Barcelona sights: Ciutat Vella

The best sights, museums, and monuments in the Old City of Barcelona

Les Rambles, the main boulevard of BarcelonaLa Rambla ★★★ - La Rambla (Les Rambles in Catalán) is the long, wide, pedestrian boulevard that glides right through the heart of the old city, from Plaça de Catalunya to the port. Laid out in 1766 along the line of the demolished medieval city walls, this boulevard shunts the vehicular streets to either side and fills the broad middle of the path with a wide pedestrian road, shaded by trees and filled with kisoks, street performers, and what feels like half the city out for a stroll... » more

The cathedral of BarcelonaCatedral ★★ - Behind an elaborate neo-Gothic facade and spire from the 19th century lies Madrid's massive and genuinely Gothic cathedral, a dark, echoey space built largely between 1298 and 1450. It'll take a good 45 minutes to see the marvelously carved 15th-century choir stalls, ranks of glowing votive candles, and shady cloisters surrounded by magnolias and palms and ponds swimming with geese. The adjacent museum is stuffed with medieval Catalonian art... » more

Picasso Museum, BarcelonaMuseu Picasso ★★ - The greatest Picasso museum outside of Paris is filled with 3,000 works by Andalusia native Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). There are plenty of those crowd-pleasing (or crowd-confusing) Cubist paintings, yes, but also many early works in an exactingly, surprisingly classical style worthy of an Old Master... but which Picasso painted while living here in Barcelona when he was still just a teenager... » more

Boqueria market, BarcelonaBoqueria market - Barcelona's cenrtal covered food market lies just off La Rambla, packed with stalls filed with ranks of round fruit, stacks of string beans, boxes of earthy mushrooms, fish straight from the docks, bins of briny olives, hocks of serrano ham ready for carving, bags of Valencia oranges, bushels of woodland berries, and piles of dried salt cod. Many of the stalls have been in the same family for three or four generations... » more

Columbus Monument, BarcelonaMirador de Colón - This 1881 architecural exlamanation point is a monument to Chrisopher Columbus on Plaça del Portal de la Pau, anchoring the south (port) end of La Rambla, Barcelona's main boulevard. You can ride the elevator 51m (167 feet) to the top of the column portion for sweeping views over the port and the city—and up La Rambla... » more

Palau de la Musica Catalana, BarcelonaPalau de la Musica Catalana - Barcelona architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner designed this concert hall in 1905–08, and it is the only Art Nouveau performance space to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take one of the 55-minute guided tours to see the sky-lit stained glass of the inverse dome in the auditorium. Even better, return in the evening to attend a concert... » more

Tips & Links

How long should I spend in Barcelona?

If you're just passing through, I'd give Barcelona at least two full days—though if you only have one day, here's how to squeeze in the most of Barcelona into just 24 hours.

Barcelona is a lovely place to relax, however, so you might be happier spending 3-4 days.

» Barcelona itineraries

Save with a sightseeing pass

Barcelona has two types of sightseeing/transport passes:

There's a full description of both passes here, but in brief: The only museum covered fully by the Museum Pass that is not also covered by the Barcelona Card is the Museu Picasso (where you get only a 20% discount with the Barcelona Card).

You can also get discounts (usually 10% to 20%) on a wide range of sights, activites, and shows if you have a hop-on/hop-off bus ticket.

Barcelona tours
  • Sightseeing
  • Food & wine
  • Day-trips
  • Excursions


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Useful links & resources


Barcelona tourist info: (info office), (events mag); (regional info),

Sightseeing passes: Barcelona Card (20+ sights; transport; discounts), Museum Pass (6 sights)

Tours & activities:,,,,,


Hotels:,, Priceline.comPartner,


Apartments:,,,,, Homeaway.comhomeaway

Hostels & campgrounds:,,,




Trains: (throughout Europe), (within Spain), (throughout Europe),

Public transport: Barcelona Card (free transport; sightseeing); Search all public transit:; Metro/Bus:; Tram:; Light rail:; Taxi:

Car rentals:,,,,,,

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2013.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.