These Are Some Of The Best Places to Visit in Barcelona!
Oh, Barcelona. Where do we even begin!? Barcelona, Spain is an incredibly popular city for tourism. Whether you’ve got 1 day, 3 days, or a whole week, there are plenty of places to visit to keep you jam-packed busy exploring the Spanish city!
Barcelona is a special city for both of us – even though we have never been there together! Lisa has been a few times over the years while Eric passed through for a week in a mini route around Western Europe. Travelling through Spain is always a thrill – and we hope to explore Barcelona together someday soon!
For this blog post we wanted to focus on not only the Barcelona essentials but attractions or places you might walk by without knowing. That said, get yourself an attractions map – it might come in handy. Here are our top tips for what Barcelona is famous for!
If you’re heading to Spain, here are a few other posts which you might find useful!
Things to Consider When Visiting Barcelona
Before we dive into the best places to visit, we wanted to cover a few of the details for when you visit Barcelona. So, here’s a brief guide to general information, public transport in Barcelona, and more!
General Information About Barcelona
With over 1.5 million people living within the city limits, Barcelona is the second biggest city in Spain. It is the capital city (and largest city) of Catalonia. As we briefly mentioned, Barcelona is a very popular tourist destination (so many people visit every year that locals are not always happy with the tourists). In 2016, Barcelona has 32 million tourist visit compared to the 1.6 million residents.
In Barcelona, next to Spanish, the residents have their own language (Catalan) and distinct culture. In general, when visiting Barcelona, it’s important to be mindful of these differences, respect the locals, and consider your impact as a tourist!
Best Time to Visit Barcelona
Given the popularity of the city, it’s important to consider the best time of year to visit. This also includes thinking about the weather. The hottest months are June through August and, as such, these are also some of the busiest months to visit. We don’t really recommend that time since it can get very crowded and very hot.
You might consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October as temperatures can be cooler but still pleasant. You will still find boatloads of people, but not as much as the summer season.
Alternatively, winter months like December are cloudier, windier, and much cooler – but you’d find a much less crowded city! You might need a lightweight rain jacket (like Eric’s black North Face) when there but with that you’d be good to explore!
Getting Around in Barcelona
Barcelona has a great public transport system with an underground subway, buses, trams and even cable cars. The city is divided into zones (by distance from the centre) which you travel through and this dictates the fare you pay. It’s pretty easy to figure out – and you can study a Barcelona Transit Map before you go!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Because of the vast tourist numbers, there are LOTS of places to stay in Barcelona scattered all over the city. Eric stayed close to La Rambla and it was busier but definitely central – his hostel made our list of great hostels in Europe. Lisa has stayed in the area around Plaza de Espana and would recommend the area. Make sure to walk down the side streets in the morning to find a café for a cheap, local breakfast. If you need a place to stay, you can search for Barcelona hostels or hotels and apartments available!
Great Places to Visit in Barcelona, Spain
Okay, so now we’re into the good stuff: some of the best places to visit in Barcelona! These are in no particular order – besides the first one because guaranteed you are going to wonder about it so here you go!
Since there is just so much to see and visit, you might consider a 1 or 2-day hop-on/hop-off bus tour ticket around Barcelona to understand the city layout and get some useful information. You can then always return to the sights you liked the best and want to explore more! If you wanted more physical activity with your tour, you could take to the streets on a guided bike tour around Barcelona!
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is definitely one of the top places to visit in Barcelona. In fact, it’s actually the most visited attraction overall, that’s why we decided to start with it! The massive church was designed by Antonio Gaudí – and you will hear much more about the famous architect as we go along.
Constructing La Sagrada Familia started in 1882 – and it’s STILL not finished today. Because of its fame and beauty, La Sagrada Familia is the most visited attraction in Spain. This means that there are always long lines ups to get in.
Eric has only seen it from the outside but Lisa was super impressed with the inside of the church and enjoyed visiting even with all the people around. The light shining through the windows and the super detailed decor on the doors impressed her the most. You can learn more about the church at the official website.
Penguin Pro-Travel Tip: Skip the Line at Sagrada de la Familia (Seriously, it’ll be worth it – especially during busy season)
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona
For a wander through history, check out the Gothic quarter of Barcelona – Barrio Gotico. It is actually the oldest quarter of the city – sometimes also called the “medieval city of Barcelona”. That said, not all the buildings are from medieval times. You will see buildings from the Middle Ages all the way to the 19th century.
The area is close to the water, with Las Ramblas in the southwest, Plaza de Catalunya in the northwest. You can find lots of beautiful old churches, plazas, food places, and museums there. This makes it a great place for a photo tour – the Jewish quarter is located here as well! The streets are quite narrow so it’s best to just go on a walk through them and enjoy (you can’t drive through on a tour bus).
