Top Ten things to Do and See in Barcelona, Spain
- Parc Güell
- The Sagrada Familia
- Casa Batlló
- La Pedrera
- Parc de la Cuitadella
- Plaça de Catalunya
- Cathedral de Barcelona and market area
- La Ramblas and the Mercado de La Boqueria
- Spanish Village
- Museums! So many great museums, MNAC, Picasso, Joan Miro, MACBA…
Bonus spots for the advanced Barcelona Traveler – the traveler who has seen it all…or almost – The mansions of Avinguda del Tibidabo and Parc del laberint d’horta!
I visited Barcelona two times before I moved here. I took many tours, found some vegetarian/vegan favorites, and stayed at a few different hotels.
So, it’s with a lot of embarrassment that I realize although I’ve posted a bunch of photos on Instagram, I’ve never written a post about visiting Barcelona! Which is ridiculous and usually something we only do for our hometowns.
Which, although I have lived here for over 5 years and it is my son’s hometown, I still view this wonderful city as a tourist. With outsider’s eyes, still marveling at its beautiful streets, international flavor, and decadent architecture.
I think Catalonia as a region is a little slice of heaven.
There are not many places in this world where you can ski in the mountains and drive to the beach in a matter of hours. Discover castles and aqueducts from different centuries and see some of the most creative artwork from famous artists like Antoni Gaudi, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso to name just a few.
Not to mention the Catalonia region has some thermal springs for soaking, amazing national parks, and trails perfect for mountain biking, walking and hiking.
There is a lot going on here. I have been lucky enough to spend the last few years discovering so many wonderful areas in the region that I forgot to mention its busy Capitol.
So, these places are my picks for a perfect Barcelona holiday. Without leaving the city, without getting carried away and trying to fit almost 6 years of living into one blog post, these are my recommendations for the must-sees of Barcelona.
Poble Espanyol – The Spanish Village is a wonderful area to visit with regular events, music and theatre performances, restaurants, shops and artisan studios.
If you don’t have time to travel all of Spain, you could just spend a day in the Spanish village and take in the buildings and scenery representing the different regions of Spain.
We’ve been to the Spanish village for Halloween, Christmas, a dinosaur event, and a really great vegan food fair.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
I don’t think it’s possible to visit this fine city without hearing a little bit about it’s local artists. Whether you love art or architecture or just want to add some famous paintings or sites to your “Been there, done that list,” Barcelona is an oasis of aesthetic excellence.
I highly recommend purchasing the ARTICKETBCN It’s a pass that allows you to visit 6 museums for a discounted price. And let me say that these museums are the best of the best.
Joan Miró Foundation
Whether you want to stroll the halls of the National museum, indulge in the colorful work of Joan Miro or lose yourself in an extensive collection of Picasso’s works, or perhaps discover some modern and comtemporary artists at MACBA, this pass will take you there.
As well, you get a fun passport stamped at each museum as a forever momento of your Barcelona Holiday. And last but not least, the art pass is free for kids under 16. My son and I got ours last year but only managed to see a few musuems.
The pass is valid for one year so I’d better check and see if we still have time to visit. Otherwise, I’ll get another one for this summer as I might sneak away here and there while my son is at summer camp.
Trips and Tricks for your stay in Barcelona
Take a Hop on Hop off bus or a guided bus tour of the city! I highly recommend these as they take you anywhere and everywhere you want to go with ease. Barcelona is a huge city and a lot of these great places are far away from each other.
So, if you really want to hit all the best places, the hop on hop off bus or a guided half or full-day bus tour is the easiest, most affordable way to do so. Otherwise, you will be taking taxis, and trains, and walking up steep hills in what could be the hot heat of Barcelona.
There is Barcelona Metro (tmb Cat) and the FGC train system. I have been on the Barcelona Metro 2-3 times in my entire lift but the FGC is my mode of transportation at least twice a week.
If you want to go from Plaça Catalunya to the Sagrada Familia then the Barcelona Metro is your train. If you want to go from Plaça Catalunya north even just a few stops to Gràcia or Sarrià the FGC has a seat for you. There is also an extensive bus system but I just don’t know much about it.
The pick pockets are real! Please make sure to only set out on your daily adventures with some cash, a card, sunscreen, and your phone.
Do not roam the city with your passport and all your money and cards. It is such a hassle to be pickpocketed and even more to try and get your ID etc, replaced.
If you are staying in the Barcelona city area, anyone working in any kind of tourist or tourist-related industry speaks some if not a lot of English in some cases other languages too. Go ahead and try your Spanish or Catalan but you will do just fine with English.
However, if you venture outside of the city, do not expect anyone to speak English. You might get some well-meaning young people eager to try their language skills but you may also get some stern words and looks from some of the older more political Catalonians. Just try and be respectful and carry on enjoying your vacation.
I will say no mater what kind of vacation you want and how much planning you are used to doing; Barcelona is a busy city. Do yourself and favor and check out sites like Viator.com, GetYourGuide.com, Or do a google search for local tour companies and book early.
Depending on the time of year places like the Sagrada Familia or Parc Güell sell out or have long lineups if you don’t purchase in advance. As well, the tour guides in this city are fantastic. Friendly, professional and very knowledgeable about life and history in Barcelona.
When I visited Barcelona in 2015 for the first time I took four tours. I still remember the guides to this day. The stories they told, the laughs- they added a lot of value to my Barcelona experience.
I often dream that one day maybe in a decade or so I’ll be a dashing multi-lingual tour guide wearing fabulous dresses and speaking grandly and with large arm gestures about this or that around Barcelona or the region.
But for now, I’m happy to finally have finished the first of many posts about this wonderful city that I feel lucky enough to live near. If you have any questions or need help with recommendations for an upcoming trip, comment below!
Otherwise, check out my Top 10 Barcelona Restaurants! You’re going to need something to eat after all this sightseeing!