We value your privacy

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience, serve personalised content, and analyse our traffic. By clicking "Accept All" you accept this and consent that we share this information with third parties and that your data may be processed in the USA. For more information, please read our .

You can adjust your preferences at any time. If you deny, we will use only the essential cookies and unfortunately, you will not receive any personalised content. To deny, .

Check out our hottest Barcelona holiday deals

Plan your next Barcelona trip

Content missingContent missing

You need to accept the cookies and privacy policy of this external service to view the content

Barcelona city breaks: Discover the Catalan city by the sea

One of Spain's most beautiful cities, Barcelona offers an enticing blend of city, sea and Mediterranean flair. No matter which sort of trip you're after - whether it's a quick weekend stay or a longer holiday - Barcelona is packed full of attractions, eateries, day trip options and events; you'll never run out of things to do.

Known as the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is equally renowned for its soaring, otherworldly architecture, fun nightlife scene and, of course, its beaches. After all, who wouldn't want to go on a city break that really feels like it's a beach holiday?

Planning a solo trip, couple's getaway or fun-filled group trip? Read on for our guide to the best Barcelona holiday deals, the top areas to stay and all the best attractions to visit and activities to do while you're in this vibrant city.

When is the best time to visit Barcelona?

As with most of the big cities in Europe, you can visit Barcelona all year round - it just depends on what you'd like to do in the city! Each travel month has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here's our breakdown of the most popular travel months for Barcelona.

☀️ June, July, August and September: These are Barcelona's peak summer months; it can get very hot during this time, so it's best to do your sightseeing in the morning or late afternoon. Or, even better, cool down by going for a swim at the beach.

⛅ April, May and October: Known as the shoulder season, expect the weather to be warm but milder than peak summer. Many consider these months to be the ideal time for long sightseeing days.

❄️ November, December, January, February and March: You can expect mild to cool temperatures during these months, plus much cheaper holiday prices!

Barcelona at a glance

Flight duration (from London): 2 hours

Main airport: Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport

Population: 1.6 million

Languages: Catalan, Spanish

Currency: Euro (€)

Socket type: Type C and F (adapter required)

Time zone: Central European Time (CET); 1 hour ahead of the UK

Book flights to Barcelona

Content missingContent missing

You need to accept the cookies and privacy policy of this external service to view the content

Getting to Barcelona

With a flight time of just over two hours from London, a short plane flight is the most common way of getting yourself to Barcelona from the UK. If your budget is tight, you'll be pleased to hear that Barcelona Airport is served by a number of low-cost airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and Vueling.

As mentioned before, Barcelona is very popular during the summer months and during the city's major festivals. If you're planning to travel during this time, plan ahead and look out for early bird deals.

Getting around Barcelona

Getting around Barcelona is both easy and affordable. The city's public transport operates on an integrated fare system, which means that you're allowed to transfer for free to other modes of transport within one hour and 15 minutes of validating your ticket.

That means that you can use the metro, funicular, FGC (Ferrocarriles de la Generalitat), trams and buses freely within that time frame. With its eight lines and almost round-the-clock service, Barcelona's metro is one of the best ways to explore the city. During the late-night hours when the metro isn't running, you can use night buses or simply hop in a taxi instead.

In terms of fares, you can pay for single tickets or T-casual cards, which entitle you to 10 journeys; our recommendation is to opt for the Hola Barcelona travel cards, which come in increments of two- to five-day travel passes.

The best areas to stay in Barcelona

Barcelona is a large, sprawling city; so much so that it can feel tricky to know where you should base yourself. The city is home to a large amount of neighbourhoods - each with their own unique offerings and vibe - so it really boils down to what you're planning to do while in Barcelona.

If you're exploring Barcelona as a family, you may want to stay somewhere a lot quieter compared to someone who's travelled to the city to experience its famous nightlife, for example. Whether it's your first time in Barcelona or your fifth, here are some of our favourite areas to stay in the city.

For first-time visitors to Barcelona

Our advice is similar for most first-time stays: try to book central. Choosing to stay central is a good rule of thumb for most destinations, as the main attractions are usually clustered here, plus you'll feel like you're right at the heart of all the action.

In Barcelona's case, its attractions are quite spread out, spanning different neighbourhoods, but the public transport system is fast and efficient, meaning that a central base will allow you get everywhere you need to go.

Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter), El Raval and El Born are three popular central areas to stay in, with each neighbourhood boasting its own set of attractions and advantages. If your main aim is to see as many Antoni Gaudí architectural masterpieces as possible, the more spacious Eixample is another great choice for a central stay in Barcelona. While you'll find plenty of accommodation options in the centre, it's always worth booking early to find decent prices, especially during summer, Christmas, New Year and the city's big festivals.

