Is Barcelona Worth Visiting? Reasons Why You Should Visit Barcelona
Thinking about visiting Barcelona? This blog will address top reasons to visit Barcelona and why you won’t regret spending time there.
Barcelona is a city that almost everyone falls in love with and it is not hard to see why. Barcelona is an artistic city with unique architecture, vibrant cultural scenery, access to mountain and sea, delicious food and beautiful people.
The first time I visited Barcelona was years ago and back when I was a travel newbie, I did not fully research how amazing Barcelona was so I only budgeted 1.5 days in Barcelona.
We also happened to land on a national holiday in Barcelona so almost everything was closed. But because of this, I made a mental note to myself to visit Barcelona again someday.
I spent about a month in Barcelona when I was living in Europe. And this time I made it a point to fully explore the city so I can take in every bit of Barcelona while I could.
So in this post let’s explore reasons why you should visit Barcelona and why you might not like Barcelona and you can decide if Barcelona is worth visiting and how long you want to spend in Barcelona.
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So if you are reading this article you must be thinking about going to Barcelona for the first time. That is great because I will provide you all the information you need to make a decision!
So we will go over some of the most pressing questions you may have on Barcelona, such as:
- Is it easy to get to Barcelona?
- Is it easy to get around Barcelona?
- Reasons why you should visit Barcelona
- Reasons why you might not like Barcelona
- Is Barcelona Safe?
- Is Barcelona Instagram Worth?
Where is Barcelona?
Barcelona is the second largest city after the capital city Madrid. Located in in north east corner of Spain, Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.
Catalonia is known for its unique culture and language (they speak Catalan, even though they know Spanish) and Barcelona is the most important center of Catalan culture and identity.
Is it Easy to Get To Barcelona?
Barcelona is extremely easy to get to as it is one of the most popular cities in Spain.
Flying to Barcelona
There is only one airport in Barcelona (BCN) and it services both International and domestic airlines. Almost all European budget airlines fly have multiple daily direct flights to Barcelona.
There are also direct flights from New York, Los Angles, Miami, Philly, Atlanta, Doha, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Seoul, and other large international cities to Barcelona.
Train to Barcelona
Barcelona is home to 4 train stations, with Barcelona Sants being the main railway station. Therefore train travel to Barcelona is common and easy.
From within Spain it is fast and easy to travel to Barcelona by train. There are also direct train rides from many cities in France to Spain, such as the non-stop 6-7 hour train ride from Paris to Barcelona.
Driving to Barcelona
If you have a rental car then it is super easy to drive to Barcelona if you are doing a roadtrip in Spain.
However some areas of Barcelona has narrow streets and parking is pretty difficult so I would generally recommend taking the train or even long distance bus to get into Barcelona.
Is it easy to get around Barcelona?
Barcelona is a city that prides itself in its ease of mobility. Public transportation is readily available and you never have to worry about not being able to get around.
Google Maps should be your best friend when trying to get around Barcelona and Barcelona Metro App is also a great resource.
Barcelona has a network of metro (subway), trams, buses and public bike hire scheme. You can transfer between the Barcelona public transportation network for free within 1 hour 15 minutes after you validate your tickets.
Metro in Barcelona
Barcelona has 8 metro lines that are identifiable by both colors and numbers. The metro funs from 5am to midnight on weekdays, Sundays and public holidays. On the weekend (Friday and Saturday) the metro runs till 2am.
Besides metro, there is also a funicular that take you up Montjiuc as well as a rail network that supplements the metro network.
Tram in Barcelona
Aside from Metro, Barcelona also has a tram network that connects to shopping districts and residential areas. There are 2 Tram lines in Barcelona and they generally have the same hours of operation as the metro network.
Bus in Barcelona
Barcelona has a fantastic bus network, with over 1000 buses operating over 100 routes around the city.
Barcelona bus services are generally between the hours of 5am to 11pm but specific bus lines have their own schedule.
There are also night bus services (Nit Bus) that cover the hours of 11pm to 6am, making it easy to get around Barcelona even late at night.
