You’ll find a good chunk of the museums in Barcelona centrally located. This makes visiting them easy to combine with shopping and sightseeing. Clueless about where to start? Here are seven of our favourite museums to look out for on your next trip to Barcelona:
- Picasso Museum
- Museum Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
- Museu Marítim de Barcelona
- Chocolate Museum
- Museu d’Història de Catalunya
- Casa Milà
- Gaudi House Museum
1. Picasso Museum
Picasso may have been born nearly 500 miles away in sun-soaked Malaga, but it was in Barcelona where he first learnt to paint. That’s why you’ll find this fantastic museum smack-bang in the centre of the city!
Venture into the Ribera district of Barcelona’s Old Town (next door to the Gothic Quarter), and you’ll stumble across this gem. The Picasso Museum is nestled inside five adjoining Gothic palaces on Carrer de Montcada. It hosts more than 4,000 works by Picasso!
Set aside a few hours to admire striking paintings and eye-catching sculptures completed by Picasso during his younger years. Many were collected from other museums in the city to create one central location for Picasso art fans to view his works. You’ll also spot photographs, manuscripts, sketches and letters, which all paint a vivid portrait of Picasso’s life.
Opening hours: The Picasso Museum is open from 10:00 to 19:00 Tuesday to Sunday
Tickets: Tickets are €12 for general admission or €7 for those under 25s or over 65. On the first Sunday of every month and on Thursday afternoons between 16:00 and 19:00, the Picasso Museum is free to visit
2. National Art Museum of Catalonia
For an art collection that vividly illuminates over 1,000 years of Catalonia’s history, you can’t go wrong at the Museum Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia). The region’s principal art museum sits within the Palau Nacional, a stunning palace surrounded by gorgeous gardens on Montjüic hill.
It’s worth sparing some time to explore the grounds and appreciate the Italianate architecture of the building. Once inside, you’ll find vast halls filled with beautiful paintings, sculptures, sketches and murals created by key Romanesque, Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance artists.
As well as permanent collections featuring the likes of Lluís Dalmau, Diego Velázquez and El Greco, the museum has an ever-changing temporary exhibition space. This often shines a light on specific styles, eras or artists.
Prefer something a little more contemporary? The museum’s Modern Art section has numerous Modernists works from the likes of Dalí and Picasso and pieces influenced by the Spanish Civil War.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00. During the summer season (May until September), the museum stays open until 20:00 from Tuesday to Saturday
Tickets: Tickets start at €12, or are free after 15:00 on Saturdays and on the first Sunday of every month
3. Maritime Museum of Barcelona
Did you know Barcelona has a long and impressive naval history? All will be revealed when you take a trip to the Museu Marítim de Barcelona (Maritime Museum of Barcelona).
This fascinating attraction sits right at the end of La Rambla, within the former medieval Drassanes shipyards. Between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, hundreds of ships were built here. They helped cement Barcelona as one of the Mediterranean’s mightiest naval powers.
The Maritime Museum is perfect for history buffs and wannabe sailors. It showcases centuries of Spanish maritime history through collections of antique nautical instruments, documents, ship artefacts and incredibly detailed ship models. What’s more, right outside the museum is the Pailebot Santa Eulàlia, a restored 1918 schooner that’s open for tours.
Opening hours: 10:00 to 18:00 every day
Tickets: Tickets must be purchased online for €10, or you can choose to just visit the Pailebot Santa Eulàlia for €3. Entry to the museum is free after 15:00 on Sundays
4. Chocolate Museum
Self-confessed chocoholic? Spain might not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of your favourite treat. Nevertheless, Barcelona’s Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata) puts the country on the map thanks to its wonderful cocoa creations and workshops.
You’ll spot this tempting attraction steps from Parc de la Ciutadella, inside what was once the Sant Agusti monastery. Small yet exceptionally sweet, the Chocolate Museum’s exhibits begin with a brief history of chocolate, including its origins, uses and ingredients.
Then, you’ll have the chance to awe at displays of moulded chocolate figurines and famous buildings. Some of the best include Star Wars characters, a mythical dragon and even a miniature Sagrada Familia!
The museum additionally runs a vast range of workshops for kids, adults and groups. Why not have a go at creating your own chocolates or book yourself onto a wine and chocolate tasting?
One of the best things about the Chocolate Museum is that even your ticket comes in chocolate form! There’s also an unmissable museum shop where you can buy all manner of decadent delights.
