There is hardly any city which would be more popular as a tourist spot than Barcelona. Thanks to the fantastic movies Eat, Drink, Pray and Vicky, Christina Barcelona, in the recent years this city has grown to become a real tourists and arts paradise. It’s also one of the hubs for contemporary arts, being the main places featuring the picturesque and colorful architecture of Gaudi, one of the most famous contemporary architects to ever live. Besides its beauty, Barcelona is also blessed with a lovely Mediterranean climate which means that it’s basically great to visit all year long and in addition it also has fantastic beaches and seaside promenades to stroll through.
Apart from being an overall modern city, Barcelona also has its own old downtown area, its medieval churches and monasteries and also world famous for its Taperias which are bars serving the famous Tapas meaning a great deal of yummy appetizers that are served with drinks.
Barcelona is the capital city of the region Catalonia which is a semi-independent region having its own culture and dialect (sounding like Portuguese). It’s historically a very important city within Spain, being one of the key sea transportation centers in the Mediterranean region. After Madrid it’s the largest city of Spain. Its international airport and railway system makes it a real hub which is perfect for travel.
The best places to visit in Barcelona:
1.) Sagrada Familia
The magnificent imposing church is definitely the nr.1 attraction to visit when you are in Barcelona. The building of it started 200 years ago and it’s bound to be fully finished by 2026 which marks the anniversary of its architect’s Anton Gaudi’s death too. While the outside construction cranes are a bit distracting, the church is still an overly unique place. If you want to get in, it’s best to book a ticket online a couple of days or weeks in advance. Make sure you are punctual though or you won’t be let in. There is also a skip the line ticket you can buy, to make your entry easier.
2.) Park Güell
Another eye catching sight of Gaudi’s artwork this is a whole dreamland-style park where everything is overly colorful and just plain beautiful. While the Park is outside the city, there are tons of buses and tours which can take you there. Count a whole day as this is a large place and there is plenty to see. You can also catch an amazing view to the city, from its top area.
3.) Casa Batillo
Another incredibly creation of Gaudi this is a residential house which has recently opened its doors to operate as a museum ( at least partly) you can book a ticket in advance to get in without hassle. The main attraction of the building is the view from its top.
4.) The Basilica
Looking slightly like the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris, this imposing Basilica is also situated on top of a hill offering a beautiful view to the city. Besides, it’s a real medieval style catholic church which is well worth visiting.
5.) The Old Town – Gothic Quarter
Opening from the famous La Rambla passageway the Old town represents us with lovely narrow passageways, offering you to enter the famous monastery and church the Temple of Tramador or the Gothic Cathedral at Placa Nova. The quarter is also housing a synagogue. This quarter is so popular, that there are daily tours being organized for tourists showing them around here.
The best places to visit in Barcelona for families with kids:
Barcelona, besides being a cultural center it’s also a great place to visit for families with smaller kids. Let me enlist some of the best places to visit for families.
Featuring Europe’s longest sea tunnel, this is some of the best places to visit with kids. Representing hundreds of different types of sea creatures, it is no wonder, that the Aquarium is one of the most visited places in Barcelona.
Featuring 3D movies, this is a great place for kids to have fun.
♦ Magic Fountain Montjüic
Doing everyday water shows in the evening hours, this is a great spectacle to enjoy with the family.
Barcelona has tons of great shopping centers especially in its downtown area. Besides it’s also an outlet center therefore if you are fans of the brands like Mango and Zara, you are in the best place here to check out for their outlets too.
The key premiere shopping centre of the city is the Corte Ingles, you can find most of the top brands here and it’s situated in the downtown, very close to Casa Batillo.
Barcelona is full of markets and they are the best places to buy authentic pottery, leatherware and more. Check out the full market guide on Barcelona’s touristic page which would also give you a proper description on how to get to each market.
Best Daily Tour options from Barcelona:
Although Barcelona is beautiful on its own right once you are here, use your time to visit some nearby places too.
♦ Monserrat: the huge monastery complex which is hidden in the mountains is definitely more than worth visiting and it’s a perfect day trip.
♦ Visit the beach resorts nearby Barcelona: there is a fantastic electric train which you can catch at the main railway station, going along the beautiful Mediterranean shoreline and stops by most of the popular beach resort cities including Lloret de Mar, Malgrat de Mar or Pineda del Mar.
♦ Visit Girona: Girona is about an hour away from Barcelona and it’s known for two things: it has some of the loveliest historical riverside downtown area and it’s also hosting the economy airport for Barcelona. If you get the chance spend a day here strolling through all those lovely old streets.
Getting around Barcelona:
Barcelona is very well served with its Metro system, which helps you get around town pretty easily. There are buses as well especially for trips outside the town.
The best things to do in Barcelona:
♦ Take a cable car: Catch a cable car ride to Mount Montjüic, which is the mountain that faces the sea. Not only it is a fantastic ride, it would also offer you with magnificent views. There is another cable car ride that takes you to another mountain with an old castle, which is also a great place to visit.
♦ Walk along the Rambla the largest passageway starting from the city center and ending by the beach.
♦ Visit the old marketplace the Mercat de la Boqueria which is pretty easy to see, as it opens from La Rambla. It’s a great old style marketplace where you can get to buy local specialties, meat, fruits, vegetables and more.
♦ Get to the city beach for a swim: it’s great that the city has its own downtown beach, this way, you really don’t have to travel a lot just to swim in the sea.
♦ Try one or more of the Taperias in the city center or in the Gothic Quarter. During midday the meals are much cheaper. Check for places which offer tapas next to drinks for free.
♦ Eat a paella: although this is a Spanish specialty, Barcelona also has plenty of authentic Spanish food and paella is one of the best examples of local specialties. You can get one with or without seafood depending on your personal taste.
♦ Taste some of the local wines: Spain and Catalonia has world famous wine regions therefore if you are a fan of good quality wines, give one a try.
♦ Go on a city tour: if you don’t have enough time to explore Barcelona on your own, then join a guided tour that would take you to most of the top destinations in a day.
Expert Advice on visiting Barcelona:
♦ Buy a Barcelona Pass, especially if you want to visit all of the tourist attractions. It would save you time and money and you won’t have to book tickets in advance at most places.
♦ Spanish is a fantastic language, yet do not treat Barcelona as a Spanish city. While locals would accept you speaking in Spanish they actually dislike Spanish so stick with English, French or Portuguese if you can.
♦ As most top tourist destinations Barcelona has no shortage of tourist rip-off places. Try to steer clear from these. While the Mercat of Boqueria is a great place, there are dozens of similar marketplaces where you could buy the same things, just for a fragment of the price listed there for the tourists.
♦ Barcelona Hotels are expensive and they are mostly small so it’s not worth the money. If you can rather try Airbnb or check on smaller private places. You will have a much better experience this way.
♦ Finding Taperias is not hard and you can do your own exploration in the downtown area, this way you may avoid all the tourist catchers a bit.