Reasons Why You Should Visit Barcelona
Just to provide you with some concrete examples of why Barcelona is worth visiting, I am listing a number of reasons why you would love Barcelona based on my personal experience.
Reasons to Visit Barcelona #1: Barcelona has beautiful and unique architectures
Barcelona is renowned for its architecture, much of which was designed by the celebrated architects such as Antoni Gaudi and Jean Nouvel.
When you take a walk around Barcelona, such as the Eixample District, El Raval Neighborhood and the Gothic Quarter and you will undoubtedly stumble upon some of the most famous buildings in Barcelona.
In addition to Gaudí’s work, Barcelona is home to a wealth of other architectural styles, from Gothic and Renaissance to Modernism and Art Nouveau.
If you want to visit Gaudi’s buildings, make sure to book tickets online ahead of time and pick a time slot.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #2: You will find the most Impressive churches
The churches in Barcelona are some of the most impressive in the world, thanks in part to the city’s rich religious history and its position as a center of Catalan culture.
I mean have you seen Sagrada Familia? It’s like nothing else out there, with those super tall spires, intricate facades, and colorful stained glass windows.
You can visit one of the towers at Sagrada Familia by elevator and come down the narrow spiral stairs when you are finished. The view from top is incredible and it is definitely worth spending the money to go up.
Another notable church in Barcelona is the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, which is considered one of the infest examples of Catalan Gothic architecture.
Even if you don’t like architecture or churches, a visit to some of the churches in Barcelona will change your mind on how beautiful churches can be.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #3: Barcelona has some amazing parks
Barcelona is just…..so pretty! Besides the nice houses and churches, there are so many nice parks around too! From the iconic Parc Güell to the sprawling Ciutadella Park, Barcelona has all these green spaces are beloved by locals and visitors alike.
These parks offer a piece of tranquility and relaxation from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona city life and provide a place to relax, exercise, and enjoy nature.
When I lived in Barcelona, I really enjoyed visiting the Parc de la Ciutadella (Ciutadella Park), it is free to visit and there are a lot to see and do.
Ciutadella Park is also the home to the Barcelona Zoo, a great place to take your entire family to see a variety of animals around the world.
If you want to visit a very unique park (with a maze) then you can’t miss the Labyrinth Park of Horta. It’s not a very well known tourist destination and I only knew about this place from the locals. There is a small entrance fee and it’s free on Wednesdays and Sundays, but it only lets 750 visitors in a day.
One of the most famous parks in Barcelona is Park Güell. You simply cannot visit Barcelona without a stop at Park Güell.
Other nice parks in Barcelona include Parc de Can Drago, Parc de la Pegaso, Parc del Guinardo (very close to Park Guell), Parc Central de Nou Barris, and many more.
Reason Visit Barcelona #4: Beach at Your Door Step
Barcelona has several nice beaches along its coastline that are easily accessible from city center. In fact Barcelona has a total of 4.5km stretch of beaches that locals and visitors love to go on a nice warm day.
Some of the most popular beaches in Barcelona include Barceloneta (probably the most well known one), Nova Icaria, Mar Bella and Bogatell.
Barceloneta is the closest beach to city center and the entire area of Barceloneta is super cute with tons of shops, bars, restaurants, and ice cream carts! It is super convenient to get to Barceloneta by both subway and bus.
If you want a more quiet beach then Bogatell and Nova Icaria are great choices since most tourists go to Barceloneta.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #5: Barcelona Has a Vibrant Night Life
Barcelona is known to be one of the most exciting cities in Spain, partially due to its vibrant night life. If you think the city is lively during the day, wait till the sun goes down and the city truly comes to life.
Barcelona offers a wide range of nightlife options, from trendy bars and clubs to live music venues and cultural events and performances.
Here in Barcelona, you can party by the beach at some of the best known clubs such as Opium, Shoko and Pacha. Other popular night clubs (otherwise known as Disco clubs) include Razzmatazz, Moog, Apolo.
You can also go to a local bar, enjoy football and a beer.
Another option is to find a flamenco bar and enjoy some great performances and music. I’ve done all 3 and I loved all of them.
