Barcelona is one of the top tourism destinations of the world. People travel from all over to see the wonders that this city has to offer and I can personally say that it is one of the most beautiful places that I have had the privilege to visit. I have been living in Barcelona for almost three years now and am blessed to have lots of friends and family from the USA visit during my time here, which means I am an unpaid, unofficial, professional Barcelona tour guide.
One of my most famous lines is “the internet is a powerful tool.” You can find the answer to almost anything that your mind can possibly fathom and I am confident that if you type in ‘best places to visit in Barcelona’ on Google you will find a plethora of information. To save you the headache of trying to figure it all out, what I am going to offer you in this post, is a “local’s” top 10 list of places to visit in Barcelona.
Keep in mind that some of these places are tourist attractions, and some of them are more local joints. If you are looking for a historic city tour with some beach paradise, authentic food with a bit of cultural fusion, keep on reading below.
1. Park Güell:
This is my absolute favorite place to go in Barcelona. It mixes the historical, peculiar, architecture of Gaudí with beautiful natural surroundings. There are always artists playing classical Spanish guitar, singing opera, or even dancing and singing to a more upbeat style. There is free entrance to the park, but you must pay to get to the main, lower level. The 10 euro ticket is well worth it for me. Getting an up close look at the oddly shaped buildings, the colorful mosaics, fragrant gardens, and the most famous bench in Barcelona is an all encompassing experience. Also, you do not have to spend ALL day at Park Guell. I would go out on a limb to say that 3 hours is enough to slowly go through the and experience every detail without rushing.
2. La Sagrada Familia:
Another one of my top destinations. The Sagrada Familia has to be the most famous landmark in Barcelona. Also designed and (partially) built by Gaudí, the amount of attention that was put into every detail of this famous cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. From the outside, you can see different levels and towers as well as words and figures engraved in the building. Construction on this cathedral began in 1882 and has yet to be finished. There is a 20 euro fee to enter and, once again, I would 100% recommend it. The amount of detail in the construction, lights, colors, and shapes is incredible. I do not have the words to describe it, and even photos fail to do it justice. It is best to go when the sun is up so that the light reflects through the stained glass. I think that another 3 hours would be plenty of time to enter and see everything the cathedral has to offer.
3. Gràcia neighborhood:
Transitioning out of tourist attractions and into a more local feel, the neighborhood or “barrio” of Gracia is one of my favorites. Gracia has a special charm that makes you feel like you’re no longer in one of the busiest cities in Europe. It is known for its pedestrian-friendly boulevards that are full of galleries, bistros, indie boutiques, bars, studios, and much more. Walking through the streets of Gràcia will allow any Barcelona newcomer to feel at home. There are options for any and everybody and I highly recommend it to anyone who is passing through the city. You could spend as much or as little time and money in the barrio if you want. I would suggest spending a chill afternoon in Gràcia, eating at a nice bistro and walking around to see the different shops and expositions. Keep in mind that most stores are closed on Sundays.
4. Parque de la Ciutadella:
Another park! This park is another one of Barcelona’s main attractions, however, due to its enormity, it does not tend to be as packed or overwhelming as other tourist hot spots. Apart from the beautiful scenery with a giant water fountain that you can climb, mini boats that you can rent, and the charming grass areas, La Ciutiadella represents community. It is a common meeting place for group events such as weekly group yoga, tight-lining, guitar circles, or birthday parties. There are people of all types with common interests gathered in a common space. You will see people laying out on the grass soaking up the sun, and others having a Coca-Cola at the cafe in the park, there are kid’s playing with bubbles, dogs prancing about, and lots of space to walk around and admire the beautiful scenery. Entry to this park is free and it is another plan for a chill morning or afternoon in Barcelona.
5. La Barceloneta:
Not too far away from La Ciutadella, you will find La Barceloneta. The Barceloneta is the main beach in Barcelona. I must say that it can get crowded, and the water is not the cleanest, but I recommend it for more than the beach itself. There are tons of cute shops and restaurants on the beach. My favorite plan is walking along the boardwalk with an ice cream cone in hand, people-watching. Like the Ciutadela, you will find group events such as dance workshops or beach pilates. You can rent electric scooters, bikes or longboards as well and if you’re into tanning and swimming in the ocean, you certainly have a great opportunity to do so here.
6. La Boquería:
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is one of the most unique places to visit. It is a market with fresh fruit, fish and meat, candy, chocolate, crepes, desserts, hot sauces, special oils, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The best part of the experience of walking through the Boqueria is the presentation. All of the food and items are perfectly staged and oh so pleasing to the eye. You will find exotic fruits and vegetables as well as some shocking meat and cheese products that you might not have ever seen before. You can sit down and eat at the market, or buy what you need and eat out. I must advise that this market tends to be very busy and crowded, but the mesmerizing colors and views definitely outweigh the downside of the crowds.
7. Los Bunkers:
This is one of those locally known places that I mentioned earlier. Los Bunkers are bunkers from the Spanish Civil War that also happen to be the best view of all of Barcelona. It takes quite a hike to get to the top of the hill, but the view from theta is totally worth it. My favorite time to go is during sunset where you can see the glistening ocean and colored sky backdrop the sights of the Barcelona. You can see EVERYTHING from up there. You can bring a snack and some drinks and just enjoy the views of the city. I would recommend bringing a towel or blanket to sit down on to admire the gorgeous views. This experience is free and priceless.
Huge. That is all I can say. The mountain of Montjuic is enormous and there are castles, museums, palaces, parks, reserves, concert halls, olympic training centers, pretty much anything you can think of. You could probably spend an entire week seeing all that this area has to offer. However, when people think of Montjuic, they think about the magic fountain with the National Art Museum in the background. This is an activity for night. Everynight, depending on the time of year, there is a magic fountain show where music is played and streams of water shot in the air, along with light effects, makes the water seem as if it were dancing along. It is easy to access, and a perfect way to end your day of sight-seeing around town.
9. Barrio Gótico:
The Gothic Quarter is home to some of Barcelona’s oldest streets and traditions. There is a museum where you can see the ruins of the old Roman City, there is a Cathedral (that is completely different from La Sagrada Familia, and definitely worth checking out as well), a weekend market with unique vendors, and cute bars and shops. The Gothic Quarter is unique because there is no car traffic. You walk along and can observe everything the barrio has to offer up close and personal. The weekend market is always fun to go to, especially during holidays. There is always a serene, yet lively energy about the neighborhood. One of my favorite memories was sitting on the steps of the cathedral listening to two retired professional opera singers sing an impromptu tune.
10. Calle Enrique Granados:
This is last on my list, but first in my heart. If you have more than a few days in Barcelona, I would highly recommend walking down this street. It is home to THE BEST ice cream parlor in all of Barcelona, de la Crem. Apart from amazing ice cream, there are restaurants galore. You can find any type of food at any price point all on one street. Apart from the obvious attraction of good food, the street has sort of a hipster, modern feel and is lit with hanging lights from the restaurant terraces. There are also incredible brunch options for anyone.
This has been my top 10 list of what to see in Barcelona. I tried to make it as informative and concise as possible.
Let me know if you have been to any of these places or have any more suggestions that you would add to my list. I will be sharing your answers on instagram @SpainInColor
Thank you again for reading. I appreciate you all so much. ¡Hasta la próxima!