10 Beautiful Things to See and Do in Barcelona

I remember being in my early teens, sitting on my couch watching the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and thinking to myself “Now that’s where I want to be!” Seeing the aerial shots of the citys’ amazing landscape and the pulsing energy of the people I knew that this was a place I wanted to visit. Barcelona is the second-largest metropolis in Spain and is just a beautiful, vibrant city and should be on your list of places to visit.

Not sure what has taken me so long to make the trip, but twenty-four years later after sitting on my couch in Philadelphia, I finally made it to Barcelona and here are some of the things I recommend you see and do:

1. Park Güell
You will see many works by the late architect Antoni Gaudí around Barcelona (and in this post) his influence is all over this city. Built between 1900 and 1914 the park was originally slated to be a housing site by Eusebi Güell (who the park was named) tho unsuccessful Güell and Gaudí redesigned it to the lush gardens and unique architectural design elements that is today.

2. Santa Maria Del Mar
This church built in1384 in the Ribera district of Barcelona is a must see. The Goth-esque style church is beautifully designed, the stain-glassed windows and the octagonal columns are very impressive. However, seeing the sunlight shines through the tall windows on the church tops them all.

3. Casa Batlló
In the center of Barcelona, you will find one of Antoni Gaudí’s greatest works. You can’t miss this uniquely shaped house turned Modern museum designed by the architect. If you want to see some of Gaudí’s work and modernism this is the place to go.

4. Sagrada Familia
Another Gaudí work of art that you should visit is not finished being built yet. Starting the project in 1883 as chief architect Gaudí transformed the Basilica with his own unique style and worked on it until his death in 1926. Less than a quarter of the work was completed. However, current architects are working to finish what Gaudí started by 2026. Even though it is not completed you still should check out this is a church that is like no other.

5. Arc de Triomfo
I’m sure when most people think of the Arc De Triomf they think about the one in Paris, but there is on in Barcelona also. Built as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona world fair by Josep Vilaseca I Casanovas. Take a stroll through the arch and then head across the road to Parc De la Ciutadella for a picnic or people watching. (Not in a creepy way haha)

6. Montjuïc Cable Car
One of my favorite things to do in Barcelona is to take a ride up to Montjuïc Castle. Just sit back and enjoy a spectacular birds-eye view of the city and ocean. There are three stops on the way up: Parc Montjuïc where you can see the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Castell Stop for the Montjuïc Castle and, Mirador Stop for great lookout points. 12 Euros

7. La Boqueria Market.
One of the most famous markets in Spain in the heart of Barcelona. Here you will find foods of all varieties. I would suggest getting there in the mornings before 13:00 this is when the market is in full effect. A great place to have lunch there are plenty of places that offer food and drink.
Rambla, 91
08001 Barcelona, España.

8. Gothic Quarter
Roaming the narrow, winding streets can be confusing and you may get lost but that’s the beauty of this area. You are sure to run into old buildings and musicians playing in the peaceful squares and some of the oldest restaurants in Barcelona. One of the main attractions is the Gothic Cathedral. You will also find great places to shop and learn about the Jewish history of Barcelona.

9. Casa Milà
I’m sure you are tired of hearing Antoni Gaudí’s name in this blog but his legacy is all over the city. You cant avoid it. This is one of the last private residences designed by the late architect. Another uniquely shaped building with twisted iron balconies you will want to check out.
Two of my favorite things to do here is to walk inside the building to the indoor courtyard and look up and see the sky through the oval shape of the building. The other thing is to go to the roof and check out the chimneys. They are said to be modelled after the knights who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Provença, 261-265, 08008 Barcelona, Spain

10. Monserrat Monastery
About an hour outside of Barcelona’s city center is a 19th-century Monastery high in the mountains of Montserrat. You will ride a cogwheel train up to the summit for beautiful views. There you can visit Benedictine Santa Maria de Montserrat, one of Spains most important pilgrimage sites, and the biggest draw is the 12th-century La Moreneta (Black Madonna Patron Saint of Catalonia). This is a great day trip out of the city.

I have not forgotten the amazing food scene. If you are a foodie you will enjoy all of the food offerings Barcelona has to offer. One of my favorites is Paella its something you shouldn’t miss. Also, restaurant hopping sampling tapas on Las Ramblas and having a glass of Sangria in the evening with locals is the best way to top off your nights.

The energy in Barcelona is infectious. You will find some of the best contributions of some world-renowned musicians, architects and artists here. This city has everything: mind-blowing architecture, beautiful art, relaxing beaches and, great food & wine. So don’t wait 24 years like I did to experience one of the best cities in Spain.

John Waites
A veteran who enjoys travel, photography and art

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  1. Great blog! Hope i get to travel there soon

  2. I have always wanted to visit Barcelona! Now I really want to go! Thanks!

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