Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia and more than 1.6 million people live within the limits of this city. It’s a city known for its stunning architecture and creative spirit, and many of the historical buildings in the city will stun you with their beauty and imagination. There’s also a wide variety of things to do in the city because it has amazing food, history, beaches and great shopping at cheaper prices then you’d find in other European cities.
Unfortunately, Barcelona is also becoming known for its problem with pickpockets. In fact, this issue is so bad that most people who have been there have either had something stolen or know someone who was robbed. This problem can be worrying, particularly if you’re traveling on your own, but it also shouldn’t stop you from visiting the city. By following the advice in this guide, you can avoid having problems with pickpockets and enjoy the many marvels that this beautiful city has to offer.
Table of Contents
The Best Places to Stay in Barcelona
Best Hostel in Barcelona: Bed & Bike Barcelona
There are lots of cool hostels in this city and the Bed & Bike Barcelona competes fiercely for that title. It’s close to all the best areas of the city, doesn’t have a curfew, and offers free bike tours every morning. This is a really friendly hostel that hosts free dinners and tries to create a real sense of community amongst its guests. And that makes this hostel feel like a little slice of home in a foreign country.
Best Budget Hotel in Barcelona: The Alba Hotel
This hotel is very close to the center of the city and close to some of the beaches as well. This puts it within walking distance of attractions like Las Ramblas. Located in the old part of the city, the façade of the building is beautiful, and the rooms inside match this great first impression. When you book a room at this location, you’ll enjoy spacious rooms with balconies so you can stare out across the city and marvel at the sights.
Best Luxury Hotel in Barcelona: Hotel Casa Fuster G.L. Monumento
This historic building is located at the top of Barcelona’s most chic neighborhood and it’s a monument on its own. Design and built in 1908 by famous Modernist architect Lluis Domenech, it has been given the status of Specialty Monument and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The rooms are large and elegant with all the amenities you could ever want, including a hydro-massage bath in some rooms. And the hotel has a bar, outdoor pool, and a variety of room sizes to suit all travelers.
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Barcelona:
- Stand in awe of the Barcelona Cathedral.
- Dine on delicious Mediterranean cuisine at Viana.
- Browse the stalls off fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and sweets at Mercat de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas.
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Barcelona!
#1 – The MNAC
• The best place to experience Catalan art in Barcelona.
• Includes one of the oldest and biggest collections of paintings on wood in Europe.
• A must-see for art lovers!
Why it’s so awesome: If you’re in Barcelona, then you absolutely must see some Catalan art. This museum reopened in 2014 and boasts different media art from the 1950s to the modern day. So when you spend time there, you’ll be able to see examples of cinema, posters, architecture, and photography as well as the standard sculptures and paintings.
What to do there: If you have the time, make sure you take the climb from Placa d’Espanya up to the museum as the views are panoramic and spectacular. Spend some time admiring the building as well, it’s a landmark in the city, and you’ll be able to take some great photos in front of it. Other than that, just explore the art within, particularly the Catalan pieces, the like of which you’ll rarely see outside of Barcelona.
#2 – The Encants Market
A great place in Barcelona if you love to shop!
• This is the place to go if you’re looking for a bargain!
• Make sure you bring your wallet and take home some souvenirs.
Why it’s so awesome: This is one of the oldest markets for second-hand goods in Europe and it also offers some of the best opportunities for people-watching in the city. You’ll find everything at this place from souvenirs to sewing machines and bicycles, so make sure you take your time and explore everything that’s on offer.
What to do there: The vendors at this market are incredibly varied, so you’ll probably find clothes next to bicycles and toys next to jewelry. And that’s half the fun too, so make sure you see it all! And once you’re done with your shopping, there are plenty of great food options in the market so choose one and see what they have on offer.
#3 – The Umbracle
A nice quiet place to see in Barcelona
• A display of iron architecture.
• A striking and unusual display that would make a great background for photos.
• A green natural space in the middle of the city.
