What to do and see in Barcelona: must-see attractions

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Barcelona, ​​the capital of Catalonia, has over the years become one of the most visited cities in Europe. Second city in Spain, Barcelona is crowded with tourists all year round and not surprisingly: the city offers a wide variety of interests such as architecture, gastronomy, art, history and sports. But that's not all: this city is also visited for its wild nightlife and long beaches on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Discover the main things to see in Barcelona.

We have created this list of the best things to see in Barcelona that will allow you to enjoy a good portion of what the city has to offer.



What to see in Barcelona

The Holy Family

Interior of the Sagrada Familia - Image from Pixabay

Impossible to visit Barcelona without planning a visit to the Sagrada Familia.

La Sagrada Familia it is the work of the most famous Catalan architect Gaudí, which shaped the architectural landscape of Barcelona until his death in 1926. Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is the most visited monument in Spain and the most emblematic of Barcelona.

The building is impressive with all its Catholic details and references. Blending Gothic and Art Nouveau styles in a new way, the basilica is also inspired by nature. The bright colors and representations of unconventional animals (chameleons, turtles, pelicans…) embody Gaudí's belief that nature and the divine are inextricably linked.

As for timetables, the Sagrada Familia is open every day from 9:00 to 18:00, 19:00 or 20:00 depending on the season.

Suggestion: the lines are very long to enter the Sagrada Familia, so it is advisable to purchase tickets in advance. Booking your ticket online is a significant time saver and allows you to visit other things, especially if you are only in Barcelona for a few days.



Book your Sagrada Familia ticket

Park Güell

Park Güell, located in the upper part of Barcelona, ​​is another of Antoni Gaudí's masterpieces and one of the must-see places in Barcelona. This public park in which the sculptures, fountains and buildings are inspired by the undulating shapes of nature, is one of the most beautiful in the world.

Built between 1900 and 1914 by order of Eusebi Güell, Gaudí's friend and patron, the park was originally intended to be a garden city with around 60 houses. Finally, only four houses were built for budgetary reasons.

A few years ago the park limited the number of entrances and you have to pay the ticket to enter. Only 400 people are allowed to enter every half hour, so long queues form. One way to avoid them is by purchasing a guided tour online. It is a place not to be missed and you will have a superb view of the city of Barcelona, ​​facing the sea. Next to Park Güell you can also visit the park Creueta del Coll.

Book your ticket in advance

Casa Batlló and Casa Milà

 

The undulating facade and kaleidoscopic mosaics of Casa Batllo make it one of the most emblematic and visited sites in the city. It is one of the two villas designed by Gaudí on Paseo de Gracia. Nicknamed Casa del Ossos (the house of bones), it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The unique modernist facade encompasses a world of surprises and subtle architectural details. We highly recommend visiting it as it is impressive.

Visiting hours Casa Batlló - every day from 9: 00 to 21: 00.


  • Book your skip-the-line ticket here.
  • Entrance included in Barcelona Pass.

Gaudí's other villa on Passeig de Gracia is Casa Mila, nicknamed “La Pedrera” (“the stone quarry” in Catalan). Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building is recognizable from afar with its wavy white facade. On 5 floors and 4.500 m², you can discover all the architectural genius of Gaudi and immerse yourself in his unique universe.

If you want to visit Casa Mila in an unusual way, I recommend that you book tickets for one evening visit. From 21:00, audiovisual projections take place in different parts of the building.

Visiting hours Casa Mila - every day from 9:00 to 21:00, from March to October it closes at 18:30.

  • Book your skip-the-line ticket here
  • Entrance included in Barcelona Pass.

Gothic Quarter 

The Gothic Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in Barcelona, ​​with an origin dating back to Roman times, from which it is still possible to see some remains of the ancient city of Barcino.

During the medieval period, several Gothic-style buildings and palaces were built, which together with its narrow streets, local shops and tapas bars, make it a perfect neighborhood for strolling.


There are several places in the neighborhood that are worth visiting, such as the beautiful Plaza Real, the Jewish quarter, the Carrer del Bisbe where you will find the splendid neo-Gothic bridge known as "Pont del Bisbe".

And again: the church of Santa Ana, the Cathedral of Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia, the Palau del Bisbe, the Plaza del Rey with the Museum of the History of the City, the Temple of Augustus ...


La Rambla and La Boqueria

La Boqueria market in Barcelona, ​​Spain - Image from Pixabay

The Gothic Quarter is bordered by La Rambla, a shaded pedestrian boulevard that descends from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell. There is a large central pedestrian lane and two streets running alongside it. You will find bars, restaurants, kiosks, artists, shops of all kinds, street vendors and many people!

