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Barcelona is a city full of wonders. And with this Catalan capital, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another city with such varied and unique sights. While this is just a small selection of the surprises in store, let this be your guide to the top attractions in Barcelona.
La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família is without a doubt the most popular destination in Barcelona. While the big crowds and long lines can be off-putting, but they are completely justified by what’s in store here. The Sagrada Família was Gaudí’s final project and his plans became so detailed and complex that he never lived to see it finished. Construction, which started in 1882, is still going on, with a planned completion date of 2026. Finished or not, the basilica’s bursting façade and rainbow-lit interior are must-sees.
Close behind is Parc Güell. A different kind of Gaudí creation, Parc Güell was originally conceived as a housing development, but instead became a public park. Here, you’ll find two colourful buildings designed by Gaudí, as well as his signature naturalist style along the uniquely landscaped paths and trails. This is a great way to escape the city and enjoy some sun and fresh air.
Moving onto a another quintessential Barcelona neighbourhood, the Barcelona Cathedral is in the heart of the city’s old town. The striking Gothic façade is a far cry from the city’s hometown Modernista style, but it is certainly no less beautiful. This beauty is matched by the cathedral’s interior, with its countless vaults bathed in warm golden light. Take the elevator up the roof for a 360° view of the city, and an up-close look at the tower’s detailed sculptures.
It’s impossible to visit Barcelona without spending even just a few minutes as a beach bum. Strolling down Barceloneta’s stretch of sand is a great way to see modern Barcelona with some beautiful ocean scenery. The beach is crowned by the W Hotel, a curiously arc-shaped skyscraper straddling the beach and the harbour. You’ll find some of the best seafood restaurants here. The neighbourhood has some of the most high-end, splurge-worthy options.
Montjuïc is special, in that it’s really several attractions in one! The large hill looks over the entire city, and is one of the best places to really escape into nature. Stop at the Botanical Garden, or soak up some history with a waterfront view at Montjuïc Castle. Also not to miss are Montjuïc’s museums. The most popular are the Fundació Joan Miró, and the Catalonian National Museum of Art. Come back at night, for the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, which has free light shows every night in summer.
If you’re a Picasso fan, Barcelona really should be on your bucket list. Housing the most comprehensive collection of Piccaso’s works, the Museu Picasso was actually overseen by the artist himself. Walk through its galleries to trace the incredible progression of Picasso’s art. He went through so many styles and periods, it almost feels like each room is centered on a different artist.
If you’re more the sporting type, be sure to visit Camp Nou. Located just outside Barcelona, Camp Nou is a pilgrimage site for any football fan. The stadium is home to the much-loved FC Barcelona. You’ll probably notice that, throughout the city, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing FC Barcelona merchandise in a shop, or the club’s logo billowing from a balcony. It all emanates from here. For something completely different from the other sites listed here, take a tour of the nearly 100,000-person stadium.
There’s a popular saying in Barcelona: “If they don’t sell it at La Boqueria, it’s not worth eating.” Walking through this sprawling market, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find local vendors selling everything from juice, bread, vegetables, and seafood so fresh, you might even find an escaped crab wandering around. Located on La Rambla, this is a great stop for a do-it-yourself picnic in between sightseeing.
Casa Batlló & Passeig de Gràcia
The Passeig de Gràcia is the place to spot Modernista architecture. Start with Casa Batlló’s colorful, inviting façade. It’s just one of Gaudí’s creations on this street. Across the street, you’ll find Casa Milà, a naturalist building that seems carved straight out of rock. Head up to the roof for an excellent view. Keep exploring this street for other Modernista buildings, like Casa Amatller and Casa Lleó-Morera. Each one offers tours.
Palau de la Música Catalana
Last but not least, check out another Modernista masterpiece. The Palau de la Música Catalana is a magnificent combination of colorful patterns and unique layout. This concert hall is illuminated entirely by natural light, filtering in through its beautifully-colored windows. Tours are offered several times a day, or better yet, stop in one evening for a concert.
As you can see the attractions in Barcelona are plentiful and whether you stay in Barcelona or visit for a day you will be hard pressed not to find something to suit everyone’s taste
Sarah is a college student and avid traveller, who’s cracked the budget travel formula and backpacked solo across 15 European countries