25 Best Things to Do in Barcelona

25 Best Things to Do in Barcelona

Barcelona is a port city located on the Mediterranean Sea between the Llobregat and Besos rivers. In 1992, the world turned their attention to Spain’s second largest city when Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics. Today, Barcelona is still basking in the success that the games brought them. Through Barcelona’s newfound popularity, the city has slid gracefully into the 21st century. Although the Olympic Games did a great deal to boost tourism, Barcelona has always been a city that has fascinated and captivated world travelers for hundred of years. We of course were no exception!

Located on the warm Mediterranean sea, temperatures never drop to the extremes so the city can be explored at any time of the year. It’s a city to be missed by none!

Romans first arrived around 218BC and created the town of Barcino which is within the Barri Gotic. Remains of the Roman walls and even a temple can still be seen around the medieval city. Even though the Romans stayed mainly to the south in the town of Tarragona, Barcelona was very prosperous and lived well off its own lands. By 415AD the Franks had began their push southward and made Barcelona a temporary base before moving on to Toledo. Then it passed into the hands of the Muslims and then by Louis the Pious in 801. This began the count rule and subsequently the Crown of Aragon by the mid 12th century. By the 13th century empire building was the focus of many of Barcelona’s rulers and the city increased in size and stature, and became a mercantile base for most of the Western Mediterranean. Eventually the coutn-kings developed a parliment which lasted until about 1714, and its permanent home is still in Barcelona. With constant wars and inner famine and deaths Barcelona began to decline in the 14th century. By the late 1400’s Catalunya became part of the Castillian state. This greatly affected trade and their status within the penninsula. Rule once again switched hands and Barcelona experienced a period of sustained growth throughout the 1800’s but this was not without political or economical difficulties. By the 1930’s most of the population was in upheaval and wanted their statehood back. After civil war and the rule of a dictator, Barcelona, finally gained new life and status. The hosting of the Olympic games in 92 has rehabilitated most of the city and has made it one of Europes top destinations.

The first buildings of Barcelona were definitely Romanesque in the beginning. Now as you walk around you can see it is mostly Gothic and Modernist. Most of the Romanesque examples were destroyed to make way for the Gothic works that are present today, though there are still impressive examples of early Romanesque architecture around the Barri Gotic. Most of the Gothic examples in Barcelona are considered Catalan Gothic because of the simplicity compared to that of northern Europe. In the form of churches, they went wide instead of vertical like most European gothic churches. There are also choirs put right in the middle of many churches; very Catalan specific design. Though people mostly think of Gaudi when they think of Barcelona. Most of his works could be considered bizarre and “gaudy” but they truly are masterpieces. The materials were raw; brick, steel, colored tiles and glass for decoration. It must be hard to be a modern architect building in the shadow of those considered to be so great.

Here are the best things to do in Barcelona:

1. Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

The largest, still unfinished work of Gaudi is the Sagrada Familia cathedral, the last great work of Spanish Catholicism. It is not merely a church, but simultaneously ancient monument, symbol and collective creation.

The idea of building a church came from a rich bookseller whose dream was a huge basilica, where the rich and poor people can pray together.

To complete it Gaudi estimated at least 200 years, but his grotesque death in a tram accident has not allowed to proceed as planned. When Gaudi was asked about the exceptionally long implementation, he supposedly said only: “My client is not in a hurry”.

Since then, architects and experts argue whether the construction according to the remaining plans may be completed, or that it would be a caricature of the original idea. Therefore, a lot of people have the opinion that the Sagrada should never be finished from symbolic reasons, because it’s charms would be best showed by leaving it unfinished. 

The intended building is based on sketches of Gaudi since the original plans has been lost during the Civil War. In the end, there should be 12 towers, each of which representing an apostle – at the moment there are only 8. The central dome will eventually have a tall tower with Jesus on it, accompanied by a Virgin Mary tower, and four additional ones for the four still lacking apostles.

From the 3 main facades, 2 have already been completed; the Southern according to the original plans of Gaudi, and the striking Northern facade with no direct influence from Gaudi.

On the east side you can visit the top of one of the towers. But it is very narrow, and if you have claustrophobia, delete this part from your tour. By the way, the interior of the church is an active place of construction. However, if you want to see how to built a church, then it is a place for you to experience the dusty air. 

