Located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a city that breathes art and culture. Its museum offer is one of the most varied and interesting in Europe with spaces dedicated to both modern and classical currents.
A trip is a perfect opportunity to visit some of the museums of Barcelona and soak up the history and culture of the city. Let me tell you about its essential museums!
1. The best museums in Barcelona
Before opting for one museum or another, I recommend that you get well informed about what you can see in each of them. These are the best in the city:
2. National Art Museum of Catalonia
This is one of the best museums in Barcelona that you will be able to visit, as it is considered one of the most important in Spain. Here's two reasons:
Firstly for its impressive artistic collection that spans from Romanesque to mid-20th century (almost a historical period of 1,000 years!) and secondly for the spectacular building in which it is located, the National Palace, built in 1929 on the occasion of the Universal Exposition held in the city. It is a beauty.
How to visit it?
Since the MNAC is one of the most popular museums in Barcelona, I advise you to book your tickets to the National Art Museum of Catalonia online well in advance to ensure your place on the day of the visit you choose.
What will you see?
Mainly a review of Catalan art from the Romanesque to the mid-twentieth century to explain its evolution and the different artistic currents, although special mention is also made of the Renaissance and the Spanish and European Baroque, as well as modern Catalan art among some other surprises.
Believe me if I tell you that it will be difficult to choose the room you like the most! The samples of Romanesque and Gothic art that you will find in the National Art Museum of Catalonia are something from another planet, a marvel. Especially the frescoes of Sant Climent de Taüll will blow your mind!
Recommended if... you are enthusiastic about Romanesque and Gothic art or the work of world-renowned painters.
Information of interest
- Where: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona.
- How to get there: By bus with lines 55, 150, 13, 37, 27, 27, 50, 65, 79, 109, 165, D20, H12 and V7 / By metro with lines 1 and 3, Plaza España station.
- How long does it take to see it? About 3 hours.
3. Ticket for the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM)
I remember that this was one of the museums in Barcelona that surprised me the most because its theme, unlike other contemporary art galleries, is not dedicated to abstract art but realist art. And it aims to share the figurative art of living artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
If you think that contemporary art does not suit you, I recommend you to visit the European Museum of Modern Art because you will surely change your opinion, it is much more interesting than most visitors think!
How to visit it?
Plan your cultural day in the streets of Barcelona and get your tickets to the European Museum of Modern Art online so you don't miss out on the date you want.
This ticket will give you access to both the permanent and temporary exhibitions so you can see the museum in detail, without missing anything.
What will you see?
If you like contemporary art, you will see pieces in their collection that will leave you speechless, they are so hyper-realistic that you will think you are looking at a photograph!
Many people don't know the MEAM and pass by the nearby Picasso Museum but now that you know about its existence, don't hesitate to visit it because they also have an interesting program of concerts, theatrical plays and workshops for children quite entertaining to spend an afternoon doing something different.
Also with the MEAM is the same as with the National Art Museum of Catalonia: the visit is worth it for both the content and the continent. And this museum is located in the Palau Gomis, a neoclassical building unique in Barcelona.
Recommended if... you like realistic art or are looking for a different museum that is not crowded to spend a cultural day. After your visit, you can go out for tapas in the neighborhood of El Born.
- Where: Barra de Ferro, 5.
- How to get there: By bus lines 14, 40, 42, 45, 59, 59, 64, 120, H14, H16, V15, and V17. / Metro line 1 Arc de Triomf station and line 4 Jaume I station.
- How long does it take to see it? 1 hour and 30 minutes approximately.
4. Queue-free entrance to the Museum of the History of Catalonia and the terrace
Another of the most interesting museums in Barcelona that you can visit during a getaway is the Museum of History of Catalonia.
If you are passionate about history you will really enjoy its exhibitions because you will discover in a fun and interactive way (which is always a good idea if you're traveling with children) the history of the Catalan community from the Paleolithic to the late twentieth century.
Imagine trying on medieval armor, grinding wheat in the style of the Iberian people, or getting on a streetcar... quite far from a boring exhibition!
How to visit it?
This is one of the museums in Barcelona where it is typical that queues form at the entrance, not only for its collection but also because on its terrace there is a panoramic viewpoint with great views of the port of the city.
My advice is to get in advance and online your Museum of the History of Catalonia tickets which will give you access without queues to the museum to see the permanent and temporary exhibition as well as its terrace.
What will you see?
On the outside, the Palacio del Mar, the only nineteenth-century building still standing from the old port of Barcelona. Inside, you will take a journey through the history of Catalonia to learn visually and interactively all about this culture.
In addition, from its terrace, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the port of Barcelona and even have some tapas in its restaurant "1881". It also has some delicious cocktails! It comes to be a good plan to do after the visit to the museum, don't you think?
Recommended if... you like history and want to learn more about Catalonia to contextualize your trip or you want to enjoy spectacular views of the port of Barcelona.
