Tourist attractions in Barcelona

Attraction Guide for Barcelona

Attraction Notes Details & rating
Bus Touristic Why go?

3 routes available on one ticket. Quite expensive, but it covers all the sights & if you like these buses, this one is fine.

How to make the best of it?

Decide in advance where you want to visit and then plan your route along the red, blue or green lines – choosing where to switch lines. Price is per calendar day, so get on as early as possible.

Commentary is pre-recorded and frankly not great, but it means you know where you are.

Sue loves open top buses & gives this top marks because it has such great coverage & there are loads of them. Russell only agrees to go on them when currying favour, and says this isn’t the worst, but expensive.

€22 for adults, €14 for children 4-12yrs

Camp Nou Why go?

The most visited attraction in Barcelona and a must for footie fans! Barcelona FC have a motto – ‘More than a club’ & this tour of the ground, stadium and the museums & exhibitions certainly bears this out.

How to make the best of it?

Get there early, enter through gate 9, do the self guided tour – probably don’t need to worry about the audio guide – we didn’t listen to it, but those around us who’d bought it, stopped listening quite quickly.

Then do the museums and finish up with the shop.

Russell, footie fan, loved this. Great to see the stadium, but also really interested in the history, trophys etc. Top marks from him. Sue – zero interest in football actually found this more interesting than expected – lots of social history & the sheer size of the stadium is amazing. Medium rating from her.

€17 adults, €14 children

Closed on match days

Gaudi Houses Why go?

Antoni Gaudi was a highly original architect who has work all over Barcelona. The outsides are eye catching, but the insides are beautiful and inspirational.

 How to make the best of it?

La Pedrera and Casa Batlló are very close to each other on Passeig de Gracia. They are different so pick the one with the smallest queue. Make sure you see the rooves in both, and the terrace at Caso Batllo. In La Pedrera, take your time in the attics as this is where you learn about Gaudis techniques. When you visit the apartment, check out the use of natural light – very clever. Again at La Pedrera, take your time on the roof where you’ll have some great views, but aso see iconic images of Barcelona.

Both really liked these two attractions. Added bonus of being very different to the usual tourist stop – you’ll learn as well as seeing something unusual and beautiful!

Top rating from us!

La Pedrera: adults: €11 audio guide €3 (La Pedrera on the Art ticket)

Caso Batllo: aduts €17.80 including audio guide

Gothic Quarter Why go?

This is ‘old Barcelona’ – lots of winding, cool streets with independent shops, bars and restaurants, then suddenly you come into a square. Atmospheric, lovely buildings, pretty streets.

 How to make the best of it?

Take care of personal security – take normal measures, but be vigilant.

Use a map to get some landmarks in your head – the cathedral, city wall, major squares and then surrender yourself to a good old fashioned amble! Remember to take time out for a cool drink or a restorative coffee.

We both enjoy wandering around this area – shopping is high on our favourites list and there are some really unusual shops around here as well as fabulous buildings and streets. Top rating – a must do in Barcelona – and free!!!
La Rambla Why go?

The street that takes you from the port  to Placa Catalunya – this is probably the most famous street in Barcelona. If you’re there in the evening, go just to watch the locals promenade. During the day, just enjoy the buzz!

How to make the best of it?

Starting at the Christopher Columbus monument (Monument a Colom) work your way up the middle of the street – this is where the traditional stuff is, so if you venture over to the pavements, come back to the middle before continuing. Look out for the Miro mosaic, and admire the living statues. Look out for Mercat de la Bouqueria on the left (with the port behind you) – fabulous food market. After this, you’ll reach the section with the flower and bird stalls – these are mainly family run and have been here for many years. The shops get classier as you work your way up the street.

At the top is Placa Catalunya which is a major square. Tourist information is here, bike hire and the entrance to the Gothic Quarter. But also is Corte Ingles – fab Spanish department store with amazing view from it’s café at the top. Loos in here too!

