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Top things to do in Barcelona: 15 beautiful sights to see [+ map]

With its spectacular sights, the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona is one of the most exciting cities in Europe. The capital of Catalonia (and the second largest city in Spain after Madrid) attracts millions of visitors every year.

The Mediterranean metropolis is known for its architecture, cultural offerings, sandy beaches, mild climate, and proximity to the Pyrenees. The city center is especially worthwhile for a weekend trip. However, you should plan at least four days to experience all the highlights of the city.

In this article we show you the most beautiful sights to see and must-dos in Barcelona.

Created on25.08.2022
Biggi & Flo from the travel blog Phototravellers

The top 10 sights in Barcelona at a glance

We tell you the top attractions, the most popular neighborhoods, the most beautiful beaches, the coolest places to chill but also really good restaurants and beautiful hotels in Barcelona.

You want to know what to do in Barcelona? Then come with us to one of the most exciting cities in Europe. For now, here are our top 10 sights in Barcelona at a glance.

A tower in Park Güell in Barcelona with a view of the sea
First of all, here you will find our top 10 highlights at a glance
  1. La Sagrada Familia
  2. Park Güell
  3. Arc de Triomf and Parc de la Ciutadella
  4. Casa Batlló
  5. Tibidabo Park
  6. La Rambla and Mercat de la Boqueria
  7. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
  8. Gothic Quarter and El Born district
  9. La Barceloneta and Port Vell
  10. Camp Nou soccer stadium

Tip: To discover Barcelona and its many sights at a reasonable price, we recommend the Go City Pass Barcelona (order here*).

Map: All sights in Barcelona

In our interactive map, you can find all sights in Barcelona at a glance. Have fun discovering the most beautiful places to go in the metropolis.

Watch the video: Our top attractions in Barcelona

Have fun with our video about the most popular attractions and most beautiful places to see in Barcelona.

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1. La Sagrada Familia – the top sightseeing attraction

The view of La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is one of the top things to do in Barcelona

The Roman Catholic basilica La Sagrada Familia is an absolute must for every visitor to Barcelona and is one of the top activities in Barcelona.

The 172-meter-high basilica towers over the metropolis like a patron saint. When you stand in front of the church for the first time, you won’t be able to stop marveling. It’s definitely one of the places you have to see in Barcelona.

By the way, the building regulations in Barcelona state that no building can be higher than the Sagrada Familia.

Don’t be surprised about construction cranes and construction workers though. Designed by Antoni Gaudí in the style of Modernism, the building and landmark of the city is still in the process of manufacture. Construction began as early as 1882 – in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death (not “Gaudi,” by the way), the building is scheduled to be completed.

A visit to the interior of La Sagrada Familia is also worthwhile. For this, however, you should definitely get tickets in advance via the Internet. The normal entrance fee is 26 euros. If you want a guided tour, you pay 30 euros. The ticket with fast entry costs just under 32 euros. Unfortunately, the towers can be visited again since april 2022.

The view of the towers of La Sagrada Familia
The construction cranes on the church have been here for years
Visitors inside La Sagrada Familia
Inside La Sagrada Familia – this special windows are amazing

Also, be aware that tickets are timed and will expire if you’re not on time. It’s good if you get there ten minutes before.

Hotel tip: One of the best hotels in town is the Radisson Blu 1882 (check prices here*), very close to La Sagrada Familia. You’ll have a great view of the imposing sight from the cozy rooftop terrace.

2. Park Güell – Experience Gaudí at first hand

The view over Park Güell with mosaics in the foreground
Park Güell is one of the most famous attractions in Barcelona

Park Güell is one of the most famous things to do in Barcelona. It was created by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1914 and is an oasis in the city that invites you to stroll and enjoy. For us, Park Güell is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Barcelona.

Park Güell was originally planned to be much larger and was never completed due to financial constraints. The area houses only three houses instead of the more than 60 villas that were planned. The residence of the industrialist family Güell, Gaudí’s residence, and another house.

Kunstwerke im Park GüellDoesn’t this look whacky? The houses and works of art are unique
Die große Treppe im Park GüellThese stairs are a popular photo motif and a cool thing to see in Barcelona!

But already these three houses, which Gaudí planned harmoniously into nature, make a visit to Park Güell unforgettable. When the weather is nice, a huge sun terrace invites you to relax. Like the houses, the seating areas are artfully decorated with mosaics.

If you want to experience the Güell complex, you should get tickets early. This is especially true during the high season. But the fact is: this is a sight you should definitely visit in Barcelona.

