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First Time In Barcelona?

Are you planning your first trip to Barcelona soon? Then you undoubtedly want to make the most of your city trip! But which sights must you absolutely see, where should you buy tickets in advance, and where can you find the best shops and the tastiest restaurants? On this blog, I give you the best tips for your first time in Barcelona.

Barcelona for Beginners

Your first time in Barcelona is obviously very exciting, but how do you approach it properly? What can you expect? You might wonder what there is to see and do in Barcelona, what the main attractions are, how public transportation works, and how you’ll find your way in such a big city.

First-timers to Barcelona have many questions. That’s why I’ve put together the following beginner’s guide with everything you need for your first time in Barcelona.

As a born and raised Barcelonian, I know the city like the back of my hand and can tell you exactly what to look out for on your first trip to Barcelona and what you should and shouldn’t do.

If you are going to Barcelona for the first time and want to know how to plan this trip, read on here.

What to See and Do During Your First Time in Barcelona?

When you think of Barcelona, you immediately think of the warm weather, tapas and sangria, the beautiful buildings of Gaudí, and FC Barcelona. But of course, there’s much more to see and experience in Barcelona, especially for those who have never been before!

Below, I have gathered all my tips for a first time in Barcelona so that you can make the most of your city trip.

The Highlights

Some attractions and sights should not be missed on your to-do list. Keep in mind that for most tourist attractions, there are often long lines at the ticket office. It’s often worth buying tickets online in advance to avoid the long lines and spend your time in Barcelona doing something more enjoyable.

  • Sagrada Família: Gaudí’s unfinished basilica is a real must-see and is Spain’s most visited monument.
  • Park Güell: This fairytale park by Gaudí was originally intended as a city garden but was left unfinished. The master himself lived for a while in Park Güell’s pink house, where the Casa Museu Gaudí now stands.
  • Passeig de Gràcia: Barcelona’s Champs-Élysées is a fabulous walking promenade where you can stroll past the most expensive brands and the most beautiful buildings in Modernista style (such as Gaudí’s Casa Milà and Casa Batlló).
  • Las Ramblas: Barcelona’s famous promenade is daily flooded by tourists who come to watch. Despite the crowds, the Ramblas remain an emblematic place that you must have seen on a first visit to Barcelona.
  • Boqueria Market: In Barcelona’s most famous fresh market, you can find all sorts of delicacies to buy as souvenirs. You can also taste various snacks at the market bars and get acquainted with Spanish tapas.
  • Gothic Quarter: Barcelona’s old city center is mainly known for its beautiful medieval buildings, with the Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça del Rei, and Plaça Reial as highlights.
  • El Born: Another charming old neighborhood in central Barcelona is El Born, known for hip bars and restaurants, lovely boutiques, and art studios of local artists.
  • The Beach and Harbor: One of Barcelona’s biggest advantages is its location on the Mediterranean Sea and the miles-long sandy beach where you can relax throughout the year.
  • Montjuïc: On the green city hill Montjuïc, there are plenty of interesting sights; from an old military castle to Catalonia’s largest art museum. It’s great for walking (or cycling) and has plenty of spots to rest.
  • Tibidabo: Barcelona’s largest mountain offers one of the city’s most beautiful and breathtaking views. In addition, there’s a vintage amusement park and a monumental church with a great view at the top of Tibidabo.

Other Fun Things

In addition to relaxing on the beach, shopping, and eating well, there’s much more you can do in Barcelona. If you want to get a good insight into the city upon arrival, book a tour at the beginning of your vacation and let the fun begin!

  • Take a guided tour: The best way to get to know the city well is to participate in a tour with a local guide.
  • Dining out: You can eat wonderfully in Barcelona without spending a lot of money. Although you can find restaurants from all over the world in Barcelona, I recommend visiting authentic Spanish and Catalan restaurants to get acquainted with the local cuisine.
  • Shopping: Barcelona is a paradise for shoppers. All major fashion chains and well-known brands have a store here. Portal de l’Àngel, along with Passeig de Gràcia, is one of the main shopping streets.
  • Visiting museums: Culture lovers will be pleasantly surprised by the large number of museums in Barcelona. Although the most visited museum in Barcelona is FC Barcelona’s club museum, a visit to Barcelona’s history museum and the MNAC art museum is also highly recommended.
  • Attend the Magic Fountain show: The weekly free show of the Font Màgica is definitely a must-see if you have the opportunity.
  • Sailing along the coast: As a port city, Barcelona also has tourist boats that sail along the coast. The most famous are Las Golondrinas sightseeing boats.
  • Sitting on the terrace: Tapas are a must during a visit to Barcelona. The best part is enjoying them on the terrace, surrounded by all the hustle and bustle.
  • Relaxing in nature: If you occasionally want to seek peace and nature, you can visit one of the many city parks in Barcelona. Locals’ favorite is Parc de la Ciutadella, but Montjuïc hill is also very worthwhile.
  • Visiting the best viewpoints: Marvel at the best views over Barcelona from one of its many viewpoints or cable cars. Popular among both tourists and locals is the viewpoint at Bunkers del Carmel, which offers a fantastic view of the city, but the one from Tibidabo is also not to be missed.

What to Eat During Your First Time in Barcelona?

Those visiting Barcelona for the first time will naturally want to eat tapas at an authentic tapas restaurant. But there’s much more than just tapas in Barcelona! On the one hand, you have the local cuisine, with delicious dishes like the famous paella, serrano ham, and tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelet), and on the other hand, the international cuisine, with the latest food trends and dishes from around the world.

When you come to Barcelona, I especially recommend you try dishes like pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato), croquetas (Spanish croquettes), empanadillas (stuffed empanadas), arroz negro (black rice), fideuá (a type of paella but with pasta), and canelones (stuffed cannelloni with bechamel sauce).

Also, stop by a bakery and be surprised by the wide range of pastries and other treats like ensaimada (sweet pastry in the shape of a snail shell), magdalena (Spanish muffin), coca de vidre (crispy cookie), or the typical brazo de gitano (gypsy roll).

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Photo of author
Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

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