from 9 a.m until 9 p.m on Monday to monday. Come to visit us!
about keeping luggage - LOCKER BARCELONA (27 Oct 2012 - 10:30)
Hello Maria, there is a left luggage place at plaza catalunya (downtown) close to the main transport stations. Is located at ESTRUC 36 street, is a safety blue and green local named Locker Barcelona, check their web so, you could ask for information. :)
Information about keeping luggage - Maria (5 Jul 2012 - 06:15)
Dear all, I am a tourist from Macedonia, coming to Spain this July. I will be touring Spain by bus. So, I'd like to ask you if there is a place in Barcelona to store your luggage. Since i'm staying several hours in Barcelona, sightseeing, I 'll need some safe place to store my suitcases. Does the bus station of any other place offer such services? And what are the fees per hour? Thank you in advance
Best tapas in Barcelona! - EleanorP (21 Jun 2012 - 09:30)
Hello, We have just returned home from a evening with 'Papa Serra'. He runs cooking classes and tours of la boqueria and we joined an evening course which lasted for about 4 hours - a great evening activity. We enjoyed the tour and the class, and all the wine tasting! But the highlight was a tapa we learnt to make - chicken poached in a saffron liquid and then mixed with pine nuts and raisins and wrapped in greens. It was absolutely delicious and definitely not something we've seen in any of the tapas bars in barcelona. I would recommend the classes to anyone that loves food and wants a fun night of cooking, eating and drinking. I think they have a website but i'm not sure. Enjoy!
useful information - dr jagtesh (29 Feb 2012 - 11:15)
this page is helping me in planning my trip to barcelona this april
Find your new favourite places using our themed and regional maps, sightseeing map of barcelona.
Find all of Barcelona’s most intriguing cultural treasures, from Gaudi’s magnificent mansions, to modern art museums, on a map. Click on a pin to reveal each place’s identity. Hint: click on the icon in the top right of the map for easier, full screen browsing.
Hotels, Restaurants, Bars…. on a Map!
Each of our “Find a Place” sections (see our main menu) comes with handpicked recommendations plotted on a map of the city. Follow the links below and scroll to the bottom of each of those sections for a map.
Hotels & Beds Map
From hip hostels to luxury apartments and five star hotels, find your perfect pad on a map.
Discover the best places to eat in Barcelona, courtesy of our restaurant section and map.
Bars & Clubs Map
Located the city’s top drinking spots, whether you’re a caffeine addict, bar lizard or a club head.
Find the parks, beaches, cinemas, escape rooms and more, on a map of Barcelona.
Head to our District search pages to find all of the best hotspots in your favourite barrio, from cosy cafes and scenic plazas to the best late night spots and unexpected treasures.
Gothic Quarter Map
The heart of the city is awash with cultural treasures – and great drinking dens.
Born District Map
Find the hottest hotels and hang outs in the beautiful Born district, using our interactive map.
Raval District Map
A little rough round the edges, Raval is Barcelona’s hippest district with plenty going on night and day.
Tapas bars abound in this former fishing district, which also boasts the futuristic W-Hotel.
Eixample Left Map
The left side of Eixample boasts fantastic hotels, bars, restaurants and the mini-barrio Gayxample .
Eixample Right Map
The right side of Eixample contains some of the city’s brightest jewels – such as La Sagrada Familia.
Gracia District Map
Gracia is a Bohemian village full of great places to sleep, eat and drink. It’s also home to Park Guell.
Poblenou district map.
A vast barrio that runs alongside the city’s beaches, find its best hotels and hang outs on a map.
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- 12 Amazing Places To Visit In Barcelona That Will Make You Fall In Love With The City
Known for its charming alleyways, cheerful beaches, and lovely pieces of modernist architecture, the city of Barcelona truly personifies the word ‘vivacity’. Therefore, be it a peaceful family vacation or an amorous honeymoon, the vibrant capital of Catalunya would be a perfect destination for you. So, if you are visiting Barcelona for the first time, then make sure to check out the names of these 12 places to visit in Barcelona , which can help you to savor the real beauty and elegance of the city.
