Welcome to Barcelona! ¡ Benvingut a Barcelona! The nightlife, the sea, and a vibrant culture are waiting for you. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, and one of the most popular destinations in Europe. This city has so much to offer that you could stay for days and still have so much more to see and do. If this is your first visit to Barcelona, take a look at the best things to do and make the most of your stay. Let’s get started!
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The Sagrada Familia
The architect who designed this church is Antoni Gaudí, one of Catalonia’s most famous artists. Although he passed away almost a century ago, the construction of the monument has not yet been completed. Without a doubt, this gigantic Gothic temple is worth visiting for a few hours, as it contains architectural treasures and hidden details. At its current rate, the construction of the Sagrada Familia should be finished around 2026.
Our tip: Consider buying your tickets online. You will have to pick a time slot, so you won’t have to wait more than 10 minutes to enter.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center, take a stroll through Parc Güell. You will recognize Gaudi’s style in the architecture and the giant lizard made of tiles at the main entrance. Climb to the top of this park to enjoy one of the best views of Barcelona. The park is open all year round.
Casa Mila and Casa Batllo
These two buildings designed by Gaudí are located on the famous avenue Passeig de Gracia, you can’t miss them! You will be surprised by their architectural style that contrasts with the style of the district in which they are located. Get tickets to visit inside, it is absolutely unique.
Our tip: Here again, buy tickets online if you want to visit these monuments without having to queue at the entrance.
The Gothic Quarter
As its name suggests, this district includes many monuments inspired by the Gothic style, such as the famous Cathedral of Barcelona. It is the oldest part of the city, characterized by its narrow streets where you can walk freely and discover unique stores.
If you are looking for souvenirs for your family or friends, this is the perfect neighborhood! You will find many handicraft stores offering quality products.
Our tip: Take a guided tour to get a historical introduction to this mysterious area of Barcelona. There are many alternatives, free or paid.
This is the most touristic place, often crowded, but it’s still a must-see in Barcelona! La Rambla is the pedestrian avenue that goes across the city and down to the sea. Walking along, you will see mimes in unique costumes, the Miró mosaics, flower kiosks and the beautiful buildings.
Our advice: This is where promoters will come to you and offer discounts to go out to a club at night.
La Boquería Market
Barcelona’s emblematic market is located between Plaza Catalunya and the Liceu metro exit. Make a gourmet stop to discover and taste Catalan specialties.
Our tip: The first shops are directly targeting tourists with cut fruits and other snacks to take away. If you want more “authentic” products, don’t hesitate to go further inside the market.
Viewpoint of the statue of Christopher Columbus
To enjoy a magnificent view without going all the way to Parc Güell, you can take a walk to this statue, located at the end of the Rambla. As its name suggests, it was built as a tribute to Christopher Columbus, who is pointing towards America.
Our tip: Many people are not aware of it, but it is possible to take a small elevator inside the monument that allows you to access the viewpoint and enjoy a breathtaking view of the harbor and the Rambla.
Hang out in the fishermen’s and sailors’ district of La Barceloneta, and enjoy the Mediterranean charm of its narrow streets. The most famous beach of Barcelona is also the most crowded one. If you really want to enjoy the sea, we recommend you go a bit further away from the city. In the smaller city of Sitges, for example, 35 km south of Barcelona, you will find cleaner and more charming beaches. You can get there by train for about 7.75 €.
Our tip: This area gets really crowded in the summer days, beware of pick-pockets.
The Picasso Museum
Hundreds of works of art can be found in the Picasso Museum, including a large number of the master’s early works. Picasso lived in Barcelona for nine years – between the ages of 15 and 23 – and was undeniably inspired by the city. A unique collection you don’t want to miss!
Our tip: The museum is free on the first Sunday of the month.
Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau is located 5 minutes walk from the Sagrada Familia. It is the city’s former hospital and one of the most complex modernist buildings in Europe. Its old facade, at the end of Gaudí Avenue, invites you to enter and discover the colorful gardens and pavilions. You can visit the exhibition space and travel through the history of medicine in Barcelona.
Our tip: The visit is free on the first Sunday of the month (only until 2 pm).
Plaza Espanya is one of the transportation hubs of Barcelona. You will not miss it if you use public transportation in Barcelona. The old bullring and its rooftop are worth taking a short stop. The bullring is now converted into a shopping mall and there are restaurants on the rooftop. You can enjoy a great view of Montjuïc and the Museum of Catalonia.
