Spain’s second-largest city is blessed with striking architecture, world-class museums and streets filled with the aromas and rhythms of Catalonia.
The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is a beachside metropolis city of 2.5 million residents. The city’s winding streets are lined with tapas bars, and traditional dancers entertain onlookers in the city’s squares. The influence of modernist architect Antoni Gaudi is everywhere, from hillside parks to public buildings.
Forget about driving in Barcelona. Get around on the metro system, bus lines or bicycle. Better still, pack some comfortable shoes; this city was made for walking, the nicest way to take in the city’s many sights, sounds and flavors.
Wander the streets of Las Ramblas, in the heart of the city. The main boulevard runs from Placa de Catalunya Square in the north, down to the port. Restaurants, flower stalls and souvenir shops line the footpaths. Street performers entertain families during the day and revelers fill the bars well into the night.
Explore the Gothic District, to the north of Las Ramblas. Here you’ll find the 14th-century Barcelona Cathedral, which houses the remains of the city’s co-patron saint, Eulalia of Barcelona.
Ride a cable car to the top of Montjuic, a commanding hill near the city center, and spend a day exploring the many attractions. Cool off by the Magic Fountain (Font Magica), which stands before the neo-baroque National Palace (Palau National) before enjoying the traditional arts and cuisine of the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village).
Gaudi’s fanciful buildings are a Barcelona highlight and can be explored in chronological order. Start at his first house, Casa Vicens, before finishing at his final masterpiece, Sagrada Familia. Don’t miss Park Guell, which features a mosaic terrace with views of the city and harbor.
Barcelona is home to more than 50 museums. Discover the childhood drawings of Spain’s greatest artist at the Picasso Museum, then set sail for the Maritime Museum (Museu Maritim) in the historic 14th-century dockyards.
Families are well catered to in Barcelona. Spend a day on the beach with locals, or experience life beneath the waves at the Barcelona Aquarium. In the evening enjoy Catalan music at the Palau de la Musica Catalana, before heading out into streets and plazas to experience the atmosphere of Barcelona in the evening.