A city trip to Barcelona was a must for me once a year when I still lived in Germany. The colorful mix of beach and city trip always brought me back to Spain’s second largest city. More than 30 million tourists visit Barcelona every year. During your city trip in Barcelona you can’t miss one man: Antoni Gaudí! He shaped the city like no other and left Barcelona many of his life’s works, such as the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, Park Güell and much more.
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In this article I share my absolute insider tips for your city trip to Barcelona. From the best sights in Barcelona to great restaurants and Barcelona shopping tips.
My TOP sights in Barcelona
A city trip in Barcelona is really recommendable – and Barcelona is an absolute highlight in Europe. In this Barcelona City Guide, I take you behind the scenes of the beautiful city in Catalonia and show you my personal tips on the best Barcelona sights, attractions and tours.
Barcelona has a lot to offer. Here you can find our TOP 5 sights of the city.
01 The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous buildings of all time and the highlight of Barcelona. The Basilica Sagrada Família is considered the life’s work of Antoni Gaudí, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the famous landmark of Barcelona.
02 Park Güell
Another highlight in Barcelona is Park Güell. The huge park is the ideal place for a breather. This magical place, also a work of Antoni Gaudí, contains, among other things, works of art and abundant greenery. It is worth mentioning the impressive broken ceramics that give an incomparable design to the benches, many pavilions, the towers and countless terraces in Park Güell.
03 Casa Milà
Tourists flock daily to one of the city’s (and Modernist’s) most famous buildings in the Eixample district. The Casa Milà is also called La Pedrera by the locals, the quarry house. The facade of the building protrudes like a rock. Incidentally, the famous residence in Barcelona is also the last work of Antoni Gaudí before he began construction of the Sagrada Familia.
04 La Rambla
The most famous shopping street in Barcelona, perhaps in all of Spain, attracts countless visitors every day. Here it is just bubbling with the Spanish lifestyle. Stores, markets, cafes and restaurants make the Rambla one of the most popular attractions in the city. Enjoy the hustle and bustle on the 1.3 kilometer long promenade.
Travel back in time to the Olympic Games. The extensive park in the southern part of Barcelona hosted the 1929 World’s Fair or the 1992 Olympic Games. From Montjuïc you have a magnificent view of the city. The climb up to 170 meters is worth it. On the top there is the Castell, an old fortress from the 17th century.
Things to do in Barcelona – my tips
Here you will find the best sights of Barcelona.
Your city trip in Barcelona – this is how it works!
The easiest way to get Barcelona is by plane. Many Airlines fly here several days a week. You can always find great deals at Booking.com. That’s where I booked most of my city breaks to Barcelona.
Cheap flights to Barcelona
I traveled to Barcelona by plane every time. There are direct flights to Barcelona from many German airports. Cheapest day to fly to Barcelona is Tuesday and the most expensive is Friday. The flight time from, for example, Cologne to Barcelona takes about two hours. A great recommendation for a cheap and relaxed airport transfer for Barcelona you can find here.
The climate in Barcelona and the best time for your Barcelona city trip
When is the best time to visit Barcelona? Welcome to Spain: Summer is hot and humid and up to 28°C. Should you spend a lot of time at the Barcelonetta, the beach in Barcelona, summer is of course also a great time for a trip to Barcelona. So the hottest months are July, August and September. You will definitely have good weather from April to November, which is also the most popular time for a vacation in Barcelona. It is relatively cool in January and February with only 13°C to 14°C.
Personally, I have always traveled to Barcelona in May/June. It was already warm then, but not unbearably hot like in July or August. You can then already lie on the beach if you want and can also explore the sights of the city without being beaten by the heat.
Barcelona by bus, streetcar, subway and suburban train
Barcelona is really big and some of the sights are far apart. However, the public transport in Barcelona is very well developed, so you can get from A to B quickly and cheaply. The metro, bus and streetcar run on average every 10 minutes and late into the night. In addition, there are crazy things like several cable cars and funiculars. You can also take the train, sightseeing buses, cabs, local trains, night buses and many other means of transportation.
I recommend that if you are sure you will be using public transportation a lot in Barcelona, buy a collective ticket. The best option here is the Barcelona Card Express or the Holá Barcelona Card. You pay the price once and then you can travel as often as you want with all common means of transport – ideal for a city trip in Barcelona. These Barcelona Travel Cards will save you the most money.
The best restaurants in Barcelona
Of course, you should not miss Spanish cuisine in Barcelona. From great tapas bars, paella, sangria bars and more, Barcelona has a wide selection of restaurants that I can recommend for your city break in Barcelona. The closer you are to the city’s popular attractions, the more expensive it is. Therefore, I always recommend you to stop a bit away from the hustle and bustle and let yourself be enchanted by the Spanish delicacies.