12 Great Places To Visit In Barcelona
As an epitome of architectural brilliance, the city of Barcelona housesCasa Batllo numerous beautiful buildings and structures. So, before traveling to the capital of Catalunya, make sure to add these following names in your list of places to see in Barcelona.
1. Basilica Of The Sagrada Familia
Known as the Europe continent’s most unconventional churches, the UNESCO-listed Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is one of the best places to visit in Barcelona. Located in the northern section of the city, this church is surrounded by 18 colossal spindly towers, which add a gothic charm to its overall appearance. As a visitor, the first thing, which will make you awe-struck, is the impressive exterior of the church. It depicts the birth of Jesus, the sufferings he had to endure during his lifetime, his death, and the story of his resurrection. The interior of the church, also, looks quite stunning because of the decoratively-detailed ceiling and the unusual yet eye-catching Crucifix.
Location: : 401 Carrer de Mallorca, Barcelona Timings: : 9 A.M. – 7 P.M. Entry Fee: : Starting at 14 Euro
Must Read: 20 Most Beautiful Cities In Spain: Get Spellbound By Them On A Trip
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2. Casa Mila
Also known as La Pedrera among the locals, Casa Mila is yet another architectural masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi. Established between the years of 1906 to 1912, this ostentatious structure looks more like a sensational piece of sculpture than a building because of its eloquently curved facades. Some other things, which make it look even more elegant, is its beautiful plant-shaped balconies and unique rounded windows. The gorgeous building of Casa Mila houses the famous cultural center, Fundacio Catalunya, which organizes numerous events year-round. So, if you are looking for some famous places to visit in Barcelona for kids, then Casa Mila would be ideal for you.
Location: : 261 – 265 Carrer de Provenca, Barcelona Timings: : 9 A.M. – 9 P.M. Entry Fee: : 21 Euro
Suggested Read: Spanish Travel Words And Phrases To Help One On A Trip To Spain And Latin America
3. Palau De La Musica Catalana
A 19th-century opera hall, the Palau de la Musica Catalana is the creation of yet another famous Catalan artist and architect, Lluis Domenech i Montaner. Known as the embodiment of Catalan Modernism, the exterior of this beautiful structure boasts exquisitely detailed mosaic work and decorative columns. On the other hand, the internal section of the opera house exhibits a graceful glass ceiling, which, during the day, looks absolutely awe-inspiring. Owing to its stained-glass ceiling, the concert hall stays completely illuminated by natural light during the daytime. So, if you are a lover of both opera and architectural brilliance, then make sure to add the Palau hall to your list of places to see in Barcelona.
Location: : Calle Palau de la Musica 4-6, Barcelona Timings: : 10:00 A.M. – 3:30 P.M. Entry Fee: : Starting at 16 Euro
Suggested Read: 7 Reasons To Visit Spain At Least Once In Your Lifetime!
4. Barri Gotic
The Gothic Quarter, also affectionately known as Barri Gotic, is the oldest yet liveliest part of Barcelona. If you visit here, then you will be able to savor the extravagant beauty of ancient Roman structures and picturesque plazas. Apart from this, the Gothic Quarter also houses numerous restaurants and cafes where you can spend some lively moments with your friends and family members. All in all, this place has almost everything that can make travelers happy and content. Due to this reason, most tourists consider it as one of the top places to visit in Barcelona.
Location: : Between the streets of Laietana and Rambla Timings: : Open 24X7 Entry Fee: : Nil
Suggested Read: 15 Top Things To Do In Spain That Will Leave Your Soul Craving For More!
5. Casa Batllo
Yet another modernist marvel created by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo is the former townhouse of the famous Batlló family of Catalunya. With its enthralling adorning façade and the atypical shape, this architectural magnum opus looks quite similar to the castles described in the fairy tales. Because of its unusual design and structure, Casa Batllo has also earned the nickname of House of the Dragon, which, in Spanish, translates as Casa del Drac.
