Because there is so much to see in Barcelona it is difficult to put together a one page area guide as really it should be the size of a small booklet. We have therefore decided to give you a quick guide which lists the top ten attractions ranked by the number of visits they receive annually.
Work on the Sagrada Familia church began in 1882 and was designed by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. At the end of 1883 Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works which he did until his death in 1926 with different architects still continuing with the work based on the original idea.
L’ Aquarium de Barcelona at Port Vell is a great place to take the family.
Poble Espanyol de Montjuic is a small Spanish village situated at the foot of Mount Montjuic which has been specially created to give you a flavour of all the different cultures, architecture and crafts originating from various parts of Spain. There are a number of different craft shops as well as workshops where you can see the traditional goods being made.
Casa Mila (better known as La Pedrera which is Catalan for “The Quarry”) was designed by the Catalan architrect Antoni Gaudi and was officially completed in 1912. It is situated in the Passeig de Gracia in the Eixample District of Barcelona.
Barcelona FC Museum is a great place to visit if you are a football fan as it is full of trophies, pictures and statues.
Barcelona Zoo in the Parc de la Ciutadella is where you can see a wide variety of animals ad also offers a restaurant, picnic area, shop, ponies and a mini-train.
Miró Museum is an art gallery which has a wide range of Miró’s work dating back as far as 1914 including a good selection of sculptures, tapestries and early sketches.
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona opened in 1963 has a permanent collection of more than 3800 works as well as hosting special exhibitions of other. You can find out more about opening times by clicking on the link.
The Font Màgica de Montjuïc (Magic Fountain of Montjuïc) is situated in the Maria Cristina Avenue in Montjuïc. It was constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1929 by Carles Buïgas and is a spectacular feature which includes waterfalls, pools and avenues of luminous columns.
Barcelona has hundreds of different things to do and see with literally hundreds of monuments, exhibitions and shows which offer something for everyone. We have written a guide to the most popular local attractions in Barcelona to make sure you get the most out of your trip to this vibrant city.
Barcelona is a vibrant city bursting with history and culture with literally hundreds of different attractions, monuments, exhibitions and shows offering something for everyone. Following is a list of Barcelona attractions to help you narrow the field into what you want to see while you are there.
The Gothic Quarter is in the centre of the city and is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and medieval buildings housing museums, monuments, art galleries, craft shops, traditional and exclusive boutiques, tapas bars and restaurants.
Cathedral of Barcelona
The Cathedral of Barcelona is a very impressive structure in the Gothic Quarter. Most of its building took place in the 14th century (the façade is from the 19th century), and it lies on the ruins of a sacred Roman site and ancient basilica. The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Eulalia who is the patron saint of Barcelona, and has giant lacework steeples which overlook a fabulous plaza filled with street performers, antique markets and artists.
Las Ramblas is a colourful strip of Barcelona culture with a name derived from the Arabic word for riverbed as it was originally just a path beside a stream which ran through the centre of the old city. Now this famous avenue is a hive of activity with street performers by the dozens, baby ducks, snakes and rabbits for sale, florists and countless bars and restaurants and snack shops on hand for when you need a break from all the excitement.
Las Ramblas runs from Placa de Catalunya which is a large square full of shops, restaurants and banks in the city centre, down to the Christopher Columbus on the seafront. It can be broken up into five sections: La Rambla de Canaletes named after the Font de les Canaletes where it is rumoured that if you drink from this fountain you will keep returning to Barcelona. Nearly all of the street performers can be found here. La Rambla dels Estudis named after the university is also known as La Rambla dels Ocells (avenue of the birds) because of its bird and small animal sellers. La Rambla de les Flors is full of florists with colourful stands lining the avenue with exotic plants and bouquets. The century-old Boqueria Market is also here where you will find the freshest meat, fish and dried fruit around. La Rambla del centre is next followed by La Rambla de Santa Monica, which leads on to the port. At the seafront continues the “pseudo” La Rambla de Mar which is a pier with a beach aquarium, restaurants, cinemas and clubs.
