Barcelona Top Attractions
Barcelona Top Attractions
Barcelona is famous for its cosmopolitan vibe, food, art, and music, and is a fantastic city for people with a sense of adventure and yearning for culture. It is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, and one of the most modern, fun cities in Spain. There’s lots to do in Barcelona, so planning ahead for your trip is a must! Here are some of our favorite attractions to check out while you’re there:
1. Sagrada Familia
The Basílica de la Sagrada Família is probably the most recognizable site in Barcelona, and when you see it up close, you’ll understand why. Gaudi’s iconic architecture is fairytale-esque and you can see his meticulous attention to design detail as you walk through its interior cathedral and look up at the towering steeples. The basilica has three exterior facades (Nativity, Passion, and Glory) which are must-sees as a visitor, as they are the most visually striking, and some of Gaudi’s best work.
The Sagrada Familia is easy to walk around, both inside and out, but tends to get very crowded during peak season. We recommend booking your tickets or tours in advance to avoid the lines, and make sure to bring a camera to capture all of the stunning aesthetics during your visit! If you are interested in finding out more about the different tickets options available as well as other useful information regarding tickets read our Sagrada Familia Ticket Guide.
2. Park Güell
Atop of Barcelona’s Carmel Hill, just on the western edge of the city center, lies the beautiful Park Güell. This is another Gaudi-designed masterpiece that no visitor to Barcelona should miss. The park has a series of gorgeous, walkable gardens, and is famous for its architectural structures, which represent Gaudi’s “naturalistic” phase. The views are incredible, too! Check out the mosaics on the main terrace of the municipal garden and take some pictures with “El Drac”, Gaudi’s famous salamander sculpture located at the garden’s main entrance.
3. La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
Nicknamed “the stone quarry” due to its exterior structure and design, Casa Mila is yet another world-famous art and architectural masterpiece from Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona. It was once the residence of the Mila family, and is now a UNESCO world heritage site that has been refurbished for preservation. Explore the former Mila family residence, apartments, exterior stone facades, and interior courtyards.
Also, check out the “Warrior Rooftop”, built with seamless spiral shapes that look like turrets, and the “Whale Attic”, which once housed residents, and now has a year-round Gaudi art exhibit. For a truly unique experience, try booking a guided nighttime tour!
4. Camp Nou
For football (soccer) fans worldwide, the name Camp Nou conjures up images of sports royalty, championships, and some of the best matches ever to be played in Europe. In Barcelona, football is a way of life, and the Camp Nou stadium is its fabled home. If you can catch a match while in town (season runs from Sept. – May), you will not regret it, and tickets can be purchased online for all types of tiers and pricing. If you’re not in town while the team is, you can still tour the stadium, as well as the FC Barcelona Museum, which is located there at the stadium site.
5. Casa Batllo
Yet another one of Antoni Gauti’s master works, the Casa Batllo is a majestic building in the center of Barcelona, and an ode to his iconic modernist-inspired Catalan style. The façade is defined by colorful mosaic tile patterns and irregular oval windows, making it visibly stick out. While visiting, check out the “noble floor”, accessible by a private entrance and housing a museum with many of Gaudi’s works. Also, check out “the loft”, known for its 60 catenary arches that resemble parts of the inside of a guitar, or even an animal’s ribcage.
For a real fun experience head up to the roof, where the arched tiles look like the spin of a dragon, and you can capture unique views and pictures of the sprawling center of Barcelona!
6. Picasso Museum
With nearly 5,000 pieces of the renowned Spanish artist’s work, Barcelona’s “Museu de Picasso” is considered to have one of the most complete permanent collections on earth. Here you can see two of his most famous pieces, “The First Communion”, and “Science and Charity.” The museum is spread out between five large houses, also known as palaces, that date back to the 13th century and occupy an astounding 10,629 square meters. The layout of the museum is easy to navigate and there are guided in-person and audio tours that you can access for historical background in each room and palace you visit within the grounds.
7. La Rambla
Barcelona’s “La Rambla” is a wide, tree-lined street in the city’s center that is open exclusively to pedestrians. It runs from Plaza Catalunya to the sea. Walking along La Rambla is a great way to get fresh air in the city, explore Barcelona by foot, and take in many diverse sites and sounds of the city. It’s only about 1km long (3/4 mile), and there are many sights to see along the way. Make sure to stop and smell the flowers at the local florist stands and do some shopping at the famous La Boqueria Market, which is just meters to the west of La Rambla, and accessible easily by foot.
