It may not be the capital of Spain, but Barcelona is most certainly the capital of Catalonia, and it’s one of the more bustling, thriving and varied cities that Europe has to offer. You might say it’s equipped with the perfect mix of old and new, and given its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, it also boasts something that most other major cities do not: a beach! Of course, figuring out things to do in this town isn’t quite as easy as deciding to come here, so we’re here to help. Read on for five incredible things to see and do while in Barcy, be it for business or pleasure.
%Gallery-117263%A visit to Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most famous church
Köln has The Dom, Paris has the Notre Dame Cathedral, and Barcelona has Sagrada Familia. Architected by the famed Antoni Gaudí, this massive Catholic place of worship doubles as a massive place of crowd gathering. It’s one of the more popular tourist stops in the city, and it’s well-positioned for finding other things to do within walking distance. Ground was broke on this church in 1882, and it’s still not done. Estimates say that it’ll be completed within the next two decades, but locals seem to have their doubts. Despite the cranes and construction, it’s still a sight to behold. You don’t have to go inside to appreciate it, but €12.50 (and a lot of waiting in line) will give you a lot more to savor.
A leisurely stroll through Parc Güell, another Gaudí masterpiece
Sense a trend? Barcelona’s face has been painted by Gaudí, and his impressions are all over this beautiful (and vast) park. There are a number of entryways, and none of them charge admission. The “Zona Monument” is the primary entrance, and you’ll know you’re there if you spot two tall, white-tiled towers surrounded by mobs of people and even more colored tiles. There’s a “lucky lizard” in the center of the monument that you’re supposed to kiss, but beware of the “live lizard” standing at the gate. He’ll happily pose for a photograph, but only after you cough up a bit of change. So much for free admission! (P.S. – Skip the photograph — the interior of the park is more deserving of your attention).
Dipping and dodging down La Rambla
Common sense (and we here at Gadling) will tell you to avoid La Rambla at night. We’ve had first-hand experience with a pal being mugged there. But despite its well-earned stereotype, it’s an interesting place to scope out during the day. Loads of street vendors are out in force with great deals, and there are mimes galore freezing for your cash. Just keep a close eye on your pockets, and enjoy the zaniness that can only be found on this street.
One of Barcelona’s strong points is its wealth of museums. It’s really hard to go wrong, but we’d recommend you either love design or have an open mind about learning more on the subject. La Pedrera (by Antoni Gaudí), Museu Futbol Club Barcelona (for soccer fans), Museum d’ Història de Catalunya (self-explanatory), Maritime Museum, the Catalan Museum of Archaeology and the Museo Picasso de Barcelona are all worth a visit if you’re into those types of things, but they’re obviously more attractive in the winter when you can’t just pop on your swim suit and head to our final recommendation.
Playa Barceloneta: a beach, in the city!
It’s true! Barcelona, unlike many metropolises, has a beach. And not a “nearby beach,” but a beach that’s firmly within the city and is just a quick walk from the center of town (or easily accessible via metro / taxi). Playa Barceloneta is hailed as one of the world’s best urban beaches, and we aren’t arguing. There’s a massive strip of sand to enjoy (for a city, mind you), and the Mediterranean Sea is lovely to jump in during the summer. If you arrive in the off-season, the sand still slips between your toes just as easily, but you’ll need a serious wetsuit (or skin made from steel) to handle the chilly waters.
Have any Barcelona tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below!