Whatever will be, one thing is sure: sooner or later the dream of Master Gaudi will be realized. 

Open daily: October to March from 9am–6pm; April to September from 9am–8pm.

Admission 8 €, elevator 2 €.

The entire entrance fees go to the construction of the church.

2. Parc Guell

Parc Guell

Park Guell is a very unusual park designed by Gaudi, located in the Gracia district in northern Barcelona. The area where the pack is located started out as an ambitious housing development project, thought up by Eusebi Guell, a well known Catalan industrialist. 

He hired Gaudi in 1900 to work on the garden village. Work continued until 1914 when it was clear that the project was a commercial failure. At this time Gaudi had already created roads and walkways, two gatehouses and a plaza. The city bought the park and it was opened to the public in 1922.

You enter the park through the aforementioned gatehouses. Just to your right is a small building which contains some information on the history of the park and a scale model.

The stunning Gaudi designed steps in front are guarded over by a mosaic lizard, which is the main symbol of the park. Ascend the stairs to the Sala Hipostila – a mass of 84 stone columns, which were originally intended as a market area. 

Climb further until you get to the large open space, which offers fabulous views across the city. Here you will no doubt take a seat on the fabulous Banc de Trencadis – a mosaic tiled bench which winds its way around the edge of this upper deck. The bench was designed by Gaudi’s colleague, Josep Maria Jujol.

You may also be interested in visiting the Casa-Museu Gaudi, where Gaudi lived for most of his last 20 years.

3. Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

The most famous and touristic place of Barcelona. You can simply walk and enjoy with street artists (some of them are really worth a ticket), or you can stop in the many souvenirs shops and restaurants. But if you want to eat a good paella, avoid those places and head for the Barceloneta!

Let’s figure you arrive at Placa de Catalunya. You can head for the sea, walking along Las Ramblas. When Las Ramblas ends, you will find a Culumbus statue, and then you’ll have 2 choices:

1) You can proceed and go on La Rambla De Mar, enjoy the sightseeing, and, following, you can visit the big Maremagnum structure, where you will find shops of any kinds, bars, clubs.

2) Or you can turn leftand head for La Barceloneta, the right place if you want to eat some typical food. Following the barceloneta, you will arrive in the Olympic area, where you will find a nice and large beach.

4. Casa Milà – La Pedrera

Casa Milà - La Pedrera

Casa Mila, more commonly known as La Pedrera, is a Gaudi designed apartment and office block – it is the largest civil building he designed. It was constructed between 1906 and 1910, commissioned by Pedro Mila i Camps, a rich businessman, who was impressed by what Gaudi had achieved with Casa Batllo.

It looks like the whole thing has been constructed in stone, but in fact has just been coated in a layer of stone. The outside of the building has a series of undulating balconies that look a bit like waves. There are unusual wrought-iron designs on the balconies which were created by Josep Maria Jujol.

Inside you can visit the top two floors, plus the roof top. The inside of the apartments is filled with Gaudi’s signature curves and arches – there is not a straight line in sight!

The highlight of a visit to La Pedrera is the roof top. Here you will see large chimney pots which look like some sort of medieval warriors, along with other unusual shaped structures covered in mosaic tiles. There are some great views from up here to.

5. Tibidabo

Tibidabo

Don’t miss out on the opportunity of visiting Mount Tibidabo. It takes approximately an hour and fifteen minutes to get there depending on whether you take the underground or the bus. 

As soon as you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, a church that took 60 years to construct and that is topped by a sculpture of the Sacred Heart at its very peek. Stroll round the church for spectacular views of the city, including the telecommunications tower. You can access the church and take the lift to the top to see the city at 575 meters (1886 feet) above sea level! You will still be able to see the same view if you take the “Talaia” ride at the Tibidabo Amusement park, situated on level 6 (which is actually the first level you’ll access immediately after purchasing your admission tickets). 

