Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and one of the major cruising ports in Europe. It’s temperate Mediterranean climate, eclectic architecture, and lively nightlife also makes it a very popular tourist destination. There are countless sights to see and visit, particularly if you’ve never set foot in the city. My suggestion is to try to check out as many of these top Barcelona attractions, as most visitors’ time is limited.
Top Barcelona Attractions
You cannot possibly mention the top Barcelona attractions without talking about the Sagrada Familia. The grand masterpiece of modernist architect and native son, Antonio Gaudí remains unfinished even though construction started over 100 years ago. It’s unlike anything you’ll likely see in your life, with design influences ranging from Spanish Gothic to out of this world Art Nouveau and Modern. Paid tickets and proper church attire (no bare shoulders and no shorts) are required to view the inside of the church if you want to get the full experience. My suggestion is to simply soak all of the outside architecture and save your money and visit one of the Gaudí designed homes instead.
Speaking of a Gaudí designed home, Casa Battló was one his gems. Though often overlooked by the larger La Pedrera, the house of bones or house of dragon, as locals often refer it as, clearly reflects the beauty of Modernisme architecture and the genius of Gaudí. The front façade, with its swirly and skeletal balconies, is just one of its striking features and likely what gave the house its nickname. As you walk inside, you’ll notice the intricately designed foyer and vases, followed by the beautiful spiral staircase that will lead you into other rooms open to the public as well as the open rooftop garden. As you examine the intricacies of the house, notice that it lacks straight lines and right angles.
Mercat de la Boqueria
My personal favorite spot in this list of the top Barcelona attractions is Catalunya’s largest food market, Mercat de la Boqueria. Anything and everything you could possibly want to get when it comes to food, you’ll likely find here. Locals come to here to shop and while most tourists only visit to absorb the colorful sceneries of fruits, vegetables, seafood of all sorts, and cured meats, a few also find the market one of the best places to take in some of the freshest food in the city courtesy of the handful of bars located within. Conveniently located right off Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s longest and busiest street, the market makes for a perfect pit stop from sightseeing. You can grab some freshly squeezed juices or to get a few items to pack for a picnic in the park.
Barcelona has a number of parks but the most famous and scenic is Park Güell. This Gaudí designed park ranks high up there as one of the best that the Catalan architect designed, so much so that it has become symbolic to the city itself. The park in general is free for the public but the “Monumental Area,” the section where you can view where Gaudí lived and the largest concentration of his designs, require a ticket for purchase. In addition to the grand works of art, the park also presents visitors with some of the best views of Barcelona making it one of the top Barcelona attractions worth seeing.
To get a feel of what Barcelona can offer visitors, just walk the length of the city’s longest street, Las Ramblas. In it, you’ll see shops selling anything from fine art to second hand books, street performers with varying skills and techniques, a plethora of restaurants offering traditional Catalan cuisine, and a sampling blend of architecture that Barcelona is famous for. Due to the bustling activity within and the popularity of the attraction to tourists, the street also developed a reputation as one of the most pickpocketed sections of the city. Just keep your belongings in front of you and remain alert at all times.
The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is known for its collection of medieval structures, some of which were built back in the 13th and 14th century. Though much of the neighborhood now also features neoclassical buildings, the area still is still a favorite among locals particularly because of the many narrow streets that lead to some of the quietest squares in the city. If you’re looking for a place to stay while visiting Barcelona, this section of the city has plenty of affordable boutique hotels to choose from.