It is very difficult to exaggerate Barcelona. The city is big enough to give the best choices in culture, arts, and entertainment, but small enough to get around the city. This Catalan city is sparkling with pulsating colors and intense energy.
Leading Catalonia in a resurgence of intriguing and unique culture, Barcelona gives you an experience that you will not forget. From Gaudi’s modernist architecture, La Sagrada Familia, to Dali’s Surrealism, and to Picasso’s Cubism, the unique Catalan perspective will have a dramatic impact on how you see the world today.
Stroll down the Ramblas, a grand boulevard that takes you from the sophistication of the Plaça Catalunya down to the sea. Here. You will see imposing ornate churches, opera houses, flower stalls, classy cafés street mimes, and great shopping.
The bohemian Gothic quarter is a tangled mix of grand squares, art nouveau storefronts, schoolyard plazas, musty antique shops, and baby flea markets. The centerpiece is the massive cathedral, a great example of Catalan Gothic.
Barcelona offers delightful cuisine, perfect for the craving palate. After sampling some of the best food that the city has to offer, you can choose from numerous top-class bars in the Gothic Quarter, open-air clubs in the Tibidabo Hills, and trendy cafes in the Eixample district, among other options. Nightlife here seems unmatched.
It is the city to have fun. You can experience wild festivals and other local celebrations. For the sporty type, you can enjoy sports like football, basketball, marathon, and hiking. What’s more, Barcelona is a gay-friendly city.
There are a lot of museums, art exhibits, and galleries in Barcelona, making it hard for us to know where to begin. In fact, there are more than 55 museums in the city that cover a wide range of subjects such as art, architecture, history, science, war, maritime, and sports.
Continue reading if you are planning to visit the city and are interested in museums. To help you with your museum tour, Simply Barcelona identifies the major museums, or the most prestigious and the must-see museums. Also listed below are the minor museums, among which you will find many gems as well.
Major Barcelona museums
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) (Address: Palau Nacional Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 / Phone: +34 936 22 03 60)
Centre de Cultura Contemporánia de Barcelona (CCCB) (Address: Montalegre,, 5 08001 / Phone: +34 933 06 41 00)
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) (Address: Plaça dels Àngels, 1 08001 / Phone: +34 934 12 08 10)
Picasso Museum (Address: Carrer de Montcada, 15-23 08003 / Phone: +34 933 19 63 10)
Fundació Tàpies (Address: Carrer d’Aragó, 255, 08007 / Phone: +34 934 87 03 15)
Fundació Joan Miró (Address: Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 / Phone: +34 934 43 94 70)
And here are some of the minor museums, but no less important, in the city that you should not miss:
Wax Museum Museum (Address: Passatge de la Banca, 7, 08002 / Phone: +34 933 17 26 49)
The Maritime Museum (Address: Avinguda de les Drassanes s/n, 08001 / Phone:+34 933 42 99 20)
The Erotica Museum (Address: La Rambla, 96, 08002 / Phone:+34 933 18 98 65)
Monestir de Pedralbes (Address: Baixada del Monestir, 9, 08034 / Phone: +34 932 03 92 82)
The Chocolate Museum (Address: Comerç, 36 / Phone: +34 932 687 878)
Museu Frederic Marès (Address: Plaça de Sant Iu, 5, 08002 / Phone: +34 932 56 35 00)
The Egyptian Museum (Address: Calle Valencia, 284, 08007 / Phone:+34 934 88 01 88)
Catalonia History Museum (Address: Plaça de Pau Vila, 3, 08003 / Phone:+34 932 25 47 00)
The Zoology Museum (Address: Parc de la Ciutadella | Pablo Picasso, s/n, 08003 / Phone: 34 93 319 6912)
The Archeological Museum of Catalonia (Address: Passeig Santa Madrona, 39, 08038 / Phone:+34 934 23 21 49)
The Science Museum (Address: Carrer d’Isaac Newton, 26, 08022 / Phone:+34 932 12 60 50)
Considering that Barcelona has a strong arts and culture scene, it is only logical that you find many interesting museums and great cultural centers.
