10 Most Important Places To Visit In Barcelona
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If I need to describe Barcelona in just one word, it will be FUN. This is the basic feeling that fills up your heart when you walk in the streets of this city. The people of Barcelona are hospitable and the streets invite you to explore them. Adding to that the landmarks and the places to visit in Barcelona, you can easily spend a week here and you won’t get bored. No doubt that Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Spain.
Gaudi’s Architecture will make you smile and think, while Picasso’s art might confuse you. The nightlife of Barcelona is world-famous, just be ready to start late and return late. The local cuisine of tapas and paellas will amaze you, and with a glass of cava or sangria – this is what I call having a great time! Here are the best places to visit in Barcelona:
Visit La Rambla and La Boqueria Market
La Rambla is the most famous street in Barcelona, and thus the first destinations I visited in the city. The street is about 0.75 miles (1.2 km) long, going from Port Vell and Christoper Columbus Colum to Placa de Catalunya. It is crossing the old city of Barcelona, which makes it close to many of the city’s sites and a great area for accommodation. While some might say it’s too touristic, La Rambla is fun to stroll on and absorb the Barcelona vibes. Restaurants, Cafes, Ice cream shops – make a stop and watch the locals and visitors passing by, or gaze at the human statues that are an integral part of the street’s view.
As you make your way up from the port towards Plaça Catalunya, on your left side is La Boqueria Market. This is a huge open market and one of the icons of the city. It dates back to the 13th century and is still in the same place today. With more than 300 food stands that sell meat, cheese, fruits, and veggies, it is the biggest food market in Europe. Enter under the iconic metal gate, and find your place for a cold smoothie or some tapas with a glass of cava. Pinotxo Bar, on the right side, as you enter, is my recommendation.
Tip: At the north end of La Rambla, at Placa de Catalunya, you can find El Corte Inglés. This is a huge department store with everything you might need from electricity adapters, through clothes, to food.
Admire Gaudi’s work at Park Güell
One of Barcelona’s most famous architects is Antoni Gaudí. His work is part of the city’s urban views, and his life and death stories are part of the city’s history. His work is very unique and individualized and he is one of the pioneers of Catalan Modernism.
Park Guell, is a great place to look and feel Gaudi’s style and work and one of my favorite sites of Barcelona. The park was designed to be a part of a bigger neighborhood, but eventually, only two houses out of 60 were built. As it located on Carmel Hill, the view of the city from here is amazing. This place is a UNESCO world heritage site and a must-visit when you are in Barcelona.
Tickets to the park need to be purchased in advance, and you can book through this link.
Be Amazed at La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Familia is Gaudi’s most famous work and another icon of Barcelona. The constructions started in 1882 and unbelievably they are yet to be done. It is now expected to be completed in 2026 – making it the world’s largest unfinished church.
La Sagrada Familia is very unique. From both the inside and the outside, it looks like no other church you have ever been to. I was astounded by both the shapes and small figures on the outside, and the strong white and bright colors of the inside. The weather wasn’t on my side when I visited, but when it is not windy, you can go up to the towers and get an amazing panoramic view of the city.
The entrance requires purchasing a ticket. You can buy on the spot, or book in advance an entrance with a guided tour.
Visit Basilica De Santa Maria Del Mar
This 14th-century church is a perfect example of the Catalan Gothic architecture style, and one of the most beautiful churches I have seen. Something about the high ceilings, the dramatic arches the huge sizes of it, made me fall in love with this place.
It is located in the El Born neighborhood in the gothic quarter, once a place for fishermen and dockworkers, that evolved to be a fun and vibrant neighborhood. The small medieval streets will lead you to the dramatic entrance of the church, but the inside is very spacious and impressive.
Tip: Spanish author Ildefonso Falcones wrote in 2006 his novel Cathedral of the sea. This book tells the story of Arnau Estanyol with a backdrop of the church’s constructions. It’s a great book, and I highly recommend reading it before your visit. it is available on Amazon through this link.
Explore Picasso Museum
Spread over 5 medieval palaces the Picasso Museum is one of the most impressive places to visit in Barcelona. Located in El Born Neighborhood, the museum holds the largest collection of Picasso. From paintings to ceramics, all the items are chronologically organized, and it allows you to see how Picasso’s unique footprint has developed over the years.
