This Spanish beautiful city waited one year for me to visit it. This year, I have finally found the right moment to go. The first weekend of April 2017. However, any first weekend of a month is a good time to go. This is because you catch Sunday when most of the museums are free. Therefore, I suggest you to plan your trip in Barcelona according to the first Sunday of a month.
16 Main Attractions Not to Miss in Barcelona
1. La Sagrada Familia
Start your trip with a visit to “La Sagrada Familia” and follow Gaudi’s architecture mastery. It is said that this church will be finished in 2026 when there will be 100 years from Gaudi’s death. Its construction began in 1882 according to the neo-Gothic designs of Francisco de Paula del Villar, but after a year, Gaudi took over and brought a more Modernista approach to the project. Gaudi lived to see only one façade, the Nativity Façade, the apse, crypt and one tower complete.
The church will have 18 towers and an area capable of accommodating 13,000 worshipers. The two completed facades are the Nativity Façade and Passion Façade, they are adorned with motifs taken from nature and Baroque decoration. On careful examination, you can see the different color of the building materials on the facades depending on the age of the work. The interior of the church is just an impressive as the exterior. In the crypt, you can see Gaudi’s final resting place; in the nave, there are pillars which resemble thick trees and the ceiling is a remarkable vaulted structure where the “branches” of the trees meet.
Pro Tip. Save 1h of waiting time and buy your ticket online. 15 euros/adult and 12 euros/student. Nobody is checking your student card :)
2. Casa Milla
Casa Mila is also known as La Pedrera, it is one of the Barcelona buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi. The apartment building was built between 1906 and 1912 and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The unique structure has no straight lines, and no load-bearing walls, instead it relies on pillars and steel supports. The façade is self-supporting like a curtain wall. The building exterior has undulating wrought iron balconies resembling waves; these were designed by Josep Maria Jujol. The building exterior is not as colorful as his other creations as it was left in its natural stone. The irregular shapes and stone color caused locals to nickname the building “the quarry” or La Pedrera.
3. Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo is one of three unusual buildings along Passeig de Gracia, together with Casa Amatller and Casa Lleo-Morera which make up the “Block of Discord”. The house was originally built for a middle-class family and in 1904 Gaudi was commissioned to refurbish the building. Casa Batllo reflects Gaudi’s playful side and the strange and fantastic style he is known for. The building can generally be classed as Modernisme or Art Nouveau but it is really in a league of its own. Gaudi replaced the original facade with a work in glass and stone. The facade wall was made to curve and bend like a wave and was then covered with a mosaic of colored glass and ceramic fragments. The top of the building looks like the back of an animal, generally referred to as a dragon.
4. Las Ramblas
La Rambla is a 1.2-kilometer long boulevard in the center of Barcelona, it is the one place that all visitors are bound to pass through on a visit to the city. The middle section of the boulevard is pedestrian-only. Along the route which stretches from the Canaletes fountain to the Columbus Monument there are many historic buildings like the Liceu theater. Because the boulevard has 5 sections it is often referred to as Las Ramblas.
In a city where the streets are rather narrow this one is wide. The boulevard soon became a popular hang-out and place to see and be seen. The landmark buildings along La Rambla include the Palau de la Virreina and the Boqueria Market. You’ll find many tourist attractions along La Rambla like the Wax Museum and Erotica Museum as well as street performers, artists selling their paintings and souvenir stores.
Pro Tip. Keep your belongings close to you. If you want a coffee, stop at El Bosc de Les Fades
, a fairy tale cafe.
5. Mercat De La Boqueria
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is an enormous indoor market located in Ciutat Vella at the entrance to La Rambla. The market sells a wide range of goods but specializes in fresh produce of every kind. There are over 900 stalls arranged in square blocks around the perimeter. You can find unusual and unique foods like bulls’ tails, black eels, herbs, hand-made pasta, vegetables, dry fruit, charcuterie, offal, salted fish, seafood, meat, cheese, fruit and wine.
Pro Tip. Get Jamón ibérico, ham made from the Iberian breed of pig. This is one of Spain’s most beloved snacks. Also, don’t miss our the strawberries covered in chocolate.
6. Placa Reial
Placa Reial or Royal Square is entered from Rambla in Barcelona’s Old Town. The symmetrical square is surrounded by large buildings each with grand neo-classical facades. Arcades on the ground level of the buildings give the square a decidedly Italian feel and the palm trees planted in the square lend a tropical and casual feel to the space.
7. Columbus Monument
At the end of La Rambla you can find a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus. The Columbus Monument was constructed in 1888 as a tribute to the discovery of the New World (America) and to mark the Universal Exhibition of that year. Within the column is an elevator which takes visitors up to a viewing gallery where they can look out to sea together with Columbus and also up along La Rambla.
