Barcelona is a beautiful city with a ton of history.
It really has it all: beautiful architecture, cava, history, walkability, tapas, cava, amazing shopping, parks, the Mediterranean, and did I mention cava!?
One thing to note is that if you are on a budget, a lot of the main attractions charge an entrance fee. I would recommend checking the attraction’s website (and NOT a third-party site) for entrance fees, what discounts they offer (senior, student, etc.), if the entrance fee is waived at certain times of the day (e.g. the Barcelona Cathedral), and if it’s cheaper to book in advance (it usually is!).
If you are interested in seeing all of the major attractions in the city, I would suggest looking into a sightseeing package. We did the hop-on hop-off bus (I literally have no shame and low-key love these buses when traveling internationally) for the 2-day pass and it worked out wonderfully! We were able to see all the major sights without having to map out an exact schedule for our day and figure out how to get to all of these places (which takes a HUGE burden off – if u know u know). The metro is also a good option for getting around the city – it’s super easy to figure out and use. At night we just hopped in taxis (which are everywhere) just to be safe.
Another note in terms of safety: there are a lot of pickpockets in Barcelona. As long as you are aware of your belongings and don’t set anything down or leave it unattended, you should be fine. Also, make sure you have a cross body bag that zips across the top and wear it in front of you! We didn’t have any issues but we were warned multiple times when we set our belongings down (even just on the counter for a second when we went to pay somewhere!) that it was not uncommon for someone to walk by and take it in that brief moment.
Now let’s get to the good stuff: the sights, shopping, and restaurants!
1. Casa Batlló / Casa Milà
Pictured: Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló and Casa Milà are both UNESCO World Heritage sites designed by Antoni Gaudí (along with a few other sights listed below). There’s an option to go inside both buildings (for a fee) but we didn’t end up going in either – both buildings are located on the best street for shopping in Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia, so naturally we got sidetracked by all the shopping #predictable
2. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) for sunset
We just went here for the sunset over the city and didn’t actually go inside (yeah I’m that person). It was very lively here for sunset with live music and all so I’m thinking catching sunsets here is actually a thing!
3. Parc de la Ciutadella
I’m obsessed with the fountain here.
4. Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter)
We spent most of our time in the Gothic Quarter - I looove Gothic architecture and there’s so much to do in this area! At night in front of the cathedral there’s a cute little market as well.
5. Barcelona Cathedral
There is a free entrance period during the day so if you want to see the inside (which I recommend!) and not have to pay – definitely go during the free entrance period. You can also go to the roof of the Cathedral for beautiful views of Barcelona.
6. Sagrada Família (Gaudí)
We didn’t end up going inside but if you plan to you can save money by buying tickets ahead of time online. It gets busy here pretty quickly after opening so if you want that perfect shot for the gram here (let’s be real who doesn’t!?) you should definitely get there before it opens in the morning. About 30 minutes after opening it was packed with people! I was shook.
7. Park Güell (Gaudí)
Another site you need tickets for (that you can buy in advance online). This park is so unique and cool to see – I could have honestly spent hours there.
8. Arc de Triomf
The Arc de Triomf is a short walk from the Parc de la Ciutadella and is a great place to sit and people watch (one of my favorite pastimes while traveling tbh).
9. Palau de la Música Catalana
I definitely recommend taking the tour of the Palau de la Música Catalana – it’s gorgeous inside and so interesting to learn about the inspiration behind the beautiful interior! I would definitely call ahead to check on tour times though because we had to come back 3 times due to closures for parties, etc. Something to note is that in order to get inside the building (past the café) you have to buy tickets for the tour (do it for the culture… and the gram).
1. Plaça de Catalunya
It was always busy here with all the shops, department stores, hotels, and restaurants in the area.
2. Passeig de Gràcia
All the best designers on one street – need I say more!?
3. Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter)
Behind the Barcelona Cathedral (in the alley like streets) there are a ton of random shops and restaurants that are definitely worth checking out! A lot of stores in this area keep their doors locked (you have to ring a bell to get in) to avoid robberies – so just make sure you stay aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your belongings here!
1. Hotel Colón (Gothic Quarter)
One of my favorite parts of the trip! You MUST go to the rooftop here for unmatched views of the Barcelona Cathedral and Gothic Quarter. * sigh * It was so dreamy. There are two levels to this rooftop bar – the top was my fav (obviously).
2. Hotel Neri (Gothic Quarter)
A gorgeous hotel that’s nice to grab a drink at and slow down for a bit while walking through the Gothic Quarter.
3. Milk (Gothic Quarter)
The food here is amazing and the staff are SUPER nice – I definitely recommend checking this place out!
4. Can Dendê
The cutest and most delicious brunch spot – we went here multiple times because it was that good. They get pretty busy so don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table!
5. Coffee at World Trade Center
We went to the World Trade Center because we thought you could walk to the W hotel from here – but you most certainly cannot lmao. Silver lining: There is a super cute coffee spot here (right at the front) you should definitely check out if you’re planning to go to the WTC.