One of the best tapas restaurants in one of my favorite parts of town, El Born. It is quite modern and also a tiny bit more expensive, but the small restaurant is an absolute insider tip. The wines and the quality of the food is great.
02 La Barca Del Salamanca
For good fish, Barceloneta is less recommendable. Many restaurants only try to convince the tourists with mediocre quality. Therefore I recommend directly at the port of the Port Olympic the La Barca De Salamanca. An absolute local sport, where you can mingle with the locals. Here you can get fresh fish at reasonable prices.
03 Cal Pep
If you want to go out in a really chic way, Cal Pep is a good address. It’s best to stand in front of the restaurant at 19:00 and wait until it opens at 19:30 to get a table. Reservations are also recommended. It is expensive, but you get fresh, high quality food and typical Spanish cuisine.
You can also get a quick meal for in between, or a small snack in many of the shopping malls in Barcelona. It is also especially pleasant when it is really warm outside. Then you can cool down a bit at the same time. The Mall Gloriés has many small restaurants, as well as a large supermarket with a fresh food counter.
Shopping in Barcelona – Where is a good place to shop in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a true shopper’s paradise. There are countless sprawling shopping streets in Barcelona and well-known stores such as ZARA, which is significantly cheaper in Spain. But where is the best place to shop during your city break in Barcelona?
The Barcelona Shopping Line, for example, is a mix of shopping and sightseeing over more than five kilometers. Many of the major attractions in Barcelona are just a short distance from the Barcelona Shopping Line. In total, it runs from the port in Barcelona along the entire Ramblas to Plaça Catalunya. Continue along the famous boulevard Passeig Gràcia to Avinguda Diagonal. It then continues in a westerly direction almost to the stadium of FC Barcelona, the Camp Nou.
In the Barrí Gòtic, the Gothic quarter, you will find many bookstores, small designer stores as well as many antique stores. Things are more luxurious around Plaça Catalunya, El Triangle, and also in the nearby alleys of the old town. Here you can find famous luxury brands like Chanel, Armani, Cartier, Miró, or Mont Blanc.
My favorite neighborhood for shopping in Barcelona
The business district along Avinguda Diagonal: Here you’ll find great shopping along the intersection of Avinguda Diagonal with Passeig de Gràcia at Plaça Rei Joan Carles I all the way to Plaça Francesc Macià.
The shopping street ends at Plaça Reina Maria Cristina with two shopping centers and also an El Corte Inglés. Be sure to stop by the small mall Glòries (Avinguda Diagonal, 208, 08018 Barcelona, Spain). There are many great stores, a large supermarket and restaurants. The hop on hop off bus stops right outside the door.
On Creu Coberta and Carrer de Sants there are many junk stores, second hand stores and household goods. These shopping malls and shopping centers in Barcelona are also not to be missed:
- Diagonal Mar Centro Comercial (Avinguda Diagonal, 3, 08019 Barcelona, Spain)
- Maremagnum (Moll d’Espanya, 5, 08039 Barcelona, Spain)
- Arenas de Barcelona (Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373, 385, 08015 Barcelona, Spain)
- L’illa Diagonal (Avinguda Diagonal, 557, 08029 Barcelona, Spain)
Money saving tips for Barcelona
Many of the Barcelona attractions charge admission. This can quickly create a deep hole in your travel budget. I therefore recommend you to buy one of the Barcelona City Passes. Depending on the variant, the Barcelona Passes function like a discount card or even like a “collective ticket”.
You’ll save money on the best sights in Barcelona, as well as on many worthwhile tours in the city. Especially in a city like Barcelona, where the entrance fees are high, a Barcelona Pass is definitely worth it. I have compared all Barcelona City Passes with each other. Be sure to check out my Barcelona City Pass comparison to find out which pass is best for your city break to Barcelona.
A day at the beach in Barcelona
One of my highlights during my Barcelona trips was always a day (or more) at the beach in Barcelona. But which are the best beaches in Barcelona? A tip in advance: Take good care of your personal belongings, because pickpockets on the beaches of Barcelona are (unfortunately) not uncommon. It has even happened to me myself that something has been stolen, so never leave your things unattended. I fell asleep on the beach in Barcelona and when I woke up my bag was gone.
Which is the most beautiful beach in Barcelona?
01 Playa Bogatell
Playa Bogatell is a rather quiet, beautiful and very clean beach in Barcelona. The best way to get here is by bike. Use the beautiful route on the Boulevards Passeig Maritimo. The fine sandy beach attracts few tourists and is an absolute insider tip. Sports fans also get their money’s worth here. At Playa Bogatell you can surf, catamaran and rent a kayak. Beach volleyball and jogging are also very popular here.
