Montjuïc in Barcelona

Montjuïc Hill and its surroundings are filled with fun places and surprising sights: from a castle to an open-air museum about Spain. In Montjuïc, you can also enjoy jogging, running, cycling, and even mountain climbing. Take your time to see everything here and enjoy the natural mountainous surroundings of Montjuïc.

What to See and Do in Montjuïc

Besides the expansive parks and breathtaking views of the city, there’s much more to see and do in Montjuïc. Below, I’ve listed the key points of Montjuïc, starting at Plaça d’Espanya.

Plaça Espanya

Plaça d’Espanya, along with the two Venetian towers, serves as the gateway to Montjuïc Hill. This square is one of the city’s major traffic hubs, so it’s always busy. In the center of the square stands a monument by Josep Maria Jujol that personifies the Ebro, Tagus, and Guadalquivir rivers.

The former bullfighting arena Las Arenas is also located in Plaça Espanya. Since 2011, it has been a modern shopping center with a beautiful viewing platform on top. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Barcelona.

Opposite, two towers in Venetian style mark the beginning of the Fira de Barcelona. This is a trade show area, with pavilions from 1929 and newer buildings used for various congresses, fairs, and events.

Las Arenas - Plaça d'Espanya Barcelona
Las Arenas

Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe

Between the Fira and the Palau Nacional is the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. This is a modernist yet classic building that contrasts with all the neoclassical buildings in the immediate vicinity.

Built by Mies van der Rohe as the German Pavilion for the 1929 World Exhibition, this simple construction was furnished only with the world-famous Barcelona chair.

Although the original building was demolished after the 1929 exhibition, a replica has been in place since 1986, which you can, of course, visit.

CaixaForum

The former Casaramona textile factory at the foot of Montjuïc is one of the most beautiful modernist buildings by Puig i Cadafalch.

After extensive renovation and expansion, the building was opened as a cultural center and exhibition space named CaixaForum.

The new cultural and event center belongs to the cultural foundation Fundació de La Caixa and serves, among other things, as the backdrop for the Festival de Música Antiga (annual festival for ancient music).

Palau Nacional and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

Atop the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina promenade stands the Palau Nacional. This monumental palace was originally built as the main building for the 1929 World Exhibition. Today, it houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).

Here you will find Catalan art from the 12th to the 20th century. Additionally, from the newly opened rooftop terrace atop the MNAC, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the city.

Palau Nacional en Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
Palau Nacional

Font Màgica (Magical Fountain)

On weekends, in the evening, the entire promenade from the Fira to the Palau Nacional is illuminated by a water, light, and music show at the Magic Fountain. The ‘magic fountain show’ is free to watch and always attracts thousands of tourists.

Crowds at the magic fountain show
Crowds at the magic fountain show

Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village)

At the ‘Poble Espanyol‘ Spanish Village, visitors find an artificial village, designed in 1929 to present Spanish products, folklore, and architecture during the World Exposition. A square from Castilla, a church from Andalucía, or the houses from Aragón… all regions are represented in this open-air museum!

Visiting Poble Espanyol in Barcelona
Visiting Poble Espanyol in Barcelona

Fundació Joan Miró

Allocate half a day for a visit to this museum. Josep Lluís Sert designed the Fundació Joan Miró museum in 1975 in sleek lines. It features paintings, sculptures, and the complete graphic work of Joan Miró.

Besides special exhibitions on modern art, the foundation regularly organizes events such as concerts and theater performances for children.

As it can get busy at the Miró museum, it’s advisable to buy your tickets in advance.

⭐ Grab Your Advantage Here!

Anella Olímpica

Several buildings were constructed on Montjuïc for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Especially the structures around Plaça d’Europa are worth seeing: here lies the Anella Olímpica, the hub of the Olympic Games and the site of many thrilling moments of the games.

You can visit the Olympic Stadium, Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, originally built for the 1929 World Exposition and later renovated for the Olympics. Notice the horse sculptures, a replica of the original sculptures by Pau Gargallo.

Additionally, one of the most original and beautiful buildings for the Olympics is Arata Isozaki’s Palau Sant Jordi. This palace is an indoor arena with a wavy glass roof. Today, it is used for concerts and other events.

Opposite the square, Santiago Calatrava’s remarkable communication tower rises.

The nearby Picornell swimming pools now host many international swimming competitions.

