The 13 best experiences in Barcelona

Discover Barcelona

The 13 best experiences in Barcelona

Barcelona – probably one of the most exciting metropolises in the world. Millions of visitors are drawn to the city right at the Mediterranean Sea every year. Barcelona scores with extraordinary architecture, world-famous sights, endless shopping opportunities and a wide range of gastronomy.

In this post I present you the 13 best experiences in Barcelona. Among them are the top sights, the best viewpoints, beautiful parks, hidden photo spots, shopping areas and more.

By the way: this article is for first-time visitors as well as returning ones, because in addition to the well-known must-sees, you’ll find some real insider tips here. If you want to see more of the activities below, check out my Instagram page. Have fun discovering!

1. Walking in Gaudi's footsteps in Eixample: Casa Batlló & Sagrada Familia

The bustling and central Eixample neighborhood is the place to discover Gaudi’s famous buildings. Passeig de Gracia is the place to stroll, shop and marvel. This is also the place to go shopping.

Here you will find mainly designer stores and flagship stores of famous fashion brands. Right in the middle of it: Gaudi’s masterpieces, such as Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. Twenty minutes walk from here you will also find the famous Sagrada Familia. The inside of this building is incredibly special. 

I highly recommend booking your ticket in advance, since the top sights in Barcelona often get booked out for the same day. You can easily prebook entry tickets online, e.g. with Get your Guide. I personally love using Get your Guide for booking experiences, tours and tickets for my upcoming travels. They offer a great variety of high-quality experiences and are super easy to use. I’ve integrated some of their best ones for Barcelona in this post. 

2. Shopping & Views of the city at Passeig de Gracia

The exploration of Gaudi’s works in Eixample can be wonderfully combined with a small shopping tour at the boulevard Passeig de Gracia. Visiting one of the numerous rooftop bars with a view over the city is the perfect way to end the day and enjoy the sunset. Many of them are right here, on the Passeig de Gracia.

If you want to know where you can find the best areas to go shopping, check out my little shopping guide in this Instagram post.

3. Discover the most beautiful corners in the Gothic Quarter

One of the most beautiful experiences in Barcelona is definitely a walk through the Gothic Quarter. The historic center of the old town is one of the most charming areas in Barcelona. Winding alleys, historic plazas, small tapas bars in hidden corners. One of my favorite places is the beautiful Plaza Real with its white and yellow facades, huge palm trees and cute restaurants. In the evening, the atmosphere here is especially beautiful. 

Other sights you shouldn’t miss in the Gothic Quarter are the Pont del Bisbe, the Cathedral, the famous boulevard La Rambla and the adjacent market La Boqueria (more on that below). 

Somewhat hidden, you’ll find another highlight: the kiss-wall – a photo mosaic of thousands of individual photos provided by residents of the city. You will find this place when you google for El mundo nace en cada beso.

4. Strolling & tasting at La Rambla and La Boqueria Market

Probably the most famous street in Barcelona is La Rambla, which runs 1.2 km from Plaza de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument at the harbor. Adjacent to La Rambla you will also find the most popular market in Barcelona: the Mercat La Boqueria

One of the best ways to discover Barcelona is by following your stomach. There are so many delicious tapas waiting for you to be eaten. From the famous Iberian ham to seafood and fresh fruit shakes to deliciously smelling chocolate, you can find everything here. A great and fun way to find them is joining a food tour with a local, because they simply know the best places, right? You can find a list of food tours (including prices and reviews) here on Get your Guide. Enjoy the local delicacies and the colorful hustle and bustle of the market!

You also should not miss the modern extension of La Rambla: the Rambla de Mar. This beautiful wooden walkway starts right behind the Columbus Monument and leads across the water to the Maremagnum shopping complex. Here you can take a relaxed stroll, enjoying the view of the city, the harbor and the harbor cable car.

5. Explore Montjuic Mountain and the Olympic Ring

Barcelona’s famous local mountain Montjuic offers a variety of activities and sights. They all have one thing in common: a panoramic view of the city! Mirador Barcelona is a really nice viewpoint right in front of the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). In 1992, the Olympic Games were held here. Visiting the Olympic Ring should definitely be on your list. The grounds and views are impressive!

One of the best ways to get there is the Hop-On Hop-Off bus, since Montjuic Mountain is quite ample itself. This area alone has several stops on the Hop-On Hop-Off tour.

Additionally there are beautiful parks to relax in all over the mountain. One of them is the small Jardin de Aclimatacion, from which you have a beautiful view of the TV Tower. A ride on the famous harbor cable car and a hike to Montjuic Castle are other top activities on Montjuic. 

Tip: Every Saturday from 3pm and every first Sunday of the month, admission to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is free. Be sure to reserve a ticket online beforehand! You can do that here.

6. Relax and recharge at Parc de la Ciutadella

The most beautiful park in Barcelona is the wonderful Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s a great place to be in nature and recharge your batteries from sightseeing. If you take the metro to the park, get off at the Arc de Triomf and stroll along the palm-lined Passeig de Lluis to the park. Of course, this area is also covered with the Hop-On Hop-Off bus.

7. Evening stroll at the famous Barceloneta Beach

Visiting the famous promenade at Barceloneta Beach is practically a must. This area is a popular place for active people. Jogging, beach volleyball, cycling, inline skating or standup paddling – there is something for everyone. Of course, a relaxed walk in the evening hours with a little detour to one of the chiringuitos (beach bars) is a nice way to experience the hustle and bustle at the promenade too.