Location: : 43 Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona Timings: : 9:00 A.M. – 9 P.M. Entry Fee: : Starting at 22 Euro
Suggested Read: 7 Stupendous Cruises In Spain Revealing The Hidden Secret
6. Casa Vicens
Designed by the mastermind Antoni Gaudi, the beautiful house of Casa Vicens reflects the Neo-Mudejar architectural style. Located in the calm neighborhood of Gracia, it is considered to be one of the most famous tourist places to visit in Barcelona. Casa Vicens was built between the years of 1883 to 1885 as a summer residence for the wealthy Vicens family. However, now, it serves as a museum of Barcelona. Due to its unparalleled beauty and elegance, it earned the title of Unesco World Heritage in the year 2005.
Location: : Carrer de Les Carolines 20-26, 08012 Barcelona Timings: : 10:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M. Entry Fee: : Starting at 12.50 Euro
Suggested Read: 8 Best Spanish Cuisines That Will Make You Fall In Love With Spain All Over Again!
7. Montjuic Castle
If you are traveling to the capital of Catalunya for the first time and are looking for some places to visit in Barcelona for family, then make sure to add the mesmerizing Montjuic castle to your list. Situated at an elevation 213 meters from the sea-level, this majestic castle is known for its excellent panoramic views and gorgeous museums. The museums of the castle exhibit an outstanding collection of Catalan arts, which will surely take your breath away.
Location: : 66 Carretera de Montjuic, Barcelona, Catalunya, 8038, Spain Timings: : 10:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M. Entry Fee: : 3 Euro
Suggested Read: 7 Cruises In Barcelona For You To Have A Luxurious Sea Retreat
8. Museu d’Art Contemporani De Barcelona (MACBA)
Known as one of the best contemporary art museums in Barcelona, the MACBA showcases some of the exquisite art pieces of the modern era. It was designed and inaugurated by Richard Meier, a famous architect of America, in 1995. Since then, the museum has hosted many exhibitions by numerous well-known artists of this century.
Location: : 1 Placa dels Angels, Barcelona, Catalunya, 8001, Spain Timings: : 10:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M. Entry Fee: : 11 Euro
Suggested Read: 8 Ravishing Water Parks In Barcelona To Stay Cool And Beat The Heat!
9. Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso has always been known for his excellent artistic brain and uncanny yet exquisite pieces of art. So, if you are an art-aficionado and want to relish his brilliance in Barcelona, then make sure to visit the Picasso Museum. By visiting here, you will get the rare chance to see the earlier works of the artistic mastermind and understand the relationship between him and Barcelona.
Location: : 15-23 Carrer Montcada, Barcelona Timings: : 9:00 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. Entry Fee: : Starting at 7 Euro
Suggested Read: Barcelona In October: Experience The Grandeur In The Rusty Colors Of Fall
10. Museu d’Història De Catalunya
As the name suggests, the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya showcases the rich historical background of the city of Barcelona. In this museum, you will find numerous paintings, which depict the past of Catalonia province, as well as numerous sculptures and relics, which can help you to understand the city’s cultural beauty.
Location: : Placa Pau Villa, 3, 08039 Barcelona, Spain Timings: : 10:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M. Entry Fee: : 8 Euro
Suggested Read: Visit These 7 Places In Barcelona In April To Have An Incredible Summer Vacation
11. Park Guell
If you are looking for a few places to visit in Barcelona for family, the Park Guell would be absolutely ideal for you. The beautiful place currently rules over 42 acres of space and features almost every prop that any other park offers to its visitors. Along with elegant flashes of greenery, Park Guell also exhibits numerous swirling pathways where you can spend hours walking. Also, while you are here, make sure to visit the Sala Hipostila to savor the colorful essence of the beautiful city of Barcelona.
