Barcelona is an incredibly photogenic city and there are hundreds of spots to visit for beautiful photography. We’ve narrowed down our choices to the most popular spots that are able to be visited in just a short weekend trip. With gorgeous gothic architecture, quirky buildings and some fantastic views we’ve got you covered for an epic trip to some of the city’s most beautiful locations.
This is our fourth visit to Barcelona but our first in the last 10 years so we were really surprised to see just how busy it is now, even in low season. Early starts will be pretty much mandatory here. In fact if you’ve been researching Barcelona online then you’ll probably have read about the issue of overtourism. We have included our thoughts on this at the end of this post, with some tips on how you can help whilst still making a visit to the city.
So with that said, here’s our favourite Barcelona Instagram spots and how to get there.
The top Instagram Spots in Barcelona
Bunkers Del Carmel
There’s no denying that Bunkers is a pretty cool spot. We’ve seen it written as a fantastic sunset spot but when we got there we realised it would actually be better at sunrise as the sunset is in the opposite direction to the most famous photo spot.
If early mornings aren’t your thing then it was still decent light at sunset and when you’ve finished looking at this view you can sit and watch the sunset in the opposite direction. Expect to share it with hundreds of other people at this time of day though!
Despite the fact that we visited mid week in early April this place had the biggest crowds we saw in the whole city. Well over a hundred people were there… but fear not, remarkably there was actually no one at all trying to take a photo in the most Instagrammable spot of them all. You’ll see this spot almost as soon as you come up the hill on your left handside.
To get up there is easier than it might first look as there is a piece of wall missing which makes the perfect foothold. If you’re not a fan of heights then there are other spots along the walls where you don’t need to climb up anything, if you’d prefer that then arriving at sunrise is practically mandatory - at sunset you will struggle to find an inch of empty space along the walls.
However, don’t expect a warm welcome
We can’t write about the Bunkers without mentioning the elephant in the room - the graffiti. Not just any graffiti but graffiti that says ‘tourists go home’, it’s everywhere. As in one set of stairs has it written eight times! It did make us feel a bit uncomfortable. It’s not the only place in the city you will see it, but it is certainly the most prolific that we saw.
However, we have since heard from a local that this is because there has been such a lot of anti social behaviour from tourists visiting this area - littering, getting drunk and rowdy and even abusing locals for whom it should be a pleasant place to visit in their own city. Please visit respectfully.
Getting to Bunkers Del Carmel
The Bunkers are 8 km from the centre of Barcelona, but you can get there by public transport (just be prepared for a steep walk at points!). You can get the metro to Alfons X station, but you’ll have a 20 minute uphill slog! Alternatively you can try and grab a taxi from here or hop on a bus.
On google maps it is labelled as MUHBA and is the highest point of the hill.
Probably the most famous Instagram spot in the whole city, and that means you’ll be sharing it with the crowds no matter what time of day you go. The most popular photography spot is up the second set of stairs at the seating area which looks out to the rest of the park and the city beyond.
The most beautiful time of day, and the least busy - albeit still with around 50 people there - is sunrise. The sun casts some beautiful soft light over the city. You’ll have to queue up to get a spot in this coveted position but it is definitely worth the wait.
If you don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn then you will need a ticket to get in and numbers are strictly limited. To make sure you don’t miss this pretty park then grab a ticket here. Tickets are required officially from 8am but we found that some people were turned away at 7.45am so plan to arrive very early to avoid disappointment.
Getting to Park Guell
Park Guell is in the north of Barcelona and about 5 km from the centre. You can get a cab or take the metro to Vallcarca. From here it is a 10 minute walk to the park.
Outside the Barcelona Cathedral
It’s a gorgeous cathedral and as with every spot on this list it’s popular. Plan to arrive very early or brush up on those photoshop skills if you want a picture without other people in it. We drove directly from sunrise at Park Guell to the cathedral and it was not too busy. By 10am this area was heaving!
Getting to Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral is in the Gothic Quarter and pretty easy to get to. You can get the metro to La Pau and the Cathedral is a five minute walk.
Pont del Bisbe, Gothic Quarter
There are so many gorgeous streets in Barcelona but none are more photogenic than Carrer del Bisbe in the Gothic Quarter. It is just around the corner from the Barcelona Cathedral and yep you guessed it - it requires an early visit! Head there straight from the cathedral in the early morning and you should only be waiting for a few minutes or so to get a gap in the crowds.
Getting to Pont del Bisbe
Pont del Bisbe is round the side of the Barcelona Cathedral and very easy to find. Look for the street called Carrer del Bisbe and you should be able to see bridge that joins the two buildings called “Pont Gotic”. You can’t miss it.
Placa de Gaudi
The walls along this little park with fabulous Sagrada Familia views are an incredibly popular spot to sit around and relax. Almost everyone stops here to have their photograph taken. The views are fantastic despite the ever present cranes and it’s a very relaxed place to while away some time. We went at sunset but it would probably have nicer light in the early morning.
Whilst there will be people hanging around this area all evening, we found that there was always a spare spot on the wall to take a photo.
Getting to Placa de Gaudi
Placa de Gaudi is on the eastern side of the Sagrada Familia and just by the Sagrada Familia Metro Station.