8. Barcelona from the sea: Sailing at Sunset

One of the best experiences in Barcelona is to discover the city from the sea. There are various boat tour providers that sail along the coast for 2-3 hours. I really enjoyed the Sunset Jazz Cruise. Here you can make yourself comfortable in the net of a sailing catamaran and be enchanted by relaxed jazz sounds while overlooking the sea and the city. Combined with the salty breeze and a cool drink in your hand, it’s simply a perfect way to end the day.

9. Let yourself be enchanted by the fairytale Park Güell

Park Güell is one of the most popular sights in Barcelona and also one of the most beautiful parks in the city. Elevated in the Gracia district, you can experience another one of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces, which is seen as a tribute to nature. The detailed grounds with numerous mosaics and exceptional elements are like walking through a fairy tale garden. Views over the city to the sea from here is another highlight.

For Park Güell, be sure to reserve tickets online beforehand. During my last stay, I spontaneously walked to the park in the evening and stood in front of a sold out sign. It wasn’t even high season, which is why I didn’t expect this. So, better arrive prepared! For the most beautiful atmosphere, a time slot in the early morning hours or in the evening is recommended.

10. Hiking & Views at Tibidabo

Tibidabo is one of the two local mountains in Barcelona and is super easy to reach from the city center. The special thing here: there is a small amusement park right on top of the mountain! Attractions can be visited individually. The Ferris wheel and especially the observation tower Talaia offer a unique view of the city and also of the church at Tibidabo.

How to get there: either take the sightseeing bus or the metro to Avenida Tibidabo and make a small hiking trip out of it (1.5 h to the top). Alternatively, you can take public transport directly to the park. Arriving by car is also possible. Parking is available within walking distance of the entrance.

11. Insider Tip! The most beautiful view of Barcelona: Passeig de les Aigües

If you like to hike and want to see the most beautiful view of Barcelona, I recommend the Passeig de les Aigües. I got this tip from a local during my third stay and what can I say: I am pretty sure this is the most beautiful view of the city! 

What’s pretty amazing about the hike: there are not just one or two pretty viewpoints – no, for a whole 2 km the city is literally at your feet. The route is flat, the view is amazing and the spot is probably still a real insider tip! 

Hiking here is most beautiful in the morning hours or in the evening before sunset. Be sure to pack enough water, sunscreen and a cap, as there is not much shade. I always bring my compact 720°DGREE stainless steel bottle, which keeps water cool for hours! You can find more of my absolute travel essentials in this post.

The total distance is about 7 km. But you can also choose shorter variants, e.g. from the viewpoint Mirador dels Xiprers to Peu del Funicular. From here you can take the train back to the city. Another option is to combine the hike with the Tibidabo and watch the sunset from there.

12. Explore the neighborhoods El Born & Gracia

Especially if this is not your first visit to Barcelona, I recommend exploring the districts away from the crowds. El Born is a very special part of the town, with charming streets, museums, small stores offering handicrafts and a great restaurant mix. The atmosphere is most beautiful in the evening hours, when the old lanterns and fairy lights shine in the small streets and the neighborhood is bathed in a cozy light at sunset.

Tip: Either take a seat outside in one of the tapas bars or reserve a table in the Ziryab Fusion Tapas Bar.

In the Gracia neighborhood, you can mingle with the locals and discover the authentic Barcelona off the beaten path. There are many cool bars, restaurants and hip cafes here. Delicious ice cream is available at Paral-lelo. For a snack to-go, you’ll find numerous small empanada stores, such as Empanada Club on Gran de Gracia.

13. Do a day trip to charming Sitges

If you have an extra day to spare, I recommend a day trip to Sitges! This cute little town is only 40 minutes by car or train from Barcelona. Sitges is a charming coastal town with a great mix of a beautiful old town, small boutiques, museums, great tapas bars and cute cafes. The beaches in Sitges are also something to behold! 

This could be your perfect day in Sitges: upon arrival, explore the pretty streets around the church and then stroll along the promenade with fantastic sea views. Explore the small city center with its cute boutiques and enjoy a delicious café in the center (or right at the beach). If you feel like a little refreshment, jump into the sea at San Sebastian Bay! The small neighboring bay Cala Fonda is also very nice. End the day at one of the nice tapas bars in town. 

Getting there: You can easily do this one on your own. From Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, you can reach Sitges by train (R2S) in 40 minutes without changing trains. Alternatively, you can book a tour that is including a pick up and combined with a visit to Tarragona.

Barcelona: Arrival and getting around in the city

If you fly into El Prat International Airport, you can take the airport shuttle Aerobus to the city center. The buses start right in front of the arrival hall of the airport and will take you in approximately 30 minutes to the city (costs around 7,- EUR).

Whats the best way to explore the city? I recommend the famous Hop-on Hop-Off bus! The city is quite large and the sights are often far apart. Montjuic Mountain alone has 6 stops where you can get off to explore. With the sightseeing bus, the most beautiful experiences in Barcelona can be combined stress-free. In addition, discovering the city this way is simply so much more fun! Another plus: the audio guide provides the most important information about the city and the sights straight to your ears.

There are three different routes (red, green and blue), which cover different areas of the city and partly also include boat tours. You also have the choice between 24h and 48h tickets. On the bus, it’s nice to take a seat on the upper deck for the best view and a fresh breeze.

Alternatively, you can use the public transport in Barcelona. For this, you can buy a pass that is valid for several days, just as you need it for your individual length of your trip.

Sitges Beach

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