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Barcelona travel guide

Otherworldly architecture, a great beach, non-stop fiestas and endless food markets all yours to explore... there's a reason why we're obsessed with Barcelona. This is Spain's most energetic city, and in the summer, its sun-drenched streets really come alive. Dive into this tangle of cathedrals, galleries, museums and bars, and we promise, you won't want to resurface for weeks. Check out this guide for Barcelona's highlights, best neighborhoods and travel inspiration.
An arm holding an older camera taking a photo of a palm tree

Barcelona highlights

  • Barcelona highlights tickLa Sagrada Familia
    Under construction since 1882 (and still going), famous artist and architect Antoni Gaudi's ginormous temple is as Gothic and twisted on the outside, as it is heavenly on the inside. This is a monument you really don't want to miss checking out, so make sure you book yourself an entrance ticket in advance to avoid loooong queues in the summer.
  • Barcelona highlights tickPark Güell
    Another must-see, this park on Carmel Hill in the west of Barcelona (pictured as the larger image, above), seems as though it's made from candy. Full of colorful mosaics, fun statues and heaps of incredible views, its best hit up before the heat of the day and the crowds arrive. Hats off to Gaudi again!
  • Barcelona highlights tickCamp Nou football stadium
    Home of FC Barcelona since 1957, this is a must-visit for any soccer fans. With a capacity just shy of 100,000, it's said that the views from the top of the stalls of this stadium are enough to send you dizzy. Be sure to organize a tour if there are no football matches on.
  • Barcelona highlights tickArt!
    More into your art? Barcelona seems to have more per square mile than anywhere else on Earth - half the buildings seem to be works of art! Our favorites? Museu Picasso in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, Miro's colorful, sundrenched collection atop of Sants-Mont Juic hill, and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Barcelona highlights tickCasa Milà & Casa Batlló
    Designed and built by Gaudi in the early 19th Century, these Modernist mansions have well and truly fallen down the rabbit hole. Their wavy edges, wobbly features and colorful stained glass are one of the ample things that make Barcelona's architecture so unique. They're located a five-minute walk apart from one another in the center of the city - Instagram-essential!
  • Barcelona highlights tickNightlife
    Barcelona really is a 24-hour city. Year round, clubs such as Razzmataz stay open until breakfast, and summer gives way to festivals such as Sonar, Primavera and Benicassim. Even if you're not much of a party animal, you can find dreamy wine bars and rooftop spots around the Gothic Quarter and Raval. And when you're feeling tender the day after, there's always La Barceloneta beach to catch some well-deserved zzzs on. Pass the sangria (and wear comfy shoes)!
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Spain adventure tours

A large serving of seafood paella

London to Barcelona: Tapas & Train Rides | 13 days

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? This whirlwind tour begins in London and takes you through Western Europe's most amazing destinations - Paris, Milan, the colorful Cinque Terre and Barcelona. It includes a cooking class, a BIG night out Barca-style, picnics at the Eiffel Tower, all your accommodation, transport, and CEO (that's Chief Experience Officer. Otherwise known as an awesome guide). 
Three young adults taking a selfie in front of a river and cathedral

European Escapade | 25 days

Barcelona is just one of Europe's big cities you'll visit on this Contiki trip, alongside a bunch of fellow fun-loving travel addicts. Spend a month touring Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Florence, Switzerland and the French Riviera... to name just a few. Cheese, wine, the Eiffel Tower, beaches, Belgian beer, gondolas... the list is never-ending. 
A blond woman wearing a black hat walking into a multi story building covered with blue and white square tiles

Fiestas & Siestas | 12 days

Barcelona, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Madrid, Salamanca... and Portugal? This tour is for the curious culture-vultures, party animals and wine lovers. There's art, food, incredible music and architecture that'll stay etched into your mind forever. 

Barcelona's not-to-miss neighborhoods

We've found that the best way to orientate yourself in Barcelona is by picturing Las Ramblas as the beating tourist center of the city. Lined with street performers, souvenir stands and tons of bars, you'll no doubt be staying somewhere nearby, and will end up strolling down it at least once on your visit - because it leads to the Gothic Quarter, the harbor and the coast!
The entrance to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter & El Born

Northeast of Las Ramblas lies the Gothic Quarter, a romantic pocket of the city housing narrow cobbled streets, dreamy towers, overhead bridges and the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. Time it right (sunset is your best bet), and you'll be able to capture the dreamiest snaps complete with an opera singer, or violinist sound tracking it all. Prices are a little higher here so for food or drinks, head to the bars, cafes and galleries of El Born, Nextdoor. Modern, aloof and fashionably rebellious - with nightlife to match - this area cries out to be explored. Don't miss the Picasso museum!
A man wearing a red shirt standing near an alley and a souvenir shop

El Raval

The area south of the all-singing, all-dancing Las Ramblas is home to cool boutiques, hipsters and graffiti-sprayed plazas which, come evening, fill with tables, chairs, happy hour signs and thousands of party-loving Europeans. Cool and shady (literally shady - the lanes are so narrow), this is where you'll find a handful of the best bars, such as Casette (the classy cocktail option), and Manchester Bar (the "it's 2am and my new friends need a round of shots" option).
The Montjuïc cable car traveling high over trees

Sants-Montjuïc

Further south of Raval, this district is home to Sants-Montjuïc Hill, an amazing spot to hike or cable-car up and take in the views over the whole of Barcelona. In summer, this area often hosts electronic music events and small festivals such as Brunch-In. Other highlights here include Plaça d'Espanya and its Magic Fountain, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, the Olympic Stadium, Miró gallery (hello, minimalist interior, colorful sculpture and views to die for) and the CaixaForum, a huge multi-purpose events and cultural space in an old factory.
La Barceloneta beach and buildings as seen from above

La Barceloneta

Want that real Spanish vacation vibe? Good, because we reckon you'll need some chill-time after a few days and nights soaking up inner-city Barca. Dine on fresh seafood or sip sangria around Port Vell marina, or lounge on the sand beach, before snacking on local tapas 'til long after sundown. There are plenty of sculptures and great bars dotted along this sandy strip - but watch your belongings carefully, and don't leave them unsupervised while you swim!

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The lobby of the St Christophers Inn in Barcelona

Barcelona hotels & hostels

Get cheap sleeps at Casa Barcelo Hostel, party in trendy Generator Hostel, or find yourself somewhere a little more special, complete with a rooftop pool. We have over 1000 hotels and hostels in Barcelona available to book! T&Cs apply
A lone traveler standing on a rail platform waiting for a train

Get to Barcelona with a Eurail pass

Ask any European, seasoned backpacker or STA Travel Expert what the most efficient and cost-effective way of getting around Europe is, and they'll tell you: Eurail. One rail pass will get you to thousands of stations (including Barcelona's), in 28 countries across Europe. So you can check off the rest of Spain, plus France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro... *gasp* we could go on... and on. T&Cs apply

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Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions apply. If booking online, full Terms and Conditions will be displayed as part of the booking process as well as on the corresponding final booking confirmation. If booking by phone or email, please ask your Travel Expert at the time of booking or enquiry.