Why it’s so awesome: It isn’t often that a collection of iron sculptures is protected by the Catalan Department of Culture, but this display definitely qualifies. Built in the late 19th century by Josep Fontsere, this resembles a large cage on the outside with brick columns. It was once used as a party space and something of that opulent past remains even though it now houses plants from all over the world.
What to do there: This is actually a botanical garden now and it’s the perfect place to take breather from your explorations. It contains plant species from nearly two dozen countries, all of them protected by the arches of the metal architecture. This venue is only open on weekdays, so make sure you drop by when you need to rest and rejuvenate.
#4 – La Cova Fumada
A must-see for foodies!
• Tapas, tapas, tapas!
• Despite the plain building, this location has some of the best tapas in the city.
Why it’s so awesome: The tradition of tapas, small snacks that come with drinks, is extremely popular in Barcelona and it’s also a fairly cheap way to try a range of tastes and dishes. La Cova Fumada is one of the best places in the city for this. The outside and the inside of the building are bland, but the tapas are absolutely first rate.
What to do there: This venue is famous for the quality of their tapas. Paritcularly popular are their grilled sardines, spicy potato and mince meat bomba and seafood offerings. So, go in for a drink one afternoon and choose one of the offerings. Chances are that you’ll be there all afternoon working your way through the menu!
#5 – Gran Teatre del Liceu
• Barcelona’s opera house.
• One of the most historic buildings in the city.
• You can see opera in this building, but the venue also plays host to ballet performances and concerts.
Why it’s so awesome: This building has stood through the ages despite disaster and economic crisis. It was first opened in 1847 but was remodeled in 1994 after a fire. For the people of Barcelona, this has long been the place where their culture and spirit have thrived, expressed through theater and dance, and that connection continues to the present day.
What to do there: You can obviously see some opera at this venue, but if you aren’t a fan of that particular artform then keep an eye out for other performances. This building hosts dance and music performances too. And the tickets are usually much lower than you would think, so make sure you snap them up fast before they run out!
#6 – Turo de la Rovira
• An amazing historical site left behind after the Spanish civil war.
• Once you’ve take in the history, make sure you enjoy the view from the site – it’s one of the best in the city.
Why it’s so awesome: This site is an anti-aircraft battery that was built in 1937 when the city was bombed hundreds of times each day during the Spanish Civil War. This is a part of history that most people born outside of the area probably wouldn’t know about.
The Spanish Civil War went on from 1936 to 1939 and it tends to get overshadowed by the events of the Second World War. But this slice of history reflects the spirit of the town and their determined resistance to the forces of Francisco Franco during the war.
What to do there: It’s quite a climb up to this site but it’s worth the trip. After the war, this area was occupied by houses that were later abandoned. The site would have been forgotten, but the neighbors petitioned to preserve the site as a historical monument. And once you’ve taken in the site, make sure you take some time to enjoy the views, which stretch all the way over Barcelona and out to the sea.
#7 – Bostik Murals
• A great place for art lovers.
• The perfect place to take in another side of Barcelona’s famous art scene.
Why it’s so awesome: This site is a museum of urban art. Ordinarily that would be difficult as you can really tear murals from walls in the street. To overcome this issue, the owners of this venue have encouraged more than 20 artists to create original pieces on the exterior or the building. You’ll see some of the best muralists in the city in this location and gain a new appreciation for the creative spirit in Barcelona.
What to do there: The muralists who have taken part in this project are absolutely amazing and include BToy, Sixe Paredes, Manu Manu, Sheone, Fasim, Sebastien Waknine, and Sam3. The art here changes all the time, so make sure you check the website to see what’s on while you’re in the city. And if you’re an artist yourself, the venue also offers their walls to outside artists who want to give wall murals a try.
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Barcelona
Like most major cities, Barcelona is a fairly safe city for tourists. If you’re careful and aware of your surroundings and don’t wander around late at night intoxicated, you should be fine. Also, be even more careful in areas that are known to have trouble, such as the south end of the Ramblas late at night.
