I’ve had so much fun compiling this list of the top places to visit in Barcelona, Spain one of my favourite cities to visit. The first time I went to Barcelona was to visit my best friends on Erasmus with a university friend and I remember seeing something magical in the city, the stunning architecture and overall atmosphere are unique. We stayed in the girls dorm in a boutique youth hostel which felt more like a hotel, near the center of the city. I made close friends with and American girl and a few hours after arriving in Spain we were enjoying amazing tapas right in front of Sagrada Familia, sat in a authentic Spanish restaurant, and feeling like we were on a movie set. If you know me, you know that this article would not be complete without a reference to The Cheetah Girls 2 Disney movie “sigamue y descrure Barcelona… ” (follow me and discover Barcelona…)
1. The Sagrada Familia
Very few places manage to leave me speechless but Sagrada Familia is definitely one, I have always been a lover of architecture and the famous church is one of Antonio Gaudi’s the Catalan architect’s master pieces. Visiting Barcelona in a summer this church is a must due to the way the light dances against the stain glass windowss. Visiting the cathedral is made up of two distinctive experiences as pictured below; exploring the the outside and marvelling the inside. It is a large unfinished Roman Catholic Church, the constructon began in 1882 by Del Villar, who resigned and was one year later proceeded by the archietect Gaudi who combined both gothic and art noveau forms to create the church as it stands today. The church is still not yet completed and is planned to be finished by 2026. Alongside six other Gaudi buildings, in Barcelona, part of La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO world heritage site. One thing to note is that you must be prepared to wait in a long line outisde Sagrada Familia and to show your phone, this was something which I didn’t expect that ended up happening when I visited. You can skip the line by getting the tickets online to get priority access.
2. Ciutedella Park
This is one of the most beautiful parks you will ever visit! It was created in the 19th century and is still considered as the ‘Greenest Oasis’ in Barcelona, the historical garden stretches across 2800 square metres and it includes the city zoo, the catalan parliment, a small lake, a large fountain and museums. Also don’t miss the Arc de Triunfo de Barcelona which was built as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona world fair. The park is a beautiful location for reading and relaxing and is also a popular place for cycling or taking walks. In the small lake there is duck feeding and you can also hire rowing boats. The renting of the rowing boats has a maximum duration of 30 minutes and is approx €6 for two people and up to €10 for four or five people. The wonderful fountain and watefall in the park was designed by both Fontseré and Gaudi and it is beautifully decorated dating back to the end of the 19th century with sculptural features by Catalan artists.
3. La Barcaloneta Beach
La Barceloneta is a neighbourhood in the old city of Barcelona, it is now most famous for it’s famous sandy beach and numerous restaurants and bars, alongside night clubs along the broadwalk. Undoubtedly when I visited Spain in my mid twenties I remember havinf one of the best nights out I have ever had in Pacha. Barcelona has some great sand beaches but can get very crowded in the summer time. It’s also home to Barcelona’s most iconic luxury 5 star W Hotel which is a must visit even if it’s just to have a look or to visit the pub/bar The Eclipse which is open to non guests from 7-10pm. Just like any turistic beach especially if you visit in the busier summer months be sure to keep hold of your belongings well. A great attraction and idea is to take a small group cruise with friends with a drink included these boat tours are roughly £30 per person and can be prebooked.
4. Park Güell
Park Güell is a public park made up of gardens and many architectural elements, just in it’s colourful beauty it is a must-see when visiting Barcelona located on Carmel Hill it is another one of Gaudi’s architectural works and was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park 12 years later. UNESCO declared the park as world heritge site under ‘workd of Antoni Gaudi. Part of the park is free, however if you want to sit on the long curved mosaic bench in the form of a sea serpent or see the famous lizard fountain then you will need to pay a small fee of around €13.50. This fee covers the monumental zone (terrace, main entrance and parts containing mosaics). A must see is the park’s highest point where there is a stone hill compose of steps which leads up to a large platform holding three large crosses. Its official name is “El Turó de les Tres Creus,” however many tourists choose to call it Calvary. This lookout is very special as it offers the most complete view of Barcelona and it is possible to see breathtaking of the whole city in panorma, with other another famous Antonio Gaudi work the Sagrada Famila can be seen from this vantage point, as well as the Agbar Tower and Montjuic being visible in the distance.
5. Castell de Montjuïc
One of my fondest memories of visiting Barcelona was been taken to visit Castell de Montjuic an old military fortress on top of the city. Over the years the castle has played many roles including prison and. military fortress and now museum. The castle itself is huge with it not being rare to find a spot all to yourself. At the very top there are scenic views across the whole of Barcelona and it is not uncommon to find many places to take pictures. Architecturally the castle is grand with many unique features, it makes for a great day trip and is normally not too crowded meaning you have space to really see the castle and the museum and enjoy the views to the fullest extent.
Just half an hour away from the Castle de Montjuic is the Tibidabo Amusement Park nestled 1200 feet at the Tibidabo mountain. Visiting allows you to see a combination of both the cathedral ( Church of the Sacred Heart) as well as an amusement park located nearby. With construction starting back in 1899 it is one of the world’s oldest operating amusement parks. The church took over 60 years to build from 1902 to 1962. The idea of the park was the idea of that of pharmaceutical engineer Salvador Andreu who decided to invest in the urban development of the mountain. His initial idea included the creation of a funicular, a tramline and an amusement park at the very top. Riding the funicular is an extremely fun experience and sticks out in my mind as one of my fondest memories visiting the church. There are many great rides in the amusement park but most visitors attend to see the vintage attractions.
7. Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the city of Barcelona, as when I visited I was staying in a youth hostel I chose to take a historical walking tour of the city. The website with locals: https://www.withlocals.com/s/spain/barcelona/tours/?keywords%5B%5D=gothic-quarter-walking-tour&k=Barcelona+Gothic+Quarter+Walking+Tour&msclkid=9a550d58a7f3175015396c44aea8fe4a&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Barcelona_Tours_EN_CC_Core&utm_term=gothic%20quarter%20walking%20tour%20barcelona&utm_content=Barcelona-gothic-quarter-walking-tour offers several reasonably priced walking tours, but they are not hard to miss. If you spot a tour, the tour guides are always personable and friendly and willing to take smaller groups at all time throughout the day. The benefit of taking this walking tour is a deep dive and historical understanding of the city. This includes understanding where there are remains of the city’s roman wall alongside other notable medieval landmarks. One thing that sticks out in my mind is being shown the ghouls and told the history of the many features, the quarter consists of a labyrinth street plan consisting of numerous small streets which open out into squares. Despite it’s name several landmark gothic features in the neighbourhood do not date back to the Middle Ages but to the late 19th and early mid 20th century.
8. La Ramblas
La Rambla is a 1.2km long crowded street through Barcelona. It was originally a sewage filled stream bed, usually dry but an important feature for the heavy rain water flowing from the hills during spring and autumn. With thousands of tourists walking around and soaking up the atmosphere La Rambla is one of Barcelona’s main attractions. However, be careful when walking through here as La Rambla is also infamous for theives and scammers. In fact Barcelona is usually called pick-pocket capital of the world so be sure to keep your belongings visible and secure when exploring this part of the city. It is likely pick-pocketters will stop to talk and scammers may try and distract you, I also wouldn’t suggest walking here alone at night. A must visit where several bars and tapas places can be found is. Place Reial off La Rambla I remember being so enamoured by the architecture of these shuttered apartments and palm trees that I chose to make many sketches of this particular area after my trip. If you’re someone who loves art you will surely find that someone is drawing or maybe even painting in some of Barcelona’s squares.
9. La Boqueria Market
This market is a large food market in the city district of Barcelona and one of the cities main tourist landmarks, with an entrance from La Ramblas. The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates to year 1217, the current name is seemingly arrived from the Catalan word ‘Boa’ meaning La Boqueria was a place where goat meat was sold. I remember this experience being colourful and exciting in particular due to the wide array of fruit and foods on display in this market, it is definitely a must visit during one of your mealtimes when visiting Barcelona There’s plenty of fresh fruits and authentic treats you can try from the market.
10. Magic Fountain
The Magic Fountain is situated be
One of my fondest memories and most spectacular things I have experienced was the lights show at the magic fountain in Barcelona. The Magic Fountain is situated below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuic Mountain and near the placa d’ Espana. The fountain like most of the surrounding development was constructed for the 1929 Barcelona national exhibition. The first show took place on May 19 1929 before the start of the Exposition. The fountain was badly damaged in the Spanish civil war and so as a result did not operate until 1955. In the 1980s music was incorporated with the lights show and the fountain alongside the Museo Nacional which was completely restored prior to the 1992 summer Olympics which where held at Montjuic. There is definitely a unique star quality about the lights show and the atmosphere it creates is unlike any other I have ever seen. The timetable for the Magic Lightshow can be found here: https://visitmontjuic.com/en/the-magic-fountain-of-montjuic/
Other Museums and Barcelona Attractions
Thanks so much for reading! There are plenty of other places to see in Barcelona and these include the following:
11. Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso)
As a huge art lover visiting here was a must-do for me to discover more about the amazing Spanish artist and houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. With 4,251 works exhibited by the painter, the museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of works. Above is some street art I found of Picasso’s work whilst on a walking tour through Barcelona city. The musuem is located a 3-min walk from the Santa Maria del Mar, Barcelona,Address: Carrer de Montcada, 15-23, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. Opening Hours: Tuesday- Sunday 10am-8pm. Free admission every Thursday afternoon from 6pm-8pm. Prices: Tickets are roughly €12/ free for children
12. Barcelona Football Stadium
One of the best football clubs in the world, I couldn’t leave Barcelona on my visit without buying authentic football memorabilia for friends and family, I highly recommend seeing the footballs stadium and the surrounding shop to find authentic merchandise.
The following three museums are definitely on my list of places I’d love to visit:
13. CosmoCaixa – Science Museum: CosmoCaixa offers its visitors a whole host of activities and permanent and temporary exhibitions to give anyone who is interested a greater insight into the world of science. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 8:00pm. Closed on Mondays. Closed on Mondays. Prices: €3 / free under 6 years old. Tickets can be pre- bought on Trip Advisor
14.Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya: This film was actually featured in the film Vicky, Cristina Barcelona and has grand steps leading to it’s entrance it is a must visit for art lovers. Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. Saturdays from 10 am to 8 pm. Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm. Prices: Tickets are roughly €12/ free for children
15.Museu de les Ciències Naturals: This is a must- see for lovers of archaeology and geology and is a high rated place to visit for museum lovers. Opening times and admission fees vary according to exhibitions which can be found at: https://museuciencies.cat/en/the-nat/venues/natural-sciences-museum-of-barcelona/useful-information/opening-times-and-admission-fees/