Day and night this street is very busy. So let yourself be carried away by the waves of the human tide, towards the sea! At the end of the avenue, you can admire the Column of Columbus.

In the middle of the Ramblas is the famous Boqueria market. A gastronomic mecca attracting more than 45.000 visitors a day, La Boqueria is perhaps the most famous food market in the world, and for good reason. All the specialties of the region are here. Hams, sausages, fruit and vegetables, fish and juicy smoothies! It is a place full of tastes and colors! Not to be missed… Attention it is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Castle and Montjuic Park

Montjuic Hill - Image from Pixabay

The Montjuic hill is a 173 meters high promontory overlooking the city, and represents the "green lung" of Barcelona. It has become one of the best viewpoints in the city and a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike.

From Plaza España, through the Venetian towers, you can access the Magic Fountain of Montjüic, where a light and water show takes place at night. From there, climbing the stairs, you will reach the National Art Museum of Catalonia, with a large collection of Romanesque art.

You can visit the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi and the Calatrava Tower. At the top stands the Montjuic Castle, a defensive fortress with a splendid view of the city and the sea.

A good way to get to the top is from Avenida Miramar, taking a ticket for the Montjuic cable car, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view.

Il Camp Nou

Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona - Image from Pixabay

For football fans, you can take the Camp Nou tour, the stadium and home of FC Barcelona (“Barça” for fans). Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Spain and all of Europe. Its capacity of 99354 spectators places it in front of the new London stadium in Wembley and al Santiago Bernabeu of Madrid.

Although nothing compares to a match at Camp Nou, it is possible to enjoy the atmosphere of the stadium with a guided tour that allows you to cross the players' tunnel, the spaces dedicated to them, and go to the edge of the mythical lawn.

Book your Camp Nou tour

Hospital of Santa Creu and Sant Pau

 

The hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau, built between 1902 and 1930 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and his son and declared a World Heritage Site, is another of the buildings to see in Barcelona.

Located very close to the Sagrada Familia, this hospital surprises with a series of modernist red brick buildings and a large central square, which at the time, with its pleasant atmosphere, helped the patients to heal. In 2009, the hospital and the medical team moved to new facilities located in the far north.

The visit can last from one to two hours, since there are several exhibits to learn about the history of the hospital. Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month.

Picasso Museum

Pablo Picasso may be originally from Malaga in southern Spain, but he chose Barcelona, ​​the city where he studied as a young artist, as the home of his museum. The museum houses approximately 4251 of Picasso's early works (sculptures, paintings and etchings), and is an almost complete representation of his portfolio.

Picasso's works are not, however, the only attraction of the Picasso Museum; the five large houses and palaces of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that make up the museum in the Born district are themselves an attraction.

Buy your ticket here

Port Olímpic and le Spiagge

Barcelona has a beach for every type of traveler. Weather permitting (most days of the year), the picturesque beaches and docks filled with yachts a Olympic Port they can be reached with a short ride on the subway.

Quiet place for a day's stroll, at night the promenade turns into a party place where nightclubs like Pacha Barcelona, ​​Shoko Club, Carpe Diem or Opium are open until early morning.

Plaza of Catalonia

To continue visiting Barcelona, ​​we therefore suggest you go to Plaza de Catalunya, (Plaça de Catalunya) which is located at the end of the Rambla. It is the nerve center of the city, at the intersection of Las Ramblas, Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de Gracia.

Plaça de Catalunya is also the starting point for many subway lines and the trains of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC). This is where you will be able to move easily if you want to discover Barcelona using public transport.

How to get to Barcelona

Barcelona is easily accessible from major cities by plane. Flights are relatively affordable at any time of the year, as long as you book well in advance.

To find a cheap flight to Barcelona, ​​you can use the site of our partner Skyscanner. When arriving at Barcelona El Prat airport, don't forget to take the Aerobus shuttle to reach the city center, or use the private transfer service, very convenient if you are in a group.

An hour's drive from the French border, the Catalan capital can also be reached by train.

Where to sleep in Barcelona

To sleep in Barcelona, ​​the choices are many, depending on your wishes. The city offers over 2000 hotels. Each neighborhood offers something different from the others and each has its own particular atmosphere. For example, if you want to stay in the historic part of Barcelona you should stay in the Gòtic or Born districts.

Find out more about the best neighborhoods to sleep in Barcelona

 

Getting around in Barcelona

Getting around Barcelona by public transport is a fairly easy and affordable way to get around the city. The vehicles and facilities are clean, modern and all the tourist points of the city are well served by its urban network.

Port of Barcelona, ​​Spain - Photo from Istock
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