We both enjoy a stroll along La Rambla – it’s really lively and a mix of the new and the traditional. A definite must do for Barcelona – top rating from us. Corte Ingles is worth a visit too – especially for menswear & shoes!
La Sagrada Familia Why go?

A cathedral under construction, and one designed by Gaudi – where else do you get to see this?? This was his last masterpiece, he was on his way here when he got run over by a tram.

 How to make the best of it?

The queues always look hideous, but don’t be put off as they move quite quickly. Have a good look at the Passion Façade as you enter – very simple and austere, comared to the Nativity Façade on the other side of the cathedral which is pure Gaudi and a riot of tableaus and depictions of nature. Work your way through the church, making sure you look up. You’ll see various craftsmen working. Visit the exhibition just before you go out to the nativity façade. After you’ve been outside, go down into he crypt for a further exhibition. Both of these explain different parts of the building, the concepts and Gaudi’s life.

If you are looking after someone in a wheelchair, they’ll get in for free as will you as the pusher – but you’ll need strong arms – there are slopes that are not for the fainthearted!!

Sue loves this place, says that it feels spiritual and a place of awe and wonder. Russell is less impressed and put off by the crowds. Probably depends on how devout you are (neither of us particularly) or whether or not you’ve read Pillars of the Earth – Sue has and loved it!

So Sue says top rating – must do, Russell says it’s ok – mid rating.

€12 per adult or €16 with audio guide (we haven’t tried this)

Maritime Museum Why go?

You’re on a cruise, in an important port – the maritime history is important! Housed in a beautiful converted buildings of the Royal Shipyards, it’s worth a look to find out more about those peculiar armada shaped galleons!

How to make the best of it?

Make use of the audio guide – it’s in the form of an mp3 player and so has audio, visual, text and quizzes at all levels of interest. Make sure you spend some time at the cartography section and in the history of ships which explores the elements of a successful boat. There’s also a huge reproduction of a galleon. Lots of places to sit down, nice atmosphere. Also – it’s a bargain!

We enjoyed this. Got a bit technical for Sue, but there was enough history, geography and stories to keep her going. Somewhere to visit when you’ve been to Barcelona before, or you want to get out of the heat and not venture too far from the cruise port. Mid rating from us.

€2.50 per adult, audio free with picture ID

Miro Foundation Why go?

If you like Miro – this is the place for you! Fundacio Joan Miro was established by the man himself in 1975. It is a huge collection of his work, displayed in a building built just for this purpose.

How to make the best of it?

There is an audio guide and it certainly helps to understand the art on display! The building is designed to take the visitor through each space once, so it should be easy to navigate. Photos are not allowed & you will be admonished if you try to take them or try to get too close to the art. Don’t forget to look at the sculptures outside.

We both love modern art and Miro in particular, but Sue enjoyed this more than Russell. Perhaps it’s too much of a good thing in one place? The audio guide borders on the pretentious at times. Top rating from Sue – this celebrates one of Barcelona’s most famous sons, mid rating from Russell. Good café as well!

Adults €8.50 (but on the Art Ticket)

Closed Mondays

Modern Art Museum Why go?

A huge very modern building that formed the central part of modern Barcelona. Lots of flexible spaces, a good permanent collection and well received temporary exhibitions.

How to make the best of it?

Start at the top and work your way down. Take the audio guide to help you and then work your way through. There are spots to sit down with head phones and books to help you extend your knowledge and understanding or art (mainly in Spanish – not surprisingly!) Enjoy the light which is part of the ambience and the views of the Placa dels Angels

Savvy fans will know that we both like a modern art museum (Russell proposed in the Tate Modern!) We did both enjoy this one – great space and dimensions, good mix of media when we were there with a chance to see what Antoni Tapies is all about if you don’t have time to go to his foundation. However, it’s not the most amazing modern art museum we’ve ever been to, so we’d say it’s a mid rating for real fans only.