Unlike the US, parties in Spain start really late and ends really late. When we got to the clubs around midnight, the place was near empty on a Thursday night. But when we left around 2:30am, people were waiting in line to come in.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #6: Barcelona has amazing food
Spain is known for its food, and Barcelona is no exception. Barcelona is a food lover’s paradise, offering diverse and amazing food that draws inspiration from both traditional Catalan flavors and international influences.
I think I gained 5lb living there eating all the great food around the city.
Barcelona is known for its fresh sea food, traditional dishes, innovative restaurants and delicious tapas.
You will find great food from food markets like La Boqueria market on La Rambla, tiny local tapas bars, great local restaurants and of course Michelin Star restaurants.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #7: You can watch a FC Barcelona Football game at Camp Nou
If you are a football (soccer) fan then you would certainly love Barcelona (or hate it I guess if you support Real Madrid).
But let’s say you love watching football (soccer) matches in general, then you would be excited to hear that you can easily go to a FC Barcelona game at the legendary Camp Nou football stadium.
Even if you are not a FC Barcelona fan, it is still entertaining to watch a match in person. The team spirit and enthusiasm alone will get you energized the entire time even if you don’t know what’s going on in the field!
I was really lucky to be able to catch the Champions League semi-final game between FC Barcelona and Bayer Munich when I lived in Barcelona and it is one of those things that I will remember for the rest of my life. All I had to do was go to the Stadium that morning to see if they had tickets and they did!
In addition to watching live matches, Barcelona is also the home to football museums where fans can learn about the history of the sport and the famous clubs.
In particular the FC Barcelona Museum is extremely popular, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the club’s history, players and trophies.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #8: Barcelona has amazing mountains and hikes
When people think of Barcelona, few realize that Barcelona is great for hiking and panorama views. But in fact Barcelona has some of the best hikes an urban city can offer since it is surrounded by mountains.
Some of the best places to hike near Barcelona that has amazing views include Montserrat Natural Park, Collserola Natural Park, Garraf Natural Park and Montseny Natural Park.
In addition, Mount Tibidabo is an unique hill top to visit in Barcelona.
The first time I visited Barcelona, I could see a church and an amusement park in the hills far away from the city. I had always wondered what it was.
So when I finally lived there I got the chance to visit Mount Tibidabo, which is a hill overlooking Barcelona. It features a church and an amusement park.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #9: Barcelona has world class museums
If you are a museum or art lover, then Barcelona is definitely the place for you.
Barcelona is home to a wealth of world class museums and art galleries, showcasing everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary art.
One of the most famous museums in Barcelona is the Picasso Museum. It is a museum dedicated to thel ife and work of Picasso. The museum has over 4000 works by Picasso including paintings, drawings and sculptures.
I used to never be a Picasso fan because I never understood anything, but after visiting that museum, I got to learn a lot more about his styles and the changes in his art work.
If you are interested in culture and history, then you will have to visit the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). This museum that looks nice on both the outside and the inside and the highlight of the museum is the Romanesque collection and the Gothic collection.
There are many more museums that I didn’t get to visit, but if you are interested in contemporary art, there is CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona) and Fundacio Sunol.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #10: Barcelona is a shopper’s paradise
Barcelona is a shopper’s paradise, offering everything from high-end designer boutiques to trendy shops and local markets.
One of the most famous shopping destinations in Barcelona is the Passeig de Gracia, a stylish boulevard lined with upscale stores and fashion houses.
As you walk down the beautiful Passeig de Gracia, you will find this street lined with high end designer shops like Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and many other chain stores.
For a more eclectic shopping experience, head to the El Born neighborhood, which is known for its trendy boutiques and vintage shops. In El Born you’ll find everything from handmade jewelry and artisanal crafts to retro clothing and antique furniture, all within the charming confines of narrow streets and historic buildings.
If you are looking for discounts on designer stores, head to La Roca Village Outlet, a large designer outlet mall, located about 35km from the center of Barcelona. Here you will find more than 150 designer shops such as Saint Laurent, Gucci, Sandro and Tag Heuer offering great deals.