Our tip: No need to pay for the elevator to get to the roof. Enter the mall and take the escalator to the top floor.
If you visit Barcelona, Montjuïc has many points of interest that you cannot miss: the 1992 Olympic Games infrastructures, such as the Olympic swimming pool or the Olympic stadium. You can also discover the Museum of Catalonia and the castle of Montjuïc to learn about the history of Catalonia.
To climb the Montjuïc district, located on a hill, there are different options. You can go walking (about half an hour from Plaza España), by bus, by funicular (from Parallel metro station) or by cable car from Barceloneta.
Our tip: At night, near the Museum of Catalonia, you can enjoy a free light show by the fountain, also called “the magic fountain”. Ask for the schedules, as they change according to the season.
If you want to relax for a while, take a walk along the beaches near the Olympic Port. They are larger and less crowded than the beaches of Barceloneta.
Do you want to dance at night? The restaurants in the area turn into discotheques when the day is over… Be careful with the prices though.
Our tip: You can get into many nightclubs without paying if you sign up on the lists available online, but you will have to arrive before 01:00 am.
Tibidabo Church and Park
If the length of your stay allows it, a stop at the Tibidabo Church and Park is highly recommended. It will take you 30 minutes by public transport from Plaza Catalunya. You can also walk there if you feel like going on a 2 hours walk. You will reach the immense church that overlooks Barcelona. The view from there is much wider than from Parc Güell and there is also an amusement park.
Our advice: We recommend you to take the metro and then the funicular to get there!
Bunkers del Carmel
This is a very popular location in Barcelona. The remains of old bunkers are not particularly impressive, but the place is great to watch the sunset with a breathtaking view of the city of Barcelona.There are very few buses to get there, the best option will be to walk there.
Our advice: There are different hiking trails starting at the bunkers hills that you might want to explore if you have time.
Traveling to Barcelona: Practical information
- Population: 1.6 million
- Language: Spanish and Catalan
- Currency: Euro
- Visa: if you hold a passport from the United-States, Canada or the UK, you are eligible for visa-free entry into Spain.
When is the best time to travel?
One of the main reasons why Barcelona is one of the favorite destinations for Spaniards is its climate: with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, you’ll have plenty of time to fill up on vitamin D. In addition, the city is known for its numerous activities throughout the year, such as the Mercè festival in September, the Gràcia festival in August and the popular festivals in the different neighborhoods of the Catalan capital throughout the year. As you can see, there will always be something to do in Barcelona, no matter what date you choose.
Of course, expect to see more people on the streets during the summer vacations. If you want your stay to be quiet, the best time to go to Barcelona is definitely the months of May-June or September-October. Don’t worry, you will still have sunny days!
Where to get accommodation in Barcelona?
No matter the season you chose to visit Barcelona, we highly recommend that you book your accommodation in advance as prices go up quickly.
If you want to stay close to the beach, you are sure to find what you are looking for in the following areas:
- La Barceloneta (quite touristy).
- La Vila Olípica or Poblenou
- If you prefer to have a view of the Sagrada Familia, look in the neighborhood with the same name.
- For something more alternative, the center, especially Gótico or Raval.
Don’t hesitate to move away from the center to find a hotel in Barcelona, public transportation works very well both day and night and is not very expensive. You can make 10 trips for less than 12 euros. Barcelona also has an excellent night bus service (Nitbus) for the same price as a normal ticket.
How to rent a car in Barcelona?
If you are only planning to visit the city, renting a car is not necessary. However, if you want to discover the best spots along the Costa Brava and stop by other cities such as Girona or Tarragona, then renting a car is the easiest option. Unless you have free parking with your accommodation, keeping the rental car in Barcelona might bring unnecessary stress:
- There are very few free parking lots in the city. You might find some free parking spots in Montjuïc or Llucmajor, but these areas are not central.
- The Barcelona tow truck is always around the corner and has no mercy. Only park if you are sure it is allowed.
How do I get around Barcelona?
The public transportation system is an excellent way to get around Barcelona. So don’t hesitate to use it during your stay. Metro services, for example, are available and extended until 2am on Friday nights and non-stop on Saturday and Sunday nights.
If you prefer to use a bicycle, the city has many bicycle paths. You won’t be able to rent bikes on demand like in Lyon and Paris for example (the service is reserved for residents), but many stores offer short-term rentals at reasonable prices.
If you want to use an electric scooter, make sure you use the bike paths. Its use is strongly supervised by the police.
Are you ready for a beautiful Catalan escape?