Anella Olímpica in Barcelona bezoeken
Anella Olímpica

Montjuïc Cemetery

The Castell de Montjuïc is a 17th-century fortress overlooking the city. In the past, this fort was used more for bombarding the city than for protecting its people. It also housed a prison where people were executed. Thus, this castle has a strongly repressive past. Inside, you’ll find various military materials, information about the Spanish Civil War, and tombstones from the Jewish cemetery that used to be in Montjuïc.

Views from Montjuïc Castle
Views from Montjuïc Castle

Begraafplaats van Montjuïc

The Cementiri de Montjuïc, or Montjuïc Cemetery, opened in 1883 as a solution to the space shortage at the Cementiri de Poblenou. It is often visited by tourists and the curious, eager to see this mini-city of the dead, filled with impressive funerary architecture. Some belong to renowned artists like Josep M. Jujol, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, or Eusebi Arnau.

Some of Barcelona’s most famous residents are buried here: from Joan Gamper (founder of FC Barcelona) to the artist Joan Miró, the architect of l’Eixample Ildefons Cerdà, or the president of the Generalitat Francesc Macià.

You can also admire Europe’s only collection of funeral carriages here.

Montjuïc Lighthouse

A lesser-known attraction on Montjuïc Hill is the Montjuïc Lighthouse, Far de Montjuïc, located between the castle and the Ronda Litoral, in the area known as El Morrot. The current building, dating from 1925, was designed by architect José Cabestany, at 108 meters above sea level.

Refugi Antiaeri 307

An interesting place to visit on Montjuïc is the Refugi 307. It’s a bomb shelter from the Civil War for local residents, dug at the foot of Montjuïc Hill.

Other Museums on Montjuïc

In Montjuïc, there are other, lesser-known museums such as the Museu Etnològic (Ethnological Museum) or the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya (Archaeological Museum of Catalonia). Nature lovers will be pleasantly surprised by a visit to the Jardí Botànic, Barcelona’s Botanical Garden.

⭐ Grab Your Advantage Here!

Parks on Montjuïc

Montjuïc has many parks where you can enjoy the tranquility, nature, and fantastic views. For example, you can walk through the Jardins Mossèn Costa i Llobera (Barcelona’s cactus park), Parc del Mirador del Migdia, Jardins de Joan Brossa, Jardins Cinto Verdaguer, Jardins de Laribal (with the cat fountain), or the Jardins del Teatre Grec.

Cactus Garden in Barcelona

The cactus garden on Montjuïc Hill, actually named Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, is one of the many hidden gems in Barcelona. Here, you can see over 800 different types of cacti and take great photos among the cacti and palm trees.

Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera Barcelona
Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera

Viewpoints on Montjuïc

On Montjuïc Hill, you enjoy beautiful views of the city wherever you look. Take, for example, the viewpoints Mirador del Poble Sec and Mirador de l’Alcalde. However, the views from the Palau Nacional and those atop Montjuïc Castle remain the most famous.

A walk along the Carretera de Montjuïc and the Passeig de Miramar, or even better, a ride on the cable car over Montjuïc Hill, is something I recommend to everyone.

For the best sunset, it is said that you should be at Mirador del Migdia, a viewpoint overlooking the Zona Franca, the port, Montjuïc Cemetery, and the entire Baix Llobregat. In the summer, a cozy bar opens here where meat is grilled on the barbecue: La Caseta del Migdia.

Sports on Montjuïc

Montjuïc Hill is a popular spot for locals to engage in sports. There are many sports facilities such as athletics tracks, football, hockey, tennis, and rugby fields, various swimming pools, and even a riding school for horseback riding lessons.

The hilly environment and the peace that reigns there invite you to put on your running shoes and take a run through the park.

Others opt for cycling, or to go climbing at La Foixarda or archery at the Fossar de Santa Eulàlia.

And for children, there’s even a small traffic park where they can learn about city traffic with their bikes.

Swimming Pools on Montjuïc

There are many swimming pools and sports facilities in Montjuïc. For example, you can work out at the Piscines Bernat Picornell, or enjoy the outdoor pool of Piscines Municipals Montjuïc.

The outdoor pools are open in the summer (from late June to early September) and offer fun for the whole family.

Restaurants in Montjuïc

While you can bring your own food and enjoy a picnic in one of the many parks on Montjuïc, there are also plenty of dining options on the hill. From simple kiosks with bags of chips, ice cream, and water, to fancy restaurants with the most beautiful views of the city.

