By choosing to visit Barcelona, you’ll experience a lively, artistic and vibrant European city that tourists can’t help but call iconic. You’ll appreciate the distinctive Catalan culture with its many exciting festivals and longstanding traditions, but you’ll also discover the charms that have made Barcelona into such a treasured destination.
To make the most of your trip to Barcelona, here are five attractions that you truly can’t afford to miss.
1. Enjoy the view from The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Even if you’re not a big fan of art or galleries, visiting the MNAC during your trip to Barcelona is a must. You can easily get the L1 or L3 Metro line to Plaça España, and upon exiting the station you’ll immediately see two grandiose columns in front of you. Walk between these columns, and you’ll be greeted by the Palau Nacional, the magnificent home of the MNAC.
Located on Montjuïc Hill, the view from the Palau Nacional – an architectural icon in itself – provides an unbeatable panorama across Barcelona. Simply enjoy the view from outside, or go inside the MNAC to discover a thousand years of Catalan art in varied and world-famous collections. Also, entrance is free of charge if you visit the Palau Nacional on the first Sunday of the month, and on Thursday-Sunday evenings you can see the spectacular Magic Fountain display that is located just outside.
2. Spend a morning in Parc Güell
There’s good reason why Antoni Gaudí’s Parc Güell is said to be one of the most impressive public parks in the world. You can sit on the colourful serpentine bench that twists around the Gran Plaça Circular, or enjoy the view across the Barcelona city skyline that reaches the Mediterranean Sea. Everywhere are colourful mosaics, fairy-tale staircases and out of this world architectural features, and you’ll surely fill your camera with incredible photos.
However, make sure you get to Parc Güell early, or you’ll find yourself lost in a sea of other visitors! The park tends to open at 8am, and arriving soon after this time will allow you to peruse the park and enjoy the tranquillity that’s so often hidden behind a tourist façade. Arriving early will also save you from the midday heat during summer, and it gives you a high chance of being able to stand by the stone cross at the peak of Parc Güell.
Park Güell finally became a public park and it was appreciated a lot by Barcelona’s inhabitants, as well as it became a major focus of attraction for tourists. It was recognised as an artistic monument in 1969 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Nowadays Park Güell is one of the top attractions of this city. For sure is should be a part of any Barcelona tour.
3. Photograph the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
For both advanced and budding photographers, the Barri Gòtic makes for a great visit. See many of the haunting streets, squares and buildings that were featured in the 2006 film “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”, or see El Call, the antiquated mediaeval Jewish quarter. The street layout is labyrinthine, mysterious and slightly unnerving, and a visit to the area is sure to add another level to your view of the Catalan city.
4. Take a hike in Montserrat
Although Montserrat is technically outside Barcelona, it’s still a wonderful day trip to make if you’re in the city. The architecture and healing atmosphere of the monastery is incredible to witness, but the sublime view from the mountain is what draws most visitors to the site.
There are several walking routes that start from the monastery and vary in length and difficulty, although the path to the Sant Jeroni peak – standing over 4,000 feet above sea level – boasts an unparalleled mountain view. Take a packed lunch, wear good walking shoes, and look forward to the rewarding view at the top. If a hike isn’t for you, you can simply enjoy the incredible views from the monastery itself, perhaps with a lunch from the restaurant.
5. Sit in the Parc de Laberint d’Horta
If you’d like to escape the tourists, this is one of the best Barcelona attractions to visit. Located just outside the city centre, spend some time getting lost in the labyrinth, admiring the agapanthus when in bloom, or photographing the beautiful architectural features. It’s the perfect place to quietly sit with a book or have a picnic with friends, and, like the MNAC, it’s free on the first Sunday of the month!
Lucy Fuggle writes for the online travel marketplace Tripobox. Lucy is an English student living in Barcelona, and she loves good books, incredible views and travelling to unique destinations. Here are some ways you can follow Lucy and Tripobox:
This post has been part of both our travel tips and travel guides sections. Be sure to check them both out in order to make the most of your next trip.