As a Mediterranean lover and a bit of a history and art nerd, I must say that Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Spain. Rich history, museums, tapas and sangria under the Mediterranean sun is a strong combination. You only need a small walk in the city to understand their impressive history in architecture from the Gothic period to Modernism. Barcelona was the first city I visited in Spain and it made me want to go again and again. So here are my top must-see places in Barcelona.
La Sagrada Familia
Photo by Danil Sorokin
Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece is definitely Barcelona’s symbol. A surprising fact is that the temple remains in progress more than 90 years after the death of its creator. La Sagrada Familia is the most visited monument in Spain since it attracts more than 2.8 million visitors per year. Regarding the design, Gaudi disliked the straight lines, so he gave this unique style inspired by the peculiar peaks of the Montserrat Mountain which is outside Barcelona. After his death in 1926, the works continued by various architects. However, opponents of the continuation of the project claimed that very few of Gaudi’s plans have survived the construction of the church. Regardless of what is being done, the charm of this church is unquestionable. I advise you to plan your visit in advance as the queues are quite long. There are various options for your tickets. Check the link below: https://tickets.sagradafamilia.org/site/SagradaFamilia/?lang=en
La Pedrera – Photo by Florencia Potter
Barcelona is among the few cities that are characterized by their unique architecture. Take a walk in the city and you will encounter dozens of the peculiar masterpieces created by Antoni Gaudi. If you like to explore the modernism in Barcelona I would advise you to spend a day discovering the main works of the city. Some of them are Palau Güell, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera (Casa Mila), Park Güell and of course La Sagrada Familia. Extra tip: If you are there during summer check if La Perdera hosts evening concerts!
Picasso was born in Malaga but his family moved to Barcelona where he lived between the ages of 15 and 23. In the collection, you can see more than 3500 artworks from his formative creative years in Barcelona. Please note that in this museum you will not find his most famous artworks. The museum’s collection reflects mainly the years he spent in Barcelona. The museum as we see it today opened in 1983. In the first years the exhibition had only Picasso’s artworks from Jaume Sabartes’s collection who was a friend of the artist; then the collection expanded with donations from Salvador Dali and other artists. It’s worth mentioning that the museum’s setting is also unique; it consists of five impressive contiguous medieval mansions. During my visit, the museum was not crowded so there was no need to plan the visit in advance. However, you can check the ticket options in the link below: http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/visiting/planning.html
On the Montjuïc hill you can enjoy the wonderful view of the city by taking a cable car. This place suits every person’s taste; it has theme gardens, amazing parks, and museums. You can start your visit by taking the Teleferic and head towards the Castell de Montjuïc. At this point you can have a walk around and visit some of the gardens, such as Jardines del Mirador, where you can enjoy the view over the city and sea, Jardins de Joan Brossa and Jardines de Mossen Cinto de Verdaguer where you can see many Mediterranean plants, trees, tulips and lilies and Jardins de Laribal, a garden which is inspired by Granada’s palace of Alhambra. The top sight of the Montjuïc is considered the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. It has a big collection of mainly Catalan art and the highlight of the museum is the outstanding Romanesque frescoes. See more information about the exhibitions and the tickets in the link below: https://www.museunacional.cat/en
Photo by Ioanna Katsara
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral, is a lavishly decorated Gothic church which was built between 1298 and 1460. In the cathedral, you can go first down from the staircase where you can find the crypt which contains Saint Eulalia’s tomb. You can also visit the cathedral’s roof and the tower, from where you can see the view of medieval Barcelona. Don’t miss the claustre with its fountains and the 13 geese. Although the interior is mainly Gothic, in the Capella de Santa Lucia, you can see few remnants of the Romanesque style. The admission in the cathedral is generally free, but there is a donation fee in order to have access to the roof, the cloister and other parts of the church. Here is the link for more information about La Catedral: https://www.catedralbcn.org/index.php?lang=en
Mercat de la Boqueria
Photo by Ioanna Katsara
Barcelona’s central market, Mercat de la Boqueria, provides great pleasure to all our senses. Colors, smell, taste are a unique experience. There is a great variety of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and seafood. It is the best place to taste the Catalan cuisine! It is widely believed that there was a market in this location since 1217, but the market La Boqueria as it is known today exists since the 19th century. It is a famous food market not only for the locals but also for many restaurant owners who prefer to buy their supplies from this market. More info for La Boqueria in the link below: http://www.boqueria.barcelona/home
It is considered the most famous and touristic street in Barcelona. It is a vivid area where you can find a variety of different things; cultural centers and theaters, street markets, souvenir shops, restaurants, and street artists. The highlights of the street are the market La Boqueria, which I mentioned previously and the Plaça Reial, one of the most beautiful squares of Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudi. In this street you can also find the Teatre Poliorama, which was the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts and later became a cinema, the church Esglesia de Betlem, the Casa Bruno Cuadros or the House of Umbrellas, which is the famous house with the Chinese dragon and then the Gran Teatre del Liceu, one of the most famous theaters in Europe. At the end of the street La Rambla, you will find the Mirador de Colom, which is the Colombus monument, where you can enjoy the sea view. An extra tip; at the end of La Rambla you can sit in one of the cafes around the Mirador de Colom and try the authentic Crema Catalana. Totally worth it!
Photo by Fikri Rasyid
Even if you are not a fan of FC Barcelona or football in general, Camp Nou stadium is definitely worth a visit. The stadium, built in 1957, is one of the world’s biggest stadiums with a seating capacity of 99.000. If you want to know more about the football team and the stadium the Camp Nou Experience tour is a must. You will start from the museum where you can see in-depth the history of the team and their trophies and then you will have a tour in the stadium. The whole tour takes approximately 2 hours. Nothing compares though to the enthusiasm of watching a football match live at the stadium, especially when the team is FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi is there! When I visited Barcelona, I decided to watch a match; Barcelona was playing against Atletico Madrid. The breathtaking view of the enormous stadium, the vivid atmosphere created by the supporters who were singing for their team and of course some of the best football players in the world right now, made this moment unforgettable! For tickets and tours check the FC Barcelona’s official website: https://www.fcbarcelona.com/en/