Montjuic Mountain acts as a backdrop for much of the city and is home to some exotic gardens, Greek theatres, several of Barcelona’s museums and sculptures and the Olympic stadium. At its summit is the castle of Montjuich which is a 17th century watchtower. The most popular attraction here are the Magic Fountains which are a true wonder of light, water and music constructed for the 1929 Universal Exposition providing a spectacular view of the National Palace in the background.
Casa Batllo is one of Gaudi’s amazing creations which was built for Joseph Batllo who was a wealthy textile merchant. The house has a rainbow of dragon scale shingles on the roof and skeleton-like railings for the balconies. The inside is open to visitors where you can also see some of Gaudi’s extraordinary furnishings.
Casa Mila is also called “the Quarry” because of its rock-like façade and was Gaudi’s last private commission. It is an apartment that still has some residents, but most of it is open to visitors. There is a special exhibition in the attic of which includes models and explanations of all Gaudi’s projects.
Beaches in Barcelona
There are four excellent beaches in Barcelona, mostly around the Olympic Village, but they are often very crowded, so if you are looking for some peace and space it is better to hire a car and head out of the city. In you drive south for about 25 minutes the first beach you will come across is Casteldefells which is five kilometres of wide unbroken sand with good facilities, bars and restaurants, all within easy reach.
As you head further along the southern coastline from Barcelona the beaches become less crowded with El Garraf which has good facilities and Sitges is a popular gay resort which is only half an hour away and has 10 beaches (2 nudist) complete with ice-cream parlours, sun-loungers and jet-skis. The parking facilities are good here as long as you arrive early. Just along the coast is the lesser-known Vilanova which is family beach favoured by locals with a great park right next to the beach.
To the north the coastal highway is not so straightforward and it is best to keep going past the beaches of Badalona and Mongat until the electricity plants of Fecsa at San Adria are out of sight. Ocata which is just after Masnou has clear waters and an enormous stretch of golden sand surrounded by palm trees and with climbing frames for the children and clear seas dotted with trees and climbing-frames for children.
There are lots of wonderful beaches within 90 minutes which are only accessible by car with picturesque Tossa de Mar with its old castle on the hill overlooking the bay and San Feliu de Guixols with its working fishing port and the Platja d’Aro is one of the six best beaches in Spain. Worth a final mentions is Sa Conca which is a beautiful cove with pine trees tumbling down rocky slopes on to the sandy shore.
Barceloneta Beach and the Sant Sebastia Beach are over 1,100 metres in length and one of the biggest stretched of sand in Barcelona. It is also one of the oldest beach in the city and because it is close to the metro and a number of bus routes can be easily reached by public transport.
Because of its size it offers a number of leisure activities including volleyball courts, a table soccer area in front of the Hospital del Mar and a children’s play area beside the Gas breakwater where there is also table tennis and a gym area. The Barceloneta beach also has a skating area.
Nova Icaria is a wide sandy beach which is closest to the Olympic marina and therefore always crowded. Since the massive clean up of the beach and nearby Olympic marina and village which was built for the 1992 Olympics this area has become a magnet for Barcelonans and visitors. A lot of effort goes into maintaining the cleanliness of both the sand and sea, which is tested daily, and the beaches have disabled access, lifeguards (in season), sun beds and showers.
There are three spotless beach bars, two very popular restaurants on the promenade (Mango and Chiringuito de Moncho) and numerous bars and restaurants off the Port Olímpic which is just a short stroll away.
Bogatell Beach is twice the length of adjoining Nova Icaria, fringed by a long stretch of stone walkwMar Bella Beachay which is perfect for jogging, roller blading and cycling. It has a raised promenade which reduces traffic noise and makes it fell like you are a million miles from the city. There are no beach bars here, but you will find three large informal and relaxed restaurants on the promenade.
