The Best Things to See and Do in Barcelona
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
Barcelona has to be experienced to be, well, experienced. Photos cannot duplicate the weird beauty of Gaudí's Sagrada Familia or Park Güell. The grandeur of La Rambla or the vibrance of Plaça de Catalunya, the energy of the markets and the Gothic Quarter: The city is intoxicating and addictive.
Carrer de la Marina, 253, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
The art nouveau buildings of Antoni Gaudí, the 19th-century architect whose works are some of Barcelona’s most iconic sights, can be seen throughout Catalonia, but Barcelona has the best examples of his genius at work. Former...
Carrer Montcada, 15-23, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
La Rambla, 65, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Amble down La Rambla, stopping to admire fresh flowers, original artwork, and Barcelona souvenirs at your leisure. Watch living statues come to life when you drop a euro in their cups—most will pose with passersby, for a price, of course. Keep an...
Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona, Spain
One of Barcelona's most exclusive streets, Passeig de Gràcia is home to modernista masterpieces like La Pedrera and Casa Batlló as well as the massive luxury storefronts of brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Mandarina Duck, and Adolfo...
Plaça Comercial, 12, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Inside this 1876 market, you can see the footprint of 18th century Barcelona and read about what life was like before the city’s siege during the War of Spanish Succession. The airy iron and glass market, modeled on Parisian architecture is the...
La Rambla, 99, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Plaça dels Àngels, 1, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
This modern white-cement-and-glass building designed by Richard Meier houses art by Spanish, Catalan, and international artists, particularly from South America and Eastern Europe. Check out abstracts from the 1950s and European pop and...
Passeig Olímpic, 5-7, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
The sprawling site of the 1992 Olympic Games is worth the trip to Montjuïc. You will see the Palau Sant Jordi, an indoor sports complex, the Picornell swimming pools, and most famously, the Olympic Stadium Lluís Companys, built in 1929 in a bid to...
C. d'Aristides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Even if you can’t attend a match, you can still imagine the crowds cheering on the home team at the Football Club Barcelona’s stadium, admire a shrine to Argentine superstar Leo Messi and learn about the history of Barcelona’s world-renowned...
Passeig dels Castanyers, 1, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
The oldest garden in the city, the Laberint d’Horta was once the property of the Marquise Desvalls. Explore lush green spaces in search of striking statuary and plant life, then find love—in the figure of Cupid at the center of the neoclassical...
Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
While the unfinished Sagrada Familia is perhaps Barcelona’s most famous church, its cathedral is Santa Eulàlia, a Gothic church constructed between the 13th to 15th centuries. Its neo-Gothic facade was built over the original exterior in the 19th...
La Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain
The city’s old fishing quarter, Barceloneta, is a warren of narrow residential streets dotted with classic family-owned seafood restaurants. The neighborhood is charming, if a bit scruffy, but its biggest asset is its proximity to Barcelona’s...
Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
“One of the biggest parks in Barcelona, Parc de la Cuitadella is situated near the port and for years was one of the city’s only green spaces. Today it is home to a zoo, a lake, a lovely fountain, as well as a few museums. This is also the home of...
3, Placeta de Manuel Ribé, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Before they were forcibly expelled from Barcelona in 1391, most of the city’s Jewish residents lived in El Call, a maze of narrow streets between the Cathedral and Plaça Jaume. Gain insight into the Jewish Quarter’s history at the Centre d’...
Plaça Sant Iu, 5, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
This little-known museum stands in the shadow of Barcelona Cathedral. You'll find dramatic sculptures from pre-Roman times all the way to the 20th century, including religious works from medieval-era Spain. Frederic Marès was a...
Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
The Barcelona-born artist Joan Miró (1893–1983) enlisted architect and friend Josep Lluís Sert to design this modern, light-filled museum devoted to his works. Built in 1975 and expanded in later years, the galleries house 200 paintings, 180...
Plaça de Santa Maria, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
While the Barcelona Cathedral may be the city’s more famous church, Santa Maria del Mar is just as impressive, and a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic style. The basilica was built in just 54 years—begun in 1329 and completed in 1383—and its interior...
Carrer de Marià Labèrnia, s/n, 08032 Barcelona, Spain
This mirador, or viewpoint, is worth the climb for its unparalleled 360-degree views of the entire city, the Mediterranean Sea, and the rolling green hills of Collserola. Located some 900 feet above sea level, the hilltop was considered a...
Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
The artwork here is almost secondary to its home: a 1911 former textile factory designed by Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch and inspired by medieval castles. The sprawling redbrick complex comprises several multilevel buildings featuring...
Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 175, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
Some 1,400 bomb shelters were built across Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) to protect its residents from Fascist air strikes. Among the handful that survive, Refugi 307 is the largest and best preserved. Its three entrances and...
C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
This art nouveau gem designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner has been Barcelona’s preeminent music hall since its founding in 1908. Colorful ceramics, ornate sculptures, and busts of illustrious composers—Wagner, Beethoven, Bach—decorate the...
Ctra. de Montjuïc, 66, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
Constructed in the 17th century but heavily modified a century later, this castle—actually more of a fortress—lords over Montjuïc hill. Its use as a military bastion spans from the 1600s to the mid-1800s, when Barcelona experienced a number of...
Av. de Rius i Taulet, 1, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
Who cares if it's a Barcelona cliché. Give in to the urge and get to Plaça d'Espanya to see the Magic Fountain show. It's always crowded, but everyone should see it at least once, and it's free. The show is especially gorgeous during the closing...
Baixada del Monestir, 9, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
This Gothic monastery houses collections from Barcelona's City History Museum, but if you've got only an hour orso, skip the exhibits in favor of a walk around. Founded by King James II of Aragon in 1326, the monastery (or monestir in Catalan) is...
Carrer de Marlet, 5, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Head to the Gothic Quarter—once home to Barcelona's storied Jewish neighborhood, ElCall—and look for theSinagoga Major (Major Synagogue). The museum, built on the site of the city's oldest temple, is only two rooms, but it contains a stadium's...
Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
It’s one of the most recognizable facades on Passeig de Gràcia: a modernist fantasy of undulating stone, brightly colored mosaics, and stained glass—one that could only come from the mind of famed Catalan architect Antoni...
Carrer d'Entença, 155, 08029 Barcelona, Spain
La Model opened in 1904 as a new “model” prison. Built as a panopticon (a circular building where the cells, built in a ring around the outside of the circle, are visible from a single interior vantage point), it ensured that guards...
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