Located along the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is the vibrant capital city of Catalonia and also Spain’s second city. This modern metropolis is one of the best European destinations for Indians as well as travelers visiting Spain. Blessed with year-round sunny days, stunning location, rich culture, fantastic art and architecture, irresistible local cuisine, sunny beaches, and thriving nightlife, this cosmopolitan and bustling heart of Catalonia has almost everything any holidaymaker would desire. From admiring landmark buildings to visiting museums and relaxing on gorgeous beaches to indulging in great shopping, there are several best things to do in Barcelona. If you’re a food lover then this island city has a total of 20 Michelin stars. Today, I’m rounding up the best things to do in Barcelona for first-time travelers who are yet to experience the delights of this wonderful Spanish city.
See Iconic La Sagrada Familia Up Close
Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is an architectural marvel dedicated to the Holy Family. With more than 4.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited monument in Spain, and among the top Barcelona tourist attractions. The construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and more than 135 years later, it remains unfinished. A blend of Catalan Modernism, Art Nouveau, and Spanish Late-Gothic architectural styles, the church features tall towers, intricately designed facades, stained glass windows, and takes inspiration from nature with fruit motifs, seashells, and angled pillars on the inside that create the effect of standing beneath the canopy of a majestic forest. Be sure to book a ticket ahead so you can get inside and explore the interior of the church, and the different Facades, climb the Sagrada Familia Towers, and visit the Sagrada Familia Museum.milia Museum.
Appreciate the Unique Architecture of Casa Batllo
Another masterpiece designed by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo is a popular apartment block located in Barcelona. Also known as Casa dels Ossos, it ranks high up in the list of the strangest residential buildings in Europe, and among the top places to visit in Barcelona. Influenced by nature, this apartment block was not created from scratch but was a remodel undertaken at the turn of the 20th century. Covered in shards of stained glass, Casa Batllo is known for its stunning amazing technicolor, wavy architecture, eye-catching balconies, and gorgeous rooftop. Influenced by nature, the building has no straight lines, stone pillars that contort like animal bones, and a tall, ocean-blue stairwell that’s very Jules Verne. Tickets to this UNESCO World Heritage site include access to several floors of the building, each showcasing another aspect of its creative design and unique architecture.
Marvel at Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Popularly known as La Pedrera, Casa Mila is yet another iconic work of Antoni Gaudi and was the final Gaudi building on Passeig de Gracia. Built in the 20th century, it was designed for the wealthy Mila family to be his family home, with apartments for rent on the upper floors. This ostentatious structure is characterized by a rustic stone façade and it has a marvelous terrace with warrior-shaped chimneys. Built with five floors, one can admire the classic Gaudi details, like the smooth, wavy banisters and snail shell-inspired shapes. Now, the building is home to a cultural center that hosts art exhibitions and performances.
See Gaudi’s Magnificent Park Guell
Commissioned by Eusebi Guell in 1900, Park Guell is another greatest Gaudi’s attraction and among the popular places to visit in Barcelona. Spread over an area of 18 acres, the park is a testament to the Gaudi’s creative and visual prowess in Barcelona. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Park Guell is a glorious colorfully tiled park houses sculptures, colonnades, fountains, pillars, walkway and lot more which are all in the architect’s distinctive style. Along, one can spot columns shoot up like tree trunks, serpentine benches, arches are jagged like cave openings, and a giant lizard guards its fountain with scales fashioned out of mosaic tiles. Visitors can also visit the Gaudi’s House-Museum, where he lived from 1906 to 1926. Also, make sure to trek up to the park’s summit for the stunning views of the city.
Explore the City’s Historic Gothic Quarter
If you want to savor the extravagant beauty of ancient Roman structures and picturesque plazas during your Barcelona trip, then visit the Gothic Quarter. Affectionately called Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter is the historic center of the old city of Barcelona that stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to the Ronda de Sant Pere. Filled with trendy bars, clubs, and Catalan restaurants, a visit to this narrow medieval street and quieter square is one of the ultimate things to do in Barcelona. One can shop for leather and jewelry sold by artisans near the Cathedral of Barcelona, while flower stalls and street-food vendors line the busy avenue La Rambla. Besides, don’t miss visiting a weekend art market at The Placa del Pi.