Mar Bella Beach is divided from Bogatell by a breakwater where there is a school and hire centre for windsurfers and kayaks. It is the only naturist beach in Barcelona which is screened by a long hillock of bamboo. There is a very quiet park nearby which is ideal for a picnic or afternoon siesta under the trees.
Golf Courses in Barcelona
Barcelona belongs to the Catalonia region in Spain, which is known as one of the finest areas in Europe for playing golf, offering a great variety of top quality courses for all levels of players. The area has recently won the prestigious award of the “Number 1 Best emerging Golf Destination Worldwide” from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. We have put together a list of the most popular golf clubs close to Barcelona together with their contact details.
One of the unique characteristics about Barcelona and the surrounding area is the variety of settings that you can find by driving for less than 30 minutes from the city centre. When it comes to golf this means that you can decide on the type of setting you want to best enjoy your game. You can either head for the coast and the golf courses that the Costa Brava offers, or you may prefer the peaceful environment provided by the ones nearer to the Pyrenees. If you want to stay close to Barcelona then there are several golf courses at less than 45 minutes from the city centre, and to make life a bit easier for you we have provided details on the most popular ones which are closest to Barcelona.
Barcelona Golf Courses
REAL CLUB DE GOLF EL PRATREAL CLUB DE GOLF EL PRAT
Plans de Bonvilar, 17 Terrassa, Barcelona
Tel: +34 937 281 000 Fax: +34 937 281010 www.rcgep.com
The original Real Club de Golf El Prat opened in 1954 and has now been moved to its new home in Terrassa on the outskirts of Barcelona. The new El Prat Golf course comprising of 45 holes was designed by Greg Norman and is set in beautiful rolling countryside which is a test for any golfer with its clever design. The club comprises three courses: two 18 hole north and south courses and one 9 hole public course.
Furthermore the club has constructed a public school with its own 9 hole course which is bound to discover new talent for the future as well as improving an existing players game.
Facilities at the club include a driving range, buggy hire and pro shop as well as a snack bar and restaurant, sauna, Turkish bath, swimming pool, children’s creche and golf school.
CLUB DE GOLF DE SAN CUGAT
Villa, s/n San Cugat del Vallés , Barcelona
Tel: +34 936 743 908 Fax: +34 936 755 152 www.golfsancugat.com
San Cugat is a 30 minute drive from Barcelona. It is the oldest course in Catalonia which was founded in 1914 and built by English workers who were working the Barcelona-St Cugat railway at the time. In line with British tradition each of the 18 holes has its own name, and this course is renowned for the perfection of its greens, tees, fairways and bunkers. It is a tight course which is ideal for either beginners or the experienced player.
CLUB DE GOLF MASIA BACHCLUB DE GOLF MASIA BACH
Ctra. Martorrell-Capellades, Km. 19,5 Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Barcelona
Tel: +34 937 728 800 Fax: +34 937 728 810 www.golfmasiabach.com
Masia Beach golf course is a 30 minute drive from Barcelona. It opened in 1990 and was designed by Jose Maria Olaz. The 18 hole course is a demanding and tight course for the best of golfers and is sure to prove a test, while the shorter 9 hole course however is easier to play. The club is on the border of the Penedes wine growing region with some spectacular views of the Montserrat Mountain. It is advisable to use a buggy on this course as it is hilly and can be tiring.
Facilities at the Club de Golf Masia Beach include a driving range, buggy hire, golf shop, golf school as well as a bar, large restaurant, coffee and snack bar.