Pickpockets and robberies are also an issue, with tourists being a prime target because they’re often not paying attention to their surroundings. Be wary of groups who try to get your attention, never leave your bag across a chair or on a table, and don’t wear a backpack, particularly on the metro. It’s all too easy for someone to remove your belongings while standing behind you and without you realizing that something’s happening. And just in case something does happen, never carry more money than you will need for the day. Leave the rest back at your hotel in the safe so that you can still enjoy the rest of your trip even if you get robbed.
Further reading – how safe is Barcelona?
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
#8 – The Montjuic Magic Fountain Show
Awesome place to visit in Rome with kids!
• A spectacular water show, with more than 7 billion combinations of light, sound and music.
• A great place to take the kids in the early evening.
• The show includes Spanish music as well, so you’ll get the chance to enjoy this unusual genre.
Why it’s so awesome: This site is usually for kids but any adult who loves music, light and water will enjoy it as well. The fountain was designed by Carles Buigas for the 1929 Exposition and it’s the only remaining attraction from that show. There are over 7 billion choreography combination in the shows, with the water and light dancing to music from past times as well as more popular soundtracks.
What to do there: Make sure you arrive early so that you can stake out a good spot. The show tends to be popular amongst tourists, so if you’re late you’ll probably find yourself in the back where you can’t see much.
#9 – La Sagrada Familia
A great place to see in Barcelona if you love architecture
• A Gaudi inspired landmark church.
• Make sure that you take lots of pictures of this architectural marvel.
Why it’s so awesome: Antoni Gaudi was one of the most famous architects in Barcelona’s history and many of the most beautiful buildings in the city were his creations. This church is a good representation of his style: it’s dreamy, fanciful and built on a scale that boggles the eyes. In fact, the structure still isn’t finished, and it’s been 140 years since construction began. When it is done, it will be the tallest church in the world and different from any other church you’ve ever seen.
What to do there: You have to admire the mastery and the sheer genius of Gaudi. His works are sometimes controversial, but always striking and memorable. When you visit this site, you’ll see that it combines several popular architectural styles but in a way that’s pure Gaudi and purely incredible.
#10 – Las Ramblas
• One of the first things you should do when you arrive in the city is explore this area!
• The people watching in this area is incredible!
Why it’s so awesome: This is the tourist heart of the city, which is why a lot of locals avoid it. But it’s also something that you should experience just once to fully understand Barcelona. These promenades stretch for miles and contain entertainers and food stalls before ending at the waterfront. It’s an amazing and engaging walk and once you reach the end you’ll be within walking distance of some of Barcelona’s best attractions.
What to do there: Spend at least half a day wandering this sequence of promenades that traverses the area from Placa de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument. You’ll walk through crowds and under shady trees while living statues, bird-sellers, flowers and street performers all vie for your attention. And if you’re really lucky, you can pick up some of Barcelona’s famous waffles on your travels!
#11 – Can Calopa
A beautiful outdoor place to visit in Barcelona
• A great natural area to relax in the middle of the city.
• If you enjoy learning about how to make wine, you’ll love this site.
Why it’s so awesome: If you want to enjoy Barcelona’s wine and olive oil in a natural area, then you don’t have do it outside of the city. Can Calopa is a winery and bodega right in the center of the city. It’s a 16th century farmhouse surrounded by 3 hectares of vineyards right in the heart of the city. It’s managed by a corporation that uses the site to provide a home and work for young people with psychiatric disabilities.
What to do there: About 8,000 bottles of red wine a year are produced at this venue and you can be one of the first to taste the new bottles! The venue has wine and olive oil tasting and for a small fee you can take a tour of the oil mill and wine cellar. You can also choose an option that includes a late breakfast with wine pairing. So, no matter how you enjoy your wine, you’ll find an option here that you’ll love.
#12 – Casa Batllo
• Another of Gaudi’s masterpieces.
• A perfect place to take photos.
Why it’s so awesome: Gaudi’s creations are all over the city and some of them are pretty enough to be on postcards. In fact, a lot of them are on postcards, and this building will help you understand why. It’s an apartment block that Gaudi remodeled at the start of the 20th century and the roof tiles are modeled to look like dragon scales!
