10 Books about Barcelona To Read Before you Visit

Want to learn more about Barcelona before you visit?  There are lots of fabulous books about Barcelona to give you more insight into this special city, whether you are looking for a novel to whisk you away to a side of Barcelona you never knew, or want to read about the history of the city, I’ve brought together the best Barcelona books for you to choose from.  I’ve even got my top pick of guidebooks about Barcelona too!

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Where to Buy Books about Barcelona

If you want to get a headstart and read some Barcelona books before you arrive in the city then ordering your book(s) online is the easiest way to go if you don’t have a favourite local bookshop.

Instead of linking to Amazon, I’ve chosen to link to the books about Barcelona that are available to buy on Bookshop.org. Bookshop.org support independent bookstores, either by allowing you to choose which bookstore you want to buy from or by donating profits to bookstores to help them to compete online and maintain a presence in their local communities.

Of course, if you do want to shop on Amazon you can search for these books about Barcelona on Amazon here.

Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Before travelling to Barcelona, make sure you book accommodation and popular attractions ASAP as hotels and tickets can sell out.


1: Sagrada Familia Skip the Line Ticket - a must-see in Barcelona!

2: Park Guell Admission Ticket - colourful mosaic terraces and gorgeous views

3: Casa Batlló Entry with Self-Audioguide Tour - stunning Modernist Building & rooftop


$$: Sercotel Hotel Rosellon - Incredible view of the Sagrada Familia from some rooms and the terrace

$$: H10 Madison 4* Sup - top location with rooftop pool & view of the Gothic Cathedral

$: Chic & Basic Lemon Boutique Hotel - great value hotel near Plaça Catalunya


Although Barcelona is a safe city, pickpockets are a problem here, particularly in popular tourist areas and on the metro.  Use a theft-proof backpack and consider getting some hidden-pocket clothing to keep your belongings safe.

Find Deals to Book Your Trip

English Book Shops in Barcelona

You can also buy books from English bookstores in Barcelona like the ones listed below, or from gift shops at attractions like la Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo.  You can also find second-hand English books at the Encants Flea Market.  Buying books in Barcelona can be a perfect souvenir to take home with you, or you might find the perfect gift from Barcelona at one of these bookshops:

  • Come In: Located in the Eixample, Come In offers a wide range of English books, including literature, fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. >>>See Location
  • Hibernian Books: Known for its vast selection of second-hand English books, Hibernian Books offers affordable English books in Barcelona. >>>See Location
  • Casa del Llibre: This excellent bookshop on the Rambla de Catalunya has a great selection of books in various languages, including English. >>>See Location
  • La Central del Raval: This lovely bookshop in El Raval has a carefully curated section of English-language books to choose from.  >>>See Location
Woman at Park Guell Holding a Book about Barcelona - Best Barcelona Books about Barcelona to Read
Woman at Park Guell Holding a Book about Barcelona – Best Barcelona Books to Read

The Best Fiction Books Set in Barcelona

Let’s start with fiction, something to get your teeth into before, during or after your trip to Barcelona.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I love this book, which is a thriller and mystery beginning in 1945 as the city recovers from the aftermath of the Civil War.  The Shadow of the Wind tells the story of a young boy, Daniel, who is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father and chooses one to take home; The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax.

He loves reading the book, but when he tries to find other works by Carax, he discovers that someone is destroying all of Carax’s books and he sets out to find out why, plunging himself into a mystery of madness, murder and doomed love.

Zafon has written a series of books set in Barcelona following the success of Shadow of the Wind; The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven and The Labyrinth of the Spirits.


Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

This historical novel set in medieval Barcelona follows the life of a young man named Arnau Estanyol, who comes to Barcelona and joins the stoneworkers who are building Santa Maria del Mar, the cathedral which stands in The Born neighbourhood.

As Arnau navigates the challenges of medieval society, and the Spanish Inquisition the book explores themes of love, friendship, social struggles, and the aspirations of a man determined to build a legacy for himself and his family. Throughout the novel, readers witness the growth of both Arnau and the majestic cathedral, symbolizing the triumph of the human spirit and the power of unity.


Nada by Carmen Laforet

“Nada” by Carmen Laforet is a powerful coming-of-age novel set in post-Civil War Barcelona, often touted as Spain’s version of “The Catcher in the Rye.” The story follows eighteen-year-old orphan Andrea, who moves to Barcelona to attend university. She finds herself living with her unpredictable relatives in a mysterious and gothic house on Calle de Aribau.

As Andrea’s innocence fades, she delves into her family’s secrets, discovering the truths they have kept hidden. Andrea’s wealthy, bohemian friend Ena becomes a central figure in her life, and their friendship unravels the tangled connections with Andrea’s family.

