There are an abundance of incredible things to see and do in Barcelona and you’ll find yourself stumbling across beauty, art and culture around every corner.
The district of Gràcia is wonderfully authentic with a quaint, bohemian feel to it. A great deal of it is pedestrianised; with indie shops and trendy eateries dotted around the narrow streets. Every so often you’ll find yourself wandering into a snug little square, lined with trees and echoing the happy chatter of people dining al fresco.
It feels like every building is so unique, that it would take a lifetime to drink in every little detail. Don’t forget to look up; this beauty spans way beyond eye and street level.
Almost every building boasts balconies filled with plants of all shapes and sizes; doors and windows will stand ajar in the warm sunshine.
Explore Park Güell
Built between 1900 and 1914, Park Güell was designed by renowned architect, Antoni Gaudí. The majority of the park is open to the public, however the Monumental Precinct requires advanced booking and visitors can only enter at allotted times.
The park sits on Carmel Hill and as you climb higher, the hazy views across Barcelona to the ocean became increasingly beautiful. Whats more, the park is teeming with brightly coloured flowers and chattering green parrots, darting from tree to tree.
The park’s pavilions are located at the main entrance on the south side.
The wall of the park is built from rustic stone topped with gorgeous, ceramic tiling.
The Dragon Stairway leads to the most iconic image of the park; the dragon, or salamander, which is covered with the most stunning decorative tile-shard mosaic. It also leads to the Hypostyle Room, which is made up of 86 columns and a tile-shard mosaic ceiling.
Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is a labyrinth of narrow streets, which encompass some of the oldest parts of the city. Despite the name, a number of buildings in this area do not actually date back to the Middle Ages.
A massive restoration project took place in the early 1900’s to transform the quarter from a run-down old neighbourhood to a hub for tourists. Nevertheless, it is a must-see. Be sure to explore the maze of old, crooked streets opening out into delightful little squares.
Again, detail is key and you’ll undoubtedly spend the majority of your time giving yourself a neck cramp by gazing upwards!
Hunt for Gaudí buildings
Even if you’re unfamiliar with architecture and Gaudí himself, when you explore the streets of Barcelona you’ll have no trouble in identifying his work. Indeed, his unique and eccentric approach to the Art Nouveau movement has brought to life some of the most creative buildings in existence.
Casa Vicens was built between 1883 and 1888. Known as Gaudí’s first important building, it is covered in a variety of beautiful ceramic decorations.
Originally an old, conventional house built in 1877, Gaudí totally restored Casa Batlló in 1904 to become what is known as one of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings. This is because it’s made from a mixture of stone, ceramics and forged iron.
Palau Güell is the palace residence of the Güell family and is very unlike the rest of Gaudí’s works.
La Sagrada Família has been in construction since 1892 and as you can see, it’s still going! The church is enormous and the detailing, which depicts man, nature and religion will leave you speechless!
See the sights at night
Many buildings in the city are beautifully lit up at night. Compared to the daytime, they can be eerily tourist-free, so if you hate crowds, this is the perfect time to visit.
Catch the cable car
From the funicular station, you can catch the Montjuïc Cable Car to the top of the mountain, home to Montjuïc Castle. The views over Barcelona are phenomenal, from the urban sprawl dotted with its iconic landmarks, to the ocean, to the distant mountains.
Stumble upon some architectural gems
You won’t be able to walk for more than five minutes in Barcelona without stopping to admire the architecture. For instance, basic shop fronts are jaw-droppingly detailed and decorative, and around every corner you will find something a little peculiar.
Ohla Barcelona Hotel’s exterior is home to a wall of 1000 ceramic eyeballs!
Casa Bruno Cuadros used to be an umbrella shop. Can you see the hint?
So, there you have it. As you can see, there are plenty of things to see and do in Barcelona. If you are planning a trip there, here are some final tips:
Good to know:
Barcelona Metro: The metro easy to navigate, cheap and the best way to get around the city quickly. Grab yourself a little map for free from a tourist information centre. As a result, you’ll be able to plan any route in advance with ease.
Language: I tried to speak basic Spanish wherever I went. Everyone I encountered was incredibly friendly and happy to speak to me in English.
Pickpockets: I was warned to beware of pickpockets before my trip. Consequently, I took a small, secure backpack with me and had no problems at all. It’s just a case of being sensible, aware and having some common sense.
I stayed at Hotel Ilunion Bel Art, a stones throw away from what would become my favourite neighbourhood in the city, Gràcia.