Opening hours: 10:00 to 19:00 Tuesday to Saturday and 10:00 to 15:00 on Sundays
Tickets: Standard tickets cost €6
5. Museum of the History of Catalonia
Across the road from Barcelona-França station, Museu d’Història de Catalunya (Museum of the History of Catalonia) is set inside a nineteenth-century warehouse building, the backdrop for a millennium of Catalan history. Inside, you’ll find numerous rooms packed with fascinating objects from centuries gone by. They’re split into eight distinct sections:
- Origins: From prehistory to the eighth century
- The Birth of a Nation: eight to thirteenth centuries
- Mare Nostrum: thirteenth to sixteenth centuries
- On the Fringe of the Empire: sixteenth to eighteenth centuries
- Steam and Nationhood: eighteenth to nineteenth centuries
- The Age of Electricity
- Defeat and Repression: 1940 to 1980
- Portrait of Contemporary Catalonia
You could easily spend an entire afternoon getting lost in the exhibits here. There’s also a range of educational programmes and activities, ideal for curious kids. What’s more, all the displays are written in Spanish, Catalan and English.
In 2022, the Museum of the History of Catalonia will celebrate its 25th birthday. Why not plan a visit?
Opening hours: The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 19:00, closing at 20:00 on Wednesdays. You can visit between 10:00 and 14:30 on Sundays
Tickets: Tickets cost €6 for the permanent collections. Kids under 16 go free, plus there are reduced rates for students and over 65s
6. Casa Milà
You might have heard of Barcelona’s connection to the legendary architect Antoni Gaudí. In fact, there are no fewer than seven spectacular Gaudí buildings scattered across the Spanish capital.
One of these is Casa Milà, a beautiful apartment block restored by Gaudí between 1906 and 1912. It was owned by the wealthy Milà family, who later lived in one of the apartments.
Like many of Gaudí’s works, Casa Milà has a distinctly nature-inspired design. It’s often called La Pedrera, which means ‘stone quarry’ in the local language. Standing on the street below, you’ll see why it’s gained this nickname! The eye-catching curved frontage, rough materials and natural colours really do make it one of a kind.
As well as its extraordinary exterior, Casa Milà is also open indoors to the public. Inside is a museum dedicated to Gaudí’s inspired creations, plus numerous iconic features such as a Warrior-themed roof terrace and two enchanting courtyards. Visiting at night gives the attraction another level of wonder, too!
Opening hours: Every day from 10:00 to 18:30, then again from 19:00 to 22:00
Tickets: Tickets vary, with general admission beginning at €25
7. Gaudí House Museum
Keeping with the Gaudí theme, this next museum is one of the best places to visit in Barcelona for those keen to know more about the architect’s work! The Gaudí House Museum is situated within Parc Güell, one of his most significant and famous creations.
Initially, the park was supposed to have a handful of residential homes located within its grounds. Sadly, only a couple were ever completed. Those which were finished include the Gaudí House Museum, built between 1903 and 1906.
History aside, the Gaudí House Museum is a brilliant place to learn more about the architect’s most famous works. The house has been set out just as it would have, including original furnishings.
Opening hours: Seven days a week, 09:00 to 20:00 between April and September and 10:00 to 18:00 from October to March
Tickets: Tickets to the Gaudí House Museum cost €5.50 (free for kids under 10 and €4.50 for concessions). You can also buy joint tickets for the museum and the Sagrada Familia
Getting around Barcelona’s museums
Visiting all four corners of Barcelona and their respective museums is easy. Most venues sit within easy walking distance of the Gothic Quarter and other central neighbourhoods. Some, though, will require you to travel a little bit further.
Luckily, the cosmopolitan city has an excellent transport network which includes trains, trams, buses and a vast metro system. The main train stations are Barcelona-França and Barcelona-Sants. Both provide services across the city and beyond, with the latter even offering international train routes.
When navigating Barcelona itself, you might prefer to hop on the metro. The modern system is used by locals and visitors alike, with stops dotted all over the city centre and the suburbs.
To buy travel tickets (valid on the metro, tram or bus), head to the machines in any metro station. There are various types on offer, including the T-Casual pass, valid for ten journeys. It’s a great option if you’re planning a short stay in the city and want to travel around mostly by public transport.
Taking the train to Barcelona?
If you're planning a trip to Barcelona, why not travel by train? Spain's extensive rail network is operated by Renfe and you can travel to Barcelona from a number of European cities. Some of the most popular routes to Barcelona from other countries include Paris to Barcelona (6h 40m), Amsterdam to Barcelona (13h 17m) and Lisbon to Barcelona (24h 30m).
Looking for more information about travelling to Barcelona by train? Check out our expert guide to trains to Barcelona.