Location: : Carrer d’Olot, Barcelona Timings: : 8:30 A.M. – 6:15 P.M. Entry Fee: : 10 Euro
Suggested Read: 12 Indian Restaurants In Barcelona: A Treat To Those Looking For Indian Cuisine In Spain
12. Parc De La Ciutadella
Located at the heart of Barcelona, Parc de la Ciutadella has always been one of the most famous gathering points of the city since its inception. In 1877, when it opened, it served only as a normal park for the local people. However, now it houses the famous Barcelona Zoo and the Catalan Parliament. Numerous people also come here during the day for exercising and walking.
Location: : 21, Passeig de Picasso, Barcelona Timings: : 10:00 A.M. – 10:30 P.M. Entry Fee: : Free
Further Read: Trekking In Spain: 10 Best Places For Indulging In An Ultimate Adventure Like Never Before!
We hope you’ve listed down all these wonderful places to visit in Barcelona in your itinerary so that you don’t miss out on any fabulous experience that this city has to offer. Now all that is left to do is to plan an awesome-sauce vacation in Barcelona with your loved ones!
Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In Barcelona
Which time of the year is best for visiting Barcelona?
During the months of April to September, the weather in Barcelona stays quite warm and pleasant. Therefore, this period would be the best time for you to visit Barcelona.
Is the bus service good in Barcelona?
Yes, the bus service is quite good in the city of Barcelona. With this mode of transportation, you can go to almost anywhere in the city. However, to board on them, you would have to go to near the city bus stops.
How many days will it take me to Explore Barcelona?
When talking about tourist attractions, the city of Barcelona comes with a plethora of choices. Therefore, if you have an adventurous mind and want to explore every corner of the city, then you would have to stay here for at least 10 to 12 days.
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Where to Stay in Barcelona: 12 Best Areas
Long considered to be among the most captivating cities in the world, Barcelona continues to draw travelers from around the globe. Are you planning a visit and wondering where to stay in Barcelona? Let me help you to figure out which neighborhood is best for you!
Initially founded by the Romans and the second largest city in Spain , Barcelona’s rich and often heady history makes it the ideal travel destination for history lovers, with fans of art and architecture finding no shortage of inspiration.
Once home to the likes of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Antoni Gaudí , Barcelona embodies both the Catalan spirit and cosmopolitan sophistication.
Today Barcelona is an active multicultural and economic hub , with the Barcelona-El Prat Airport serving over 50 million passengers each year.
Exploring Barcelona is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one you’ll surely want to get the most out of. Here are 12 of the best places to stay in Barcelona , as well as the local sights and activities worth seeking out during your holiday.
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1. Plaza de Catalunya, the best area to stay in Barcelona
Known in English as the Catalonia Square, this city center is both the beating heart and nerve center of Barcelona.
Separating the Ciutat, Vella, and Eixample districts, Plaça de Catalunya has come to be regarded as a crossroads of history, Catalan culture, and ever-evolving modern life.
With its large shopping malls and unique array of shops, restaurants, and museums , first-time visitors are often directed to Plaça de Catalunya as a starting point for their stay in Barcelona.
Originally an open expanse of land that ran along the city’s protective walls, Plaça de Catalunya would eventually be incorporated into Barcelona’s city plan by King Alfonso XIII in 1927.
With the help of architects Francesc de Paula Nebot, Pere Falqués, and Puig i Cadafalch, as well as sculptors Clarà and Llimona, the plaza would become one of Barcelona’s crowning achievements.
While the sumptuous hotels and apartments featured in the city’s 1929 International Exhibition have not survived, guests can still enjoy a luxurious stay in one of the center’s updated residencies.
Due to its close proximity to such famed areas as the Passeig de Gracia, Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas and nearby port , Plaça de Catalunya is ideal for walkers and cyclists, with a year-round roster of exciting events, outdoor markets, and festivals such as the world-famous Setmana del Llibre en Català book fair, which takes place in September.
Far from seeped in the past, Plaça de Catalunya boasts its own share of popular fashion and media outlets, as well as trendy bars, eateries, and coffee shops .