What Spanish vacation would be complete without a stop to the beach, right? Well, if you’re visiting Barcelona, then you’re in luck, as the fabulous Barceloneta neighborhood gives you beach access, right near the heart of the city. This fun, seaside neighborhood is a great place to spend the day out in the sun and sand, and to cool off at night at one of its trendy hotels, bars, or restaurants. The beach tends to be very crowded during summer, so plan accordingly.
The Montjuïc hill is a site to be seen for any traveler visiting Barcelona, no matter what time of year. The name literally translates to “Jewish Mountain” in Catalan, and it still is the site of an ancient Jewish burial ground. These days, Montjuïc is a popular tourist destination for hikers, history fans, and sightseers who like to gaze on the sprawling Barcelona cityscape from a unique vantage point. There is a beautiful 17th- century castle at the top of the hill that is open to visitors, as well as the National Palace, Olympic Stadium, and “Magic Fountain”. You can also visit the Museum of Ethology, Museum of Archaeology, and the Joan Miro Foundation (art museum) all nearby by foot.
10. Joan Miro Foundation
The “Fundacio Joan Miro” is a famous modern art museum dedicated to the life and works of Catalan artist Joan Miro. The museum is located on the Montjuic hill, and is popular with visitors looking to explore the more contemporary works of art and artists in the Barcelona scene. The museum was built (according to Miro) with local culture in mind, to help people see art in a non-traditional setting. Alongside Miro’s works is a space called “Espai 13”, which is explicitly meant to showcase experimental exhibitions and to push boundaries within the contemporary art world.
11. Parc de la Ciutadella (Ciutadella Park)
Translated from Catalan, Parc de la Ciutadella means “Citadel Park”, named for its military structures of the early 18th century. These days it’s well-known for its zoo, Museum of Natural Sciences, and Cascada (waterfall). The park was once the only green space in the city, and remains a popular refuge for urban nature seekers, both local and foreign. There is a beautiful lake at the park’s center where you can rent paddle boats, or take a break off your feet on the grassy shore or a bench.
12. Tibidabo Amusement Park
Enjoy a fun-filled family day of adventure at Barcelona’s Tibidabo Amusement Park! There are rides, parlor games, and a beautiful Ferris wheel that takes you high in the sky for some incredible views of the city. This is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and is very popular with locals. Spring and summer visits tend to be the busiest, and during winter months certain attractions and rides close down for the low season. The Tibidabo Amusement Park is located in the hills just west of the city, so driving, taxi, or convenient public transport is recommended if heading there from the center or beaches.
13. Santa Maria del Mar
This is one of Barcelona’s oldest Catholic churches, and one of the most-visited in a city full of beautiful cathedrals. Santa Maria del Mar is famous for the juxtaposition of its gothic, dark exterior, with the ribbed vault interior beaming with light and space that brings out the natural colors of the structure. Take a tour inside the cathedral and check out the meticulously-crafted stained-glass windows, the church galleries, and the crypt.
14. The Carmel Bunkers
Want to get an amazing outdoor view of the Barcelona skyline while taking a fun hike on your vacation? Check out the Carmel Bunkers high atop the Turo de Rovria hill! Though technically they were never used as actual bunkers, the structures atop the hill were once used as anti-aircraft turrets during the Spanish Civil War. These days, they’re a fun, funky hangout spot where both locals and tourists can get some fresh air, outdoor exercise, and incredible 360-degree views. It’s easy to get to the Carmel Bunkers from the city center, but make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes and a sweater, as it’s a decent walk and can get chilly up at the top with the wind in winter and springtime.
15. Montserrat Mountain
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to nature with a quick day-trip to Catalonia’s beautiful Montserrat Mountain. Montserrat is located just under 40 miles (or 60km) from Barcelona, and is easy to get to by either car or train. It takes about an hour to get there. Montserrat’s main attraction is the beautiful Montserrat Abbey, which dates back to the 11th Century, and is famous for its enshrining image of the Virgin of Montserrat. The abbey is located in a small village on Montserrat Mountain. The area also has some amazing hiking, trail biking, and sightseeing tours available to you. Make sure to take a ride on the Sant Joah Funicular, and if you’re up for it, hike from the end to the summit.
Bring warm clothes and shoes that are adequate for hiking, as conditions can change rapidly on the mountain. Also, it’s best to do all summit and long-distance hikes with a local guide for safety reasons.