Closed Tuesdays, opens at 11 most days. €7.50 (covered by Art ticket)

National Art Museum Why go?

Spectacular building, even more spectacular views and an amazing collection of art from the region.

How to make the best of it?

There are 7 main galleries to this museum and you won’t have the time or brain capacity to take it all in. On entry you get given a great map identifying their must sees in each collection. Choose two galleries to really get your teeth into. Do one, then stop in the café for coffee and lovely cake and then continue to your second choice. The Romanesque art is mainly a collection of Catalan murals from the 11th to 13th centuries removed from their original sites and displayed on purpose built display areas. 

When you’ve had your fill, go and sit on the terrace outside and enjoy the most fabulous views – definitely part of the experience.

We were bowled over by this place! Not usually fans of traditional art museums, we found that this was extraordinary and well worth a visit! Top rating from us.

Closed Mondays

€8.50 (covered by Art ticket)

Olympic Museum Why go?

Spain hosted the Olympics in 1992 and this museum is part of the legacy. It tells the history of the Olympics and of various sports in an interesting and engaging way. There are elements about Catalonian sport and approaches to sport, and interactive elements to try out.

How to make the best of it?

The museum is built on a spiral – so work your way round, picking and choosing what you look at in detail. It starts with a great section on history of sport and the difference in approach by the East and the West from the Middle Ages onwards.

Great section about which sports became Olympic when and about the origins of the paraolympics. Don’t try and read everything, but by grazing, you’ll find the its that interest you – something for everyone in here!

As a non-sport lover, Sue put up a good deal of resistance over going in here – but was really glad that she’d give in! This was a really interesting exhibit about world sport, with a good section on Catalan sport and influences.

We give it a mid rating, only because Barcelona is so jam packed with wonderful places that this shouldn’t be on your A list – but worthy of a place at the top of your B list!

Closed Mondays

€4

Picasso Museum Why go?

Picasso spent a great deal of his life here n Barcelona, and this museum houses mainly the paintings from his early life as an artist. However, there are a few examples from later on.

How to make the best of it?

There are no guided tours, unless you join a Picasso walk from the tourist information centre – if you can, then do – you get a walk through the old town, tracing Picassos life in Barcelona, and then a guided tour of the museum. If this doesn’t fit with your schedule, hire the audio guide as there is very little information actually in each gallery. Follow the chronological order.

This museum is set in a lovely building and is interesting because it’s different. Sue had been before and really appreciated having a guide this time, and having the artist and his work put in context by the guided walk. Definitely a must see and top rated when you have some background information to help you make sense of it.

Closed Mondays

€9 (also part of art ticket)

Poble Espanyol Why go?

Described as a traditional Spanish Vilage, created by bringing together traditional buildings, this is mean to be a celebration of traditional living. It’s fairly tacky and with many cafes, restaurants and craft shops, it’s firmly aimed at tourists.

 How to make the best of it?

If you must go, make sure that you visit the arts and crafts and particulary the glass blower.

Low rating from us. Too many other fantastic sights to explore to waste precious time in here. Go to the gothic quarter to look at traditional building and you’ll also find lots of original arts and crafts sellers there too.

€8.90 which includes audio guide

Palau de la Musica Catalana Why go?

To see the amazing stained glass ceiling! This building was part of the Modernista moveent in architecture. The façade is fascinationg and the inside focuses on the use of natural light to create a beautiful performance space.

How to make the best of it?

You can only get inside if you have tickets for a performance, or with a guided tour – tickets from the gift shop on the corner or the box office. There are several tours a day but places are strictly limited so you may wish to buy online upto a week before.

Top rating from us. We went to see a concert here and spent quite a lot of the time gawping at the very beautiful interior. Went back at another time for the tour which is really informative & interesting. As part of it you get a really simple explanation of the Modernista movement. Well worth a visit.

 (It does involve quite a lot of stairs – but we did see lifts for the disabled, so all should be able to access this one.)

Tours are €12 per person