02 Playa de Somorrosto
Near the marina in Barcelona, Playa de Somorrosto beach is an ideal place to unwind and relax. In addition to beach bars, restaurants and sports facilities, you can also find a casino here.
At night, there is a lot of entertainment on the program here and Playa Somorrosto turns into a great nightlife district.
03 Playa de Sant Miquel
One of the oldest beaches in the city, Sant Miquel beach is one of the most central beaches in Barcelona. It is located directly between the most famous beaches in Barcelona, Sant Sebastian beach and Barceloneta. It got its name from the church of Sant Miquel del Port and is popular with tourists and locals alike.
The best way to get to Playa de Sant Miquel is by bus or metro.
04 The beach of Barceloneta
The special thing about Barcelona is, among other things, the special mix of beach and city trip. Therefore, a side trip to the Barceloneta is a must.
In addition to sports activities, you can also simply relax in the sand and enjoy the sun. Another eye-catcher is the sculpture by German artist Rebecca Horn. Several diagonally stacked squares represent the sculpture “Estel Ferit”, in English “injured star”.
05 Playa de la Nova Mar Bella
At the beach of Playa beachde la Nova Mar Bella you will find many locals and families. At 500 meters long, you will find a lot of tranquility away from the crowded beaches of Barceloneta. Many come here to do sports. Centrally located and very close to the shopping center Diagonal Mar, one of the largest in Catalonia, you can combine a day at the beach with a visit to the mall.
Excursions and activities around Barcelona
Barcelona, of course, also offers a lot of opportunities for great excursions and activities inside and outside the city. I took some great trips during my Barcelona city break and had a great time. Barcelona is simply beautiful and there is so much to see that you almost don’t want to leave.
01 Barcelona: Port of Barcelona Eco Catamaran Cruise
Sail from Port Vell in Barcelona and discover the beauty of the Mediterranean on an eco-certigied catamaran cruise. Enjoy a relaxed journey on an ecological catamaran with no noise and no vibrations with a drink in your hand.
02 Hop on Hop off Bus Tour in Barcelona
A hop on hop off city tour in Barcelona is a great idea especially for first time visitors. Hop on hop off bus tours give a wonderful overview of a city and make stops at the best sights. You can simply hop on and off at will and explore the city in comfort.
03 Barcelona: Flamenco Show with Tapas Dinner
At Tablao de Carmen you will experience an authentic flamenco performance. The traditional flamenco shows have been performed at Tablao de Carmen since 1988. It is located in the Poble Espanyol de Montjuïc, an open-air museum that contains elements of typical Spanish villages from all over the country. Here you can immerse yourself in the architectural and cultural history of Spain. On site, there are 117 full-scale buildings, handicraft workshops and souvenir stores that you should visit after the show.
04 From Barcelona: Montserrat Half-Day Wine and Tapas Trip
This 7-hour tour from Barcelona will take you to the stunning region of Montserrat. Here you will taste delicious Spanish wines and tapas at a boutique winery and enjoy magnificent views of the fascinating mountains of Montserrat.
Your hotel in Barcelona: This is what you should consider for your Barcelona vacation!
Barcelona has a lot of great beach hotels, hotels with pools, beautiful boutique hotels and good mid-range hotels. So far, I have always booked my hotels through Booking.com. There you can’t go wrong during your vacation in Barcelona and always find good Barcelona hotel deals. These are my three favorite hotels in Barcelona that I have stayed in myself.
- W Hotel Barcelona: One of the most famous and best hotels in Barcelona is by far the W Hotel in Barcelona. Located directly on Barceloneta, the design alone is impressive. The five-star W Hotel Barcelona also has a super hotel location: Barceloneta beach, La Catedral, the Rambla, Casa Battló and Plaça de Catalunya are all in the immediate vicinity.
- Hotel Arts Barcelona: Another hotel I can highly recommend in Barcelona is the Hotel Arts Barcelona. Located right on the Olympic harbor, this 44-story, four-star hotel is an absolute bank. You can’t go wrong with the Arts Barcelona. The location is ideal for your exploration of the city.
- Hotel Jazz Barcelona: With a very modern flair, you’ll be right in the middle of the city’s hustle and bustle at Jazz Barcelona. The mid-range hotel has three stars and is located within the “Triángulo del Arte”. So in just a few minutes you are directly at the Rambla in Barcelona.
More about Barcelona
You haven’t had enough of Barcelona yet? Here you can find more interesting articles about the popular city in Spain.