This cosmopolitan and bustling heart of Catalonia is popular with tourists all year round, and a proud place for locals. With fantastic art and architecture, and a rich medieval history, as well as innovative modern additions, Barcelona is certainly not short of things to do and see. Here we explore 10 of the unmissable things to do and see if you’re visiting this amazing city.
Park Güell is by far one of the most impressive public parks in the world. Designed by the famous and much-loved architect Antonio Gaudí, this beautiful park boasts some of his best pieces of work. Originally intended for families to reside in, Park Güell is now essentially an outdoor museum of colorful and playful Gaudi designs. Guests can tour the park at leisure and take pictures with the treasures that can be found scattered around, and even enter the tiny on-site Casa-Museu Gaudí – a museum and gift shop, which is also a Gaudi creation.
Visit the beach
Located on the coast of the popular neighborhood with the same name, La Barceloneta beach is Barcelona’s most bustling and touristy stretch of sand and sea. A must-visit if you’re in the city, it is a great place to enjoy some fresh seafood in one of many chiringuitos (seaside huts) or seaside restaurants. Visitors to the beach not only swim, but can get stuck into a variety of water sports, windsurfing and kite-surfing being the most popular options on this beach. Lively both day and night, and easily accessible, this beach is perfect if you still want to be close to the city’s main attractions.
A tour of the architecture
Gaudi’s outstanding pieces of work don’t stop in Park Güell. Just walking around the city visitors will be able to admire countless pieces of his architecture. Gaudí’s unique take on the Art Nouveau movement has produced some of the most spectacular buildings in the region, and visitors can easily spend a day touring the city to take pictures of his creations, and even enter a few of them. Amongst many is Casa Vicens, Gaudí’s first important building dating back to the 1880s. Also worth visiting are La Pedrera, one of his main residential buildings, and Casa Batlló.
Another of Gaudí’s pieces of work, but unique in itself, the Sagrada Familia is his most-famous piece of architecture, and an icon of Barcelona. In construction since 1882, and with the end not even in sight, this is a working piece of art, making it a very engaging visit indeed. Not only is it a spectacular feast for the eyes from the outside, with beautiful views from each side, the Sagrada Familia also boasts a fantastic museum inside. For less than €20 you can admire the incredible interior, including the tower. An unfinished masterpiece, but beautiful nonetheless, visitors to Barcelona simply can’t miss visiting the Sagrada Familia.
This huge public market is one of the city’s most famous tourist landmarks, accessed around two thirds of the way up the tourism hub of Las Ramblas. The first mention of La Boquería dates back to 1217, and it still stands today as a vibrant and busy market. The grand iron entrance leads into what is one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets, selling a rainbow infused selection of fruits, and never-ending supply of exotic fruit smoothies and fresh lemonade. Visitors can even enjoy something to eat at the famous El Quim de la Boquería restaurant at the heart of the market.
A prominent hill overlooking Barcelona and boasting fantastic city views, Montjuïc is very popular with tourists, especially since the surrounding Montjuïc area offers much to see and do in itself. Possibly even more exciting than the views themselves, is the cable car that takes visitors up to Montjuïc and directly to the castle, which also offers fantastic views of the city.
The FC Barcelona stadium since 1957, Camp Nou is a delight even for self-proclaimed football haters. The large-scale stadium, covering a surface area of 55,000 square metres and earning its name as the biggest stadium in Europe, is a stamp of pride for football fans. Certainly take a visit just to admire the scale of this stadium, but if you’re lucky enough to be there for a match, don’t miss the opportunity to go. Even for non-football fans, the atmosphere is simply incredible. The size of the stadium, combined with the passion of the fans, makes for a buzzing, lively experience.
Located in the El Born quarter, the Picasso Museum was born out of a donated selection of Picasso’s work from his secretary and friend, Jamime Sabatés. Picasso was one of the most famous and loved artists of the 20th century, having painted masterpieces such as Guernica; his extensive collection of artworks extends to intriguing and engaging paintings, ceramics and engravings, many of which can be found in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. The building itself is a beautiful sight: set in five medieval stone mansions, complete with courtyards and characterful staircases, the Picasso Museum is the perfect place to view many of this famous artist’s pieces of work.
Santa Maria del Mar
Santa María del Mar is Barcelona’s cathedral and finest example of its expertise in Gothic architecture, with stunning stained glass windows and the famous window of Ascension. Also notable for its flat-topped octagonal towers, it is a beautiful site from the outside as well as the inside, where guests can admire the floors and discover the private tombs that give so much character and history to the cathedral. The interior is almost devoid of any imagery giving it a simple charm.
Parc de la Ciutadella
A park on the northeastern edge of Ciutat Vella, Parc de la Ciutadella was once Barcelona’s only green space. No ordinary park, this idyllic and green haven in the urban city of Barcelona is perfect not only for long and tranquil walks and peaceful rowing, but boasts several attractions too, from a zoo to a museum. The bandstand just completes this lively yet peaceful park, which attracts locals and tourists alike. Parc de la Ciutadella is perfect if you want an alternative to the centre of the city.