These Are Some Of The Best Places to Visit in Barcelona, Spain!
Searching for things to do in Barcelona? You’re not the only one! This bustling Spanish city is known for its architecture, history, nightlife, food, sunshine, and much more.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Barcelona is an incredibly popular city for tourism. There are Barcelona attractions – both popular ones like La Sagrada Familia and lesser-known ones – around every corner.
We love Barcelona. Lisa has been many times (having lived in Bilbao) while Eric passed through on his Europe trip once upon a time. Travelling through Spain is always a thrill – and we hope to explore Barcelona together someday soon!
Whether you’ve got one day in Barcelona or a whole week, there are plenty of places to visit in Barcelona to keep you jam-busy!
So, from museums and parks to shopping streets and historic quarters, here are some of the Barcelona highlights and landmarks to check out!
Barcelona Quick Guide
Best Time to Visit: March-May or September-October to beat some of the crowds
Getting Around: The city is flat in some places and very hilly in other areas. You can walk, use public transit at TMB Barcelona or get a Hola BCN Transit Ticket
Top Things to Do: Sagrada Familia Line Skip + Guided Tour, Gaudi’s Park Güell, FC Barcelona Stadium Tour + Museum, Barcelona Bus Tour
Where to Stay: W Barcelona for waterfront views, Hotel 1898 right on La Rambla, Acta Voraport by the beaches
Great Places to Visit in Barcelona
In the following section, we’ll cover some of the best places to visit across the city. These are in no particular order – but we might have started off with one of the best things to do in Barcelona!
La Sagrada Familia
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia is definitely one of the top sights in Barcelona. It’s also the most visited tourist attraction in Spain each year, so that’s why we decided to start with it!
The massive basilica 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.
Get a Sagrada Familia Fast Track Ticket.
Eric has only seen it from the outside but Lisa was super impressed with the inside of the basilica 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 basilica at the official website.
Location: On Carmel Hill, part of the Sierra de Collserola
As far as Barcelona sightseeing goes, Park Güell is another one of the many attractions by Gaudí that is on the list of “must-visit” places in Barcelona.
The park itself is 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!
Book your Park Güell Admission Ticket beforehand.
We have both been there and thought it was worth seeing 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. Fortunately, there are escalators at some of the entrances.
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.
Location: Between El Raval and Ciutadella Park – close to the ferry port!
For those still wondering what to do in Barcelona, a wander through history is always a good idea! Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter – Barrio Gótico or Barri Gòtic – is where you can do this. It is 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 to the 19th century.
Our Tip: You can also discover the Gothic Quarter – and other top sights like La Sagrada – on a City Sights Bike or E-Bike Tour
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).
Mercat de la Boquera
Address: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona
This is probably one of Lisa’s favourite things in Barcelona – the various food markets. The Mercat de la Boqueria is arguably the most popular one. 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 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.
If you want to check out some authentic food markets that aren’t as popular with tourists, head to Mercat de Sant Antoni or Mercat de Llibertat.
Location: South end of the city centre overlooking the harbour
Another one of the top things to do in Barcelona is to climb a mountain. Seriously! Located close to the heart of the city centre, Montjuic is one of the two local mountains of Barcelona.
At the top, there are lots of different attractions to check out and places to visit:
- The Park/Stadium for the 1992 Olympic Games
- The National Catalonian Arts Museum
- Montjuïc Castle
- Poble Espanyol Museum
- Joan Miró Foundation – Museum and Gardens
- …and many more!
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!
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).
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
Location: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona
Towards the bottom of the Montjuic, close to the Plaça d’Espanya (which we’ll mention further below), is the Palau Nacional Building.
Inside you can find the National Art Museum of Catalonia – a place dedicated to exploring over a millennium of Catalan visual art.
You can get your Admission Ticket to the National Art Museum of Catalonia
Outside the museum, there is a beautiful photo opportunity from the bottom of the steps with the fountains in it. It’s definitely one of the top attractions in Barcelona – but for good reason.
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 the 10th to 20th century inside! Check out the official website for all the details.
