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Believe or not, when I first decided to go to Barcelona, I heard mixed things about the city. As a travel destination, Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in all of Europe, so it felt like everyone had an opinion about my upcoming trip.
For instance, some people insisted that Barcelona is their favorite city in the world. Pure magic. Others said that it was overrated and that I ought to focus on other parts of Spain.
And still others claimed that tourism was damaging the city and perhaps I ought to be more mindful when visiting Barcelona, which, honestly, there are legit concerns about housing costs, namely short term rentals jacking up prices and causing an affordability crisis for locals, and mass crowds in certain neighborhoods.
I found myself asking, “is Barcelona worth visiting?” on more than one occasion, as I booked my tickets.
Ultimately, I am in the “Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world” camp and solo travel in Barcelona is such fun, but at the same time, I totally acknowledge that everyone’s experience is different.
So, while I’m going to share all the reasons you should add Barcelona to your upcoming Spain itinerary, I also want you to keep an open-mind and think hard about if Barcelona meets as your own needs as a traveler.
The Big Question: Is Barcelona Worth Visiting?
Yes, yes, yes. I personally loved everything about Barcelona, and want to visit again soon.
I’m a city gal at heart. I love exploring cool neighborhoods, hanging out in museums, trying out coffee shops and bars, eating every type of local delicacy, and meeting new people whether they’re locals or fellow travelers.
And Barcelona is … well, special. It’s one of the most visited cities in the world for a reason.
First and foremost, the Catalonian capital is home to Gaudi’s impressive architecture, which is unlike any other style I’ve ever seen in other major European cities. I legitimately lost track of how many colorful photographs I took of Gaudi’s famous homes.
In addition, as a foodie, I appreciated the tapas culture, because I could just wander from one bar to the next, trying tasty local treats without feeling too disgustingly full.
I also loved Barcelona’s ideal location on the Mediterranean Sea. Being close to the water inspires a sense of peace within me. From my accommodation, I could see the sparkling blue Mediterranean (albeit from a distance) every single morning, which made me feel excited to embrace each and every day in this incredible city.
For me, a visit to Barcelona was 100% worth it and gave me memories that will last a lifetime.
But Should I Visit Barcelona?
Not convinced yet? No worries. This question is a little more personal. Ask yourself: what do you truly want to see when you’re in Spain?
If you want a more “traditional Spanish experience,” with flamenco dancing and white-washed traditional homes, then perhaps skip Barcelona and opt for other cities and regions. Catalonia is strikingly different from the rest of Spain. Even the language is different.
However, if you love the Mediterranean coast and Gaudi’s works intrigue you, then you should absolutely add Barcelona to your list.
Additionally, Barcelona is a wonderful place to base yourself since it is such a large city with connections all over the region. Even 5 days in Barcelona will keep you entertained.
7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Barcelona
With that said and done, are you ready to read all my reasons why Barcelona is worth visiting? Like I said, I really love Barcelona, and hope that these reasons will inspire you to book a trip to Catalonia in the near future.
Let’s get planning.
The Catalonia Experience
First and foremost, Catalonia is so unlike any other region in Spain that it feels like an entirely different country. Catalonia’s fiercely independent spirit is addicting for any traveler.
As a matter of fact, Catalonia is an autonomous community, and brilliant Barcelona serves as its capital.
In Catalonia, the locals speak their own language and have strong pride in their identities.
So, if you’re visiting other parts of Spain, such as Madrid, then going to Catalonia offers a fresh and new experience, which is really cool.
Easy and Remarkable Day Trips
Are you not sold on only visiting big cities? Never fear, my friend. Barcelona is also an ideal base for seeing the rest of Catalonia.
Frequent trains connect Barcelona to smaller cities throughout the region, so you’re able to explore without ever needing to rent a car.
Of course, if you want to see the small and picturesque villages on the Costa Brava beaches, then you might need your own vehicle, but for the most part, the trains will take you to where you need to go.
These day trips will give you a well-rounded impression of life in Catalonia.
Day Trip Ideas
- Figueres: A splendid small city that was the home of artist Salvador Dali. I loved visiting here, and even wrote a guide all about taking a Figueres day trip from Barcelona. The Dali Museum is a “must see.”
- Girona: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, then I personally suggest a day trip to Girona, which was one of the filming locations for Season 6. You will also feel as if you’ve been transported back in the time to the Medieval Ages.
- Montserrat Monastery: Visiting Montserrat Monastery in the mountains is a true spiritual experience. Many pilgrims come here, and as you go high into the mountains, enter the monastery, and see the gorgeous Black Madonna with Child statue, you will definitely feel touched. Highly recommended.
Still asking yourself “is Barcelona worth visiting?” Don’t worry. I have even more good news for you!
Did you know that Barcelona is home to some of the best museums in Catalonia (and Spain)? So, if you’re like me and love to wander museums for hours, then Barcelona is worth visiting on your trip here.
I didn’t have time to visit each and every museum in Barcelona, sadly. However, I was lucky enough to go to both the Picasso Museum and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
Barcelona’s museums cover a wide variety of topics ranging from history to photography to art and so much more! As always, do your research to find the perfect museums for you, and always always double-check opening and closing times to avoid disappointment.
Fun Mixture of Urban and Natural Wonders
I’m the type of traveler who deeply appreciates cities, but natural wonders always steal my heart. Luckily, you can find both in Barcelona.
