Barcelona is the second largest city of Spain. There is so much to see in Barcelona. It’s also the fourth-most popular visited urban area in the European Union for tourists and the 16th most visited city in the world. There is no reason not to visit this city. Every year millions of tourists visit Barcelona. Statistics say there are three times more tourists than there are residents. After the Olympic Games in 1992 the city became very popular for foreign people. There came more and more shops and special activities for tourists. You will never get bored in Barcelona. There is so much to do.
There are tons of places to visit in Barcelona. You can extend your trip for days exploring the many cultural and entertainment hot spots of the city. The following list gives you a condensed introduction of the most exclusive places to see in Barcelona.
Barcelona is a thriving and incredibly enchanting Spanish city, attracting tourists from all over the world each year. The main flavor of the city is a unique confluence of the old traditions and new trends. Between the two aspects, Barcelona provides something for every preference.
The architectural heritage of the city can be traced back to more than 2000 years and it is alive with a variety of different influences. The walls of the ancient city and the looming temple towers have a distinctive Roman influence. The Gothic influence on the city is clearly apparent among the many sculptural masterpieces strewn all over the city and the Cathedrals dating back to the 14th century.
The art fanatics can find themselves quite at home with the spectacular exhibits housed at the many museums of the city. These exhibits are more slanted towards the classical style with works of the Masters such as Dali and Picasso amongst others.
Famous for it’s wealth of architecture, arts, heritage and general culture, Barcelona hosts an array of outstanding museums. Many of which are a must do whilst in the city. We have put together a list of the top ten museums to visit during your stay in Barcelona. Whether you are a couple, family of four, solo traveler or with friends, there is something suitable for all.
The street culture of the city continues to give rise to many modern fashion trends. Street performers, exclusive vendors, and live entertainers make it a shoppers paradise. You will find your niche in the perfect world of Barcelona if you just plan your trip and allow yourself to explore. The list below will give you a few guided ranges to start your trip right.
Why you should visit Barcelona
Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers. This is one of the reasons why Barcelona is such a popular destination. In December, January and February the average temperature is still 15 degrees. Of course it also rains in Barcelona, but even then there are things you can do. Go to a shopping mall or make a tour with the bus. In the summer the average temperature is 30 degrees.
Spanish people love to eat. Their specialty is Tapas. Tapas are different dishes, such as appetizers or snacks. They may be cold, but they can also be warm. It is common that you order different dishes, they put them on the table and then you take what you like. You can find tapas restaurants everywhere. You don´t need to search them. Most restaurants have good prices, because there is a lot of competition.
If you love to shop then you’re going to love Barcelona. In almost every part of the city you will find a shop that suits your taste. The city offers around 35.000 shops. You can find small boutiques, big shopping malls, exclusive brands and also very affordable clothing. On Passeig de Gràcia you can find more exclusive brands. There are different locations where you can find El Corte Inglés. This is a Spanish warehouse where you can buy all kinds of brands. There are also some shopping malls. To give some examples: Diagonal Mar, l’Illa Diagonal, Gran Via 2 and La Maquinista.
Barcelona’s cultural roots go back 2000 years. There are so many cultural things to see in Barcelona. You will never have enough time to see everything. The most famous attractions is “La Sagrada Família”. This is a church influenced by Gaudí. Of course there are much more things, for example: Park Güell, Palau de la Musica, Casa Batlló and Plaça Reial.
When you want to escape the city for a while you can go to the beach. Here you can enjoy the sun and the quietness. It’s coastline stretches for 4.5 km and offers a wide variety of excellent beaches. The most popular beaches among tourists are La Barceloneta, Mar Bella, Nova Icaria and Bogatell. Near the beach there are a few very good restaurants where you can have a great lunch or dinner.
What to see in Barcelona
This Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece is the most popular thing in Barcelona. The construction of this church had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883. He died in 1926. At that time the church wasn’t finished. Only a quarter of the project was finished. When Gaudí died another architect took over the project. When you visit the church you can see there is a difference between the front and back side. Although they said they should stick to the project of Gaudí , is looks like the style is different. They think the church will be completed in 2026.