For something different

Located just beyond Eixample, Gràcia has become the neighbourhood of choice for those who want to get a sense of what it really feels like to live in Barcelona. Filled with some of the city's best culinary hidden gems - as well as a wealth of independent cafes and shops - Gràcia will appeal to anyone seeking Barcelona's more authentic side.

Or, if you've stayed in the central areas before and would like to experience something different on your next Barcelona trip, we'd highly recommend a leisurely long weekend in Gràcia.

For families in Barcelona

For those travelling with children, many families still choose to base themselves centrally for quick and easy access to the sights. For a feeling of spaciousness, you could also consider Eixample; for easy days at the beach, stay in the Sant Marti district, specifically in Poblenou or Vila Olimpica.

Find your perfect accommodation in Barcelona


Things to do in Barcelona: A perfect 3-day itinerary

If you haven't visited Barcelona before, you've been missing out. This coastal city is known worldwide for its 5km shopping stretch, starting from the top of Las Ramblas across Plaça Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia to Avinguda Diagonal. Here you will find international brands, such as Chanel, Armani, Cartier, Miro, Mont Blanc, Zara and also smaller boutique shops. In the evenings, you can unwind by the harbour and dig into a traditional paella in one of the many restaurants.

While it's easy to spend a week or two in Barcelona, three days should give you enough time to have a taste of what this Catalan city has to offer.

Day 1

If there's anything that classifies as must-sees in Barcelona, these have to include the impressive modernist architectural sites of Antoni Gaudí. Take some time in the morning to discover spots like Casa Amatller, Casa Milà and Casa Batlló; then top up your energy levels in one of the amazing tapas bars in the area.

After lunch, take a walk along the famous Las Ramblas, a long pedestrianised street full of performers, shops, restaurants and bars. If you have time, stop and relax with a beer or sangria. Probably the most vibrant street in Spain, Las Ramblas is a must-do on every trip to Barcelona but be prepared for crowds. End the afternoon by strolling through the Gothic Quarter and visit Barcelona Cathedral, which was built between the 13th and 15th centuries.

Day 2

Get a taste of the most famous Spanish dishes at La Boqueria and enjoy all kinds of flavours, including exotic fruit, jamon (ham) and, of course, fresh olives. Don‘t forget to try a glass of cava, which will no doubt keep you in the holiday mood.

For football fans, Camp Nou is the home of FC Barcelona and is a must-visit that will get your heart pumping. If there is no match scheduled for while you are there, make sure you take part in a guided tour through one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world.

For dinner, try Ziryab Fusion Tapas Bar, where traditional tapas are combined with Mediterranean flavours. It‘s only a 10-minute walk from La Boqueria.

Day 3

On your last day in Barcelona, start with a visit to La Sagrada Familia. After all, a visit to Barcelona isn't complete without a photo in front of Gaudí’s masterpiece. This gravity-defying Roman Catholic church has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterwards, take time to visit the iconic Park Güell​​​​​​​, another piece of art within itself. 🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Buy tickets in advance for all of Gaudí’s sites so that you can skip time-consuming queues.

When you’re hungry, grab a bite to eat at Toma Ya Street Food, close to Park Güell. This delicious Peruvian food should fill you up before heading into your last night in the city.

Discover more things to do in Barcelona


Which Gaudí sights should I not miss?

Sagrada Família

La Sagrada Família is one of the most famous sights in all of Barcelona. This Roman Catholic basilica was Antoni Gaudí's last building into which he put all his artistic energy. The construction of the church, which began in 1882, is still not finished, but is set to be completed in 2026 on the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death. However, it is clear that the Sagrada Família, even in its incomplete state, is one of the most extraordinary buildings you can see in all of Europe.

Casa Milà/La Pedrera

Casa Milà was built for the Milà family between 1906 and 1910, and it's considered to be Gaudí's pioneering work. The unique thing about this house is that it was built without the use of load-bearing walls and corners. Casa Milá, also known as 'La Pedrera' (the quarry) for its façade, is the last residential building built by the famous architect before he turned his focus completely to the Sagrada Família.

Casa Batlló

A little further away, you will find one of Gaudí's most striking buildings: Casa Batlló. If you're on a tight budget, you can skip taking a peek at the interior, as the entrance fee can be a little steep. But even from the outside, the house is breathtakingly beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Since 1962, Casa Batlló has been a listed building and it is included amongst the Gaudí works that have UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It's an absolute must-see on your trip to Barcelona!

Park Güell

Designed by Gaudí between 1900 and 1914 and covering more than 17 hectares, Park Güell is another unmissable sight in Barcelona. The park is full of colourful architecture, quirky sculptures and lovely views over the surrounding areas. Considered to be Gaudí's homage to nature, the entire park adapts perfectly to its surroundings, with the formerly barren mountain now home to a variety of plants. The park also houses a museum of Gaudí-designed furniture and drawings.

