The buzzing metropolis on the Catalonian coast has long been a mecca for art fans and tourists keen to immerse themselves in Spanish culture. Craving some time outdoors? Spread a towel out on soft sand beaches, take a turn around pretty parks or watch the world go by at a charming streetside café.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are 12 brilliant Barcelona attractions to bulk out your itinerary:
- La Sagrada Família
- Casa Batlló
- Park Güell
- Gaudi House Museum
- Casa Milà
- La Rambla
- Gothic Quarter
- Picasso Museums
- Palau De La Música Catalana
- Parc De La Ciutadella
Let’s look at these favourites in a little more detail.
1. La Sagrada Família
Gazing out across the Barcelona skyline, it’s hard to miss the sharp spires of la Sagrada Família. The monumental basilica in the Eixample district is one of several beautiful buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí.
Despite construction beginning in 1882, la Sagrada Família is still incomplete, with building work continuing today. Once you’re done admiring its ornate façade and numerous towers, step inside to view its otherworldly interiors, complete with Gaudí’s signature geometric columns.
Getting to la Sagrada Família is easy because it has its own metro stop. Whizz there in under 15 minutes from Barcelona-Sants station.
2. Casa Batlló
Another Gaudí masterpiece, Casa Batlló, is just a short walk from the endlessly photogenic Gothic Quarter. Cross the road from Passeig de Gràcia metro station and feast your eyes on the colourful mosaics adorning the front of Casa Batlló.
The nineteenth-century apartment building was remodelled by Gaudí in 1904. His design drew inspiration from the underwater world, from the wavy edges of the walls to the balconies that look like the jagged jaws of sea monsters.
Casa Batlló was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005 – and it’s easy to see why! While you could gaze at it from the bustling street below, we strongly recommend booking tickets to go inside.
3. Park Güell
Barcelona is brimming with green spaces where you can soak up the Spanish sunshine. Perhaps the most famous of all is Park Güell, and– you guessed it – it’s another Gaudí creation.
Situated atop a hill in Gràcia and boasting epic views of the city and sea, Parc Güell is easily one of the most visited attractions in Barcelona. Reach Park Güell via metro (hopping off at either Lesseps or Vallcarca) and spend a couple of hours getting lost in the enchanting grounds. As well as all manner of native flora and fauna, the park is littered with fantastical sculptures and magical mosaiced structures.
4. Gaudí House Museum
This museum makes getting to grips with Gaudí’s Barcelona life easy. It’s tucked away within Park Güell and was the architect’s home for almost 20 years during the early 1900s.
As well as enjoying its tranquillity among the trees, the Gaudí House Museum is filled with elegant furnishings from houses designed by this artistic genius. The building has been set out as it was when he lived there with added exhibits which showcase his most famous innovations.
Barcelona’s hills are dotted with beautiful viewpoints and epic landmarks. Perhaps the best-known is Montjüic, an impressive peak southwest of the city that once housed its Jewish community.
There’s something to appeal to everyone on Montjüic. The hill hosts some of the best things to do in Barcelona, including the ruins of the Castell de Montjüic, the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and the city’s Olympic Stadium.
Venture there by funicular railway and cable car from Paral-lel metro station to enjoy panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see.
6. Casa Milà
Also known as La Pedrera, Casa Milà was designed by Gaudí in 1906 after being commissioned by the wealthy Milà family. A central location on Passeig de Gràcia makes it a great place to visit en-route to Casa Batlló.
The UNESCO World Heritage Casa Milà was the final residential project of Gaudí, and it’ll blow you away with its nature-inspired design! La Pedrera means ‘stone quarry’ in the local lingo, which is reflected in the building’s unique façade.
All five floors of Casa Milà currently form a centre dedicated to the works of Gaudí. Highlights include a rooftop sculpture garden and two central courtyards with winding and wonderfully painted staircases.
7. La Rambla
We bet you’ve heard of this street before! La Rambla is an iconic boulevard on the edge of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, inundated with shops, restaurants, theatres, street stalls, museums and heritage sites.
Searching for somewhere to grab a bite to eat? Or maybe you’re keen to watch a flamenco show? La Rambla should be one of your first ports of call. You’ll find Plaça de Catalunya here, one of the city’s most prominent squares and a central shopping hub.
8. Gothic Quarter
Steeped in history and dripping in eye-catching architecture, the Gothic Quarter was once Barcelona’s beating heart. No visit to the city is complete without exploring its narrow, cobbled streets and centuries-old monuments.
Stumble across tiny squares home to authentic tapas bars and cosy wine bars. The Gothic Quarter also lays claim to one of the city’s most iconic structures: the thirteenth-century Barcelona Cathedral. Don’t skip stepping out into its cloister gardens. As well as luscious plant life and a tinkling fountain, they’re home to a gaggle of white geese!
9. Picasso Museum
Calling all art lovers! You’ll want to set aside several hours to explore every inch of the Picasso Museum. Barcelona was the artist’s home for several years during his later life. The museum hosts one of the world’s largest collections of his works.
