The capital city of Catalonia, Barcelona is one of the most populous cities in Spain and in the European Union.
Barcelona is an exciting mix of tradition and modernity. Once an important political and economic centre of the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages, it has a rich cultural heritage, making it one of the most important cultural centres in the world. It boasts of the great architectural works of Antoni Gaudi, a world-renowned practitioner of the Catalan Modernism movement. It is also recognized as a global and smart city and remains one of the world’s top economic, financial, transportation, and entertainment hubs.
Aside from that, Barcelona is one of the leading tourist destinations in Europe, if not the whole world. With so many interesting things to do and sights to see in the city, it is understandable why it is a preferred travel destination among leisure and business travellers.
If you are planning a trip to Barcelona and would want to have a perfect vacation in the city, here’s how:
1. Explore Barcelona on foot.
A city as beautiful as Barcelona is best explored on foot. From the Gothic Quarter to the bustling La Rambla, every nook and cranny in the city is a gem waiting to be discovered. In the Gothic Quarter, you’ll get to admire some of Barcelona’s oldest structures like the Royal Palace, the Chapel of Santa Agata, and the Temple d’August, to name a few.
When touring the city on foot, check out the bustling La Rambla. Overflowing with shopping and dining options, it is a must-visit especially for first-time tourists in Barcelona. As you stroll along La Rambla, stop by the markets at La Boqueria and have your fill of the huge selection of culinary treats on offer there.
2. Check out Gaudi’s architectural creations.
A highlight of every traveller’s trip to Barcelona is its architectural marvels, many of them created by Antoni Gaudi, an architect known for advancing the Modernisme movement in Spain. Among the stunning works of Gaudi are the La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló.
The most popular of Gaudi’s works, the La Sagrada Familia is a stunning Roman Catholic Church that features a seamless combination of Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. The ornate structure’s construction started in 1882 and was about 25% completed by the time Gaudi died in 1926. To this day, construction is still ongoing and estimated to be finished in 2026.
Another major work of Gaudi is Park Güell, a sprawling complex consisting of beautiful gardens, magnificent buildings, and interesting structures. Built over 14 years starting 1900, it is one of the most beautiful public parks in the world, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona.
La Pedrera, another creation of Gaudi that’s recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a residential building constructed from 1906 to 1912. Also known as Casa Milà, the building features a unique façade of undulating stone, curling iron balconies, and other innovative, modernistic elements.
Another of Gaudi’s masterpieces in Barcelona is Casa Batllò, a building that was remodeled by the architect in 1904. Considered one of the most unique buildings in the city given its almost skeletal design, it features Catalan modernist elements like a sculptured stone façade, ceramic tiles, arched roof, and wrought iron balconies and columns.
3. Sample Barcelona’s best wines and tapas.
A trip to Barcelona is never complete without indulging in tapas and wine. Barcelona is filled to the brim with affordable tapas bars serving plateful upon plateful of these delectable treats. Must-trys are tortilla, chocos, bacalao, shipirone, and albondigas. As for wines, the city’s wine bars offer a wide selection of wines from the best cellars in the Catalonia wine region.
Tourists wishing to sample the best wines and tapas in Barcelona can join walking tours that will bring them to the best wine and tapas bars in town.
4. Experience the majical beauty of Montjuic.
Montjuic is the best place for catching breathtaking panoramic views of Barcelona harbour. The hill played a strategic defensive role in the past and went through several fortifications, including the Castle of Montjuic, a 17th century fortress.
There are many things to do in Montjuic. Aside from taking in the spectacular views from the top of the hill, there are several attractions to visit like the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Gardens, the Montjuic Municipal Pool, and the Grec Theather Gardens. Montjuic also makes for a great spot for biking and cycling tours.
You can access the top of Montjuic through a cliff railway and then a sky tram.
5. Appreciate the best of Catalan Art at the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya).
Located in Palau Nacional Montjuic, the MNAC houses a versatile collection of Romanesque, Catalan Modernist, Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance artworks.
Inaugurated in December 2004, the museum is the national museum for Catalan art and is one of the biggest museums in Spain.
The works of Gaudi, Casas, Tiziano, and Velazquez are featured in the museum.
6. Immerse in Barcelona’s graffiti and street art.
Barcelona is home to many local artists who have transformed many of its streets and neighbourhoods into an eclectic gallery of graffiti and street art. To sample Barcelona’s street art scene, head to Poblenou and El Raval and admire the fun, interesting, and high quality murals.
7. Visit the Picasso Museum.
Being a cultural centre, Barcelona has a string of museums other than MNAC for you to visit. But if you only have time to squeeze in one more in your itinerary, pick the Picasso Museum. The museum hosts one of the largest collections of Picasso’s artworks, including “The First Communion” and Science of Charity.”
8. Take in the surreal beauty of Montserrat.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Catalonia is Montserrat. Boasting of amazing views, unique rock formations and attractions like the Royal Basilica, museums, a secluded Benedictine Monastery, and a 12th century sculpture of the Black Madonna, makes it a famous attraction among local and foreign visitors. It draws millions of tourists each year and whether you are visiting for the pilgrimage sites or the cultural attractions, you will not run out of interesting things to do in Montserrat.
9. Indulge your sweet tooth.
If you love sweets, then Barcelona is the perfect place for you. Chocolates, candies, cakes, and pastries – you will be spoilt for choices. Window displays of bakeries and confectionery shops are a work of art, enticing shoppers with drool-worthy sweet treats of different forms and sizes. There is an abundance of sweet stuff in the city; definitely a place that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
10. Take a dip in the warm waters of Barceloneta Beach.
Barceloneta Beach, located near the city centre, is Barcelona’s most popular beach. Featuring powdery golden sand, clean warm waters, great beachside restaurants, family-friendly facilities, Barceloneta Beach is a big favourite among locals. All in all, a great place to relax and unwind and an essential pit-stop during your Barcelona vacation.
Getting ready for your immersive cultural trip to Barcelona? Check out well-curated cultural and sightseeing tours offered on Travezl.com.
By: Brendelyn Balaga