CLUB DE GOLF TERRAMAR
Ctra.de las costas y ferrocarril Apdo. Correos, 6 Sitges, Barcelona
Tel: +34 938 940 580 Fax: +34 938 947 051 www.golfterramar.com
The Terramar in Sitges is an old and established club which opened in 1922 and was designed by F W Hawtree, Manuel Pinero and Jim Fazio. It is just under an hour’s drive from Barcelona in a location which offers beautiful views over the Mediterranean. The 18 hole par 72 course is not particularly difficult but the greens are strategically placed and the water hazards on many holes tend to make life more difficult. Some recent refurbishment has created some superb putting surfaces. Facilities at the club include a golf school, pro shop, driving range, buggy hire, bar, large restaurant, coffee and snack bar.
GOLF SANT VICENÇ DE MONTALTGOLF SANT VICENÇ DE MONTALT
C/ Del Balís , 4 Sant Vicenç de Montalt, Barcelona
Tel: +34 937 914 949 Fax: +34 937 911 253 www.golfsantvicenc.com
This is one of the newest clubs in the Barcelona area with 18 challenging and undulating holes on a par 70 course where buggies are advisable. It is suitable for all levels of golfers, and although it is not a particularly long course you will have the chance to use every club in the bag.
Golf Sant Vicenc is one of the finest courses in the area just a 20 minute drive from the city centre and set in beautiful countryside with sea views of the Costa Maresme. Facilities include a driving range, buggy hire, golf school and clubhouse with a bar and restaurant.
Restaurants in Barcelona
Spanish PaellaBarcelona’s cuisine is as varied as the city itself offering food and drink which has been influenced over the centuries by cultures including Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The spices, sauces, oils and meats are an indication of this. Most restaurants in Barcelona serve ‘menú del día’, which includes an appetizer, bread, a main dish, dessert and coffee or tea, which is an inexpensive way to sample the different dishes. Whether you like fresh seafood or prefer traditional Spanish, Chinese, Indian or Bengali cuisine with the help of our Barcelona restaurant guide you will find the ideal place to satisfy your cravings.
Barcelona is famous for its fabulous bars and restaurants. If you want some fresh seafood the area of Barceloneta with its small streets near Barcelona’s beach is the place to go. The Barrí Gotic (Gothic Area) in the centre of the city offers a wide range of good restaurants of every kind, and to sample traditional Spanish cuisine away from tourist places try the restaurants in the Eixample district.
Pork is the most popular meat in Barcelona with traditional recipes including, Jamón (leg of ham cured and then hung to dry), longanissa, and chorizo. Other recommended local specialties include tortilla de patatas, caldereta de langosta, lacon con grelos, fabada, bacalao al pil-pil, marmitako, escalibada, paella, gazpacho manchego, pescaito frito and dorada a la sal.
Spanish cheese boardRestaurante El Raco d´en Freixa
Sant Elies, 22
Tel: +34 932 097 559 www.elracodenfreixa.com
Ramon Freixa is a top chef who leads one of Barcelona’s elite establishments which is probably the best as far as the price/quality ratio is concerned. Freixa specialises in mixing modern cooking techniques with traditional Catalan methods resulting in some marvellous tastes and inventions., We recommend the menú degustación which lets you try a bit of everything, and make sure you leave room for the fabulous cheese board.
Beltrán i Rozpide 1-5,
Tel: +34 932 038 408 www.neichel.es
One of Barcelona’s classic restaurants, where the chef Jean Louis Neichel combines Mediterranean tradition with French innovation with great style. Excellent service and spectacular desserts.
Restaurante Via Veneto
Tel: +34 932 007 244 www.viavenetorestaurant.com
Via Veneto has been one of Barcelona’s best known and most reliable restaurants for a number of years offering attentive service, a wonderful wine-list and a reputation for using top quality produce to create imaginative dishes.
Hotel Majestic, Paseo de Gracia 68 -70,
Tel: +34 934 967 710 www.hotelmajestic.es
If you are looking for sophistication and luxury then try this restaurant whish is in el Hotel Majestic which is the one of the best hotels in the city. The menu is offers classic dishes accompanied by an outstanding wine list.
