Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in Europe, attracting over 32 million visitors every year. It’s a tourist hotspot for a good reason. With its stunning architecture, memorable food, and strong cultural roots, it makes a compelling destination for any traveller.
Here’s how to make your stay truly special.
Barcelona has over 20 distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own atmosphere and history. Whether you want to explore fashionable hotspots in El Born or enjoy a cheap, lively night out in El Poble-sec, there’s something for everyone.
Some neighbourhoods, such as the Gothic Quarter (El Gothic), are renowned for attracting hoards of tourists but are still worthy of a visit. Check out Les Rambles, a vast boulevard that stretches from the sea to the city centre.
No visit to Barcelona would be complete without taking in La Sagrada Família, the city’s mesmerizing cathedral, or the remarkable Casa Batlló, a unique block of residential flats that was transformed into a work of art by the famous architect Gaudí.
Other recommended sights include La Pedrera, an office and apartment block built in the early 20th century, and La Catedral, Barcelona’s most notable place of worship.
If the weather is fine, head to one of the city’s green spaces. Park Güell, which combines picturesque landscaping with mosaic-clad sculptures and buildings, provides perfect photo opportunities.
The Ciutadella Park, with its boating lake and zoo, offers a great family day out. If you prefer neoclassical architecture, pay a visit to the Laberint d’Horta Park, also famous for its cypress tree maze and picnic area.
Artist Pablo Picasso moved to Barcelona at the age of fourteen, and the Museu Picasso museum depicts the story of his early career through 4,251 of his works. If you are interested in classical art, head to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and enjoy a collection of Catalan art spanning the 11th-20th centuries.
Those who favor more modern works should try the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses art dating from the 1940s to the present day.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Palau de la Música Catalana is an outstanding example of the Catalan modernista style of the early 20th century. This prestigious venue regularly showcases the talents of jazz musicians, chamber orchestras, and more. Visit their website to view upcoming events and book tickets.
Catalan culture prizes markets, particularly those selling food, and you can find 39 dotted over the city. The most popular is the Mercat de la Boqueria, located in the Raval neighborhood. Open every day except Sundays, it sells a vast array of fresh produce and meals.
If you like to browse clothes, books, and other goods along with food, visit the Mercat de Sant Antoni in the Eixample neighborhood. Over 200 vendors display their wares every Monday through Saturday. There is a specialist book market open on Sundays, when other stalls are closed.
Barcelona has a rich cultural history, but taking in all the important sights of the city can be a daunting prospect. By taking a walking tour, you can rest assured that you haven’t overlooked any key attractions. Alternatively, if you would rather conserve your energy, there are regular tourist buses running throughout the day and into the evening.
Barcelona is home to FC Barcelona one of the world’s top football clubs. If you are a soccer fan, be sure to visit the FC Barcelona Museum, located at their home stadium Camp Nou. Over 1.5 million people visit every year, a testament to the team’s popularity.
You can take a tour of the stadium and walk through the players’ tunnel before browsing the largest Nike store in Barcelona. If possible, book a ticket to see a match – the atmosphere is unforgettable.
There are a plethora of bars and clubs to choose from if you want a night out in Barcelona. The Las Ramblas district is popular with tourists, and offers a wide array of bars and restaurants. This area is also known for its street performers.
For a more authentic experience, head to the Gothic Quarter instead. According to Barcelona Life, it contains a number of niche clubs and bars popular with locals and visitors alike.
For a more alternative, Bohemian atmosphere, check out the bars in the Gracia district. If you prefer beaches to streets, boat parties – otherwise known as “booze cruises” – depart from the Olympic Port on warm summer evenings. You can also find informal bars on the city’s shores.
Great food is everywhere in the city. Be sure to try tapas, seafood paella, crema Catalana (a creamy vanilla custard), mató (a soft cheese), esqueixada (raw salted cod salad), and bombas (a potato-based tapas dish), Catalan chicken, and botifarra (spiced sausage). To drink, try cava, sangria, and vermouth.
Traveller and Barcelona-based blogger The Seasoned Travelr recommends you to avoid menus with photos, as these are likely to be overpriced and aimed at tourists. It’s worth finding a restaurant that offers a “menu of the day,” as they are typically geared towards local people.
Prepare to eat late in Barcelona, so plan your meals and snacks accordingly. Lunch is usually served at around 2 p.m., and dinner is rarely eaten before 8 p.m.
Even if you are far from fluent, the locals will appreciate it if you make the effort to speak their language. If you need to translate any document into Spanish, try The Word Point for accurate, cost-effective translation services.
Whether you are going to Barcelona for a quick trip or a long vacation, you are sure to have a fantastic time. Many visitors return to the city over and over again, and it won’t take you long to understand its enduring appeal.