Hotel tip: Near Park Güell is the Bestprice Gracia Hotel (check prices here*). This simple hotel is suitable for anyone looking for modern yet affordable accommodation in Barcelona.

If you are a fan of Gaudí, then you should definitely visit Casa Batlló. It is the most beautiful Gaudí house on Passeig de Gràcia. The last building that the famous architect built is Casa Milà. After that he devoted his time to the construction of the Sagrada Família. You can find the residential building in the Eixample district.

3. From the Arc de Triomf to the Parc de la Ciutadella

Promenade from the Arc de Triomf to the Parc de la Ciutadella
This is the promenade from Arc de Triomf to Parc de la Ciutadella

Third, on our list of the most amazing things to do in Barcelona is the Parc de la Ciutadella. If you’re traveling by metro in Barcelona, get off at the Arc de Triomf, built in 1888, and stroll along a wide promenade to the “Park of the Citadel” – one of the largest parks in Barcelona and a popular sightseeing destination. 

A particularly impressive must-see is the “Font de la Cascada” fountain. You can also rent rowboats on the large lake in the middle of the complex. The Barcelona Zoo is also located on the same grounds. The numerous possibilities make the park also a nice place for children.

Der Font de la Cascada im Parc de la CiutadellaThe huge fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella impressed us
Der Blick über das Wasserbecken des Font de la Cascada im Parc de la CiutadellaThe water basin in the Parc de la Ciutadella

⭐ Travel guide for your Barcelona vacation

We can highly recommend the following travel guides for your Barcelona trip. This one is perfect in travel-size: Rick Steves Pocket Barcelona (get it here*). If you like to take a look into this guide, just go for it: Fodor’s Barcelona: with highlights of Catalonia (get it here*).

4. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló, designed by Antoni Gaudí
The Casa Batlló, designed by Gaudí, is one of the absolute top things to do in the city

Antoni Gaudí was not only responsible for La Sagrada Familia or Park Güell. One of the most famous Gaudí sights is the Casa Batlló at Passeig de Gràcia 43 in the Eixample district.

The residential and commercial building attracts around one million visitors every year. This makes the Casa Batlló one of the most important attractions of the beautiful city on the Mediterranean.

Even from the outside, the building is a feast for the eyes. The Casa Batlló can even be partially visited. For example, the foyer, the Beletage, the staircase, the attic, the roof, and the backyard are open to visitors.

5. Tibidabo Park – the best view of Barcelona

The view of the Tibidabo amusement park
Tibidabo amusement park is one of the oldest in the world and a great destination for families with children

What else can you do in the metropolis? Now it gets sporty! We will take you to a world of activities that will interest especially young people in Barcelona.

But also, nature and hiking lovers will enjoy it here. You don’t have to go to the Pyrenees, 120 kilometers away, to take off your hiking boots. The city is located in a natural basin by the sea and the surrounding mountains are ideal for short hiking tours.

Among the best things to see in Barcelona is the hike to Tibidao Park. The rugged hiking trail leads through dense greenery – again and again, you get great views of Barcelona and the all-dominating La Sagrada Familia.

Once on Tibidao, the highest mountain in the Collserola range, you’ll continue up a bit further. A visit to the church Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus is definitely worth it. We recommend you to use the elevator to get to the top of the mountain.

The church Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus
The majestic Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus

From the top, Tibidabo is at your feet – and so is the Parque de Atracccions amusement park, a fun thing to do! With a good view, you can see as far as Montserrat. Also omnipresent is the 268-meter-high television tower, built for the 1992 Olympic Games.

If you don’t feel like hiking, you can take a car or bus to the top of Tibidabo. An alternative is a funicular that goes up Tibidabo. For us, this view offers the most spectacular view of the city. Especially at sunset, there is a lot going on here.

Wondering which is the most beautiful place in Barcelona? For us, this view is definitely in the top 3 most beautiful places in Barcelona.

Der Blick über Barcelona vom Tibidabo ParkIsn’t this view breathtaking? We were speechless
Der Ausblick von der Kirche Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus – unter anderem auf den Vergnügungspark TibidaboFrom the church Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus you have a gigantic view – among other things of the amusement park Tibidabo

Entrance fee: the ride with the Funicular del Tibidabo (cable car) costs 4,00 Euro when buying the ticket to the amusement park and the pure ride costs 7,50 Euro

From March to December, the cable car runs daily. In January there are no rides. In February, the cable car runs only on weekends.