- Where: Plaza de Pau Vila, 3.
- How to get there: By bus with lines 14, 17, 19, 36, 39, 40, 45, 51, 57, 59, 64 and 157. / By metro with line 4 Barceloneta station.
- How long does it take to see it?: 2 hours approximately.
5. Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum is one of the most beloved museums in Barcelona by art lovers. Not only because it has a very complete repertoire of the Malaga painter's youth and training period (nearly 4,000 works!) but also because this institution was created by himself and a friend, who donated most of the pieces in the collection.
So that's all the more reason to go! It can be said that this museum, in which he put a part of his soul, was a gift for Barcelona for being a city very dear to him in which he spent so many good times.
How to visit it?
You can get your tickets for the Picasso Museum in Barcelona at the ticket office. The general admission is priced at 15 dollars while the reduced ticket costs 9 dollars.
However, admission is free on Thursday afternoons from 5 PM and the first Sunday of each month, so if you have a free slot in your schedule it can be a great option to visit.
What will you see?
Visiting the Picasso Museum is a good opportunity to discover perhaps one of the most unknown stages of the painter, that of his beginnings. However, it is also a good opportunity to get to know closely the five Gothic palaces in which the museum is located. One of the best examples of medieval civil architecture in Catalonia.
Recommended if... you are enthusiastic about Picasso and his work. I recommend that you combine the visit with the entrance to the European Museum of Modern Art as both are located very close to the neighborhood of El Born.
- Where: Calle Montcada, 15-23.
- How to get there: By bus: lines 39, 51, 45, 45, 120, V15, V17, H14. / By metro: line 1, Arc de Triomf station; line 3, Liceu station and line 4, Jaume I station.
- How long does it take to see it? about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
6. Barcelona Museums Pass (Museum Pass)
If you are an art lover and one of the reasons why you travel to Barcelona is to visit its museums and soak up culture I recommend you to buy the Barcelona Museum Pass.
With this pass, you will not only save money but also time as you will be able to enter directly to several of the most important museums in Barcelona without queuing up.
In addition, you will have access to both the permanent and temporary exhibitions of the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, the Joan Miró Foundation, the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), the Antoni Tàpies Foundation, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA).
Most museums in Barcelona have free admission for children between 0 and 15 years, so if you are traveling with your family I advise you to find out before buying the Museum Pass.
7. About the tickets
When you purchase your ticket or book your tour, you will receive a confirmation email. Except for the museum pass (which you will need to exchange), you will be able to show your ticket at the museum to access the exhibition of your choice. In the case of the museum pass, you also have a validity of one year from the moment you redeem your voucher for the pass.
8. Organize your visit to the Barcelona Museums
Opening days and hours
- Most museums in Barcelona open between 9:00 and 10:00 am and close between 6:30 and 8:00 pm, depending on the season.
- Almost all museums in Barcelona close on Mondays, so be sure to visit them any other day of the week (and if possible, avoid weekends, as this is when they receive the most visitors).
- All museums are closed on December 25 and January 1 and 6 for religious holidays.
9. Tips for your visit
- If you can't decide on just one museum, my opinion is that the Picasso Museum is the most worthwhile for its great collection and the possibility to explore the artist's work in depth.
- If you decide on the National Art Museum of Catalonia, keep in mind that it is located at the top of Montjuïc, the city's mountain, from where you can see beautiful sunsets. It might be a good idea to go up in the afternoon, explore the museum and the area, and end the day watching the sunset.
- Budget between 45 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes to visit the museum of your choice, as long as you don't want to do an exhaustive visit that will take you a whole morning or part of the afternoon.
- In addition to the museums mentioned here, which in my opinion are the most outstanding in Barcelona, the city has many others that you might be interested in because of the specificity of their exhibitions. Some examples of other museums in Barcelona are the Maritime Museum, the Erotic Museum, the Design Museum, the Chocolate Museum, CosmoCaixa, or the Olympic Sports Museum, to name a few.
10. Other visits that may interest you
On your trip to Barcelona, most of your visits are going to be related in one way or another to Gaudi's architecture. Of course, the Sagrada Familia is a must-visit, so I have written a guide about Sagrada Familia - Skip The Line Tickets that will surely be very useful when it comes to getting your tickets.
I also recommend you to read my guide on Park Güell Tickets and Tours to know all the tricks to visit it. And by the way, take a look at my La Pedrera Tickets and Tours and Casa Batlló Tickets and Tours guide, with the best tips to explore these two architectural gems of the city.
For soccer fans, visiting the Camp Nou is an experience that can be very interesting as in the Camp Nou Experience you can explore the trophy gallery, a space dedicated to Messi, a very interesting audiovisual area and of course the stands, the locker rooms, and the press room. Find out more here: Camp Nou Experience Tickets.