Barcelona is a easily one of my favorite places to relax and slow down after months of being pressured to meet impossibly strict deadlines. There’s plenty of stunning architecture to explore thanks to famed architect, Antoni Gaudi and many scenic viewpoints to just bask in the glory that is the wonderful weather and lively culture.
Sagrada Familia – Carrer de Mallorca, 401
Personally, I think the Sagrada Familia is the most magnificent construction site. Designed by Catalan Modernist architect, Gaudi, it’s been in construction since March 1882 and its projected finish date is 2026. When you visit, you’ll understand why. While the sheer size coupled with intricate designs sort of justify the immensely long construction period, the Spanish civil also played a minor role in delaying progress.
Thankfully, the basilica is kept open for viewing. Reserve tickets for around sunset and witness a kaleidoscope of sunlight that pour through the stained glass windows.
Hours: 9:00- 20:00
Tickets (Good only for a reserved entrance time)
€ 15.50 (unguided, might be cheaper if you ask for student discount)
€ 19.50 (with guide or audio guide)
Casa Batllo – Passeig de Gràcia, 43
Casa Batllo is another masterpiece by Gaudi who refurbished the building in 1906 and took inspiration from the ocean and beaches in Barcelona. He masterfully incorporates a number of optical illusions, uses evidence of biomimicry and tests the limits of construction. This space highlights his knowledge of light and his skill in manipulating it.
I highly recommend spending the time to take the cellphone tour and experience a well implemented use of augmented reality .
Hours: 9:00- 19:00
€ 21.50 (adult)
€ 18.50 (students with student ID)
Santa Maria del Mar, Santa Maria del Mar, 1
Modest but enchanting Santa Maria del Mar has a perfect rooftop view of the city with knowledgeable tour guides to give you a brief but dense history of the city’s landscape.
Hours: 13:00 – 17:00 (no guide)
11:00- 19:00 (with guide and rooftop view)
La Boqueria – La Rambla, 91
This outdoor market is packed full of fruits, fresh fish, chocolates, meats, juices, spices, and classic Barcelona food. Locals and chefs come to pick up ingredients from butchers and fruit stands. For a quick and cheap lunch, pay a visit and be pleasantly surprised by the vibrant colors and fresh flavors.
Hours: 8:00 – 20:30
Free to enter, but you’re likely to purchase some sort of food
Castle Montjuic – Ctra. de Montjuïc, 66
A former military fortress in 1640, Castle Montjuic now offers a stunning view of the endless ocean on one side and the city on the other.
Hours: 10:00 – 20:00
Tickets: €5 (Student discount eligible)
After a long day of walking all over the city, the best way to rest your legs is to recline on the beach and feel the ocean breeze. If you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of seafood restaurants nearby.
Magic Fountain of Montjuic – Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc
On the steps just outside the Museum of Art was yet another wonderful view of the city at night. Most night you can view the city lights while being serenaded by a charismatic street performer with nothing else but a electric keyboard and prerecorded beats. However, every Thursday through Saturday night there’s a water musical treat as provided by the Magic Fountain. It’s a bit flashy and Vegas-like if you’re into that sort of thing.
Hours: Thurs – Sat night shows, 9:30pm – 11 pm
I only had three days to explore Barcelona and I know I barely scratched the surface. If you’re lucky to spend more time in this wonderful city, I would recommend checking out the following:
Palau de la Musica Catalana – Palau de la Música, 4-6
This theater is another piece of stunning Barcelona architecture. The architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, was a contemporary of Gaudi and another architect star of Catalan Modernism. Orchestra concerts are still being held in the venue and in the daytime it is open to the public for viewing. It is located in the oldest part of Barcelona so the nearby buildings and streets are steeped in history.
Hours: 9:00- 20:00
55 minute tours every 30 minutes (ticket office hours: 8:30 – 18:00)
Hours: 8:00 – 20:00