8. Port Vell
Port Vell is separated from Barcelona’s public beach by a 30-meter long breakwater so that it is possible to take a walk along the water’s edge from the point where Las Ramblas ends all the way to the Barceloneta neighborhood. Along the Port Vell boardwalk are many excellent seafood restaurants and bars, there is also a boat restaurant, Luz de Gas Port Vell docked in the old harbor. Once you arrive in Barceloneta, don’t miss the restaurant La Bombeta
, a restaurant where nobody speaks English. In the same direction, you will also find a nice lounge, Carpe Diem Lounge Club
, where you can come at night for cocktails.
Pro Tip. For 7,5 euros get a boat trip around the harbor. Bring a scarf just in case it is windy.
9. Parc Guell
This unique park is more of a garden complex as it includes major architectural structures which are now more of an attraction than the green space itself. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on El Carmel in the Gracia district and was designed by Antoni Gaudi.
Pro Tip. Go before 8 a.m and get inside the monuments area for free. You’ll save 8 euros. There are more metro stops around the park, get off at Lesseps. If you want to go after 8 a.m, you need to make a reservation online for your entrance. We went at 8:10 a.m and wanted to buy a ticket, but there were no available spots for that day.
10. Arc de Triomf
The Arc de Triomf Barcelona was constructed in the form of a traditional European memorial arch but was, in fact, the main entrance gate to the World Fair of 1888 which was held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The arch was designed by Josep Vilaseca I Casanovas in the neo-Mudejar style, it stands 30 meters tall.
11. Barcelona Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is the church of Barcelona’s Archbishop. It is located on an elevated piece of land in the Barri Gothic district in the heart of Barcelona and is also known as La Seu. Worth to go inside especially if you catch Sunday morning, it is free until 12:00 p.m
12. Magic Fountain of Montjuic
The Magic Fountain is located in front of the Palau Nacional at the start of Avenida Maria Cristina in the Montjuic neighborhood. The fountain was created as part of the attractions for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. You need to catch the shows which have a strict schedule during the night.
Pro Tip. Catch a show at night. It lasts for 30 minutes and it is supposed to be amazing, very similar to the shows at Bellagio in Las Vegas. The schedule for the shows
13. Picasso Museum
Picasso was born in Malaga but he had a strong connection with Barcelona. There are works of art from all Picasso’s artistic periods but the core of the collection reflects his earlier works. One of the highlights of the museum is Las Meninas series of 59 paintings which Picasso created during his Blue Period. Las Meninas was Picasso’s interpretation of Velazquez’s work of the same name. One of Picasso’s best-known paintings, The Harlequin is also part of the collection.
Pro Tip. If you go on the first Sunday of the month, you’ll have free entrance. Book online your entrance and reserve your time. You can do the same for Palacio National or Palau Guell, the most interesting free attractions in that Sunday.
Pro Tip. If you are near the museum, have lunch at Casa Nova
. A great selection of seafood and tapas.
14. Walk around Barri Gothic
There’s nothing more beautiful than getting lost in the narrow streets of the old town. Don’t miss out the squares: Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, Plaça Sant Jaume, Plaça del Rei and Ponte del Bisbe.
15. Palau de la Muzica Catalana
Located in La Ribera is this fine example of modernist architecture which is a UNESCO Site. The building was designed by Lluis Domenech I Montaner who also designed the Hospital Sant Pau.
The building’s façade is adorned with a rippling sculpture representing a Catalan song, there is an allegorical mosaic of the Orfeo beneath the sculpture and busts of famous composers. An arcade links the foyer with the street, and each column is covered with beautiful mosaics. Every surface is adorned with features like stained glass, sculptures, mosaics and murals.
The only source of light during daylight hours in the auditorium is the inverted stained glass dome which is surrounded by figures representing a choir. The entire ceiling appears to be of stained glass. On the wall at the back of the stage is Muses del Palau, and terracotta female figures holding musical instruments.
Pro Tip. Look out for concerts. One ticket is around 35 euros. If you want only a tour, bring your student card and pay 11 euros instead of 20 euros.
16. Barceloneta Beach
Rent a bike
or walk along this beautiful pedestrian area, while enjoying a great sandwich or cake from Baluard Bakery
, a must stop if you are in Barceloneta.
Save Money & Time in Your Barcelona Visit
- Book your trip in March, April or May when WizzAir is cheap. We paid 110 euros 2 ways from Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
- Stay at this Airbnb in the city center, near La Rambla. We paid 100 euros/4 nights.
- Make a metro pass for 5 days (or less) with 30 euros. (book online so you get 10% off)
- Visit all museums on Sunday: Montjuic Castle, Picasso Museum, Palau Guell, Palau National d”Art Catalunya and save around 50 euros on these tickets.
If you plan it in a similar way, you won’t spend more than 300 euros in 4 days. :)
Check out our video, we actually saw more!
I hope this info will help you for your next Barcelona visit.