Hot sunshine, sandy beaches, vibrant metropolitan streets, historic Spanish architecture – there’s something for everyone.
We’ve put together a list of places that we would highly recommend visiting, if you’re planning a trip to Barcelona. Make sure to read the ‘Top Tip’ for each place, to help you get the most out of your visit.
Monument a Colom (Columbas Monument)
At the lower end of La Rambla (towards the sea) is a 60 meter tall monument dedicated to Christopher Coumbas’ first voyage to the Americas. Apparently, Columbas disembarked in the harbour of Barcelona when he returned from the Americas, and therefore this monument was opened in 1988.
At the top of the column is a 24 feet tall bronze statue of Columbas. The monument is flanked by a variety of people, animals and creatures, but by far the most impressive are the lions that guard the staircases.
Buy a ticket to take the lift up to the viewing deck of the monument, where you can get panoramic views across the city. There is a wine cellar at the basement of the monument, and included with our tickets was a glass of wine each.
One of the most well known areas of Barcelona, La Rambla, is a street peppered with shops, cafes, souvenir stalls, musicians and entertainers. It is full of buzz and activity.
If you think it’s busy during the daytime, it really comes to life at night. Take a walk starting from the very top, at Columbas Monument, right down to Plaça de Catalunya. The street is lined with entertainers ranging from human statues to musicians.
There are side streets that go off the side of La Rambla, and can lead you to smaller squares tucked away like this one we found.
Unfortunately, we can’t remember the name of this particular square (and can’t seem to trace it with Google Maps, so maybe it was a magical square visible just for us), but go for a wander, and you might just stumble across one like it.
Plaça de Catalunya
Every city has a central square, usually with lots of bus stops dotted around it …and bang in the city centre. Walk through La Rambla, and you’ll reach Plaça de Catalunya, a square with fountains. It’s also one of the main stops on any of the city sight seeing bus tours, and with good connections to public transport. On a nice day, you might even liken it to Trafalgar Square, with all its pigeons.
There are fountain show displays here. It’s worth checking the nearest Tourist Information office for the schedule of the shows, as they’re not always on. But when they are, make sure to get a good viewing spot.
Barcelona Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic cathedral, and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. It’s around a 10 minute walk from La Rambla.
On all our travels, we love to visit cathedrals for their stunning interior, and this one did not disappoint.
As with most cathedrals and churches in Barcelona, it’s frowned upon to display bare shoulders and knees. So take a scarf or jacket with you to cover up!
Casa de l’ardiaca (House of the Archdeacon)
A well kept secret hidden away, is this courtyard, situated near Barcelona Cathedral. You might miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
It is a 16th century building that now houses the city’s archives. Enter the building into the cool courtyard, where there are greenery and fountains.
If you’re visiting Barcelona Cathedral, this is a perfect spot to step into, to cool yourself and catch a break from the sweltering sunshine and crowds of people.
Arc De Triomf
Not to be confused with the one in Paris, Arc De Triomf was built in 1888 as the gateway to the Universal Exhibition hosted in Barcelona, which took place at the Parc de la Ciutadella. The arch crosses over a leafy, cool central promenade, which leads towards the Ciutadella Park.
Follow the promenade from the Arc de Triomf to Parc de la Ciutadella, where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll, or take a picnic. The park also has the Barcelona zoo, the Catalan Parliament, and the Zoological Museum.
This roundabout connects you to the road leading up to the Magic Fountains, and beyond to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC for short).
Through these pillars is the road that leads up to the Magic Fountains (Font Màgica de Montjuïc) – keep reading the blog for more on that later. The road itself is lined with fountains along the whole length of it, so when the Magic Fountain show starts, it synchronises with the fountains along the road, and this looks spectacular!
At the other end of the roundabout, is a shopping centre called ‘Arenas de Barcelona’. Take the lift all the way to the roof terrace, where there is a circular viewing platform that gives you 360 degree views, including over the Plaça Espanya. If you use the lifts inside the shopping centre, you can avoid paying for the external glass lift.
Font Màgica de Montjuïc (The Magic Fountains of Montjuïc)
Barcelona’s Magic Fountain shows gathers a crowd that can really pack the whole area, especially during peak tourist season. Walk along the long road from Plaça Espanya towards the MNAC, and you’ll come across the fountains. To find out timings of the show, just do a quick google search for the most up to date schedules (as these change with the time of year), and make sure you get there early enough to grab a good spot for photographs – you want to get a spot that’s high up for the best views.
The fountains are very colourful and dance to the tune of chart songs and classics, which change for each show. We particularly enjoyed the rendition of Titanic’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’.
Although your attention will be on the main fountain show in front of you, make sure to look back towards the fountains lining the main road, which is also synchronised to the show. After the show, the fountains along the road stay on, so you can take a stroll along them in the warm evening air – a romantic walk at its best.
This place needs no introductions. The most well known landmark in Barcelona. Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished Roman Catholic church is the largest in the world. It started being built in 1882 and is still awaiting completion.
The Gothic architecture, both outside and inside, will simply mesmerise you. When you walk indoors, try not to get a crick in your neck by looking up too quickly! You’ll find you can spend quite a bit of time just looking around in awe at all the ornate details.
Our favourite part of Sagrada Familia, would be the colourful stained glass windows. When the light shines through the windows, they give off a beautiful ethereal glow into the building, that can only be truly experienced in real life.
Take the lift leading to the staircase up to the top of the Sagrada Familia, which will not only give you views across the city, but will get you up close to some of the towers of the church, allowing you to really experience Gaudi’s small details on his masterpiece.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and Palau Nacional
The MNAC is situated within the Palau Nacional. You can find it just behind the Magic Fountains, and is worth a visit just for the views you can get from it. If you’re a fan of museums, you’ll be happy to know that the €12 ticket gives you access for 2 days within a month. If you’re not too keen on museums, you can instead pay just €2 to visit the roof viewpoint.
The BEST part about this place and one you should DEFINITELY visit, is the rooftop! Get the lift to the top and follow the signs around to wander the rooftops. Make sure you go up here around sunset to get photos of that glorious golden hour.
There is a restaurant and bar on the rooftop, if you fancy grabbing a bite or a drink whilst enjoying the views. From here, we got some of the best views we’ve ever seen on our travels. We were there after the restaurant had closed, so we had the entire place to ourselves. So, go a bit later around closing time if you want to get the best photos.
Another one of Gaudi’s pieces of art is Park Güell. This charming park is a perfect way to spend half a sunny day (or the whole day if you’ve got nothing else planned, or want to take it easy). Make sure you have money for ice-cream, because you’ll need one by the end of your stroll through.
Within the park you will find the Gaudi House Museum – it’s worth taking a look if you’re interested in finding out more about Gaudi’s life and works. It contains a miniature replica of the Sagrada Familia.
Barcelona isn’t just about the vibrant city streets. It also has hills and mountains. One of these mountains worth visiting is Tibidabo.
You can get the Tibidabo Funicular Railway up to the top. Once on Tibidabo, there is an amusement park with lots of fun rides, Tibidabo’s Panoramic Area and the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For amazing views of the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and also panoramic views of the hills, get on the Big Wheel in the amusement park and get your cameras ready!
Barcelona has a whole lot more to offer than just the places mentioned in this blog. The number of attractions you visit simply depends on how much time you have to spend in the city. But, hopefully this should give you a starting point in researching your next trip here!