Barcelona is rich in mind-blowing architecture. Visitors are left in awe when they first encounter Antoni Gaudí‘s his rooftop sculptures at La Pedrera (Address: Carrer Provença, 261, 08008 / Phone: +34 902 20 21 38 / Architectural style: Modernisme) or his very famous La Sagrada Familia (Address: Calle Mallorca, 401, 08013 / Phone: +34 935 13 20 60 / Architectural styles: Spanish Gothic architecture, Modernism, Noucentisme, Art Nouveau). The dream-like and uniqueness of his works amazes every person who visits it. There is much in this vibrant city, unlike anything you have ever seen.
Barcelona architecture is one of the top attractions in itself. All you need to do is stroll around the city, and you will be spellbound by the stunning architecture. Wander through the Eixample and the Gothic Quarter and, and you will be amazed by the endless amount of enthralling structures and unexpected treasures.
Architecture in Barcelona naturally reflects the city’s rich history. Here, you will see architecture from the Roman period to the Gothic era to the Modernisme, Catalan Art Nouveau. Barcelona architecture speaks for many things: periods of varying prosperity and decline, passionate Catalan nationalism or repression of the central government, the Olympic Games, cultural forums, expos, and more.
Perhaps the most important architectural styles in this city are the medieval Catalan Gothic style and Modernisme. The latter is a fin de siècle movement pioneered by the famous architect, Gaudí. The movement is also called the Catalan Renaissance or Renaixença.
It is well worth seeing Barcelona’s ancient remains. Here, you can see large portions of the 4th century Roman walls at the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat. You can also see them in the Cathedral’s Casa de L’Ardiaca, the Archdeacon’s House.
Barcelona has numerous parks. They are great alternatives to the city’s beaches and are among the top attractions. If you prefer greenery, you can hike Park Collsera or admire the city blooming botany collection at the Park of Montjuïc. You can also enjoy antique and modern roller coasters in the Tibidabo Amusement Park or check out the animals at the Park de la Ciutadella’s Zoo.
(Address: Carretera de l’Església, 92, 08017 / Phone:+34 932 80 35 52)
Located in the hills of the Zona Alta, this park is perhaps the best place to jog, bike, or hike within the city bounds. Picnic benches, snack huts, and small eateries fill the park. This is the perfect place to get some outdoor exercise or grab a bite with family or friends. Other selling points are the medieval ruins, old country houses, and Romanesque churches. Park Collsera is teeming with culture and leisure.
Ciutadella Park & the Barcelona Zoo
(Address: Pg Picasso, 21, 08018 / Phone:+34 934 13 24 00)
Parc de la Ciutadella is the place to be if you are searching for some green breather right in the center of the city. The park was originally a military fortress. It was used as the main grounds for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. The park turns into a nice multicultural hippie-fest every Sunday, with the occasional improvised conga line and massive drum circles. Fountain in Parque de la Ciutadella in Barcelona
The park houses the Museu de Zoologia, the Museu de Geologia, small aboreta, and zoo. This zoo is pretty popular among children as well as adults. What’s more, the entrance fees are very reasonable.
(Address: Plaça Tibidabo, 3-4, 08035 / Phone:+34 932 11 79 42)
With rides dispersed over the Tibidabo mountain slopes, this amusement park will give you a great excuse to climb the city’s highest peak for a breathtaking view of the city and the Pyrenees. You can even see the Baleares Islands on a very nice day. Here, you can enjoy diverse attractions, from antique rides and fairground from the twenties to modern roller coasters.
Montjuic Park is a park that was seemingly developed for the enjoyment of kids. There is much to explore in this park: an 18th-century castle with imposing views of the Mediterranean, a museum filled with fabulous sculptures and paintings by Joan Miro, and shady gardens with fountains. It also has picnic areas and playgrounds, so relax and bring a picnic lunch.
Barcelona definitely knows how to have some fun. The biggest city in northern Spain, it is home to some of the best and biggest Spanish and Catalan events. The most important festivals from a tourist’s perspective are the following:
Dia de Sant Jordi: The Catalans celebrate Saint George’s day every 23rd of April by offering a book and/or rose. The city’s major shopping streets are full of books and flower stands.