Park Güell is another one of the many attractions by Gaudí in the city of Barcelona and one of the “must visit” places in Barcelona. The park itself is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been since 1984. Some parts of the park are free to visit while for others you have to pay – but it’s worth the experience in our opinion!
We have both been there and thought it was worth to see at least once. It’s quite easy to get there by public transport but you should know that you have to go uphill for quite a bit. Luckily for some of the entrances, there are escalators. You can find the different entrances as well as the exact bus and metro lines on the official website. You might also choose to book a line skip ticket for entrance to the Park’s Monumental Core.
Pro-Tip: If you’re already there, climb up to the Bunker del Carmel, a viewpoint very close by, to watch the sunset. It’s a popular spot among younger tourists and locals alike and has a very cool atmosphere.
Mercat de la Boquera
This is probably one of Lisa’s favourite things in Barcelona: the Mercat de la Boqueria. As a colourful food market, this is where you can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and lots of other things! Because of its beauty and function (it’s a market, right?) it has become a popular tourist attraction. So, you can also buy small cheese/meat/fruit samples and ready-made snacks for on the go sightseeing!
Even with a quick walkthrough, you’ll be impressed by the market. Be sure to try some queso, jamón or fruta and be aware that the market is closed on Sundays! Learn more about the market on the official website.
Address: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona
Montjuic is one of the two local mountains of Barcelona. At the top, there are lots of different attractions to check out – like the old grounds for the 1992 Olympic Games, the National Catalonian Arts Museum, and the Poble Espanyol Museum (which we mention just below this section).
Since it’s pretty much in the middle of the city, it is easy to get to. At the top, there is also a castle – or more accurately an old military fortress from the 17th century. Lisa hasn’t been inside the castle but the view from up there over the harbour area is great! So, take some time to explore all this mountain has to offer – including some amazing views of the city. It was one of Eric’s favourite spots in the whole city when he and his friends hiked up!
Pro-Tip: If you want a special experience you can buy a ticket for the cable car up to the top of Montjuic (depending on where you are in the city). It’s a bit pricey but the view is great. You can also take the cable car up and then walk back down which is what Lisa did. Learn more about the cable car at the Barcelona transit website.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Towards the bottom of the Montjuic, close to the Plaza de Espanya (which we’ll mention further below), is the Palau Nacional Building. Inside you can find the National Museum for Catalan Art. There is a really, really beautiful photo opportunity from the bottom of the steps with the fountains in it. The nice part is you can either walk up the steps or take the escalator to the museum base entrance if you can’t walk or don’t feel like it.
The museum itself looks beautiful, and you can find most of the important Catalan artwork from 10th to 20th century inside! Check out the official website for all the details.
Address: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona
Pro-Tip: At the bottom of the Museum towards the Plaza de Espanya you can find the Font Mágica (Magic Fountain). During certain evenings the fountain is activated and you get to watch a show of light, water, and music.
Poble Espanyol Museum
As we mentioned, Poble Espanyol is an open-air museum where you can learn about the history of Spain. It is conveniently very close to the other attractions on Montjuic (especially the museum mentioned above) so it’s easy to visit those two attractions together.
The museum is quite big with various sections that represent different Spanish regions. When Lisa was in Barcelona she didn’t know about this attraction so she didn’t go. Eric hasn’t been either, so we would love to go there when we visit Barcelona together! Here’s the official website for more information!
Address: Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 13 08038 Barcelona
The other local mountain we talked about in Barcelona is Tibidabo. At a height of 512 metres high, it is, in fact, the highest mountain overlooking Barcelona. From the top, you get a great view of the city – and there is a small amusement park!
You can take the funicular to the top, where you will also see the Sagrat Cor – a beautiful church which took 60 years to build. Oh, and we can’t forget about the TV tower called Torre de Collserola is up there, too!
Arc de Triomf
Looking for the giant red archway in everyone’s photos? That’s the Arc de Triomf! Located close to the waterfront and Parc de La Ciutadella, it was built in 1888 to welcome visitors to the Barcelona World Fair. The arc itself has some beautiful, detailed decoration so be sure to take some time to look at it closely.
As for pictures, people try to get photos of their head/body in the arch – and Lisa is definitely guilty of this! When Eric was in Barcelona, he stayed very close to the Arc so when he and friends hailed a taxi – we just said “Arc de Triomf” and walked to the apartment. Super easy! Learn more about the Arc before you visit here.
Address: Passeig de Lluís Companys, 08003 Barcelona
Parc de La Ciutadella
As mentioned just above, this is the park that is close to the Arc de Triomf! Created in 1714, it was ordered by Philip V and built by forced labour. Philip wanted to have the largest citadel in Europe built in Barcelona, but this was then demolished in 1869 and made into a beautiful park for the world fair 1888. Some pieces of the world fair can still be seen today (Castell del Tres Dragons, for example).
