• Leslie

Barcelona From Home: The Best Virtual Tours of Barcelona

Updated: Apr 22


ornate dome of one of the pavilions at the Hospital de Sant Pau


Here's my wanderlusty guide to the best virtual tours of Barcelona Spain. You can now explore the historic Catalan city, that has long captured the hearts and minds of travelers, from the comfort of your home.


Barcelona is a a visual feast, a city with boundless culture and fairytale architecture. It has museums galore, some of the world's most iconic landmarks, and chic and funky neighborhoods to explore. Not to mention the delectable tapas.


If you're stuck at home or can't explore Barcelona in person, you can travel to Barcelona online. Let's take some DIY virtual tours of Barcelona's fabulous must see sites. Sip on sangria or nibble on some jamón ibérico as we cyber experience some Spanish culture.



the Arc de Triunfo


Best Virtual Tours of Barcelona Landmarks


1. Arc de Triunfo


The Arc de Triunfo is a triumphal arch in Barcelona. It was built in 1888 when Barcelona hosted the Universal Exposition and served as the main access gate.


The arch is designed in a quasi Mudejar (Islamic) style, which was popular at the time. The arch was built from brick and decorated with sculptures, detailed carvings, decorative elements, and a frieze at the top.


You can take a virtual tour of the famous arch on YouTube or here.



sculptural group on the facade corner that seems almost to fly off the wall


2. Palace of Catalan Music | Palau de la Música Catalana


Palau de la Música Catalana is a gaudy rose-covered wonderland. This magnificent concert hall was designed in 1905-08 by Lluis Domènech i Montaner -- an architect who was just as famous as Antoni Gaudi at the time.


Palau de la Musica is located along a claustrophobic, densely packed street in the Gothic Quarter. Montaner countered the claustrophobia with color and levity. The arches and intricate mosaic columns draw your eye up to the roofline. Stained glass windows bring in the natural light.

The auditorium is almost overwhelming. The piece de resistance is the intricate stained glass ceiling by Antoni Rigalt. Iron and glass chandeliers create a starry night effect. And sculptures curve up the sides of the stage, including a glowering Beethoven and Valkeries from Richard Wagner's operas.


You can take a Google Street view virtual tour on the official website. Or you can take this excellent guided YouTube virtual tour.



colorful tiled ceiling in the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau


3. Hospital of Sant Pau | Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau


Barcelona isn't just regal museum-homes built for wealthy families. At the Hospital de Sant Pau you'll find a former hospital outfitted with beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. The hospital is also known as the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul. It takes up 10 city blocks.


Never were patients so well tended. More theater than hospital, the unique building is an ode to the curative effects of beauty. Here, patients could heal their souls as well as their bodies.


In 1997, the hospital was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It functioned as a hospital until 2009. In 2014, Hospital Sant Pau underwent restoration and reopened as a cultural center. It's one of Barcelona's newer tourist attractions.

You can take a virtual YouTube tour of the beautiful place here and here.



Bridge Carrer del Bisbe in Barcelona Gothic Quarter


4. The Gothic Quarter | Barri Gotico


Barrio Gótico, or the Gothic Quarter, is one of the oldest and most beautiful districts in Barcelona. The neighborhood is situated right in the heart of Barcelona's historic center. It stretches from the famous La Rambla to Via Laietana.


The Gothic Quarter is an appealing labyrinth of narrow lanes chock full of tiny bars, authentic restaurants, and tony shops. Just above street level is a tangle of wrought-iron balconies. Artists Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro lived in the Gothic Quarter during their lives.


Rick Steves has a virtual tour of the Gothic Quarter (and Barcelona beaches) here. Here's a 15 minute YouTube virtual tour of a stroll through the Gothic Quarter.



Barcelona Cathedral


5. Barcelona Cathedral


Barcelona Cathedral is a 14th century Gothic-style cathedral right in the Gothic Quarter. It has 28 richly decorated chapels, an ornate finely carved choir, and a peaceful cloister with bubbling fountains.


Behind the high altar is the Bishops' chair. You'll also find the crypt of Saint Eulalia, to whom the cathedral is dedicated. She was martyred by the Christian hating Romans in 304 AD.


