The Classic and Off The Beaten Places to Visit in Barcelona

Shreya

Updated on Feb 10 • 9 minute read

Barcelona is well known for Gaudí’s architectural marvels, its football team, pulsing nightlife, art museums featuring world-famous artists, numerous beaches spanning nearly 5km, and it's Catalan cuisine.

There’s just so much to see and do in Barcelona that it can take you upwards of 10 days to experience it all. This guide will highlight the most visited places in Barcelona and places you should not miss if you want to experience Barcelona like a local.

Classic touristy places to visit in Barcelona

The most visited places in Barcelona include the Sagrada Familia and Park Gùell. But there’re many other classic tourist spots worth visiting:

  1. Sagrada Familia
  2. Park Güell
  3. La Pedrera
  4. Casa Batlló
  5. Las Ramblas
  6. Placa d’Espanya
  7. Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)
  8. The Catedral de la Santa Creu y de Santa Eulàlia
  9. Museo Picasso
  10. MNAC
  11. La Boqueria Market
  12. Parc de la Ciutadella
  13. Playa de Barceloneta

The Gaudí works

Why go- The first 4 in this list are all Gaudí’s creations that are guaranteed to be in every ‘places to visit in Barcelona’ list. After all, Gaudí played an important role in shaping the architectural scene of Barcelona.

The Sagrada Familia is the impressive basilica that’s still under construction in 2022; It’s worth visiting this quirky building not only because it’s been in construction for over 140 years but also to see the crypt where Gaudí’s is buried. Entrance ticket costs €20 for adults.

Park Güell is such an iconic landmark made of colourful tiles, winding walkways, gardens, and sculptures. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the perfect place to chill and watch the sunset from a higher viewpoint. General entrance ticket costs €10.

Park Güell was initially meant to be a British-style residential complex for entrepreneur Eusebi Güell. But due to a lack of buyers, the city purchased it and converted it into a public park.

La Pedrera or Casa Milà is a former residential building that plays host to exhibitions and performances. We recommend the La Pedrera: The Night Show, an audio-visual tour that will show you the incredible interiors and the rooftop featuring stone façades, unique shapes, striking chimneys and an incredible view. The night experience ticket costs €35.

Casa Batlló is a colourful and playful mansion that looks like its straight from an animated film. This architectural gem will dazzle you with its playful colours, twisted balconies, and a rooftop resembling the scales of a fish or dragon. We recommend taking the Magic Nights concert to enjoy live music on the rooftop with a glass of Cava. Adult tickets cost €35.

La Rambla

Why go- La Rambla or Las Ramblas is this uber-popular, long, tree-lined, bustling pedestrian boulevard. Several streets make up this section which not only connects the sea to the city centre but also divides the neighbourhoods of El Raval and the Gothic quarter.

La Rambla will bring you to several of the attractions in Barcelona and is a great way to walk the streets, go (souvenir) shopping, people watch, or go eating and drinking.

Watch where you step. Or you might just miss Joan Miró’s mosaic on the ground.

Placa d’Espanya

Why go- Placa d’Espanya is another place you can’t avoid as you’re bound to cross it as you make your way through Barcelona’s places of interest. It’s one of the most important and biggest squares in Barcelona that’s always packed with people.

Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

Why go- The Gothic quarter is part of Barcelona’s Old Town and is the oldest quarter in the city. As you walk through the ancient and car-free streets of Barri Gòtic, look out for buildings from the middle ages, the Jewish quarter, Barcelona Cathedral, or several tiny squares.

One of the quieter squares with a dark history is Plaça de Felip Neri. As you sit in this calm and now-charming square, pay your respect to the school children that were executed under Franco’s regime here. You can also see some remnants of the bombings during the Spanish Civil War.

The Catedral de la Santa Creu y de Santa Eulàlia

Why go- The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulàlia is a gothic church built for the 13-year-old martyr Eulàlia. It’s just as unique and impressive as the Sagrada Familia as it dates back to the 13th century and wasn’t completed until the 19th century.

While you’re here, head to the cloister (enclosed garden or gallery surrounded by walkways) to see the 13 white Geese, to represent Eulàlia's age. In the crypt, you can find Eulàlia’s remains.

