- Barcelona for cruise passengers
- Three churches worth seeing
- Outstanding secular buildings in Barcelona
- Important buildings by Antoni Gaudí
- Market hall Mercat de La Boqueria
- Selected museums in Barcelona
- Central squares of Barcelona and the Parc de la Ciutadella
- Three Great Roads
- Barcelona - two unique overnight destinations
- Other useful information
With approximately 1,63 million inhabitants, Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia. Spain's second largest city is the political, cultural and economic center of the region. Barcelona offers its guests a variety of sights, all of which are easy to discover "on your own". And no other Spanish city offers so many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in such a small area as the Catalan port city.
Barcelona's day visitors are well advised to visit and discover the two districts "Ciutat Vella" and "Eixample". Ciutat Vella stands for Barcelona's historic old town, which was surrounded by a city wall in the 14th and 15th centuries. The district is divided into several districts, of which the Barri Gòtic is the oldest and best known. The Barri Gòtic is considered a trendy district and it houses most of the sites worth seeing named below.
Eternal construction site - Sagrada Familia
The Eixample emerged in the mid-19th century as a structured extension of the old town. The main attraction of this district is the monumental basilica Sagrada Familia. Since 1882 the church has been a continuous construction site.
Barcelona for cruise passengers
Barcelona is Europe's most important cruise port in terms of passenger numbers. This article is specifically aimed at cruise ship passengers, who are often only allowed one-day stays in the ports. Those visitors whose ships are in Barcelona overnight can consider themselves lucky. The sights listed below represent our top sights. They are influenced by personal taste and do not claim to be complete given the mass of things to do in Barcelona.
Three churches worth seeing
The three-nave Gothic Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia is the main church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. As already mentioned, it is located in the historical center of the city. The church was provisionally completed in 152 after 1450 years of construction. The centuries that followed were devoted to the refinement of the church. The mighty middle tower, for example, was not completed until 1913. There is a platform on the roof of the church that offers good views over Barcelona.
The cathedral has a remarkable crypt and a beautiful cloister. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Eulalia. She was a goose herder who died on the cross when she was 13 years old. In memory of the saint, 13 geese are kept in an enclosure in the cloister, one for each year of the martyr's life. The cathedral and a visit to the surrounding area are always part of our “must do”.
Cathedral - Cloister
Cathedral - the geese of St. Eulalia
Cathedral location and opening times
Location: Plaça de la Seu
Weekday opening times: daily between 9:30am and 6:30pm (last admission 5:45pm).
Opening hours on Saturdays: 9:30am to 17:15pm (last admission 16:30pm).
Opening times on Sundays and public holidays: 14pm to 00pm (last admission 17pm).
Tickets: from 9 euros.
Purchase of the ticket includes access to the rooftop observation deck, chapter house and choir.
Note: There may be waiting times for entry at all times.
The Sagrada Familia basilica
A bookseller named José Maria Bocabella had a vision of having a church dedicated to the Holy Family built in Barcelona. Construction of the crypt began in 1882. As early as March 1883, the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí took over the planning of the building project. Gaudí oversaw the construction of the Sagrada Familia until his death in 1926.
Under In the footsteps of Antoni Gaudí we describe the monumental, as yet uncompleted construction project. The architect originally expected a construction period of ten to fifteen years. His never-ending wealth of ideas extended the construction time many times over. There is currently talk of an end to the construction work in 2026.
Location and opening hours of the Sagrada Familia
Location: Carrer de la Marina
Opening times: from 9:00 am (10:30 am on Sundays); it closes between 18:00pm and 20:00pm depending on the time of year.
Tickets: from 26 euros
The Sacrat Cor basilica on Mount Tibidabo
Barcelona is dominated by the 520 meter high Tibidabo mountain. The attractions of the summit are the church "Templo Expiatori del Sagrado Corazón", shortened to "Sacrat Cor" by Barcelona's residents, the adjacent amusement park and the fantastic view. We describe more about the church below Discover selected sights of Barcelona.
Sagrat Cor basilica
Outstanding secular buildings in Barcelona
Castell de Montjuic
The Castell de Montjuïc is located 173 meters above the port area. The task of the large citadel: protection of the city and the port; at the time of the Franco regime it served as a military prison.
Barcelona - Castell de Montjuic
Since 2008, Barcelona has used the fortress as a venue for concerts, seminars and exhibitions. Visitors enjoy the view of the city and the harbor. – The Mirador del Poble Sec offers beautiful panoramic views halfway up the hill. On the walk from the castle back to Barcelona's Poble Sec district, visitors inevitably pass the viewpoint.
