Barcelona Travel Guide
Jeff Chabot (pixabay)

by: Jason Young, Anna Zielazny

Barcelona is one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe and this is nothing surprising. It is a truly vibrant city, with great nightlife, stunning parks, and world-famous buildings. In this Barcelona travel guide, we aim to make sure that everyone can find something for themselves in this city.

Things to Do in Barcelona

If you are not sure about what to do in Barcelona, don’t worry! We will guide you through the most amazing spots in the city: from museums, through parks, to the best food market. You can find all you need to know about visiting Barcelona here.

Have a Stroll Through Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas, Barcelona
People walking on La Rambla, Barcelona – Jorge Fernández Salas (Unsplash)

Las Ramblas is a promenade that both tourists and locals simply love. The avenue connects Plaça de Catalunya with the Columbus Monument, right by the waterfront.

Exploring Las Ramblas is much more than just a walk. Here you can admire street performers, living statues, have a look at flower stands, grab a waffle from one of the booths, and much more. All of this in the shade of beautiful plane trees that line the promenade.

After getting to the waterfront, you can chill there or keep exploring, visiting Barcelona’s Aquarium or the Maremagnum mall.

Admire the Unfinished Beauty of Sagrada Família

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – Ken Cheung (Unsplash)

While visiting Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is a must-see. Even though it’s still not completed, it is considered Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece. The project is so ambitious that 140 years have already passed since the cornerstone was laid, and the church is just one third finished.

According to plans, when the spires of Sagrada Família will be finished, this temple will be the tallest church in the world. This building connects various architectural styles, including neogothic, Art Nouveau, and modernism. The structures seem to be alive and can bring to mind a living organism, which evolves and is yet to reveal its full splendour.

You can get your tickets here.

Admire Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló , Barcelona – Ruggiero Calabrese (Unsplash)

While visiting Barcelona, you stumble on Antoni Gaudí’s creations quite often. Another great example of the style of Barcelona’s most important architect is Casa Batlló.

This building wasn’t created from the ground but it is a remodeled version of the structure that was at the spot. Gaudí added unique details and got rid of the straight lines both inside and outside of the building.

One of the most unique elements in the interior is a fireplace that looks like a mushroom. While the exterior has thousands of details to focus on, the most visible and breathtaking is a roof that can resemble the scale-covered body of a dragon.

You can purchase your tickets online here.

Chill Out on One of Barcelona’s Beaches

Barcelona beach
Barcelona beach – Marius Baziuk (pixabay)

Barcelona is famous for its stunning city beaches. You can go there and chill out on the beach or choose to walk the boardwalk that stretches from Barceloneta to Diagonal Mar.

Barceloneta is very touristy and offers many trendy spots, such as shops and beach bars. When you walk toward Diagonal Mar, you can notice more locals and the beaches are not so crowded. Towards the end of your walk, you get to the revitalized industrial part of Barcelona.

Remember that it is important to not wear a bikini or swimsuit off of the beaches. It’s not only considered offensive but also illegal and you can get a fine.

Taste the City in La Boqueria

La Boqueria market, Barcelona
Tourists at La Boqueria market, Barcelona – tupungato (depositphotos)

Tasting local cuisine is a great way to experience the culture of a place. This is why you shouldn’t miss La Boqueria. The history of this food market is very long and reaches the medieval era. Although the market exists in its current place for “only” 200 years.

1914 brought some changes to this place. The iron and glass roof was built and the comfort of the sellers and buyers increased. As in the past, La Boqueria offers fruits, meat, cheese, fish, and much more. You can pop in there to get some fresh food for later or get a drink with tapa in one of the bars.

Immerse in Gaudí’s style in Park Güell

Park Güell, Barcelona
Park Güell, Barcelona – Michelle Raponi (pixabay)

Park Güell is proof that Gaudí was a genius not only in architecture but also landscaping. Located in the Carmel Hill park, it’s a perfect spot to admire the spectacular view of Barcelona.