El Gran de Gràcia 81;
Tel: +34 932 184 230/ +34 932 179 642 www.botafumeiro.es
This is considered to be the best seafood restaurant in Barcelona serving the finest regional cuisine of Galicia and taking great pride in the freshness of its fish, clams, mussels, lobster, crayfish and scallops which are either kept in large tanks near to the restaurant entrance or flown in daily from Galicia. Reservations essential.
Carrer Arago 214;
Tel: +34 93 429 1017 www.restaurantgaig.com
Can Gaig started up in 1869 by the great grandmother of the present owner as a travellers’ inn. It is a stylish restaurant that is celebrated for the quality of its market-fresh ingredients and cuisine is based on traditional Catalán home cooking combined with modern and innovative ideas. The menu includes specialities like roast partridge with Iberian ham, game and seafood dishes and superlative desserts. Lunch daily, dinner Tuesday to Sunday. Closed in August.
Gignàs 16, Ciutat Vella (Gothic Quarter)
Tel: +34 933 151 709
This restaurant has been a family-run business for over a century and has a welcoming atmosphere with old-fashioned wooden panelling and paintings from the 1950s acting as reminders of when Agut was a meeting place for Catalan artists and writers. They serve hearty cuisine including sweet and sour wild duck, layers of pastry filled with Catalán sausage and mushrooms, soufflé of monkfish with shrimp and light and creative desserts. Closed Monday; no dinner on Sunday. Closed in August.
Jean Luc Figueras
Santa Teresa 10;
Tel: +34 934 152 877
A 19th century townhouse which is one of Barcelona’s top restaurants, the chef Jean Luc Figueras produces award-winning cuisine by using the freshest ingredients which are in season. The Catalán dishes have a subtle French emphasis with outstanding seafood creations including fried prawn and ginger pasta in a mango and mustard sauce. Meat dishes include pork with goat’s cheese and peach honey and make sure you try selection of homemade breads and fabulous desserts. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
Jaume de Provenca
Provença 88, Eixample;
Tel: +34 934 300 029 www.jaumeprovenza.com
Celebrity chef Jaume Bargués is famous for his original variations on traditional Catalán food blended with southern French cooking. This is a cosy restaurant which is a favourite of the King of Spain offering dishes like sole stuffed with mushrooms, pigs’ trotters with plums and truffles and rabbit loins. The extensive wine list covers Spain, France and Catalonia. Closed Monday, Sunday evening.
Almirante Aixada 23, Barceloneta;
Tel: +34 932 215 455 www.canmajo.es
Can Majó is on the beach front serving seafood on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Specialities include paella and superb fish dishes where you can choose from a daily catch including barnacles, prawns, crab, oysters and clams. Reservations required. Closed Monday. No dinner on Sundays.
Shopping in Barcelona
The shops in Barcelona normally open at about 10:00 am and close around 8:30 pm, Monday-Saturday. Small shops still have a siesta in the afternoon from about 2:00 pm until 4:30 pm. All are allowed to open on eleven Sundays every year, but most of the shops on Las Ramblas are open 7 days a week. We have put together some information on the main Barcelona shops, together with a separate guide to Barcelona markets.
Barcelona shopping areas are spread across the city and vary considerably. The city offers more than 35,000 shops, starting at the famous Las Ramblas start at Plaça Catalunya and end at Barcelona’s harbour, and although it a colourful place to shop you can really only get souvenirs here or watch the artists. The famous brands like Chanel, Armani, Cartier, Miró, Mont Blanc or Zara can all be found in Plaça Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia or Diagonal. If you’re into jewellery this could be a great opportunity to browse thorugh some wonderful diamond rings and depending on the mood…engagement rings!
The narrow and winding streets of El Born are a good place to discover small shops, new labels and innovative designers, while the Barrí Gotic (Gothic Area) combines shopping and culture. This is the Roman centre of Barcelona which is full of bizarre antique shops, small book stores and young fashion designers.