  • Miramar (Carretera Miramar, 40): the perfect spot for a drink and a snack with a view. Amazing outdoor terrace with panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbor.
  • Terraza Martínez (Carretera Miramar, 38): a child-friendly restaurant on Montjuïc Hill, known among other things for its delicious paellas. Especially enjoy the view from its beautiful terrace.
  • Óleum (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya): a chic restaurant inside the MNAC with stunning views over Barcelona.
  • Caseta del Migdia (Mirador del Migdia): in the summer, this bar opens in the hidden Mirador del Migdia, serving simple barbecue dishes like sardines and sausages.
  • Salts (Avinguda Miramar, 31): a simple bar with astonishing views over the city and the swimming pools of Montjuïc.
La Caseta del Migdia Barcelona
La Caseta del Migdia

History of Montjuïc

According to experts, the name Montjuïc comes from ‘mont’ (mountain) and ‘juïc’ (‘Jewish’ in old Catalan). On this hill, the Jewish community had its cemetery, which was later plundered after the expulsion of the Jews in Spain in 1492 by the royal couple Fernando and Isabel.

The first inhabitants of Montjuïc were actually the Iberians, although there are indications of human life on Montjuïc during prehistoric times. Remains of a small Roman settlement have also been found here.

The sandstone that Montjuïc Hill is made of was used as building material for many buildings that formed Roman Barcino (like the Roman wall and temples), but later also for the construction of churches and Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.

In the Middle Ages, churches, a lighthouse, and a defensive watchtower were built on Montjuïc Hill. This last structure formed the basis of a 17th-century fortress, which would later be transformed into Montjuïc Castle.

The central government often used this castle, due to its strategic location overlooking the city, to subdue the rebellious population. For example, the city was bombarded from Montjuïc in 1842 and 1843 to suppress uprisings against government policies.

The castle then became a prison, where extrajudicial executions were carried out during the Civil War.

During the 1929 World Exposition, the first attempt was made to transform the hill into a recreational area and to shed its bad image. That’s when the Fira, the Palau Nacional, and the Spanish Village ‘Poble Espanyol’ were built.

From 1940, thousands of migrants settled on the hill from other parts of Spain, looking for work. They lived in precarious shacks on improvised streets. These ‘barraques’ existed until the last remaining residents moved in the 1970s.

It wasn’t until 1960 that the castle was partially leased to the municipality, and in 1963 it was opened as a military museum.

Between 1966 and 1998, there was an amusement park on Montjuïc Hill, similar to the one on Tibidabo Hill. It was a family amusement park, featuring various classic attractions such as roller coasters, bumper cars, carousels, and haunted houses, and at the time, it had Spain’s largest roller coaster.

For the 1992 Olympics, the Anella Olímpica was built on Montjuïc, which included the Olympic Stadium, Palau Sant Jordi, and Calatrava’s communication tower.

In 2007, the military museum on Montjuïc was dismantled, which was the final push needed to free Montjuïc from its repressive image. Now, this hill with its castle on top is once again a wonderful place for citizens to have fun and relax.

Getting to Montjuïc

Plaça d’Espanya is the most popular entrance to Montjuïc. You can get there by metro L1 and L3 and get off at Espanya station. You can continue walking towards the Font Màgica and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) via escalators.

But there is much more to see and do in Montjuïc, so I recommend taking bus line 150 if you want to tour the hill (the bus stop is right under the two Venetian towers next to Plaça d’Espanya).

Another option is to take the Funicular de Montjuïc from the Paral.lel metro station (L2 and L3) and then use the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car. This way, you reach the top of the hill the fastest and enjoy an excellent view of the city.

Note: Parking at Montjuïc is discouraged due to the frequent car break-ins.

Cable Cars on Montjuïc

The most spectacular way to see Montjuïc is by cable car; the so-called telefèric.

There are two different cable cars on Montjuïc Hill: the Telefèric Aeri del Port, which runs back and forth from the port of Barcelona to Montjuïc, and the Telefèric de Montjuïc, which takes you to the highest point of the hill, near Montjuïc Castle.

Useful information

Price: It’s free to walk around Montjuïc and enjoy the views. The Font Màgica is also free. Various cultural buildings, sports centers, and museums have their own admission fees.

Opening Hours: Montjuïc is open all day and night. The various museums, sports centers, and buildings have their own opening hours.

Address: Montjuïc 08038 Barcelona

Public Transportation:

Metro: Espanya (L1, L3, L8), Paral·lel (L2, L3)

Bus: 13, 55, 125, 150

Cable Car: Funicular de Montjuïc, Telefèric de Montjuïc, Telefèric Aeri del Port

Train: Espanya (R5, R6, R50, R60, S3, S4, S8, S9)