The list of places to visit in Barcelona are endless. If you are an art and culture fan, you would want to spend an entire day praising the finest work of Picasso.
If you admire the architecture, then Antoni Gaudi’s famous construction work ranging from church to apartments to housing arts venue will capture your fancy.
If you are a foodie, your first choice might be to explore La Boqueria – Europe’s biggest food market and get a taste of local Catalan cuisine.
Whatever your choice be, Barcelona has a lot to offer for first-time visitors which can be intimidating to cover in a few days. Going for a weekend break?
Then, instead of focusing on visiting every historical monument which might not seem a fun idea to everyone, pick and choose from this list which has been curated carefully to give you a mix of ideas for fun and relaxation while staying in touch with the Catalan and Spanish culture.
1. Sagrada Familia
You can skip any other attraction, but not this. This iconic large Roman Catholic Church designed by Gaudi is a must-see for travelers.
Three words to describe this: innovative, artistic, breath-taking. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
It is interesting to note that this historical building is also home to the tomb of Antoni Gaudí which is located in the underground level of the building.
The design of the building is inspired by Nature and religious symbols.
Its exterior currently consists of eight towers and its interior which has distinct features like hyperboloids and unconventional animal representations (e.g., chameleons, turtles, pelicans) are characteristic of Gaudí’s belief that nature and the divine were intimately linked.
Every year, 3 million tourists visit this building. Amazing! Right?
2. La Rambla
The best way to discover the passageways and get the sense of the ‘real’ charm of the city is by having a leisurely stroll at the wide pedestrianised boulevard, La Rambla.
Consider it the microcosm of contemporary Barcelona, from street artists ranging from tap dancers, saxophone players, human statues imitating famous Spanish philosophers to florists and newsstands, shops, cafes and restaurants offering Mediterranean cuisine as well as international flavours – you will never get bored walking on the streets of La Rambla.
With palm trees lined on both sides of the street, it stretches from Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell to Gothic Quarter in the east, and El Raval to the west.
And when you get tired, hop on over the city tour bus or take a ride on a beautiful horse carriage.
The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said that La Rambla was ‘the only street in the world which I wish would never end.’
3. Barceloneta & Other Beaches
Only a few cities can offer the spectacular beaches and the city culture all in one place and Barcelona is one of them. See the kites flying in the air, vendors selling donuts, music artists performing, while waves crash at the 7km long stretch of golden sand at Barceloneta Beach and get ready to soak up all the sunshine.
Make sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful sun rays while you enjoy lounging at the beach. We recommend this stylish horn-rimmed Ray-Bans:
Locals and tourists both can be seen flocking to the beach for a dip during the hot days when the temperature soars high in June.
It is definitely the most entertaining beach with fine eateries serving fresh seafood just along the coastline.
If Barceloneta Beach is too crowded for your choice and you are looking for a much calmer and cleaner beach, then go further along towards Bogatell Metro Station and you can find Bogatell Beach after just a 10 minute walk.
If you are going with small kids, this is a perfect place to build those mighty sand castles or collect sea shells.
If you would rather go to a place which is gay and lesbian-friendly, there is Mar Bella Beach offering a nudist stretch discreetly partitioned off by a big sand bank beside the windsurfing centre for late-night raves.
4. Santa Maria Del Mar
Besides Gaudi’s architecture, a variety of beaches and lively promenade, look for a spectacular church with a unique design and medieval charm in the old city.
Located in the middle of the La Ribera district you will find the 14th century, Gothic cathedral accentuated with vivid stained-glass panels, illuminated by natural light and supported by thin columns.
It may look like a fortress with its monumental towers from outside but once you go inside, you will witness the spacious and light interior making it a rare example of harmony, simplicity and elegance.
The story of its construction is told in the novel “The Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso Falcones. Why not buy a copy of the book before you visit this masterpiece?
5. Port Olimpic
Yacht-filled docks of Port Olimpic are not the only thing to see at this most lively tourist spot. Though we highly recommend the sailing experience with some Cava as you relax and see the magnificent sea views.
You can rent the yachts if you are with a group and make it a fun ride while you watch the sunset. Besides this, this area is known for its nightlife with some of the discotheques like Mac Arena Mar where an Ibiza-style dance party is usually held for night crawlers.
If you want a more kids-friendly place, then there is Barcelona Zoo as well as aquarium to keep the little ones entertained as well as a shopping centre with plenty of boutiques for the ladies who believe in retail therapy as the only form of relaxation.
Looking for more weekend getaways where you can enjoy sea, sun and sand? Then, read our HOLIDAY GUIDE: LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA to know more!
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