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Is Barcelona Still Worth Visiting This Summer Despite Overtourism?

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If you’re planning to visit Spain this summer, or perhaps you want to see as much of Europe as possible in one trip, then you may be wondering if Barcelona is still worth visiting.  

Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain as well as the most famous.  

But Barcelona has also been in the news over and over again this year, and not always for the right reasons.  

Park Guell, Gaudi Park, in Barcelona Spain

Last month Barcelona’s mayor vowed to completely abolish short-term vacation apartments by 2028.  

At the beginning of the year it was announced that Barcelona would raise their tourism tax (again!) from October. There is a separate tax in place for cruise passengers to the city too. 

And now the city is banning stores from selling souvenirs deemed ‘tacky’ in a bid to attract ‘quality’ tourists. So if you were looking for a Barcelona penis magnet for your collection, you’re out of luck!   

Despite all this I love Barcelona, and it is one of my favorite Spanish cities. Here’s why I think that Barcelona is still worth visiting this summer despite its well-documented over-tourism problems.  

A Vibrant Cultural Hub  

In a lot of ways, Barcelona is a victim of its own success. So many millions of travelers want to visit each year because it’s such a beautiful and welcoming city, because it’s easily accessible, and because it acts as the perfect gateway to the wider Catalan region.  

Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona.

And these are all still great reasons to visit!  

Perhaps the main reason I love Barcelona is because it is a vibrant cultural hub.  

Its historic district has a fascinating medieval heritage and you’ll never find a cathedral like the Sagrada Familia anywhere else in the world. In fact, if you’re interested in exploring the works of Gaudi there really is nowhere better to be.  

Although it’s a mecca for tourists and it can get crowded in high season, one of my favorite places in the city is Park Guell, the Gaudi Park.  

Gaudi mosaic bench detail and skyline of Barcelona from park Guell at sunset, Catalonia Spain at fall copy

This is a wonderful green space that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO but what I love most about it is the intricate tiling and the vibrant colors. Every time you visit, you’ll notice something different.  

Despite the crowds, this is a place that makes me feel calm and relaxed. Entrance to Park Guell costs 13 euros ($14) per person, and I recommend booking in advance because on busy days tickets can sell out.  

A City And A Beach 

There are a few fascinating cities that have their own beach access in Europe. Dubrovnik is an obvious example. Lisbon too. But there is no European beach city bigger than Barcelona.  

Spain in the summer is hot. And Barcelona is even hotter. So, it’s a huge draw that you can visit museums and galleries all morning; then you’re just a bus ride away from the beach in the afternoon.  

Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona with colorful sky at sunrise.

Barceloneta beach is probably the easiest beach to get to, as well as the most famous, and it is a bustling spot for sunbathing and swimming.  

Barceloneta was named after the fishing quarter you’ll still find here, and this is a hugely popular and vibrant spot bustling with local people who gather to eat seafood, relax by the shore, and catch up with friends.  

If you want to immerse yourself in local life in Barcelona in the summer, then this is the place to be.  

I recommend walking to Barceloneta from the city’s famous rambles if you want to see as much of Barcelona as possible.  

Roy Lichenstein sculpture in Port Vell, Barcelona

It will take around 25 minutes and you’ll see the port area, the Museo Maritimo de Barcelona, and the Barcelona Head statue created by Roy Lichenstein for the 1992 Olympics, which sits outside of the entrance to Port Vell.  

Summer Is A Great Time To Visit Barcelona  

I don’t have rose-tinted glasses on. I know that Barcelona is a victim of over-tourism and that the crowd levels in the city can be unbearable at times.  

An empty back street in Barcelona, Spain, in the summer

But in my experience, the summer months are a great time to visit Barcelona. Sure it’s hot and sticky, but that’s true of any southern European city.  

The real secret is that the hot weather drives many local residents away. So the city feels quieter than usual, provided you can avoid the top tourist haunts.

My top tip is to detour away from the beaten tourist path slightly, and you’ll find that there are many parts of the city just as beautiful, but without any tourists at all in the summer.  

The empty square outside of Barcelona Cathedral in Barcelona in August

Just 5 minutes away from the Rambles, for example, you’ll find Barcelona Cathedral. Entrance is free, and we visited one morning in August to find we were the only visitors inside.  

And if you do want to see some of the more obvious attractions such as the Sagrada Familia (and I recommend you do) just get there early before the tourist buses from the coast arrive. That way, the crowd levels will be so low, you’ll wonder what everyone is whining about!  

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