10 things to do and see in Barcelona

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Barcelona in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Barcelona
10 things to do and see in Barcelona

Barcelona is not the city of the Movida. “When you sleep outdoors you always wake up at dawn, and there isn’t a café in Barcelona which is open before nine,” wrote George Orwell. People of Barcelona don’t go to sleep late and wake up late, but they take it easy: during the evening all places close early and on Sunday the city is empty.

The nightlife is concentrated in few areas of the city, especially in the Gothic Quarter. So, if someone told you it was  a city that never sleeps and you have already bought a flight, chin up! There are many things to see and do in Barcelona. Here are the 10 most important ones that you should not miss.

If you are looking for a hotel in Barcelona, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2200 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

La Rambla in Barcelona

1

La Rambla in Barcelona is the long avenue from Plaza de Catalunya to the statue of Columbus,  few meters from the sea.

La Rambla in Barcelona
La Rambla in Barcelona

Here you can meet,  night and day,  tourists and people of Barcelona, street artists looking for  fortune and thieves looking for of victims. You can start your visit of La Rambla from the sea, passing under the Mirador of Columbus, or from Plaça de Catalunya.

In both cases, don’t forget to drink some water at the Fountain of Canaletes (it’s said that it ensures a return to Barcelona) and walk into the colors and smells of  Rambla de les Flores, kingdom of florists in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

2

If you find your way among the tourists, you’ll find that La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is truly an extraordinary work. It’s not important that it’s incomplete (this is just a big marketing operation that has lasted for a century) but it’s amazing what is already there.

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

On the façades there is the story of Jesus, from birth until death. In the interior there is the heavenly Jerusalem, inhabited by the Lamb, the son of God who has finished his earthly suffering and lives in Paradise, finally rescued. La Sagrada Familia is a huge Christian symbol, a sort of biblical story. The fact that you have to pay € 9 to look some bags of cement inside, it’s another matter.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

3

Bookstores and antique shops, cafés and restaurants, populate the streets of this neighbourhood which has been always the centre of Barcelona life. Above the district stands the spire of the Cathedral of Barcelona, dedicated to Santa Eulalia.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

To discover the Gothic Quarter there isn’t a recommended route: you’d better to wander around the streets, without forgetting Plaça Reial (restaurants, bars and tourists) and Carrer Montcada, that houses the Picasso Museum. Wandering around the Gothic Quarter you could see from some sheets with various insults in Catalan: the residents don’t want anymore tourists and tipsy musicians in the neighborhood

For a stop, day and night, you can choose Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats), a hostel that opened in Barcelona in 1897 which became one of the meeting points of the artists of the city hosting also the first two individual exhibitions of Picasso. The food is not great, but you can eat outside in the history of art.

The Boqueria Market in Barcelona

4

Lively and colorful as a Neapolitan market, ordered as a Swiss one, with the choice of products like a mall. It’s the  Boqueria, the largest market in Barcelona and Spain, which is located at number 91 of La Rambla. A large iron building houses kiosks of all types: vegetables, fish, sweets, meat, ruled by women in traditional costume.

The Boqueria Market in Barcelona
The Boqueria Market in Barcelona

People who have seen Italian markets, will be surprised by the beauty of the kiosks and the perfect arrangement of the products. While enjoying this show, watch out for pickpockets in every corner. If you are in an apartment and want to buy something to cook, go to the Boqueria early and keep an eye on the people of Barcelona, who know what and where to buy. If you are looking for something to munch, choose the bench of dried fruit or that of fresh smoothies.

The Barcelona Cathedral

5

Barcelona Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Eulalia and to the Holy Cross, and this explains a lot. First of all, the presence of the crypt dedicated to the saint, with his remains and a sarcophagus that tells the foundation of Barcelona by Hercules. So far, so clear. Then there is a cloister, with the Fountain of Eden. Here it gets complicated, because the cloister is “defended” by 13 white geese.

The Barcelona Cathedral
The Barcelona Cathedral

What are they doing here? The origin is uncertain, but the legend tells that they represent the 13 years of Eulalia (300 d.C) martyr girl who was sacrificed where today stands the cathedral. The Cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Cross, the crucifix above the altar is of the XV century.  In 1571 it was hoisted on the ship of John of Austria as a banner during the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks. It seems that during the battle the crucified Christ has moved to avoid a cannonball. This would explain the strange shape which assumed.