Rest on one of the wavy benches and admire mosaics that decorate the walls. Colonnades, sculptures and fountains scattered around the park give a unique appearance to this park and show the style of the architect.

If you want to learn more about Gaudí, head to the Gaudí House Museum, in which the artist lived from 1906 to 1926.

Get your ticket here

Listen to a Concert in Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona
Palau de la Musica Catalana, Concert Hall Barcelona, Catalonia – Bastian Linder (depositphotos)

This UNESCO-listed heritage building is an illustration of social changes that happened during Gaudí’s time. Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the concert hall was founded by rich Catalan industrialists. They were supporting various artists who created art that was supposed to highlight Catalan identity.

Nowadays, you can see various operas, concerts, and even listen to folk music here. If you just want to see stunning, richly decorated interiors, you can get a ticket here.

Discover Art and History in Montjuïc

National Art Museum of Catalonia, Montjuïc, Barcelona
National Art Museum of Catalonia, Montjuïc, Barcelona – orenstein2 (pixabay)

Montjuïc is a vibrant district that owes its array to the 1929 International Exhibition. You can find various excellent museums here, including the National Museum of Catalan Art or Ethnology Museum.

Don’t miss the light and music show where the Magic Fountain plays the main role. The shows take place every half-hour on the weekends.

While you can see spectacular views of Barcelona from many points of Montjuïc be sure to get to the very top of the hill. The 17th-century fortress remembers the time of the Catalan Revolt and was an important spot for the Civil War.

Grab a Coffee in Gràcia

Plaça de Trilla, Gràcia, Barcelona
Plaça de Trilla, Gràcia – Jordiferrer (wikipedia)

Gràcia seems like a cosy place that could be separated from the vibrant and noisy life of Barcelona. The area was incorporated into the city only in the 20th century.

This part of the city is loved by students and artists. Here you can find art galleries, independent stores, and various bars. Grab some coffee and feel the stylish life of locals.

If you travel to Barcelona in August, don’t miss the Festa Major. During this event, the residents of Gràcia decorate streets in various ways and compete for the title of the best street in the neighbourhood.

Learn Everything About Picasso in the Picasso Museum

Picasso Museum, Barcelona
Picasso Museum – Museu Picasso Barcelona

Picasso was one of the most important Spanish artists. His fame wasn’t limited just to his country but spread around the world. Nowadays, Picasso is considered one of the best artists in art history. The artist came to Barcelona for the first time when he was a 14 year old boy. He came back to the city many times throughout his life.

The Picasso Museum is a place where you can see the artist’s studio and his paintings. The gothic courtyard adds a unique vibe to the visit that makes you feel like you are transported in time and this is what attract tourists the most.

You won’t find emblematic Picasso masterpieces here, such as Guernica or The Weeping Woman. However, you can discover the progress of his artistic style, analyzing over 4,251 pieces, exposed in chronological order, that shows how a 14 year old boy evolved into an icon of Cubism.

Get your ticket to the Picasso Museum here.

Visit Barcelona Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Barcelona Cathedral), Barcelona
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Barcelona Cathedral), Barcelona – Catharina Rytter (pixabay)

While Sagrada Família is the most famous church in Barcelona, the Gothic cathedral is definitely worth seeing. The works on the gothic church started in 1298 and took more than 150 years. Yet, some of the church’s structures, such as the main façade and cimborio,were added in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The gothic interiors, with high columns that carry elaborated vaults, are very impressive. Secondary chapels open up in the Cathedral making the space look even more majestic. The Cathedral hosts monthly concerts of the 16th-century organs.

You can purchase tickets online on this website.

Take a Close Look at “The World Begins with Every Kiss” Mural

The World Begins with Every Kiss Mural , Barcelona
The World Begins with Every Kiss Mural – Rocktheplace

You can find this popular mural just a few steps from the Cathedral of Barcelona. It was supposed to be just a temporary piece to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Catalonian Day (La Diada). That day commemorates all the lives that were lost to fight for freedom and identity.

