Find the top Barcelona cultural insights with this complete guide containing a full itinerary of what to do in Barcelona for 2 days. Discover here a list of places to see (with a detailed list that has all of Barcelona’s infamous landmarks).
Barcelona, the epicenter of European summerThis post might contain affiliate links to recommendations I truly believe in. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can gain a small commission to keep paying my coffees to write these posts. 🙂 Being the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, (a region that has been by many years now fighting from their independence from Spain), Barcelona once hosted the Olympic Games in 1992 and has since then transformed into what it is today: A modern-day, seaside city, with a fascinating architecture, rich cultural beliefs, and endless dining opportunities to please all tastes (and best of all at great prices, especially when comparing to other big European cities). In this post I will guide you through all the must-see attractions, what to do when you visit Barcelona, and how to best enjoy everything this amazing city has to offer (from tips on audio guides, ticket purchase, transportation, etc). I will end with a short introduction to Gaudi, the father of Barcelona, and throughout the post you will find many other useful tips. PS – I’ve mentioned before that I have been living in this great city for more than 2 years now and I have writte a post with amazing recommendations on where to eat and drink in Barcelona. I am a true foodie and I love going to all the places that I recommended in that post. On that note, I’ve seen many other bloggers strongly recommend a Sangria and Flamenco shows when visiting Barcelona and I quickly see that some misinformed blogger’s insider tips are not as insightful as they should be. Neither recommendations are from Catalonia region, so yes by going to a Flamenco show here you would be fitting into that tourist genre. Luckily I got your back and with these tips you will not only know exactly what to do and see in Barcelona, but how to enjoy it to the most. Lets go!
What to Do and See in Barcelona12 of the most famous and unmissable spots to visit in Barcelona
- Plaza Catalunya
- Las Ramblas
- Mercado de la Boqueria
- Casa Batllo
- La Pedrera
- Sagrada Familia
- Parc Guell
- The Magic Fountain
- La Catedral Gótica
- Camp Nou
- Palau de La Musica Catalana
- Arc de Triomph
1. Plaza CatalunyaStart centrally and appreciate this beautiful square in the heart of Barcelona. Filled with children playing and people feeding birds, this is a definitely a quick yet unmissable spot in your Barcelona tour. It is surrounded by stores for shopping, from Zara to Urban Outfitters and Apple Store (tip: free and fast wifi spot at the Apple store, with no password required), and conveniently located next to El Corte Inglés, Spain’s infamous department store and massive super market. Basically there are thousands of reasons to be in that area, and you can’t miss visiting Plaza Catalunya, before making your way down the Ramblas.
2. Las RamblasBarcelona’s infamous long walking street, filled with restaurants, shops, people and happy faces. I love taking my visitors there for a walk on their first day visiting and I even have my official walking tour I usually do with my friends. Yes the Ramblas is extremely charming and it is soooo tempting to sit and have a paella and sangria there, but don’t! Firstly, as mentioned, before, sangrias are not part of Catalan culture (it’s Spanish), so it is not typical from Barcelona to start with. Secondly, basically all restaurants in Las Ramblas are servicing exclusively to tourists. Tapas and paellas there are quite bad, I guarantee it (at least for local standards). Furthermore, the restaurant owners know that only tourists eat there, so they are more concerned with the turnover of the tables than high quality food, as they know most people would never return anyway. Take some time to read 12 common mistakes tourists always make when visiting Barcelona here. If you do want to enjoy the best tapas and restaurants in Barcelona, don’t miss reading my post on my personal favorite places to eat in Barcelona. Pro Tip: Extra Careful with your bags at the Ramblas!!
3. Mercado de la BoqueriaI love this place! As a tourist and as a local, this place really is something. Mid-way down the Ramblas, you will find this Market to your right hand-side (it is nearly impossible to miss it). There are thousands of cheap offers of food and drinks, from Iberic Jams served in a paper wrap to 2 EUR fruit smoothies, there are snacks to all tastes. Pro Tip: The closer the stand is to the entrance, the more expensive it will be. So make your way inside. They sell the exact same things, but sometimes for half the price. Free entrance.