Festival de Sonar: The city hosts the yearly Sonar festival of multimedia art and advanced music. There are interesting technology fairs during the day and great music events by night. Held in mid-June, this festival is hugely popular, so it is a good idea to book early.
Festival de Sant Joan: Every 23rd of June, everyone heads down to the beach to celebrate the summer solstice with big bonfires and amazing firecrackers and fireworks. People engage in all-night revelry and eat the traditional party, the coca de Sant Joan.
Grec Arts Festival: This is Barcelona’s largest music, theatre, and dance festival. It is held at venues all over from June to August
Festa Major de Gracia: This is a week-long festival held in the streets of the Gracia neighborhood. It is celebrated with lots of heavy drinking, live music, and fireworks. It is celebrated around 15th August.
La Diada: Celebrated every 11th September, this fairly subdued affair observes the fall during the 1714 War of Spanish Succession that resulted in Catalonia losing much autonomy.
Festes de la Merce: This festival for the patron saint of Barcelona is held in the week of the day of La Mercè (24 September). All kinds of activities for all ages and all tastes are organized. One major attraction is the “correfoc” or fire-breathing dragons from all over Catalonia. Another attraction is the pyrotechnical music show.
Barcelona is a city with an integrated and colorful gay scene. There are some areas frequented more by gay visitors, but everywhere in the city is open-minded and welcoming. This makes the city a popular destination for the gay community.
Popular gay areas
L’Eixample is the main gay area in the city. Many of the gay clubs, bars, and hostels are found in this area also known as Gayxample. Although the heart of the city gay scene, L’Eixample is not exclusively for the gay community. Sitges is another area very popular with gays. The area is just a short train ride away from the city proper.
The city offers a nice selection of accommodations that are specifically attractive for gays and lesbians. Everything is gay friendly – the hotels, hostels, and even apartments and flats. Popular gay accommodations include Hotel Axel (Address: Carrer Aribau, 33 08011 Barcelona / Phone: +34 933 23 93 93), Beauty and the Beach Bed & Breakfast (Address: Passeig Taulat / Phone: +34-93-266-0562), GoGay Barcelona (Address: Calle Balmes, 28 / Phone: +34 93 301 9341), and Gay Hostal in Calle del Bruc.
Barcelona takes pride in its lively and explosive gay club scene. The city really comes to life when the sunsets. After a sizzling day, gorgeous guys come out to play. The Eixample district is where the gay and gay-friendly clubs are concentrated.
Popular gay accommodations include:
- Metro (Address: Sepulveda, 185)
- Arena Sala Madre (Address: Calle Balmes, 32)
- Arena Classic (Address: Diputacio, 233)
- Arena Diana (Address: Valencia, 236)
- Arena Sala Dandy and Arena Sala VIP (Address: Gran Via, 593)
- Gay Day at Space (Address: Tarragona, 141-7)
Sitges is a beautiful town along the coast of the city and it is a popular gay beach resort. Almost 30% of its summer visitors are members of the gay community. Platja de la Bossa Rodona is the gay beach. Here, you will find hot gays strutting their stuff in sexy swimwear.
A word of warning though: Barcelona gay spots are favorite areas for pickpockets. So do not put your wallet and other important belongings in your back pocket. Do not leave your things unattended, even for just a second.
Barcelona has produced great champions in various sports. This, along with the 1992 Summer Olympics, has resulted in the rapid expansion of sports facilities for sportspeople and spectators alike.
Football is the most popular sport in the city. For its people, football is more than a sport, it is an obsession and a real passion. The Barcelona Futbol Club plays regularly at the Camp Nou Stadium north of the city. You can buy tickets on the day at the ground. But for some of the bigger games, I suggest you buy the tickets well in advance.
Bullfighting is an integral part of life in many parts of Spain. It is also being staged in the city although some neighboring towns have completely banned bullfighting. Here, two bullfighting rings are found at either end of the Fran Via de Les Corts Catalanes. But bullfights are so irregular that the rings are often used more for concerts and exhibitions.
