If you have read our last couple virtual vacations we have been checking out Spain. First we went to Madrid and then we traveled from Madrid to the Costa del Sol. Now we are going to hit one more city in Spain before we leave, and it is listed in the top 20 destinations worldwide according U.S. News and World Report. Coming in at number 11 is Barcelona! My husband and son spent a few days exploring this amazing city last summer. After hearing of their adventures, I was pretty jealous!
The capital of Catalonia offers amazing history and culture, clean urban beaches, world-class nightlife, shopping and phenomenal dining options, including 24 Michelin star restaurants. It is also the embarkation port for many Southern Europe cruise itineraries, so make sure you allow a couple days to explore the city if you are cruising from here. Now, let’s check out some of the highlights!
One of the two most popular tourist attractions is La Sagrada Familia. Construction began in 1882 and is not slated to be completed until 2026. It is the tallest religious structure in Europe at over 550 feet tall. The architect, Antoni Gaudí knew the structure would not be completed in his lifetime. He died in 1926 and is buried in a tomb in the underground level of the church.
The second most popular attraction is Park Güell a public park system of gardens and architectural elements located in Carmel Hill. Built between 1900 and 1914, it too was designed by Antoni Gaudí. Highlights include the Austria Gardens and Gaudi House Museum, Laundry Room Portico, Serpentine Bench, a well-known mosaic tile bench that winds its way along the terrace around the park, and the mosaic salamander statue that resides at the gates of the park and acts like a symbol of Barcelona. Check out this tour of the park.
As you can see by now, Gaudí left his mark all over Barcelona. The last private residence he created, Casa Milá is a modernist building, popularly known as La Pedrera or “The stone quarry” a reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance. Tours are offered daily with special experiences offered at night, for a video tour click here.
Casa Batiló, considered one of Gaudí’s masterpieces, is located in the center of Barcelona. A remodel of a previously built house it was redesigned by Gaudí in 1904. Now A UNESCO World Heritage site open to the public, it is a must see for those that want to discover Gaudí’s work. The site attracts over 1 million visitors a year. Check out this informative video tour of the building.
Las Ramblas is a large boulevard that runs through the heart of the city centre and it is famous for its street performers and human statues. Visitors will also find dozens of restaurants and shops along the way. Major attractions here include the Christopher Columbus monument and a Modernist Boqueria Market. Adjacent to Las Ramblas is the Gothic Quarter an area is known for its narrow medieval streets filled with trendy bars, clubs and Catalan restaurants.
The Montjuïc area of Barcelona is a scenic wooded hill overlooking the city. Visitors will find many activities in the area including museums, the Olympic stadium and venues, Montjuïc Castle, and much more. To learn more about Montjuïc check out this video.
The Museu Picasso houses one of the largest collections of art by Pablo Picasso with over 4,200 pieces of his collection. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s La Ribera neighborhood, a formerly very prestigious street home to wealthy merchants and nobility from the Gothic to Baroque periods. Major works highlighted include First Communion (1896) and Science and Charity (1897). For a brief tour, click here.
The Barcelona History Museum preserves a few Roman sites, such as the temple of Augustus and the Funeral Way on Place de la Vila de Madrid. Visitors can also see the city’s ancient history detailed in layers including remnants of a garum factory, laundries, dyeing shops and parts of ancient Barcino’s walls.
Soccer fans will love a tour of the stadium, Camp Nou for the hometown fútbol team FC Barcelona. Tours include the stands, field, away side changing room, the tunnel, press room, mixed zone and dugout. Visitors will also enjoy learning about the clubs' history, players, memorabilia and trophies at the FC Barcelona Museum.
How about some fun in the sun? Barcelona’s beaches stretch for miles. The westernmost beaches are busier and more touristy but there are a lot of trendy shops and restaurants near by. After the Olympic Port area you will find less crowds and more locals. The seaside district of Diagonal Mar has modern hotels, upscale open-air gastrobars, and local artists, musicians, and street food vendors can be found at the Palo Alto Market.
This wraps up our virtual tour of Spain. Where would you like to visit first?