Although technically a city in Spain, Barcelona is perhaps best thought of as the capital of the fiercely independent region of Catalonia. There has been a city here for thousands of years, and Barcelona's roots long predate the modern country of Spain of which it is a part. As a result, Barcelona is a cultural destination like no other, and nowhere is that reflected better than in the city's many museums.
As well as its extensive history, Barcelona has been a city of painters and artists for a long time. Some of the world's greatest visual artists, including Picasso and Salvador Dali, lived and worked in this part of the world. Indeed, Barcelona's unique architecture, heavily influenced by the work of Antonio Gaudi, makes the historic heart of the city practically a work of art all by itself.
Whether you're looking to explore contemporary art, learn more about Barcelona in the many history museums of the city, or find fun things to do with the kids in Barcelona, you won't have to look far.The best museums in Barcelona often a fascinating look at Catalan history, the work of Spanish artists, and some quirky areas of knowledge you won't soon forget.
So drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Barcelona, Spain, and get ready to enjoy the unique culture of this fascinating city. Not carrying heavy bags with you means you won't run into any problems with admission in the city's museums and galleries, so you can concentrate on having fun.
Museum of the History of Barcelona
If you want to get a better sense of the complex history of the city and the wider Catalonia region, there is no better place to do that than at the Museum of the History of Barcelona. One of the most popular museums in Barcelona, this museum is located in the Gothic Quarter, one of the most visited and most atmospheric areas of the city. As luck would have it, when this museum was being built, some of the Roman ruins of the ancient city were discovered, and these have now been incorporated into the museum to tell the story of Barcelona's origins. Now, the museum has several locations throughout the city dedicated to preserving the archaeological remains of Barcelona, but the original Gothic Quarter location is still the headquarters of the organization. As well as Roman ruins, you'll find relics of medieval, Renaissance, and even 20th century Barcelona in the museum's permanent collection. One of Barcelona's most visited museums, this is a must-visit for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of the history of the city. Plus, its location in the Gothic Quarter close to La Rambla makes this a place where you can find some of the best street food in Barcelona, after your visit.
Joan Miró Foundation
Joan Miró is a name that rings out in the world of modern art. This painter and sculptor was born in Barcelona and became one of the foremost Catalan artists of his era. The Joan Miró Foundation contains a huge collection of the artist's work, with much of it being donated by the artist himself to the Foundation. The exhibition space focuses on Miró, but you'll also find that this modern art museum hosts temporary exhibitions of other modern artists, making it a fantastic destination for art lovers and one of the best museums in Barcelona to get better acquainted with Catalan modernism.
Additionally, the Foundation is almost worth visiting just for its location. The building itself was designed by Joan Miró himself in collaboration with architect Josep Lluís Sert, and its sleek modern lines offer a sharp contrast to much of the rest of Barcelona's Gaudi-inspired architecture. Plus, the outdoor sculpture gallery is located in Barcelona's stunning Parc de Montjuïc, and it offers an incredible place to relax and get some serenity close to the heart of the city.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of El Raval, the Museum of Contemporary Art, or MACBA, is one of the top museums in Barcelona. This museum, dedicated to modern art in this most historic city, offers visitors a chance to get a greater understanding of trends in contemporary art. Explore the collection here, and you'll be taking a journey through the cutting edge of culture and seeing artworks by people who may be the next big names in art history. Fans of modern art definitely shouldn't miss this incredible collection, and even those who aren't the biggest fans of culture may find new favorites here.
La Sagrada Familia Museum
Few cities have been as shaped by the work of a single artistic visionary as Barcelona has. Antonio Gaudi is practically synonymous with the city he called home, having designed many of Barcelona's best-loved structures. His masterpiece was undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, which is still being constructed according to Gaudi's original plan.
Thanks to its structural beauty, the Cathedral is already one of the most visited attractions in the entire city. The Cathedral also holds a small museum that explains Gaudi's vision for the church and his impact on the city of Barcelona. It's a fantastic place to visit to get a better understanding of the unique relationship between the city and its best loved architect, and the perfect place to better understand the lasting legacy of this renowned artist.
National Art Museum of Catalonia
Catalonia is a semiautonomous region of Spain - for now. The Catalans have a unique culture, their own language, and a fiercely independent spirit. Many Catalans consider themselves part of an independent nation, whatever Spanish law might say about it, and so Catalonia has its own national museum located in Barcelona.
