Top Things To Do In Barcelona
It has been a few years since I was last in Barcelona, but it ranks extremely high on my personal favourite of European cities. Situated right on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, in the North East, it is a city that enjoys a lot of sunshine.
The best time to visit Barcelona from a weather point of view is probably in late spring or late summer. July and August bring with it some extreme temperatures that can be difficult to handle if you are not used to them. Before planning a visit, I would also suggest checking with the official Barcelona Tourist website, as there are many very interesting cultural events and festivals with many outdoor events.
Barcelona is extremely easy to get around with most attractions being within walking distance of each other. When one of the top sights of Barcelona is a bit further away or you are just tired of walking there is an extremely good and reasonable underground transport system.
If you are thinking about going to Barcelona or are looking for a list (in no particular order) of must have things to do, then hopefully the below list will help in your planning.
Located in the Garcia district of Barcelona, this is a truly magnificent garden and park with some great views of the city. The easiest way to get to the park is by bus as it is a little bit outside the inner city.
Built at the start of the 20th century it was designed by the Spanish artist and architect Antoni Gaudi, and if you are familiar with Gaudi's other work around the Barcelona then it will be very recognizable to you as soon as you see it.
Millions of mosaic tiles make up patterns that include the full colour spectrum and the easy flow of curves and arches is an incredibly beautiful sight. Take your time to explore this park and its gardens and make sure you make the trip to the top of the hill that it is built on as you will be greeted with panoramic views over this Catalan cityscape.
If the queues are not too long then a visit to the Gaudi House Museum is worth a quick look. It is quite small and mainly contains furniture and art designed by Gaudi; the house itself was his residence for about 20 years.
This street is one of Barcelona's central thoroughfares and is incredibly popular with tourists, locals and unfortunately pickpockets as well. Be very careful with your belongings and especially avoid groups of people standing around either very bad street artists or street gamblers.
For pedestrians this is probably one of the best places to just stroll along and take in the atmosphere. There are many small cafes and tapas bars where you can stop for a quick refreshment, but be prepared to pay on the extremely popular mall.
One of the great advantages is that it is tree lined from top to bottom providing ample shade on hot days. If or when you need to cross the road, be very careful of cars and scooters, as they will not give way to pedestrians unless the lights are red.
Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey on the mountain of Montserrat not far inland from Barcelona. A visit here would be a day trip from the city, with the easiest way being by train and then a tram ride up the mountain.
The original buildings date back to the 11th century, but most of what you see today was built in the 16 to 18 hundreds. When you get up to this place you will really appreciate the scale of the construction project. You have to keep in mind that all constructions workers and materials had to be manually carried up the mountain, there were no air-conditioned trams back in those days.
Make sure that you don't just visit the different buildings and chapels, but also go for a walk outside to really take in the scenery. There is a cable car available that will take you further up the mountain from where you will be able to get some spectacular views of the abbey from above and also the surrounding mountain range.
Known to the locals as Barri Gotic is the centre of the oldest part of Barcelona. It is a large area with many very narrow and winding streets. A lot of the buildings in the Gothic Quarter date back to Medieval times and many even further back to early Roman settlements.
It is very easy to get lost here as the streets really are a maze and you can rarely see to the end of a street. But I think this adds to the experience as you often end up in a completely different place to where you thought you would and finding things that may not even be in travel guides.
One thing to keep in mind though is that this is an are that is best avoided at night time. It is renowned for muggings so the best thing is to leave the area altogether before it starts to get dark. But don't let this put you off visiting it during the day.
La Sagrada Familia
This is definitely a not to miss attraction if you are visiting this city and belongs right at the top of things to do in Barcelona. In one of the travel books I had it mentioned that it the world's longest running construction project, and when you get closer and inside you will probably understand why.
Throughout his life, the Catalan architect Gaudi was heavily involved in the design and construction of this Roman Catholic church. Construction started in 1883 and when Gaudi died in 1926, less than a quarter of it had been completed.
As of the latest projections it is estimated that the project will finally be finished in 2026, one hundred years after Gaudi's death and 144 years after construction started. Some of the delays stemmed from long interruptions during the first and second world wars as well as the Spanish Civil War, during which at numerous times plans and models of the church were destroyed.
But despite this it is the type of design and incredible detail in the façade that make construction such a painfully slow process. Gaudi wanted to achieve a style of architecture that would mirror designs seen in nature. The most obvious to note are the very large columns that provide the main support and the way they are resemble the trunk, branches and roots of trees.
I have visited it three times in the last 15 years and every time I am as awestruck as if I was there for the first time.
The is probably my favourite markets in Europe. If you are taking a stroll along Las Ramblas, make sure you look out for the big entrance La Boqueria at the top end of Las Ramblas.
It is a very traditional food market offering everything from freshly caught sea food, fresh local vegetables and many exotic herbs and spices. The smells alone are enough to send your mouth watering. Pick up some fresh fruit from the incredibly colourful displays, as it is difficult to get fresher and juicier fruit anywhere else, far and wide.
Fresh food produce have been sold on this same location since 1217, that is close to 800 years, so the market is steeped in history. The structure of the market roof, made of steel has undergone many redesigns and rebuilds over the centuries, but the current one dates back to 1914.