Barcelona Travel Summary

The city of Gaudi and Miro captivates with its proud Catalan identity, roaring nightlife, fabulous cuisine, sunny weather, sandy beaches and sheer style – Barcelona is addictive!

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The Barcelona Travel Summary is segmented into 4 key travel themes to immerse you into everything Barcelona:

  1. An introduction to this wonderful city;
  2. Some Facts & Figures;
  3. Some itineraries;
  4. What to See

In writing this post I hope to inspire you to explore this wonderful City.

Hope you enjoy it!  Carpe Diem!

1. An introduction to this wonderful city

There is nowhere quite like Barcelona for its sheer style, handsome looks and pulsating energy.   Catalans are truly proud of this engaging city which is perpetually re-inventing itself.   Barcelona’s architecture is outstanding, however, this in itself is not good enough for the Catalans.  Catalans like to showcase the city across every possible dimension and have created a world-class city that has everything.   From its designer shopping, pulsating night scene through to its world-class cultural and arts scene and this is before you start on its fantastic climate and world-class football team.  Barcelona is a mesmerising city both day and night, one of the great places on Earth.

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Barcelona as a city and the wonderful Catalans truly embrace life and like to showcase their incredible city – from its fabulous markets, through to strolling down Las Ramblas, playing beach volleyball on Barceloneta Beach through to lazing around eating world-class tapas through to partying in Barcelona’s frenetic Festivals.  They are also incredibly proud (and who wouldn’t be) of their world-class football team.

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The second-largest city in Spain and capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is situated on the Mediterranean coast and makes a vibrant and exciting place to visit.   The Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter in Catalan) is the splendid medieval centre of the old city of Barcelona, including the well-known Las Ramblas.

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Gaudi did not start or finish the building for which he is probably most famous – La Sagrada Familia.   Having replaced another architect in 1884, he became obsessed by the project, planning three superbly ornate facades devoted to the Nativity, Passion and Glory, each to be crowned by four towers.

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The design was so complicated that he only saw the creation of the Nativity.  When asked why he was fussing about the top of the tower Gaudi replied, “the angels will see them”.  When funds ran out, he sold all his possessions and started sleeping on the site.   In 1926 he was tragically hit by a tram and died.   In 1952 work restarted and the still unfinished architectural masterpiece is visited by millions every year.

The year 2026 will mark the centenary year of the death of Gaudí and the goal is to celebrate Gaudí’s anniversary by completing the Sagrada Familia.  I for one will certainly be booking my flights and accommodation for what will be a truly magical event.

 

 

2. Facts & Figures:

Barcelona is the 4th most visited city in Europe after London, Paris and Istanbul. It receives an average of 9 million visitors a year.

Barcelona Facts Figures 2021 v0.2

Barcelona boasts having:

  • 66 museums, some of the stranger ones including the Museum of Funeral Carriages, the Erotic Museum, the Perfume Museum and the Chocolate Museum
  • 542 centres of worship from 15 different religions, with 243 Catholic churches and centres
  • 12 metro lines, with 180 stations totalling 146km of track.
  • a cycling network of circa 200km cycle tracks
  • 10 beaches totalling 4.2km of sandy shoreline
  • 10 districts and 73 neighbourhood

3.  Itineraries: 

Barcelona has a number of visitor attractions within walking distance of each other and in the city centre e.g. Las Ramblas, Barri Gotic, Barceloneta Beach and La Temple Sagrada Familia.  Barcelona also has an excellent Metro system as well as a great hop-on-hop-off Bus network (one of the original) which link those sights that are further a field e.g. Park Guell.

Suggested Day 1 Itinerary:

Barcelona Itinerary Day 1 v0.2

10am – Wander around Barri Gotic:

Barcelona’s preserved medieval centre is the Barri Gotic, a warren of streets where it is easy to get lost. The focal point is the Cathedral. Next to it is the Palau Reial (Royal Place), part of which is now the Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat, where you can take a fascinating subterranean stroll over the evacuated ruins of Roman Barcelona. The palace houses the fascinating Museu Frederic Mares. There are plenty of places for a budget lunch in this area.

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1pm – Explore the El Born district:

After lunch visit the wonderful Palau de la Musica Catalana and its dazzling Modernista interior.   Then browse around the trendy shops in the El Born district.

4pm – Museu Picasso for Art lovers & people watching on Las Ramblas:

Then if you’re an art lover top off your afternoon with a visit to the Museu Picasso. houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. With 4,251 works exhibited by the painter, the museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of works.  Wander down the lively tree-lined La Rambla. La Rambla stretches for 1.2 km connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.