At the bottom of the Museum towards the Plaça d’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
Address: Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 13 08038 Barcelona
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 museums 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.
Get Your Poble Espanyol Skip the Line Ticket
Eric hasn’t been, so we would love to go there when we visit Barcelona together!
Camp Nou and FC Barcelona Museum
Address: C. d’Arístides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona
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 by 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 about the important players for FC Barcelona. You also get to see the Stadium and take photos.
Book Your Ticket for the Stadium and Museum here.
The stadium itself is connected to the museum which is worth checking out if you are interested in soccer and/or the history of FC Barcelona.
Location: Connecting Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell (waterfront) between the Gothic Quarter and El Raval
Las Ramblas is the famous street in Barcelona that is good for walking and shopping. Eric spent a bit of time on it and Lisa doesn’t love it but it is one of the top Barcelona tourist spots – 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 here but it’s for the very touristy things – if you need your souvenirs this is the place to get them. Just watch for overcharging!
Other Gaudí Buildings
Circling back to Gaudí, there are plenty of other things to see in Barcelona that are connected to the famous man. If you keep an eye out, you’ll find lots of other buildings by Gaudí in different places around the city.
A few of Gaudí’s other buildings/projects are:
- Casa Milà – designed in the early 1900s, can be explored with an audio guide
- Casa Batlló – the restoration of an old house completed in 1904 using art Nouveau elements
- Palau Güell – the residence of Güell family; Gaudí’s first work for Eusebi Güell from 1888
- Casa-Museu Gaudí – Gaudí’s former residence located in Park Güell
- Casa Vicens – Gaudí’s first significant building built at the end of the 19th century
Since these attractions are arguably the more popular attractions – next to La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell – consider buying your skip-the-line admission ticket beforehand!
Gaudí Tip: If you are a fan of Gaudí, you might consider a guided “Ultimate Gaudí Artistic/Architectural Tour” to see his best works and buildings!
Barcelona Harbour Area (Port Vell)
Location: At the end of Las Ramblas by the water, aim for the Rambla De Mar walkway
The harbour area – Port Vell – is close to the end of Las Ramblas. You can walk the 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 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.
If you want to visit the Aquarium, it’s a good idea to get your Barcelona Aquarium Ticket in Advance.
Arc de Triomf
Address: Passeig de Lluís Companys, 08003 Barcelona
Looking for the giant red archway in everyone’s photos? That’s the Arc de Triomf – one of the top tourist attractions in Barcelona!
Located close to the waterfront and Parc de La Ciutadella, it was built in 1888 to welcome visitors to the Barcelona World Fair.
The arch 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 guilty of this!
When Eric was in Barcelona, he stayed very close to the Arc so when he and his 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.
Parc de La Ciutadella
Address: Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona
As mentioned just above, this is the park that is close to the Arc de Triomf! People usually just come here to relax and enjoy time outside.
In 1714, a citadel was built on this site by forced labourers on Philip V’s orders. 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).
The first time Lisa was in Barcelona she found this park more or less by accident and it was one of her favourite parts of the city (the Cascada Fountain is beautiful). There’s also a zoo in the 18-hectare park.
Playa de Barceloneta
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 16, 08003 Barcelona
If you’re done wondering what to see in Barcelona, you can always relax at the beach. 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: Plaça Espanya, 08015 Barcelona
Have you seen this square in a photo before? Probably – because Plaça d’Espanya (also known as Plaza de España) is Barcelona’s most important squares!
You will pass it at least once if you walk through the city or hop on a bus tour. It was originally built for the International Exhibition in 1929 and is located at the foot of Montjuic (which we mentioned up top).
Photo Tip: If you want the “classic” square photo, head for the shopping mall Arenas de Barcelona 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!
Monestir de Pedralbes
Address: Baixada del Monestir, 9, 08034 Barcelona
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. It’s also not terribly far from Camp Nou if you’re in that area of the city. Learn more about the museum here!
Palau de la Música Catalana
Address: C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona
For the music and architecture lovers visiting Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana is for you! This unique building – also designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner – is a Catalan Art Nouveau masterpiece.