Barcelona - Castell de Montjuic
Ascent aids to the Castell
Two cable cars offer ascent aids to the Castell:
From the Avinguda del Paral.lel in the center (metro station L2, L3) the funicular Funicular de Montjuïc goes up to the Avinguda Miramar in the Parc de Montjuïc. From there, visitors can take a cable car to the mountain station below the fort.
Barcelona - Telefèrico del Puerto cable car
From the port area, the Telefèrico del Puerto / Transbordador Aeri del Port cable car takes you up Montjuïc in seven minutes. An entrance is located near the city beach Platja de Sant Sebastià, which is more than four kilometers long; another entry point is the Torre de Jaume I intermediate station.
Palau de la Música Catalana
From the outside, the concert hall looks like a stroke of genius by the architect Antoni Gaudí. However, it was designed by the Catalan Domènech i Montaner "as a garden for music". He used the elements of Catalan modernism, the Catalan Art Nouveau. The building, which was inaugurated in 1908, was financed by donations. The magnificent facade and the imposing concert hall are worth seeing. The concert hall, which has been expanded by a modern extension, is on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.
Palau de la Musica Catalana with the Carmela sculpture
Location: Carrer del Palau de la Música 4-6 (Barri Gòtic)
Opening times: daily; Guided tours every half hour between 10:00am and 15:30pm Other times on request.
Arc de Triomphe
Barcelona's triumphal arch was built as the main entrance gate to Parc de la Ciutadella, the site of the 1888 World's Fair. The monumental archway, made of brick in neo-Mudejar style, is over 30 meters high and decorated with the city's coat of arms and sculptures.
Barcelona - Arc de Triomphe
Location: Passeig de Lluís Companys, north of Parc de la Ciutadella.
The promenade La Rambla leads from Plaça de Catalunya to Plaça Portal de la Pau. There is the 1888 meter high Columbus column, the Monument a Colom, which was also erected on the occasion of the World Exhibition of 68. A small elevator takes visitors to a narrow viewing platform that offers good views of the city, harbor and surrounding area.
City panorama with the Columbus column
May to October 09am to 00pm, November to April 20am to 30pm
Completed in 2004, the 142-meter-high, 32-story skyscraper resembles the London skyscraper "30 St Mary Ax", known as the "Gherkin". Barcelona's Torre Agbar is one of the tallest buildings in Spain. At night it is illuminated by 4.500 light-emitting diodes not open to visitors despite an existing viewing platform.
City panorama with the Torre Agbar
Canadian-American architect and designer Frank Gehry's "golden fish" is a well-known landmark in Barcelona. The work of art was created on the occasion of the 1992 Olympic Games. The fish shape, 35 meters high and more than 50 meters long, consists of interwoven strips of golden steel. The installation changes its appearance depending on the incidence of light. The Peix d'Or can be admired both from the beach and from the Olympic marina.
Art installation El Peix d'Or
Art installation El Peix d'Or
Important buildings by Antoni Gaudí
Antoni Gaudí is celebrated as a pioneer of Catalan modernism. Barcelona has more than 2.000 modernist buildings. No other master builder could match Gaudí's creativity. His most famous buildings include:
Sagrada Familia basilica
Barcelona's most visited attraction is also Gaudí's most important work. The monumental church has been under construction since 1882. In November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI. the church and raised it to the "Basilica minor". If the construction work goes according to plan, the church will be completed in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of the architect's death. The 170 meter high central crossing tower is still missing. Once construction is complete, it would be the tallest church tower in the world.
Although the construction of the Sagrada Familia is not complete, the church is already celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is unique. It takes many hours to see and interpret the allegories of the facade, the towers and the nave.
According to the independent Denver-based Catholic news site CRUX, three million people attended Church in 2014. Every year there are construction costs of around 25 million euros. High entrance fees finance these expenses.
Location: Carrer de Mallorca 401
The entrance fees vary depending on the scope of the tour content. In advance sales, prices for adults are currently between 20 and 33 euros. Seniors (65 plus) pay less.
It is advisable to buy a ticket online for a fixed visit date. Waiting times are almost completely eliminated. Visitors without a fixed date have to be prepared for long waiting times at the ticket counters.
The six-storey, stately town house was one of Gaudí's first great works. The industrialist, politician and patron Eusebi Güell entrusted Antoni Gaudí with the planning of the house. The requirement was to design residential and representative rooms on an area of 18 by 22 meters.
Barcelona - Palau Guell - the bel étage
Barcelona - Palau Güell - roof level
It took four years for the City Palace to be completed in 1890. Among other things, Gaudí created a 17-meter-high salon for the bel étage. He realized a new understanding of space and incorporated light into the architecture. The accessible roof garden is also worth seeing. In the basement of the house horse stables and living quarters were created for the servants. The magnificent building has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.