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PAZA CATALUNYA
- ($$$) Ohla Barcelona
- ($$) Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gracia 4 Sup
- ($) Hotel Ginebra
2. Barri Gotic, where to stay in Barcelona for sightseeing
True to its name, the Gothic Quarter is one of the most atmospheric areas to stay in Barcelona.
With its mysterious winding streets dating back to the Middle Ages and enticing niche of shops and restaurants, the Gothic Quarter is where the intriguing old meets the up-and-coming new.
Some of the most popular attractions are the impressive Gothic Cathedral, charming plazas, such as Plaça Reial, and beautiful landmarks such as the Pont Gòtic on Carrer Bisbe.
Visitors can glimpse the quarter’s fascinating past at the Museu d’Història de Barcelona , where artifacts predating the Roman settlement can be viewed on display.
Visitors can additionally browse the shops and stalls of local artisans , as well as sample popular Catalan street food from one of the many vendors along the Avenue La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous boulevard.
There are many hotels, hostels, and privately owned bed & breakfast lodgings to choose from in the Gothic Quarter, ranging from the austere to intimate.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARRI GOTIC
- ($$$) Grand Hotel Central
- ($$) Catalonia Catedral
- ($) Cuatro Naciones
3. El Raval, close to everything, multicultural, and nightlife
Often regarded as the city’s most colorful district, The Raval is a multicultural neighborhood that features some of Barcelona’s most popular bars, clubs, and live music venues .
During your stay in Barcelona, make sure to stop by the Museo d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) , which showcases the works of some of the 20th century’s greatest artists.
Also recommended is the Gran Teatre del Liceu , which has weathered its fair share of catastrophes since the 19th century but still stands resplendent. The nearby Maritime Museum (Museu Marítim de Barcelona) offers an especially thrilling experience for nautical lovers and novices alike.
The Raval’s cultural center will no doubt be a point of interest for visitors wishing to learn more about the Catalan culture, with the El Rincón de Aragón restaurant featuring authentic, mouthwatering Aragonese dishes such as lamb with fried potatoes and clams with borage, as well as a specially curated wine list.
La Boquería, one of Europe’s largest and longest-running markets, is a must-see for all who wish to stay in Barcelona.
This market (sometimes referred to by its official name The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria) has roots that go all the way back to the 13th century, and features everything from seafood and freshly cured meats to fruits and sweet delicacies, with no shortage of places to eat and people watch.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARCELONA IN EL RAVAL
- ($$$) Le Meridien Barcelona
- ($$) Hotel Casa Camper
- ($) Hotel Lloret Ramblas
4. El Born, the coolest place to stay in Barcelona
This lively and eclectic neighborhood was once home to Medieval Barcelona’s noble classes, and has retained much of its former splendor.
With its mesmerizing mix of historic buildings, churches, shops, galleries, and restaurants , El Born is an ideal place to stay in Barcelona for those looking to experience life as a local–albeit the privileged kind.
Some of the attractions you should not miss are Santa Maria del Mar Church , the modernist masterpiece of Palau de la Musica Catalana , the Parc Ciutadella, and museums such as the Picasso Museum, the Museum of World Cultures, the Chocolate Museum or the European Museum of Modern Art.
One of Picasso’s earliest stomping grounds, El Born features a number of public art installations, as well as several avant-garde theaters .
Shopping enthusiasts will want to stroll the Flassaders and Del Rec streets for local designer wares, as well as step into Casa Gispert, Barcelona’s oldest specialty store.
There is a local saying in El Born, ¨Roda el món i torna al Born¨, which loosely translates to “¨Travel the world then come back to El Born.”
This welcoming sentiment can be felt in the personable atmosphere of the barrio, and harkens back to a time when seafaring merchants and traveling businessmen traded their goods in the streets, often setting up permanent residence.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN EL BORN
- ($$$) Hotel The Serras
- ($$) H10 Port Vell 4* Sup
- ($) Pension Ciudadela
5. Eixample, elegant and lively neighborhood
L’Eixample is Catalan for ‘the widening,’ and owes its titular legacy to Ildefons Cerdà, who widened the original city wall to make room for the growing city center.
