I’ve been living in Barcelona for years now and spend most of my free time exploring the city with my camera. Offering panoramic views across the city’s Gothic skyline, all the way from the mountains down to the Mediterranean Sea, these are the very best places to soak up the views and capture the best photos of Barcelona.
Words and photos by your local photography-obsessed guide, Ben Holbrook.
MNAC Art Museum ~ Regal Palace with Awe-inspiring Views
Easily accessed, this majestic museum dates back to 1929 and was originally the Palau Nacional (national palace), built for the Barcelona International Exposition. Inspired by the domes and detailing of buildings like St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, it really is a wonderful place to see and photography some of the best views in Barcelona.
How to get there: Take the metro to Espanya and simply walk up the steps.
Passeig de les Aigües ~ 10 km Leafy Running/Cycle Track with Epic City Views
When I moved back to Barcelona for the third time – It’s an awfully long story – I was adamant that I would live as close to Parc de Collserola as possible. I dreamed of cycling through the whispering pine trees and picnicking with sweeping views across the city. I got my way in the end and now live just a short ride away from the trail of Passeig de les Aigües, which hugs the mountains and snakes its way around the park for ten beautiful kilometres.
Once you get up there, it’s a pleasantly flat route, bustling with neon-clad runners and tree-trunk-thighed cyclists. I spend more time here than anywhere and every time I ride over the dusty, sunbaked soil and breathe in the scents of trickling tree sap I wonder how I could ever live anywhere else. Perhaps I’ll just stay.
How to get there: Jump on the FGC train from Placa Catalunya to Av. Tibidabo and ride the famous vintage blue tram (Tramvia Blau) up Avenida Tibidabo. Get off the tram and keep walking up the road until you get to the Pla dels Maduixers carpark, where the trail starts. This little map will help.
Park Güell ~ Antoni Gaudi’s Famous and Fantastical Gardens
Designed by Barcelona’s favourite child, Antoni Gaudí, this verdant oasis was commissioned by Eusebi Güell, a rich industrialist who dreamed of creating an exclusive health resort/housing estate in the mountains of Barcelona where the rich could escape the hustle and bustle of the city. In the end, however, due to the fact that it was so difficult to access, only the park was created, but none of the houses (apart from two: Güell lived in one and Gaudí the other).
Apart from the incredible views, the park itself is a magnificent feat of design and landscaping, like a mythical wonderland in the sky, and was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
How to get there: Ride the L3 metro line to either Vallcarca or Lesseps station and follow the signs. It’s very hilly up in this part of the city but there are a few escalators to help.
Bunkers del Carmel ~ Mountainside Air-raid Battery from the Spanish Civil War
Perched atop the mountains that box in Barcelona from the rear, this air-raid battery was built in 1937 to protect the city from air strikes during the Spanish Civil War. The bunkers and platforms where the canons once sat have now been turned into a viewing point and history museum and the views across Barcelona are simply unparalleled.
How to get there: Take the metro to Alfons X (L4, yellow) and walk from there for about ten minutes. There are signs, but you can normally just follow the crowds.
Tibidabo ~ Vintage Theme Park and Church with Breathtaking Views
If you look upwards and away from the sea, you’ll spot Tibidabo’s illuminated Temple de Sagrat Cor and the gargantuan Jesus statue that crowns it. As well as the jaw dropping vistas across the city and surrounding mountains, there’s also the added bonus of the vintage Tibidabo Amusement Park. Opened in 1868, it is one of the oldest theme parks in the world and features an old fashioned carrousel and rollercoaster rides.
How to get there: Take the L7 FGC train from Plaza de Catalunya station to Plaza de John Kennedy. From here, cross the road and jump on the ancient ‘Tramvia Blau’ (blue tram), which will rattle you up to the funicular, which will take you the rest of the way.
Montjuïc ~ Verdant Castle-Crowned Mountain
This leafy mountain is easily accessed from the city and overlooks the busy port areas. The main focal point is imposing Montjuïc Castle, an old military fortress that dates back to 1640. The canons are still proudly on show, pointing out to sea, and the views from the walls are well worth the walk.
How to get there: Take the Montjuic cable car from Paral·lel metro station. You can also take bus #150.