Amidst dark humour, energy, and hope, Carmen Laforet weaves a compelling tale of a young woman facing the harsh realities of postwar society. Throughout her journey, Andrea gains wisdom and strength, embracing a promising future ahead of her.


Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

This acclaimed novel skillfully weaves family drama, political intrigue, and star-crossed love stories, exploring the essence of what truly makes a home.  In parallel storylines, a mother and daughter are confronted with decisions that challenge family expectations, leading them to choose between their hearts’ desires and their familial bonds.

In 1964, Isabel Perez journeys to Barcelona to rescue her sister, Beatriz, with a shielded heart and a determination to protect her family as a Cuban exile. Alongside an unexpected ally, she delves into her sister’s dangerous world of espionage. Uncovering a buried family secret, Isabel’s life takes a profound turn.

Meanwhile, in 1936 Barcelona, Alicia Perez navigates a marriage in jeopardy amidst Spain’s escalating civil war and rising fascism. Reunited with a man from her past, Alicia’s choices intertwine with her daughter’s, culminating in a compelling tale where past and present collide.


Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson

Set on the brink of the 2008 financial crash, “Barcelona Dreaming” weaves an evocative narrative through three interconnected stories, bound by time, place, and the serendipitous encounters of a diverse ensemble.

The three protagonists are an English woman managing a gift shop, an alcoholic jazz pianist, and a translator burdened by unrequited love, and all their lives will undergo profound transformations. At the core lies a crime perpetrated against a young Moroccan immigrant, casting a haunting shadow.

Exploring addiction, racism, celebrity, immigration, and self-delusion, the novel brims with longing for the unattainable and nostalgia for an impending loss. This poignant tale serves as a love letter to Barcelona’s allure and a compelling novella for our uncertain era.


Top Non-Fiction Books About Barcelona

If you want to get under the skin of the city, reading books about Barcelona like these informative and evocative works will give you a broader picture of Barcelona and its complex history.

Barcelona by Robert Hughes, 1992

“Barcelona” by Robert Hughes is a comprehensive and engaging portrait of the vibrant Spanish city. Through meticulous historical research and vivid storytelling, Hughes captures the essence of Barcelona’s rich cultural heritage, tumultuous past, and architectural marvels.

From its ancient Roman origins to the modernist masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí, the book delves into the city’s complex evolution, blending art, politics, and social dynamics. Hughes offers readers a captivating journey through Barcelona’s winding streets, exploring its passionate spirit, diverse neighbourhoods, and iconic landmarks.

Whether delving into the Spanish Civil War or celebrating the city’s unique identity, “Barcelona” is a compelling book about one of Europe’s most captivating destinations and the most un-Spanish city in Spain.


Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, 1938

In 1936, George Orwell arrived in Spain with the intent of reporting on the Spanish Civil War, but fate drew him into active participation as a member of the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unity fighting against the Fascist forces.

Immersed in the trenches, he vividly portrays the harrowing and at times comical life of a “democratic army” lacking hierarchy and proper equipment, as well as his own near-fatal injury. Orwell was pulled into a conflict between personal ideals and the complexities of political power struggles.

Regarded as a masterpiece, “Homage to Catalonia” serves as Orwell’s memoir of the frontlines and a tribute to those who fought against the rise of fascism in Spain. This edition, featuring a new foreword by Adam Hochschild, places the war in a broader context and explores the evolution of Orwell’s views on the Spanish Civil War.


Barcelona Spain: Coffee Table Picture Book by Amelia Boman

This beautiful coffee table book is filled with colourful curated photographs of Barcelona, including the stunning landmarks, scenery and architectural buildings.  There is no text so you can just enjoy the views.


Barcelona Guidebooks

Until I write my own, these guidebooks on Barcelona will give you more tips and advice about travelling in Barcelona.

Lonely Planet Barcelona by Isabella Noble & Regis St Louis, 2022

The popular Lonely Planet Barcelona guidebook is a comprehensive guide to Barcelona, perfect for both exploring the top sights and taking roads less travelled


Rick Steves Barcelona by Rick Steves, 2022

Rick Steves brings his years of travel experience to this guidebook about Barcelona, sharing advice for how to connect with local cultural experiences and how to make the most of your time and money during your stay in the city.


500 Hidden Secrets of Barcelona

This insider’s guide to Barcelona focuses on the city’s hidden gems and lesser-known spots so you can get under the skin of Barcelona like a local.  Discover the city’s most interesting places, buildings, restaurants, shops, museums, galleries, neighbourhoods, gardens and cafes.