Revealed in 2014, the mural is created with 4,000 tiles with photos. From a distance, the tiles create an image of two people kissing. The message of the mural that praises empathy, liberty, and love constantly attracts many visitors.

The mural was designed by Joan Fontcuberta. The artist asked locals to send pictures that show freedom and received pictures of people, places, and moments. Next to the mural, you can find a plaque with an inspiring quote: “The sound of a kiss is not as loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.”

Admire Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site

Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, Barcelona
Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul (de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau) – mistervlad (depositphotos)

Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site is another mastepiece of Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the creator of Palau de la Música Catalana. The building is a definition of Art Nouveau style in its Catalan version.

The structure of the building, together with the well-planned square in front of it, brings to mind a unique fairy-tale. Extravagant copulas, elaborate pillars, and colourful stained glass make this place look like it is a palace. In fact, the building served as a hospital until 2009. Nowadays, it serves as a place for exhibitions and fashion shows.

Lluís Domènech i Montaner went ahead of today with his vision of a place for healing: buildings are oriented to have maximum sun exposure, a park gives an opportunity for a restorative walk, and much more.

You can purchase your tickets online, here.

Have a Walk in the Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona
Parc de la Ciutadella – Montse Sanchiz Bosch (pixabay)

Barcelona’s city park is a real treasure. You can rest there after a day of discovering Barcelona’s best places or walk around various alleys. The sounds of birds and waters that whisper in the Cascada Monumental designed by Gaudí made it a perfect place to unwind and escape the loud noises of the city.

If you like romantic activities, you can rent a boat and chill on the surface of the lake next to the fountain. Don’t miss the Umbracle and Hivernacle, two greenhouses made of cast iron. They are very beautiful, mysterious, and magical.

Discover Artworks of Joan Miró

Joan Miro Foundation Museum, Barcelona
Joan Miro Foundation Museum, Montjuic mountain – Toniflap (depositphotos)

Joan Miró is a pride of Catalonia. He created various art pieces, including conceptual paintings and sculptures. The artist knew how hard it might be to show his pieces and this is probably why he decided to design his own museum.

Minimalistic in colours and shapes, yet elaborate in its structure, the museum was created by Miró and his friend, Josep Lluís Sert, who was an architect. It is a unique chance to admire the work of the artist exactly in the way he wanted.

Ready to discover Joan Miró’s collection? Order your tickets here.

Immerse Into Digital Art in IDEAL

IDEAL Centre d'Arts Digitals de Barcelona, Barcelona
IDEAL Centre d’Arts Digitals de Barcelona – IDEAL

While spending hours in an art museum might not be for everyone, IDEAL proposes a different approach to art. This digital arts center was created in a place that used to be a movie theatre and movie set.

In 2019, the place was transformed into the first of southern Europe’s museums of digital art projects. The space serves also as a facility for the production of those projects. You can experience an immersive spectacle here, where instead of blindly staring at pictures, you become one with the art. Sit on the poppy meadow from Monet’s painting, touch Klimt’s golden patterns, and do some stargazing while being inside Van Gogh’s pictures.

IDEAL is a hot spot on Barcelona’s map, so be sure that you book your tickets in advance online.

Enjoy Beautiful Places A Day Trip from Barcelona

The monastery on the Montserrat mountain, reachable by train
The monastery on the Montserrat mountain, reachable by train – MH_Stuttgart (pixabay)

If you have time to spare, spending one day on day trip offers many more interesting spots and places to visit. From the historic monastery on the Montserrat mountain to the beautiful seaside village of Costa Brava, there are much more to experience outside the city proper. Check out a selection of day trips you can do from Barcelona here.

How to Get Around in Barcelona

As one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, Barcelona offers a variation of convenient ways to get around the city.

Public Transport

Public transport covers the metro, suburban rail service (FGC), tram, and bus. They are part of the integrated fare system, which mean with 1 ticket you can hop between these services to reach your destination. Be aware that there is time limit to board one service after leaving another.

