La Rambla is the centre of Barcelona, a long pedestrian boulevard lined with restaurants, stalls and street performers. At the bottom is Port Vell, one of the more upmarket parts of the marina where you can find Barcelona Aquarium and many impressive yachts. At the other end of town is the Sagrada Familia, the city’s famous unfinished cathedral, and from here it’s only a short metro ride to the fairytale land of Park Guell.
Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera or “open quarry”, a reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance, is a modernist building in Barcelona. It is probably one of the most famous buildings of the Catalan Modernisme or Catalan Art Nouveau period and one of the architect, Antoni Gaudí’s most ambitious works.
This is a fantastic place to visit and has an audio guide as you move from the entrance, up to the rooftop, the attic museum, and an apartment. The highlight of Casa Milà is, without doubt, the roof. Not only allowing an amazing view of the city, which in itself is spectacular but also the chimneys, ventilation shafts and stairwells with their fanciful colours and shapes are magnificent. Some chimneys look like soldiers, who watch over the roof. Day and night visits are available but it is best to book in advance to avoid long queues.
The Gothic Quarter is one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona. Located in the heart of the old city with buildings dating from Roman times to the 20th century. The main attraction of the Gothic Quarter is the antique aspect of its buildings, narrow streets and the near absence of traffic. In fact, many areas are for pedestrians only and built like a labyrinth of winding streets and hidden squares.
If you like shopping, there are treasures galore to be found when wandering in the Gothic Quarter’s backstreets, mysterious alleyways or charming squares. If retro fashion or local underground labels are your things, head for Carrer Avinyó and the surrounding streets. For art, bric-a-brac, and curios, peruse the antique stores along Carrer de la Palla. For traditional tiles, bowls or jugs, there’s a ceramics emporium on Carrer Escudellers.
La Rambla is a broad pedestrian boulevard set between narrow traffic lanes flanked by trees, crowded every day until the early hours of the morning with a wide cross-section of society. Souvenir sellers, buskers, pavement artists, mimes and living statues are all part of the ever-changing street scene.
If art galleries are your thing, then visit the Centre d’Art Santa Monica, known for hosting an amazing selection of art exhibitions, featuring artists from all over the world.
Alternatively, why not pay a visit to the Museu de l’Erotica, right in the middle of this busy street. It may be a bit raunchy but it’s actually quite informative and interesting, as it tells of the history of sex in the romantic city of Barcelona. Whatever your tastes, you are sure to find something of interest on this lively and diverse street.
Montjuïc is a prominent hill overlooking the Barcelona harbour. For many years, it played a strategic part in the defense of the city and it’s one of the city’s natural elevations. Nowadays, this Olympic inspired district in the south-east of Barcelona has many attractions centred on the Parc de Montjuïc, an area complete with museums, a castle and fantastic city views.
Possibly even more exciting than the views themselves is the Montjuïc cable car, which takes visitors directly to the top of the city in the most exciting way possible. The Montjuïc cable car gives visitors the chance to sit in a cabin which can hold up to 8 people, and admire the panoramic views. This is far more comfortable than hiking the steep route up.
Montserrat is a multi-peaked rocky range located 45 km northwest of Barcelona and is approximately 1,200 metres high. From the top, you can experience a view far into the landscape of Catalonia and is also home to the Santa Maria de Montserrat abbey, several caves, the municipality of Monistrol de Montserrat, and Santa Cova—a shrine and chapel lower on the mountain from the main abbey. Montserrat is known as the spiritual retreat destination of Catalonia.
While on the mountain itself, there are a number of great attractions and beautiful vistas to take in while venturing up to the most striking landmark on the road inland from Barcelona. Montserrat has naturally formed rock pillars littered along your route to the top, and the rack railway up the mountain provides plenty of fantastic views of this varied landscape.
North of Gràcia and about 4km from Plaça de Catalunya, Park Güell is where Gaudí turned his hand to landscape gardening. It is an enchanting place consisting of an entrance with an amazing dragon fountain adorned in beautiful coloured tiling, 3km of roads and walks, amazing stone structures, beautiful views over Barcelona towards the coast, stunning tiling and fascinating buildings including a plaza and two Hansel-and- Gretel gatehouses.
Park Güell has 2 different areas: the Monumental Zone, which requires the purchase of a ticket, and the free access area which is open to all visitors at no charge. The tickets for visiting the Monumental Zone do not include the Gaudi House Museum which is the house Gaudi lived in at one stage and contains interesting furniture also designed by him. TOP TIP – It is always advisable to book tickets in advance, especially if you wish to have a guided visit.
Plaça de Catalunya sits in the heart of Barcelona. As well as being a tourist attraction, it serves as an important transport hub. Public buses, trains and the metro stop here and it is also where the city’s hop-on, hop-off tourist buses begin their routes.
Surrounded by shops and peppered with monuments and sculptures, this grand square is where the Ciutat Vella (Old City) and the modern 19th-century district of L’Eixample converge.The large central space of Plaça de Catalunya is frequently used for festivals and celebrations.
The square also hosts live music during September’s Mercé Festival, which commemorates Barcelona’s patron saint. What could be lovelier than sitting on a grass verge or bench, surrounded by trees – shielding you from the noise from the traffic-heavy streets, amongst beautiful fountains and sculptures and watch as the energetic city life flows by?
Tibidabo is the highest mountain in the Collserola mountain range and shields the city from the weather of the hinterland. The view from the Tibidabo is breathtaking and on a clear day you can see to Montserrat. Tibidabo has the only amusement park in Barcelona. It was built in 1889 and a lot of the rides date back to this time, giving the park a whimsical feel.
Don’t expect any bare-knuckle rides, but the views and friendly atmosphere, with people in fancy dress parading through the park and interacting with the visitors, make for an enjoyable day out.
If theme parks aren’t your cup of tea there is also a beautiful church to visit – the Temple de Sagrat Cor. Built in 1806 and renovated in 1902, it is a Neo-Gothic structure with a bronze statue of the Sacred Heart at the top.