If in Barcelona and you have the time to just visit a single spot, pick this one! The famed Sagrada Família has even found its way in to recent literary works (Dan Brown’s Origin being the latest) as an iconic landmark of Barcelona. The perfect example of the fusions of traditional art, architecture and modernist designs, Sagrada Família is an inspiration in the intense vertical design. The work on the cathedral was started in 1882, and the final completion of the work is projected to be over by the year 2026. That is almost a century after the death of the original architect. The work on the cathedral is funded by donations and the monument continues to attract over 2.8 million of visitors every year.
Another architectural spectacle that has evolved as one of the most modernist designs even when the idea was conceptualized centuries ago, Casa Batlló is Gaudí’s architectural masterpiece. The beautiful facade of the building is decorated with effusive use of blue, green and mauve hued tiles. The window frames are designed to be shaped as waves and the incredible roof of the building is completely outfitted with blue colored tiles. The building alludes to an alive sea creature and this allusion is further reinforced by the solitary tower in the design. The building is actually a house and is hemmed in by two other houses on the same block – Carrer d’Arago and the Carrer del Consell de Cent.
This magnificent gothic Cathedral in the city center, with a delightful cloister and significant religious artworks are really worth seeing. The first stone of the current church was laid in the 13th century, but it would last until the early 20th century before the cathedral was fully completed. The church was named after Barcelona’s patron saint Eulalia. Its official name, “Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia“, is Catalan for Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. The commonly used name “La Seu” refers to the status of the church as the seat of the diocese. There are always 13 geese in the courtyard. Each goose represents one year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulalia, a young girl allegedly tortured to death in the 4th century by the Romans for her religion.
Being the city’s very central worship point, “La Catedral” does justice to its position with its magnificent visage. You can find the architecture has been richly decorated with intricate stonework, sculpted authentic Gargoyles and gothic facades that is quite expected of an ancient European church of this standing. The main building dates back to the 1200s however, the facade on the building as separately added during 1870. The octagonal roof structure of the cathedral is quite famous amongst architectural enthusiasts who appreciate the Catalan Gothic principles of architecture. Morning and afternoon visits to the cathedral is free although you might have to pay a small fee for visits to the choir stalls, the chapter house or to stroll through the roofs. However, you can also book an entrance through the “donation entryway” during the hours of 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm for a lesser crowded visit through the beautiful cathedral structure.
The palace, built between 1885 and 1890, is one of the early works of the famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. At the first glance of the palace it reflects the connection of decorative and structural elements, which later became characteristic of Gaudí’s work. Gaudí made different use of the steel supporting structure and made it a decorative element as well as designing flat Byzantine arches inside the palace. On the facade of the building there are two sets of large gate, through which horse-drawn carriages and wagons could follow directly in the lower stables and cellars, while the guests were able to climb the stairs to the upper floors.
To continue with families can visit Park Güell, where they can see works of Antoni Gaudí and kids can play hide and seek in along the tricky park routes. The park is protected by UNESCO as a “work of Antoni Gaudí” whose monuments are the most famous and frequently visited in Barcelona. Gaudí is famous of his undisputable style of using flora and fauna as an example in the buildings and constructions. Park Güell is a famous park in the upper part of Barcelona, created by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1914. Is a combination of gardens and residential areas, and the area of the park is 17.18 hectares. It is very different from typical parks images and will be interesting for everyone.
You simply cannot escape Gaudí’s genius once you land in Barcelona. The Park Güell is listed in UNESCO as the place where Gaudí started his experimentation with landscape garden designs. The enchanting garden is a must see when visiting Barcelona particularly because in its natural form the garden almost seems more than nature itself (if it is possible). You can opt for a car hire Barcelona to take you to the Park, but it is strongly advised to book your visit online because the access to the park is strictly limited. Only a certain number of people are allowed in the park at an interval of half-an hour. The park also attracts an insane number of visitors over 4 million) each year.
35 large tanks are home to over 11.000 creatures representing 450 species. The Aquarium opened on 8th September 1995. Since then the aquarium has been visited by more than 14 million people. It is also possible to dive with sharks, but there are some restrictions. It costs €300. On the site you can find more information. The aquarium is open all year and a ticket for adults costs € 18,00.
This Spanish village was constructed for the 1929 world exhibition. This mini town features replica architecture from all over Spain. he aim was to produce an “ideal model” Spanish village, a synthesis of monumental Spain. The architects that designed the town were Francesc Folguera and Ramon Reventós. The museum occupies a total area of 42,000 square meters and contains 117 buildings, with streets and squares reproduced to scale.
