Barcelona seems to be a city that people return to time and time again. I never really understood the infatuation with the place. I had previously visited Barcelona on a day trip around two years ago and we basically skimmed over some of the sights but didn’t really get a feel for the place. Back in June, I spent four days in the city lapping up the incredible architecture, discovering many of the delicious eateries and generally falling in love with the city. I now understand why people can’t keep away from the Catalonian Capital.
I’ve tried my best to condense my five favourite and unmissable sights of Barcelona into one post. It was hard not to include everything to do with Gaudi; an absolute architectural genius. I’ve left a few places off the list such as Casa Batllo and Casa Mila as we didn’t go inside. I’m hoping to do that on my next trip!
You really cannot visit Barcelona without checking out the Sagrada Familia. Our Air B&B was in the area so we ended up spending a lot of time gawking at Gaudi’s masterpiece. It is actually still under construction after all of this time but it’s due to be completed by 2026. I’d really recommend going inside the Basilica, the interior is just as breathtaking as the outside. Tickets are usually sold out for the day so I would recommend booking in advance online.
Another incredible creation of Antoni Gaudi is Park Guell. We had also pre-booked tickets online as a large portion of the park is restricted access which tends to sell out. Honestly, visiting Park Guell was one of my highlights of the trip. I found it just so mesmerizing, all of the mosaic patterns and ceramic works of art. The park also offers incredible views of the city and you could even bring a picnic to enjoy in one of the many garden areas.
Just a little warning that Park Guell is at the top of the steepest hill ever and sightseeing buses will drop you off at the bottom. There is an entrance with an escalator but we couldn’t find it. Not too ideal when I was still recovering from my fractured foot! The park was 100% worth the struggle though!
We actually got a 48-hour pass for the Barcelona Tourisme Sightseeing Bus. Although it was quite pricey, it was such an easy way to get around and hop from sight to sight. One of the routes took us up to Parc Montjuïc which actually has so much to see and do in the area. My top recommendations would be to go on the Cable Cars and see the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc.
The Cable Cars are around 11 euros and you are able to stop off at two different points; Castell de Montjuïc and a viewing summit further down. The views are incredible over the city and also over the port. We were looking at the cruise ships and wondering where they were going next.
On our final night, we checked out the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc which takes place right in front of The Museum of Catalan Art. I was super surprised to find thousands of other people gathering for the light and water show too. The show is on selected nights across the week and the atmosphere is just electric.
La Ramblas is one of the most popular and iconic streets in Barcelona. Although this place is the ultimate tourist trap with bars along the street selling very overpriced drinks, I loved walking up and down here and popping in shops. There was also actually a food festival taking place whilst we were there and it looked incredible! I would say be extra vigilant for pickpockets along La Ramblas as it’s a very popular area. If you’re peckish, I’d head to Plaça Reial which is a square with plenty of restaurants that tend to offer lunchtime deals. Also, if you are after some insane ice cream go to Rocambolesc. It’s really reasonably priced and utterly delicious.
Finally, one of my favourite areas of Barcelona is The Gothic Quarter. I just love exploring all the small narrow streets of the old town. You could spend hours just wandering around all the winding lanes. Next time, I really want to do a walking tour around the district to learn more about the history.
When visiting Barcelona whether you are on a short city break or it’s a port of call on a cruise liner, you won’t be short of incredible sights to see. Thomson Cruises have teamed up with Larry Lamb to create a Cruise Mates series where he steps ashore to meet an array of interesting locals. His first destination was actually Barcelona and he visited the Boqueria Food Market which is located just off La Ramblas and highly recommended.
Have you visited Barcelona before? Do you have a favourite sight of the city?
*This post is in collaboration with Thomson Cruises