Let’s explore Barcelona

Barcelona travel guide

A city of beaches, tapas and rooftop bars, it’s no wonder I consider Barcelona to be one of my favourite European city breaks. I simply adore this city and I’ve visited numerous times over the years.

You’ll find me hopping from tapas bar to rooftop bar, soaking up the lively atmosphere and getting absorbed in the rich culture along the way. In my travel guide, I share everything I think you need to know about visiting this fabulous city.

About the author

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

I consider Barcelona to be an absolute must-see for any budding or seasoned traveller. The incredible architecture and outstanding cuisine, alongside the picturesque beaches and booming nightlife, is sure to be a big hit for anyone travelling to the Catalonian capital.

With culture to spare, Barcelona provides an insight into Catalonian life with an added splash of colour. Combining the very best that Mediterranean life has to offer, I have no doubt that the charming streets of Barcelona will welcome you in with open arms.

Experience mouth-watering cuisine and become immersed in the traditional festivals that grace the streets of Barcelona each year.

Fall in love with the humble and family-run businesses just as much as the grand and stunning architecture. Barcelona’s identity is clear, and that’s exactly why so many people, myself included, love it.


Want to save up to 25% on hotels?

Subscribe to the Pocket Wanderings newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.

How to get to Barcelona

As Catalonia’s capital on the coast of northeastern Spain, there are plenty of options for how to travel to Barcelona, both domestically and internationally. From air travel to public transport, here are the best ways to travel to and from Barcelona.

By plane: There are three airports located in or around the city: Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN), Girona-Costa Brava Airport (GRO), and Reus International Airport (REU).

This makes international travel accessible and also provides the option for domestic travellers to get to the city via air travel.

By train: As for travel to and from the airport, I recommend the Aerobus as the perfect option for getting to and from BCN airport. The Aerobus offers direct travel from the city centre to Barcelona’s main airport, and vice versa.

This is an affordable option that runs every 10 to 15 minutes, 24 hours per day. You can also consider other forms of public transport such as buses, or opt for a taxi ride.

I’d only recommend a taxi if your accommodation is a little outside of the city centre, or you need to be dropped at the doorstep of your hotel or Airbnb.

By rail: If you’re travelling domestically and prefer to avoid flying, try rail travel or other forms of public transport. These options can be value for money if you book them far enough in advance, where possible.


20 best luxury hotels in Barcelona

From lavish five star hotels to boutique boltholes, discover my pick of the best luxury hotels in Barcelona, with spas, rooftop bars and lavish suites.


20 Michelin-star restaurants in Barcelona

From traditional Catalan cuisine to exceptional international dishes, discover my favourite Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona.

How to get around Barcelona

You have so many options when it comes to getting around the Catalonian capital. Dust off your walking boots to get your steps in while taking in all the beauty of Barcelona’s streets. If that’s not quite your style, there are several other options for you to explore the vibrant city.

As far as public transport is concerned, you’ve got the choice between the Metro, the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC), the tram, and buses. All these modes of transport offer fast travel across the city at reasonable prices.

Personally, I walked where possible and used the Metro for longer journeys, which I found easy to use (and far less stressful than the London Underground!).

I recommend picking up an Hola Barcelona travel card, as it makes getting around Barcelona easy and affordable. You can get them for 48 hours, 72 hours, or 96 hours.

Jessie at Barcelona Cathedral
Casa Battlo Barcelona

We’ve also seen the rise of e-mobility in towns and cities. This means electric scooters and electric bicycles won’t be at all out of place in Barcelona.

As far as taxis go, the official Barcelona taxis are black and yellow, displaying a green light if the taxi is free. Uber does not exist in Barcelona, but you can use the alternative app Free Now, which is essentially the same.

Alternatively, book a sightseeing tour in Barcelona for an easy way to get around while seeing the key attractions.

Best time to visit Barcelona

Whenever you decide to visit Barcelona, I have no doubt that it’ll be unforgettable. It’s worth considering what time of year you travel though, so you can meet your own travel needs best and experience everything you set out to.


I think Barcelona in the spring is truly the perfect time to explore and walk around the gorgeous city. Temperatures stay mild, but cool enough to be comfortable on your travels.

There’ll be less visitors during spring than in the high season, but Easter is always busy. You’ll definitely experience a more laid-back vibe in the spring months.


Unsurprisingly, summer is the busiest time in Barcelona for tourists and travellers. Plus, it’s best time to enjoy the beaches. If you can handle the crowds, the buzz and atmosphere will be unforgettable.

Summertime sees many locals travel away from the city to make space for the masses wanting to experience the beauty of Barcelona.


Taking a dip in the Barcelona sea in September shouldn’t be too much of a shock as the sea is still warm from the summer months!

Autumn brings mild weather with fewer crowds than in summertime, so you can explore ‘till your heart’s content. Towards the end of autumn, the weather can be a bit more hit and miss, so be prepared for both sunshine and showers.


Travelling to Barcelona in winter will see you avoid the masses of tourists seen in high season and greet you with lower cost accommodation.

You’ll still be able to see all the famous sights, just with a few more layers on! I’d really advise experiencing the magic of the Christmas markets by travelling to Barcelona during the festive season.


20 amazing things to do in Barcelona

From idyllic parks and iconic landmarks to beautiful beaches and intriguing museums, here is my pick of the best things to do in Barcelona.


