There's never a shortage of things to do and see in Barcelona, whether you're into museums, beaches or historical sites. One of the best things to lay your eyes on though, is, well, all of it. Barcelona is home to many places that boast incredible views of the entire city, and taking one of the many opportunities to see the vast town in its entirety is a great way to spend your time. Restaurants, parks, monuments, and even modes of transport provide vista points where you can take everything in from above and allow for a full picture of just how colourful and vibrant Barcelona is. Whether you're an architecture buff or the outdoorsy type, or you just want to relax with a drink at a rooftop bar, here are 12 lookout spots that'll satisfy your interests and give you an unforgettable view of Barcelona.
Barceló Raval Hotel
The 360º Terrace that sits atop the trendy Barceló Raval Hotel is a great spot to see far and wide — and close up, if you like. Free-standing lookout binoculars surrounding the circular patio allow you to zoom in on city streets and monuments alike, giving you endless views. There's a small pool for hotel guests, but the terrace is open to the public from 6pm to midnight during the week, and until 1am at weekends. Watch the sun set from one of the many tables and benches lining the loop — it's narrow but still not cramped early in the evening.
The Palau Nacional roof terrace
Home to the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC), the Palau Nacional is stunning on its own, but the views from its rooftop terrace bring the building to a whole new level. Although the steps in front of the historic building make for a great lookout point as well, it's worth the €2 it'll cost you to get to the top (purchase your ticket at the MNAC front desk). Once you're up there, you can look out at everything from the magic fountain directly in front of the building to the prominent Sagrada Família in the distance. Follow the path around to the different areas (there are two or three patios, depending on how you look at it) and linger over beautiful Montjuïc from the back.
Las Arenas rooftop
This former bullring may have held its final fight nearly 30 years ago, but a different spectacle continues in Las Arenas. Built in 1900, it was reopened as a shopping centre in 2011, but what's really something to see is the better-than-browsing view from the rooftop. It's lined with bars and restaurants on the inside of the circle if you're looking for a bite or a drink, but it's otherwise free to visit. On one side you can catch a glimpse of the ever-present Tibidabo mountain, and on the other you can look across to the Palau Nacional. Just try not to get distracted by the myriad shops as you take the escalators inside the mall to the top.
Getting here is quite the trek, but rest assured, you'll be glad you made the journey. Tibidabo boasts arguably the best view in all of Barcelona, and the stunning sights aren't the only reason to head up there. The beautiful Sagrat Cor church sits atop the hill, as well as a popular amusement park. On your way up, you'll pass through one of Barcelona's most wealthy and enviable neighbourhoods. Get there from the metro to the train to the bus or tram to the funicular (seriously), and you'll see that Tibidabo is worth the effort.
A trip to Barcelona isn't complete without visiting Gaudí's famous Park Güell. Sporadic escalators on Baixada de La Gloria from the Vallcarca metro station to the famous viewpoint make the trip up much easier, so there's less of an excuse to skip out on this classic attraction. Once you're in, you can walk around the free area and get great views of the city, or pay a small fee to get into the monumental zone, which includes the Plaça de la Natura, the Escalinata del Dragón (Dragon's Steps) and the Sala Hipòstila (Hypostyle Hall). Don't be fooled, though: if you're not looking to spend any money, the free views are still unbelievable.
Jardins del Turó del Putxet
If crowds of people distract you from enjoying the incredible skyline Barcelona has to offer, this is the place for you. With all of nearby Park Güell's views and none of the chaos, Jardins del Turó del Putxet (C/Manacor, s/n) is a great spot to enjoy the greenery along with some sights. It's a bit hidden and not nearly as well marked as Gaudí's famous park, and you'll be getting your workout in with the uphill walk, but the serenity and the sights of the downtown area on one side and Tibidabo on the other are reason enough to brave it.
Eclipse Bar at the W Hotel
The distinct W Hotel boasts arguably the swankiest spot to view Barcelona. Take in the beach-meets-city vistas while seated in the Eclipse Bar's luxurious and modern space, but be prepared — the sights are paired with a classy and creative drinks menu with prices to match. Perhaps it's not the right place to over-serve yourself if you're on a budget, but it's an experience worth having if you're in the market for a single cocktail, fancy people-watching, or just a great lookout point.
Anyone with a major fear of heights may want to choose another way to see Barcelona from above, but if that's not a problem for you, this is the most mobile view of Barcelona you can get. The suspended cable car travels 101 metres above sea level at its highest point, and takes you from the Barceloneta beach area to the top of Montjuïc. During the ten-minute ride, you'll be able to observe everything in between the two, and if that's not quite enough, you can make it a round-trip on the Telefèric as well (instead of taking the metro or another mode of transport).
Turó de la Rovira
History buffs should take note of this particular Barcelona lookout spot. From a deserted Iberian settlement to the home of an anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War to the heritage site it is today, one thing that hasn't changed over centuries of existence is the incredible view over Barcelona, despite vast and significant changes in the city itself. Reopened in 2011 after a restoration, the Turó de la Rovira is a great place for looking back to the past and looking forward to the Barcelona skyline.
Torre de Collserola
Though this spot gives you a view much like that of nearby Tibidabo, it has the 360-degree aspect that the latter lacks. Set in the Serra de Collserola Natural Park, this peculiar yet interesting-looking telecommunications tower provides a place where you can peer down into Sant Cugat del Vallès, a town situated just north of Barcelona. If you're not into going up to one of the tower's platforms, the park itself is a great place to grab a view, too.
The towers of La Sagrada Família
Not to see the Sagrada Família is not to see Barcelona, some would say. Although Antoni Gaudí's as-yet-unfinished cathedral is a very special attraction on its own, the chance to go up into one of its two towers also gives you the opportunity to get a spectacular view. With their astonishing height allowing for an unbeatable vantage point from within the city centre, the towers are yet another reason to visit this Gaudí masterpiece. The only downside? Once you're up there, your view no longer includes the massive Sagrada Família itself, of course.
If you're still jonesing for more Gaudí after the Sagrada Família and Park Güell, a visit to another one of his architectural masterpieces, Casa Milà (better known as La Pedrera), is a splendid way to spend an afternoon or evening. It not only boasts an interior just as attractive as its exterior, but the rooftop is a sight in itself. The cone- and dome-like structures are covered in ceramic fragments, giving the terrace a look all its own. While you walk around the sculpted stairwells, ventilation towers and chimneys, you can admire the city as well. Set in the lively Eixample neighbourhood, La Pedrera is a great place to get a view that's up-close and personal with Barcelona (but still gives you a sense of the big picture).