6. La Rambla and Mercat de la Boqueria

A fish stall at the Mercat de la Boqueri
The Mercat de la Boqueria is well worth seeing

One of the coolest things to do in Barcelona is definitely the market. In the market hall Mercat de la Boqueria locals merge with tourists. There is probably no other place in Barcelona where a sight is so closely linked to the everyday life of the locals. So if you want to know where you have to go in Barcelona at all costs, it’s the market.

In the market hall, vendors offer fresh fish, meat, bread, fruit, sweets, spices, and many other goods. You won’t find fresher food anywhere else in Barcelona. Enjoy your vacation and allow yourself something tasty.

The entrance to the market is directly on La Rambla or Les Rambles. The almost 1.3-kilometer-long promenade connects the Plaça de Catalunya with the port. This is where life pulsates.

Thousands of visitors stroll along Les Rambles, where countless cafes invite you to relax. As everywhere in Barcelona, you have to be extremely vigilant here – pickpockets have their hands full. But don’t let our warning spoil your mood. Because La Rambla is one of the best places to go in Barcelona.

7. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau – our secret tip

The entrance to the Hospital de Sant Pa
This is the entrance to the Hospital de Sant Pau

Located in the middle of the city center, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is almost an insider tip and secret place for your Barcelona trip. Unlike many sights in Barcelona, things are really peaceful here.

Several buildings in the Hospital de Sant Pau
The complex is extremely impressive and not as crowded as other attractions in the city – it’s an unusual thing to do!

That may be because the hospital, built between 1902 and 1911 by Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, has no connection to Gaudí. Fans of Catalan Art Nouveau (Modernisme) can enjoy the excellently restored facility; after all, various sculptures on the facade and in the interior were designed by the sculptor Pablo Gargallo.

Outside as well as inside there is a lot to discover. If you are still in doubt about whether a visit is worthwhile: the building complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. This is our absolute travel tip for you.

Inside the Hospital de Sant Pau with huge impressive windows
The hospital looks absolutely poignant
A tower in the Hospital de Sant Pau
Every detail was specially designed

8. Gothic Quarter and El Born district

What else is in Barcelona to do? Explore the city center on foot. Whether by day or by night, the Gothic Quarter – the Barri Gòtic – with the Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia (La Seu) and the El Born district are must-sees. For us, El Born is the most beautiful district in Barcelona with numerous beautiful sights.

The Cathedral La Seu with a lot of people in front
La Seu Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Barcelona

With its gothic flair, the area invites you to take a unique walk where there is a lot to discover.

You’ll encounter winding alleys, historic buildings, small boutiques, stores, confectioneries, musicians, bars, and pubs. Just flow with thousands of other people through the city center and enjoy life. Especially young people are out and about here in the evenings.

Our tip, not only for young people: take a whole evening to explore the neighborhood and just let yourself drift.

One of the highlights is the La Seu Cathedral, which was built on the foundations of a basilica destroyed by the Moors. The church is already very old. The foundation stone was laid as early as 1298. Incidentally, 13 white geese are kept on the grounds. They used to serve as a shield from thieves because they made a lot of noise.

View of the cathedral La Seu from the inside - its stunning
The cathedral La Seu from the inside

You should not miss the Museu d’Història de la Cuitat (website). It is one of the most beautiful museums in Barcelona. The museum tells the more than 2000 years old history of Barcelona.

In addition, there are the largest Roman excavations outside Rome to marvel at. However, you should not choose a Monday for your visit – the museum is closed here. Plaça de Sant Jaume, the historical and political center of the city, should also be on your list of highlights.

The medieval district of El Born, meanwhile, is the neighborhood of the creative. The alleys are so narrow that no ray of sunlight makes it to the ground. If you want to shop, come to Born. Some of the hottest fashion stores are now located here. Night owls, meanwhile, move from one bar to the next in the evening. As you can see, this district is extremely attractive.

Hotel tip: One of the top addresses for the upscale is the Grand Hotel Central (check price here*) in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral.

9. La Barceloneta and Port Vell

Ships in the harbor of Barcelona
What’s to see in the harbor? There are always some super yachts- it’s a cool thing to do in Barcelona!

Anyone visiting the popular La Barceloneta district with its long sandy beaches is almost bound to pass the Port Vell harbor. Here are huge super yachts at anchor that will leave you speechless

During our stay, the highlights were the 87-meter ACE and the 99-meter Madame Gu. Both yachts of superlatives and owned by rich Russians. If you feel like vacationing on the ship, you can rent these luxury boats. However, at 250,000 euros per week, this will probably remain a dream for most people.