A guide to the best beaches in Barcelona

Whether you’re after Med-side volleyball, tapas on the sand, or supping Sangria on a sun lounger, here are my favourite beaches in Barcelona.

Browse and book the best activities and attractions in Barcelona:

Frequently asked questions

How to get from London to Barcelona?

The easiest way of getting from London to Barcelona is to fly from London Heathrow or London Gatwick into Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN). From there, I’d recommend getting the Aerobus into the city centre. The flight from London to Barcelona takes around two hours.

What is the best area to stay in Barcelona?

One of the best areas to stay in when visiting Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter. It’s centrally located with excellent transport links and charming streets. Browse hotels in Barcelona.

What language is spoken in Barcelona?

Barcelona has two official languages: Catalan and Spanish. Most locals will speak both languages, but many also speak English, especially as there are a lot of expats in Barcelona.

How many Michelin-star restaurants in Barcelona?

There are 19 Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona. These include two restaurants with three Michelin stars, six with two stars, and 11 with 1 Michelin star.

What are the best day trips from Barcelona?

One of the most popular day trips from Barcelona is Montserrat Mountain. It’s an iconic location with religious significance as well as simply stunning surroundings.

Is Barcelona a good destination for solo travellers?

I think Barcelona is a fantastic destination for solo travellers, including solo female travellers. It’s a relatively safe city with extremely friendly locals.

The tapas bar culture is perfect for dining solo. Read more about the best European cities for solo travel.

What is Barcelona famous for?

Barcelona is famous for its spectacular Gaudí architecture, including La Sagrada Família. It’s also very well known within the football world. Barcelona is a famous city destination for its beautiful beaches and proximity to the mountains.

Is Barcelona a safe city to visit?

Barcelona is generally a very safe city to visit. The biggest issue – as with many European cities – is pickpockets. They are especially prevalent on the Metro and around La Rambla.

What is the famous cathedral in Barcelona?

The most famous cathedral in Barcelona is La Sagrada Família. It’s still under construction but is still a jaw-dropping sight to see. Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral is another recognisable landmark in Barcelona.

Although the limelight has been somewhat stolen by La Sagrada Família, the Gothic Cathedral is still a stunning piece of architecture that I think is well worth visiting.

Barcelona highlights

Infamous landmarks

Barcelona is steeped in history, and as such is abundant with infamous landmarks. You simply can’t visit Barcelona without taking a trip to see Basílica de la Sagrada Familia.

It’s largely regarded as Antoni Gaudí’s best-known work, and has become somewhat symbolic of Catalonia’s capital city. Another of Gaudí’s installations is the beautiful Parc Güell which offers a stunning space to explore and spectacular views over the city.

Although La Sagrada Famillia steals much of the limelight, don’t miss the beautiful Barcelona cathedral. While it may not have the iconic status of Gaudí’s masterpiece, it is still a seriously impressive piece of architecture in the Gothic Quarter.

If you’re more bothered about football than architecture, then FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium is for you. Visit the club museum at Camp Nou to see Barcelona FC trophies up close and personal, and some of Lionel Messi’s many Ballon D’Or trophies.

Las Ramblas, a 1.2km long shopping street and promenade, is the perfect outing for the shopaholic. Just be wary of the many tourist traps and scams. I’d avoid eating along Las Ramblas, as you’re unlikely to get an authentic Catalonian experience.

Learn more about the landmarks and things to do in Barcelona. Or book a Barcelona sightseeing tour.

Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
Cathedral Barcelona

Barcelona beaches

As Barcelona is a coastal city, Catalonia’s capital has beaches to spare! From Bogatell Beach and Barceloneta Beach to Nova Mar Bella Beach and Sant Sebastià Beach, you’ll find the perfect beach for you.

Popular with locals and tourists alike. Barcelona’s beaches are a buzzy and inviting place to be. Be sure to visit one of the beach restaurants and bars for super fresh seafood paella or seaside tapas.

For the adventurous traveller, I’d recommend trying your hand at watersports, or having a go on some inflatable assault courses at sea. Volleyball is a common sight on the beaches and is a fun way to wile away an afternoon for those who get restless sunbathing.

But if you’re one to enjoy a spot of relaxation, stretch out on the beach and bask in the sun. Just make sure you remember your sunscreen!

Read more about the best beaches in Barcelona

Barceloneta Beach

Bars & restaurants

Barcelona is famed for its traditional cuisine – from rooftop bars to local tapas bars, the foodie in each of us is ignited in this high-spirited city.

While not a Catalonian concept, tapas bars can be found right across the capital for you to enjoy. I’d recommend doing your research to discover the places where locals like to eat.

This is the only way to experience an authentic Barcelona dining experience. Try asking the hotel staff or Airbnb host where you are staying, as this is how I got some of the best recommendations.

Across Barcelona, most restaurants open from 13:00 – 16:00, and then 20:30 – 00:00 (although many open earlier to cater for tourists). Locals tend to eat quite late in the evenings, which is worth bearing in mind if you want to enjoy a more buzzy restaurant experience.

Tips are rarely added to the bill, so if you’ve experienced especially good service, a tip would be greatly appreciated anywhere you go. 

Discover my pick of the best rooftop bars in Barcelona and the best Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona.

Save on Pinterest for later:

Want to save up to 25% on hotels?

Subscribe to the Pocket Wanderings newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.