Barcelona – the most popular city destination in Catalonia and Spain

Barcelona – the most popular city destination in Catalonia and Spain.

A friend of mine recently returned from Barcelona where he had been pick-pocketed, losing his wallet with all his money, credit and bank cards. He was able to borrow from his girlfriend, but the loss of his money and cards ruined the trip and the relationship.

Be warned, Barcelona and particularly where there are big crowds of people is renowned for its pickpockets. Keep your wallet in your front pocket or inside your jacket and keep your carry bag in front of you not behind, even when seated. Always have a separate copy record of your passport and cards – so if you lost any of this documentation, you at least have something to refer too. Handbags and phones are also targets for thieves. It is much safer to keep your valuables in a hotel safe, then carry them with you on the streets.

Some of the thieves operate as a group too and they are well versed in knowing how to distract and target a potential victim.

Having said this, Barcelona is overall a safe city and thousands, in fact millions of tourists descend on the City to see the works of Antonio Gaudi, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, heading to the beaches and taking in the atmosphere of the city with its great food and activities.

Tourists come to Barcelona by air, train, bus, car, ferries and ships with El Prat de Llobregat International Airport the main airport and Estació Sants the main railway station with connections to cities in Spain and to Italy and France.

There is also the TMB Metro which has eleven lines that connect most parts of the city, including to the Airport’s T1 and T2 terminals on the L9 Sud line.

Barcelona is a port city located on the Mediterranean Sea with numbers of beaches to its north and south, and cruise liners, ferries and ships dock here, the ferries taking passengers to Italy, the Balearic Islands and some to Morocco too.

From a cultural view, Barcelona has over 50 museums and countless art galleries and a rich history dating back to Roman days, so there is a lot to see and do, and of course you could equally just spend your time sitting on the beach, shopping, people watching, enjoying tapas in any of the many bars and restaurants or joining the crowd of fans watching Barcelona’s famous football team, FC Barҫa in action.

So, what is best to see in Barcelona?


The number One attraction is the Sagrada Familia Temple – and we have written about Antoni Gaudi’s amazing work as separate pages on this website. Hopefully the information on those pages will inspire you to see and understand more about Gaudi’s amazing works.

As I have said on other pages on this website – “the more you know, the more you see”!

• With over 50 museums in the city as well as Art Galleries, so you are spoiled for choice as to what to see, from the great artists to the esoteric, but most likely you will start your exploration of the city starting at the Barcelona’s most famous long tourist strip, La Rambla. The street, which is more like a tree lined avenue is in the older part of the city and is almost always crowded with lots of activities (see warning above), with smaller historic laneways leading off it and Plazas close by. The quietest time will be in the mornings, but it will get busier by lunchtime – one o’clock and onwards and go on into the night. There are three Metro stations located here (it’s a long street) with Catalunya station at one end, Liceu mid-way and Drassanes near the Statue of Christopher Columbus on the Port/Harbour end. There is always something happening, with many interesting places to see on La Rambla itself or relatively close by. There is a great food market here called the Mercat de la Boqueria and the Plaza called Plaҫa Reial – closest Metro, Liceu, while close to the Statue of Columbus are the Museu de Cera, Centre d’Art, Santa Monica and the Museu Maritim (Maritime Museum).

Barcelona’s main Cathedral dating back to 1298 is located on Plaҫa de la Seu and the Museu d’Història de Barcelona, on Plaҫa del Rei, an amazing museum with relics and artefacts from Barcelona’s past dating back to the days of Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar. Also look for the Museu Frederic Marès on Plaҫa de Sant Lu with a Roman Wall next to it. The Metro station closest to these places is Metro Jaume I. The other amazing great church/temple to see is the Gothic Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar on the Plaza of the same name. It was built between 1329 and 1383 and there are tours that will take you to the rooftop of the Basilica and tell you more about this amazing Basilica.

Not far away look for the magnificent Palau de la Música Catalana building where concerts are held and Museu Picasso, near Metro station, Jaume I where you will see lots of the works of Pablo Picasso. There are over 3500 of his artworks on display so well worth the effort to pay a visit located in buildings, some of which date back to the 14th century.

• One museum not to be to be missed is the Fundació Joan Miró located in the Parc de Montjuï. Here you will see the work of the great artist, and you get there via a Funicular tramway from Metro Station, Paral-Lel – a short journey up the mountain. From here you can then take a Cablecar to the top of Montjuï for great views over the city and visit Montjuï Castle, a fortress castle dating back to 1640.

Montjuïc is a big park/hillside forest area and if you took the Metro to station Espanya you will get closest to see the huge Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and nearby Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya, Museu Olimpic I de l’Esport with lots of other activities in this location too, including a light and fountain show at night and the Poble Espanyol Village – where there are 117 buildings showcasing Catalonian architecture through the ages. There is also craft and artisans working here in the village, the village itself first developed for a 1929 World Exhibition. The Botanic Gardens are also located here too, covering an area of around 14 hectares. You could easily spend a day here seeing all that is here in Montjuïc.

• There are so many museums in Barcelona – from a museum of Inventions, to Erotica, Hash and Marihuana, Music, Catalonian history, Chocolate, Maritime Museum, perfumes and more, so you will be hard pressed to see them all. If you have a special interest, there may well be a museum that has it. Ask at the visitor centre or google to find out.


Barcelona has its port, marina and lots of beaches that run up and down the coastline. The closest beach to La Rambla is Barceloneta Beach with the grand scale 5 star W Hotel standing like a giant yacht spinnaker on one end of the beach. There is always something happening here on the beach and it has the beach bars, boardwalk and wide sandy beach too. Always keep an eye on your valuables if you decide to spend time on the beach or in the water.

Other Barcelona beaches are Nova Icària Beach with the Frank Gehry designed Peix building here, and the Icaria shopping centre nearby, Mar Bella Beach and Bogatell Beach, but there are many others up and down the coastline.


I think in planning your trip to Barcelona, first check out all the hotel and other places to stay – be that close to the centre of the city or along the coastline and in summer book early to avoid disappointment. Once you have your hotel and accommodation sorted out, then plan your days from there.

If you intend to see inside the Sagrada Familia and not just see the outside from the street, book a ticket on-line and go early to hopefully avoid the crowds that head here too. Once you have seen it, you then can relax a bit and take your time to see other places.

Certainly, the easiest way to get around to the main sights is to take a Hop on- Hop off bus. This will make it easy and convenient to see the places and things that are of most interest to you – and relax, it is not a rush to see every museum and other places of interest.

Remember the whole basis of travel is seeing and doing different things, and that means enjoying yourself, not rushing and frustrated with standing in a queue or getting a little lost.

Happy travels

Geoff Stuart

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