Things to See & Do in Barcelona
The Centre d’Informació Turisme de Barcelona is located underground at Plaça de Catalunya 17. It is open daily, 9am to 9pm (M: Catalunya). Two smaller offices are located at Estació Sants and at the airport.
A nearly two-mile long, tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare – it’s the city’s most famous and active section. People from all over the world congregate at the numerous outdoor cafés and public benches to meet, greet, people watch and enjoy impressive street performances. Walking from Plaça de Catalunya to the Mediterranean, you will find vendors selling all sorts of crafts, artists displaying their works, and the colorful Mercat de la Bouqueria (food market – a great place to shop for a meal: olives, cheese, jamon and bread!).
At night, Las Ramblas is equally as entertaining, especially within the many gorgeous plazas that are framed by stunning romantic architecture and traditional fountains. Check out Plaça Reial for its many bars, outdoor cafés and clubs make for a great night’s adventure.
Sprawling to the east of Las Ramblas is the historic and hauntingly beautiful Barri Gòtic. Barcelona’s medieval center is a maze of dark narrow streets
encased by endless medieval structures, including churches, courtyards and plazas. Immerse yourself in the intense character and history of these gothic and mysterious surroundings while shopping at the many eccentric curiosity shops, flea markets and craft artisans.
A particularly interesting and lively spot includes the Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol (plaza with arts and crafts, musicians and cafés), Calle de Ferran, and the streets surrounding the church Santa Maria del Mar.
Passeig de Gràcia/L’Eixample
An interesting, lively neighborhood with many students and relaxing cafés. Set in the middle of the area of L’Eixample, Passeig de Gracia offers a great view into Barcelona life minus all the tourists. Catalan is the native language of these streets. M: Passeig de Gràcia.
Don’t miss the exquisite architecture found throughout the l’Eixample neighborhood, particularly on Passeig de Grácia, Rambla de Catalunya and the streets that pass between them. Of note are Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (Passieg de Gracia nos. 43 & 92).
La Sagrada Familia/Antoni Gaudi
Antoni Gaudi was at the forefront of modernismé, a period in which Catalan national culture flourished and Catalan identity was cultivated through the arts, most of all architecture. Gaudi’s tiled, curving, seemingly melting buildings are unlike any other architect’s work. One of the most impressive is the beautiful La Sagrada Familia. A masterpiece of 8 towers, you can enter the towers for an admission fee of 11. Open daily from 9am to 6pm (8pm Apr-Sept) M: Sagrada Familia.
Montjuïc is a hill to the west of Las Ramblas that overlooks the city. Situated on the hill is a beautiful castle, many museums, the “Olympic Ring” and various sports facilities that supported the events. Viewing many of these sites make for great, free sightseeing as entry to the Olympic Stadium is free. Also visit the fun and interesting Poblo Espanyol where by day you can buy little trinkets from the many craft vendors and by night enjoy the bustling bars and cafés.
Another area that saw much redevelopment for the Olympics was the port or waterfront at the bottom of Las Ramblas known as La Barceloneta. With many nightclubs, restaurants and shops, this is a great place to view modern public sculpture including the most famous, Fish, by American architect Frank Gehry. Beware of pickpockets at night in this area.
Focusing on Picasso’s earlier years, it is the most impressive Picasso collection in Spain, and is housed in beautiful medieval surroundings. Open Tues to Sun, 10am-8pm. Admission is 9. Carrer de Montcada 15-19. M: Jaume.