For nature, go to Barcelona’s beaches. Barceloneta Beach is the most famous and traditional of all the city’s beaches, but you can find quieter options in other parts of Barcelona, too. Come to enjoy the beach bars, volleyball, and more.
I also recommend a trip to Montjuïc, which is a famous hill and one of the most gorgeous green areas in the entire city. And the views are literally breathtaking.
Legendary Night Life
Barcelona has some of the great nightlife in all of Europe. If you want a “party vacation,” then Barcelona could very well be the choice for you!
Now, full disclosure, I didn’t go out much too late in Barcelona, since I was clocking at least 20,000 steps during the day. However, I did have a chance to go to some of Barcelona’s best bars, including Paradiso, which is among the most highly rated bars in the entire world.
Again, if you want to experience the nightlife and don’t want to go yourself, then perhaps opt to join an organized pub crawl for an unforgettable night.
The Most Unique Architecture in Europe
Okay, I’m going to go on the record and say that Barcelona has some of the best architecture in all of Europe.
So, if you’re still asking yourself, “is Barcelona worth visiting?”, then I implore you to check out photographs of Gaudi’s homes and then get back to me, haha!
And Barcelona has even more fantastic buildings that go beyond Gaudi such as Hospital Sant Pau, which is a beautiful Modernsime masterpiece, and Palau de la Música Catalana. You will not run out of fine architecture to see.
Plenty of Tapas Bars (The Heavenly Food)
Not sold on the architecture claim? My last reason for why you should visit Barcelona appeals to your stomach.
Without a doubt, if you’re still asking yourself, “is Barcelona worth visiting?”, then you haven’t thought about the incredible tapas culture yet.
Barcelona’s food scene is also quite accessible for everyone. So, if you’re nervous about eating alone or feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of food options, then I recommend going on a small-group food and wine tour of Barcelona where you will meet new people and all the planning will be taken care of for you. Win/win.
Tips to Ensure Barcelona is Worth Visiting
Okay I’m done gushing about how amazing Barcelona is. Let’s focus on more practical travel tips now.
As a frequent traveler who has made her fair share of mistakes, I personally think one of the reasons visitors dislike Barcelona is because they don’t prepare ahead of time.
I mean, I know I wouldn’t have liked the city nearly as much if I stayed right on Las Ramblas and waited two hours to go inside La Sagrada Familia because I didn’t buy my tickets in advance.
If it’s your first time to Barcelona, here are a couple of tips to help you have the best possible vacation in this vibrant city. I hope you love Barcelona just as much as I did.
Buy Travel Insurance
I cannot stress the importance of travel insurance enough. While I don’t want to scare anyone, Barcelona is known as the “Pickpocket Capital of the World.” I had no issues, but I totally believe that if you’re not careful, your belongings will go missing, especially in crowded tourist sites.
My advice is to leave at least one spare credit/debt locked in your hotel or hostel safe. If you’re very worried, then invest in a Pacsafe crossbody bag with theft protection for sightseeing.
However, travel insurance will reimburse you not only for theft of valuables, but also in the event of illness, cancellation, or another emergency. I always use World Nomads insurance on my trips. I’ve had zero issues with them.
Go to Barcelona in Spring
I think sometimes tourists have a bad experience visiting Barcelona, because they go at the height of summer when it’s hot and crowded.
Now I never guilt travelers for going to new places in the summer or high season. Not everyone has flexible schedules to go in shoulder season.
But if you can visit Barcelona in spring, then you will enjoy comfortable temperatures and probably fewer crowds. As for me, I visited Barcelona in April. The weather was so perfect, except for one day of rain, and the crowds were manageable.
Reserve Tickets in Advance
Spontaneity is great. I love spontaneity. But, with so many people traveling, the fact of the matter is that you will wait in horrifically long lines if you don’t book tickets for the most popular attractions ahead of time.
Not to mention, some of Barcelona’s most popular sites have limited time slots, so if you don’t buy tickets ahead, you might miss out entirely.
“Skip the Line” Tours in Barcelona
- La Sagrada Familia First Morning Tour: Rise and shine! This early La Sagrada Familia tour will take you to one of Barcelona’s most famous churches. You will learn all about Gaudi and miss most of the crowds.
- Skip the Line – Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia Guided Tour: This highly rated, small group tour is limited to 12 people, and will take you to two of the most popular sites in Barcelona.
Stay in a Quieter Neighborhood
Last but not least stay in a quieter neighborhood if you want a more relaxed experience in Barcelona.
For example, I stayed in beautiful and elegant Gracia on my stay in Barcelona. I. Loved. This. Neighborhood. Seriously, hands down, I will stay in Gracia every time I visit Barcelona in the future. It has such a small village vibe that was relaxing after a long day of sightseeing.
Research neighborhoods in-depth and then choose your “home away from home.”
- Be Mate Paseo de Gracia: This apartment building is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Barcelona. Not to mention, you can enjoy a garden and terrace on sunny days. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Pension Ciudadela: A cosy and family-run pension located in the Born area, which is an ancient neighborhood and one of my favorite spots in all of Barcelona. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Sant Jordi Hostels Gracia: If you’re looking to meet other travelers at a hostel, then I personally recommend this hostel in artistic Gracia — which used to be a separate village from Barcelona and now has its own unique flair. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
I hope this guide helped you answer the question of “is Barcelona worth visiting?” and that you have a chance to visit in the near future!