Grand, fairytale-like Barcelona is one of the world’s great walking cities. Wide boulevards, lush green spaces at every turn, and beautiful architecture everywhere you look — it’s easy to just walk and walk for hours, stopping only for the occasional tapas top-up. With so much to see and such a rich history, you might find your Barcelona visit significantly improved with an in-depth walking tour. Tours, led by expert local guides, are available with all sorts of themes in mind — architecture, art, history — as well as with interactive elements, such as tapas tastings or professional photographers who’ll give you photography tips as you stroll. With so many great options, it’s not a question of whether you should take a tour (or more than one!) but which one is the right one for you. Check out some of our favorite tours below.
01 of 09
Tapas are the tasty little one-bite snacks that are at the center of Spain’s legendary pub food scene. They’re ubiquitous in Barcelona, with each bar offering more tempting nibbles than the last, but there’s a fine art to ordering them, and locals know what to order where and which drinks to pair with which snacks. Demystify the experience by heading out for your first tapas crawl with a local expert. This tour, focused around La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter, includes a visit to a specialty food center, gourmet markets, and a number of tapas bars for tastings, during and between which your guide will explain the history of Spanish and Catalan food and offer some insights into other aspects of the neighborhoods you pass through. It’s a great way to learn about common ingredients you’ll see on tapas menus, get a sense for how to do the actual ordering, and learn a whole lot about the city through the lens of food.
02 of 09
Barcelona is more than just photogenic — this beautiful city downright begs to have her photo taken at every turn. This walking tour pairs you with a professional photographer who will not only lead you between some of the city’s most snap-worthy locations but also help you use your camera, offering tips on how to frame a shot and use light to your advantage. The tour covers a diverse array of sights, so you’ll have an opportunity to practice taking lots of different types of shots.
On the docket: Port Vell, where you can snap fishing boats bobbing in the sea; La Boqueria food market, where stacks of beautiful produce beckon; the El Born neighborhood, full of murals and street art and interesting people; and, of course, plenty of Gaudi buildings, with their organic grandeur and eye-catching details. At the end of the 3.5-hour tour, you’ll have a spectacular self-made souvenir to take home with you.
03 of 09
The history of Barcelona is best thought of in the plural: countless individual stories, told over centuries, of people and groups who have found their way to this remarkable place, usually for better, sometimes for worse. Studying the overarching history of the city is fascinating, but taking a deep dive into a more specific story can open its own window and lead you to a deeper understanding.
This tour takes you through the oldest continually-occupied area of the city, Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter, where you’ll see one of Europe’s oldest synagogues, a recently-excavated medieval mikveh (ritual bath), and the house of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet, known as the Rashba, a leading medieval scholar of Judaism. Along the way, you’ll learn stories of the people who lived, worked, and prayed in these places and how their story fits in with the greater story of Barcelona, Spain, Europe, and the world. This fascinating tour lasts about two hours and ends in Placa de Sant Jaume.
04 of 09
Enjoy the personalized attention and fast-moving flexibility of a small group on this walking tour that focuses on Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, and some of his modernist contemporaries and followers. You’ll visit a cafe where Gaudi was once a regular, stroll the Passeig de Gracia, see some of the most famous houses that Gaudi designed (Casa Calvet, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo), and view some other modernist buildings designed by architects like Puig i Cadafalch and Domench i Montaner.
After your explorations of downtown (which also include some Catalan snacks and hand-dipped chocolates), you’ll hop in a taxi and head to the world-famous La Sagrada Familia, the magnificent sandcastle-like cathedral designed by Gaudi and still under construction (expected completion: 2026). The tour stays outside the cathedral, examining only the facades and exterior architectural elements, but it ends here, so if you’d like to enter the cathedral, you can do so either on your own or with an upgraded tour.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Picasso was not born in Barcelona, but he spent what was perhaps the most formative decade of his life here, from his late teens to his mid-20s. This tour takes a holistic look at Picasso’s life in Barcelona, visiting places where he studied and painted, but also at cafes and salons where he’d hang out with other members of the city’s fertile artistic community. You’ll see El Quatre Gats, a cafe frequented by Picasso (along with Gaudi and other famous names), as well as the art school where a young Picasso studied at the urging of his father.
After a stroll through the arts-heavy La Ribera neighborhood, you’ll find yourself at the world-class Picasso Museum, where skip-the-line access allows you immediate entry. Your guide will show you through the museums collections, which focus on the artist’s early and developmental works, offering perhaps the most distinctly human look at Picasso of any of the museums dedicated to him in the world. Your tour concludes at the museum, where you’re welcome to continue exploring on your own, should you so choose.
06 of 09
Many people first fell in love with Barcelona in the pages of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s 2001 international bestseller The Shadow of the Wind, which sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Taking place in a fantasy-laced version of 1940s Barcelona, the novel is a story-within-a-story that features dozens of real-life locations throughout the city. This tour focuses on those: the beautiful Santa Maria del Mar, Els Quatre Gats Cafe, as well as the locations for the fictional Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere and Sons Bookshop. Along the way, your guide — a literature expert from the nearby university – will explain the literary and general history of Barcelona and point out other places of interest to book-lovers: bookshops old and new, stationery and pen stores, libraries, and homes of other authors and literary figures. It’s a fascinating window into the city, and a must-do for fans of the book.
07 of 09
Barcelona is a famously LGBTQ+-friendly city and has long been a vacation destination for gay couples. You will find that most tours of the bookshops are gay-friendly and this tour is welcome to all, but if you’re looking for a Barcelona history/walking tour that includes significant amounts of gay history (and where your guide will also be a good resource if you’re looking for additional sites of interest to the gay community), this is the tour for you. The three-hour walking tour covers a significant portion of the oldest parts of Barcelona, visiting the Gothic Quarter, Ciutadella Park, the modernist Castle of the Three Dragons, and the Catalan Parliament. This is a private tour and your guide will meet you at your accommodations, so you’ll have tremendous flexibility to cater the tour to your own personal interests, as well as ask any questions you have about the city, its history, and its current dining and club scenes.
08 of 09
Get up and at ‘em with this morning walking tour, starting at 9:30 a.m. at Placa Sant Jaume in Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter. The two-hour tour explores this medieval region of the city and all of its nooks and crannies. You’ll see the ancient Roman Walls, the Ancient Synagogue of Barcelona, the Roman Temple of Augustus, the Santa Agata chapel, the medieval Royal Palace, and so much more.
Because this neighborhood is particularly labyrinthine, it’s really wonderful to have a guide help you catch your bearings, while also teaching you about the history of the city and these specific buildings and locations. If you can, bring a map (or drop pins on your phone map) so you can find your way back to sites of particular interest — there will be some and the geography of the old city is seldom mastered in a day.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Though Barcelona looks like a fairy wonderland, its history is not all pleasant. Far from it, in fact. This small-group tour introduces you to the darker side of the city’s past. You’ll stroll through the old city at twilight, starting from the Arc de Triomf and ending at El Born Cultural Center while your guide regales you with tales of the Spanish Inquisition, public executions, medieval torture, and so much more. It may not be pretty, but it’s all true, and the setting, with darkness falling over the gothic buildings, makes it all even more real. The particularly brutal content is not really suitable for kids, so the recommended age is 14 and over. This tour is fully wheelchair-accessible.