Location: Carrer Nou de la Rambla 3 - 5
Casa Mila / La Pedrera
"La Pedrera" is Spanish for "quarry". At first glance, Casa Milà looks like a rock. And yet the structure is anything but static. Inside, the walls on the piano nobile can be moved with little effort. The building also has a natural ventilation system and an elevator shaft. The originally large storage rooms of the Casa Milà are now used as a Gaudí museum. Visitors can enjoy views of Barcelona from the rooftop terrace. The Casa Milà is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Barcelona - Casa Mila / La Pedrera
Location: Passeig de Gràcia No. 9
As for Casa Batlló, Gaudí demonstrated his architectural prowess in transforming an existing house. There were no restrictions whatsoever on the part of the client for this order. Gaudí designed the facade with hints of creepers, bone structures and mosaics in a flowing, almost living way. The undulating roof allegorizes the scales of a dragon's tail. It commemorates Saint George, the legendary Christian dragon slayer. The Casa Milà is, of course, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Location: Passeig de Gràcia No. 43
The Parque Güell is also one of the phenomenal works of Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí's patron and friend, the industrialist Eusebi Güell, planned to build a garden city of 60 villas on a ridge north of Barcelona. The project failed when no buyers were found for the project. What remains is the fairytale park landscape designed by Gaudí. Around 90 percent of the extensive park can be visited free of charge. There is an entrance fee in the core area of Parque Güell. Access is limited to a maximum of 400 visitors per half hour. Parque Güell is also one of Barcelona's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Location: Main entrance Carrer de Larrard
Market hall Mercat de La Boqueria
The Spanish are to be envied for their market halls. A splendid example is the Mercat de la Boqueria. Originally the market hall was called Mercat de Sant Josep. Under the spacious hall roof, customers will find everything they need to prepare simple dishes or delicious dishes from over 200 retailers. Locals and tourists meet in the market hall. Delicious food is eaten at food stalls between the market stalls.
Mercat de La Boqueria
Location: La Rambla 91
Opening times: Monday to Saturday between 8:00am and 19:00pm
Selected museums in Barcelona
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
The Palau Nacional, the former Spanish pavilion of the 1929 World's Fair, is the seat of the MNAC. It houses some of the world's most important art collections. These include the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection with Gothic works and the Cambó Foundation with paintings by Rubens and Rembrandt. In addition, representatives of Romanesque art and modern artists are given a wide space.
Barcelona - Palau National
Location: Parc de Montjuïc
Fondacio Joan Miro
The foundation, founded by Miró himself, is dedicated to the work of the multi-talented Catalan master. Temporary exhibitions show the work of innovative contemporary artists. Around 400 of Miró's works are regularly shown.
Barcelona - Joan Miro Foundation
Location: Parc de Montjuïc; near the mountain station of the Funicular de Montjuïc funicular.
Maritime Museum of Barcelona
The museum uses the halls of the former Drassanes shipyard. It presents typical shipping objects such as figureheads, anchors, cannons and nautical instruments. Ships are also shown. A special exhibit is the "Real", a 60-meter-long royal galley recreated in its original size. It was used at the naval battle of Lepanto in October 1571.
Barcelona - Maritime Museum
Location: Avenida de les Drassanes, at the end of the Rambla
Central squares of Barcelona and the Parc de la Ciutadella
Plaça de Catalunya
The spacious square is one of the transport hubs in Barcelona. The metro and local trains stop under the square; the regular buses, the Aerobus to the airport and the double-decker tourist buses stop in the square.
Barcelona - Placa de Catalunya
Barcelona - Plaça de Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia
From the café-restaurant on the top floor of the El Corte Inglés department store, the entire square can be clearly seen. If there was an outside terrace, the view would be perfect.
Plaça d'Espanya is another important transport hub in Barcelona. The streets Gran Via and Avinguda del Paral.lel intersect at the Plaça. On the square is the old bullring, which now houses the Las Arenas shopping center.
Barcelona - Plaça d'Espanya - Las Arenas Shopping Center
The Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina branches off from the Plaça d'Espanya. Between two towers called "Torres Venecianes" the road leads to the imposing fountain complex Font Màgica de Montjuïc. The two towers resemble Venetian bell towers. From the fountain, visitors climb the stairs to the Palau Naçional.
The square "Royal Square" branches off from the Rambla. Stately buildings with arcades line the Plaça. Palm trees and a large, central fountain give it a Mediterranean character. Cafes and restaurants grouped around the square reinforce the southern atmosphere.
Barcelona - Placa Reial
Plaza de Sant Jaume
A place suitable for celebrations. There the "Feuerlauf" and the "Bal de Gegants" take place. The “Castellers” erect their “human towers”. The Plaça de Sant Jaume is also the historical and political center of the city. In Roman times, two important roads crossed here. The Plaça de Sant Jaume is lined on one long side by the Palau de la Generalitat (palace of the state government) and on the other long side by the Ajuntament, the town hall. The Palau de la Generalitat is open to visitors on Sundays.
