Top 10 things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona - home to Gaudi, tapas, sangria, beaches, majestic buildings and a strong and proud Catalan identity. Barcelona has always been a popular city to visit, but in recent years the numbers have rocketed - and with endless lists of sights, exuberant bars, experiences - it's hardly surprising.

I've visited Barcelona twice now, both visits for 4 days, and it's a really good amount of time to go for - if you accept that you won't be able to see everything, that is!

Here are my top 10 things to do:

  1. Sagrada Familia

By far the most impressive structure in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia.

It’s an incredible designed by architectural genius, Antoni Gaudi. As soon as you step into out of the metro station you will find yourself standing in the shadow of this immense structure, spires reaching up into the clouds and cranes soaring higher still. The outside is decorated with carvings of impeccable detail, whilst the inside is filled with soft stone structures and rainbows of light circling around from the stained glass windows.

Soaring cranes over Sagrada Familia

One of the biggest draws is that it’s still under construction, hence the cranes; building commenced back in 1882, but after Gaudi’s death and the Spanish Civil War, construction was interrupted. The estimated finish date is currently 2028.

The appeal of this is that it’s somewhere worth visiting time and time again; even if you’ve seen it before, you’ll notice a difference if you visit again.

For booking, it’s best to book online in advance as queues (particularly in summer) can be lengthy! Tickets are €15-29 and can be bought here: http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/tiquets/

Not your usual crucifixion statue!

Sagrada Familia

2. Parc Guell

More Gaudi! (Well, what did you come to Barcelona for, after all?) Park Guell is another fine display of Gaudi’s brilliant imagination. It’s a fascinating park with a sunny terrace bordered by stunning mosaics, peculiar gingerbread-like houses, the famous serpent statue and fantastic views of the city.

There is also a gift shop (although you can often find the gifts cheaper on Las Ramblas) - selling mugs, postcards, artwork, photography, pens, pencils. I bought a pretty set of mosaic espresso mugs and a mini postcard with a cut-out build-it-yourself Sagrada Familia (much like the real thing, this is yet to be completed).

The park itself is free, however if you want to visit the terrace and the main mosaics, you’ll need to buy a ticket (€7) - can be bought here: http://www.parkguell.cat/en/buy-tickets/

View from Parc Guell

Mosaics Parc Guell

3. Markets

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ll know by now that I LOVE a good market.

Although not quite enough to rival Madrid’s fantastic markets, these two give it a good go.

Mercat de la Boqueria - this market is huge and bursting with delicious fruits, cured meats, olive oil, fresh bread - you name it. It’s right off las ramblas, so pretty easy to spot.

Mercat de Santa Caterina - most famed for it’s brightly coloured mosaic roof, but also full of stalls selling delicious foods.

Mercat de la Boqueria

4. Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas is THE main street in Barcelona. This 1.2km boulevard stretches through the heart of Barcelona, flanked by lively salsa bars, wine bars, shops, market stalls and restaurants. Beware though - this area is full of tourist-trap restaurants and you’ll pay significantly more here than elsewhere!

The street starts and ends with Port Vell and Placa Catalunya, and there are numerous metro stops along the way.

Las Ramblas

5. Gothic Quarter

The Gothic quarter is easily my favourite area of Barcelona, and I’ll definitely be staying here next time I visit. The area is fascinating because it’s a wonderful concoction of contrasting styles. Gander through the winding cobblestone streets and spot ancient Romanesque cathedrals and churches next to modern shops and busy main squares - all tightly packed together.

Despite the bustling squares, if you wander a little while you’ll easily find quiet restaurants for a more relaxing evening.

Gothic Quarter

A cosy restaurant, Gothic Quarter

6. Magic Fountains

The magic fountains of Barcelona are a pretty iconic sight and if you can, you should definitely put them on your itinerary! These cascades and pools come alive at night with dazzling colours of red, blue, purple, green and orange. Make sure you visit in the evening!!! This might seem obvious to most - but not to a friend of mine who was pretty disappointed when she popped by at 1pm....

Important to note - they are only open on certain nights outwith the main summer period, so check online first.

Magic Fountains

7. Monjuic Hill

Someone advised me before I went to make sure I go up the ‘mountain’ in Barcelona.....It’s definitely not a mountain, and I probably wouldn’t class it as a hill either, but it is a lovely walk with panoramic views of all over Barcelona, so definitely worth a visit!You’ve got the option of walking up (takes about 30 mins) or you can get the cable car. There are two cable cars - one leaves from the funicular station, and one from the port.My recommendation would be to walk up and then get the cable car that goes over the harbour back.At the top of Monjuic hill is a castle, which is nice from the outside - but sadly shut both times I visited.​Important to note - book the cable car in advance as tickets go quickly and you may find yourself having to walk back.

Monjuic Hill

8. Port Vell

Port Vell is the beautiful waterfront and harbour that you might have spotted from Monjuic hill. It’s a lovely walk passing by lavish boats, market stalls and cafes.​

Port Vell

9. The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

The The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya stands boldly overlooking a series of steep steps leading up to Monjuic hill.If, like me, you're not much of an art-buff, it’s worth a visit just to gawk at the view from outside and is conveniently located on a walking route to Olympic Park and Monjuic Hill.

The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

10. Olympic Park

If you walk around the back of the National Museum, pass some beautiful gardens (which are worth a walk through) you’ll reach Olympic Park; home to the 1992 olympics. It’s a lovely walk through grassy squares and cooling fountains - and, you can walk around the stadium for free too.

Art at Olympic Park

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