As the capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, Barcelona is one of the most exciting cities in Europe that you can visit as a tourist. Barcelona has a unique identity that has not been replicated anywhere, due in part to the influx of early 20th century artists who shaped the city – especially Antoni Gaudi. His designs, which can mainly be seen in the exterior of the building, are fascinating and a great attraction for visitors to the city. This city is also a Mecca for foodies, with endless options for every budget. If you’re planning your visit to the city, here are the absolute best things to do in Barcelona.
Casa Batlló shimmers in blue, green and any interpretation of turquoise and is one of the most famous Gaudi architectural pieces in the city of Barcelona and my personal favorite. The exterior is influenced by nature and as such has no straight lines (as Gaudi himself observed, nature does not have any). Despite the grandiosity of the building, the details are complicated and can leave you in awe.
La Sagrada Familia
Not many masterpieces in Europe are yet to be finished, but visitors flock to the Sagrada Familia every day to see this incredible basilica, which is undoubtedly one of the most visited attractions in Barcelona. You can buy yours Entrance ticket to the Sagrada Familia online to secure your visit. I can only recommend booking the main attractions in advance as there is a lot going on in the summer months in Barcelona and this is no exception.
Park Güell feels like a fairy tale you have entered, especially if you book a sunrise or sunset sightseeing time (yes, you need to reserve in advance!) A time slot for your visit will be assigned. One of the most unpopular times when I booked was sunrise, which turned out to be a blessing, as this is one of the most magical times of the day to enjoy the park and the view.
If you only have to visit one market during your stay in Barcelona, this is La Boqueria. It is one of the oldest markets in Barcelona and dates back to 1217. It has never moved away from its location on the lively La Rambla street. Be prepared for sensory overload: from the stand owners who call for your attention to the waves of everything that’s fresh – seafood, fruit, baked goods … you name it, you sell it.
Tibidabo amusement park
A city where you can enter a theme park on the mountain peaks and enjoy the wide view of the city? Yes, please! Tibidabo is a great place to spend the evening as it is open until 9 p.m. and offers a great view of the sunset.
Get an overview of the city
Barcelona is even more beautiful from above, especially if you measure your bird’s eye view with a golden sunset that lights up the colors of the terracotta roofs. Probably the best view is aboard a helicopter, but if your budget doesn’t allow you can also enjoy a great view from Bunkers of Carmel, a local favorite.
Casa Milà was built in the early 20th century and is the last private residence designed by Antoni Gaudi. It’s an impressive example of modernist architecture and another favorite of fans exploring Barcelona. Because of its functionality, it was celebrated as Gaudi’s most famous civil artwork.
The city of Barcelona is a foodie dream. Nowhere is this as lively as in Barcelona El Nacional in the heart of Barcelona. I only heard about this restaurant from my local friend David, who insisted we go, and have returned three times since then.
You can’t get to Barcelona without making your way to Las Ramblas, a tree-lined pedestrian street filled with different sights and sounds every step of the way. Always keep your things within easy reach, this is also the most popular place for bags in Barcelona!
Barcelona city beaches
Another highlight of Barcelona’s seaside location is how much of the urban lifestyle happens on Barcelona’s beaches. The beach is just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, but feels like a world with its own flair and identity.
Take a day trip to Montserrat
If you have more than a few days in Barcelona, you can take a day trip to nearby Montserrat. This incredible mountain range is just a short train ride from Barcelona and has quickly become the city’s most popular day trip. You don’t have to go on a tour to visit. Simply use the public train system to get there.
Barcelona rooftop bars
For a city with beautiful street-level architecture, the view only gets better from above. Barcelona has a handful of great rooftop bars, many of which are difficult to find or often unknown. One of my favorite finds is up in the Mandarin Oriental, in casual terrat Restaurant focusing on delicious Peruvian cuisine with small portions. The drinks are crunchy and the view is the next level!
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona, which houses one of the most extensive collections of his works, is a must for Pablo Picasso fans.
Tapas and wine tour
In a city that prides itself on local cuisine, Barcelona won’t disappoint you. Food tours of the city start every evening with a gourmet festival in the city. This was one of my favorite memories from my first trip to Barcelona as it both satisfied my palette and served as the running history of the city from my guide!
If you’d rather travel on your own rather than join an organized tour, just head to the lively El Borne district. Locals and visitors mingle here in a way that everyone moves from one bar to the next. There are no particular bars you should visit. Just try them all! From taquerias specializing in tequila to hearty Catalan dishes, there is something for everyone.
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