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8pm – Eat Michelin Starred food at the Hotel Arts:

Chef Paco Pérez has earned two Michelin stars (2010 and 2013) for his Enoteca. No longer is it just another restaurant in the Hotel Arts, but a heavyweight in Barcelona in its own right. Pérez can also be proud of the two stars he’s earned for his Miramar restaurant in the Catalan city of Llançà. Few chefs can translate the flavour of the sea into haute cuisine the way he does, and his craft speaks to the imagination.

 

Suggested Day 2 Itinerary:

Barcelona Itinerary Day 2 v0.2

10am – Visit La Sagrada Familia fantasy church:

Spain’s biggest tourist attraction is a unique, extraordinary piece of architecture. Conceived as a template as atonement for Barcelona’s sins of modernity, this giant church became Gaudi’s holy missionA work in progress for more than a century, when completed it will have capacity for 13,000 faithful.   Allow plenty of time to make sense of the detail on the two facades of this extraordinary church – the Passion façade and the Nativity façade – and also explore the vertigo inducing fantasy towers.

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Noon – Feast on the freshest produce at Mercat De La Boqueria:

Completed in 1914 with a Modernism influenced design, this is one Barcelona landmark where the architecture is overshadowed by what lies within – the freshest produce from around Spain.

2pm – Visit La Pedrera: 

One of the Passeig de Gracia’s and indeed Barcelona’s, most beautiful Modernista structures – officially called Casa Mila after its owners but nicknamed La Pedrera (The Stone Quarry) by bemused locals who watched Gaudi build it from 1905 to 1910.  Conceived as an apartment block, its approach to space and light and its blurring of the dividing line between decoration and functionality will leave you gasping as the sheer originality of it all.

EveningVisit Casa Batllo

From the playful genius of its façade to its revolutionary experiments in light and architectural form (straight lines are few and far between) and make your way up to the roof terrace to see the remarkable chimneys and “dragon’s back”  Casa Batllo which was built as an anything-but-humble apartment block, is one of the most beautiful buildings in this city were competition for such a title is fierce.   Highlights include the façade, terrace and roof.

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Suggested Day 3 Itinerary:

Barcelona Itinerary Day 3 v0.2

10am – Stroll around Park Guell:

One of Antoni Gaudi’s best-loved creations, Park Guell has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – a fantasy public park that was designed as a gated playground for Barcelona’s rich – climbs a hillside north of the city centre.

This is where the master architect turned his hand to landscape gardening and the result is an expansive and playful stand of greenery interspersed without otherworldly structures glittering with ceramic tiles.

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Noon – Eat at La Panxa del Bisbe:

Around 1 km southeast downhill from the park entrance, La Panxa del Bisbe is highly recommended for tapas.

2pm – An afternoon cooling of at the Beach:

Join the locals and head to the seaside neighborhood of La Barceloneta to surf and sunbathe on Sant Sebastià Beach, and to dine out at al fresco seafood restaurants and traditional tapas bars.

Posh yachts fill glitzy marinas like the Port Olímpic complex, which is connected to the beach by a long, palm-lined promenade. The Port Cable Car offers panoramic city views on its way to Montjuïc Hill.

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Evening – A magical evening on Montjuïc:

Montjuïc is the hilltop that overlooks the city and sea. For a fun night out, take the Teleferic cable car to 17th century Castell de Montjuïc for sweeping views, before heading to the beautiful La Font Magica sound and light show.

Follow-up with drinks and dancing in the fabulous open-air nightspot in Poble Espanyol – an intriguing dream-like landscape of Spanish architecture built for the 1929 World Exhibition.

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Suggested Day 4 Itinerary:

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10am – Thrills and views from the Tibidabo amusement park: 

A trip to the city’s highest peak is an old-style family outing bursting with nostalgia.   The panoramic vistas across Barcelona are fabulous and then you have the retro rides which offer great fun.

One of the best parts of the experience is travelling to the amusement park which includes taking an old tram that rattles along an avenue lined with Modernista mansions; then hopping aboard a funicular for a speedy ascent to the top.

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Noon – Eat with a view at the fabulous Mirablau restaurant:

Gaze out over Barcelona from the terrace at the Mirablau restaurant which sits just below Tibidabo amusement park.

2pm – Enjoy the landscaped gardens at Parc De La Ciutadella:

The handsomely landscaped Parc de la Ciutadella is a local favourite for a leisurely walk.   The park is the site of Catalonia’s regional parliament, the city zoo and some eye-catching buildings.

The monumental waterfall created between 1875 and 1881 by Josep Fontsere with the help of a young Antoni Gaudi is a dramatic combination of rocks, greenery and thundering water.

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Evening – Tapas at Elizabets

Elisabets is an tapas institution in the Barcelona’s Raval district for its generous portions and homemade cuisine at great value.

Both locals and tourists having been filling Elisabets since it was founded in 1962.

