Located on Spain’s eastern coast, Barcelona is one of the most popular cities to visit in all of Europe. Known for its striking churches, iconic beaches, lively nightlife and fresh seafood, Barcelona sits at the top of many travelers’ European bucket lists. Barcelona has such a positive reputation that it is difficult to imagine traveling to Spain and not visiting Barcelona. While it is certainly a great city, is Barcelona worth visiting?
Best Things to Do in Barcelona
1. Spend an Afternoon in Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is a nearly mile-long boulevard that runs through the heart of Barcelona. Filled with restaurants, terraces, vendors, street performers, and stores, this street is the main drag of Barcelona. There are a lot of popular monuments along the way, and Las Ramblas is easily the biggest tourist attraction in Barcelona.
2. Attend a Multilingual Mass at the Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia has been under construction for hundreds of years, and it is going to be the tallest church in the entire world by the time it is all said and done. The church is an epic blend of different architectural styles and tastes, and it truly is a wonder to behold. While most tourists only visit the Sagrada Familia to admire its architecture, the real treasure can be observed every Sunday at 9 AM. The Sagrada Familia hosts an international mass every Sunday at 9am in multiple languages, and it is really, really amazing. The languages change depending on the week, but different parts of the mass are said in different languages every Sunday. As always, mass is free, which is yet more reason to call this one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
3. Absorb the City Views from Park Guell
Park Guell is a park on a mountain overlooking Barcelona. Known for its luscious gardens and colorful mosaics, Park Guell is a place that simply feels like it belongs, which is part of what makes it one of the best things to do in Barcelona. The views of the city and the sea are beautiful, and the mosaics are famously Instagrammable. Park Guell is located at the top of a hill, which makes getting there a bit of a hike if you choose to go by foot.
4. Taste Local Ingredients at La Boqueria Market
La Boqueria is one of the most famous food markets in all of Europe. Located in the heart of Las Ramblas, La Boqueria is a giant food market filled to the brim with delicious meats, produce, and other foods, and it has been in operation for centuries. As the oldest market in Barcelona, La Boqueria’s fame and prestige simply need to be felt in person. While visiting a market might not be at the top of most travelers’ bucket lists, La Boqueria is a place that you absolutely do not want to miss, which is why it consistently gets ranked as one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
5. Soak Up Some Sun on the City’s Beaches
Spain is world-famous for its beaches, and Barcelona has some of the nicest urban beaches you’ll find anywhere in the world. While urban beaches in many places tend to be dirty and polluted, the beaches in and around Barcelona often buck that norm. Of course, the further you go from the city, the nicer they get, but the beaches within the city limits are surprisingly nice, and loads of fun. Spending a day soaking up the Spanish sun is one of the best things to do in all of Spain, but the fun dynamic of the beaches in Barcelona makes it even better.
6. Check Out Casa Batllo
Antoni Gaudi was an esteemed Catalonian architect, and his footprint is seen all over Barcelona. While his work on Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia gets the most recognition, Casa Batllo is largely considered to be one of his masterpieces, too. This old home was remodeled by Gaudi in the early 1900s, and it is a really distinct place that tourists love to check out while visiting Barcelona.
7. Chow Down on Some Local Seafood
Spanish cuisine is famous all around the world, and the most popular Spanish dishes all tend to contain seafood. As Barcelona is the biggest coastal city in Spain, you can expect the seafood here to be pretty remarkable – and it is! Chowing down on some fresh paella or other seafood for dinner is a popular activity in Barcelona, and it is even better when done with friends and family.
As a note, Spanish people tend to eat dinner very late relative to many other Western countries, and restaurants don’t really start to get busy until 8:00 or later.
8. Attend an FC Barcelona Soccer Match at Camp Nou
Soccer (or football) is easily the most popular sport in all of Europe, and Barcelona is home to one of the most legendary football clubs on the continent. FC Barcelona is as historically successful as it is beloved, and catching an FC Barcelona match is often considered one of the best things to do in Barcelona, whether you like the sport or not. If you do not have the opportunity or desire to attend a match, seeing the sheer size of the Camp Nou stadium in person is a remarkable activity in and of itself, and the team’s museum is pretty interesting, too.
9. Visit the Barcelona City History Museum
Like most major cities in Europe, Barcelona is very, very old. This city has been around for over 2,000 years, and it has developed quite the extensive history throughout those millennia. The Barcelona City History Museum is a museum dedicated to the preservation and education regarding this city’s incredible history, and it is filled with some really fun information that I never knew before visiting.
10. Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Santa Maria del Mar is a Catholic church in Barcelona with a really interesting legacy. Built in the 1300s, it is the real-life setting of the book and Netflix show Catedral del Mar. The plots of the book and Netflix show both surround the construction of the church, but the modern history of it is much more interesting. This church has withstood both a major earthquake and a fire that burned for 11 days, yet it still stands. You can even see scorch marks on the roof in the sanctuary. This legacy is part of what makes Santa Maria del Mar so mystical, and it is also what makes this most locals’ favorite church in Barcelona.