Overlooking the church is the Tibidabo Amusement park, housing various attractions for both children and adults alike. Tickets are slightly expensive, costing 25.20 Euros per adult, but it is definitely worth spending a day in the amusement park especially if you’re travelling with kids. Amongst the many attractions, if you have a “thing” for roller coasters, you might want to try the “Muntanya Russa” ride on level 1. They also have a 4D cinema on level 2 called “Dididado”. Movie is in Spanish, but it is still worth the experience if you’ve never been to a 4D cinema before. Take a ride on the bumping cars and visit the “Krüeger Hotel” on level 4. The actors at the “Krüeger Hotel” are extremely convincing and they will scare the hell out of you!

The only drawback is that the attractions (as well as the staff working at the amusement park) cater very little for tourists, in that, almost no one speaks English and all the actors and staff on board will explain things to you in Spanish.

Take the L7 brown line from Plaça de Catalunya and stop at “Av Tibidabo” (this is the last stop). The L7 is more of a train rather than an underground, so follow the signs for ‘Renfe” instead of the usual “Metro”. When you get off the train, just cross the road to take the Tramvia Blau (a little blue tram) that will take you half way up to the mountain. You will then need to take the funicular to go up to the very top. 

Always call in advance to make sure that the amusement park is open. You can also ask any of the staff at the tourist information kiosks, they normally also have the opening days and hours.

6. Montjuic

Montjuic

Looking up from the port, the Montjuïc mountain (Mount of the Jews) is pretty impressive. You can almost see cannons firing from the Castell de Montjuïc (Castle), at it’s top to protect the city from an invading fleet. Unfortunately, It wasn’t built to protect the city, but was built in the 18th century by the Spanish Central government to keep Barcelona in line. Franco also used it to execute hundreds of political prisoners. The Castle is not the only thing on the mountain. It also holds a 20 minute water show on the weekends at the Fountains (Font Magica); a tacky mock Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol); A Catalan Art Museum (Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) featuring art from remote Catalan village churches in the Pyrenees; and finally a museum showcasing the art of Joan Miro (Fundacio Joan Miro).

Take the Metro or a taxi and then take the Teleferico (cable cars) de Mirador which costs only 5 euros or the Funicular de Montjuic. Taxis do go directly to the Castell de Montjuic, but you’ll miss out on the aerial views!

7. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló

Casa Batllo is possibly one of the strangest looking residential buildings around. Located on the grand Passeig de Gracia, the house was originally built back in the late 1800’s. It was bought by Batllo i Casanovas in 1900 and he commissioned Gaudi to tear it down and build a new house. 

In the end, Gaudi worked with the existing building, redesigning the amazing façade and roof, and remodelling the interior, with work being completed in 1907.

The outside of the building looks bizarre. It is covered with bits of green, blue, purple & brown tiles, and has multiple small balconies with bone-like pillars or pieces of skulls (hence its nickname, ‘House of Bones’). Gaudi used colours and shapes found in sea life for his inspiration for the building, and it is said that the colours on the façade are like those found in coral.

Inside you can visit the first floor, top floor and roof top (though the admission price is steep!). The first floor is home to the main salon with its stunning curved wooden doors and sun-like light fitting. 

The top floor has some fabulous arches and I loved the flowery floor tiles. There is a small terrace area here (near the gift shop) with a beautiful tiles pavement.

The roof is a must-see, for the colourful chimney pots which rise above it, and the other tower like structures also covered in the pretty mosaic tiles. As you descend from the roof you will get to meet the great man himself – Gaudi….well, a hologram of him anyway!

8. Barri Gotic – Gothic Quarter

Barri Gotic - Gothic Quarter

Take a step back in time to medieval europe. You really get a feel of what it must have been like, as you walk around the maze of twisting, narrow streets.

You will come across cathedrals, churches, town squares and excellent small shops and cafes.

The highlights include Barcelona’s great cathedral that dates back to the 14th century and has been constantly updated over the centuries with impressive additions such as the late 19th century facade. The square in front of the cathedral (placa de la seu) is certainly worth a stop for a coffee or tapas and sit and wonder at that facade.

Along the beautiful C. del Bisbe Irurita, you pass the entrance to the cathedral and end up in the magnificent square, Placa Sant Jaume, which is the historical and political heart of the city. There are 2 stunning buildings that face each other, the Ajuntament and the Palau de la Generalitat.