Barcelona - Placa de Sant Jaume - Generalitat
Barcelona - Placa de Sant Jaume - Ajuntament
The world exhibition of 1888 took place on the grounds of the park. Visitor magnets are a water basin with the Cascada waterfall, Barcelona's zoological garden, the Catalan Parliament and several museums.
Barcelona - Parc de la Ciutadella - Cascada Monumental waterfall
Three Great Roads
The wide promenade connects Plaça de Catalunya with Plaça Portal de la pau, on which the Columbus Column towers, in a north-south direction. Cars drive on both sides of the tree-shaded promenade. The pedestrian zone, which is more than a kilometer long and always very busy, with shops, cafes, flower stands, kiosks, jugglers and much more is simply incomparable.
At the level of Plaça Boqueria, a large, colorful mosaic created by the artist Joan Miró adorns the promenade.
The elegant shopping street is Barcelona's magnificent boulevard. The street starts at Plaça de Catalunya and ends further north at Jardins de Salvador Espriu.
Barcelona - Passeig de Gracia
Passeig de Sant Joan
Originally congested by through traffic, Passeig de Sant Joan was transformed into a boulevard for strollers and cyclists from 2012. Bars, cafés and restaurants line the promenade, which, like the Rambla, is not entirely exempt from through traffic.
Barcelona - Passeig de Sant Joan
The media cheered the Passeig to the “area of trendsetters”, the “best location in Barcelona”. That shouldn't necessarily be taken seriously. The Passeig runs between Avinguda Diagonal and the Arc de Triomf.
Barcelona - two unique overnight destinations
Font magica de montjuïc
Between Plaça d'Espanya and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is Plaça de Carles Buïgas, adorned with a huge oval fountain. During the day the fountain is a body of water like many others; it only shows its true effect in the evening hours.
Barcelona - Font Magica
Then countless, colorfully illuminated fountains rise Magic Fountain upwards. There is also music. Both are worth seeing and hearing! On the way from Plaça d'Espanya to the fountain complex, there are a number of small pools whose water features are also included in the evening performance.
Times of the water games: almost all year round when it gets dark. The operating times can be found on the Internet.
Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery
About 50 kilometers north of Barcelona lies the 1.236 meter high mountain Montserrat in the middle of a nature park. The single-nave monastery church, which is 700 meters long and 70 meters wide, is over 30 meters high. The Benedictine monastery in itself does not justify the long journey from Barcelona. It is the mountain scenery that makes the journey worthwhile. Believers visit the monastery complex because of Catalonia's patron saint, the "Black Madonna".
Montserrat monastery in front of a rock backdrop
Arrival to the monastery:
The regional train R 5 leaves Plaça d'Espanya in the direction of Manresa every hour. In Montserrat, the train stops at the Montserrat Aeri cable car. - The ascent to the monastery can also be managed with a cog railway. The appropriate exit point is the Monistrol stop. The return ticket (train from Plaça d'Espanya, Aeri cable car will be offered in 2022 for 23,50 at the train station). The tickets can be bought both at the counter and at multilingual machines. Although the Trans Montserrat tickets offered on the Internet include some additional services, they are inappropriate from our point of view.
Other useful information
Shuttle buses at the cruise terminals
Barcelona's cruise terminals are spacious. It is not recommended to walk to the Rambla from the cruise ships. Public shuttle buses bridge the distances. The day ticket costs 5 euros.
The shuttle buses advertised by the cruise companies should be avoided because they are overpriced (day ticket 8 euros and more). All shuttle buses for the return journey to the ships start and end at the "Cruise Terminal Drassanes", about 250 meters from the Column of Columbus.
The metro is clean and cheap. The closest station to the cruise terminal is Plaça de les Drassanes. A single ticket for Taifzone 1 (Barcelona city centre) will cost 2022 euros in 2,40. If multiple metro journeys are planned, it is advisable to buy a T-Casual ticket for 10 journeys. The tickets are not personal and may be used by several people. Changing to trams and buses is permitted within 75 minutes.
Shuttle buses at Cruise Terminal Drassanes
Cruise Terminal Barcelona - overview of taxi prices
The tariffs for selected journeys with taxis are displayed at the taxi ranks. The flat rate to the airport will cost 2022 euros in 39, for example. The trip from the Cruise Terminal to the Sagrada Familia costs around 25 euros. The journey from the Sagrada Familia to Parque Güell costs 10 euros.
Hop on hop off buses
There are three routes to choose from. You will visit the top attractions in Barcelona.
Update - December 2022