Barcelona on a budget: 11 free things to do

We asked one of our favourite travel bloggers, Olivia Diamond from TravelWithLiv, for her top tips for seeing Barcelona on a tight budget.

Don’t be fooled - travelling to Barcelona on a budget is completely doable. You can pick free or low-cost things to do once you are there. Barcelona is an amazing city, so don’t miss out just because you think it will be too expensive. Here are Olivia's favourite things to do in Barcelona for free:

1. Free museum days in Barcelona

There are a handful of museums that are free on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, so don't miss these! Here are some of the top Barcelona museums that have free admission days:

  • Museu Picasso - Admission is free on Thursday afternoons between 5 and 7 PM, as well as the first Sunday of every month.

  • Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - Admission is free every Saturday after 3pm and on the first Sunday of every month.

  • Museu Nacional d'Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA) - Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month.

  • Palau Güell - Admission is free the first Sunday of every month.

  • Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) - Admission is free every Sunday between 3 and 8 PM.

2. Admire Modernist architecture in Barcelona

Barcelona is full of amazing architecture from all periods, but Modernist buildings are incredibly prevalent throughout the city. You can check out the Ruta del Modernisme website for ideas on where to begin a self-guided walk of the city.

3. Discover Barceloneta Beach

This is a great location for taking a stroll along the beach or spending the day lounging about. And, better yet, the scenery is beautiful - even when considering that the beach is located right next to a huge city!

4. Visit Parc de la Ciutadella

This a favourite spot to have a long walk or to have a picnic. You can grab something to eat along the way, either at Mercat de Santa Caterina or Demasié; then all you need to do is find a bench or a nice, shady spot on the grass to enjoy your spoils and watch the world go by.

5. Hike up to Parc del Guinardo

This an absolute favourite - with holidaymakers and locals alike. The best part is that it's completely free and you get the same (if not better) views as you would at Park Güell. Climb up to the Bunkers del Carmel with a bottle of wine and some snacks, and then watch as the sun sets along the Mediterranean.

6. Visit Montjuic

While there are plenty of museums to visit here for a fee (or for free on those days indicated above), there are also plenty of things to do for free! Check out the many gardens that are spread out in the Montjuic area, visit the unique architecture at the Olympic Stadium, take in the view of the Mediterranean from above or visit Montjuic Castle.

7. Go inside Santa Maria del Mar

Located in the Ribera district of Barcelona, Santa Maria del Mar is a 14th-century Gothic masterpiece. Even better, it's completely free to enter and is quite an unbelievable sight, with soaring stone ceilings and colourful stained glass windows; it's one of Barcelona's real hidden gems.

8. Escape the heat in Barcelona Cathedral

This is another wonderful example of the city's unbeatable Gothic architecture. In the case of Barcelona Cathedral, the church's interior is as impressive as its famous exterior façade. During some of Barcelona's annual festivals, you will find many (free) festivities happening here, like Castells at the Festa Catalana.

9. Plan your Barcelona city break around a festival!

A popular choice for its events throughout the year, you'll be pleased to hear that Barcelona has some amazing festivals, where some activities will be free: Dia de los Reyes Magos (January), Dia de Sant Jordi (February), Feria de Abril (April), Sant Joan (June) and Festa Major de Gràcia (August).

10. Stroll along Las Ramblas

Yes, this may be a rather touristy option - which will no doubt be packed during the summer months and during festivals - but Las Ramblas is undeniably beautiful and definitely worth seeing for any first-time visitor to Barcelona. Start at the entrance near Plaça Catalunya and meander down to the Colón Statue.

11. Browse the stalls at La Boqueria

While exploring Las Ramblas, make a stop at another popular spot: La Boqueria. This market is filled with stalls selling all manner of Spanish staples. If you'd like to experience a more authentic market, check these out: Mercat de Santa Caterina (El Born), Mercat de la Llibertat (Gràcia) or Mercat de L'Albaceria (Gràcia).

The best beaches in Barcelona

Among its many other charms, Barcelona offers a winning combination: all the sights and activities of a city break, as well as direct access to the beach! So, if you've been daydreaming of having a little bit of beach time on your next holiday, Barcelona can certainly deliver.

If you don't want to travel too far, there's a sandy beach at Barceloneta, just on the eastern side of the city. But there are plenty of other beaches close by, and these are a good choice for anyone looking for a quieter beach experience. While these beaches are free to access, remember that any loungers or umbrellas that are set up will need to be hired for a fee. Here are our top choices for a Barcelona beach day.

Top beaches in Barcelona:

  • Barceloneta

  • Nova Icària

  • Playa de Bogatell

  • Playa de Sant Miquel

  • Mar Bella Nova

  • Playa de Somorrostro

  • Sitges (approximately 30 minutes from Barcelona)