As you travel west along C. de Ferran and down Ptge. Madoz, you enter the beautiful Place Reial with its stunning architecture. There are several good restaurants and nightclubs here.

My advice is to just find a street and continue to wind your way round. Each street seems to have it’s own atmosphere and sights.

9. Plaça Reial

Plaça Reial

One of the loveliest looking and most ‘Spanish like’ squares in Barcelona is Placa Reial. It is located just off La Rambla, on the left as you head in the direction of the port. It is connected to La Rambla by a short road, Carrer Colom, which leads you through a tall arch into the square.

The square was laid out in 1848 on the site of a former monastery. It is enclosed by classical style buildings, with arcaded shops, bars and restaurants. In the centre there is the Three Graces fountain, and on either side of this you can see two interesting lampposts which were some of Gaudi’s earliest work.

This palm-filled square makes a great place to relax with a drink or a meal, and is a meeting place for locals and tourists. Be warned though, it has also been known to be a haunt for pick pockets and drug dealers. On Sundays &the square is the busy scene of a coin and stamp market.

10. Magic Fountain – Font Màgica

Magic Fountain - Font Màgica

There may be many other beautiful fountains all over the world, many with light and color and even motion, but this one is the oldest one of its type. This amazing fountain, or better said, set of fountains, cascades and jets, were built as part of the stetting of the Great Universal Exhibition of 1929. It was restored before the Olympics of 1992.

It seems that the Exhibition’s organizers felt that it needed something special to attract people’s attention and to distinguish their Exhibition above others. Carles Buigas submitted his project for a “colossal, daring and costly piece of work”. The project was so unexpected and stunning that it was even branded by some as madness. But even most amazing is how fast they could build it: in less than a year (more than 3,000 workers involved!).

Technically, it is an amazing engineer and physics project, apart from its beautiful results as an artwork. Buigas discovered that the light should be concentrated so as to avoid larger beams obscuring smaller ones. Light would no longer be used only to illuminate the night, but rather to embellish it too. 

Part of the cascades and fountains were removed after the Exhibition, but we can still enjoy its major works of water, light and color: to the four cascades and the large jet.

11. La Boqueria Market – Mercat de Sant Josep

La Boqueria Market - Mercat de Sant Josep

The wonderful Mercat de la Boqueria is Barcelona’s most famous and central food market. It is located about halfway down La Rambla, and its main entrance has an impressive steel-framed roof and big colourful sign. This is a busy market, filled with locals doing their daily/weekly shops and also plenty of tourists getting in their way whilst taking photos.

All manner of fresh produce is on sale here – the usual stuff, like fruit & veg, a good range of meats, decent selection of bread etc. It is a great place if you want to try out some of the local cheeses or hams – there are taste tests available.

There is some very unusual seafood for sale – we were particularly intrigued by the Percebes and the piles of spiky-shelled creatures. I was also impressed by the whole (dead) little piglets which looked like they were just having a nice nap.

Dotted throughout the market are several places to eat, so if you want to brush shoulders with some of the stallholders this is the place to dine.

12. Plaça Catalunya

Plaça Catalunya

Marking the northern boundary of the Barri Gotic is Place Catalunya. This large square is the city’s nerve centre, a hub for transport links and tourists. 

It is the link between the old town and the new town and is the starting point for some of the main thoroughfares. La Rambla heads down hill from here and the grand Passeig de Gracia heads up through L’Eixample. 

There are two pretty fountains at its northern end, and an interesting pond and sculpture at the southern end. The square is often filled with pigeons and street entertainers do a roaring trade here too.

Surrounding the square are some of the city’s big department stores, such as El Corte Ingles, and the El Triangle shopping centre. For people watching, see if you can get one of the outside tables at the busy Café Zurich.

13. Mirador De Colom – Columbus Monument

Mirador De Colom - Columbus Monument

The Columbus monument dates back to 1888, where it was built in the course of a world exhibition (Columbus reported to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in Barcelona after his first voyage). It can be found at the harbour-end of Las Ramblas street. The monument is a 60m (197ft) column, with a bronze statue of Columbus on top and sculptures and reliefs depicting fellow explorers along the pedestal. The column has a viewing platform (which is quite small).

