Barcelona bubbles with life in its narrow Barri Gòtic alleys, along the pedestrian boulevard called the Ramblas, in the funky bohemian quarter of El Born, and throughout the chic, grid-planned part of town called the Eixample. Its Old City is made for seeing on foot, full of winding lanes that emerge into secluded squares dotted with palm trees and ringed with cafés and boutiques. The waterfront bristles with life, overlooked by the park-like setting of Montjuïc. Across the city, the architecture is colorful, playful, and unique. In this vibrant city, locals still join hands and dance the sardana in front of the cathedral every weekend. Neighborhood festivals jam the events calendar. The cafés are filled by day, and people crowd the streets at night, pausing to fortify themselves with a perfectly composed bite of seafood and a drink at a tapas bar. Every hidden back lane provides shelter for an array of inviting shops. If you’re in the mood to surrender to a city’s charms, let it be in Barcelona.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Ramblas Barcelona’s colorful, gritty, tourist-filled pedestrian thoroughfare.
▲▲▲ Picasso Museum Extensive collection offering insight into the brilliant Spanish artist’s early years.
▲▲▲ Sagrada Família Gaudí’s remarkable, unfinished church — a masterpiece in progress.
▲▲ Barri Gòtic City’s Gothic Quarter, with the cathedral, remnants of Barcelona’s Roman past, and Picasso’s old haunt.
▲▲ Palace of Catalan Music Best Modernista interior in Barcelona.
▲▲ La Pedrera (Casa Milà) Barcelona’s quintessential Modernista building and Gaudí creation.
▲▲ Park Güell Colorful Gaudí-designed park overlooking the city.
▲▲ Catalan Art Museum World-class showcase of this region’s art, including a substantial Romanesque collection.
▲▲ CaixaForum Modernista brick factory now occupied by cutting-edge cultural center featuring excellent temporary art exhibits.
▲ La Boqueria Market Colorful but touristy produce market, just off the Ramblas.
▲ Palau Güell Exquisitely curvy Gaudí interior and fantasy rooftop.
▲ Plaça Reial Stately square near the Ramblas, with palm trees, Gaudí-designed lampposts, and a fine slice-of-life look at Barcelona.
▲ Maritime Museum A sailor’s delight, housed in a medieval shipyard.
▲ Cathedral of Barcelona Colossal Gothic cathedral ringed by distinctive chapels.
▲ Sardana Dances Patriotic dance in which proud Catalans join hands in a circle, often held outdoors.
▲ Barcelona History Museum One-stop trip through town history, from Roman times to today.
▲ Santa Caterina Market Fine market hall built on the site of an old monastery and updated with a wavy Gaudí-inspired roof.
▲ Church of Santa Maria del Mar Catalan Gothic church in El Born, built by wealthy medieval shippers.
▲ Casa Batlló Gaudí-designed home topped with fanciful dragon-inspired roof.
▲ Casa Lleó Morera One of the best-preserved Modernista interiors in the city.
▲ Fundació Joan Miró World’s best collection of works by Catalan modern artist Joan Miró and his contemporaries.
▲ Magic Fountains Lively fountain spectacle near Plaça d’Espanya.
▲ Barcelona’s Beaches Fun-filled, man-made beach reaching from the harbor to the Fòrum.