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When I think of city trips in Europe, my first thought is always: Barcelona! For me, the Catalan city is the perfect combination of beach, sightseeing and great food with almost constant sunny weather. In this Barcelona Travel Guide you’ll find my favorite photo spots as well as insider tips for your own trip!

As always, I’ve included a map in this post so you can quickly find all the sights and tips mentioned.

What is the best time to travel to Barcelona?

You will have the best trip to Barcelona during the shoulder season, either in spring or autumn. During the summer months, Barcelona – like most European destinations – is very crowded. In spring and fall, the weather is (usually) pleasantly warm and sunny, the crowds are smaller than during the summer vacations, and hotel prices are therefore more affordable.

How many days are ideal for Barcelona?

The city and its surroundings have a lot to offer, so I would recommend at least three to four nights to really explore and enjoy Barcelona. But even a week wouldn’t be too long – especially if you’ve booked a nice hotel to enjoy while exploring the city.

Hotel Recommendation for Barcelona – The Cotton House Barcelona

In recent years I have already tested several hotels in Barcelona and this is my absolute favorite! The → Cotton House Barcelona not only has the perfect location, but is also a oasis of tranquility with a unique design.

→ Find my hotel review of the Cotton House Barcelona here!

The rooftop pool a the Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona during sunrise, overlooking the Sagrada Familia
the iconic and historic library at the Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona

The best photo spots & insider tips for Barcelona:

Map with all mentioned sights, tips and photo spots in Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia – the most famous sight in Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia – the most famous sight in Barcelona.

The iconic basilica, which is not yet completed, must of course not be missing in any travel guide for Barcelona!

It is one of the places worth getting up early for! Especially the dreamlike photo spot, at the pond of the Placa de Gaudi park, is very crowded later in the day. For those who don’t like getting up early, there’s also a great chance for pictures later: On the opposite side of the basilica in the Placa de la Sagrada Familia park. Just before sunset, the low sun gives the masterpiece a magical light and most tourists are gone by this time. The best photo spot is just to the left of the dog park – there is a walkway leading towards the Sagrada Familia.

But also the inside of the Sagrada is not to be missed! It’s breathtaking: especially on sunny days, the basilica is bathed in the most beautiful colors thanks to the colorful windows. There is an incredible amount of details to discover, which is why you should plan at least an hour for the tour with audio guide. You should book the tickets well in advance, as they are always fully booked!

Plaça de Gaudi

sagrada familia

Parc de la Sagrada Familia

Insider Tip in Barcelona: The Rooftop Bar Ayre Rossellón Bar Terraza 

The rooftop terrace with bar Ayre Rossellón Bar Terraza of the Hotel Rosellón offers a unique view of the Sagrada above the roofs of the surrounding buildings. Therefore, it is an incredible and unique photo spot in Barcelona, which you must not miss! Especially in the late afternoon, when the Sagrada Familia is covered in a magical warm light.The entrance is free and the prices for drinks and snacks are absolutely reasonable and not overpriced. However, you MUST have a reservation!

Here’s how to get a reservation at the best rooftop bar in Barcelona:

The reservation can only be made → online ! The spots open EXACTLY one week before the day of the planned visit at 12 midnight. If you want to come on the weekend, the best spots will be fully booked after a short time. So set an alarm to make sure you don’t miss your reservation.

rooftop bar view over the Sagrada famlai in Barcelona, is on of the best photo spots in Barcelona
on of the best photo spots in Barcelona: Rooftop bar with Sagrada Familia View

Parc de la Citudella

One of the most beautiful photo spots in Barcelona is the Parc de la Citudella. Especially the big fountain looks beautiful during the golden hour, just before sunset. This makes it very crowded at this time of the day. For photography, therefore, the early morning is best suited and can be combined by the immediate proximity best with the Arc de Triomf:

on of the best photo spots in Barcelona: Sitting at the Parc Citudella pond

Parc de la Citudella

top travel destinations barcelona

Arc de Triomf

Arc de Triomf

Just a few minutes walk from the park is the Arc de Triomf. In the afternoon it is a popular place for joggers, walkers and tourists. But at sunrise you have this beautiful place almost to yourself and  a soft light of the rising sun. This makes for dreamlike pictures.

La Rambla

Of course, a walk along La Rambla is a MUST during a stay in Barcelona. The area with its many small streets, cafes and restaurants invites you to stroll in the evening. The street leads from Plaça de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument at the harbor. Along the way, you’ll pass the covered food market Mercat de la Boqueria, which is great for snacks or just strolling.

Caution: La Rambla is often very crowded, which is why many pickpockets and con artists mingle with the masses. So always keep a tight grip on your belongings.