14. Daytrip -Montserrat

Montserrat

Be sure to take a few hours to visit Montserrat, located about one hour outside of Barcelona. Stop in at one of the Tourism Booths to purchase a combination train/Montserrat ticket, and do it the day before so that you can leave bright and early the next day. 

It’s a nice train ride to Montserrat, giving you a glimpse of some countryside. Montserrat itself will be quite awe-inspiring, with jagged rock outcroppings. You’ll find something peaceful about the natural rawness of the mountains. 

Montserrat Monastery is quite beautiful, with Mass taking place everyday. Whether you’re religious or not, the church and the museum are really beautiful and great to explore. 

Frankly, I wish I had been able to spend more time here. There’s a Marriott hotel at Montserrat, which I know sounds strange! However, if you can do it, I would recommend bringing a pair of hiking shoes and staying one night at Montserrat, spending some time hiking the walking paths high above the monastery.

15. Camp Nou Stadium

Camp Nou Stadium

Camp Nou (or Nou Camp) is one of the most famous football stadiums in the world. The stadium was built in 1957 (officially opened at the 24th of september). The stadium once had a capacity of 120.000 people, but due to safety regulations, this had been brought back to 98.260. Camp Nou is catalan for New Stadium. It has a very large pitch with 105×72 meters (345×236 feet). 

FC Barcelona was founded in 1899 as always has been a symbol of Catalan nationalism. Espacially in the time when Franco leaded the country. The hate towards the Spanish Madrid was enormous. This has never faded away. 

16. Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella

The Parc de la Ciutadella is Barcelona’s most central park and is a perfect place to relax and explore. Work started in 1872 to convert this part of the city into the green oasis you can visit today.

My favourite part of the park is the beautiful Cascade Fountain, a large, waterfall style fountain. It was created between 1874 and 1881 by Josep Fontsere, with some assistance from Gaudi. The Baroque-style fountain is backed by a monumental structure topped with horses and chubby cherubs. Lower down in the fountain are winged-lions and water spouts.

Close to the fountain, make sure you have a look at the huge stone Woolly Mammoth sculpture. 

If you are after some exercise, head to the small man-made lake where you can rent a boat and go for a row. 

You may well notice the great, medieval looking building at the edge of the park – it is called the Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of the Three Dragons). These days it houses the Museu de Zoologia (the Zoological Museum). The opposite end of the park is home to the city’s Zoo, where over 7000 different species can be seen.

Park opening hours: Daily from 8am-6pm (Nov-Feb), 8am-8pm (Oct & Mar), 8am-9pm (Apr-Sep).

17. Plaça d’Espanya

Plaça d'Espanya

Plaça d’Espanya is a huge square located at the foot of Montjuïc Hill, on a site which was formerly used for public executions. The present square was built on the occasion of the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, and has some impressive buildings and monuments:

The Venetian Towers (two 47 meters/154 feet tall models of the Bell Tower of the St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, built in 1929 to mark the entrance to the exhibition area), the Fira de Barcelona building, the Arenas de Barcelona (the old bullfighting arena from 1900), the Catalonia Barcelona Plaza Hotel, and the large fountain designed by Josep Maria Jujol (an associate of Gaudí) in the centre of the square.

There is also a good view of the Palau Nacional and the Magic Fountain from the square. Palau Nacional was built between 1926 and 1929 (also for the 1929 International Exposition), and has since 1934 been the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC).

Arenas de Barcelona, located at Plaça d’Espanya, was built in 1900 in Moorish Revival style. It was once a bullfighting arena, but the last bullfight was held here in 1977, and the arena is now converted into a six-storey shopping center. 

The shopping center has around 60 shops, and there are cafes and restaurants – and a cinema as well. Take the escalators to the top floor: there is a really nice view of Plaça d’Espanya from the rooftop terrace.

18. Barcelona Cathedral – Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia

Barcelona Cathedral - Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia

Barcelona’s stunning Gothic cathedral – La Seu – is a must see on your visit to the city. It is located in the ancient Barri Gotic quarter, on the small Placa de la Seu, which joins onto Placa Nova.

