The Ultimate Barcelona Travel Guide

city buildings during golden hour
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on

Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city, with nearly two million residents. A significant port on the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, Barcelona has indeed a wide variety of attractions that bring in tourists worldwide. It is an enchanting seaside town with limitless culture, a world-class drinking and dining scene, and fabled architecture.

How to reach Barcelona?

Barcelona International Airport, also known as El Prat, is a central transport hub, with flights from Europe and beyond. Barcelona is also well-connected to the Spanish railway network and the rest of Europe. High-speed trains frequently run from the main station.

How to get around Barcelona?

The Autoritat del Transport Metropolità consortium manages the major public transport in the town and the surrounding area. The whole region is covered by the Integrated Fare System, which is split into six zones. This system includes most of the public transport in the region: metro, tram, city and intercity bus, and local trains. Barcelona is also a very walkable city. It takes a little over an hour to walk from Port Vell at the seashore to Park Güell at the mountain range foothills at the northeastern end of the town, and you can see numerous attractions, including Sagrada Família and La Rambla, on your way. Driving in Barcelona is not an attractive venture. Barcelona is tormented with similar problems that plague other large European cities; highly narrow streets and massive traffic jams in some areas, coupled with a very intricate road system.

Top Attractions in Barcelona

La Sagrada Família

If you want to explore merely one sightseeing destination, this should be it. Gaudí’s exceptional, Unesco-listed La Sagrada Família inspires awe by its pure verticality, and in the manner of the ancient cathedrals it rivals, it’s still under construction. Work started in 1882 CE and is hoped to be completed in 2026 CE, a century after the death of the architect. Incomplete it may be, but the cathedral draws more than 4.5 million visitors a year and is the most explored monument in Spain.

Park Güell

Around a few meters north of Gràcia, the Unesco-recognized Park Güell is where Antoni Gaudí finally turned his hand and creativity to landscape gardening. It’s an enchanting, surreal place where the great Modernista’s passion for natural forms took flight, and the artificial almost seems more realistic than the natural.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

You can see the magnificent neo-baroque silhouette of the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc’s slopes from across the town. Built for the 1929 CE World Exhibition and restored in 2005 CE, it is home to a vast collection of primarily Catalan art spanning the Middle Ages to the early 20th century CE. The high point is the collection of exceptional Romanesque frescoes.

La Pedrera

In the top tier of Gaudí’s accomplishments, this wild Unesco-listed masterpiece, with 33 balconies, was constructed in 1905–10 CE as an office block and combined apartment. Formally called Casa Milà, after the capitalist who commissioned it, it is better known as the Quarry (La Pedrera) because of its rough grey stone facade, which dances around the corner of Carrer de Provença. Gaudí’s approach to light and space, as well as the blurring of the dividing line between functionality and decoration, are astounding.

Top Things to do in Barcelona:

  • Watch footballthe world-famous soccer team is FC Barcelona playing in La Liga, the top tier of Spanish football. Their home ground is Camp Nou (with a capacity of 98,000), 1 km west of Sants railway station. The nearest Metro station is Palau Reial.
  • Enjoy a Festival: Barcelona is home to numerous annual fiestas, many of which are unique to Catalonia and offer an insight into its characteristic culture.
  • Rent a Bike: Rent a bike, join a bike tour, and see the town’s highlights differently. Ride from the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean to Gaudí’s buildings through the ancient atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter.
  • Sail Across Barcelona: Sail and explore Barcelona from the sea. Enjoy a day trip sailing along the Barcelona coastline on a classic yacht.
  • Relax: Chill on a wooden bridge to Maremagnum in Ciutat Vella and pamper your toes at the water’s edge with a sandwich, a novel, or just for a short rest.

What to eat in Barcelona?

You can get food from any part of the world in Barcelona, but make sure you try some Catalan food. Pa amb tomàquet: “bread with tomato” and Paella – a typical rice dish from the Catalan Lands are unmissable. There is no shortage of shawarma or durum stands in Barcelona, offering tasty chicken almost everywhere. As with anywhere else, there are lots of Italian restaurants. Chinese, Japanese and Indian restaurants are omnipresent.

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