Relaxing on the beach in the center of the metropolis  

The beach of La Barceloneta
The beach of La Barceloneta is a popular excursion destination

As you continue to stroll from Port Vell toward Platja de la Barceloneta beach, you’ll always have the luxury W Barcelona hotel (check prices here*) in your field of vision. This striking building is impossible to miss. From the upper floors of the W Hotel, you have a great view over the beach. However, this is reserved for hotel guests.

The view from the W Hotel to the beach of La Barceloneta
This is the view from the W Hotel to the beach of La Barceloneta.

Of course, you’ll pass numerous restaurants on your way to the beach. As always, the rule here is: Tour stores are often just out to make a quick buck. Apps like Tripadvisor or Google Maps help separate the wheat from the chaff.

Finally, on the eternally long, super-beautiful beach of La Barceloneta, it’s time to relax and enjoy the sea. Recovering with your feet in the sand from the numerous activities in the beautiful metropolis. Isn’t it awesome that the beach is right in the middle of the city?

The only drawback: if you’re bothered by the sometimes very pushy street vendors, you won’t be happy here, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the beach is one of the most popular sights in Barcelona.

Hotel tip: In addition to the W Barcelona (check prices here*), the Sofitel Barcelona Skipper (check prices here*) is almost directly on the water.  The luxurious 5-star hotel near the Olympic harbor impresses with a great view and first-class service.

10. Camp Nou – the soccer stadium of FC Barcelona

The Camp Nou soccer stadium
The Camp Nou stadium is definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Barcelona!

What to see in Camp Nou? With 99,354 seats, Europe’s largest soccer stadium leaves even non-football fans speechless. Before heading to Camp Nou, the tour takes you through the FC Barcelona museum. Hundreds of trophies can be admired here. The museum alone is a sight to behold.

The cabins and commentators’ boxes are also not left out of the tour. But the most exciting part is surely the moment when you walk through the players’ tunnel onto the pitch. Now time seems to stand still. Then you’re standing right on the edge of the pitch and you’re just speechless. Famous players like Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Gavi are regularly on the pitch here. Wow.

A picture from Wembley in 1992 in the FC Barcelona museum
A visit to the museum of FC Barcelona is one of the things you must do

After the superlative attractions already presented here, we take you to the huge FC Barcelona fan store. Maybe one or the other will spontaneously become a fan of the multiple Champions League winner. It’s an incredible sightseeing experience – even for non-football fans.

11. Casa Milà

The Casa Milà in Barcelona
Absolutely worth seeing is also the Casa Milà – also a work of Gaudí and a cool thing to do in Barcelona

Of course, the Casa Milà – another Gaudí highlight in Barcelona – should not be missing from our list of the most important sights.

Where to visit it? The Casa Milà is located in Passeig de Gràcia No. 92 and was the first building of the 20th century to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. Of course, the Casa Milà can’t be missed on any trip to Barcelona, can it?

On the sixth floor, you can see an apartment in the style of the 1920s. There is also a Gaudí exhibition on the top floor.

The most famous Gaudí buildings in Barcelona

In addition to the Gaudí highlights already mentioned here, there are numerous other buildings and structures in and around Barcelona for which the famous architect is responsible and which are absolutely worth seeing for fans.

  1. La Sagrada Familia
  2. Park Güell
  3. Casa Batlló
  4. Casa Milà
  5. Palau Güell
  6. Casa Vicens
  7. The church of Colònia Güell
  8. Casa Calvet
  9. Bellesguard
  10. Portal Miralles

12. Parc de Montjuïc

The Parc de Montjuïc is best known for the Font Màgica fountain, which is open to the public free of charge, with its colorfully illuminated water features accompanied by music. The magical fountain was built on the occasion of the 1929 World’s Fair. The fountain is spectacular only during the seasons (as of March 2022). Then it becomes a real attraction and a stunning thing to do in Barcelona.

View of the fountain in front of the Palau National
The fountain in front of the Palau National

Towering far above the fountain is the imposing Palau National (MNAC), home of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. On display here are Romanesque frescoes, Catalan panel paintings, and sculptures, as well as evidence of Italian and French Baroque paintings.

You can also enjoy a fantastic view of Barcelona from up here. Barcelona from above looks great. On Barcelona’s local mountain Montjuïc, the Castell, a 17th-century fortress, is also waiting to be explored.

View of the Palau National in the light of the evening sun from a terrace view
The Palau National in the light of the evening sun

The “Cementiri de Montjuïc” cemetery is also worth a detour. If you don’t want to walk, take the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car (website)to the top. It is an attraction in itself.