Cycling is one of Barcelona’s favorite sports; it is both a pastime and a national sport, that is why several bike tours are offered in the city. The Bicycle Fiesta is held every May. There are more races in September with an international cycle race to Montjuïc Castle. There is also the Mercé festival.
Bowling is becoming a popular sport in the city. There is no need to worry about bowling venues as there are many of them in and around Barcelona. There are the Planet Bowling at Parc Comercial Barnasud, Gava and the AMF Bowling Barcelona at c/Sabino de Arana.
Windsurfing and sailing
Courses in windsurfing and sailing are available in the city at the Centre Municipal de Vela, Port Olimpic 100. Courses usually take place on weekends. There are courses for adults, senior citizens, and children, and also for disabled people.
Movies about Barcelona
Rev up your travel to Barcelona by walking through the sites shown in movies about and filmed in the city. Three critically-acclaimed Barcelona films have been released in recent years. These movies are worth seeing for the stories, people and landscapes they portray. Here are some movies:
Todo Sobre Mi Madre
“Todo Sobre Mi Madre” by the respected Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar tells the journey of a mother to find her child’s father in Barcelona. But it is more complicated than that. This movie, with an international title of or “All About My Mother,” bagged the 2000 Oscar for Best Foreign Film Oscar.
“L’Auberge Espagnol” (international title: “Euro Pudding” and “The Spanish Apartment”) is a French film that came out in 2002. The story, which happens mostly in a Barcelonian flat, brings together a diverse group of Erasmus students. Any ex-pat or foreign students will definitely relate to the cultural tribulations and kooky trials of the movie’s characters as they get to know Barcelona and meet people from around the world.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
In “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” two American girlfriends go on a summer holiday. They become captivated by the same painter, not knowing that his unstable and hysterical former wife, with whom he has a turbulent relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. This film gave Penelope Cruz 2009 for Oscar Best Supporting Actress award.
Barcelona movie theaters
Many Barcelona cinemas screen dubbed foreign films that enter the country. But you will also find numerous cinemas that show films in versió original (original version, or in other words subtitled). Below are some art house and versió original cinemas in Barcelona:
Passeig de Gràcia 155
Tel (+34) 93 218 43 45
Avinguda de Sarriá 31-33
Metro Hospital Clínic
Tel (+34) 93 410 75 90
Icària Yelmo Cineplex
c/ de Salvador Espriu 61
Barri: La Ribera
Tel (+34) 93 221 75 85
c/ del Pi 5
Barri: La Rambla
Tel (+34) 93 317 85 29
Carrer de Villarroel 102
Tel (+34) 93 451 00 51
c/ de Floridablanca 135
Metro Sant Antoni
Barri: El Raval
Tel (+34) 93 426 33 37
c/ de Eugeni d’Ors 12
Metro Maria Cristina/ Les Corts
Barri: Les Corts
Tel (+34) 93 490 55 10
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 463
Tel (+34) 93 423 10 60
c/ de Verdi 32
Tel (+34) 93 238 79 90
The heart of Barcelona, Spain beats with live music. There is so much going on in the city it gives you headache just thinking where to begin. You name it and the city has got a concert that suits your musical taste: with everything from opera and classical to jazz, rumba, rock, latin, flamenco, electronic, and hip hop.
As far as the city’s native music is concerned, its beloved local musicians are mostly singer-songwriters. Luis Llach and Joan Manuel Serrat are the two most well-known. During Franco’s regime, LLach sang exclusively in the Catalan Language, although the language had been banned in the country.
Sopa de Cabra is the most prominent native Barcelona music group on the rock scene. Flamenco and Catalan-rumba fusion bands like the ever-popular Macaco, Ojos de Brujo, and Muchachito Bombo Infierno. They are based out of the city, giving pachanga music. Basically, pachanga refers to good-humored music ideal for a friendly party atmosphere.
Manu Chao is perhaps the most prominent international artist living in the city. In many ways, he personifies the city’s cultural identity. Manu Chao sings in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and more. He mixes influences and styles from around the world to make a special sound that suits Barcelona’s music vibe.
You can get most concert tickets at FNAC at Plaça de Catalunya or at El Corte Inglés.