Visiting Montjuïc, Barcelona: 11 Top Attractions, Tours & Hotels
This scenic hilltop neighborhood of Barcelona draws many tourists who come to enjoy the sensational views, beautiful gardens, and excellent museums. Named after the old Jewish cemetery that was once on this site, Montjuïc stands more than 200 meters above the sea, with its cliffs plunging into the stunning blue Mediterranean waters. Many popular tourist sites are found in the Parc de Montjüic, an expansive parkland with the Castell de Montjuïc on its summit. Also in this park is the dazzling Montjuïc Magic Fountain, which features spectacular light shows, and the Museum of Catalan Art, focusing on artists of the Catalonia region. After enjoying the museums and other things to do here, stroll through the bohemian neighborhood of Poble-Sec to see the work of local artists and munch on tapas.
See also: Where to Stay in Montjuïc, Barcelona
1 Castell de Montjuïc
The entire summit area of Montjuïc is occupied by the extensive buildings and grounds of the Castell de Montjuïc, a formidable fortress surrounded by impenetrable ramparts. The fortress has several large-calibre guns that were used to defend the port area. Walk around the flat roof of the citadel and the corner bastions of its ramparts for sweeping panoramic views over the sea, port, city, and mountains. On the west side of the grounds is an ornate memorial to Francisco Franco, and inside the citadel is a military museum.
Location: Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona
2 Museu d'Art de Catalunya
Housed in the grandiose Palau Nacional (National Palace) in the Montjüic Park, the Museum of Catalan Art displays an extensive collection from all periods of history. The collection begins with the medieval era (11th-13th centuries) and continues through the centuries to modern times and avant-garde pieces. The assortment of medieval art is particularly impressive, featuring magnificent frescoes from many churches in the Pyrenean region of Catalonia. The frescoes from Tahull are shown in a special room, with the nave of the local church of Santa Maria completely reproduced. Other highlights of the museum are the paintings by Catalan artists and other Spanish masters including El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, Mariano Fortuny, Antoni Gaudí, Ramon Casas, Joaquin Torres-García, Julio González, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.
Location: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjüic, Barcelona
3 Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The monumental Magic Fountain of Montjuïc highlights the plaza in front of the Palau Nacional. The Magic Fountain was inaugurated on May 19, 1929 for the Great Universal Exhibition, for which occasion Carles Buigas was commissioned to create a "colossal" and "costly piece of work." To get a sense of the fountain's enormous size, consider that the pool of water is 50 meters by 65 meters. The most innovative feature is the use of light. More than 100 hydraulic valves spout water and 4,000 lights illuminate the fountain for spectacular light shows and dancing water acrobatics accompanied by music. The fountain light and music shows are held Thursday through Sunday during the summer months and Friday and Saturday in winter (closed early January through mid-February).
Address: Plaza Carles Buïgas, Barcelona
4 Fundació Joan Miró
In a lovely section of the Parc de Montjuïc, the Fundació Joan Miró is a museum dedicated to the work of the famous Surrealist-Abstract artist. Founded with the artist's own collections, the museum is housed in a sleek modern building designed by Josep Lluís Sert and illuminated with skylights. Two inner courtyards add to the impression of spaciousness and brightness. These surroundings highlight Miro's colorful and often playful works. The museum's extensive collection contains around 5,000 items, delighting visitors of all ages with Miro's endless creativity. In addition to Miro's own works, there are temporary exhibitions of 20th- and 21st-century artists.
Location: Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona
5 Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village)
Like the Magic Fountain, this little Spanish Village was created for the 1929 World Exhibition. The charming miniature village features buildings in the architectural styles typical of different provinces in Spain, with picturesque little streets, alleyways, courtyards, and houses grouped around a main square, the Plaza Mayor. Artisan workshops in the village give tourists a chance to see and buy traditional handicrafts: glass, ceramics, enamel-work, textiles, leather goods, and prints. The Spanish Village is also used as a venue for cultural performances and outdoor events.
Address: Avda. Francesc Ferrer i Guardia, 13, Barcelona
6 Plaça Espanya
At the foot of the Montjuïc neighborhood, busy Plaça Espanya is the main traffic junction in the western half of the city. The thoroughfares of Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (known as "Gran Via" for short) and the Avinguda del Parallel intersect here. In the center of the square stands the lavish memorial fountain España Ofrecida a Dios (Spain dedicated to God). On the southern side of the square is the entrance to the Exhibition Grounds, with two towers modeled on the bell tower of Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice. The Plaza de Toros (bullring) is on the northern side of the square.
7 Mies Van der Rohe Pavilion
The Barcelona Pavilion in Montjuïc Park is an emblematic work of the Modern Movement designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe of Germany for the 1929 World Exhibition. Built from glass, steel, and marble, the pavilion was created as an official reception hall to receive King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The Fundació Mies van der Rohe is now housed in the pavilion. This foundation educates visitors about the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion as well as topics related to contemporary architecture and urban planning.