The Rooftop at Barcelona Cathedral
Another of the most popular Instagram spots in Barcelona is at the cathedral. You’ll need to head up to the roof terrace which opens at 10.30 am and requires a three euro entry ticket. It’s best to head up as soon as it opens as the area is really small up there and it’s a popular tourist attraction. As soon as you get out the elevator and head up the stairs you’ll see this this spot on the right.
Getting to Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral is in the Gothic Quarter and pretty easy to get to. You can get the metro to La Pau and the Cathedral is a 5 minute walk. To get to the rooftop, go through the main entrance then look on the left side of the main chapel. One of the small alcoves will be the entry to the rooftop and the lift you’ll need to take.
Entry is three Euros and they will only accept coins, so bring the right change!
The Red House
Whilst not as popular as other spots on this list we thought it deserved a mention. It’s a really unusual building and everyone who passed by seemed to stop for a closer look. It’s on quite a narrow street so you can’t actually get the whole house into one shot but the section you can get is still pretty photogenic!
We just wanted to point out as well that this isn’t a private residence and it was all shut up when we visited, had it been private or in use we wouldn’t have photographed it.
Getting to the Red House
The red house is at 75 Carrer de Padua in the north of Barcelona. The easiest way to get here is to get the metro to Lesseps and then walk for five minutes.
One to skip - the steps on Montserrat
For a longtime this installation at Montserrat was an Instagrammer’s favourite, and we thought the photos looked amazing. However, when we visited we found it now closed off - probably due to its proximity to a very steep cliff and the fact that we don’t think it was meant to be climbed on in the first place (it looked like art to us…).
Don’t be one of those people who climb over it and give locals a new reason to hate tourists!
A note on Barcelona and “overtourism”
We couldn’t write about Barcelona and not mention the current situation with regards to tourist numbers.
Many residents have turned against tourists (who now number around 34 million annually versus a population of just 1.6 million) with protests and copious amounts of graffiti telling “tourist go home” and “stop treating Barcelona like a theme park”. We fully understand that many locals are reaching the end of their tolerance for the impact tourism is having on their daily lives and it is easy to think the solution is to just avoid visiting Barcelona.
However, from talking to locals and doing a lot of reading, the primary anger is the result of the effects of tourism, not the tourists themselves. The major problem ironically is economic as tourism has changed the face of the city. With the dramatic rise in the number of tourists visiting Barcelona following low-cost flights and increased cruise ships, local businesses are being bought up by companies who then turn them into tourist traps, taking away local restaurants, shops and bars and replacing them with souvenir shops or poor quality restaurants that they feel international tourists will want. Locals have also seen companies and investors buy flats to make into AirBNB rentals, evicting residents who then struggle to find a home anywhere near where they used to live as the rents across the city has shot up.
Barcelona has a big problem with how it regulates and responds to the growth in tourism, but don’t see this as a reason to skip visiting the city entirely.
Taking away your business will harm many of the residents who rely on tourism for a living. However, your tourist dollar can help to bring change and reverse some of the damage that has been done. The key is to spend in a way that doesn’t harm the local population.
Our tips are:
Don’t visit in peak season - the city becomes very over crowded in peak season when visitors far outnumber locals. Visit during a quieter period, we’ve personally visited a number of times in winter and the weather tends to be gorgeous and sunny, if cool, so you can still enjoy all the activities on offer.
Pick your AirBNB wisely - AirBNB has been a huge reason why locals can’t live in the centre of Barcelona anymore, numbers of AirBNB rentals are not regulated and people are finding that they can make more money renting short term to tourists than longer term to locals. However, if you stay with a local in their home then you are supporting the local community so that is still a good option.
Be sensible & considerate - Treat Barcelona as you would your own home. Stories of stag-dos, hen parties and drunk foreigners are the best way to give all tourists a bad name.
Avoid anything like a segway tour - a big gripe for locals is that tourists are using Barcelona like a theme park - not intentionally and we aren’t wanting to vilify something as innocent as a segway tour but in Barcelona it just isn’t a good idea.
Avoid taking a cruise to Barcelona - Cruise companies have a lot to answer for with overtourism in Europe. A lot of cruises drop thousands of tourists into a city each day, selling them tours and offering very little to local businesses.
We’re sure there are so many other ways you can help and if you know of more useful tips then please send them our way.
Where to stay in Barcelona
We’ve stayed in a few different places over our visits and Barcelona has something for every budget.
Budget - Hostal Abrevadero
On our most recent trip we wanted somewhere cheap and cheerful where you can get a private room for a reasonable price, Hostal Abrevadero offered just that. We were a little further walk from the city than many hostels (around 20 minutes to many of the sites) but we were happy to walk more in order to pay the same for a private ensuite room that we would have had to pay for two dorm beds in a more central location.
The room was spotlessly clean and comfy and the staff here were so incredibly friendly.
Mid-range - Exe Plaza Catalunya
If you’re looking for a mid range option then Exe Plazaa Catalunya is a great choice. The rooms are fairly small but comfy with huge beds and the bathrooms are massive. Staff are friendly and the brekkie is good too.
You can’t beat it for location as it is very central and a few steps from La Ramblas.
Top End - The W
For a splurge we’d recommend the hotel that Joe’s brother stayed in, the W. It’s a little further from the city but you get fabulous water views and trendy rooms. They even serve champagne with breakfast!
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Are you planning a trip to Barcelona? Where would you recommend visiting? Let us know in the comments below!