Five Magnificent Must-Dos in Barcelona

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It would take a lifetime to get to know Barcelona, but some travelers only have a few days. Here are five picks for finding adventure in this cosmopolitan Mediterranean city.

1. Explore the eccentric architecture at Park Guell

Art imitates nature, and nature imitates art, according to Park Guell’s design genius, Antoni Gaudí. Natural materials make beautiful, organic structures where rock ceilings whirl upward around like tornado spirals, diagonal pillars support tilted walkways, and a curvaceous bench imitates a sea serpent. The colorful tile work, wavy buildings and paths, and gorgeous views of the city make it a fun, playful place for everyone. Spend at least an hour here and try not to Instagram a photo.


2. See the big city with Bus Turístic

Forget the touristy, gimmicky appeal of the double-decker tourist bus. Barcelona extends widely up hills and toward the sea, and the Bus Turístic gives visitors a complete bird’s eye view of this vast city. Unless you’re deathly afraid of heights, you must get on the upper deck of the bus for maximum enjoyment. Three different routes have 44 stops total, including all major attractions. Visitors get a set of headphones for a self-guided audio tour, and they can hop on and hop off as they please.


3. Go up the towers of the Sagrada Familia

A basilica like no other, the Sagrada Familia’s spectacular and unconventional façade leaves visitors wanting to explore its extraordinary interior as well. If you’re one who loves heights, take an elevator up where you can peek out of a balcony. Climb a few more steps to reach the top of the towers that look like colorful asparagus tips. To get down, you’ll have to walk down a narrow spiraling staircase that’s not for the faint of heart.

4. Stroll down the vibrant Las Ramblas

You can love it or hate it, but you have to do it.

Las Ramblas is a wide pedestrian street with rambunctious activity at all hours. It’s also a wild open-air museum — you’ll see animal and flower vendors, sketch artists, human statues, and random spectacles of breakdancers. The infamous La Boqueria is here also, where your eyes can feast on the hanging meats, colorful fruits, and delightful confectionaries. It’s a breezy walk from Plaza Catalunya to the waterfront. Travel tip: Watch your wallet.

5. Ride the funicular to Montjuic

From the Parallel stop on the green line (L3), travelers can have a mini-adventure on the funicular to reach Montjuic, an expansive hilly area with beautiful panoramic city views. The MNAC museum, Poble Espanyol, and the Olympic Stadium are all located here, although they’re spread out. There’s also enough room to stretch your arms and find a quiet place for an afternoon siesta.

© Copyright 2017 Justine Ancheta

Where to Stay

On a major pedestrian street, the modern Park Hotel Barcelona is located in El Born, the throbbing heart of Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, and the waterfront are a brief walking distance away.

Located near the Plaza Espanya, the B-Hotel is a great place to stay if you want to stay near Montjuic. Nearby is the old bullring, now the Las Arenas Shopping Center. The eighth floor has a stylish terrace-solarium with a pool.

The problem with visiting Barcelona is choosing which spectacular places to see. Also, where are you going to take your awesome selfie?

About the Author Justine

California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).

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Leave a Comment:

lynn says November 12, 2015

hi justine, i’m also from california (socal) and a newbie to your blog. i’ve enjoyed all your posts and so thankful that i stumbled on it in search for anything about barcelona. i will be travelling with my 3 teenage boys to barcelona next week…just a brief 3 nights before we fly to rome as our final destination. how is the weather like there now? should i pack raincoats, wintery coats or just light sweaters for layering? i’d love to know your thoughts and more tips, please. 🙂 thank you!

    Justine says November 13, 2015

    Hi, Lynn! The weather has been gorgeous lately — in the high 60s but sunny. We’ve had sporadic days of rain, so check the weather forecast a day before hand just in case! I wouldn’t pack raincoats…if anything you can buy a cheap umbrella if need be. But yes, dress like an onion and think layers. Maybe a light long-sleeve top, then bring a sweater and light jacket to layer OR just a heavier jacket. A heavier jacket meaning, “wintery” for Southern California weather LOLOL. We don’t wear real winter coats there, right?

      lynn says November 15, 2015

      Thanks Justine! I appreciate all your input. Surely helps me a lot to finalize our packing. No heavy wintery jackets for sure in our luggages, yayy! And, yes you’re right about us not wearing real winter coats here 🙂 Actually, yesterday was low 80’s midday. Btw, how are you coping with this recent tragedy in Paris? Barcelona is so close to Paris. You know, we booked a day trip to Paris from Barcelona. We arrive in Barcelona at 10am on the 20th and the following day, the 21st, we fly to Paris on an early morning flight, 6:45am, then back to Barcelona at 9:50pm. Please tell me, are we nuts or what? Should we just have stayed in Barcelona and taken more local tours to see more of the city? Before the Paris mayhem, the allure of going to Paris especially for my teens who haven’t been there was so much fun. They’ve been wanting to visit the Louvre. So I saw the opportunity of the close proximity of Barcelona to Paris and didn’t think twice to make a run for it. But, now with this tragedy, I’m so lost…don’t know what to do. We also booked a Montserrat tour with a skip the line La Sagrada tour on the 22nd. Then, on the 23rd we have all day in Barcelona before we board our flight to Rome at 9:50pm. I’d love to know your thoughts again. And if you need to slap me for skipping Barcelona for a day to visit Paris, go ahead cyber slap me. 🙂

        Justine says November 15, 2015

        I know, it’s hard not to want to do it all since everything is so “near”. I do think that Paris for a day is maybe a little crazy, but maybe you like adventure like that! Were you thinking of returning your tickets? If you’ve spent the money and can’t return flight tix (or it’ll be real expensive), I’d say enjoy the ride and do it. If your kids have been itching badly to go there, let them enjoy. But remember that you’ll have jet lag, even if you did sleep on the plane, your mind and body will be out of whack.

        It is a LOT of traveling, for sure. I find that we Americans like to get the most bang out of our buck — we wanna see it all when we’re in Europe because it’s not like it happens all the time. Be at peace with your travel plans, I say. It IS a lot. But enjoy and go with the flow. If you don’t finish Barcelona (which you won’t), you’ll have a reason to come back. 🙂

        I just hosted some relatives here, we traveled a lot and were exhausted. But it was still worth it!

          lynn says November 18, 2015

          Thank you for all your thoughtful insights, Justine! I really really appreciate it. In God’s good hands and mercy, we are good to go. I hope we can meet up briefly if your schedule allows it. 🙂 I’ll be reading up your blog the entire night to pick up more tips. 🙂 Please don’t hesitate to share any thoughts that you may have, be it fun or cautionary. I’m all ears. Again, thank you!

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