Address: 7 Avenue Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona
8 Olympic Stadium
In the Parc de Montjuïc, the Olympic Stadium and the Exhibition Grounds are where the 1992 Summer Olympics were held. The competition venues include the Anella Olimpíca (Olympic Stadium) as well as the sports university - INEFC (Institut Nacional d'Educació Fisica de Catalunya), the Foixarda and Serrahima Stadiums, Palau Municipal d'Esports, Montjuïc Municipal Swimming Pool, Montjuïc Shooting Range, and Parc del Migdia. You can visit the Olympic Stadium year-round; it is home to the city's second football team, Espanyol.
Address: Passeig Olimpic, Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona
9 CaixaForum Barcelona
Housed in an exceptional Modernist building designed as a textile factory by architect Puig i Cadafalch, CaixaForum Barcelona is a cultural and social center with a continuous program of modern and contemporary art shows. Works of artists including Dalí, Rodin, Freud, Turner, Fragonard, and Hogarth are shown here, and there are usually lively interactive exhibits to engage young visitors in art. In addition, frequent concerts, events, and programs make it a dynamic center for contemporary arts.
Address: Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia 6-8, Barcelona
10 Museu Arqueològic de Barcelona
Near the Exhibition Grounds at the foot of Montjuïc is the Archaeological Museum of Barcelona. This Art Deco circular brick building was originally built as the Palau de les Arts Gràfiques for the 1929 World Exhibition. In 1932, the building was enlarged and converted to a museum. The collection's archaeology exhibits cover the history of the Catalan region as it evolved from the Bronze Age (7th century BC) to the Iberian culture, with Greek, Roman, and prehistoric artifacts showing various influences from trade and invasion. Don't miss seeing the silver treasure from the town of Castellet de Banyoles, one of the museum's most outstanding collections.
Address: Passeig de Santa Madrona 39, Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona
11 Museu Etnològic
The Ethnology Museum is near the Exhibition Center in Montjuïc Park. Built in 1973 and specially designed for exhibitions, the building features large windows providing natural light that is ideal for exhibit displays. The impressive collection contains upwards of 30,000 items, which are displayed in rotating themed exhibitions that encourage visitors to consider both the individuality and the universality of human culture. The collection represents the cultures of Asia, Africa, America, and Oceania, with a special focus on the social aspects of each region and their similarities and differences.
Address: Passeig de Santa Madrona, Barcelona
Where to Stay in Montjuïc, Barcelona for Sightseeing
Slightly apart from the bustle of tourist Barcelona, Montjuïc is still within easy reach of the Gothic Quarter and the major sights. Plus, the area has plenty of its own attractions and things to do nearby. Here are some highly-rated hotels in Montjuïc:
- Luxury Hotels: Close to the Magic Fountain and to cafés and the metro, Crowne Plaza Barcelona - Fira Center is a luxury hotel just below the Olympic Stadium. With both indoor and outdoor pools and rooms with views and balconies overlooking the sea, Hotel Miramar Barcelona is an elegant, old, grand hotel near the top of Montjuïc.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In Montjuïc's charming artists' quarter of Poble-Sec, the boutique Hotel Brummell has sleek, modern rooms and a rooftop penthouse with its own terrace pool. A few steps from Plaça Espanya and close to the Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion, rooms at the Ayre Hotel Gran Via are quiet, despite the location on busy Gran Via. Between two green parks and just below the beautiful Mirador Poble Sec, Hotel Grums Barcelona has a quiet location a few minutes' walk from the beginning of La Rambla.
- Budget Hotels: On Gran Via at the foot of Monjuïc, BCN Montjuic Hotel has a small rooftop pool and spacious, contemporary rooms near a metro stop and within walking distance of the museums. At the edge of Monjuïc's bohemian Poble Sec neighborhood, Silken Concordia Hotel is also close to a metro station on a direct line to Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia. Rates include breakfast at Hotel Paral.lel, adjacent to the Poble Sec neighborhood and a 15-minute walk from La Rambla, the port, or the Magic Fountain.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Montjuïc
- Tours of Montjuïc: As one of the city's prime highlights, Montjuïc is featured in city tours, such as the Priority Access: Best of Barcelona Tour Including Sagrada Familia. Available as a full- or half-day tour, this excursion includes an expert guide who leads a small group to the city's major attractions, with a scenic drive to Montjuïc that includes views of the city and visits to the Catalunya National Art Museum and Plaça Espanya. The 4.5-hour Barcelona Sightseeing Tour: Gothic Quarter Walking Tour, Olympic Village, and Montjuic Cable Car Ride is a good introduction to the sights. It includes a coach excursion and a cable-car ride as well as visits to the Olympic Village and Spanish village at Poble Espanyol.
- Comfort and Safety: Because Barcelona's streets are often paved with uneven stones, wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes for sightseeing. Although it is considered a safe city for travelers, as in any large city you should be alert for pickpockets, especially in crowded places.