Are you considering taking a trip to Barcelona in the near future? The Spanish city offers a wealth of options for any traveller looking to explore somewhere that mixes contemporary and archaic designs.
With buildings that stretch back to the medieval period, it’s little wonder so many people turn to the Catalonian capital for the chance to experience something completely different.
Not sure what to do in Barcelona? Let’s take a look at some of the best spots to head to, as well as key information about how to get around once you’re there.
Barcelona tourist sites and attractions
A trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without a tour of the iconic spots which the city has become famed for. But where should you spend your time?
Sagrada Familia. Amazingly, despite this iconic landmark being one of the most visited spots in all of Europe, the 137-year-old church is still yet to be fully constructed. As of right now, the estimated completion date is 2026.
Despite that, the building has been open to the public since late 2010, instantly becoming a favourite amongst travellers to the region. 130-odd years of hype will do that. Make sure to book ahead if you want to go inside though. It gets very popular.
Sant Felip Neri. In stark contrast, this little hideaway is far less populated. Found by walking through the very heart of the Old City, this square is most notable for the shrapnel spread across the courtyard wall.
This comes from a bomb dropped during the Spanish Civil War. If you’re hungry, you can stop here for a bite at a quaint restaurant which has found new success thanks to the sudden popularity of the area.
Parc de la Ciutadella. For those looking to enjoy a blend of man-made and natural beauty, a visit to Parc de la Ciutadella is a must. This iconic spot plays host to a gigantic fountain which takes your breath away upon first viewing. You’ll also find the Barcelona zoo here if you want to keep the little ones entertained.
Camp Nou. FC Barcelona are famous across the world. Even if you’re not a huge follower of football, it’s worth checking out their stadium, which is the largest of its kind in all of Europe.
A staggering 99,354 people can fit into the Camp Nou. And with players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann on show, it’s hardly a shock so many fans flock in their masses.
Food and drink
The Spanish are famed for their tapas – a series of small dishes which are shared with friends. But it’s not just these light bites that are worth trying.
Mercat de la Boqueria. If you fancy sourcing your own ingredients and combining them for the ultimate taste explosion, head to the Mercat de la Boqueria. With over 300 stalls to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find a delicacy which takes your fancy.
Whether it’s fruit, fish, vegetables, meat or sweet treats you’re after, you’ll be able to find something which satisfies your desires amidst the hustle and bustle of one of the biggest markets in Europe.
La Rambla. This historic street isn’t just a fantastic spot to shop in, it also plays host to a wide variety of food and drink stalls to tide you over as you go about your day. La Rambla is the ideal location for anyone who wants to find a hearty lunch.
Bo de B. While from the outside it might look like nothing more than a humble sandwich shop, Bo de B is in reality one of the most iconic eateries in all of Barcelona.
Queues are often out the door, with people flocking from all over the city to sample a taste of the now-famous baguette shop.
Transport and travel
Getting about in a foreign country can always be a concern, especially if you don’t speak the language. Luckily, Barcelona is one of the easier major cities to navigate. That’s thanks to a series of public transport systems which are designed to make movement as fluid and simple as possible for the people of the region.
The metro. Barcelona has eight metro lines and three urban lines. You can choose between paying a little over 2 Euros per journey, a T-10 (a 10-journey ticket which costs 10.20E) or full day passes. These are usually a little more, but can cover you for up to five days in some circumstances.
Buses. With over 1,000 buses, which cover 100 routes, it’s harder to miss the bus than catch it. Thought has been put into accessibility too, with low floors which have been adapted for people with reduced mobility. Prices are reasonable, working out at the same as the cost of the metro.
Cycling. Much like most European cities, Barcelona has a variety of dedicated cycling lanes. Whether you want to rent a bike out yourself or go along as part of a tour, this is a fantastic and healthy way to see more of the city.
The best time of year to visit
Spain is hot most of the year, but there are different periods to visit depending on what you’re after.
Sightseeing. September through to October is generally considered the best time to check out the more tourist-heavy sites. There’s less footfall at this time as kids are back at school, meaning fewer families crowding the more traditionally popular attractions.
Shopping. If you’ve gone to Barcelona with shopping in mind, think about heading out in either late January to early February, or July through to August. The former sees the Festival of Kings take place, while the latter is a more general summer sales period. Both see prices reduced throughout the city.
Sun. Much like most European countries, mid-May through to September is the best time to visit if you’re purely after hot weather. While it’s going to be busy during this time of year, you can expect glorious conditions to lay back and soak up the sun in.
Barcelona FC. The pride of the region, Barcelona play home matches at the Camp Nou between August and May, but usually only every other week. If this is a motivating factor for your visit, be sure to check their schedule ahead of time.
Interesting Barcelona facts
Aside from the countless reasons to visit the city, there’s a heap of facts which will keep any intrepid explorer entertained.
No tourist beaches before 1992. While the region has now become famed for the golden strips of sand which line most of the coast, it might shock you to learn these didn’t exist pre-1992.
It was the Olympics of that year which saw a change in the infrastructure. The industrial sites which dominated the region were destroyed or relocated, allowing for tourist-focused beaches to spring up in their place.
Older than rome? Some reports suggest Barcelona outdates the ancient city of Rome by as many as 400 years. There’s also the suggestion it was founded by the Greek hero Hercules. Naturally, the latter is very unlikely to be true, so the actual age of the city is hard to verify.
The Eiffel Tower that never was. While it now calls Paris home, the initial plan was for the famous tower to stand in BCN. The project was considered too radical by the local authorities, who prohibited its construction. That might have been a good call, given that Barcelona is the only city in the world to be awarded a gold medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
68 parks. That’s a lot of greenery. In fact, these parks cover as many as 10% of the whole city. That translates to 18.1 square metres of park for every inhabitant. What other densely populated area can boast that?
Football. The most visited museum? FC Barcelona’s. It seems many people are heading to the city for football culture, as opposed to a glimpse into the history of Barcelona. Somewhat worrying.
Have a better understanding of what to do in Barcelona? Make sure to keep these spots in mind when you head there.
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