Entrance fee- €9 (including roof, museum, cloister, choir) or free for worship

Art museums in Barcelona

Why go- Barcelona is a great place for an art lover as the city is filled with galleries and museums. 2 of the Barcelona art museums that we’d like to highlight are Museo Picasso and the MNAC – Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

Museo Picasso has an extensive collection made up of over 4000 art pieces by Pablo Picasso. Not only do these pieces show his evolution as an artist but also confirm the deep love and connection he has with Barcelona city.

Entrance fee- €12 (free on Thursdays 16:00-19:00 and first Sunday)

MNAC is an interesting museum to catch a glimpse of the history of Catalonia. Art history lovers will love the huge collection of Romanesque works that date from the 12th to the 20th century. Don’t forget to spend time outside the museum for a great view of the city!

Entrance fee- €12 (free every Sunday and Saturdays after 15:00)

Want to visit many museums? It's a smart idea to buy the Barcelona Articket for €35 which includes 6 musuems and allows you to skil queues.

La Boqueria Market

Why go- La Boqueria is one of the oldest and best-known markets in Barcelona where the aroma of the food, the colours of the fresh ingredients, and the hustle and bustle of the tiny restaurants or the energy of the nearby shoppers will keep you entertained. Make sure to try Spain’s traditional food items- olive oil, wine, and Serrano or Iberico ham.

Parc de la Ciutadella

Why go- This magnificent green oasis was once Barcelona city’s only green park. But today, Parc de la Ciutadella is one of the many centrally located green spaces in the city where people can stroll, enjoy a picnic, or simply people-watch.

Parc de la Ciutadella is Barcelona’s biggest park, spanning over 17 hectares.

The central highlight of the park is the artificial lake with fountains, sculptures, and palm trees. You can also visit the Barcelona zoo, cycle, go boating, or enjoy the ‘outdoor museum’ like experience as you marvel at the sculptures and the 19th-century buildings turned museum.

Beaches of Barcelona

Why go- One of the most famous beaches in the city is Playa de Barceloneta (Barceloneta beach). You can enjoy the crowds, have something to eat or drink at the chiringuitos (beach bars), or stay until late at night to see the beach transform into a party venue.__

The downside of visiting Playa de Barceloneta is that it gets super crowded and is filled with vendors. So forget about a peaceful day at the beach.

With Barcelona offering close to 5km long shoreline within the city, we highly recommend visiting the other beaches that Barcelona has to offer, such as Castelldefels beach, Calella de Palafrugell, or the Mar Bella beach (especially if you want to go to a nudist beach).

If you’ve got the time, consider heading to the beaches near Barcelona city too as they’re less crowded and offer a perfect place to enjoy a swim, play volleyball or sip a cocktail.

Off the beaten path Barcelona

Although many will say that you shouldn’t miss any of the places mentioned above, we beg to differ. If there’re places that you shouldn’t miss on your Barcelona trip, then let them be the ones that are off the beaten path.

After all, don’t you want to see something that you don’t recognise via Instagram posts or movie scenes?

To truly experience Barcelona, you should add these 13 places to your ‘must visit’ list-

  1. Casa Vicens

Why go- of all the famous Gaudí buildings, Casa Vicens holds a special place because it was his first major project. You can admire this modernist building’s exteriors which features red and green chequered patterns, its interesting doors and windows, or the museum inside.

Entrance fee- €16

  1. Parc del Laberint D’Horta

Why go- If you’re looking for a park with a twist, this is it. Parc del Laberint D’Horta is a wonderful green space with multiple gardens and a maze at the centre with 2m high hedges.

Entrance fee- €2.23 (free on Wednesdays and Sundays)

  1. Bunkers del Carmel

Why go- If you’re looking for a view of the city without insane crowds, then come to Bunkers del Carmel. In the past, these bunkers served as a strategic spot with an overview of the city that helped spot any threats during the Spanish Civil War or the resistance against Franco.

Entrance fee- free!

  1. Tibidabo

Why go- Tibidabo is the highest mountain in Barcelona, standing tall at 512m. It’s an obvious choice for hikers or if you’re looking for a view of the city and the nearby Catalonian surrounding.

On top of the mountain, there’s a small amusement park which is Spain’s longest-running and Europe’s third oldest amusement park. You can also visit the magnificent Sagrat Cor church which took 60 years to build. It stands tall, just like the Sacré-Cœr in Paris.