It is decorated with fabulously nostalgic furniture e.g. marble tables, wooden chairs, old photographs and antique radios. Let your hair down with a few drinks and listen to the fabulous chatter of Catalans

4. What to See:

The Historic Quarter – Ciutat Vella:

Barcelona Cathedral:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Barcelona’s Gothic cathedral is the result of the tenacious endeavour of the local community – it took 600 years to build, from the 13th to 19th centuries. Today it stands gracefully on the former boundary of the Roman city
  • The cathedral has three naves, with cross-vaulted ceilings and its façade is flanked by octagonal towers

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Museu Picasso:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Pablo Picasso trained in Barcelona and the city is home one of the finest collections of paintings and drawings from his youth, as well as important later works.
  • These are on display at the Museu Picasso, which is housed in five medieval palazzos on Carrer Montcada

Palau de La Musica Catalana:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Domenech I Montana made the Palau de la Musica his greatest modernista jewel: a dazzling, lavishly decorated, multi-coloured concert hall, which was the result of his architectural talents and local craftsmanship.
  • Built in 1905 and 1908, the Palau is Barcelona hosts hundreds of concerts every year – you can join a guided tour

Museu D’Idees I Invests de Barcelona:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Barcelona’s first permanent museum showcasing a wide variety of exhibits that put the world of invention and creativity in the spotlight

Museu de la Catedral:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Collection of religious art belonging to the guilds and monarchs who governed the city for centuries

Conjunt Monumental De La Placa Del Rei:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • The splendour of medieval Catalonia can still be seen in the Placa dei Rei, on of the best-preserved squares in the Gothic Quarter
  • It is overlooked by the Palau Major, the former residence of the kings of Catalonia and Aragon, with its Great Hall, the Salo del Tinell, and arches which merge with the Watchtower of King Marti

Placa de Sant Jaume:

  • The Place Sant Jaume is the city’s power base. On one side, the seat of the Catalan government, the Palau de la Generaltat, with its Renaissance façade
  • On the other, City Hall, whose Great Hall, the Salo de Cent, has been a meeting point for the community since the 14th century

El Call (Jewish Quarter):

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • El Call (Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter) was the main cultural hub in Catalonia from the 11th to 14th centuries. It was here that doctors, philosophers, mathematicians and astronomers disseminated their knowledge
  • Time seems to have stood still in its secluded corners such as Placa de Sant Felip Neri, with its bomb-scarred building

The Historic Quarter – Las Ramblas:

Gran Teatre Del Liceu:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Barcelona’s opera house has experienced many changes in fortune: memorable performances, fights between Verdi supporters and Wagnerians, and two major fires
  • It was renovated and extended following the fire in 1994

Mercat De Sant Josep “La Boqueria:”

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • La Boqueria is Barcelona’s best stocked and most colourful food market. Under its shady metal structure, the stallholders sell an exquisite selection of fresh produce – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables in a bustling vibrant setting

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Placa Reial:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Barcelona’s great porticoed square is made particularly outstanding by its rectilinear layout, tall palm trees, Guadiesque street lamps and sunny terraces.
  • It brings together bars, restaurants and music venues, hosting flamenco and jazz performances

Virreina Palace:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • The Virreina Palace is a building in the city of Barcelona. Situated on the famous La Rambla avenue, today it houses the headquarters of the city council’s Culture Institute and hosts various temporary art exhibitions and cultural events

Museu De L’Erotica:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Exhibits on erotica from ancient times to today, including Kama Sutra, erotic art & sexual records
  • More than 800 pieces of great historical value from Greece, Rome and the Far East to the early 1900s trace the history of erotism

Casa Bruno Cuadros:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • A building pre-dating the Catalan art-nouveau, or modernista, period which was completely remodelled in 1883 by Josep Valaseca
  • It features eye-catching decorative elements, which reveal strong Oriental influencers, such as the cast-iron umbrellas and fans and the cast-iron Chinese dragon which holds up an iron street-lamp. An umbrella is suspended from the base of the lamp

Caneletes Fountain:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • This 19th century cast-iron fountain with its four drinking spouts, surmounted by a four-armed street-lamp is one of the symbols of Barcelona and a favourite meeting point for locals and visitors alike.
  • Since the 1950s, FC Barcelona fans have met here to celebrate their sporting victories
  • Legend says that anyone who drinks from the fountain will return to the city

Santa Maria Del Pi and Placa del Pi:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • The Placa de Pi which is preside over by the pine tree from which it takes its name (pi is the Catalan word for pine), together with the adjacent Placa de Sant Josep Oriol, are two of the Gothic Quarter’s most lively places at any time of the day
  • The centrepiece of the square is the Basilica of Sant Maria del Pi, one of the most representative examples of the Catalan Gothic style

5. Photo Gallery:

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