europe travel

Barcelona Sightseeing Guide + Insider Tips

There’s something about the city where you study abroad. Something special, that you’ll never forget. My fondest memories from my undergrad experience took place in the city of Gaudí, tapas, and FC Barça. Read on to hear about my favorite spots for sightseeing in Barcelona, the most magical place in the world!

Parc Güell

The famous mosaic-tile-wonderland that most know as Parc Güell is just a part of the entire park. It is a lovely area for a stroll and for a view of the city and coast. In order to get there, you can take a public city bus (routes 24 and 116) from the center of Barcelona.

You can visit the park for free, but there is a fee to go into the area with those stunning mosaic tiles. I highly recommend booking tickets far in advance here. When the high tourist season hits, the park can be completely booked for days, even weeks, in a row. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this landmark and relic of Barcelona’s culture!

girl wearing white top and blue pants sitting on mosaic bench with city in the distance

Sagrada Familia

Along with Parc Güell, the Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous works of art in the world, and is yet another masterpiece of Gaudí. I was fortunate enough to live a 10 minute walk from the cathedral when I was studying abroad in Barcelona, and the neighborhood surrounding it is one of my favorites in the city.

The Sagrada Familia is easily accessible by metro (Sagrada Familia stop, blue and purple lines), and is located next to a park if you’re just wanting to sit outside and admire it. If you want to see its splendor inside, you can buy tickets here. This is hands-down one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen in-person, and you can’t leave Barcelona without seeing it!

Playa de la Barceloneta

Barceloneta, which is Barcelona’s beach, is a fun and upbeat area of the city. There’s a cute gelato shop down the street from the sand, and it is also easily accessible by metro (Barceloneta stop, yellow line). One of my favorite weekends in the city was spent on the beach with my roommate, just enjoying the sand and watching the sea. I will warn you in advance that there are many, many people that will try to sell you coconut, tapestries, selfie sticks, you name it. I tried some coconut and wasn’t disappointed, so make of that what you will.

headshot of girl smiling on beach wearing a blue blouse with sea and sand in the background
that therapeutic sea air

Plaça Catalunya

Locals would consider the Plaça Catalunya as the downtown area of the city. There are many areas to shop, including El Corte Inglés, a department store that’s similar to Macy’s with a supermarket in the bottom. It’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever shopped, with prices that fit literally every budget. Be sure to check it out!

Passeig de Gràcia

This street is like the Rodeo Drive of Barcelona. Plenty of high-end shopping, beautiful storefronts, fairytale buildings, and more Gaudí. This street houses the Casa Battló, a gorgeous structure you can tour inside, but is just as beautiful outside as well. Check out tour tickets here. Also, the Passeig de Gràcia metro stop is right next to my favorite flamenco bar in the city: Obama Bar. Try one of their mojitos and enjoy the music!

Font Mágico de Montjuic

This is probably my favorite free thing to do in Barcelona. When the temperatures start rising, the city puts on a light show at this fountain. It. Is. Spectacular. I went with friends, and took my mom when she came to visit at the end of my four months in Spain. It’s really easy to access, too–just off the red line at the Plaça Espanya stop. Check out this link to see what dates and times they are offering the light show this year.

Barcelona magic fountain with lights
Photo via Good Free Photos

Even though I’ve named quite a few here, there are still so many more places you can explore on a visit to Barcelona. I was there for four months, and still don’t feel like I got to see everything the city offers. Buying that plane ticket to BCN will not be a mistake!

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