Barcelona is a fabulous energetic city that combines a gothic history with a modern vibe, and its quirky, cosmopolitan feel underpins the effortlessly elegant atmosphere the city exudes. From its chefs to its partygoers, its market traders to its art lovers, Barcelona breathes life around every corner and pulsates with energy down every street. Hidden courtyards, delightful architecture and buzzing bars and cafes make this one of Europe’s most popular and well-loved cities to visit.
Top 5 Barcelona Attractions
La Sagrada Familia
This unfinished masterpiece in the shape of a fantastical church in the centre of the city is a blatant display of Gaudi at his best. Definitely Barcelona’s most famous attraction, this unusual building attracts people from all over the world. You can marvel at the architecture from the outside for free but if you really want to appreciate what this church is all about you have to go inside. There can be long queues to enter but the wait is worth it, and if you are really organised you can book your tickets in advance. The intricate décor inside the church is overwhelming and it is easy to spend a couple of hours taking it all in. The basilica of the church was designed over 100 years ago by Gaudi when the surrounding area was just fields, but the interior was only completed and opened to the public in 2012. Construction is on-going and the plan is to finish the build by 2026 in time for the 100th anniversary of the original designer’s death.
It costs 15 euros to visit the Basilica only and 19.50 euros to visit the Towers and Basilica combined.
Magic Fountain Show
This must-see Barcelona attraction is truly magical and is like no other fountain you have seen before. The Magic Fountain was built in 1929 as part of the Barcelona World Fair and today you can watch a beautiful light, music and water show on Fridays and Saturdays during the winter and on Thursdays to Sundays throughout the summer. As the show is free, this is an attraction not to be missed. Be aware though that sometimes, due to exhibitions and events, access can be closed. Ask at your hotel and they will be able to advise.
One of the world’s most famous painters, Pablo Picasso, was born in Malaga but lived in the eclectic city of Barcelona from 1895 to 1904. It was here that he established himself as an artist and the Picasso Museum honours his contribution to art in the city.
Barcelona was a huge influence on his early years as a painter and it was in this city that he first exhibited his work. Although the Picasso museum in Barcelona doesn’t have his most famous works, it does house some of his most unusual pieces. Early sketches and paintings explain his development as an artist and for those interested in art, this is a fascinating journey through his life. Get there early to avoid the queues and a good tip is that the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month, and free after 3pm every Sunday.
Closed on Mondays, the museum costs 11 euros.
Barcelona’s Las Ramblas is the most famous walking street in the city and starts at Plaza Cataluña ending at the Monument of Columbus at the Port Vell harbour. The attraction of the street is in its atmosphere, colour and energy with many believing that it is the very heart of the city. Great shops, lively cafes and the opportunity to engage in Spanish culture make this a must-do on a visit to Barcelona.
Camp Nou Stadium
The Spanish love their football and their stadium in Barcelona is a sporting shrine for avid football lovers. Of course, seeing a match is the ultimate Camp Nou experience but if that is not possible while you are in town, the museum is a great alternative. There is also a huge Nike store in the stadium where you can buy all the merchandise for the club.
Tickets are 23 euros and the stadium is open daily.
How to Get There: Barcelona
Barcelona is a city well served by its El Prat airport that receives flights from all the major European capitals, including Paris, London, Rome and Madrid. If you are looking for reliable Barcelona airport transfers to get you to your hotel when you arrive, Shuttle Direct run an excellent service, bookable in advance. Direct from Barcelona airport, transfers, either shared or private whisk you the 13km into the city so that you can start your holiday in style.
Where to Stay
Hotel Condal – A stone’s throw from Las Ramblas, Hotel Condal provides guests with en suite bathrooms and free Wi-Fi. It offers a good budget accommodation option right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. The simple rooms are clean and comfortable and each has air conditioning and a TV. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the café-bar and the hotel is close to plenty of restaurants for evening meals. A short journey on foot or by metro to many of the attractions, this hotel also has a 24 hours reception with staff that provide any information you need.
Hotel Turin – The Hotel Turin is a mid-priced hotel just 50m from Las Ramblas. The comfortable rooms are stylishly decorated and offer flat-screen TV, private bathrooms and free Internet. There is a delightful sun terrace, a buffet breakfast and free tea and access to computers in the lobby. Only 150m from the Gothic Quarter, a 20-minute stroll from the beach and 10 minutes away from the Picasso Museum, this hotel’s location is great.
Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona GL – The clue is in the name at this hotel and for those wanting to splash out on their stay in Barcelona, Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona GL is a great choice. Luxury accommodation, a spa with steam baths, sauna and treatments, a rooftop pool and a terrace that offers dramatic views of the surrounding area are housed in this neoclassical building with its original façade and modern interior. Air-conditioning and TVs are provided in every room and there are two restaurants, a piano bar and a cocktail bar by the pool during summer. A fabulous place in an ideal location, this hotel is a real treat.