Metro and Suburban Rail Service (FGC/Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya)

Barcelona metro
People waiting at Barcelona Metro station – 상균 유 (pixabay)

The metro combined with the FGC offers fast and cheap way to travel between regions in the city. They are relatively safe, reliable and more frequent than bus. Sure you can’t see much during the trip but with 8 lines of metro and 3 lines of FGC, they cover pretty much every place you want to visit.

Keep in mind that the metro stop operating at midnight.

Tram

The tram connects major shopping areas and residential zones although not as extensive (or fast) with only 2 lanes. However they do offers unique experience with beautiful view along your trip.

Bus

Barcelona bus
A city bus in Barcelona – Igor Vetushko (depositphotos)

With over 1000+ armada and 100+ routes the bus cover almost the entire city districts and metropolitan areas. While it might take slightly longer than riding metro, you can see your surrounding along the way. Night bus is also available but it operates in different pricing system (not included in integrated fare system).

Be sure to watch for your belonging while in a public transport!

Public Transport Cost

Paying for public transport is very convenient with integrated fare system in place. You can pay ticket for every trip at about €2.4 ($2.72) or you can opt to get passes which is very recommended if you’re going to stay for a while. At the moment the option are:

  • T-Casual: 10 trips for €11.35 ($12.87)
  • T-Familiar: 8 trips for €10 ($11.34)

Day Passes:

  • 48 hours for €14.67 ($16.64)
  • 72 hours for €21.33 ($24.19)
  • 96 hours for €27.72 ($31.44)
  • 120 hours for €34.20 ($38.78)

Check here for more details.

Rent a Bicycle

Bike sharing, Barcelona
Bike for rent lined up at their parking slot in Barcelona – Pablo Valerio (pixabay)

Biking in Barcelona is a magnificent experience with over 200 km (124.27 miles) of bike lanes and other facilities prepared for biker including easy-to-find parking places. It usually comes with helmet, bike lock, and maybe a child seat so be sure to lock your bike when you park. If you rent for days, be sure to place it on secure location for the night.

Renting cost usually is around €4 ($4.54) for 2 hours or €7 ($7.94) for 4 hours. If you rent on daily basis, it would be around €12 ($13.61) for 1 day and €22 ($24.95) for 2 days. More advanced bike such as e-bike or mountain bike will be pricier, ranged around €25 – €35 ($28.35 – $39.69) per day.

Check By-Cycle or e-Bikerent for some good bike options.

Taxi

There are 10,000+ taxis in Barcelona so there won’t be any shortages of it when you need it. While it can be pricier than taking metro, they’re reliable and the drivers are usually good sources of information. Meter starts at €2.25 ($2.55) then runs at €1.18 ($1.34) per km, higher tariff applied at night and holidays at €1.41 ($1.6)) per km (0.6 mile).

Rent a Scooter

If you’re confident with your riding skill and want to enjoy relatively cheap way to go wherever you want whenever you want, consider to rent a scooter. Naturally you need to have your international or European driving license with you and follow the rules when driving.

Check out cooltra or vesping for a selections of scooters in multiple colors to rent. They cost about €20 ($22.68) per 2 hours or €40 ($45.36) per day.

Join a Tour

Hop On Hop Off Tour, Barcelona
A tourist bus catering to Hop on Hop Off Tour passing near Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – Anastasiia Tarasova (Unsplash)

Tours offer all kind of activities and since they come with a guide you’ll gain all sorts of trivia about the city from important history to the most popular snacks. You can opt to tour the Sagrada Familia or Barcelona Aquarium without touching the ticket line, visit Camp Nou, spoil your taste buds with Wine and Chocolate, and many more. Check out the selections here.

Some highlighted ones:

  • Hop on Hop off tour: 1 or 2 days ticket where you can ride specific tourist buses then hop on and hop off as many times as you want. Naturally their routes are designed to pass the most popular attractions in Barcelona.
  • Sunset Catamaran Cruise with Live Music: a romantic cruise aboard a catamaran (a watercraft) with breathtaking view of sunset in Barcelona. With bar and live music of course.
  • Join a bike tour: join a bike tour solo or as a group where your local guide will take you over carefully planned route for the best Barcelona biking experience. Visit Barcelona Ciclo Tour or Bamboo Bike Tour for some great options.