What to do there: The attention to detail and the feel of this place is amazing so make sure you take the time to notice all the details yourself. Inside and out, the building has a sinuous feeling very like a dragon, with few straight lines and an overall impression of something alive that is, perhaps, just sleeping. You can take a tour through the site if you’d like more context or just enjoy it on your own.
#13 – La Boqueria
A fascinating educational place to visit in Barcelona
• A great place for people watching.
• There has been a Boqueria market in Barcelona since medieval times and nothing much has changed since then but for the inclusion of technology!
Why it’s so awesome: The current site for this market has been in operation for more than 200 years, but there has been a Boqueria market in the city for much longer than that. This is a tradition that has lasted through all the changes in the modern world, and it’s one that’s well worth experiencing. At this market, you can buy all the freshest foods and take part in a ritual that has been a part of Barcelona for an incredibly long time.
What to do there: If you like to cook or just want an easy snack then you’ll find lots of fresh produce at this market. But even if you aren’t interested in buying food you have to cook, there’s still a lot to do at this site. This is a site where you can see the locals in their natural environment, so it’s amazing for people watching. And when you get tired of that, you can always have a beer and some tapas at one of the market’s bars.
#14 – Barcelona City History Museum
A great place to visit in Barcelona if you are alone/traveling solo
• A must-see for history buffs!
• Barcelona is so stunning on its own that you sometimes forget it has a really long history, dating back to Roman times, and this place will remind you of that.
Why it’s so awesome: Barcelona has a long history, extending back to the Romans and the great emperor Augustus, and parts of this history have been preserved at this museum. There are also several Roman sites across the city, mostly in the gothic quarter, but this museum is the best way to see these ancient roots close up.
What to do there: This site is underground and will allow you to explore the remnants of a factory, shops and parts of the ancient wall. It’s a big site, covering 4,000 meters, so make sure you put aside a couple of hours to see everything. Keep moving up through the museum because it will take you through time to the vaults of the Palau Reial Major, which was the seat of Barcelona’s ancient Dukes.
#15 – Fundacio Joan Miro
• A museum exploring Joan Miro, another of Barcelona’s iconic Catalonian artists.
• His work was pivotal in creating Barcelona’s contemporary spirit and style.
Why it’s so awesome: Barcelona is a city of artists and creators and it’s been that way for along time because of visionaries like Joan Miro. This museum was set up by the artist to encourage the growth of contemporary art in the city and he worked very closely with the architect during the build. As a result, the building is in unusual harmony with the works inside, in a way that will make your whole experience more relaxing than you could imagine.
What to do there: You’ll need to set aside part of an afternoon to explore this museum because it contains a large collection of work from sculptures and drawings to paintings. There are also temporary exhibitions of more contemporary art and the museum has a constant schedule of interactive and educational projects and displays. So, just see what’s on while you’re in the city and be part of the creation!
#16 – Gracia
An awesome place to visit in Barcelona for half a day!
• A part of Barcelona that was only recently enveloped by the city and so feels like a completely different area.
• There are lots of popular bars, cafes and independent shops in this area.
Why it’s so awesome: Barcelona is fascinating but it’s still a big city and sometimes the only way to understand somewhere is to visit a small town and see how the locals live. You can do this without living Barcelona in Gracia.
This area was once a town on its own but became part of the city in the 20th century. As a result, it still holds onto its small town feel and charm and walking around its streets can make you feel as if you’ve been transported to a completely new place.
What to do there: This area has a lot of small street and squares laid out in interesting patterns so make sure you spend some time wandering and exploring. Gracia is young and stylish, so enjoy the many cafes and bars in the area and visit the independent shops for souvenirs that are truly unique.
#17 – Casa Mila
• Another Gaudi building in a very different style that looks like the rockface of a quarry.
• You’ll get some great pictures in front of this iconic building.
Why it’s so awesome: Casa Mila was completed in 1912 and is another important Gaudi building. It looks like a quarry made from white stone, with holes blown out of it by prospecting miners. This site is UNESCO listed and it’s been renovated to include some contemporary features such as an underground carpark and self-supporting stone façade.
