Barcelona is one of Spain’s (and Europe’s) most iconic cities. It’s a great place to experience Catalan culture, beautiful Gaudi buildings and incredible foodie spots, too. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of our tips and our essential guide to visiting Barcelona when you visit; to make the most outta your trip!
Obviously, with any visit to a new and exciting city, costs can spiral, especially if you’re wanting to squeeze lots in. This is the same when visiting Barcelona, too.
If you’re anything like me when you travel, you’ll save money in certain ways, while having a well-deserved little treat on a few things you enjoy.
I think it’s something we do in life, generally, so why not in travel too?
Thankfully, costs don’t always need to be extortionate and there’s a whole range of ways you can also save a pretty penny during your trip to Barcelona.
Take a look at our essential guide to visiting Barcelona when you visit. We’ve crammed in all the information from our trips to hopefully help you when you arrive.
Have the best trip!
How to get to Barcelona
Barcelona is one of Europe’s best-connected cities, served by train, plane, car and boat! Truth be told, it’s one of the most accessible cities to visit (in terms of infrastructure).
As with any form of transport, prices can be higher during peak periods or during holiday seasons. Barcelona–El Prat Airport is the closest to the city centre, so plan to fly here if you can.
Where to stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is filled with a whole array of amazing places to stay, from period properties, sparkly new hotels to gorgeous Airbnb’s. There’s just so much choice!
If you’re looking for a treat, then you need to check out Barcelona’s most beautiful hotel, El Paulet Living.
This gothic building and absolutely stunning suites are a real treat for anyone visiting the city. Honestly, we stayed here and found it really hard to leave…
If you’re looking for a hotel in the Gothic Quarter, make sure to check out The Barcelona Catedral Hotel.
This hotel is ideally situated within the hustle and bustle of old Barcelona and is perfect. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your swimming trunks for the rooftop pool.
Alternatively, If you’re looking for a hotel that’s close to Plaça de Catalunya, make sure you check out the Pulitzer Hotel. With gorgeous rooms and a perfect location, it’s a great place for a few days getaway.
Don’t forget to check out their rooftop bar too, on weekends they have DJ’s and cocktails flowing. It’s the perfect way to start (or end) your night.
Where to eat in Barcelona
No visit to Barcelona is complete without delving into its delicious foodie scene.
Rather than detail everything within our guide to visiting Barcelona, we’ve created a specific post on the best restaurants in Barcelona that you’ll hopefully love.
What to do in Barcelona
Once you’ve planned all the logistics, these are the spots you shouldn’t miss!
1.) Stroll around La Rambla
La Rambla is known for being the most famous street in Barcelona and is packed with shops and boutiques.
Also, look out for the flower markets and street mosaics. Don’t forget to find the Christopher Columbus Monument at the beginning (or end, depending on your perspective) of La Rambla and make sure to make a visit to the Palace of the Virreina.
If you’re looking for a little lunch, head a few metres off La Rambla to Plaça Reial. A small square that is filled with restaurants and cafes that’s perfect for a relaxing afternoon bite.
2.) See Platja de Barceloneta
If you’re visiting in the warmer, summer months make sure to pack your swimwear and take a stroll to Platja de Barceloneta, Barcelona’s beach.
Completely free to visit, it’s the perfect place to soak up some Mediterranean rays and test your skills at creating sandcastles.
If you’re looking for something even more relaxing, you can rent a small boat that allows you to sail the waters surrounding the beach. It costs around 100 Euro and is pretty lovely.
3.) Explore Montjuïc
Montjuïc is a beautifully landscaped area of the city that is famous for its gardens, museums, castle and the hill itself.
Head to the top of Montjuïc Castle in the late afternoon and watch the city sparkle as the day turns to night.
Almost 500 years old, this castle (or fortress) is a great little spot to visit (especially via the cable car).
4.) Discover the colourful parks
There’s a whole array of stunning parks to enjoy in Barcelona, with one of the very best (and most famous) being Park Güell.
Designed by the incredible Antoni Gaudi, It’s one beautiful spot you’ve got to experience in the city.
It’s totally lovely and one place you have to include on any guide to visiting Barcelona. Just make sure you keep your eyes peeled for ‘El Drac’, the gorgeous terrace and the Gaudi House Museum (all within the park itself).
5.) Take a ride at Tibidabo
Perched overlooking Barcelona is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, Tibidabo.
Take a ride on the ‘Red Aeroplane’ that’s almost 100 years old and still one of the most popular rides to experience.
You can also partner your trip to Tibidabo whilst seeing Sagrat Cor that’s so gorgeous and totally iconic, too.
6.) Enjoy the Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is filled with a range of small stores, pretty cafes and small cobbled streets.
Make sure to visit Plaça Sant Felip Neri, a public square with a gorgeous fountain and church to explore. This area, in the heart of the city, has seen a turbulent history in times gone by.
Also, If you look closely you can still see the scars of the Civil War within the stonework.
7.) See Gaudi’s creations
Home to Gaudi’s most prized buildings and parks, Barcelona is the perfect place to experience some of his world-renowned works.
From Park Güell, Casa Milà to Sagrada Família, there’s a whole array of beautiful places to enjoy. Make sure to plan in advance as some sites are ticketed.
8.) Find the Carmel Bunkers
The Carmel Bunkers sit on a hillside and are free to view. Dating from the Civil War, they still stand today and you will also get great vistas over the city at the same time.
It’s a place that many visitors don’t think of seeing and perfect for a relax and photo opportunity.
9.) See the city like a local
No visit to Barcelona will be complete without immersing yourself within the things that local’s like to do, after all, that’s one of the many joys of travelling.
Keep an open mind, try something new and really lend yourself to a local’s perspective.
During or visit earlier in the year, we were lucky enough to meet two amazing locals that showed us around and gave us loads of tips on what to know before visiting Barcelona.
10.) Spot some Picasso works of art
If you’re a lover of art, then make sure to look out for the Picasso Museum within Barcelona itself. It’s one of the stops you should definitely include on your guide to visiting Barcelona if you’re looking to keep things a little more economical.
You see, it’s totally free to enter on Sunday afternoons and you can see some of this artist’s best works without having to pay a dime.
It’s the perfect place to see some of his famous works.
11.) Old Fisherman’s Quarter
The Old Fisherman’s Quarter of the city is known for being full of seafood restaurants and vibrant bars where local’s and visitors enjoy.
Head here on a Friday evening for long dinners and drinks.
12.) National Museum of Art of Catalonia
If you are interested in everything from medieval to modernist art, then you can see it at the National Museum of Art (free on the first Sunday of every month).
Make sure to see some of their temporary collections too. Even if you’ve been before, it’s likely you will see many new exhibitions and installations.
13.) Stroll through La Boqueria
La Boqueria is the largest food market in Europe. Yes, the whole of Europe! Work up an appetite and grab some local cheeses, ham and delicious sweets that local stalls sell.
Items change depending on the season, which always means you’ll find something new; maybe even some antiques on the outside.
14.) Watch the sunset at Sagrat Cor
One of the prettiest hilltop churches, Sagrat Cor is an iconic sight you can’t miss whilst in Barcelona.
Head here around sunset and watch the city transform into a twinkling delight. Honestly, this is one spot you must include on whilst planning your guide to visiting Barcelona. It’s almost essential!
15.) See the incredible Santa Maria del Mar
This incredible church is well-loved in the city thanks to its gorgeous interior which, I guarantee, will take your breath away.
Expect rose windows, imposing pillars, and gothic touches throughout – it’s one awe-inspiring spot, steep in over 700 years of history.