The cloisters are the highlight. Arcaded walkways surround a central courtyard filled with tropical trees.


You can take a 360 tour of Barcelona Cathedral here.



facade of Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus


6. Temple of the Sacred heart of Jesus | Templo del Sagrado

Corazon de Jesus

Competed in 1961, this basilica is the handiwork of architect Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal. It's a mix of styles, but evokes a Neo-Byzantine feeling.


It's not the prettiest church in Barcelona per se, which is a city rich in charming little churches. But it's location is unreal. This church is located atop Mount Tibidabo. You'll have breathtaking views overlooking the entire city.


You can take a virtual tour of the temple here.



the view of Barcelona from Bunker del Carmel


7. Bunkers del Carmel


The neighbourhood of El Carmel sits just above Gaudí's famous Park Güell. Bunkers del Carmel used to be a locals only secret. But, like all good things, in recent years it's become somewhat more popular.


That's because it also sports one of the best viewpoints in Barcelona. If you're willing to hike to the top of Turó de la Rovira, you'll have splendid views over the ocean to Montjuïc and Sagrada Familia. It makes a great sunset spot.


If you can't hike up the hill IRL, you can take a virtual YouTube tour here and a 360 tour here.



Barcoleneta beach at sunrise


8. Barceloneta Beach


If you can't chill out on the beaches of Europe, just pretend you're there instead. Barceloneta Beach is a highlight of a visit to Barcelona. It's a long sandy stretch of Mediterranean coastline. It was renovated for the 1992 Olympics, so it’s fairly pristine (albeit crowded in the summer)).


You can take a virtual 360 tour of the popular beach and enjoy the view here.



the facade of Casa Battlo


Virtual Tour of Gaudi's Most Famous Architecture in Barcelona


9. Casa Battlo


Casa Batlló is Antoni Gaudí at his hallucinatory, dreamlike best. Gaudí conjured a building in the image of a dragon. The strange bone-like facade commands your attention. It's studded with skull mask balconies and capped by a sinuously scaled roof with a solitary sword-like tower.


Casa Batlló adopts the Art Noveau style in vogue in Barcelona and the world at that time. But it's an extreme curvilinear version. Nonetheless, it was an instant hit, and was fondly nicknamed the House of Bones.


The facade is a kaleidoscope of blue, mauve, and green tiles. Though it's a bit hard to see, the facade's actually uneven and slightly wavy, like a calm sea. Its marine-like surface that doubles as a dragon's skin. The interior is no less beautiful, filled with bright tiles, curved wood, and stained glass -- all in organic forms and curvy shapes.


You can now peak at Gaudi's endless allusions to Mother Nature on a 360 virtual tour of Casa Battlo on its official website or on this excellent YouTube video.



the undulating facade of Casa Mila


10. CasaMila | La Pedrera


Casa Milà is more commonly known as La Pedrera, which translates to “The Quarry." It's a masterpiece of nature. In classic Gaudí fashion, the nature theme is visible in its overall look and down to the tiniest detail.


The building ripples and waves like a burbling ocean. There's not a right angle or straight line anywhere. Gaudí wanted it to resemble a "petrified wave." To that end, he used contrasting elements -- a heavy stolid stone facade and a wavy shape.


You enter the interior via a wrought iron door that resembles a butterfly. Inside, unlike outside, there's riotous color. But perhaps La Pedrera's most notable feature is its lunar landscape roof. The undulating uneven roof has winding pathways and a spiky forest of 30 chimneys.

You can take a 360 virtual tour of Casa Mila/La Pedrera here or here.



gingerbread type house in Park Güell


11. Park Güell


Park Güell might be Gaudí's most fantastical creation. It's a 45 acre public park and garden complex located on Carmel Hill in Barcelona. It's a freewheeling wonderland.


Gaudí created a plaza, two Hansel and Gretel gatehouses, a serpentine bench, colonnaded walkways, and steps. He actually purchased one of the homes and lived there for almost 20 years before he moved into Sagrada Família for good. His home is now the Gaudí House Museum.


Probably the most famous icon at the Park Güell is the multicolored mosaic lizard known as "El Drac," or the dragon.

