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I just love Barcelona along side New York! I've been a number of times to Barcelona for different reasons, but each time I've found something new to see and to do. It's got a fantastic arts scene, stunning architecture, beaches, great food, one of the globes biggest football teams, some great hotels and restaurants. With it being one of the most visited cities for couples in Europe you really have to make use of the time in the city. What do I think are the Top 10 things to do in Barcelona is? Well read on!!
1. Sagrada Familia
Probably the most famous building both in Barcelona and in Spain. The Sagrada Familia is for me one of the most beautiful buildings on the planet, and it's not even finished yet! The Basílica de la Sagrada Família is a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica designed by Spanish/Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On 19 March 1882, construction of the Sagrada Família began under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, and devoted the remainder of his life to the project. He is buried in the crypt. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
The build process on the building has been slow. However since 2010 with the advent of new technologies the building speed has really shot up. It's planned for completion in 2026 which will be the 100th year since Gaudi's death.
It's hard to explain how amazing the building is both internally and externally. Internally the colours of the glass radiate around the whole building and bring so much colour to the stone work inside. The outside is like no other building around. With the mix of towers/and spires with intricate carvings and colour its a design style that's not seen elsewhere on other buildings. The building really dominates the Barcelona sky line and when it's finished it's main spire will reach 172.5M.
As well as the main church there is a museum about the history and construction process of the building that's well worth a visit.
2. Park Güell
Park Guell is situated on the North of the city. Alongside Sagrada Familia it's probably one of Gaudi's most famous works. The park is full of sculptures, buildings and structures of the style that can be found in the Sagrada. The colours that some of the mosaics are just amazing and feel well ahead of the time that they were created. It's original construction was to be of an area of high class homes, and infrastructure of the wealthy people of Barcelona. It has since been converted into a municipal garden.
It can be reached by underground railway (although the stations are at a distance from the Park and at a much lower level below the hill - be prepared for a good walk!), by city buses, or by commercial tourist buses. Since October 2013 there is an entrance fee to visit the Monumental Zone (main entrance, terrace, and the parts containing mosaics), but the entrance to the Park remains free. Gaudí's house, "la Torre Rosa," – containing furniture that he designed – can be only visited for another entrance fee. Even if you aren't a "art" lover it's still a very worth while visit to see it!
3. The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The fountains were created in the 1920's for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. The fountain is situated below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuïc mountain. The first show took place on May 19, 1929, the day before the start of the Exposition.
In the 1980s, music was incorporated with a light show and the fountain was completely restored prior to the 1992 Summer Olympics. Performances take place at half-hour intervals every weekend, with weekends extended during the summer season. A whole mix of different music is used and it's quite a sight to see!
There are large crowds and plenty of people trying to sell you drinks, lights and other tut. This is a bit off putting - but you certainly should go just be aware!
4. La Rambla
The tree-lined central promenade of La Rambla is crowded during the day and until late in the night. Along the streets length are kiosks that sell newspapers and souvenirs, other kiosks selling flowers, street traders, performers, and pavement cafes and bars. Other sights are also located within the promenade, including a mosaic by Joan Miró and the Font de Canaletes, a fountain and popular meeting point.
Along the Rambla are historic buildings as the Palace of the Virreina and the Liceu Theatre (Liceo in Spanish), in which operas and ballets are staged. The La Boqueria market opens off the Rambla and is one of the city's foremost tourist landmarks, housing a very diverse selection of goods.
One of the side streets, only a few metres long, leads to the Royal Square (Plaça Reial - point number 7), a plaza with palm trees and porticoed buildings containing many pubs and restaurants.
5. FC Barcelona
I'm a massive Cambridge United fan (if you follow my instagram you'll know the in's and outs!) I work for the club on match days and honestly I don't really support a premier league team. However my "other" team if there is one is FC Barcelona. I think it's been inspired by the players they have had in the past. Lionel Messi frankly for me is one of the best players in the world ever.
Camp Nou is not only one of the biggest stadiums in the world, it's also an amazing place to visit. It's not only possible to see matches (although if you want to see one of the big matches it will cost you and tickets sell out). It's also possible to see the stadium from behind the scenes on one of the museum tours. You probably have to be a bit of a football fan to appreciate it. If you are it's one not to miss out on!
6. Tibidabo Amusement Park
Tibidabo Amusement Park is an amusement park located on Tibidabo in the Collserola Ridge in Barcelona. The park was built in 1899 by the entrepreneur Salvador Andreu and opened in 1905. The park is among the oldest in the world still functioning. Most of the original rides, some of which date to the turn of the 20th century, are still in use. Whilst some of the rides are old fashioned - and if you like Alton Towers you're going to find them slow and pedestrian. One of the good things about the park is the view's over the city which is quite spectacular! You can also ride the Montjuïc Funicular railway up (and down) which gives good view's of the city as well. Stop at the restaurant at the bottom for lunch as well - the views are great!
7. Plaça Reial
Plaça Reial is a square just off La Rambal, and is a popular tourist attraction, especially at night. The plaza hosts many restaurants and some of the city's most famous nightclubs, including Sidecar, Jamboree, Karma and the historic and reinvented speakeasy cocktail bar Nou Pipa Club. The square is the site of the Hotel Roma Reial and is also known for its many outdoor venues. It is a popular meeting place during the summer and during other celebrations such as New Year's Eve. Come here and have lunch and or dinner and watch the locals all pass by
The square's lampposts were designed by the Antoni Gaudí - he's doing well on the list with 3 of the 7 so far!
8. Olympic Park Area/ Parc Montjuic
Whilst not a single place - the olympic park area of the city is a good one to head to. There are a number of museums around the site (if that's your thing). You can visit the site mostly for free.
Barcelona’s Parc Montjuic was the location for the 1992 Olympic Games and all the facilities are still there. The biggest structure is the Olympic Stadium, but you can also see the Swimming Complex (who can forget the diving with the city back drop)!
The stadium was originally built in 1927 ready for the International Expo in 1929. It was fully renovated in 1989 in time for the Olympics. Sadly like many Olympic stadiums it's now hardly used and is only used by a local amateur football team.
Parc Montjuic itself is a great area to walk around and less busy with tourists. A good way to get to top of the Park is the Montjuic Cable Car which is a lovely scenic experience. The Olympic Stadium is open in the summer, daily from 10am to 8pm and in the winter, daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission to the Olympic Stadium is free.
9. Bus Tours
Some people love them some hate them but I think for Barcelona it's one of the things that you should do. The city is large. There are a number of different parts that with the public transport network would take time to get too. If you're not an art fan you can go past the buildings and you don't feel you've wasted your time walking to it but still see it. Of course it also allows you to get off at the main parts of my list and see the sights as well!
Couple of different options on buses but I've always used City Sightseeing busses and had a good experience!
10. The Beach!
Obviously this one is a little time dependant. Heading to Barcelona in December it probably doesn't apply! But in the summer yes you can get a beach holiday and also combine it with a city break as well!
It’s coastline stretches for 4.5km and offers the tourists a wide variety of excellent beaches. The most popular beaches are Barceloneta, Mar Bella, Nova Icariaand Bogatell. Barceloneta is probably the closest beach to the city and the easiest way to get to this beach is by catching the yellow line metro. Walking from the city takes about 20 minutes. Barceloneta is a wide long beach full of restaurants, which are mostly American style and bars.
The Nova Icaria beach is quite close to the Olympic Marina and is full with fantastic beachside bars and restaurants. If you are visiting this beach, make sure the sample the cuisine in Mango and Chiringuito restaurants.