What to do there: This building is a marvel. Not only does it retain Gaudi’s fanciful features, it also seamlessly incorporates more contemporary features as well. This is part of the genius of this architect, his creations last because they can be adapted to the changing times. Gaudi was at the top of his game when he designed this building, so make sure you take some time and explore his creation.
#18 – Camp Nou
Cool place to see in Barcelona with friends!
• The home of football in Barcelona.
• If you get the chance, make sure you see a game because it’s a huge part of daily life.
• If it isn’t the football season, take the stadium tour so you can explore the gift shop and the sheer size of this stadium.
Why it’s so awesome: This stadium seats 99,000 people and has been the home of the FC Barcelona since 1957. In fact, this stadium is so large that it’s almost like a football cathederal and a good indication of just how seriously the locals take their football. They also have an amazing gift shop where you will find memorabilia of Barcelona’s prestigious football team.
What to do there: If you’re there in the right season, make sure you see a game. Football is an integral part of daily life in Barcelona and it’s exhilarating to be part of that energy. If it isn’t the football season then join a stadium tour just so you can have a close up look at the enormous stadium and buy something from the gift shop.
#19 – Park Guell
• A gorgeous, fanciful natural place in the heart of the city.
• This park is the perfect way to escape the city and enjoy a calmer, more serene natural area.
Why it’s so awesome: This garden complex is located on Carmel Hill and it’s another must-see Gaudi creation. As with all of his work, everything in this park is beautiful and slightly unusual, such as serpentine benches and walls set with colorful mosaics. You’ll also enjoy fountains, sculptures and colonnades all in Gaudi’s distinct, fairy tale style.
What to do there: Take some time away from the busyness of the city and enjoy Gaudi’s unique take on nature. Wander around the park and then visit his House-Museum, where he lived from 1906 to 1926. He designed all the furniture and decorations in the house, so it will give you and amazing insider’s view of this great man’s mind.
#20 – Palau de la Musica Catalana
• A concert hall that deserves an encore on its own.
• One of the best places to experience opera, folk music and symphonies in the city.
Why it’s so awesome: Have you ever been to the opera back home? Chances are that the venue was beautiful but lacked the history and gravity this artform seems to demand. Not so at this musical venue. It looks like it could have stepped direction from the time of the Phantom of the Opera, with fanciful, elaborate decorations and deep reds and golds. It was built by Lluis Domenech, a contemporary of Gaudi, and it’s the perfect place to take in some great music while you’re in the city.
What to do there: They have a lot of different musical concerts in this venue, so find out what’s on while you’re in the city and grab a ticket. This is a beautiful venue that’s full of old-world charm, so make sure that you dress up and walk in feeling like you’ve entered a period drama!
#21 – Nova Icaria Beach
Great place to visit in Barcelona for couples!
• The best beach in the city for relaxing and taking in the sun.
• This beach has more than 400km of sand, so there’s plenty of room for the whole family.
Why it’s so awesome: Barcelona has lots of great beaches and it can be difficult to choose between them, but Nova Icaria is definitely one of the best. The endless stretch of white sand is one of the quietest beaches in the city and it’s perfect for families and for couples looking for a relaxing time.
What to do there: This is a great beach for relaxing but there’s also a lot to do if you’re more active. It has a game area and volleyball courts for kids or for anyone who wants to work up a sweat and easy access to restaurants and bars when you get tired of the sun and want to eat.
#22 – Barceloneta Beach
• One of the most touristy beaches in the city and for good reason!
• You’ll find some of the best seafood meals in the city in this area.
Why it’s so awesome: This beach is in a popular neighborhood and is one of the busiest beaches in the city. But there are good reasons for this, as it has lots of entertainment options as well as some of the best seafood restaurants in the city. Whether you enjoy sunbaking, water sports or just want to look at the ocean and eat seafood, you’ll find everything you need and more at this beach.
What to do there: This beach has a wide range of seaside huts where you can eat delicious dishes while you stare out across the sand. Watersports are also popular in this area, with windsurfing and kitesurfing being the most popular options. Basically, no matter what you enjoy doing at the beach, you’ll find the equipment and the space to do it at Barceloneta Beach.
