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Attractions and things to do in Barcelona

Park Güell

La Sagrada Familia Basilica

The Sagrada Familia Basilica or for those interested in its official Spanish name Basília i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, is most certainly one of Barcelona’s most iconic monuments and its most visited attraction. This outstanding piece of architecture which would stand out in any crowd is actually still a work in progress. It is more specifically located in Carrer de Mallorca and is one of Antoni Gaudí’s most plausible pieces of architecture. Having commenced in 1882, aims to complete the structure have been marked for 2026 - the centennial of Gaudí’s death, however, many believe that this will be a great challenge.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city of Barcelona make the Sagrada Familia one of the top places to visit during their holiday. Everyone wants to take a photo standing on the doorsteps in front of the haunting Basilica and you’ll want to also when you set your eyes on it. This Roman Catholic Church that stands tall at 170 metres combines Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can’t miss it…literally!

 

Visit the magical Park Guell

Another one of the famous architect Antoni Gaudí’s brilliant masterpieces is Park Guell, an extraordinary and almost surreal garden combining nature with the man-made. Situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of northern Barcelona, Park Guell was built during 1900 to 1914 and given its enormity, is the largest architectural creation in southern Europe. The Park Guell which is today a municipal garden and UNESCO World Heritage Site was commissioned for construction by Eusebi Guell who desired a stylish park be created for Barcelona aristocracy. Within the grounds there is plenty to feast your eyes on from huge stone structures, rock pillars, fascinating buildings, stairways, pavilions, multi-coloured mosaics, beautiful fountains (the most photographed being the colourful lizard fountain at the entrance to the park), serpentine benches with mosaic décor and a jaw-dropping view of the city of Barcelona from the main terraced area located at the top of Park Guell. Visit Park Guell in Barcelona and be in awe with all of its wonder and fall in love with Gaudí’s imagination.

 

Visit the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona (Old Town)

The Gothic Quarter or Barri Gotic of Barcelona will most certainly make for a cultural day out. Stretching from La Rambla to Via Laietana, the streets of the centre of Barcelona’s old town are lined with brilliant pieces of architecture left, right and centre. For instance there are gothic buildings from Catalonia’s Golden Age in the 14th and 15th centuries, Roman ruins, historical squares, historical museums and some of Barcelona’s most important governmental establishments for you to set your eyes on. Containing so many remnants of its splendid past, this beautiful neighbourhood is filled with narrow and winding streets which are wonderful to get lost in. In fact getting lost in the streets of the Gothic Quarter is the best way to discover many of the hidden gems of the district. Its main attraction, in the centre of the district, is the astounding Barcelona Cathedral or Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia in Spanish which contains a beautiful courtyard full of plants and flowers as well as gorgeous geese. You will also be spoilt for choice by the quantity of restaurants, cafés and bars on store, especially during a visit to Plaça Reial. The Gothic Quarter will also provide you with a great number of fancy shops and boutiques which are perfect for some afternoon shopping. Its close proximity with La Rambla - Barcelona’s most famous street and much loved area due to its lively night life; street performances and interesting architecture, has turned the Gothic Quarter into an increasingly popular attraction when visiting Barcelona and you’ll love it too.

 

Museo Picasso

Another great tourist attraction in Barcelona is that of the Picasso Museum near Parc de la Ciutadella which presents a collection of paintings and works by the renowned artist known as Pablo Picasso. A visit to Barcelona’s most popular museum is a great opportunity to journey through Picasso’s life work and see the unravelling of his beliefs and the development of this leading artist’s way of thinking. To make this possible, the Picasso Museum has Picasso’s work arranged in chronological order starting with his younger years to his final pieces so you really are able to follow Picasso’s growth and progression with time. The Picasso Museum exhibits a large number of Picasso’s early childhood sketches which were greatly influenced by his Andalucian upbringing. There are also many exhibits of Picasso’s drawings and paintings from time spent in Barcelona as well as portraits of his family and pieces created during his time at the Llotja school of art. Paintings from the Blue Period (1901-1904) and the Pink Period (1907 – 1920) in addition to exhibition posters, ceramics and cubist works can also be appreciated. Many paintings and oil sketches found in this museum were actually donated by Picasso himself among graphic works and ceramics which were donated by his family after Picasso’s passing in 1973. The Picasso Museum has grown immensely over the years and now occupies three adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona; Palau Berenguer d’Aguilar, Casa del Baro de Catellet and Palau Meca.

 

Climb the hill to magical Montjuic

Montjuic is a tall hill that overlooks the city of Barcelona. Be assured, it may look high up but it’s worth getting to just to explore all the treasures it keeps. There are several ways to get up to Montjuic - by cable car which gives you the chance to view Barcelona from very high up, by funicular which also provides you with some impressive views or on foot if you fancy a bit of a hike. Once you are at the top, spend the day visiting and exploring many of its remarkable attractions which include contemporary art museums, sports stadium, the Palau Nacional, the 18th century castle known as Castell de Montjuic, the Fundació Joan Miró and not forgetting the Poble Espanyol which is basically an amazing village dating back to 1929 which includes imitations of famous Spanish landmarks in one massive open-air museum. A definite must-see attraction is the extravagant Font Màgica de Montjuic translated as Montjuic’s Magical Fountain and is a fabulous display of lights, music and water. There are plenty of things going on on Montjuic including craft shops and fun activities to participate in which is perfect for entertaining the kids whilst you continue your tour in this magnificent attraction.

 

Barcelona Cathedral

The Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia or more simply Barcelona Cathedral should not be confused with La Sagrada Familia Basilica although it is many times. Named after its patron saint, Santa Eulalia, this magnificent structure which is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and includes several enchanting highlights such as the carved choir stalls, the Capella de Lepanto (Lepanto Chapel) and the serene cloisters where you will find a pond of white geese.

