Barcelona; The city of art, history, beauty, (seasonal) warmth and great Sangria. On your visit here, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with what to do, see, eat, and how many types of Sangria they have (50+ kinds – true story). So, as a travel enthusiast and minor Barca expert, I am fulfilling my foreign duty to the masses, by telling you exactly what you should do when you get to this Wonderland. Top five, Let’s get started…
La Sagrada Familia (church) – Calle Mallorca, 401 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Beautiful church by Antoni Gaudi that is a must-see and maybe one of the biggest tourist destinations. Its construction started in March 1882 by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar where he then, in 1883, commissioned Gaudi to continue its construction. Gaudi worked on this masterpiece until 1926, where he then passed, and to this day is being finished my architects and students, alike. After all, Gaudi once said, “The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is made by the people and is mirrored. A work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people”.
Not only is it amazing from the outside (front and back), but the inside is even better. Entering the church will usually require you to wait in the queue however it generally moves quickly, and costs about €15 for the basic tour, which can include a headset with audio, overviewing the background of this historical gem. If you are going to take the time to venture inside (which you should!), I strongly suggest you go after 2pm, so you can travel up the towers. Just the basic inside tour will allow you to see the amazing stained glass work and eccentric internal architecture, quite possibly being the most amazing thing you have ever seen!
Park Guell (park) – Carrer d’Olot 5 08024 Barcelona
Centered at the top of the city, past the wonderful district of Gracia, is Park Guell. Also one of Antoni Gaudi’s works of art, this is a park you should go to and get lost in for a day. Being at the top of the city, you can expect fantastic views of the city, right down to the Balearic sea. Entrance is free, however I recommend bringing some coins as you will see many local performers that are unlike the most typical.
Walking through the park reminds me of a certain classic Disney film – Alice and Wonderland. You are surrounded by greenery, beautiful plants, amazing Gaudi architecture and sculptures. If you want to relax with a drink, soaking in the beauty, there is a cute outdoor cafe where you can sip Sangria!
Port Olimpic (The sea!)
I don’t think I need to say this, but if you are planning a trip to Barcelona, the beach is somewhere you just have to go! As a tourist, most people will think to go to the main city beach, Barceloneta. Although very nice, it is incredibly packed when the warm weather sets in, with both other tourists and the many peddlers (If you hear “Agua, cerveza, beer”, do not make eye contact). When planning a day at the beach, you should definitely bring an umbrella, water, snacks, beer, and of course, cava (Spain’s version of champagne – and better!).
Once you are packed and ready to go, you can either take the train or, much easier, a cab. If you take the train, try your best to take it from the yellow metro line (L4) which is accessible from most areas, specifically the core of the city, and get off at Port Olimpic. The beach is not far, and to be honest, the easiest thing to do is just follow people who have umbrellas and beach gear! This beach, allbeit still busy, is much better than the main city beach, also being cleaner. This is a great spot to tan your day away, with the glorious Balearic sea only steps away.
Described by many as the “sight of a lifetime”, Montserrat is Spain’s first National Park and comprises a multi-peaked mountain, specifically three main ones. It’s most often described, visually, as “pink peaks”, as the peaks are slightly pink (duh?). This is definitely a full-day trip if you want the real experience, so keep that in mind.
The easiest way to get here, is to take a train from Plaça de Espanya. You can then take the rack railway, which would mean you get off at Monistrol de Montserrat. Or, you can go the adventurous route, and take the cable car by getting off at Montserrat Aeri (don’t do it if you are afraid of heights!!).
The mountain is truly unlike many things you have probably ever seen, like a thousand natural sculptures with a spectacular view of this great city. Convinced? 😉
Las Ramblas (street and market)
For a resident of Barcelona, the last place you may want to go to is Las Ramblas if you’re agitated by pushy shop owners, a fast walker, or generally dislike massive groups of people. If you haven’t caught on yet, I am a bitter beotch when it comes to tourist areas like this one. BUT, don’t let my negativity influence you – Las Ramblas is a must-see street that you need to visit while you’re here.
Where do I start – Street performers, gorgeous flower stands, music, art, you name it, it’s probably here. Take an hour and just travel down this yellow brick road, you may not be in the market for overpriced souvenirs, but it’s worth it. There is also a fresh market on this street (I can’t give exact number) but if you ask, someone will point you in the right direction. In my opinion, the market is a must!
One last piece of advice: Keep your pockets empty, your bag closed and around your shoulder, and don’t let the street peddlers distract you. It is not as scary as I make it sound, however these are just the best precautions. Pickpocketing here is an art, and it will happen without having a clue, so just be careful!
This list of Barcelona sights is very much like my visits to Las Ramblas – Short and sweet. It would certainly be impossible for me to give you every go-to spot is Barcelona in just one blog post, so let this post me the first of many more. I have only covered the most popular landmarks of the city. I haven’t even started on the restaurants and bars! Stay tuned tomorrow for my next post on some more area-specific top visits!
Ciao, ¡salud, Peace & Kitties!