Barcelona, one of the most enchanting cities in the world, is one of those places where you’re never likely to fall short on things to see or do. It boasts of a beautifully preserved historic city center and its architectural wonders date back almost 2000 years.
From the mystical genius of Antoni Gaudi (one of the greatest architects of all time) to unparalleled artworks by grandmasters such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, the city really does have it all. Better yet, the fascinating art and architecture is beautifully complimented by a magnificent dining and drinking scene, a fabled culture and limitless possibilities. Here is a list of some of the top 12 best things to do in Barcelona.
Barcelona is home to some of the best Gaudi creations and these architectural gems offer a treat for anyone interested in architecture. The Sagrada Familia is considered to be the most spectacular Gaudi creation and is famous as one of the most visited buildings of the world. A skip the line tour lets you beat the crowds and marvel the fascinating interiors where Art Nouveau and Gothic designs battle for your attention. Don’t forget to check out the Sagrada Familia Museum, where you can learn more about the life and career of one of the greatest architects the world has ever seen.
Interesting Fact – Sagrada Familia was so ambitions a project that less than a quarter had been built by the time Gaudi died. In fact, the construction is not expected to be completed any time before 2026!
Most major cities offer exciting hop-on hop-off tours that let you explore the city at your own pace. Barcelona is no different with its hop-on hop-off tours either. This tour takes place on a double-decker bus and offers audio commentary in 12 different languages. Some of the most popular stops include Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Port Olímpic, Barcelona Cathedral, Camp Nou and the aquarium.
Gran Theatre del Liceu
Even if you don’t have the time to catch an opera at night, make sure that you visit the greatest opera house in Europe. The Gran Theatre del Liceu features a majestic horseshoe auditorium and can seat approximately 2300 people. It was built in the year 1847 and has launched a number of stars such as Montserrat Caballé and Josep Carreras. Some of the main highlights of the Gran Theatre del Liceu are its ornate chandeliers, fluted columns, ceiling frescoes, and the Salo dels Miralls (Hall of Mirrors).
Interesting Fact – A fire ravaged the theater in the year 1994 which led to the complete destruction of the stage and the main hall. However, the theater has been painstakingly restored to its former beauty and a number of improvements have also been made.
The Gothic Quarter once used to be an ancient Roman village and still features remnants of its rich and glorious past. With widespread modernization taking place in the area, ancient buildings and jaw dropping architectural wonders stand next to modern day constructions. This fascinating mix attracts people from all over the world. The area is full of numerous beautiful squares such as Placa Reial and Placa St. Jaume, where one can relax, get entertained and watch people passing by. It is also home to the iconic Barcelona Cathedral, which boasts of a stunning courtyard that is always full of geese. Other things to do here include shopping, dining, drinking and partying.
Interesting Fact – Els Quatre Gats, the place where Picasso used to hang out and also the place where he held his very first exhibition, is located here.
Skip the Line: Casa Battlo Ticket and Audio Guide
Casa Battlo is another Gaudi creation that is famous for its whimsical décor and is considered to be one of the jewels of Modern architecture. This landmark monument was created between the years 1904 and 1906 and its flamboyant façade showcases the master’s ingenuity. If you do not want to queue up we recommend booking a skip-the-line-tour while enjoying a complimentary audio guide available in 10 different languages.
Interesting Fact – The building looks like it has been made using skulls and bones from the outside, but the socalled skulls are actually the balconies while the bones are the supporting pillars.
The setting alone makes Museu Picasso one of the top things to do in Barcelona. Beautiful galleries, fascinating courtyards and fantastically preserved staircases set the perfect tone for all the wonders that the museum holds in store for you. The museum hosts close to 3500 artworks created by the great legend, and mostly concentrates on Picasso’s initial years. Although you might get disappointed if you’re hoping to see some of his better known works, there is still enough material to give you an in-depth look into Picasso’s versatility and creative mind. The exhibits have been set up in a way that introduce you to his earlier work and then take you through different influences and periods that crafted Picasso as one of the greatest artists of time.
