One of the most popular attractions in Spain, the Sagrada Família is a Catholic basilica designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí famous for championing the architectural style known as Catalan modernism. It has been under construction for over 100 years and isn’t expected to be completed for at least another twenty, yet the originality and grandeur of its design attract over 3 million visitors each year.
Carrer de Mallorca, 401, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 08 04 14
Another Modernist marvel designed by Antoni Gaudí, the Casa Batlló is a former townhouse constructed for the Batlló family in the 19th century. Its unusual appearance rich in curves, natural forms and a quasi reptile-like tile façade have earned it the nickname of Casa del Drac, or House of the Dragon.
Passeig de Gràcia, 43, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 16 03 06
Park Güell is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in Barcelona, and yet what few people know is that it was initially conceived to be a revolutionary housing estate. Antoni Gaudí and his patron and friend Eusebi Güell originally acquired the area and and began construction on a model home. When no one invested in the project, they eventually abandoned it, and it was later donated to the local council and transformed into a public park.
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain, +34 902 20 03 02
Palau de la Música Catalana
A 19th-century music hall, the Palau de la Música Catalana is the work of another great Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner who is also renowned for his contributions to the Catalan Modernist movement. The Palace’s exterior boasts ornate columns and mosaic work while on the inside, a stained glass ceiling dominates the auditorium.
C/ Palau de la Música, 4–6, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 95 72 00
The MACBA is Barcelona’s modern art museum and one of the leading institutions of its kind in Europe. The museum was designed by American architect Richard Meier and inaugurated in 1995 – since then it has hosted exhibitions by some of the most well-regarded artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Plaça dels Àngels, 1, Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 12 08 10
Pablo Picasso moved to Barcelona when he was a child and attended the prestigious La Llotja art school before acquiring his first studio in the Gothic Quarter. The city remained an important place to the artist throughout his lifetime, and the Picasso Museum is testimony to this important relationship.
Carrer Montcada, 15–23, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 56 30 00
Joan Miró Foundation
Located on the Montjuïc hill, the Joan Miró Foundation is home to a large collection of paintings, ceramics and statues by the Catalan artist Joan Miró, best known for his use of bold primary colours to create almost child-like designs. Highlights at the foundation include a large tapestry work which was custom-made by the artist for the foundation in his later life.
Parc de Montjuïc, Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 43 94 70
The most iconic street in Barcelona, La Rambla is a large boulevard which runs from the Plaça Catalunya to the seafront. It originally marked the edge of the town centre during the Middle-Ages before later becoming a popular street full of cafés, shops and of course La Boquería food market.
Passeig de Gràcia
Once upon a time the area of Gràcia was an independent town which sat on the edge of Barcelona but was later annexed by the city in the 19th century. The Passeig de Gràcia is the historic route which connects the two areas and has drawn comparisons with the Champs-Élysées in Paris for its abundance of designer and luxury boutiques.
Tibidabo Amusement Park
Look to the horizon from nearly anywhere in Barcelona and you’ll be able to see the tops of Tibidabo mountain and the Sagrat Cor basilica neatly atop it, sitting alongside the Tibidabo Amusement Park. The oldest functioning amusement park in Spain, it has been open since 1905.
Plaça del Tibidabo, 3–4, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 11 79 42
Barcelona Chocolate Museum
Chocaholics be warned, things are likely to get a little messy at the Barcelona Chocolate Museum. The city has long had a close relationship with all things cacao-based, as the troops of the Bourbon Kings are said to have received a daily chocolate allowance for breakfast. Aside from learning about the process of making chocolate, visitors can admire original chocolate sculptures and take part in a workshop to be a chocolatier for the day.
Carrer del Comerç, 36, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 68 78 78
Mirador de Colom
Standing on the pier at the very end of La Rambla, the Mirador de Colom is a homage to the explorer Christopher Columbus who paid a visit to the Catalan capital before setting sail to America. The monument is also a viewing tower which can be accessed via an elevator and offers panoramic views of the city and sea.
Commonly referred to as the Gothic Cathedral, this Catholic church was first built in the 13th century but actually received its distinctive façade in the 19th century, making it neo-Gothic rather than Gothic. Parts of the original Gothic façade are still visible if you walk down the side of the cathedral.
Pla de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 15 15 54
Port Vell Aerial Tramway
The Port Vell Aerial Tramway is, as its name suggests, a large air-borne cabin which transports people from the Port Vell harbour to the slopes of Montjuïc. It first opened in 1931, at which time it went to the top of Montjuïc, however falling into disrepair after the Civil War it was later re-opened in its new form and has become a popular attraction offering great views of the city.
Passeig Don Joan Borbó Comte Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 30 47 16
Camp Nou Stadium
Not only is the Camp Nou the home of the world-famous FC Barcelona football team, it’s also the largest football stadium in Europe. Book the Camp Nou Experience tour to visit the grounds as well as the FC Barcelona Museum which displays trophies, original football shirts and other memorabilia.
Carrer d’Aristides Maillol, 12, Barcelona, Spain, +34 902 18 99 00
Santa Maria del Mar
Located just off the Via Laetana in the neighbourhood of El Born, the church of Santa Maria del Mar is a Catalan Gothic basilica which has existed in some form since at least the 10th century. Among locals it is sometimes referred to as ‘the church of the poor’ or ‘the church of the common man’, in contrast with the aforementioned Cathedral which was attended by the city’s richer citizens.
Plaça de Santa Maria, 1, Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 10 23 90
Sitting at the very top of Montjuïc hill, the castle has stood its ground since the 17th century when it was constructed as a military fortress. Since then it has served as military base and also a prison during the civil war, and today is open to the public as a museum.
Ctra. de Montjuïc, 66, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 56 44 45
Sant Pau Hospital
A spectacular Modernist design by Domènech i Muntaner, the Sant Pau Hospital opened in the 1930s and was a fully functioning hospital until 2009 when a new building was constructed to replace it. Today the building is open to the public as a cultural centre and museum.
Carrer de Sant Quintí, 89, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 91 90 00
A recent addition to the urban landscape of Barcelona, the Agbar Tower is a modern office tower housing Aigües de Barcelona, the city’s water company. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the tower is covered in some 4,500 LED lights which illuminate the façade at night, as well boasting an intelligent temperature control system which uses automatic sensors to control the blinds.
Joan Samaranch Olympic Museum
The 1992 Olympics marked a turning point in the history of Barcelona, catapulting it to the status of leading international tourist destination it is today. The Joan Samaranch Olympic Museum is a tribute to this most memorable of sporting events, featuring interactive displays and exhibitions as well as hosting live sports-related events.
Avinguda de l’Estadi, 60, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 92 53 79