Here are two of my insider tips when visiting the La Rambla:

Plaça Reial

You should avoid the restaurants on La Rambla itself, because they are classic tourist traps: Expensive but not good!

Instead, go through a small alley from La Rambla to the Plaça Reial behind it, where you can enjoy great bars and restaurants and a unique atmosphere. As a restaurant tip for delicious tapas and sangria I can recommend the Ocaña! We came here several times to eat 🙂

Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi

Tucked away in the cute little streets around La Rambla you’ll find the Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi church. The church itself is not particularly impressive, but at certain times of the day there is a tour up the bell tower, which is otherwise closed to visitors! The climb on foot is a bit strenuous, but the view is worth it and beautiful. The tour cost 8€ per person and took place (during our visit to Barcelona) at 3:30pm. It’s best to ask again when you enter the church for the current time to visit the tower, as it may have changed.

Barceloneta Beach 

 Barceloneta Beach is the popular and well-known beach of Barcelona. It’s not necessarily the best beach to relax, but there’s always something going on: people playing volleyball, meeting up with friends, and vendors walking around with mojitos and cold beer. Perfect for soaking up some sun and enjoying the unique view of the striking W Hotel. Alternatively, you can stroll along the promenade and enjoy a glass of sangria in one of the many bars.

view of the barceloneta Becah in Barcelona with the W Hotel

The Montjuïc Hill

Another beautiful sight in Barcelona is the ride with the cable car Telefèric de Montjuïc from the port up to the 213 m high hill Montjuïc. For the World’s Fair in 1929, numerous parks, palaces, the Barcelona Castle and a botanical garden were built. Especially beautiful ist the National Palace with the National Art Museum of Catalonia, whose staircase offers a great view of the Plaça D’espanya.

Insider Tip: The best sight over Barcelona – the Bunkers el Carmel

In the late afternoon I recommend you to visit the best viewpoint over Barcelona: Bunkers el Carmel is an old bunker complex with a panoramic view over the ocean, the city and the surroundings of Barcelona, with the mountains behind.

Especially at sunset, it is a popular spot for photographers and locals who enjoy the special atmosphere. Therefore it is well visited at this time – but you can always find a good spot!

Due to the increasing popularity of the Bunkers el Carmel and the complaint of the surrounding residents, the area is now closed punctually at 7 pm. In autumn the sunset is already over at this time, but in summer this is unfortunately still too early. Alternatively, you can easily go to the surrounding park, which offers the same view. The walkway up to the bunker is surrounded by a beautiful forest. Therefore, it is also suitable for walking or jogging during the day, while you can enjoy a great view over the city and the Sagrada Familia.

Attention for all who arrive with their own car. There are exclusively private parking spaces in the area and we have seen a tow truck driving in circles. Especially in the late afternoon this is the case, because the residents are understandably not pleased about the many people who flock to Carmel at this time and occupy their parking spaces.

For this reason, we parked a few streets below and walked up the rest of the way. Alternatively, an Uber is also a good solution.

overlooking Barcelona during sunset, the best view from the bunkers Carmel in Barcelona

Tibidabo

Even higher above Barcelona is the cathedral Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor of Tibidabo at 512 meters. I saw this place on a picture before our trip and therefore had to come here. It is a Catholic cathedral, which, thanks to its location high in the mountains, offers a breathtaking view of the entire area.

There is also a small amusement park for children right in front of the cathedral.

Insider Tip in the surrounding of Barcelona: The Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery

For your visit to Barcelona, it’s worth booking a rental car at least one day to get to an insider spot in the surrounding area of Barcelona: The Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, which, in my opinion, is totally underrated. It’s just a 50-minute drive from Barcelona and surrounded by impressive rock formations. The view, the architecture, and the location – it’s just breathtaking! When we arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, we encountered few other tourists and were thus able to explore the place at our leisure.

In the near surroundings of the Monastery of Montserrat, there is also the famous stone staircase, which became famous through big Instagram pages. Unfortunately, it is now closed off due to the great popularity to keep tourists from climbing up.

On the way back, you can make a stop on a quiet country road that winds through the rocks. It is hard to believe that this place is just 45 km from Barcelona. The panorama of the surrounding mountains is very idyllic!

The Monastery of Montserrat is the perfect day trip from Barcelona.

I hope this travel guide for Barcelona will help you plan your own trip to this beautiful city. Besides visiting the many sights, don’t forget to stroll through the small alleys and let yourself be captivated by the magic of Barcelona.

→ Here you can find my ultimate hotel recommendation for Barcelona!

 Book the best hotels in Barcelona here:

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