The building itself is another UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its significance as a cultural and social landmark of Catalonia.
Inside, the stunning Concert Auditorium is masterfully colourful and ornate with stained glass all around.
Get Your Palau de la Musica Self-Guided Tour Ticket or hop on a Palau de la Musica Guided Tour
Visit the official website if you want to check out the performance schedule for when you visit.
The other local mountain we talked about in Barcelona is Tibidabo. At a height of 512 metres high, it is the highest mountain overlooking the city.
From the top, you get a great view of the city – and there is even 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!
Address: Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona
No, we’re not talking about the Sagrada Familia again! There are 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 located in the Gothic Quarter and looks very beautiful.
For those keeping track, it’s done in Gothic architecture. They have a great website where you can find lots of information about opening hours and visiting the Barcelona Cathedral.
Recinto Modernista de Sant Pau
Address: Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, 08025 Barcelona,
To experience the largest Art Nouveau complex in Europe, check out the Recinto Modernista de Sant Pau.
This former hospital and UNESCO World Heritage Site is now an interconnected series of green spaces, galleries, pavilions, and other areas to explore.
Whether you are interested in gazing at the restored architecture of Lluís Domènech i Montaner or learning about the history of healthcare, there’s something for everyone.
Get Your Admission Ticket for Recinto Modernista de Sant Pau
You can explore the grounds on a self-guided tour or choose to book a tour – it’s up to you!
Things to Consider When Visiting Barcelona
Before you pack your bags, we wanted to use this Barcelona travel guide to go over 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
Located in the northeast of Spain – right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea – Barcelona is the second biggest city in Spain.
It is the capital city (and largest city) of Catalonia. There are approximately 1.6 million people living within the city limits.
As we briefly mentioned, Barcelona is a very popular tourist destination so English is spoken at many attractions, shops, and restaurants.
However, we would really recommend that you at least try to learn a few words in Spanish and don’t expect that everyone just speaks English.
Besides Spanish, the residents have their own language (Catalan) and distinct culture.
In general, when visiting Barcelona, it’s important to be mindful of the culture, to respect the locals, and to 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 to visit Barcelona for you. 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 recommend that time since it can get very crowded and very hot.
You might consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of March-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 rainier, cloudier, windier, and much cooler – but you’d find a much less crowded city!
You might need a rain jacket (like Eric’s black North Face) when there but with that, you’d be good to explore!
Getting Around Barcelona
Barcelona has a great public transport system with a 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 – you can study a Barcelona Transit Map before you go!
A Hola BCN Transit Ticket gets you unlimited BCN transit access for 2 to 5 days.
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.
If you wanted more physical activity with your tour, you could take to the streets on a guided bike tour around Barcelona!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
If you’re heading to Barcelona, you might be unsurprised to learn that there are lots of accommodation options.
Busy, popular cities like Barcelona have a healthy mix of hotels, hostels, and even cozy guesthouses and bed and breakfasts.
You’ll find accommodations for every budget from budget hotels and hostels to luxury hotels – and everything in between.
Check for Hotels and Accommodations in Barcelona
If you are looking for a hotel in Barcelona, check out W Barcelona for amazing waterfront views or Hotel 1898 which is right on Las Ramblas.
Acta Voraport is closer to the beaches while Room Mate Carla is more of a boutique hotel in Dreta de l’Eixample (a few blocks from top sights).
Eric stayed close to La Rambla and it was busier but central – his hostel made our list of great hostels in Europe. Lisa has stayed in the area around Plaça d’Espanya and would recommend the area.
If you’re heading to Spain, here are a few other posts that you might find useful!
- Plan a Spain Itinerary for 5-14 Days (with Templates)
- 11 Beautiful Spanish Cities You Should Visit
- One Day in Barcelona: See, Eat, and Do!
- Research and Visit the Top Attractions All Over Spain
- Discover the Capital: Things to Do in Madrid
And there you have it – some of the best places to visit in Barcelona. In the end, there is so much to see in Barcelone. 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.
As always, Happy Waddlin’,