#23 – Santa Maria del Mar
• A soaring gothic temple with stained glass windows.
• One of the most architecturally significant ancient buildings in the city.
Why it’s so awesome: This building was completed in 1383 and took 54 years to complete. Every stone used was hauled from the mountains around the city by ordinary citizens, which perhaps explained why its construction took so long! This is an incredibly elegant building that has survived through the ages to awe tourists in the present day.
What to do there: There’s a lot to see in this building so make sure you put aside some time. Most of the original structure is intact, though there is some fire damage sustained during the Spanish Civil War, so you’re literally looking at a slice of history when you spend time in this place.
Make sure you pay attention to the stained glass windows, which are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the angles of the natural light that enters the building.
#24 – Barri Gotic
• One of the best areas in the city if you love to shop.
• This neighborhood also contains some of the most stunning Gothic architecture in the city, so keep your camera ready to go!
Why it’s so awesome: This part of the city contains most of the important examples of Gothic architecture, which makes it a stunning place to wander around. The streets are like labyrinths and you never know where you’ll end up or what you’ll find next. But you can be sure that you’ll find some of the best shopping in the city. Barri Gotic has everything from souveniors to handmade clothes, so take your wallet and prepare your credit card for a workout.
What to do there: Spend a day in this area and get souvenirs for everyone back home. Try La Manual Alpagatera for handmade espadrilles or just wander and see what you can find. And if you’re really looking for a treat, be in the area early on a Sunday for the Mercat Gotic market for souvenirs and perhaps a glimpse of traditional Catalan dancing.
#25 – Museu Picasso
• This great artist actually chose this location for his museum!
• Great for art lovers as you’ll get to see some of Picasso’s earliest works.
Why it’s so awesome: You might not expect to see a museum dedicated to Picasso’s work in Barcelona, after all he was from Malaga. But Picasso apprenticed in Barcelona and did some of his earliest works in the city. This museum shows a lot of examples of this work all the way up to his Blue Period, so you’ll be able to get a deeper appreciation and understanding of his early genius.
What to do there: Picasso’s work is obviously the biggest draw at this museum, but the buildings themselves are worth some attention too. The five adjoining buildings of the museum were built in the 13th and 14th centuries and are fantastic examples of that period of history. So, make sure you spend some times exploring these blasts from the past as well.
#26 – Manzana de la Discordia
• A city block that illustrates the conflict between the greatest Modernist architects.
• If you enjoy architecture, you absolutely must see this city block.
Why it’s so awesome: Barcelona has been the home of a lot of famous artists and architects and of course they didn’t always get along. If you want to see this conflict up close, you can visit the Manzana de la Discordia.
Located in the Eixample District, the buildings in this block were created by the greatest Modernist architects in Barcelona at the time. Each of the architects was trying to show their supremacy over the others, and the end result is a stunning and slightly confusing combination of styles.
What to do there: To get to the Manzana de la Discordia you should go on foot. Walk up Passeig de la Gracia and take in the sites along the way before you arrive at this city block, then just explore. The buildings in this block are all innovative and very different and represent important advances in Modernist techniques. Unfortunately, their genius was eclipsed by Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less interesting or significant.
#27 – Passeig del Born
An unknown (but awesome!) place to see in Barcelona!
• If you don’t like the crowds of Las Ramblas, this is the perfect alternative!
• It’s mostly for locals, so you won’t have to put up with the tourist crowds in this area.
Why it’s so awesome: This promenade has a long history. It was once a gathering place for locals during jousting competitions or celebrations and these days it’s a popular spot for drinks and foods in the evening and night. It has the same wide range of food and drink places as Las Ramblas, but for the locals, not the tourists.
So, if you want a much more authentic experience while you’re in the city, then spend one of your evenings in this relaxed setting.