The cathedral was constructed between 1298 and 1460, though churches have existed on its site dating as far back as 343 AD. The main façade wasn’t built until 1870, though it is based on a 1408 design. The spire of the central tower is 70 metres (230 feet) tall.

Inside there is a large central nave and 28 side chapels. Make sure you check out the lavish choir stalls in the centre of the cathedral.

You can catch the lift up to the roof for great views over the city – highly recommended!

Opening hours: Daily, 8am-12.15pm & 5.15-7.30pm.

Free admission, but it will cost you around 2 euros to catch the lift to the roof.

19. Cable Cars – Teleferic De Montjuic

Cable Cars - Teleferic De Montjuic

An interesting feature of Port Vell is the cross-harbour cable car or as locally named Teleférico. It runs across the harbour, and provides the passengers a superb views as it sweeps via the tower Torre Jaume I to the hillside at Montjuïc. 

At the eastern end on the new mole you can see the giant skeleton of the harbor terminal – the Torre de Sant Sebastian – an amazing piece of the old transportation of the city, which was built for the Barcelona International Exposition in 1929.

At the top of the tower Torre de Sant Sebastian you can even find a restaurant. The midway stop is the 158m (518ft) high Torre de Jaume I on the Moll de Barcelona next to the large World Trade Centre. The end terminal on Montjuic hill is the Torre de Miramar near of Jardins Mossen Costa i Llobera – Cactus garden. 

The trip is very popular among tourists, so you should expect a huge queue with a very long waiting time. 

During the scenic ride, which lasts about 10 minutes, you can not only enjoy a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea, harbour area, La Ramblas and the wide Passeig de Colom but also Barcelona’s great monuments such as La Sagrada from above. 

20. Hospital Sant Pau

Hospital Sant Pau

Possibly the most elegant set of buildings (or rather city within a city) that can be seen in Barcelona and also one of the least visited. 

Domenech i Montaner is responsible for the exsquisite architecture of Hospital ed la Santa i de Sant Pau. This is a World Heritage Site and when you see it you can, at once, understand why. There are 16 pavilions, each different but each exceptionally beautiful.

The hospital in its entirety has been transferred to the modern part of the complex at its rear and the entire site (which is large) is an official visitors centre. There are vast swathes that are off-limit as they have official uses, such as the UN library. However, you will not be disappointed by what you will see. It is nothing short of stunning!

One of the wards (the Sant Rafael Pavilion) has been left intact so that visitors can get a chance to see what it would have been like to be a patient here. Patients mental wellbeing and rehabilitation was every bit as important as their physical – the idea was that one could not help but to feel better when surrounded by some beauty. The plants and trees were there to purify the air and to shelter the exposed areas from the wind. Medicinal plants, such as lavender, were also grown. The buildings were built so that natural light was cleverly used. To see the black, ugly, bulky block that is the hospital at the rear makes one wander how they could possibly build something so far from the original place! There is a kilometre (0.6 miles) of underground galleries that link one pavilion to another (each medical speciality was affected to a different pavilion). The ceramic work and tiles are gorgeous but they also ensure cleanliness and good hygiene and the soft colours were chosen to be therapeutic.

Inside the Sant Jordi Pavilion, which was a patient examination room, there is an exhibition which shows all of the work that went into this huge restoration task.

21. Port Vell

Port Vell

This old harbour called Port Vell stretches from the Columbus Monument to the Barceloneta and offers great possibilities to enjoy some leisure time. For example Imax, the Aquàrium or Maremàgnum. This particular area of the city of Barcelona followed a long historic process and left us with some amazing landmark buildings and monuments. To some people Port Vell is one of the most valuable pearls on the Mediterranean coast. I don’t want to go that far, but it is a great place to visit indeed.

So, coming from the famous street Las Ramblas we turned left and walked over de Passeig de Colom for quite a while. And indeed we had some great views on one side at beautiful old buildings and on the other side at the 14th-century medieval shipyard, the Drassanes Reials. We crossed the road to see this beautiful harbour and saw that right here you’re able to visit Barcelona’s Museu Marítim. We headed for the waterfront, in the Portal de la Pau, and we were able to see the historic schooner, the Pailebot Santa Eulàlia, which was built in 1918. Right at this spot it gets very touristic as this is the departure point for the traditional pleasure boats which operate harbour rides around the Port Vell.

