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Top 10 Things to do in Barcelona

No plans for your next trip yet? Let me give you this one excellent suggestion: BARCELONA! In this blog post I will break down the details for you on what to do and what to see focusing on the top 10 things to do in Barcelona. If you consider seeing Barcelona for the first time read on and follow along. If you’ve already been to Barcelona maybe you will discover something new.

The number one attraction in Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia

1. La Sagrada Familia

What could possibly be more important to see in Barcelona than the Sagrada Familia? While I admit there might be other exciting things to see in Barcelona this definitely should be on top of your to-do-list. The Sagrada Familia is an unfinished church drawn by architect Antonio Gaudi and regarded as his masterpiece. The construction began in 1882 under a different architect while Gaudi took over some years later as the chief architect. Despite being such a touristic attraction it still is an iconic and extraordinary piece of architecture that definitely is worth a visit however long your stay in the city might be. Obviously, there is a reason for why this attraction is so popular. While the inside of this church is soooo worth it, if you still don’t want to stand in line to see the inside you can walk by and capture it from the outside, though I swear the line is worth waiting.

Park Güell - the next biggest attraction in Barcelona

2. Park Güell

No matter where you go or what you do in Barcelona you won’t be able to avoid anything Gaudi-ish, it’s like he is everywhere you go. Park Güell, the probably next biggest attraction in Barcelona, was also designed by the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi. The park consists of plenty of architectonic elements reflecting Gaudis unmistakably style of Catalan modernism containing terraces, sculptures, arcades and lots of nature and hence plenty of biodiversity. In 1900 Antonio Gaudi was hired by an entrepreneur, Eusebi Güell, to design the site as a housing area for the rich people. Since it was commercially unsuccessful as the site was considered remote no more than two buildings were built and eventually Güell gave the site to the municipality in 1923 as Park Güell.

The second masterpiece of Gaudi - Casa Batllo

3. Casa Batllo

As mentioned, Gaudi is everywhere, and once you’ve seen one of his pieces you might be able to recognize his style again other places in Barcelona. There is for example the Casa Batllo, a building located in the very center of the city. All while Sagrada Familia is THE masterpiece of Antonio Gaudi, Casa Batllo can be considered as the other one. The project was an actual renovation of an existing built house taking place in 1904 which was supposed to be demolished and constructed completely new but thanks to Gaudi he convinced the owner that a renovation was sufficient. Gaudi’s architecture was very much inspired by nature unmistakably reflected in this building, also called “the House of Bones”, with elements indicating skeletal, organic looks. The building is rich with architectonic elements and details on both the inside and outside occupying every brain cell of yours while your brain is digesting the impressions of Casa Batllo.

4. La Rambla

This is Barcelona’s most famous main street, running through the heart of the city and thereby almost only populated by tourists. My first advice to you is therefore to watch out for your belongings since it is a very popular spot for pickpockets as well. La Rambla is not an especially spectacular attraction but nice to have for a stroll and to feel the vibrancy of the city. The boulevard is filled with nice shops, interesting architectural buildings, overpriced restaurants (read: you shouldn’t eat in either of these restaurants since they are pricy and not worth it) and all sorts of street performers adding a lot of life to this part of the city.

Spanish vibes in the "Spanish Village"

5. Poble Espanyol

Be aware of that this ‘Spanish Village’ is a very typical touristic place which however has this very certain charm and totally caught me. The ‘Spanish Village’ is an open-air architectural museum and actually very close to the botanical garden and the Olympic stadium, so now you have another reason to go to the Montjuic region. Even though this place looks old it was actually first built in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition as a representation of the Spanish culture and architecture. One thing I highly advise against though is the food from the restaurants, that’s definitely not worth your money and you find way better food outside of the village.

The famous pavilion by Mies van der Rohe

6. Barcelona Pavilion

Here is something for the architects out there and everyone interested in such - the clean lines, the mix of materials, this pavilion is just brilliant! The pavilion, designed for the International Exposition in Barcelona in 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, is one of the most influential pieces on modern architecture and alone for that fact worth a visit when you're in Barcelona. Since the pavilion was planned to only exist temporarily it was dismantled already in early 1930, not even a year after it was built. Given its significance and role in modern architecture it was rebuilt between 1983 and 1986 by a group of Catalan architects on the exact same location as the original.

A place of tranquil away from the noise of the city

7. Jardi Botanic de Barcelona

This is a peaceful place, an oasis in the city, away from the busy streets of Barcelona. The botanical garden is located in the area of Montjuic hill and very close to the Olympic Stadium (scroll down for more information on this one). Here you will find, beyond a mesmerizing tranquillity, glorious and vividly colourful plants. The variety and beauty of the plants is astonishing and the garden is big enough to easily spend half your day here (more if you are a plant enthusiast). It is 14 ha large to be exact. The garden really addresses to all of your senses. Not only can you see all the colourful flowers, you can smell them and here bees buzzing, too. The garden is relatively new as it was opened in 1999 and the plants are therefore still relatively new as well.

The streets of Barcelona - the perfect place to get lost

8. Get lost in the streets

Here comes my best recommendation to you: Put google maps aside for one day or at least some hours and just get lost in the old streets of Barcelona. Barcelona has a big grid of streets dating back to the 1900th century when the progressive urban planner Ildefons Cerdà got the task to draw the plans for the city extension of Barcelona. The grid is somehow comprehensible from above but also easy to get lost in when walking and apprehending the surroundings. This is a good way to discover a city; both the one’s you already know but also the one’s you don't. And who knows, maybe you find some hidden places.

Walking around Barcelona can be so exhausting - remember to take a break

9. Parks and Siestas

Barcelona is a city with an incredible amount of parks. So my suggestion to you is, if not on a daily basis, then find at least at some point during your stay a park and have a siesta. After all this is Spain, so you should remember your siestas. In general I recommend taking your sightseeing in a moderate tempo and always remember to have breaks. Don't hurry yourself to get through your schedule in order to see everything. When I travel my motto always is and will be: If you don’t get to see everything this time you have a good reason to come back another time.

10. Estadi Olimpic

The Olympic Stadium in Barcelona was completed in 1927 for the International Exhibition in 1929. It was intended to be used for the Summer Olympics in 1936 though Spain’s history decided to walk a different path and due to the Spanish Civil War the Olympics were moved to be held in Berlin. It wasn’t until 1989 that it was renovated to then function as the main stadium for the Summer Olympics in 1992. The Olympic Stadium though is just one of many facilities in the Olympic Park. The park features other structures such as the Telecommunication Tower playing an important role in the skyline of Barcelona.


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