Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella — ‘old town’ in Catalan — is overflowing with rich cultural and historical heritage.
The streets of the Ciutat Vella tell the story of the city’s origins right up to the present day: from ancient monuments and historic buildings, to bars and restaurants, alternative boutiques, and sun-drenched squares buzzing with tourists and locals alike.
With so much on offer, it’s no wonder this area is one of the city’s most popular tourist hotspots.
The Ciutat Vella of Barcelona, once surrounded by medieval city walls, covers four of Barcelona’s main neighbourhoods — El Raval, El Barri Gòtic, El Born and La Barceloneta. With such a sprawling area to explore, it’s difficult to know where to start. To make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve put together a list of the top nine things to do in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella.
1. La Rambla
No trip to Barcelona is complete without a visit to the city’s most emblematic street: La Rambla.
Take a stroll down this lively promenade, which joins the iconic Plaça Catalunya with the Columbus Monument, and discover historical monuments, flower stalls, live statues, outdoor restaurants, and much more.
2. El Mercat de la Boqueria
Located on La Rambla, this is a world-famous food market brimming with historic tradition. With Catalan modernist-style architecture, la Boqueria is the link between Barcelona’s past and present.
Take in the colours and aromas of fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, meats and spices, or grab a seat at one of the stalls and order tapas of seafood or cured Iberian meats.
3.Gran Teatre del Liceu
Keep walking on La Rambla and you’ll stumble across another of Barcelona’s iconic cultural symbols, El Liceu.
Since its opening in 1847, this opera house has heard the greatest tenors and sopranos of the times. It can be enjoyed from the outside, on a guided tour, or by reserving tickets for the next show. Check out what’s currently on here.
4. Plaça Reial
Just a few metres from La Rambla, you’ll find Plaça Reial. Seek shade below its towering palm trees and take in the stunning central fountain. Don’t leave without snapping a photo of the square’s exquisite lampposts, which are some of Gaudí’s earliest works.
5. Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA)
If you’re curious about the origins of Barcelona, visit the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) and take a journey through time. Wander the Roman streets of Barcino and discover medieval ruins, most of which are located below Plaça del Rei.
6. Cathedral of Barcelona
With its unique Catalan gothic style, the cathedral of Barcelona is not to be passed by. Let yourself be amazed by its numerous gargoyles and towering spires found right in the heart of the city’s Gothic Quarter.
7. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
Escape the crowds and seek peace and tranquillity in the quaint and romantic square of Sant Felip Neri. Yet what is unique about this square is its tragic history. The damage to the church’s walls after a bombing during the Spanish Civil War is still visible to this day.
8. Palau de la Música Catalana
The Catalan Concert Hall can be described as no other than the city’s jewel of modernism. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this exquisite form of modernist architecture will not disappoint.
9. Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Enter the creative world of Barcelona’s Museum of Modern Art and discover an array of thought-provoking exhibitions by both local and international artists or simply marvel at this outstanding contemporary structure. What’s more, entry is free every Saturday from 4 pm to 6 pm.
Delve a little deeper into the history of this beautiful city and discover Barcelona’s most fascinating side. With so much to choose from, Barcelona certainly has a little something to offer everyone.