When we did walk around we learned that Port Vell actually dates back to the medieval period, to a time when Barcelona was at the centre of one of the Mediterranean’s great maritime trade empires. Port Vell has of late evolved into an exciting urban space with museums, shops and public art sitting beside the quays. With its many attractions and beautiful setting Port Vell is one spot few tourists exclude from their itinerary. And, as it’s mostly pedestrian, it makes a pleasant change from other traffic-choked parts of the city.

We did pass the Lichtenstein’s 1992 Barcelona Head sculpture which is one of Barceloneta’s most eye-catchingly colourful monuments. It is made of concrete and colourful ceramic. We hiked along the Monument a colom and the Passeig de Josep Carner. At the end we did stop and had one final good look at Port Vell: very impressive indeed!

22. Arc De Triomf, Barcelona

Arc De Triomf

Located close to the Parc de la Ciutadella, via the paved and palm-lined Passeig de Lluis Companys, is Barcelona’s version of the Arc de Triomf. This brick arch was built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition which was held in Parc de la Ciutadella. The arch was used as the main entrance to the Exhibition.

It was designed by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas in mudejar style (which is based around Moorish architecture styles). The colourful arch is topped with twelve statues of angel-looking women, which symbolises fame. Along the top, in the middle of the arch, there is a carving of the Coat of Arms of Barcelona.

Very different to the ‘more famous’ Arc de Triomf, this one is well worth a look – and you don’t have to dodge 8 lanes of crazy traffic to get to it!

23. Museu Picasso – Picasso Museum

Museu Picasso - Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is one of the most fascinating museums I have ever visited. I have seen Picasso art in various other museums, but this museum is so unique. I’m sure it has the largest collection of Picasso art works anywhere, but it’s not just the sheer volume that makes this museum so extraordinary. It’s the fact that the museum displays many work from his early years, and in chronological order, so you can see how his talent progressed over the years. Biographical sketches of Picasso’s life and evolution in art are also posted on the walls. To me, visiting the Picasso museum was like walking through a movie of his life, but even better, because I could spend as much time on a painting as I wanted. 

Even though there was a long queue to get in, once we were in, it did not seem that crowded to me. I had plenty of opportunities to browse slowly if I wanted and to get close to the smaller paintings and drawings. 

The other unique thing about this museum is the collection of Picasso ceramics, which he created later in his life. I had never seen Picasso ceramics before visiting this museum. Serving a dish of paella in one of those ceramic dishes would certainly get attention!

24. Palau de la Musica Catalana

Palau de la Musica Catalana

This wonderful place was constructed between 1905 and 1908 by the catalan architect Domènech i Montaner, and is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built for the Orfeó Català (Catalan Choral Society), as an alternative to the more aristocratic Liceu opera house. You can still find choral singing on it’s programme, but also a remarkably diverse range of events. The main concerthall seats more than 2000 people.

This place is in a small sidestreet to the very busy Via Laeitana, and its like a completely different world. Especially inside where there are flowers, plants and bees, even incorporated into the ceiling and the walls. Both as stained glass, mosaic and reliefs. 

If you can’t come to one of the concerts here, you can take a guided tour. They often start with a audiovisual show that gives you a good idea of how great it must be to attend a concert here.

In the ceiling are plenty of roses, that comes from the legend of Catalonias patron; St. George. The legend says that a rose sprang from the place where the dragon’s blood fell after he slew the dragoon.

25. Poble Espanyol de Montjuic

Poble Espanyol de Montjuic

El Poble was the site of the 1929 International Exhibition and has interesting reproductions of buildings and street scenes from the 15 regions of Spain. If your short on time and would like to experience just a little of the magic of Spanish architecture, then El Poble is the place to head to.

It is more than a collection of buildings.

El Poble has an amazing array of hand crafts to see and buy, with over 40 craft shops, but there is more, as the TV advert screams – plenty for the kids to do and see and yes, plenty of food and drinks too.

Allow at least 3 hours to visit to El Poble – and much more if you get into a buying frenzy.

Admittance charges, audio guide available, seniors discount card accepted.

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Post Author: Mad Vacay

Mad Vacay