Interesting Fact – Museu Picasso is known to host an important collection of works from the year 1917 as well as a comprehensive print collection and the Las Meninas series.
Mercat de la Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria is considered to be the most interesting building on the La Rambla, Barcelona’s shopping street. However, it isn’t the modern architecture that demands your attention, it is the food market within, that makes Mercat de la Boqueria so famous. The market is spilling with unending varieties of cheeses, meats, sweets and sausages and is also dotted with unique eateries and gastronomic specialties. Some of the top items to try out at the Mercat de la Boqueria include bacallà salat, calçots, cargols and percebes.
Interesting Fact – Before the 1835 fire, most vendors sold their products in an open air market. After the fire, architect Jose Mas I Vila transformed the site into a fascinating market square, which was considered to be the most beautiful square in the city. It featured arcades, fountains and gardens and was supported by Ionic columns.
Skip the Line: Casa Mila Audio Guided Tour
Casa Mila, or La Padrera, was built when Antoni Gaudi was at the peak of his career. This iconic allusion to an open quarry was created between the years 1906 and 1912 and has always been famous for its heritage value, uniqueness and artistic ingenuity. The building was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 1984 and is now famous as a beacon of knowledge and creativity. A skip the line tour offers you a guided audio tour of the Casa Mila,. Marvel at its jaw dropping corkscrew chimneys and staircases in peace and don’t forget to see the “Espai Gaudi” exhibition in its attic. This exhibition is the only exhibition that has been dedicated to the life and work of Antoni Gaudi.
Interesting Fact – Since the Casa Mila was designed using natural forms entirely, the building doesn’t feature a single right angle.
Barcelona Segway Tour
Segway tours are one of the best ways of exploring the beauty and grandiose of any traveler-centric city. However, these tours are known to offer an entirely new experience in Barcelona. A 2-hour Segway tour is just about the perfect way of exploring this fascinating city as these it takes you through some of the most beautiful sites in the city such as the historic fishing district, Gothic Quarter and Maremagnum. The small size of the group makes this tour perfect for people who haven’t tried out a Segway tour before and you can literally enjoy a fascinating walking tour, without having to walk!
The Barcelona Cathedral, or La Seu, is one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in the world. It stands almost in the center of Barri Gothic and is known to look particularly beautiful at night, when the façade gets illuminated. The church was named after the patron saint of Barcelona and is famous for its 14th century cloister, a central courtyard next to a beautiful Gothic portico. The cloister also offers access to a small museum that holds two extremely precious items, representing Santa Eulaia and a monstrance made out of solid gold.
Interesting Facts – According to legends, the crucifix inside the chapel is supposedly magical. The locals believe that this crucifix was responsible for defeating the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto.
Skip the Line: La Pedrera Night Show
One of the top things to do in Barcelona is the La Padrera night show. You can always explore the Casa Mila by the day, but exploring it at night is recommended. A 2-hour skip the line night show of the La Padrera gives you a unique take on its architecture. Some of the main highlights of this tour include light and sound projections in the stairwells, an audiovisual show on the Casa Mila rooftop, a glass of cava (of course J), and unparalleled views of L’Eixample.
Montjuic Mountain is just about the perfect place for those wanting to enjoy a great walk without missing out on the views while in Barcelona. It boasts of spectacular surroundings and is also home to the Olympic Stadium as well as Jardi Botanic. Don’t forget to check out the Tres Pins nursery, where plants are grown for the municipal parks and gardens of the city. Another highlight is the Laribal Gardens, created by the popular French architect, Jean Claude Nicholas Forestier.
Interesting Facts – Ironically, Castell de Montjuic fortification, which was constructed on the Montjuic Mountain with the idea of protecting the city, ended up bombing it in the year 1842 when Barcelona revolted against the Spanish government.