What to do there: This area is the perfect place to bar hop along with the locals. Some of the city’s best bars and restaurants are in this tree lined promenade and it’s the perfect place to take some friends and enjoy the tastes of Barcelona. So, do what the locals do. Start out with a cocktail at Cal Brut and then try some tapas at Disset 17 Gaus. After that, just see where the evening takes you!
#28 – Ocata Beach
A nice non-touristy place to visit in Barcelona
• The perfect place to get away from the city.
• If you’re looking for serenity and a beach away from the tourists, this is the best option.
Why it’s so awesome: This beach is located half an hour out of the city by train and is pristine and beautiful with golden white sand. It’s also enormous, so you’ll be able to stake out your own spot of sand and enjoy the peace without disruptions. You won’t find many tourists at this location as it doesn’t have the entertainment options of other beaches. Instead, this is a place to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy some great seafood.
What to do there: You won’t have to complete for towel space at this beach. Instead, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Just enjoy the sun, the sand and the ocean alone or with some good friends. And when you’re sick of the sun, visit one of the chringuitos, the nearby eateries, for fresh seafood and cold drinks.
#29 – Cathederal de la Seu
• A gothic cathedral that looks great in photographs!
• This cathedral has all the gothic features you’ve ever dreamed about including gargoyles and flying buttresses.
Why it’s so awesome: There’s nothing like a gothic cathedral and this is one of the best in the city. If you’ve been dreaming about the gargoyles and slightly creepy features of this architectural trend, then you’ll find them all at the Cathedral de la Seu. Created to honor Eulalia, the patron saint of the city, it even includes 13 live geese which wander around the site.
What to do there: Make sure you take pictures in front of the cathedral and then count the geese. There are always 13 geese in the cathedral, meant to symbolize each year of Eulalia’s life before her martyrdom. Also, do the rooftop tour while you’re there. The cathedral looks particularly stunning from up high and you’ll also great a great view of the city’s skyline that’s worth the trouble.
#30 – Carrer de les Aigues
One of the most incredible free places to go to in Barcelona
• An ancient road that offers the absolute best views in the city.
• A great way to work off all the tapas in stunning surroundings!
Why it’s so awesome: A lot of people will tell you that the best views in the city can be found in Park Guell. But the locals know that the views at the park can’t compare to those you’ll enjoy on this ancient road. It winds around the mountains and overlooks the Mediterranean, offering views of both land and see. And as an added bonus, the old style road has been modified so that it’s perfect for biking or walking.
What to do there: This is a long road, around 20km, but it’s fairly flat and easy to walk or bike along. You can reach it via a short funicular ride, and you’ll get stunning views that are almost completely absent of tourists. This is a secret that only the locals know, so take advantage of it before the crowds set in!
#31 – Tibidabo
• At 1,700 feet, you’ll get amazing views of the city from the top of this mountain.
• Take pictures of the city against the backdrop of the dark blue Mediterranean.
Why it’s so awesome: Tibidabo is a 1,700 feet mountain that offers a lot for anyone who dares to reach the top. You can get up there by tram, because you definitely won’t have the time to climb all the way, and enjoy great views as well as a range of entertainment options.
What to do there: There are a lot of ways to enjoy this mountain. You can hike through the park, tour the Sagrat Cor Basilica, or spend some time at the theme park. This final option is determinedly retro but loved by kids of all ages and has a Ferris wheel and carousel as well as other older style rides and games.
#32 – Parc de la Ciutadella
A beautiful outdoor place to visit in Barcelona
• A chance to get away from the rush of the city and rest in nature.
• Make sure you check out the iconic fountain in the middle, designed by famed architect Josep Fontsere.
Why it’s awesome: When you’re in the middle of a busy city, sometimes a park can be a haven. And this is even more important when you’re in Barcelona, which is a walking city. So if your legs are getting tired, make sure you rest them in the cool, lush surroundings of this park. After a little rest and recharge, you’ll be ready to face the rush again!
What to do there: This is a park for relaxing on a bench and enjoying the feelings and sights that come when you have nature all around you. You can also go on a relaxing rowboat trip along the lake and make sure you check out the Neoclassical fountain in the center, created by one of the most popular architects in Barcelona’s history.