This is one of the most emblematic meeting points in the city. The neoclassical square was built in 1848 as a convent. It lies next to La Rambla and constitutes a well-known touristic attraction, especially at night. On the plaza are a large number of restaurants and some of the city’s most famous nightclubs. There is a great atmosphere all day. You can have a lunch during the day or go for a dinner at night. All restaurants are open until 12pm.
Palau de la Musica
This is a concert hall in Barcelona. Designed in the Catalan “modernista” style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It was built between 1905 and 1908 for the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891 that was a leading force in the Catalan cultural movement that came to be known as the Renaixença (Catalan Rebirth). The decoration and lacaish interior creates an idyllic setting for concerts.
Casa Milà, called La Pedrera, is designed by Antoni Gaudí. This is a famous building at one of the main streets in Barcelona, Passeig de Garcia. It was built around 1905 and is completed in 1912. Gaudí built is for a married couple, Roser Segimon and Pere Milà. Nowadays it is a very cultural place. You have to pay entrance and then you can walk inside the building.
The attic in La Pedrera is stunning and elaborate housing some of the original plans of Gaudí’s work, including scale models and visual presentations. The attics of the building (where the water tanks and washing lines were based) are formed by two hundred and seventy catenary arches of different heights and actually hold up the roof. The space showcases Gaudí’s intrinsic obsession with natural elements in architecture.
The magic fountain of Montjuïc’s first performance was on May 19, 1929 during the Great Universal Exhibition. The fountains were designed by Carles Buigas. His plan was completed just one year before the exhibition. Over 3000 workers were commissioned to work on the project and less than 1 year later the magic fountain was born. A few times a week you can see a spectacular show. Operating hours are from 30th April to 30th September, Thursday to Sunday, 9:00 pm – 11:30 pm.
Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
This church is located at the top of the Tibidabo mountain. The building is the work of the Spanish Catalan architect Enric Sagnier and was completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal. The construction of the church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, lasted from 1902 to 1961. From the mountain you have a beautiful view over the city. It is really worth going there when you are in Barcelona.
Santa Maria del Mar
This basilica is an imposing church in the Ribera district of Barcelona, built between 1329 and 1383. From the outside, Santa Maria gives an impression of massive severity that belies the interior. In contrast with the exterior, the interior gives an impression of light and spaciousness. In 1428 an earthquake caused several casualties and destroyed a window. The new window was finished in 1459.
A very exciting experience would be a walk along La Rambla and to see the amazing live sculptures and of course take a picture with them. If you give them a coin they will start to unpredictably move and do some tricks which are very interesting to watch. You can also find stores and cafeterias where it is very nice to take a break from walking and enjoy Catalan traditional drinks and snacks or buy souvenirs.
It is a private house, built between 1883 and 1885, and is again been designed by Antoni Gaudí for the family of Manuel Vicens. The building is the first major order of Gaudí. The house, designed for summer residence, was built by Vicens, a manufacturer of bricks and tiles. It was built in stone and the rawness of colored tiles arranged in a checkerboard pattern with floral ornaments. The ceramic tiles are a tribute to the activities of its owner.
The monument was created for the World Exhibition in Barcelona in 1888. The City Council of Barcelona had decided to build the monument and the first stone was laid on September 28, 1882, and after 6 years, on the 1 June 1888, the opening ceremony was held. The restoration of the monument took place in 1929, 1965, 1984. Inside the monument there is a lift which rises to the observation deck (60 meters), where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
MNAC is a large museum located in the former royal Palace just along Plaça Espanya. The collections vary from coins, photography, sculptures and Gothic pieces. We have a soft spot for the Roman murals that are displayed here. It also makes a great place for brunch or lunch, with a restaurant based on the upper floor with a beautiful view of the city. From here it is easy to go for a stroll and perhaps visit the open-air Greek theater or see Palau Sant Jordi at the former Olympic site in the city.
One of the most popular museums based in Barcelona is the Museu Picasso, Carrer Montcada 15-23. It makes a perfect pace for exploring the old town and Born neighborhood. The museum reveals the work of Pablo Ruiz Picasso via more than 3,800 pieces. Opened in 1963, it is here that you can see Picasso’s deep relationship with Barcelona. If you go on a Sunday, be sure to go early, as the queues get pretty long.