Ride Hailing/Ride Sharing

If you’re looking to use your Uber app in Barcelona, you might be able to do that. Ride hailing services have been getting trouble over license with their taxi counterpart and the situation is quite liquid. At the moment you can use Uber or Cabify (their local ride hailing app) but there is no guarantee if they are still available when you get there.

Rent a Car

Renting a car is not really recommended considering traffic is quite heavy and parking spots are quite limited. You might find it useful if:

  • You’re traveling with family and bring senior members with you.
  • You’re planning to do day trip and visit beautiful towns and places around Barcelona.

You can rent a small car from around €50 ($56.70) per day or bigger car for about €60 ($68.04) per day. Check out Discover Cars to find the best one for your need.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Where you want to stay depend on your budget and whether you’re traveling solo or in a group. Generally if possible you’ll want to stay within the city center area where public transports are easily accessible and the best attractions are nearby.

Hostel

A dorm room at Sun & Moon Hostel
A dorm room at Sun & Moon Hostel – Sun & Moon Hostel

Hostel is popular in Europe and a good choice if you just need a place (or just a bed) to crash for the night. Some hostels provide private room, dorm, or both. Find good selections of hostel with thousands of reviews at Hostelworld. A few of the recommended ones in Barcelona are Sun & Moon Hostel & Be Ramblas Hostel.

Spending the night in a hostel will cost you €19- €23 ($21.55 – $26.08) in a dorm and €55- €80 ($62.37 – $90.72) for a private room.

Rent an entire apartment

Whether you’re alone and just need privacy or visiting with 1-3 travel companion, you’ll find good places to rent at strategic places around the city center. Check out Airbnb for a list of good selections at affordable price.

The typical rent cost would be €30- €50 ($34 – $56) for 1-2 person and €80- €170 ($90 – $192) for 4 or more person.

Hotel

A room in Ona Hotels Mosaic, Barcelona
A room in Ona Hotels Mosaic, Barcelona – Ona Hotels Mosaic

Hotels are what you expected: professionally managed, clean, and probably come with a swimming pool, a fitness center, and buffet breakfast in the morning. Some of the most recommended are:

3 Stars (€75- €120 / $85 – $136):

5 Stars (€195- €325 / $221 – $368):

Otherwise you can check and pick yourself via Booking.com. Be sure to use their extensive filter function on the left side, especially the “less than 1km from city centre”, and review score of at least “Very good: 8+”.

Where to Eat in Barcelona

Beef Rib & Red Wine served at La Gastronomica
Beef Rib & Red Wine served at La Gastronomica – La Gastronomica

Barcelona offers all kind of restaurants/diners/bars on all budget. Some of the must try:

Low Price: €3 – €15 ($3.4 – $17)

Mid Price: €10 – €25 ($11.34 – $28.35)

Fine Dining: €30 – €100 ($34 – $113)

Best Time to Travel to Barcelona

Best time to visit Barcelona
Clear blue sky over Park Guell, Barcelona on a spring day – Daniel Corneschi (Unsplash)

May – June: Best Time

May – June is the end of spring and the beginning of summer. You won’t see the tourist throng yet and prices are still on the reasonable side. The temperature is great at 12-20°C (53°F – 68°F), perfect for outdoor activities.

Expect to join the liveliness of Verbena de Sant Juan (Saint John’s eve) where you can enjoy live music and bonfires on the streets. Of course while accompanied by a coca tart of Sant Joan and a glass of cava.

End of June – August: High Season

Summer is coming, temperature is raised up to 27°C (80°F) and everyone wants to be out. Prices of flights and hotels will soar and you’ll start to see lines on popular attractions and restaurants.

