Why is it that every time I say the words ‘in Barcelona’, I suddenly hear Ed Sheeran signing away? If you don’t know what I mean, watch this YouTube video, and you soon will.
Anyway, you’re off to Barcelona! (yey!) and you’ve landed here on my blog looking for some awesome things to do and see so that you can make the most of your trip.
Well, (rolling up my sleeves) I’m going to do my best to give you just that!
I’m not sure where you are staying, but here is a handy Google Map showing you where all the main tourist attractions are located. I’ll also list more details about the places below to help you plan your trip, but this map should help you work out what you are going to see and when.
To view the map in a separate browser tab, click here.
If you haven’t booked anywhere to stay yet, and you’re a solo and/or budget traveller like me, I highly recommend Equity Point Centric Hostel. I stayed there for 3 nights and had a great time. It’s centrally located and has an awesome rooftop terrace and bar. You can check it out by clicking here.
Ready? …Let’s get going!
Probably the most iconic symbol of Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, which is a large Roman Catholic church, designed by famous architect, Antonio Gaudi.
The construction of this impressive church continues to progress slowly. Although construction began in 1882, it is still ongoing and not expected to be finished until 2026.
It’s an impressive piece of architecture and design that you really should not miss seeing, even if you are not religious.
TIP: If you are going to be purchasing souvenirs on your trip, then this is the ideal spot. The Sagrada Familia is surrounded by numerous gift shops.
Okay, this isn’t really a tourist attraction per say, but you can’t go to Barcelona and not go to the beach.
The place that I have pinpointed on the map is the beach that I went to. Although it is a very touristy area, there were beach side cafes, a volleyball court, showers, lifeguards and bicycle stations. All-in-all a very pleasant beach that gave off a very hip and fun vibe.
You can access Park Guell’s surrounding gardens and picnic area free of charge, but I’d highly recommend getting a ticket so that you can access the Monumental Zone.
Even though I take my budget travelling very serious and usually just take part in free activities. I bought a ticket to enter the Monumental Zone. And I am so glad that I did because it was one of the highlights of my trip.
I would advise you to book in advance online (tickets are also a bit cheaper online). If you can, get yourself an early morning time slot. You can stay in the park for as long as you like, but once you leave, you cannot re-enter again. My time slot was 8:30am and by about 9.30am the place was starting to get very busy and crowds started to form. The earlier you can enter, the fewer crowds you are likely to experience.
Inside the Monumental Zone, you have access to the beginnings of what was going to be a private estate for well-off families. It was designed by Eusebi Guell and Antonio Gaudi and, at the start, work progressed at a good rate. However, various factors such as conditions of the land, the elusive nature of the estate and the lack of transport made the project unviable and work stopped in 1914. Upon the death of Eusebi Guell, his heirs offered it to Barcelona City Council.
TIP: If you are walking back into the city centre from the park and end up going down all the steps (with escalators going up) there’s a small fruit and veg shop just across the main road at the bottom. After walking around the park all morning in 30°C+ heat, some slices of watermelon for about €1.50 is a real treat.
Another piece of architecture by Gaudi, but again, it’s a must see on your trip to Barcelona. Casa Batllo is a remodel of a previously built house that Gaudi re-designed in 1904.
It has the local name of Casa dels ossos, which means, House of Bones. And by looking the picture, you can see why.
For more information, or to purchase tickets and view the events, click here.
TIP: If you like this house, then you’ll also like Casa Mila (popularly known as La Pedrera). Yes, it is yet another masterpiece by Antonio Gaudi, but it’s just up the street from Casa Batllo. I’ve marked it on your Google Map above. For more info on this place, click here.
Arc de Triomf
No, this one was not designed by Antonio Gaudi. Instead, it is the work of Josep Vilaseca and it was built as the main access gate for the Barcelona World Fair in 1888.
A very decorative and monumental structure (not to mention, a great place for a selfie). As you walk under the arch, there is a beautiful walkway lined with trees and gardens either side – a perfect place for a picnic and a bit to eat.