Centrally located off Plaça de Catalunya , Eixample is a bustling district where locals and visitors alike gather to shop, socialize, and savor the scenery.
The famous Mercat Els Encants flea market is a haven for antique lovers, while the Sagrada Familía basilica , designed by master architect Antoni Gaudi, is a stunning example of art nouveau design.
Visitors can stroll beneath Barcelona’s own Arc de Triomf , as well as take in the area’s notable modernist architecture.
Due to its proximity to Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions , lodgings range from the 5 star to more budget-friendly, with special seasonal rates available prior to booking.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARCELONA IN EL EIXAMPLE
- ($$$) Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona GL
- ($$) Vincci Gala
- ($) Fabrizzios Terrace Hostel
6. Passeig de Gracia, where to stay in Barcelona for an upscale experience
This majestic boulevard was once a frequented spot to see and be seen among the Gilded Age elites, and has since become one of the most elegant areas to stay in Barcelona .
It’s no understatement to say that visiting Paseo de Gracia is like stepping back in time, thanks to its “modernista” mansions and grand buildings that reflect an era of both opulence and advancement.
Here you can visit the modernist mansions Casa Milà , also known as La Pedrera, and the Casa Batlló
Paseo de Gracia features some of Barcelona’s most reputable shops and luxury brands , and guests enjoying a leisurely promenade will want to keep their eyes on the pavement for the stones designed by Barcelona’s famed Antoni Gaudí.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PASSEIG DE GRACIA
- ( $$$) Monument Hotel
- ($$) Condes de Barcelona
- ($) Praktik Èssens
7. La Barceloneta, beach, tapas and nightlife
The seaside neighborhood of La Barceloneta is where locals go to sunbathe and dine on fresh seafood tapas after a day of swimming and surfing.
The waterfront hotels make for a scenic stay in Barcelona, with the palm-lined promenade leading to the beach providing some of the city’s most photo-worthy views, especially along the route to Montjuïc hill.
With its multitude of beach clubs , La Barceloneta is the perfect destination for beachgoers, who in turn can choose from the area’s four main beaches: the hyper-modern Sant Sebastià, where Barcelona’s W Hotel is located, sporty Barceloneta beach, and the quieter Sant Miguel and Somorrostro beaches.
As with most seaside destinations, off-season periods are the best time to find significant deals on luxury hotels , with fewer overall beach traffic to contend with.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARCELONETA
- ($$$) W Barcelona
- ($$) Duquesa Suites Barcelona
- ($) Hotel Oasis
8. La Vila Olímpica, where to stay in Barcelona for beach time
The site of the 1992 Olympic Village, La Vila Olímpica lends a slower pace to Barcelona’s otherwise hurried tempo.
With its posh Port of Olímpic complex and its sizable selection of casual and high-end dining establishments, cocktail lounges, karaoke bars, and live music venues set just off Nova Icària Beach, this Sant Martí district is the perfect locale for a low-key getaway or romantic retreat.
Located on a former derelict industrial plot, the construction of La Vila Olímpica was an enormous undertaking at the time, bringing a great deal of attention to Barcelona.
Today the original factory chimneys can be seen among the housing blocks and designated Olympic buildings, with the skyscraper duo Torre Mapfre and Hotel Arts , which overlook the marina, making for an unforgettable view.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PAZA VILA OLIMPICA
- ($$$) Hotel Arts Barcelona
- ($$) H10 Marina Barcelona
- ($) ibis Styles Barcelona City Bogatell
9. Gràcia, bohemian vibe
With its idyllic pedestrian lane, boutique galleries, and landmark 19th century cinema, Gràcia is a lovely place to stay in Barcelona . Once a separate village, it has retained a small town charm and a bohemian vibe that you will enjoy specially in squares like Plaça del Sol.
Traditional Catalan bistros and wine bars make for an authentic evening out, with the architecture of none other than Antoni Gaudí providing a picture-perfect backdrop.
