These are the biggies, the sights and attractions everyone tells you you cannot miss when you're in Barcelona. From the Sagrada Família and other Gaudí wonders to the city's famous beaches and parks, and including hidden temples and top museums – whether you live in Barcelona or are just visiting for a few days, you simply have to see these 50 wonders of the city!
More than 40 years of Antoni Gaudí's life was spent on this stunning Roman Catholic church. In fact, he worked on it until his death in 1926 and to this day teams continue to use Gaudí's plans to complete the ambitious build (which is expected to be finished in 2026). While opinions differ on the modernist design, it doesn't prevent locals and tourists alike from exploring the many winding walkways, staircases, spires and rooms of Sagrada Família.
Barcelona has more than 4.5 miles of beaches, from Sant Sebastià to Levante. Many of them can be found in Barceloneta, the historic maritime and workers neighbourhood that grew up on the island of Maians from the 17th century. It is well worth wandering through its streets to see its modest yet charming two-storey houses. Another attraction of the area is the excellent and varied cuisine: from tapas and vermouth, to paellas and seafood.
It's always worth seeing the cathedral of the city you're visiting, and Barcelona is no exception. Its cathedral is an impressive example of Gothic architecture that is now a Cultural Heritage Site and, since 1929, a National Historic Monument. It is dedicated to the Holy Cross and to Saint Eulalia, patron saint of Barcelona, who was martyred by the Romans and whose remains lie in the crypt. Apart from seeing the artistic and architectural riches of the interior, you should also visit the cloister with its 13 white geese (one for each year of Saint Eulalia's life) and worn engravings on the floor that detail which guild paid for each part of the chapel.
If you visit on Saturday or Sunday morning, you might even witness another Catalan tradition, the Sardana dance.
Before they carry out a multimillion-euro renovation job, fit in a visit to Camp Nou, the temple of FC Barcelona, and its museum, one of the most visited in Catalonia. One of the best options is the Camp Nou Experience, which includes a tour of all the most iconic spaces. Visit the grounds; the museum to find out more about the history of the club and see all its trophies; the Espacio Messi, with his four Golden Balls and three Golden Boots; and the multimedia zone. A paradise for fans!
Its stallholders have had to learn languages and indulge in public relations, because as well as being the main food market in Barcelona, La Boqueria is now a major tourist destination. Located on La Rambla, it's the biggest market in Catalonia with more than 300 stalls and a surface area of 2,583 square metres. Think of some obscure delicacy and it's almost guaranteed that you'll find it here. And after strolling around, you can always get a bite to eat at Quim de la Boqueria. Pure authenticity.
Illa de la Discòrdia
In just one city block in Barcelona, the section of Passeig de Gràcia between C/Aragó and C/Consell de Cent, there are five major buildings from the Catalan modernist era: Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Casa Mulleras by Enric Sagnier, Casa Bonet by Marcel·lí Coquillat, Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and Casa Batlló by Gaudí. It was named the 'Island of Discord' (also called the 'Block of Discord' in Spanish) because of the rivalries between the five architects.
Gaudí strikes again at this World Heritage Site. Known widely as La Pedrera (The Quarry), Casa Milà is a feat of modern architecture, despite being built between 1906 and 1912. There's no supporting wall in the curving structure, allowing for huge windows to let in streams of sunshine. Visitors to Casa Milà can wander freely, join one of the tours, browse an exhibition or see a concert on the terrace.
During the design of this public park, Gaudí became obsessed with the idea of bringing an English garden city to Barcelona. Therefore you'll see much greenery sprouting from the walls and walkways of Park Güell. Highlights when visiting include the Hall of One Hundred Columns (though it actually has 86); the mosaic serpent bench; and the salamander on the main steps. There is a fee to gain entry to the park, however there are free alternative ways to visit.
If the quality of a museum is measured by the number of people queuing to get in, the Picasso Museum takes first place. The museum was created by the artist himself and his friend and secretary, Jaume Sabartès, who contributed his collection. With more than 3,800 works making up the permanent collection, it shows the artist's formative years along with an extensive programme of temporary exhibitions.
This is undoubtedly the most renowned street in Barcelona. Stretching from Port Vell to Plaça de Catalunya in the centre, La Rambla offers a bevy of shops, flower stands, artwork and attractions. Don't miss the ornate Canaletes Fountain, Boqueria Market, Liceu Opera House and Teatre Principal.