Fundació Joan Miró
The Fundació Joan Miró houses large displays of work by the famous Catalan in this glorious space on Montjuic, just near the cable car. It is the world’s most complete collection of Miró’s work and includes sculptures, drawings, paintings, textiles and ceramics.
Museu de la Xocolata
Yes, you read this correctly. Conveniently based near the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella in the former Sant Agustí monastery, you have a museum dedicated to what we love the most, chocolate. With informative and fun workshops and a dynamic tour of delicatessens, the history of cocoa is explained, as is the production of chocolate and the machinery used. More excitingly, you can even see a variety of creations made by chocolatiers, including Barcelona football players and giant Easter eggs.
The Maritime Museum
Located near Port Vell of Barcelona, the old port. Dedicated to maritime culture that spans more than 75 years of history, the museum showcases the heritage with a wide collection. It is based at the bottom of Las Ramblas, so rather easy to get to and close to the beautiful port. For those that also like a spot of thrifty shopping – there is an antique market nearby that is open on the weekends.
City History Museum
Take a step through the pages of history once you visit this amazing museum in the heart of Barcelona. A stroll through the museum will take you over the enthralling ruins of the ancient streets, laundries, and old factories that once used to be flourishing with wine making industries in the 10th Century B.C. The main museum building is a part of the ancient Palau Reial Major on the famous Placa del Rei. You can enter the Museum grounds through the spectacular Casa Padellas, which stands along the south side of Placa del Rei. The exhibits in the museum are set at a restored section and tower of the Roman Wall. The walk through the excavation site at the underground level of the Museum will allow you to browse through the discovered ruins of the Visigoth and the Roman empire of ancient Barcelona.
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is full of history and one of the most enlightening museums is The City History Museum in the Plaça del Rei. You are forced to face what would have been the reality in previous centuries, with underground paths, ruins of houses and chambers dating back to the Roman times.
You will find Barcelona’s Science Museum, on route to the mountain of Tibidabo. This is one museum that never disappoints, with an assortment of audio-visuals, hands on subject matters and interactive guides you can’t help but connect with the curious inner child and love science. A must for families and those that love animals, as there is an aquarium located on the lower floor and a small zoo area with small animals and reptiles.
The CosmoCaixa also offers other areas, exhibitions and activities related with Science for children, adults and families: the Clik and Flash, the Bubble Planetarium and other workshops for families.
FC Barcelona Museum
Take a trip to Camp Nou and see what makes these Catalans specials, with their gigantic football ground, which currently stands at the third largest worldwide. Impressive right? Here you can book tours, go through the tunnel and of course buy tickets to see a match.
Design Museum of Barcelona
The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona (DHUB) is actually a merger between a museum, a center and a laboratory and is dedicated to showcasing all aspects of design. This museum is great for artistic types, exploring technology, advertising, textiles and more. It is just near the Picasso museum and definitely worth visiting.
Barcelona Touristic Bus
To get an overview of the city I would advise you to take a bus tour, where you will pass by most of the cultural and historical monuments of Barcelona. Moreover, kids would not have to walk and it will make the trip much easier for you when they just can stay in the bus and enjoy colorful views. A one day ticket will cost about 25€ and gives you an opportunity to save time on transportation and get to see more for a shorter period of time. One of the main benefits of the bus tour is the fact that you can get on and off from it whenever you want and many bus pass along the same route, so your waiting time is minimal.
Furthermore, a visit to Aquarium Barcelona, which is the most important marine center, would be an unforgettable experience for kids and also adults; there you can see aquariums with more than 10000 sea habitants. Also here you can see the Europe one Oceanarium where tourists can enjoy an amazing show with giltheads, sharks and morays. A great aspect is that the animals “feel” their freedom and this gives you an opportunity to see them in their natural environment.
In addition, an unforgettable experience for the family vacation would be a visit to the Barcelona Zoo. The zoo has thousands of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. You can also visit the Zoo club, which is a haven for protected and rare species of animals, such as the albino gorilla.Categories: Guides
Localities: Barcelona, Europe, Spain
Travel Themes: Fun, Nature