Admire the Talent of Pablo at the Picasso Museum
Picasso Museum is a popular art museum located in Barcelona that houses an extensive collection of artworks by Pablo Picasso, with 4,251 pieces. Displayed in the form of paintings, engravings, and sculpture pieces, the five adjoining 13th- and 14th-century residences that comprise the museum are precious in their own right. Visitors can find everything from his sketches as a young student to rough landscapes to his early forays into cubism. If you are an art lover, be sure to marvel at Picasso’s artwork while you are in Barcelona. Once you complete the museum stroll, you can also visit nearby Passeig del Born, lined with plenty of modern bars and bistros, is one of the trendiest places in the city for an afternoon stroll.
Ride to the Top of Mount Tibidabo
The highest peak in the Collserola, Mount Tibidabo is a popular hill overlooking Barcelona. Situated at a height of 512 m, a trek to this hill is one of the popular things to do in Barcelona. The hill is officially called the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor as it is topped by the magnificent Sagrat Cor Church that shines like a beacon over the city at night. From hikes through the natural park and bus rides to funiculars and the classic Tramvia Blau, a historic blue tram, there are several ways to reach the top of Tibidabo from where one can get the splendid view of Barcelona city against the backdrop of the cobalt-blue Mediterranean sea. Apart, visitors can enjoy several rides in the Tibidabo amusement park located adjacent to the hill.
Appreciate the Beauty of El Palau de la Musica Catalana
Palau de la Musica Catalana a 19th-century opera hall and is the creation of yet another famous Catalan artist and architect, Lluis Domenech i Montaner. Constructed in the Catalan modernist style, the exterior of this beautiful structure boasts exquisitely detailed mosaic work and decorative columns while the interior of the opera house exhibits a graceful glass ceiling, which, during the day, looks absolutely awe-inspiring. Owing to its stained-glass ceiling, the concert hall stays completely illuminated by natural light during the daytime. This building has a well-built concert room, allowing the concert attendees to perceive the smallest detail of the sound played in the hall. If you area a music lover, then definitely it is the must include places in Spain Tour Packages.
Experience the Magic of Montjuic
Mountjuic is the second tallest mountain in Barcelona after Tibidabo. The hill was developed for the 1929 Universal Exhibition and the 1992 Olympic Games that made this place a very interesting area. The hill features several interesting museums, including the Olympic Museum, the Fundacio Joan Miro, and the Catalan Museum of Archaeology. Also, there is a fascinating Montjuic Cemetery, the final resting place of several famous former Barcelona residents, including Joan Miro and Catalan President Lluis Companys. Montjuic Castle, a 17th-century fortress stands atop the hill which is home to a military museum that offers some incredible city views. The main highlight of the hill is the Magic Fountain, designed by engineer Carles Buigas, which puts on color light and music shows during the weekends that lures thousands of visitors. There are two ways to reach the hill, one of the most impressive is climbing up the huge, monumental staircase and the other is to take a cable car ride from the port area.
Feast on Seafood & Hang by the Beach in Barceloneta
If you love the beach and seafood, then head to Barceloneta, the traditional fishing neighborhood in Barcelona. It is home to the most popular sandy beaches, nightclubs, best seafood eateries, and a magnificent port. People head to Barceloneta to surf and sunbathe on Sant Sebastia Beach, and dine out at al fresco seafood restaurants and traditional tapas bars. Try one of the best fresh seafood at Restaurant Barceloneta along with a view of the docked yachts and fishing boats.
Discover the Santa Maria del Mar
Santa Maria del Mar is one of the most beautiful gothic churches in Barcelona. It was built by Berenguer de Montagut in the 14th century and is an outstanding examples of Catalan Gothic style of architecture. Due to the fire, the interior of the church was largely damaged and later the renovation and restoration work was done in 1990. Today, one can spot the vivid stained-glass windows, soaring columns and most of the original structure that has been standing since 1383. If you really want to explore the grand history of the city, a visit to this Gothic church is one of the top things to do in Barcelona.
Go for a Stroll Along La Rambla
An emblem of Catalan culture, Las Ramblas is one of the most famous streets in Barcelona. Stretches for 1.2 km, it is a wide and shady boulevard that runs through the city’s heart from Plaça de Catalunya down to Port Vell. Known for the towering shady trees lining the avenue, talented street performers, bird-sellers and endless terraces to enjoy a meal or coffee, it is always packed with tourists, locals and street artists. Also, don’t miss to visit 18th-storey mirador at Columbus Monument for stunning views of the city.