Reason to Visit Barcelona #11: There are many day trips you can take from Barcelona
Barcelona is a great hub for day trips to the surrounding towns and coast if you want to get away from the city.
Some of the best day trips from Barcelona include Montserrat, Tossa de Mar, Girona, Sitges and Tarragona. You get to go to mountainous areas as well as coastal towns from Barcelona so you have a lot of choices!
Reasons Why You Might Not Like Barcelona
While Barcelona is a beautiful and fun city to visit, it may not be everyone’s favorite.
Just to be completely objective and help you make the decision on whether you should visit Barcelona, here are some of the reasons why someone may not want to visit Barcelona.
Barcelona is crowded
Barcelona is a popular destination, that means during peak tourist season the city can get very crowded, especially in touristy areas such as La Rambla, Sagrda Familia and the Gothic Quarter.
You will need to book tickets for most attractions ahead of time or you may not be able to visit at all.
For someone who does not like planning and like to wing things, this would not be ideal if they want to travel to Barcelona.
Barcelona can be expensive
During peak tourist season, flights and hotels in Barcelona can get pricey, together with entry tickets, food, drinks and souvenir shopping, the potential cost may deter someone from visiting Barcelona.
However there are ways to save money when visiting Barcelona, such as visiting during low season or shoulder seasons, book hotels further away from city center ahead of time.
You may experience cultural shock
Barcelona is a lively and bustling city, this means there are a lot of people and noises everywhere. In addition, restaurants and bars in Spain tend to open very late, so you may be hungry at 8pm and restaurants just barely opened.
If you are coming from a quiet suburb where the only way to get around is to drive, you may need some getting used to when you first arrive in Barcelona. You most definitely will need to take public transportation or walk.
You may find Barcelona dirty
Depending on where you are from and where you go in Barcelona, you may find Barcelona dirty and smelly. Although coming from New York City I find Barcelona perfectly clean in comparison, but to some Barcelona is not the cleanest.
But keep in mind that Barcelona is an old city with 2000 year old infrastructure. Setting the right expectation may help with your visit but Barcelona is certainly not going to be sparkly clean like Tokyo or Singapore.
There are pickpockets and petty crime in Barcelona
Like many popular European city, Barcelona has its fair share of petty crime including pickpocketing.
You will need to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings when traveling in Barcelona. For example, do not leave your bag open and unattended when sitting at a cafe/ restaurant or at a train station.
I have heard stories of pickpockets in Barcelona but having visited numerous times and living there for a month I never personally experienced any petty crime.
You may experience language barrier in Barcelona
While many people in Barcelona speak English, the official language is Catalan and people do speak Spanish. You can mostly get around speaking just English in the touristy areas, but it could be hard if you try to ask random people questions in English.
It would be helpful to learn basic phrases and words in Spanish (or even better, Catalan!) and have Google Translate with you in case you really need to communicate.
Do you think these reasons would stop you from visiting Barcelona?
Is Barcelona Safe?
I briefly touched upon this above, but in general Barcelona is a safe city to travel to, even for solo female travelers like myself.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing is common in Barcelona, especially in crowded touristy areas and night clubs. If you have any bags with a zipper, things inside could potentially be stolen when you are not paying attention.
It is important to always be aware of your surroundings, avoid carrying large amount of cash, and try not to walk alone late at night especially in the Gothic Quarter.
Be sure to research the area of Barcelona you are staying in, Eixample and Gracia are generally nice areas to stay in.
Is Barcelona Instagram Worthy?
Sorry but the Instagrammer in me really care if a place is Instagram/ Tiktok worthy or not!
If you are one of those people that love taking photos and care about Instagram spots then you would be happy to know that Barcelona is quite social media worthy, with tons of photo spots and video opportunities.
Some of the best Instagram spots in Barcelona include Park Guell, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Sagrada Famila, the colorful Casa Battlo, Bunkers del Carmel, Parc de la Ciutadella, and many more!
Barcelona is an exciting and vibrant city. After reading the pros and cons of visiting Barcelona, have you decided if Barcelona is worth visiting?
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