Avinguda Portal de l’Angel and Carrer Portaferrissa are full of high street shops, with Passeig de Gracia and Rambla de Catalunya offering exclusive boutiques and contemporary design shops.
Formatgeria la Seu in Carrer Dagueria sells fabulous cheeses from all over Spain which you can sample accompanied by a glass of wine.
If you are looking for music stores, second hand shops or alternative clothing make sure you pay a visit to El Raval where the cosmopolitan population provides a fascinating array of foreign supermarkets and international clothes shops.
If you are looking for bargains then make sure you visit Barcelona during sale time. The winter sale starts in January and lasts until the end of February, while the summer sale begins in the middle of July and lasts until the end of August. Real discounts of between 20%-50% are offered and towards the end of the sale period they can be as high as 70%.
Barcelona has a large selection of markets ranging from traditional food markets (mercados del barrio) to temporary visiting markets (mercadillos) on a specific day of the week.
The large Els Encants Vells (‘the old charms’) or Fira de Bellcaire Market is open from 8.00 am-7.00 pm (8.00 pm during the summer) every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday next to Placa de les Glories Catalanes. You can find everything here at preus de ganga (bargain-basement prices).
Another good permanent market that sells clothes and shoes is Sant Antoni situated next to the metro station of the same name.
We have listed the days on which all the local markets are held. As a rough guide they all tend to start up at around 09.30-10.00 and close around 14.00. Most of them have parking nearby so if you rent a car it is the easiest way to transport your wares.
Market days in Barcelona
Market stalls selling natural
Sant Marti at Poble Nou is a huge market
market selling clothes, shoes and kitchen items for very cheap
prices, Can Vidalet
Antiques market, Placa Nova,
Clothes, shoes and kitchen
Placa de Sant Josep Oriol, Barri Gotic
Coin and stamp
Maps, stamps, books and cards,
Amusement Parks in Barcelona
If you are looking for a great day out for all the family, then Port Aventura theme park in Salou is just an hour’s drive south of Barcelona and offers plenty of attractions to keep everyone occupied. We have provided more information on Barcelona amusement parks, together with contact details.
Port Aventura theme park in Salou is an hour’s drive south of Barcelona with good motorway connections all the way there via the A7 which runs along the Mediterranean coast from the French Frontier, through Gerona, Barcelona and on to Valencia and Alicante.
The Port Aventura Park is part of the Universal Mediterranea Resort which also includes the Costa Caribe Aquapark and has a theme of journeys of adventure in exotic places around the world. The adventure starts in the Spanish region of Cataluna which is laid out as a typical Mediterranean port; you are then transported through exotic Polynesia to China with its Great Wall; Mexico with its fascinating and ancient culture with Spanish colonial remains, and finally the journey ends amongst the rugged scenery, cowboys and ranches of the Wild West. Every land has its own themed rides as well as restaurants, bars, shops and live entertainment typical of each country and culture. Tel: +34 977 779 090 Fax: +34 977 779 111 www.portaventura.es
Tibidabo Amusement Park
Pl. del Tibidabo, 3-4, 08035 Barcelona
Tel: +34 932 117 942
Tibidabo amusement park is just 30 minuntes North of Placa de Catalunya in Barcelona. It is a fairground which is suitable for younger children than teenagers offering traditional and state of the art rides.
Getting around in Barcelona
If you are planning to explore the area outside of the city centre and play some golf or go to some of the more out of the way beaches then you might consider hiring a car. There are a number of car hire firms based at Barcelona Airport who will be pleased to have a vehicle awaiting your arrival. This also cuts down on transfer costs for you and your family.
We also provide information on other sporting and leisure amenities in Barcelona including a Barcelona Area Guide, Barcelona shops , Barcelona Markets, Golf Courses in Barcelona, the different types of Beaches in Barcelona, Barcelona Amusement Parks for family days out, recommended Restaurants in Barcelona and Barcelona Local Attractions