4. Casa BatllóAn amusing building centrally located in Barcelona, considered one of Gaudi’s masterpieces and certainly a hallucinatory best. With it’s balconies mimicking skulls, or masks, depending on your perspective, and a roof that spirals the imagination to a dragon’s back, Casa Battló to me stands as one of my favorite Gaudi’s designs. Should you pay the entrance fee? Absolutely!! DO NOT miss entering the Casa Battlo, it is well worth the entrance fee. The audio guide is included, and set in various languages, and I strongly recommend listening to it. Tip: Buy tickets online for a pre-determined time and avoid unnecessary queues. Are you hungry? Just next to Casa Battlo, to the left, there is an AMAZING salad bar called Faborit. For less than 8 EUR you can get a big salad bowl and a big freshly pressed juice. I go there all the time, no joke. Their salads are delicious and I especially love their beetroot + orange + ginger juice.
5. La PedreraJust two blocks up from Casa Battló you will see another fantastic Gaudi building called La Pedrera. Should you pay the entrance fee? If you are on a budget, don’t waste your precious 20 eur here. It is much prettier from the outside (all the floors showcase architectural models). Yes, the rooftop is beautiful, but if you are on a budget, I would reconsider if it is worth paying 20 EUR only for a rooftop full of people. Pro Tip: If you are curious as to what the rooftop looks like, check online as sometimes they do events on the rooftop from violin presentations to cello recitals (just last week I went to suuuper nice a Jazz concert and that was well worth my money).
6. Sagrada FamiliaEven if you are new to Barcelona you probably already heard of the Sagrada Familia. It must be Gaudi’s most famous construction (and to this day it is still unfinished, even though you can get in). You are also probably familiar with thousands of churches around Europe, and must be thinking ”been there, done that” but I beg to differ with this fantastic masterpiece.
As soon as you approach the Sagrada Familia you are immediately aware that this is no ordinary church.With impressive details ornamenting every aspect of its walls and ceilings, all with a subtle, yet intense, aspects of nature, it is impossible not to be awe-struck when entering the Sagrada Familia. Should you pay the entrance fee? A thousand times YES!!! Do NOT miss this!! Pro tip: The audio guide is not included in the ticket, it costs about 5 eur, but it will be the best 5 eur you will ever spend. The audio guide opens your eyes to things you would never have noticed otherwise. This is one of my biggest tips for the attractions. Did you know that the Sagrada Familia is taller than any other construction in Barcelona? It only falls short from the Montjuic Mountain because Gaudi believed that men’s construction should not surpass God’s work. How do I know that, you may ask? I learned it from the audioguide 🙂 Tickets: Be sure to buy them online for a predetermined time and avoid unnecessary queues (especially in summer time). I had a friend who queued because she did not listen to my advice, and when it was her turn, they were sold out.
7. Parc GüellThis delightful park not only has remarkable Gaudi influences, but also hosts a spectacular view of the city from above. There are areas where you do not need to pay and can freely explore, and other areas that are paid and opened to a new group every half an hour. Years ago when I first came to Barcelona all areas were free, but it was extremely hard to enjoy the peacefulness of the park, as there were tourists in EVERY direction (it is estimated Parc Guell receives an average of 4 million tourists every year). So to be honest I actually appreciate the fact that there is a small entrance fee (around 8 EUR), which is also destined to the maintenance of those beautiful details. Should you pay the entrance fee? For sure, as many of the most iconic parts of the Park are only accessible with a paid ticket (such as this tunnel from the picture above). Pro tip: Be sure to buy your tickets in advance so you know what time you will be getting in (plus you can save 1 eur per ticket if you buy it online). How to get there: You could take a bus + metro + walk uphill and waste your time; OR you could take a taxi from the city center which will cost you aprox. 10 eur. I honestly think my time is money, and I hated going up by foot (it is an ugly neighborhood, not as pretty as the city center). But the Parc is well-worth going up. Be it by foot or car, don’t miss it! Extra Tip: There aren’t many nice restaurants or bars in that area, so I would recommend either eating something in advance, or taking a snack. Enjoy a nice lunch or dinner afterwards in a nicer area.