 

Camp Nou – FC Barcelona

Home to the legendary football team, FC Barcelona, the Camp Nou or Nou Camp Stadium is a must-see for all FC Barcelona fans! A guided tour will see you visiting the changing rooms, tunnel, dugouts, TV studio and directors’ area and finally, what all fans were waiting for…the glorious green pitch where their favourite football players such as Lionel Messi have played some of their best games. The FC Barcelona Museum is also an interesting part of the stadium where you will find an art gallery plus unique and private collections of football memorabilia. The history section of the museum is a great chance to learn about the history of the team too up until the present date. Even if you’re not a fan of FC Barcelona, a visit to the Nou Camp Stadium will be a definite highlight during your holiday.

 

Have a religious experience on the mountain of Montserrat

Montserrat is a magnificent mountain conglomerate which overpoweringly stands in Catalonia’s skyline. Montserrat’s mountain is a popular landmark and attracts thousands of tourists each year, not just because of its bizarre-shaped rock formations but also because of its fascinating history as well as being home to Catalonia’s most important religious retreat; the Benedictine Monk retreat. Montserrat’s fame began in 880 when a small group of shepard children declared having seen a bright light descending from the sky among the mountains of Montserrat. The children say that with the light came the sound of angels singing which filled their hearts with joy. After telling their parents what they had witnessed, the parents too visited the mountain and claim to have witnessed the same heavenly experiences as did a Priest which heard of the visions. This led them all to conclude that the visions which occurred repeatedly during one month, were a sign from God. Visions were also reported in a cave on Montserrat where an image of the Virgin Mary was discovered. This is a holy sanctuary today and is visited by religious pilgrims from all over the world as is the site of the visions which is marked as a holy place. If you are in Barcelona and fancy a day trip to Montserrat there are several options you can take to reach the mountain - by train, cable car, funicular or bus which are all exciting ways of getting to know the city and landscapes of Barcelona from above and on the ground. Once you get to Montserrat visit the Benedictine abbey called Santa Maria de Montserrat and its Virgin of Montserrat statue which is one of the Black Madonnas of Europe. You must also take the unique opportunity of listening to the world famous recitals of the Montserrat Choir Boys, known in Spanish as L’Escolania choir which sing daily in the Basilica of Montserrat to a great audience of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. Take a guided tour or simply walk the many trails of Montserrat and discover some of the many mountain peaks whilst soaking in the breathtaking panoramic views of the local landscape. Visiting Montserrat will be one of the best attractions of your entire getaway!

 

Get interactive at the Science Museum of Barcelona – CosmoCaixa

The CosmoCaixa is a tremendous science museum which features an array of exciting permanent as well as temporary exhibitions that are related to nature, the environment along with science and space. Within the grounds there is also a planetarium which includes entertaining shows about the world of astronomy and many interactive exhibitions. Some exhibitions include Flooded Forest (experience wet and dry environs of an Amazon rainforest), Geological Wall (a display of geological formations along a wall showing erosion, volcanism, faults, sedimentation etc), The Hall of Matter (a look on evolution: the big bang, origin of matter, the first living organism, human evolution and intelligence), Clik and Flash (two different rooms which use games to encourage children to learn about science), Touch, touch! (contains living creatures from around the world and the Mediterranean) and Bubble Planetarium (astronomy based exhibition for children aged 3-8). The CosmoCaixa science museum will make for a brilliant and exciting day out for adults as well as kids. It’ll be so great you won’t want to leave!

 

Family day out in the Barcelona Zoo and Aquarium Barcelona

For a bit of family time in Barcelona, the Barcelona Zoo and Aquarium Barcelona are great treats!

The Barcelona Zoo is located in the Parc de la Ciutadella and you can easily spend hours and hours in this facility. You may have already heard of the zoo as it was once home to Snowflake, the world’s only albino gorilla which passed away in 2003. Within the zoo is a huge variety of interesting animals, big and small; over 325 different species to be exact. Barcelona’s zoo is home to animals such as pythons, crocodiles, lizards, tortoises, leopards, lions, gorillas, chimpanzees, giraffes and some of the world’s heaviest mammals such as hippos, rhinos and elephants. If you want to have the possibility of petting certain animals, then go to the ‘Granja’ zone of the zoo which is a recreational farmyard which houses Shetland ponies and goats. There are also some great shows on store with one of the best being the dolphin show filled with tricks and entertainment. Besides the animals, there are plenty of entertaining things to do such as pony riding, riding on the mini-train or on the electric cars. For a bit of a break do some souvenir shopping or have a snack in the zoo’s restaurant or spacious picnic area. 

From the animal kingdom now to the underworld, the Aquarium Barcelona at Port Vell harbour, a very touristy area in Barcelona, is another popular attraction that will leave you amazed by the beauty of what lies beneath the shores. Swimming in the waters of the 35 aquariums at the facility are over 11,000 animals and 450 different species. The Aquarium’s most popular part is the 80-metre underwater tunnel – the ‘Oceanarium’, which will simply fascinate you and the entire family as it’s the opportunity to get close to things you don’t see every day such as sharks and stingrays among other amazing and colourful creatures that belong to Mediterranean waters. Aquarium Barcelona is divided into three sections – The Aquarium where you will find underwater creatures such as octopuses, dogfish, scorpion fish and seahorses; Planeta Aqua which contains a tank full of penguins and is the section where you will find deadly fish such as piranhas; and Explora! Zone which is a great section for children filled with interactive activities, slides and much, much more!

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