Barcelona, the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain, is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, modernist architecture, and art museums dedicated to great Spanish painters such as Picasso and Miro. Barcelona is a city that’s a distinctive mix of ancient and modern, with influences from the Romans, Moors, Visigoths. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city’s modern artistic spirit flowered thanks to modernist artists and architects, especially Antoni Gaudí. Here are 10 of our recommended Barcelona attractions to visit in this amazing city.
The Sagrada Família (pictured above) is one of the many famous buildings in Barcelona designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. Although construction on this modernist Roman Catholic church began in 1882, new additions have been continuously added over the years. In addition to the spectacular exterior, the interior of the church has many beautiful paintings and sculptures. This is a popular attraction, so leave plenty of time for your visit or book a ticket in advance.
La Rambla is a bustling street that’s also a pedestrian mall where traffic is severely limited. The lack of traffic and lively atmosphere makes this a fun and convenient place to stroll, shop, dine, and enjoy the sights. The area is always busy and, in addition to locals and tourists, you’re likely to see lots of colorful street performers such as musicians and human statues.
Casa Milà is another important building designed by Antoni Gaudí. It’s popularly known as La Pedrera, which means open quarry. This is a place unlike any other, full of innovative exhibits and performances. This is a prime example of Gaudí’s biomorphic architectural style, with many elements inspired by nature. Casa Milà is fascinating to explore and there are so many exhibits that you can easily spend several hours or a whole day here.
La Barceloneta is a neighborhood that’s like a city within a city. This waterfront area, which has a beach and boardwalk, still has signs of its origins as an old harbor and fishing village. Today, however, there are numerous restaurants, nightclubs, shops, and public bathhouses. It’s a relaxing spot to watch ships and yachts while enjoying a meal, cup of coffee, or glass of wine.
Parc Guëll is a group of parks, gardens, and buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí. Wandering through this area is like visiting an enchanted realm with ornate fountains, tiled mosaic seating areas, and otherworldly rock pillars. One of the most famous elements is the stunning dragon fountain that you’ll see upon entering Parc Guëll. This is another of Barcelona’s modernist masterpieces that you don’t want to miss.
Casa Batlló is another of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces. Gaudí redesigned this old building in the center of Barcelona in 1904. Its distinctive features include exterior walls adorned with skull-like decorations and the scaled roof that looks like the skin of a dinosaur. You can admire the building from the outside or take a tour of the interior, which comes with an audio guide.
One of the world’s largest and most spectacular fountains, Font Màgica is also a dazzling light and sound show with colorful water jets synchronized to music. Despite its futuristic appearance, the fountain was actually designed almost a century ago by Carles Buigasj for the 1929 Exhibition. This is only the most notable attraction on Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristin, which has a number of pools and fountains to admire.
Montjuïc Hill, site of the 1992 Olympics, is a section of Barcelona that packs in a variety of interesting destinations, including several notable museums. If you want to learn about the city’s history and art, you’ll want to visit Museu Etnològic, Museu d’Arqueologia, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya-MNAC, and Fundació Miró, dedicated to the great painter Joan Miró.
Pablo Picasso is Spain’s most famous modern artist and Museu Picasso has one of the largest collections of his work. Opened in 1963, this museum has over 4,000 works and features many paintings for Picasso’s formative years as well as his better-known later works. Museu Picasso is quite popular, so it’s a good idea to get tickets in advance.
One thing that the Spanish are truly passionate about is football (soccer) and Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona team, is the largest stadium in Spain. It’s a breathtaking experience to watch a live sporting event with tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans. Even if you can’t attend a match, Camp Nou has a tour and museum where you can learn all about the team and sport’s history.