Barceloneta and Port Vell in Barcelona

6

After the  Olympics in 1992 there is a part of Barcelona which has been lost for ever: old docks and warehouses on the harbor, a place of illegal traffic  and prostitutes. This area coincided with the end of the Rambla and the Old Port area, now replaced by a shopping mall and technological attractions with an Imax theater and an aquarium.

Barceloneta and Port Vell in Barcelona
Barceloneta and Port Vell in Barcelona

It remains the Barceloneta, the old fishermen’s quarter, the same as it was in the past. It’s the place where you go to eat fish, “Pan and Tomate” (bread and tomato) and “bomb”, a croquette stuffed with meat and spicy sauce. The hanging clothes (and the cars parked on the sidewalks) make it looks like Naples, especially in summer, when the traffic doesn’t stop and people use to stay on the beach until dawn.

The Raval Quarter in Barcelona

7

The Raval is a neighborhood that we can define “Ex” . There is an ex-name: it was called Barrio Chino (Chinese Quarter) because at the beginning of 1900 it was the ghetto where chinese people lived marginalized. The ex-district of prostitutes, who used to meet here the Barcelonians in search of cheap physical fun. It ‘also the ex-thieves district: until a few years ago it wasn’t possible to enter the Raval without being delinquents and well-armed.

The Raval Quarter in Barcelona
The Raval Quarter in Barcelona

It’s also the district of ex-bullfighters, who for good luck before each corrida, came to spend the night in the Barrio Chino. Today the Raval is a fashionable area: fashion cafés, ethnic restaurants, immigrants shops, trendy artists have made this maze of alleys, their home. There is the MACBA, the Museum of Contemporary Art that attracts tourists by day and that started the rebirth of the neighborhood. But the old Barrio Chino is not lost at all : there are still some streets where is better not to enter. There are still some  thieves ready to make your wallet your ex-wallet.

The works of Gaudi in Barcelona

8

Some people go to Barcelona just to admire the works of Gaudi, others suddenly find them walking around the city.  You can admire the works of this artist with his head in the clouds, visionary and eccentric, the most bizarre expression of Barcelona. Its houses (Pedrera, Batlló) and its gardens from comic architecture and brightly colored (Park Guell) halfway between dream and reality, will follow you during your walks in Barcelona.

The works of Gaudi in Barcelona
The works of Gaudi in Barcelona

The most famous work of Gaudi is the Expiatory Temple of La Sagrada Familia, to which the artist dedicated himself with all his heart until the day of his death, happened because of a tram that invested while he was walking.

Things to eat in Barcelona

9

If you can get away from the tourist trap menu (especially on La Rambla) you’ll understand that the cuisine of Barcelona is part of the great cuisines of the world.

Things to eat in Barcelona
Things to eat in Barcelona

From 11 am in the streets there is the smell of basic recipes in Barcelona: sofrito (oil, tomato, garlic and onion) samfaina (tomato, red pepper and eggplant ), the picada / romesco (toasted almonds, parsley, pine nuts, cinnamon and saffron) and allioli (a sauce made only with garlic and oil). These are the basics, but people of Barcelona can build around them a real show. Seafood and fresh fish arrive daily;  meat comes from the surrounding countryside, even with generous wine (3 DOCG, Priorat, Penedès, Alella) and the cava (champagne, although it can’t be called champagne because the French could get  angry). For dessert, some clichés: a creme brulee and the ricotta with honey.

Where to sleep in Barcelona

10

Barcelona is a destination all year and it’s equipped to accommodate the constant flow of tourists coming from all over the world.

Where to sleep in Barcelona
Where to sleep in Barcelona

The hotels are well placed in the city and scattered everywhere, the difference is of course in the price. In Rambla area, Gothic quarter, Barceloneta, there is a good number of hotels, rooms, apartments, with fairly high prices. If you want to spend less, you can move into a little more external areas, such as the Eixample and the Diagonal, from which you can still move easily thanks to the subway

If you are looking for a hotel in Barcelona, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com