8. The Magic FountainThe Palau Nacional, located in Montjuic, is certainly an outstanding view and there you will find the museum of national arts of Catalonia. I like going there during night time, especially when from a determined time there is the Magic Fountain (a truly beautiful water show with music playing accordingly to the movement of the dancing water). The Magic Fountain lasts around 1h and there is not a storyline, so you can arrive and leave at whatever time you wish. Pro Tip: I like having a small Picnic while enjoying the Magic Fountain, so I usually buy some snacks in advance at a supermarket, maybe a bottle of wine, and sit with friends while admiring the beautiful water show in the background. Check online for dates and times, as it varies from winter to summer. Fun Fact: The magic fountain can produce up to 7 BILLION light and water combination. Still think you need some convincing? Check out this video and you will instantly understand what the fuss is about. Tip: To get the best views, be sure to arrive early as it tends to get packed, even during winter time. If you wish for further information, be sure to read a complete post about it from Barcelona Hacks Free Entrance to the Magic Fountain.
9. The Gothic CathedralThe Gothic Cathedral is a sight to the eyes, constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries. If I can be fully honest, I have never been inside. But that is because I live in the city and that feeling of ”I will someday” hasn’t exactly left me yet. Nonetheless it is a beautiful church and should not be missed, even if from the outside.
10. Camp Nou + Barcelona FCFootball fans, unite! If you not only enjoy the sport, but also support the Barcelona F.C., don’t miss a visit to Camp Nou, the famously extraordinary football stadium. You can visit the inside of the stadium and/or also access the museum. Be sure to check online as Barcelona plays quite often in that stadium and if you are lucky, you can find real matches occurring while you visit the city. I’ve been to Camp Nou for 2 matches and really enjoyed it. Tip: If you do go for a match, take some cash with you. They do not accept cards and it can be quite annoying when you really crave that mid-match cold beer.
11. Palau de la Musica CatalanaIf you enjoy orchestras like me, a show inside the Palau de la Musica is a MUST. I went once for a beautiful Christmas orchestra with my mother, and a second time for a Beatles cover during my birthday. The inside of the theatre is majestic, filled with eye-catching impressive details. The exterior of the building is also extremely beautiful. I particularly like the optical illusion head sculpture, located just outside.
12. Arc de Triomph and Parc CiutadellaLast, but certainly not least, the majestic Arc of Triumph, located just outside the Parc Ciutadella.
It is lovely to walk from the Arc to the park and observe the many local artists performing. You will see people doing slackfline, playing cards, hula hoops, soap bubbles, or simply just enjoying a nice book.During Christmas time it is especially nice as all that area is filled with Christmas markets and stands selling local wine and food. I love it!! By now we are probably on the same page regarding buying your tickets in advance, right? I strongly recommend Get Your Guide tours to all my visitors, as they cover every aspect of Barcelona (even day trips and other non-conventional activities, such as a sailing sunset experience). Discover more about everything that Get Your Guide can offer for your visit to Barcelona by clicking here.
FROM THE BARCELONA SERIES:
- A Complete Guide to Barcelona
- All of Barcelona’s Must-See Attractions (with helpful tips)
- Perfectly Easy 2 Days Self-Walking tour of Barcelona
- Mistakes tourists Always Make When Visiting Barcelona
- 9 Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid Inside the Sagrada Familia
- Top Places to Eat (recommendations from locals)
- First Time in Spain? Here is a Useful Guide.
Planning a trip to Barcelona any time soon? That’s so EXCITING! To help you get started, check out Get Your Guide’s top-rated tours and activities.Other Useful Travel Resources:
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- Get Your Guide – For fun tours and attractions tickets – Buy tickets in advance and save money + time!