Entrance fee- €35 (adult) for amusement park, €19 (adult) for the panoramic area. These prices include the funicular price.

  1. Montjuïc-

Why go- Montjuïc is the other mountain in Barcelona. Check out the 1992 Olympic Stadium, Botanical Gardens, Joan Miro Foundation, MNAC art museum, Poble Espanyol (mentioned below), the Magic Fountain, and the 17th-century military fortress (Castell de Montjuïc) that offers a gorgeous panoramic view.

If you’re up for some eerie non-touristy visits, head to the Montjuïc Cemetery (Cementiri de Montjuïc). Some of the graves have a modernistic flair with statues of angels and death that are hauntingly detailed.

Entrance fee- Olympic stadium is free, €5 for botanical gardens (adults), €13 for Joan Miro Foundation, €5 for Castle Montjuïc.

  1. Poble Espanyol-

Why go- This open-air architecture museum is truly one of a kind as you can see 117 building replicas that represent the different architectural styles across the country.

Head to Museu Fran Daurel for an afternoon of art and walk through the sculpture garden. Learn about Spain’s diverse culture via the 5 immersive audio-visual experiences called Feeling Spain or go to the Fiesta Space to learn more about Spain’s unique cultural traditions, some of which are recognised by UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Entrance fee- €11.20 in advance, €14 on the day (adults).

  1. FC Barcelona Stadium-

Why go- Football is religion in Spain and Camp Nou stadium, the Mecca. We highly recommend watching a live match to truly feel the energy of this stadium that seats 100,000 fans. If you’re more interested in the history or are not in Barcelona on match day, you can go to the museum to learn about the players, the club, and see the stadium up close and personal.

Entrance fee- €26 - €119.

  1. Sant Pau Hospital-

Why go- You must be wondering why is a hospital on this list? Well… only because this hospital is a work of art that will make you feel like you’re living in the world of Harry Potter. Take a self-guided or a guided tour to enter this modernist building and Europe’s largest art-nouveau site; its beautiful façades, domes, and stained glass corridors are a sight to behold.

Entrance fee- €15 (standard, self-guided) or €20 (standard, guided).

  1. Columbus Monument

Why go- This seemingly lone column in front of the Barceloneta beach is more than what it seems. Buy a ticket and take the hidden elevator inside the column to admire the view of the city from this not so well-known point.

Entrance fee- €6 for the elevator.

  1. Palace of Catalan Music-

Why go- This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a monumental, modernist theatre. You can either do a tour to explore the theatre’s history or go for a live performance to experience the magic of this historic theatre.

Entrance fee- €10 (self-guided tour) €18 (guided tour)

  1. Mercat dels Encants-

Why go- Even if you don’t enjoy second-hand shopping, you’ll want to visit Encants Market or Fira de Bellcaire. It’s one of the oldest markets for second-hand shopping in Europe. You’ll find a variety of items, ranging from bags to bicycles across its 301 unique shops and 9 restaurants. It’s open 4 days a week from 9:00-20:00.

  1. Barcelona Nightlife-

Why go- Although not a specific place, we highly recommend experiencing Barcelona’s buzzing nightlife. It'll give you a glimpse into the local culture, all the while having fun with locals and internationals. So pick one of the various party districts, start partying at 2:00 A.M. like the locals, and end in the morning with a churro and thick hot chocolate.

Entrance fee- most clubs and bars are free.

Traveling through Barcelona

Now that you’ve got a list of places to visit in Barcelona, you might be wondering, how to get around the city? Barcelona’s public transportation is clean, not too expensive, and well-connected.

Since most of the major tourist attractions are nearby a public transport stop, we highly recommend taking the bus or metro. Optionally, you could take a taxi or rent a cycle or scooter.

If you’re here for 2-5 days, get the Barcelona card that includes unlimited use of public transport, access to 25 museums, and some discounts.

Is Barcelona safe?

Overall, Barcelona is a very safe city and ranks highly in the worldwide rankings. But since Barcelona attracts millions of tourists a year, you need to be alert in certain tourist-heavy neighbourhoods.

Pickpocketing is very high in some neighbourhoods such as La Rambla, Barri Gòtic, El Raval, El Born, and Barceloneta beach. So we advise you to keep your belongings in sight and close to you.

But other than that, you're all good to go ahead and enjoy your Barceloa adventure!

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