13. Estadi Olímpic

The Olympic site, called Estadi Olimpic, is just a stone’s throw from the Palau National. The Olympic Stadium was also built for the 1929 World’s Fair (Exposició Internacional de Barcelona).

The Olympic Stadium in Barcelona
The Olympic Stadium is also worth a visit and a top thing to do in Barcelona!

The stadium was originally intended to host the 1936 Summer Olympics. However, at that time the Olympics were awarded to Berlin after a runoff. The building complex with its park is still a beautiful attraction today, however, and invites visitors to stroll and explore.

The television tower on the Olympic site
The futuristic television tower on the Olympic site

14. Parc del Guinardó – insider tip

The Parc del Guinardó is a real insider’s tip in Barcelona and rightly belongs on our list of the top things to do in Barcelona. Away from the tourist crowds, the site offers a fantastic view of Barcelona.

The view of Barcelona from the Parc del Guinardó
The view of Barcelona from the Parc del Guinardó. In the distance, you can see the Torre Glòries, our next top sightseeing attraction

This landmark is in close proximity to Park Güell and the Hospital de Sant Pau. Several hiking trails lead to the summit.

Tip: You can also cover a large part of the distance by elevator. This attraction is definitely worth a visit.

15. Torre Glòries

The Torre Glòries skyscraper in Barcelona
The Torre Glòries is the modern landmark of the city and a cool thing to do in Barcelona!

In addition to the many historical sights that Gaudí left behind for the Mediterranean metropolis, there is also a modern highlight in the form of the Torre Glòries (formerly Torre Agbar) that you definitely can’t miss.

Despite its shape, which is reminiscent of a phallus, the 142-meter-high skyscraper is considered a modern landmark of the city.

At night, the tower shines in different colors. For photographers, the Torre Glòries is an absolute must-see in the evening hours.

Unfortunately, the office building (there is also no viewing platform or restaurant) is not accessible to visitors. The view of La Sagrada Familia is certainly breathtaking from up there – but remains reserved for employees.

Hotel tip: From the rooftop pool of the 4-star hotel SB Glow (check prices here*) you have a spectacular view of the Torre Glòries.

Excursion tip Montserrat Monastery

View of the Montserrat Monastery
The monastery of Montserrat is a popular excursion destination

If you have a little more time than just two or three days on your trip, it’s worth taking a side trip to Montserrat Mountain, located about 50 kilometers northwest of Barcelona. The famous Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat is a popular destination.

From downtown Barcelona, it takes about an hour by car to get to the monastery. Alternatively, you can book a guided tour from Barcelona*.

The monastery of Montserrat impresses with its unique location. The imposing complex is built high into the mighty rocks.

If the Montserrat Monastery inspires you, you should perhaps travel to Greece next time. Near the town of Kalambaka are the Metéora monasteries – one of the most impressive temple complexes in the world (here you can find the most beautiful sights in Greece).

The most beautiful museums in Barcelona

If you are a culture fan, we have still summarized the best museums as highlights.

Where to stay in Barcelona – our hotel tips

The view from the W Hotel over the beach of Barcelona
This is the spectacular view from the W Hotel over the city

The classy Radisson Blu 1882 (check price here*) is located near La Sagrada Familia and thrills with a beautiful rooftop terrace with a terrific view.

One of the most popular hotels in Barcelona is the luxury W Barcelona (check prices here*) right on the beach. The view will blow you away.

The Sofitel Barcelona Skipper (check rates here*) is also close to the beach. No wish comes up short at this 5-star hotel.

One of the best upscale hotels is the Grand Hotel Central (check prices here*) near La Seu Cathedral.

The 4-star Hotel SB Glow (check prices here*) enchants with a rooftop pool and a breathtaking view of the Torre Glòries.

Hotel tip for the small budget: The Bestprice Gracia hotel (check prices here*) near Park Güell convinces with modern facilities and a top price-performance ratio.

Three great restaurants in Barcelona

Working your way through the sights in Barcelona makes you hungry. We have an idea for that, too. We’ll show you really good restaurants that aren’t tourist traps. Here you get excellent food at fair prices. Yes, you can also eat out cheaply in Barcelona.

The Sensi Bistro from the outside
Our night out tip: The Sensi Bistro

We hope you enjoyed our summary of Barcelona. We have shown you the main attractions and highlights of the city. Now it’s up to you to explore them. Have fun in Spain and enjoy the great flair of the beautiful city of Barcelona

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