Under the elegant clocktower , guests can walk from the grand neo-Moorish mansion Casa Vicens to the elaborate mosaic-adorned estate of Parc Güell , which sits atop a hill overlooking the city.
Much like La Vila Olímpica, Gràcia moves to a more serene rhythm , and visitors who appreciate a genuine “room with a view” experience will appreciate the area’s elegant hotels and palm-lined promenade.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARCELONA IN GRACIA
- ($$$) Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento
- ($$) Hotel Barcelona 1882
- ($) Generator Barcelona
10. Poblenou, alternative and laid-back area with affordable accommodation
The district of Poblenou is somewhat ahead of its time, offering a distinctive glimpse into the future of Barcelona. With its former factories-turned-tech offices, upscale showrooms, and hip tapas bars , here is where Barcelona’s trendsetters intermingle and show off their cutting edge talents.
Visitors will find no shortage of sights and to-dos along Plaça de les Glòries Catalan, most notably the Els Encants flea market and Barcelona Design Museum , as well as the Torre Agbar skyscraper , which was designed by Jean Nouvel.
If you are traveling with children, make sure to stop at one of the vendors and sample some of the best ice cream in Barcelona, perhaps followed by a trip to the nearby Bogatell Beach or Parc Central del Poblenou.
For lovers of the more macabre, the Cementiri de l’Est is both an historic and sculptural wonder. Guided tours offer a spine-tingling peek into some of Barcelona’s darkest tales, all under the watchful eyes of the gorgeously ghoulish statues that populate the oldest cemetery in the city.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BARCELONA IN POBLENOU
- ($$$) The Level at Melia Barcelona Sky
- ($$) Hotel Paxton Barcelona
- ($) Ibis Barcelona Plaza Glòries 22@
11. Sants, where to stay in Barcelona close to the main train station
Located to the city’s south, Sants, like many of Barcelona’s districts, was once a working class industrial town, and is now a study in contrasts. The main train station of the city, Barcelona-Sants, is located in this neighborhood.
Sleek high-rise apartments stud the more rustic buildings, with community arts & cultural centers mingling among the tapas bars and no-frills eateries. For visitors looking for a decidedly un-tourist place to stay in Barcelona , Sants is it.
Guests can linger in the lobby of the ostentatious Sants Ajuntament (the town hall), then grab a craft beer off the Plaça d’ Osca .
Lovers of vintage cinema will find the perfect souvenir among the posters of Groucho y Yo, while the area’s traditional fishmongers offer up mouthwatering fish and chips to eat in or take away.
Thanks to its off-the-beaten-track appeal , Sants is ideal for visitors wishing to live like a local during their stay in Barcelona.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SANTS
- ($$$) Nobu Hotel Barcelona
- ($$) Catalonia Barcelona Plaza
- ($) Ona Hotels Terra
12. Poble Sec, varied dining options and vibrant nightlife
Nestled in the foothills of Montjuïc, the neighborhood of Poble Sec is among the oldest in Barcelona, and was populated by the city’s poorest citizens for many centuries. Today the area has enjoyed a well-deserved renaissance , bringing it a long way from its humble origins.
Poble Sec was once notorious for its cabarets and taverns, and visitors can still partake in the neighborhood’s vibrant nightlife thanks to its multitude of music venues, clubs, and alfresco-style cafes.
The 17th century military fortress is worth the climb to the top of Montjuïc, and now resides as a municipal facility.
Poble Sec offers an eclectic assortment of dining options , from traditional Catalan cuisine to ethnic fare from around the world.
While lodging is scarce at the moment, the neighborhood’s rapid rise in popularity will likely see a similar surge in tourist-friendly hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN POBLE SEC
- ($$$) InterContinental Barcelona, an IHG Hotel
- ($$) Hotel Brummell
- ($) Paral·lel
READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS
- Best things to do in Barcelona
- Where to stay in Madrid
- Where to stay in Mallorca
- Where to stay in Granada
- Where to stay in Ibiza
- Where to stay in Valencia
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What a great overview of a beautiful city.
Looking forward to a great trip.