You can take a 360 virtual tour of Park Guell here, on this YouTube video, or on the BBC YouTube video here. You can also take a virtual tour on Google Arts & Culture.



the beautiful forest-like nave of Sagrada Família


12. Sagrada Familia


The undisputed jewel of Barcelona is Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s wildly creative opus. Construction began on the "Sandcastle Cathedral" in 1882 and it's still unfinished (but ongoing).


The exteriors' three facades (the Nativity, Passion, and Glory facades) are like huge altarpieces. The interior is the best and most luminous part. It's effectively a sculpture, reinvented as architecture. The nave is lined with pale columns that look like a forest, with trees branching out. And, in fact, Gaudí believed that "trees were buildings."



the Nativity Facade of Sagrada Família

Sagrada Familia has opened its digital doors and now provides an extensive virtual tour right on its website. You can visit the Passsion Facade, the Nativity Facade, the interior, the apse, the Cloister of the Rosary, the Western Sacristy, the Crypt, and Gaudi's Tomb. You can also take a 360 tour on Air Pano.


Smarthistory has a great YouTube video about the Sagrada Familia. And Rick Steves has a excellent audio guide.


For a complete overview of Gaudi's UNESCO sites in Barcelona (with links to virtual tours), here's my complete guide.



inner courtyard of Picasso Museum in Barcelona

Best Virtual Museums in Barcelona


13. Picasso Museum Virtual Tour


Founded in 1963, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona was launched with a donation of 574 works by Picasso’s secretary, Jaime Sabartés. In 1970, Picasso himself donated 800 more pieces to the museum.


In this museum, you'll find one of the most extensive collections of Picasso's work, 4000 pieces -- certainly the best collection in Spain. The museum is housed in five beautiful adjoining medieval palaces.



Pablo Picasso, Las Meninas, 1957


You can browse the highlights of the Picasso Museum's online collection here, though the images are rather small. You can take a virtual tour of the palaces here. The palace tour takes you on a private guided tour of the museum's architectural elements.


The museum is also posting daily on its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. On Saturdays the Museum is presents audiovisual archives of museum performances and places them on its on the Youtube channel.


If you'd like more Picasso info, here's my guide to all the Picasso museums in Europe and my extensive guide to the Picasso Museum in Paris.



“Apse of Sant Climent de Taull” by the Master of Taull in Barcelona's MNAC


14. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya Virtual Tour

This museum, dubbed the MNAC, is housed in the beautiful Palau Nacional, with spectacular views over Barcelona. The MNAC features the best Romanesque collection of mural paintings in the world, including art work gathered from churches, chapels, and monuments.


The museum's collection ranges all the way from Gothic art to modern art. You'll find works by El Greco, Velázquez, Gaudí, Ramon Casas, Julio González, and Dalí, among others.


You can explore the MNAC virtually on Google Arts & Culture. There are almost 1,400 items to explore and three 3D tours of the museum. The MNAC also has a good online collection on its own website. And you explore it via Google Street View here.



Joan Miro, Woman Dreaming of the Evasion, 1945


15. Joan Miró Foundation Virtual Tour


The Joan Miró Foundation is one of Barcelona's best museums. In this fabulous single artist museum, you'll find the world's largest collection of Joan Miró paintings. Miró founded the museum himself in 1975. Located on Montjuïc hill, the museum's housed in a light-filled gleaming white building from the 1970s, designed by his friend, Josep LLuis Sert.


The museum is crammed with seminal Miró works, from his earliest sketches to his later years. There's 220 paintings, 180 sculptures, and over 8,000 drawings.


If you'd like to know more about Barcelona, here's my guide to Barcelona's hidden gems. If you'd like more virtual Spanish tours, here's my guide to the best virtual museums in Spain.


If you'd like to travel virtually to other places in Europe, I've got guides for that too:


Virtual Rome

Virtual London

Virtual Paris

Virtual France

Virtual Andalusia

Virtual French Chateaux

Virtual Paris Museums

Virtual Italian Museums

Virtual Spanish Museums

If you'd like to take some virtual tours of Barcelona online, pin it for later.