Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and Spain’s second largest city. It’s also one of the most important touristic cities in Europe and home of the great Barça, one of the best-known football teams in the European league. The city showcases world-class museums, some of the most exquisite restaurants and historic buildings designed by famous architects.
Now that I live in Spain, Barcelona has become one of my favorite cities to visit. I know my way around the city already, so here is my personal guide to ensure that you have as wonderful a time as me in this beautiful city!
First thing’s first, if you’re planning on traveling to Barcelona, keep these important tips in mind:
- Buy entrances to attractions online. It saves you time and patience from the long queues and you can score some discounts! Barcelona is really overcrowded during the high season and the tickets may run out faster than you think.
- Search for free tickets and special promotions. Some museums will offer free admission on certain days.
- Choose your hotel wisely. A hotel far from the city center may seem cheaper but keep in mind, that most of the interesting sights and nightlife are located in the heart of the city. Count in all the taxi rides, bus and metro tickets, then make your calculations.
- Use the Hop-on-hop-off bus. It’s a great way to see the most important sights in the city.
- Be careful with pickpockets, especially on La Rambla, metro and on the beach.
You have that covered? Great! Off we go to explore Barcelona…
The Work of Gaudí
Gaudís work is one of Barcelona’s top tourist attractions. He has designed several buildings across the city so to admire his work, just have a nice walk around the streets of Barcelona.
The must-see pieces of his work are The Sagrada Família and Park Güell, but La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, and Casa Vicens are worth seeing as well.
The Sagrada Família
An impressive unfinished basilica which is under construction since 1882. It is expected that Sagrada Família church will be finished in 2026. The giant basilica attracts over 3 million visitors a year, so be smart and buy tickets in advance to skip those long queues. Also, if you are on a budget, you can see the church from the outside – the architecture is really amazing and it’s FREE to admire!
- Park Güell
This park looks like a fairy tale city with its stone sculptures, seating areas, and amazing buildings. Park Güell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was originally planned as an exclusive residential garden city solely for the aristocracy.
If you love art, you have to visit the Picasso Museum. Located in the medieval part of Barcelona, the museum holds more than 3800 works of Picasso. Unfortunately, they don’t have his most famous paintings but the collection provides a great overview of Picasso’s development as an artist. For free entrance, visit the museum on Sundays after 3 pm. The first Sunday of each month has free entrance all day long!
The Magic Fountain was built in 1929 for the Barcelona World Fair and is known for its sound and light shows. Around 2.5 million tourists a year visit the fountain to see the magnificent water show. You can visit the shows from Thursday to Sunday from 9 to 11.30 pm, and the best part – it’s free!
The 1.2 kilometer pedestrianized boulevard connecting the old and modern city is full of people almost 24/7. It’s Barcelona’s most famous street with its human statues, restaurants, bars, souvenir stalls and street traders. Wander down La Rambla and stop by the La Boqueria market, look for pavement mosaic by Miró and just relax and have fun.
A visit to Barcelona is not complete without a trip to the beach. After all the walking and sightseeing, a day on the beach will load your batteries for upcoming adventures. The Barceloneta Beach is one of the most accessible and busiest beaches of Barcelona. Take a dip, sunbathe, try windsurfing or just read a good book. The boardwalk has many great restaurants serving seafood, beach huts with refreshing drinks and you can even find some monuments directly on the beach.
There are hundreds of great places and things to see in Barcelona, but these are my top 5 picks!