This is basically just a street. But, it is beautifully lined with trees and kiosks selling souvenirs, flowers, ice cream as well as general other street traders. You may also find a few street performers.
A little word of warning, it does get very busy here, especially in the height of the tourist season. I, therefore, advise that you plan to visit here early in the morning to avoid the afternoon crowds.
Although I have pinpointed it on the map for you, it does stretch for about 1.2km (0.75miles) and you can join it at any point.
The Olympic Park
Are you a fan of the Olympics? If not, then move onto the next one, this stop isn’t going to be of much interest to you.
If you love the Olympics, then why not take a trip to view the site and main facilities that were used to host the 1992 Olympics?
Here you will also find an Olympics and Sport Museum that is located right next to the main stadium.
For more information about events and tickets, click here.
The Gothic Quarter
This quarter contains some of the oldest pieces of architecture in Barcelona. It even includes the remains of the city’s Roman Wall.
Sights here to see include the Roman and medieval walls (as mentioned), remains of the Roman Temple, Barcelona Cathedral (pictured above and also located on your Google Map), plus many others.
This is the ideal place to get lost, wander down some back streets and see what treasures you find.
A friend of mine has also published a post containing 14 things to do in the Gothic Quarter. To check it out, click here.
An imposing military fortress set at the top of Montjuic Hill, this castle has had a troublesome past. It has launched bombing raids on the city, being used as a prison and a torture centre several times for three centuries, and at one point was equipped with 120 cannons.
If you’ve got the legs and fitness for it, I highly recommend walking up the hill to the castle and taking in the spectacular views of Barcelona along the way. But be warned, it’s not an easy walk, especially in the mid-day heat, but there is a cable car that will take you to the top for a small fee if you prefer the more relaxing route.
On your way up, you can also stop at Park Jardins del Mirador (the cable car also stops here). This is a lovely little park with an impressive water feature made up of several waterfalls and spectacular views of the port and out to sea.
Whilst I was there, there was also some live music from a busker creating a very pleasant and chilled atmosphere.
If you enjoy art, then this will be a stop for you. This museum houses a permanent collection of 4,251 pieces of work by Pablo Picasso.
For more information, tickets and prices, please click here.
This park is roughly around 70 acres and also includes the city’s zoo, the must-see Cascada Monument, the Museum of Geology and a lake – that you can go rowing on.
As you would expect, it also houses some beautiful sculptures and architecture. All-in-all it’s like a tucked away oasis in the middle of a metropolitan city.
Okay, not a tourist attraction, but still something that you must experience in Barcelona. Paella is a Spanish dish that consists of rice, chicken and a variety of seafood.
Here are a few tips when purchasing;
- Don’t just go for the cheapest – If you get a dish that is ‘too cheap to be true’, then that’s probably because it’s being reheated and not made fresh. I would also question the quality of the seafood that is going into the dish.
- It should take a while to prepare – You shouldn’t order and then be served your dish within 10 minutes. Again, this means that it’s probably been reheated. If you have to wait a while (20-25min) then that’s a good sign that it’s probably being made fresh.
- Try Paella on a Thursday – In Barcelona, Thursday is like ‘paella day’ and you’ll usually find it on the menu and it will be a bit cheaper than on other days of the week.
I’m not really a football person, but if you or your travelling buddy is, and you like Barcelona FC, then you’re in for a (slight) treat.
Almost everywhere you go, every shop that you walk into, you’ll see a reference to Barcelona FC – a logo, a t-shirt, a cap, a keyring, a souvenir, the team’s colours, I could go on but you get the point.
What I’m trying to say is that you can’t walk around Barcelona without being reminded of their famous football team that they love so much. So be prepared.
If by any chance you love football and Barcelona FC just as much, why not give them a visit whilst you’re in the neighbourhood? Click here to go to their website.
Sadly, that brings us to the end of our sight-seeing tour of Barcelona. I’m sad to see you go, but I hope you have an amazing time – remember to take lots of pictures!
If you find any other gems that should be in this blog post, please get in touch and let me know.
Oh, and don’t forget to come back and drop me comment about your experience in this Spanish city and what you thought.