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Discover Moldova's vibrant viticulture regions
With a winemaking tradition stretching back over 7,000 years, the world’s highest density of vineyards and a huge array of wine experiences to enjoy, Moldova is a dream destination for oenophiles.
When it comes to wine, snifter-sized Moldova packs a barrel-sized punch. Sandwiched between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea on the eastern edge of Europe, this is a country with an ancient winemaking tradition that’s experienced a recent boom in independent wineries offering vineyard tours, wine tastings, excellent restaurants and unique accommodation. Moldova's wines are becoming increasingly well recognised internationally, with a local vintage winning Best Red Wine at Concours Mondiale de Bruxelles 2022 . See the world’s largest collection of wine, sleep in a wine barrel and sip your way through the many wine varieties on offer in Moldova’s three winemaking regions — Codru, Valul lui Traian and Ștefan Vodă.
The largest of Moldova’s wine regions, Codru forms a belt across the midriff of the country and is known for producing wonderfully fresh and floral white wines, including chardonnays, rieslings and sauvignon blancs. The temperate climate, the rolling countryside and the limestone-rich terroir draws favourable comparisons with Burgundy in France. For visitors, there are vineyard tours and wine-tasting experiences aplenty — but there are also ways to have more up-close-and-personal encounters with the local produce.
At Asconi Winery , an overnight stay means sleeping in a traditional, thatched-roof cottage and having your own garden-sized vineyard to tend to. Meanwhile, at Milesti Mici , there’s a chance to explore the largest wine collection in the world — descend into a 125-mile-long labyrinth of tunnels hewn from the limestone rock to discover two million bottles (and counting) stacked from floor to ceiling.
The Codru region is also home to the culture-crammed capital Chişinău, which has museums, monuments and sprawling parks and botanical gardens, as well as a thriving food scene. Each year in the first weekend of October, Chişinău hosts National Wine Day celebrations, with wine tastings, masterclasses, craft workshops and an artistic programme featuring various local performers.
Valul lui Traian
Encompassing the southern reaches of Moldova, the Valul lui Traian wine region is mostly about big, bold and fruity red wines — from merlots and malbecs to local fetească neagrăs — although white wines like muscats, as well as sparkling whites and rosés, are also produced there. All the grape varieties in the region benefit from the rich black soil and high temperatures, offset by shade from the Tigheci Forests and winds from the Black Sea.
Discover the countryside by bike on the newly created Southern Moldova cycling routes , stopping along the way to enjoy the many wine experiences on offer. The cycling routes connect some of the region’s most respected wineries and orchards with some of its greatest natural sights — such as the beautiful Lake Beleu, part of the Lower Prut UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and an important stop for migrating birds. Bicycles can be hired at several wineries and rural B&Bs.
It may be the smallest wine region in Moldova, but Ștefan Vodă has some of the country’s most outstanding wineries. Located in the southeast of the country, where the clay soil is iron rich, the region has been recognised since ancient times for its red wines, made with grape varieties like cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris and rara neagră. More recently, the local white wines have also gained a reputation for their distinctly fruity, mineral tastes.
Ștefan Vodă is also home to some of Moldova’s most memorable wine-tourism experiences. At Chateau Purcari , the country’s oldest winery, guests can sleep overnight in a giant wine barrel, waking to spectacular sunrise views across the vineyards. Stick around to taste their Negru de Purcari red wine. At nearby Et Cetera Winery , visitors can sample a wide variety of regional, locally sourced and often wine-heavy dishes in the superb restaurant — such as rabbit stewed in white wine and marinated trout with mussel sauce. For dessert, opt for the plăcintăs , a traditional apple- or cheese-filled pastry-cake baked by the owners’ mother.
After sampling Ștefan Vodă’s specialities, pay a visit to the one-of-a-kind Monastery Acoperământul Maicii Domnului (Assumption of Our Lady Church) in Căușeni. It was constructed partially below ground level, adhering to an Ottoman rule of the time that no church should be built higher than a mosque.
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