How to Get to Barcelona
As the second-largest city in Spain, Barcelona is an extremely accessible destination. While it is over 200 miles from the next major city, it can still be easily reach by both trains and planes.
If you are coming from anywhere other than certain parts of Spain and France, flying is the best way to get to Barcelona. El Prat Airport (BCN) is the main airport of Barcelona, and it is the second-busiest airport in all of Spain. As I mention in my guide to finding cheap flights, the busiest airports also tend to be the ones with the most direct and affordable flight options. As there is no airport near the size of Barcelona’s within hundreds of miles, using El Prat Airport is almost always going to be your best option. If you are willing to be flexible, Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) sits about 3.5 hours away from Barcelona by high-speed train and may offer you a better trip itinerary. With that being said, I don’t recommend flying into Madrid to get to Barcelona unless the price or route is significantly better than just flying into Barcelona, as the train is costly and adds extra maneuvering to your trip.
If you are already in Spain or certain parts of France and Morocco, taking a train to Barcelona might be a viable option. Barcelona is located in the northeastern corner of Spain, and trips from southwestern Spain on a train are fairly reasonable in duration. Seville, for example, is only 7 hours away by train, and there is no need to switch trains between Seville and Barcelona. Similarly, Malaga is about 6 hours away by train.
While there are no trains from Morocco to Spain, you can take a train within Morocco to Tangiers, cross into Spain via ferry, and take a train from there to Barcelona. This trip would take much more time than a flight, and could potentially cost about the same, if not more. For these reasons, I just recommend flying to Barcelona if you are in Morocco.
If you are coming from certain parts of southern France, like Montpellier or Toulouse, taking a train to Barcelona might be a reasonable option. Trains and buses from these cities normally take around 4 hours, which is certainly a better alternative than flying. Paris is approximately 8 hours from Barcelona by train, though, which makes flying a better option in many cases. If you are coming from Portugal, your best bet is almost always to fly, as the trip on most train routes from Portugal to Barcelona will take over 10 hours.
How to Get Around Barcelona
METRO | UBER | ELECTRIC SCOOTER
As one of the biggest cities in Europe, you would be correct to assume that Barcelona has a robust public transportation system. Barcelona’s public transportation can get you just about anywhere you want to go in and around the city, and at a very affordable price. Barcelona’s metro system is especially robust, with 165 stations spread across 8 different lines running from 5 am to midnight on most days. Single rides cost €2,40, and day passes cost closer to €10. You can also buy 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-day passes that all offer increased bang for your buck while you visit Barcelona.
While public transportation can get you pretty much anywhere that you want to go, Barcelona is also serviced by Uber and shareable electric scooters. Uber works the same way internationally as it does in your home country, and I always recommend it over traditional taxis when possible.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Barcelona?
Barcelona is a coastal city, which makes its weather very consistent all year. While there are certainly temperature fluctuations throughout the year, most of the year is very pleasant and there really isn’t a bad time to visit Barcelona. The worst time to visit Barcelona is the middle of summer when tourism levels and hot temperatures peak, but even this is still a fantastic time to experience Barcelona.
Winter weather in Barcelona is very comfortable, but it definitely isn’t warm enough to spend days tanning on the beach. Most travelers agree that the best time to visit Barcelona is in the shoulder seasons of either April and May or September and October, as the weather is very comfortable, the crowds are very tame, and accommodation prices are typically lower than they are in the summer.
How Many Days Do You Need in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a major city with a population of over a million. As a result, there are a ton of great things to do, and you could spend over a week absorbing the sights, smells, sounds, and culture of Barcelona. If you have a full week, spending the whole time in Barcelona wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
If you want to see more than just one place in Spain, though, it’s likely that you don’t have a full week to spend in Barcelona. If this is the case, I recommend that you spend at least 3 full days in Barcelona. Any less time and you’ll only scratch the surface of this magical city, and 3 days gives you enough time to at least check out the city’s highlights and enjoy some of its famous cuisine.
Is Barcelona Worth Visiting?
As Spain’s biggest and most iconic beach city, you may be wondering “is Barcelona worth visiting?” If you have read all the way through this post, I think the answer is probably pretty clear. Barcelona is an incredible city, and I would personally rank it among the top ten cities to visit in all of Europe. From its unique architecture to its mouthwatering cuisine and welcoming culture, Barcelona is a truly amazing city that is absolutely worth visiting.
While Barcelona doesn’t have the best beaches in Spain, it does have some of the best urban beaches I have ever visited. There are very few places in Europe that offer such a powerful blend of beaches, cuisine, sports, history, tourist attractions, and natural beauty. If you are visiting Spain, Barcelona is a place that you simply cannot miss.
That’s all we have for you about Barcelona! Hopefully this Barcelona travel guide is helpful as you start planning your journey to Spain’s second-biggest city. While it has a lofty reputation, I honesty do think that Barcelona is worth the hype.
If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!