A months long music festival Grec de Barcelona will be held around this time and it will include international theatre, dance, music, and circus. Take your time and enjoy many programme held in multiple theaters throughout the city.

September – November

As summer ends and autumn comes, the number of tourists – both local and international – is dropping. Temperature will also drop and rain will start pouring here and there, so be sure keep your jacket and umbrella with you. Expect between 12°C – 22°C (53.6°F – 71.6°F ).

Barcelona La Mercè will start around this time and will last for a few days. The festival is held to honor Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona, and the format will be street parties. Scour the street to find parades, fire runs (Correfoc), projection shows, and many other events.

December – April

December marks the beginning of winter that will last until February, followed by the beginning of Spring around end of March. This is the off season with least tourists around, accompanied with a big drop of flight and accommodation prices. Temperature will be around -3°C – 4°C (26°F – 39°F) during winter.

If you’re around on January, be sure to watch the Barcelona Cavalcada de Reis (Three King’s Day Parade), Barcelona Christmas parade held on the 12th day after Christmas.

Barcelona Trip Cost

Barcelona Travel Cost
Euro bills and coins – Gerd Altmann (Pixabay)

The majority of the cost already informed across sections above, here’s a summary:

Accommodation

  • Hostel: €19- €23 ($21.55 – $26) for dorm room and €55- €80 ($62.37 – $90.72) for a private room.
  • Apartment (whole place): €30- €50 ($34 – $56.70) for 1-2 person and €80- €170 ($90 – $192) for 4 or more person
  • Hotel: €75- €120 ($85 – $136) for 3 stars and €195- €325 ($221 – $368) for 5 stars.

Food

Food cost between €3 – €15 ($3.4 – $17) if you stuck to a diner or fast food place. Prepare to pay €35 ($39.70) or more on high end places.

Transportation

With extensive and convenient public transport, utilizing their integrated fare system is highly recommended. Take one from their pass selections that suit you and utilize metro, FGC, and bus to get around. These passes cost €10 ($11.34) for 10 trips or €14.67 ($16.64) for 48 hours, check the complete selection here.

Otherwise you can utilize the Hop on Hop off Tour bus for about $34. Their routes pass most of the attractions such as Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.

Attraction

Check more ticket selections here.

Covid Update

The Covid situation is fluid and can change any time. Visit Reopen EU to find out their criteria to enter Spain currently. Generally you will need to show proof that you’re vaccinated and had tested negative on test made maximum 72 hours before.

How to Stay Safe in Barcelona

People riding Metro at Barcelona
People riding metro in Barcelona. Keep your luggage under watch when you ride one – neiezhmakov (depositphotos)

Barcelona is relatively safe and most crimes are petty theft, but that doesn’t mean you can be careless with your belonging. Remember that while losing some cash might be okay, losing your passport or other important documents will ruin your day (and possibly your entire trip) pretty quick.

Here are some tips to be stay safe in Barcelona:

  • Keep your bag/purse on your sight the entire time while in public transport or crowded public place. If you’re using a backpack, wear them in front of you.
  • Keep your bag/purse on you the entire time while you’re eating or shopping. Do not hang them or place them somewhere even if it is close.
  • If someone approaches you and tries to make conversation for whatever reason, be extra conscious of your belonging. Thieves work in pair, one to distract while the other does the work.
  • While mugging is very rare, try to avoid withdrawing money on secluded ATM at night. Instead, always choose ATM with many people around within the day.
  • Always have a copy of your passport and other important documents and keep them on separate places.
  • Once you’re checked in, bring only enough cash out and leave the rest on your hotel’s safe.
  • If you need to check your map, try not to stand in the middle of the street while gawking left and right. This will mark you as pickpocket target. Instead try to sit down, relax, check your map, and try to get a bearing of where you are.

Prepared as you are, sometimes things just happen and it’s beyond your control. It can be theft, accident, illness or others. That’s why having a good travel insurance can save your day and keep your plan on track. Check out World Nomads for a selection of travel insurance plans which cover various risks in your journey.