Barcelona From Home: The Best Virtual Online Tours of Barcelona
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Dreaming of a trip to Spain? 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 for free. Let's take some 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.