Visit Camp Nou
The Stadium of FC Barcelona is the biggest stadium in Europe and even though I am not a big fan I appreciated it and was excited to visit. The stadium was built in 1957 and since then it’s the home of the Barcelona Soccer Club. It has 100,000 seats and it covers a surface area of 590,000 sq ft. (55,000 sqm.). There’s a museum next to the stadium, showing the history of the team, the players, and the best of them all – Lionel Messi. If you are lucky, and there’s a game – come to watch it. The excitement and the passion of the crowd is contagious.
Tip: If you are looking for another activity in the area, you can go FB Barcelona Ice Skating rink. I visited on a hot day, and it was was a fantastic way to cool down.
Climb on Montjuic
Montjuic is a green and attractive hill, overlooking the entire city of Barcelona. On one side the buildings and streets of the city, and on the other the Mediterranean sea – this is one of the best sights of Barcelona. The name montjuïc means the mountain of the Jews as it was the Jewish neighborhood in Medieval times.
Thanks to its strategic location and landscape, a castle was built on the east side of the mountain to protect the harbor beneath it. From the castle, you get to see a beautiful 360 degrees view of Barcelona. The Port and Harbor area is on the east side; The city center is to the north; Tibidabo is on the west, and Barcelona’s airport is on the south side.
Some of the interesting sites on Montjuic are the Botanic gardens, the huge Olympic stadium, and The National Museum of Catalan Art – MNAC. The latter is a beautiful palace that holds a mix of old and modern art, including works of Picasso, Dali, and others.
Tip: The climb up to the castle might be exhausting and the cable car is not just a better option, but also one of the most fun in Barcelona attractions. The view during the ride is gorgeous so don’t forget your camera.
Feel the magic of the Magic Fountain
Located at the foot of Montjuic, between MNAC and Placa d’Espanya, the Magic Fountain show is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Barcelona. People come here to watch the spectacular performance of water, lights, and music, which I think is one of the best. Using more than 3000 water jets, the fountain does its magic on weekend evenings. The exact times change with the season, so you can check here before your travel.
Tip: It’s best to combine a visit to the fountain with a visit to MNAC. As soon as you finish exploring the museum, catch your seat with a good view on the stairs outside, and wait for the show to start.
Chill out at Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella was built in the mid-19th century and for decades it was the only green park in the city. Its royalty was kept until these days, and it’s a great place for a relaxing break from the hectic city. The park is located on the north side of the old city, about 15-20 minutes walk from La Rambla. The park covers 18 hectares with a beautiful fountain, a lake with rowing boats, the parliament of Catalunya, the city zoo, and more. Don’t miss the giant mammoth – the best spot for photos!
Tip: Get some groceries at La Boqueria market and go to Parc de la Ciutadella for a brunch picnic – one of the unique things to do in Barcelona.
Explore Mount Tibidabo
The amusement park of Tibidabo opened in 1901, making it one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and one of the most famous landmarks in Spain. It is located at the top of Tibidabo mountain, overlooking the city. Some of the rides give a higher view – not just fun but also breathtaking.
If the amusement park is not your type of fun, Mount Tibidabo offers other attractions. Nature lovers will enjoy the Collserola Natural Park where you can get a panoramic view of the city from the Collserola Tower – the tallest building in Barcelona. Another interesting site here is the neo-gothic Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – another famous landmark of Spain.
Barcelona is considered very safe for tourists, but tourist areas still suffer from pickpocketing. Keep your eyes open, especially in La Rambla, around Sagrada Familia, and when watching street shows.
On Passeig de Gràcia you can find two more masterpiece works of Gaudi. In number 43 you will see Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà is in number 92. It’s really hard to miss them when you walk down this street.
For an alternative shopping experience, go to Mercat dels Encants. It is one of the oldest flea markets in Europe with over 300 vendors.
If you want to take a one-day trip outside of the city, go to Montserrat. On the top of this mountain, there’s a Benedictine monastery that began construction in the 16th century. The way to get there is with a train from Plaça d’Espanya, about a 1-hour ride.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Spanish novelist that was born and raised in Barcelona. His books take place in Barcelona and they let the reader experience the city from a historical but fictive point of view. I read his two bestsellers The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game and recommend both.
Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe. There are so many places to visit in Barcelona and the sightseeing is unique, as it combines medieval old style with a more recent, yet still special architecture. The culinary scene of tapas is amazing and it inspires many chefs and restaurants. I recommend planning at least a week for seeing all the city has to offer, to take it easy and enjoy.
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