People usually just come here to relax and enjoy time outside. The first time Lisa was in Barcelona she found this park more or less by accident and it was one of her favorite parts of the city (the Cascada Fountain is beautiful). There’s also a zoo in the 18-hectare park!
Address: Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona
Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s most famous walking street. Eric spent a bit of time on it and Lisa doesn’t love it but it is one of the top attractions so we would recommend that you walk through it. Just be sure to watch your valuables since pickpocketing is super common here.
The street starts at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the marina so it is quite a long street. Along the way, you’ll find street performers, restaurants, stalls, and cafes. You can even shop along it but it’s for the very touristy things – if you need your souvenirs this is the place to get them. Just watch for overcharging!
Camp Nou and FC Barcelona Museum
This one is a must for the soccer fans (maybe even if you are a Real Madrid fan). The stadium of Camp Nou is the home to the soccer club FC Barcelona and has a capacity of almost 100,000 people – which is very big for European standards. Lisa went to see the deciding game for the Spanish League between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid a few years ago – it was a very cool experience even though Barcelona lost the game and thus the title.
In the Camp Nou Experience Museum you can learn a lot the important players for FC Barcelona. You also get to see the Stadium and take photos. The stadium itself is connected to the museum which is worth checking out if you are interested in soccer and/or the history of the FC Barcelona. They have stadium tours that run regularly and you can find more information on the website or book a tour of the stadium and museum here.
Address: C. d’Aristides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona
Playa de Barceloneta
Playa de Barceloneta is one of Barcelona’s beaches that is super easy to reach since it is right in the city. However, this also means it can get very crowded and quite touristy with people trying to sell you things. The vendors/sellers can get annoying at times so just a heads up!
We don’t recommend this beach if you want to have a relaxing a few hours laying down. That said, it is great if you want to take a short break just sitting in the sand or walking along the water without having to take public transport. Learn more about the beach here.
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 16, 08003 Barcelona
Other Gaudi Buildings
As we’ve already mentioned, there are lots of other pieces around the city that have been designed by Gaudi. A few of them are: Casa Milà – designed in the early 1900s, Casa Batlló – restoration of an old house completed in 1904 using art nouveau elements, Palau Güell – the residence of Güell family, Casa-Museu Gaudí, and Casa Vicens – Gaudi’s first important building built at the end of the 19th century.
Since Casa Batlló is arguably one of the most popular Gaudí attractions next to La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, consider buying your admission ticket beforehand. If you are a HUGE fan of everything Gaudi, you might consider an “Ultimate Gaudi Tour” to see his best works and buildings with a guide on an artistic/architectural tour!
Monestir de Pedralbes
Want to see a former Gothic Monastery that is now a museum? Great – here you go! Founded in 1326, Monestir de Pedralbes was declared a national monument in 1991. You can see the monastery and different exhibitions in the museum. Learn more about these the museum here!
Address: Baixada del Monestir, 9, 08034 Barcelona
Barcelona Harbour Area (Port Vell)
The harbour area – Port Vell – is close to the end of the Las Ramblas street. You can walk the wooded walkway called Rambla de Mar that leads to the shopping mall Maremagnum. There’s also a small park where you can sit and watch the boats.
Eric really liked it down here when he visited – the water was very calming against the busy city! Oh, and you can also go to the Barcelona Aquarium which is right next to the shopping mall. Learn more about the harbour area here.
Plaza de Espanya
Can you see all the people in the photo above? Yeah, that’s because Plaza de Espanya is Barcelona’s most important squares! You will pass it at least once if you walk through the city. It was originally built for the International Exhibition in 1929 and is located at the foot of Montjuic (which we mentioned up top).
TOP PHOTO TIP: If you want the “classic” square photo, head for the shopping mall at the square. Once you are at the shopping mall at the corner, head for the top – but don’t take the lift outside where you have to pay. Simply go into the shopping mall and take the escalators to the top!
Address: Plaça Espanya, 08015 Barcelona
No, we’re not talking about the Sagrada Familia again! There are actually lots of other beautiful churches and Cathedrals in the city. One of which is the “Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia”. Built back in the 14th century, the cathedral is quite old and looks very beautiful.
For those keeping track, it’s done in a Gothic architecture. They have a great website where you can find lots of information about opening hours and visiting the Barcelona Cathedral.
Address: Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona
And there you have it – 18 of the best places to visit in Barcelona. In the end, there is so much to see that you could spend weeks wandering the city. We just wanted to give the trip planners something to think about! When you are there, please try your best to be a responsible, respectful tourist. The city is beautiful and should be shared and enjoyed by both tourists and locals, alike!
As always, Happy Barcelona Waddlin’,