Politics aside, the Museu Nacional d'art de Catalunya is an enormous source of pride for the city and the region. It holds a stunning collection of Catalan art spanning the centuries. The museum is divided into four zones, covering Medieval Romanesque, Medieval Gothic, and two modern art galleries. The building alone is also worth visiting, functioning as it does as the national palace of Catalonia. There are incredible views of the city from the sweeping staircase in front of the palace, making it an attraction in its own right.
Big Fun Museum
If you're looking for places to take the kids in Barcelona, a museum might not be the first thing that springs to mind. However, the Big Fun Museum is, as the name suggests, one of the most fun places to visit in the city, no matter what your age. This museum displays optical illusions that will make you feel like you've stepped into another world where the laws of physics no longer apply. Plus, the museum actively encourages visitors to bring their cameras and capture the unique exhibits, making this one of the city's best destinations for those all-important selfies.
Pablo Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most famous and most important artists in the world. His work changed the course of art history in a way few others have ever done. And given that the artist spent portions of his life in Barcelona, it's perhaps not surprising that the Picasso Museum in Barcelona is one of the top art museums in a city that's not exactly short of them.
The museum collects paintings and drawings from every stage of Picasso's work life, from his early experiments in modernism through his famous Blue Period to the mature cubist paintings that are famous around the world. Be warned that as one of the most visited museums in Barcelona, lines to get into this institution can be long, so it's a good idea to book tickets in advance if you don't want to find yourself standing in a long line.
FC Barcelona Museum
Sports fans shouldn't miss this one. FC Barcelona is one of the most decorated soccer teams in the world, and the team is an immense source of national pride for Catalonians. Located in the legendary Camp Nou Stadium, this museum tells the story of the club's winning ways and displays the vast array of trophies FC Barcelona have won over the years.
Mes que un club, the motto of FC Barcelona proudly proclaims – more than a club. And unlike most sports team museums, the museum here will explain the enormous importance the club had as a source of Catalan identity during the Franco regime in Spain, making this an interesting attraction for history buffs as well as soccer fans.
Erotic Museum of Barcelona
If you like your museums on the quirky side, you won't go wrong with the Erotic Museum of Barcelona. This museum explores the history and depiction of sex through the centuries, from ancient Roman artwork to 20th century Catalan pornography. The museum is even home to a couple of Picasso paintings. And while the antique sex toys and positively quaint depictions of sex from more conservative areas are good for a giggle, the museum goes deeper to explore the links between sexuality and culture both in Barcelona and around the world, making this an informative place to visit as well as an entertaining one.
Spain was once one of the world's greatest multinational empires, and it owed that position to its seafaring prowess. As a port city, Barcelona was part of the exploration and conquest of the New World, and Spanish seafaring is celebrated at the city's Maritime Museum. Located in a former shipyard, the museum dives into the ship-based history of the city and tells the story of the Spanish Navy from the 13th century onwards.
Museum of Chocolate
Another hit with kids and anyone with a sweet tooth, the Museu de la Xocholata explores the history of one of the world's favorite treats. Chocolate found its way to Europe from South America thanks to Spanish explorers and seafarers, and from there, it soon took over the world. You'll learn about the different uses of chocolate through the centuries, and this interactive museum also offers workshops where you can learn how to make your own chocolate and, best of all, taste it.
What are the best free museums in Barcelona?
Barcelona is by no means a cheap place to visit, but you can keep your expenses down by visiting some free attractions. In fact, the city's museums are some of the top free things to do in Barcelona. Time your visit right, and you can visit some of the city's top attractions for absolutely nothing. For instance, MACBA is free every Saturday after 4 pm, and artists are often on hand to educate visitors about their own work. The Picasso Museum is free for anyone under the age of 18 and is free for everyone on Thursday afternoons from 4 PM to 7 PM.
Which are the best museums in downtown Barcelona?
Barcelona's central core is home to some of the city's top museums. You'll find the Picasso Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Barcelona History Museum all located in this area.
Are there any cheap museums in Barcelona?
If you can't visit during free hours, a ticket to the Picasso Museum costs €12 for an adult, which isn't bad considering how much you'll get to see. At the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, you can buy a basic ticket that gives you access to the building and a limited range of exhibitions for only two euros. Or you can visit the entire museum on a Saturday afternoon after 3 PM completely free, but you'll need to book a ticket in advance.