Browse sketches and paintings created by Pablo Picasso and discover more about his many influences and muses. The Picasso Museum is a short walk from Barcelona Cathedral and Parc De La Ciutadella, allowing you to tick off a trio of attractions in one go.
Visiting Barcelona with the kids in tow? Tibidabo is another of the city’s hills and where you’ll find the fabulous Tibidabo Amusement Park. Getting to Tibidabo is all part of the fun! Hop on a train from the city centre to the base of the hill before riding the Tramvia Blau (blue tram) to the summit.
Tibidabo isn’t just for kids. The 512-metre-high hill also offers up some of the best views of Barcelona from places like the Fabra Observatory and the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor church. Looking for the perfect spot for a big proposal? Consider your search over!
11. Palau De La Música Catalana
Barcelona isn’t just blessed with fantastic visual art. It’s also the location of several prestigious concert halls. This includes the Palau De La Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music), a UNESCO structure built in the early 1900s in the iconic Catalan modernista style.
Visit during the day to soak up the Concert Auditorium’s golden interiors and a stunning central skylight. You could also treat music lovers to tickets to a classical performance. Vivaldi, anyone?
12. Parc De La Ciutadella
A prime location on the edge of the Gothic Quarter marks this park out as a must-see. It was once the only green space in Barcelona, home to many exciting features.
Walk along pathways shadowed by palms and seek out Parc de la Ciutadella’s grand fountain – one of Gaudí’s earliest creations. The Castell dells Tres Dragons has a small Zoological Museum. At the same time, the brilliant Barcelona Zoo is spread out along the southern end of the park.
Let’s not forget the eighteenth-century Catalonia Parliament building! It also sits within Parc de la Ciutadella; history buffs might want to take advantage of the free guided tours on weekends.
Exploring more of Barcelona
There are many more activities and attractions to place on your Barcelona travel plan, like refreshing your wardrobe or browsing unique markets in the city’s great shopping districts.
Want to get outdoors? Discover Barcelona’s beautiful parks or dine alfresco at some of the best Barcelona restaurants. Let’s not forget the many museums that line the streets; exquisite art, ancient history and mouth-watering chocolate are just some of the treasures within.
Whether you fancy authentic Catalan delicacies or have a craving for international cuisine, Barcelona’s restaurants won’t disappoint. The city has a vast dining scene, with each of its neighbourhoods hosting various tempting options.
Sample some of the region’s most iconic dishes such as Canelons (stuffed cannelloni), Faves a la Catalana (fava bean stew) and Crema Catalana. There are plenty of casual dining venues for a quick bite when you’re on the move, plus fancier establishments ideal for special occasions.
Some of the top restaurants to visit include:
- Sensi Tapas
- Meson David
- La Fonda
- El Pachuco
Find out more about the city’s culinary offering in our Barcelona restaurants guide.
Whether your wardrobe’s due a refresh or you promised your family some souvenirs, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for shopping in Barcelona! Bustling markets, glossy department stores and independent boutiques are scattered around.
Big spender or only have a few pennies to spare? Check out the following neighbourhoods, markets and shopping streets located across Barcelona:
- Mercat La Boqueria
- Diagonal Mar
- El Raval
- Passeig de Gràcia
- La Maquinista
- Mercat de Sant Antoni
Read more about the best places for shopping in Barcelona in our dedicated guide.
Barcelona has more than its fair share of UNESCO monuments and intriguing historical relics. Many of these feature museums that are well worth visiting on your next city break.
Iconic Spanish artists – from Picasso to Gaudí – are recognised at Barcelona’s many galleries. You could also swot up on your maritime history or delve into the city’s ancient past. Knowledge is there for the taking at the following museums:
- Picasso Museum
- Museum Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
- Chocolate Museum
- Casa Milà
- Gaudi House Museum
- Museu d’Història de Catalunya
Keen to plan trips to these excellent venues? Check out our complete Barcelona museums guide.
Summer may call for lazy days spent lounging around on Barcelona’s beaches, but the city’s lush parks have year-round appeal. The Catalonian capital is inundated with gorgeous green spaces where couples can stroll hand in hand and kids can let off some steam.
Many of Barcelona’s parks have unique features, whether that’s links to world-renowned artists, stunning historic ruins or even a zoo! Spoilt for choice? Seek out the following parks in Barcelona:
- Park Güell
- Montjuïc Park
- Parc De La Ciutadella
Travelling by train to Barcelona?
Planning to spend some time in the cultural capital of Catalonia and looking for more information on how to get there? Look no further! Getting the train to Barcelona is easy due to the extensive rail network operated by Renfe. You can travel to Barcelona from some of the most popular cities in Spain. Some of the most popular routes include Madrid to Barcelona (2h 30m), Alicante to Barcelona (13h 20m) and Valencia to Barcelona (2h 40m).
Looking for more information about travelling to Barcelona by train? Check out our expert guide to trains to Barcelona.