Summer is approaching fast and many of you will travel to Spain. I hope you can get to see the second largest and one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Barcelona is also the economic and touristic center of Catalonia, but also a tough competitor of the Spanish Capital Madrid (which is something what the Spaniards don´t like to hear). The city is famous especially thanks to a well-known Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí whose creative works you can see through the city, food and fun. Here is a list of the 10 things to see and do in Barcelona – definite must see and top attractions that you shouldn´t miss once you visit the city.
I love Barcelona as it is a vibrating and young city lying on the board of the Mediterranean Sea that offers a great mix of fun and culture. I first visited Barcelona 4 years ago with a friend of mine and we had a wonderful experience in a sunny city, enjoying good food and drinks, calm walks, wild dancing nights, shopping and architectural amazement. I felt in love with this city and since then, I aim to come back at least once a year. But let´s now move to the promised list of 10 things to see and do in Barcelona!
10 Things to See and Do In Barcelona
1. La Sagrada Familia
One of the most famous buildings of Antoni Gaudí is a kind of a symbol of Barcelona, therefore not to be missed and that is why I put it in the first place among 10 things to see and do in Barcelona! The construction works started in the middle of the 19th century, although the basilica has never been finished (yet). From the 18 spires that Gaudí designed, only 8 have been finished until now. Once there, you must see the basilica from the inside – it is so beautiful and full of colorful light!
Beware that it is better to buy the tickets online for two reasons. First, you will save a lot of time – believe me, sometimes the queue is too long so you might get tickets at 11 a.m. only for 4 p.m. Second, you will save money (for example, the basic entry fee is 15 EUR online and 18 EUR if you buy it on the spot). In any case, the money will be partially used to cover the ongoing works, which is a good thing. You should plan at least one hour for the visit and you may also take the spiral stairs for a magnificent view (but then you need to get the ticket which includes this). See more information on the official website of the basilica www.sagradafamilia.org.
2. Park Güel
It is here from where people take the amazing pictures of the cute houses decorated with mosaic with the city and the sea behind. Extensive park lying above Barcelona was created in the beginning of the 19th century when Gaudí aimed to design a garden city which didn´t work at the end. Nowadays it is a modernist park full of Gaudí´s creations such as the large terrace with mosaic border or a parade covered with columns in form of trees.
You can get to the park Güel by metro, getting off at Vallcarca or Lesseps. Do not feel discouraged as it is far from the center – park Güel is one of the must things to see and do in Barcelona. The sooner you arrive, the better – as in the afternoon, the park becomes much more crowded by tourists. You can find more information on their official website www.parkguell.cat.
3. Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
The Gaudí’s sites are among the principal attractions of Barcelona so you shouldn´t miss a visit of one of the houses he constructed. One of his last masterpieces was Casa Milà, known also as La Pedrera. Tremendous building in Art Nouveau style with elements from Spanish Gothic has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage since 1984. The interior of the building is awesome but you need to go up to the roof top especially and walk the waved path around statues in the form of chimneys that remind warriors. You will also see well the city from here. Daily entrance fee into Casa Milà is for +/- 20
Daily entrance fee into Casa Milà is for +/- 20 EUR, but is really worth it. You can find more about La Pedrera on their official website www.lapedrera.com.
4. The Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter (Barrio Gotico) is somehow an example of what Barcelona looked like in the middle ages. You can visit it for free as it is simply a part of the city center. During your walk in the tiny streets, you can see many beautiful plazas, churches, museums, shops and restaurants. You should especially stop by at places such as the church of Santa Maria del Mar, the Barcelona Cathedral Santa Creu i Santa Eulália, Casa de l´Ardiaca, Gothic bridge Carrer del Bisbe Irurita and much more. You can find here also one of the most beautiful squares of Barcelona called Plaça Reial that is lined by arcades with pubs (cervecería) or the Picasso Museum, Barcelona´s most famous museum, and just few steps from this place you will find the Espai Barroc, an interesting baroque palace from the 15th century.
5. Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella is somehow green lungs of Barcelona that can be found on the edge of the Old Town, close to the train station Stació de Franca. It is a beautiful tropical garden with varied flora and gorgeous fountain from Joseph Fontseré (with the assistance of young Gaudí), who build the park on the place where the Ciutadella stood for hundred years especially for the Universal Exhibition in 1929. The Ciutadella park is much calmer and greener place than the park Güel and so an ideal place to have some rest after long wandering in the city. You can also rent boats for 30 minutes and have some fun on pond together with ducks. 😉 You will also find the Barcelona’s zoo here.
6. La Rambla
La Rambla is a long and wide promenade lined by trees and interesting buildings starts at Plaça Catalunya and continues to the Monument of Christopher Columbus. It is one of the busiest parts of the city and definitely part of the things to see and do in Barcelona! If you haven´t strolled it down, your visit of Barcelona is not complete. It is a good place to watch people as it is full of street artists, souvenir shops, flower stands, tourist paella and coffee places. Beware of the pickpockets here, though.
7. La Boqueria Market
Did you know that one of the best markets in Europe can be found in Barcelona? La Boqueria is a large public market in the heart of Barcelona. It is a paradise for senses – you will find here so many colors, smell, and tastes! Apart from fresh vegetables and fruit, you can get here spices, ham, cheese, fish, or wine, empanadas and sweets. What about doing some shopping on the market and then do a picnic on the beach? The market is open from Monday to Saturday (8:00 a.m. – 20:30 p.m.) and the entry to the market is from La Rambla. You can find more information on the official website of the market www.boqueria.info.
8. Barceloneta Beach
Barcelona has one of the best city beaches in the world. During the day, the Barceloneta Beach is an ideal place to spend sunny days and during the night, it is a busy place with all the restaurants, bars and clubs – one next to each other, right few steps from the sand. You can easily get to the beach on foot from the city center (it is about 30 minutes from La Rambla by foot), or take a metro and get off at Barceloneta.
9. Montjuic Hillock
From the port, you can take a funicular to get to the hillock called Montjuic, where you can visit the Palau Nacional, which is actually the National Museum of the Catalan Art, or just enjoy the amazing view from here. A very popular attraction on Montjuic is the singing fountain Font Mágica, built for the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in 1929. You should not miss the performance after the nightfall when the water literally dances together with lights accompanied by music.
Timetable varies according to the season, so check it before you go on the official website of Magic Fountain. You can also get there by metro, simply get off at Plaça de Espanya and you arrive at Montjuic in about 10 minutes on foot.
10. The Food!
The food here is definitely one of the must things to do and see in Barcelona as the Catalan Capital is one of the best gastronomic centers in Spain. You can try for example paella, various tapas, fresh fish and the sea food (especially close to the port). Some nice quarters where to go eat are for example Born, La Rambla de Catalunya, or the Gothic Quarter. Do not forget to taste Sangria, cava (I love Codorniú) or some good wine (my favorite is Rioja). If you like beer, try the BierCab, where you can taste beers from the whole Europe.
Read also: Where to Eat in Barcelona
Good news for vegetarians and vegans! Barcelona has recently declared itself as a “veggie friendly” city, so you will be able to find more and more places where you can eat vegetarian or vegan, doesn´t this sound just awesome? 😉
So this is it for my tips on what to see and do in Barcelona. Have you been to Barcelona? What did you like the most and what would you advise to the others not to miss (place, experience, food)? Leave your comments below!
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