Barcelona is an incredible city filled with interesting places to visit, amazing architecture, lively neighbourhoods and outstanding history. No wonder you can stay for days in the city and still not manage to see it all, hence why we decided to compile a list of the top 10 places that are a must-see in Barcelona so you can plan your trip to include them on the visit.
1. Las Ramblas and Placa Catalunya – To get a first feel for the city step into Las Ramblas, a bustling street filled with shops and restaurants, street performers and artists spread throughout this famous Barcelona street that starts from St. Christopher’s Monument by the sea, until Placa Catalunya at the top. Once you get here you will find that Placa Catalunya is a very large square surrounded by beautiful buildings, with a grand garden and fountain at the centre. This is also one of the locations from where you can take the bus to and from the airport, so it is very likely you will end up there at some point.
2. The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gótic) – the world famous Barri Gótic is part of the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) where lays the oldest and most historical parts of the city of Barcelona. In this neighbourhood you will find the cathedral as well as the old castle walls and a variety of gothic buildings of outstanding beauty. The quarter is characterised by its narrow streets, artists shops, high-end restaurants and lively bars that make this a very vivacious part of town both by day and by night.
3. Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia – La Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church, considered as one of the most impressive works designed by Gaudi. It started construction back in 1882 and it is not expected to be complete at least until the year 2026. For its vast scale and iconic Cathalan architecture, La Sagrada Familia has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain for many years.
4. Park Guell – Designed by Antoni Gaudi and named after his patron Eusebi Guell, was created what is today called as Park Guell. Initially Gaudi’s intentions where to transform it into a commercial suburban residential area, however his attempts failed and in 1922 Barcelona’s council bought the project and transformed it into a public park. Located right on top of a hill overlooking Barcelona, the views are impressive and the overall structure of the park quite stunning. By the main entrance staircase you can find a lizard sculpture which is the symbol of the park, so be prepared to wait in a queue if you want to take a photo with the lizard as all visitors to the park tend to want the same. The entrance is free and it can get quite busy during the day so we would advise you to visit the park either as soon as it opens or just before closure time when it tends to have a reduced number of visitors. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm during winter and 10am to 9pm during summer.
5. Passeig de Gracia, Casa Milá (also known as “La Pedrera”) and Casa Batló – These Gaudi’s masterpieces are both located within close distance at Passeig de Gracia, a very long and wide avenue filled with high-end shops and businesses similarly to the concept of the “Les Champs Élysées” in Paris. Both of Gaudi’s house constructions can be visited inside and are well worth the time as they hold museums related to each of the houses and their construction and are both very well presented. The ticket prices may be a bit high but if you get one of the voucher booklets distributed by the touring bus companies, there you will be able to find discount vouchers that you can put down towards your entrance fee. Adult ticket to Casa Battló is around €16,50, whereas Casa Milá is priced at €9.50.
6. The Triumph Arc and Parc de la Ciutadella – At the entrance of the Parc de la Ciutadella, a major area where the old fortress used to be located, is the Triumph Arc. Designed as the main gate door for the 1888 expo, it has representations of all the symbols of the Spain districts including Barcelona’s symbol at the centre. Indeed a grand monument to have as the door to the Ciutadella Park which nowadays is used as a recreation park where the Barcelona zoo is located.
7. Montjuic – On top of a hill overlooking the city and harbour lies Montjuic and its castle. To get there take the funicular from Parallel metro station to Montjuic and, once there, you still need to either climb up the hill until reaching the castle or even better, take the hanging cable cars that will take you straight to the castle. After touring around the old castle fortress you can come down hill on foot and take advantage of the wonderful sights you can experience there along the Montjuic Park which has suffered several improvements this year. Take the opportunity while you are at Montjuic to visit the Olympic Stadium which has been in use since the 1992 Olympics and is open to the public for viewings. Further down hill, at the bottom of Montjuic you will find the grand Palau Nacional which holds the National Art Museum of Catalunia and overlooks the stunning Plaza d’Espanya.
8. Barceloneta – The neighbourhood of Barceloneta is part of the Old Town and located by the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will be able to enjoy Barcelona’s beach and its lively atmosphere, have a stroll around the old streets and delight yourself with a fruit cocktail at one of the many restaurants and bars with outside seating overlooking the beach. Beware that if you plan to actually spend some time at the beach be prepared not to find much space where to leave your towel as it tends to be quite packed throughout the whole summer and for most of Spring and Autumn.
9. El Born – Part of the Old Town and just before reaching Barceloneta lays El Born, one of the trendiest and safest districts in the old town. It has a very authentic feel to it and here you will find the Palau Musica Catalana, the Picasso Museum and the gothic church of Santa Maria del Mar.
10. El Raval – Known for its bohemian culture, El Raval is a neighbourhood close to Las Ramblas that is nowadays a favourite amongst artists and intellectuals, that has gained a through contemporary feel to it with the creation of the large Contemporary museum and art galleries. El Raval also houses the Palau Guell, designed by Gaudi which is also another good representation of the architect’s unique artwork.
And if you are travelling to barcelona on a budget you can book a quality hotel, apartment or villa in Barcelona close to the main sights for as little as €30 per person (depending on the deals available) through Monarch Hotels. In this way you can save more money on your acommodation to go towards the entrance fees at some of the above mentioned must see Barcelona locations.