#33 – Casa Pages
• Eat tapas like the locals do!
• Get away from the tourist traps for the best tapas you’ve ever eaten.
• Make sure you try the locally made and bottle vermouth.
Why it’s so awesome: Tapas aren’t strictly a Catalonian food, but they’re still an awesome way to eat because you get to try a range of tiny dishes and find the tastes that you really love. The best way to do this is by escaping the tourist trails and finding bars like the Casa Pages where the locals go to eat.
What to do there: Eating tapas is all about trying lots of small options and seeing what you enjoy the most. So, make sure you try the meatballs and patatas bravas and get a drink while you’re there as well. The locally bottled vermouth is usually the drink of choice for the locals, so who are you to go against tradition?
#34 – The Labyrinth Park of Horta
Quite the quirky place in Barcelona!
• A semi-secret park that will keep you busy for hours!
• The oldest garden in the city.
Why it’s so awesome: This garden is mostly neglected by tourists, but it’s been delighting the locals for hundreds of years, making it the oldest garden in the city. It was created in 1791 as part of the huge estate owned by the wealthy Desvalls family and the terraces were inspired by Italian designs. There are several parts to this garden, created at different times in history, but the central labyrinth is the main draw.
What to do there: There are over 2,000 twists and turns in this labyrinth, so if you don’t have a good sense of direction you could get very happily lost there. In the center is a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, and you can also sit in the one of the pavilions overlooking the maze and watch the action.
Each pavilion has their own statues of Greek gods, so if you’ve ever wanted a picture with an icon from the past then this is the place where you can get it!
#35 – The Chocolate Museum
• For people who want to see art that they can eat!
• A strangely educational place which will teach you about the history of chocolate in Europe.
• You’ll get a free chocolate bar to munch while you’re at this museum so you don’t chew on the displays.
Why it’s so awesome: You probably don’t think of chocolate as having a long history anywhere, but its story is long and fascinating. Chocolate beans first came to Europe around 500 years ago when the conquistadors returned from pillaging the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. This museum explores that history and the integration of chocolate into the modern world with displays that are almost too good to eat!
What to do there: It might sound boring to learn about the history of chocolate, but it’s actually a delicious journey through the years. You get a chocolate bar when you enter and have to walk past a massive, white chocolate sculpture of an ape called Snowy before you walk past a range of chocolate sculptures held behind glass. Make sure you also explore the displays on Spanish architecture including Gaudi’s most famous buildings.
#36 – Montjuic Cemetery
• This cemetery has some of the most striking and unusual sculptures you’ll ever see!
• A slightly creepy look at art and architecture in Barcelona.
• This is one of the most serene and beautiful sites in the city, and overlooks the Mediterranean.
Why it’s so awesome: This cemetery opened in 1883 and is the biggest cemetery in Barcelona. Some of the most famous people in Barcelona’s history are buried there such as artist Joan Miro and Catalan leader Lluis Companys, but there are also more tragic and terrible displays. It might sound a bit strange to wander a cemetery, but the beautiful modernist graves and peaceful surroundings overlooking the ocean make it one of the best experiences in the city.
What to do there: For a more somber look at the city’s history, make sure you check out the el Fossar de la Pedrera, otherwise known as the Grave of the Quarry. It’s located in the western wing of the cemetery and contains 4,000 victims of the Franco regime after Barcelona fell to fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. There are also memorials to victims of the holocaust there, which makes this part of the cemetery a moving and sad place to visit.
Get insured for your trip to Barcelona!
Remember, when you are traveling you need insurance! World Nomads is our highest recommendation for travel insurance. Fill out the form below to get a quote.
Final Thoughts on the Coolest Places to Visit in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city known for its art and architecture and it’s probably one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in Europe. It was the home of the famous architect Gaudi, who left his mark all over the city in the most spectacular fashion possible. That’s why, if you’re looking for interesting food, great architecture, and a cool and slightly unusual place to visit, Barcelona is the city for you. And now, you can use this easy guide to find everything in the city that you’re interested in seeing.
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.