Barcelona is an amazing city with a ton of stuff to see, but I’m always a little weary of big tourist attractions and if they are worth the effort to check out or not. I find a lot of the time, the crowds and price can outweigh how cool something is. This is probably because I hate being jammed in with a ton of people and not actually able to see anything (i.e. The Mona Lisa at the Louvre).
Today I’m going to break down some of Barcelona’s most popular sites by cost, crowds, and coolness. That way you know the real deal about these places and can make up your mind if they are worth it to you or not.
Cost – Basic ticket is 15 Euros, Towers ticket is 29 Euros
La Sagrada Familia might be Barcelona’s most famous and most visited attractions, and for good reason. It’s really freaking cool. The unfinished basilica is architect Antoni Gaudí’s most famous work. It’s known for it’s organic and nature inspired design, and for constantly being under construction. It is the coolest church I’ve ever been in, and even though it’s really popular it doesn’t feel crowded once you are inside. Probably because it’s so massive.
We got the tower tickets and got to take the elevator up the Nativity Tower to take in the views of the city from the top. While almost 30 Euros is a little pricey I thought it was totally worth it. From the tower you not only get awesome views of the city, but you also can see a lot of the basilica not visible from the ground.
Gaudí architecture is awesome. I like the organic otherworldly vibes to it and the colorful tile and mosaic work. However, I also think it’s a little pricey to go inside these building when you can see the beauty of them from the outside for free. I’m sure the museums inside are interesting but I felt like there were other interesting things to spend my money on so I just admired the architecture from the street.
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Cost – the park itself is free, the Monumental Zone (the iconic tilework and sculptures) is 7 Euros.
The park is beautiful and quite large with winding walk ways and hill top views of the city. The closer you get the the Monumental Zone however, the more crowded it gets. We went in the middle of the day which was probably a mistake as it was uncomfortably crowded. And because of the crowds we didn’t end up paying to go in a see all the beautiful tiled sculptures.
I do think it would be worth it though, the price is reasonable and if you went early in the morning there would definitely be less people and it would feel less claustrophobic. I did however enjoy wandering around the rest of the park along the walk ways and through the trees.
Cost – Free
La Rambla always seems to be listed at the top of things to do in Barcelona, and I’m not really sure why. It’s a really pretty tree lined street, but that’s about it. If you are walking around Barcelona you will probably find yourself there at some point. And when you do, take a walk down it, it is pretty. But I definitely wouldn’t bother seeking it out as a destination. The walking path is lined with restaurants, but don’t be fooled by the giant glasses of sangria, the food at these places isn’t very good and is way over priced.
Cost – Free
The Basilica de Barcelona is a cool gothic style church. While it’s not quite as breathtaking as La Sagrada Familia it is still pretty cool looking. There is quite a bit of history there and since it’s free I think it’s totally worth a walk through if you are in the area.
Cost – 11 Euros
If you are a big Picasso or art fan this museum is definitely interesting. But I left feeling a bit disappointed, for two reasons.
One, they didn’t have any of Picasso’s major works there. And while I think the works they did have were definitely beautiful and interesting I would have liked to see at least one famous painting.
The second reason was the layout and set up of the museum was confusing. The galleries seemed to be set up to sort of follow Picasso’s career chronologically from the early stages through the end of his life which I thought was cool. You get to see how he progressed as an artist, which I find interesting.
The first few galleries moved through his life and work very chronologically and with a lot of detail from the late 1800’s through his Blue Period (1901-1904). But from there the flow of rooms becomes a little confusing, there is a long hallway with two more rooms, one containing ceramics from the 30’s and the other paintings from the late 50’s. Leaving the Blue Period gallery I wandered around thinking that there must be another room in-between bridging the gap in years, but there was not. I felt liked I’d skipped whole chunk of the museum as well as Picasso’s life and work.
The Gothic Quarter:
Cost – Free
The Gothic Quarter is pretty cool to walk around in. The streets are narrow and perfect for wandering, and there is a ton of architecture to look at. If you are interested in a little more history try one of the walking tours through the neighborhood. I did the Bean Runners free walking tour my second day, and it was both interesting and a good way to get my bearings in the city. One thing to be weary of is that it is a very touristy area and known for pickpockets so be aware and keep your stuff close.
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Cost – Free
Barcelona has excellent beach weather May through October, and Barceloneta beach is the longest sandy beach in Barcelona. It has a boardwalk spanning from the W Hotel at one end to Port Olímpic at the other end, with tons of beach for sunbathing, swimming, and playing in between. The boardwalk is also dotted with casual beachside bars and restaurants making it a popular destination for both tourists and locals.
I love hanging out on the beach for the afternoon, just chilling and reading a book, and at the end of the day grabbing a cocktail from one of the little beach shacks to watch the sunset.
Cost – One way is 11 Euros, round trip is 16.50 Euros
The cable car goes from the beach near Barceloneta up to Montjuic, and you’re able to see awesome panoramic views of the city on your ride. The thing is, there are only two cars, one going in each direction, so the line can get quite long and be a bit of a wait. Each car holds 19 people, so unless you are a large group you’ll be with other tourists as well.
I actually never ended up taking the cable car. I tried, but I got to the station near the beach in the afternoon and it was going to be a 75 minute wait. It didn’t seem worth it to me at the time, but if you got there early in the day I think it would be cool.
I as you can probably tell I am a big fan of things that are cheap or free, not crowded, and really cool looking. But everyone is different and I hope this little guide helps you figure out the sites you want to see. Barcelona is an awesome city so no matter what you choose you are sure to have a good time.
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