Things to do in: Barcelona

So, you’re all set to embark on your cruise ship in Barcelona and sail from Moll D’Adossat heading to explore fantastic ports of call around the Mediterranean or even further afield.

However, if you have the time it would be well worthwhile arriving into this amazing city in advance and exploring some of the most wonderful sights in Europe. There is so much to see and do, you may not be able to visit them all in one trip, so that gives you a wonderful excuse to visit this vibrant city on many more occasions.

I’ve tried to categorise some of the many attractions into several sections to make choosing what you’d like to do and see a little easier (hopefully!). There are lots more, this is a small selection of 20!

ANTONI GAUDI

Antoni Gaudí was a Spanish architect from Catalonia. He is the best-known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works have a highly individualized, and one-of-a-kind style, most of which are located in Barcelona. Here’s a few well worth visiting.

La Sagrada Familia

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Carrer Mallorca, 401 – a huge basilica whose construction was started in 1882 and not finished yet!

How to get there –  Metro: Sagrada Familia (Blue Line, L5) and (Purple Line, L2)

Parc Guell 

A wonderful large park designed by Antoni Gaudí full of amazing stone structures, colourful ceramic tiles and the house where Gaudí lived.

How to get there –  Metro: Lesseps (Green Line, L3) On leaving the metro follow the street signposts for the park.

Casa Batlló

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This is one of the two great buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí on Passeig de Gràcia, the other being La Pedrera (see below)

How to get there –  Metro: Passeig de Gràcia (Green Line, L3) Calle Aragó-Rambla Catalunya exit.

Casa Milà

Popularly known as La Pedrera – originally designed and built as a home for a wealthy family.

How to get there – No 92 Passeig de Gràcia  Metro: Diagonal (Green Line, L3)

WALKING, EATING, SHOPPING, EXPLORING & RELAXING

One of the most famous areas of Barcelona is the street lined with shops, bars, restaurants, and shops. La Rambla (Las Ramblas) leading for a distance of 1.2 kms from Placa de Catalunya at the start to the Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument) near the seafront at the end.

How to get there –  Metro: Placa Catalunya – start/top (Green Line, L3) and (Red Line, L1) or Liceu – middle (Green Line, L3) and Drassanes – end/bottom (Green Line, L3).

Placa Catalunya

A huge square at the top of La Rambla regarded as the most central point of the city. It is also a major transport hub where things like the Aerobus starts and ends for trips to/from the airport. The numerous ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tours start and end here too. Surrounded by shops (most famous, El Corte Ingles department store), bars and restaurants it’s always extremely busy and lively, day or night.

How to get there:  Metro – Plaça de Catalunya (Green Line, L3) and (Red Line, L1)

Leading off the square is my next suggested sight heading towards the sea.

La Rambla

A tree-lined street full of market stalls, café bars, and most famously, street entertainers posing as statues. Take a leisurely stroll as possible (it’s always packed with people) down this paved street (there are roads on either side) and take in the sights and sounds of Barcelona.

Relax at one of the numerous bars/cafes on La Rambla and the staff will serve you from bars across the road. There are many kiosks selling everything from souvenirs to flowers and pet stalls.

La Boqueria

Rambla, 91 – a large public market and one of the city’s main tourist landmarks, with an entrance from La Rambla, very close to the Liceu, Barcelona’s opera house.

How to get there:  Metro: Liceu (Green Line, L3)

Plaça Reial

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A picturesque square situated just off La Rambla. The square offers you a relaxing spot to have a coffee or a bite to eat and just take in the atmosphere. The square has a beautiful fountain in the centre and some fine restaurants and bars.

How to get there:  Metro: Liceu (Green Line, L3)

Mirador de Colom

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(Christopher Columbus Monument) Plaça Portal de la Pau – this marks the end of La Rambla and is in the centre of an extremely busy traffic roundabout. The monument was built in 1888 to honour Christopher Columbus when he disembarked from Barcelona to find the New World

How to get there:  Metro: Drassanes (Green Line, L3)

Barri Gòtic 

Situated on the right- hand side of the La Rambla as you look towards Plaça de Catalunya. It is the area in which the old town of Barcelona is situated and is characterized by narrow cobbled streets with tall old buildings.

How to get there:  Metro: Liceu (Green Line, L3)

Vila Olímpica

Built and developed for the 1992 Olympics, this marina area comprises of hotels, bars, restaurants and a beach further along at Barceloneta.

How to get there –  Metro – Ciutadella Vila Olimpica (Yellow Line, L4)

Port Vell

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Located at the end of La Rambla if you cross the busy road and traffic hurtling around the Columbus Monument is an area offering an Aquarium, Cinema with cafes, bars, restaurants, (with fast food options) and the Mare Magnum shopping centre. https://maremagnum.klepierre.es/Tiendas

How to get there:

Metro: Drassanes (Green Line, L3) 10 minutes’ walk.

Metro: Barceloneta (Yellow Line, L4) 15 minutes’ walk.

MOUNTAINS, MUSEUMS, PALACES AND SPORT

If you have found yourself at the sea in the Port Vell area then you are in a position to see another important area of the city and that is Montjuic Mountain rising up 173 metres above Barcelona. There are several ways to get there as detailed below.

Montjuic Funicular 

At Parallel Metro station take the Funicular. You can use a public transport ticket, so it’s a cheaper option and works out at €1.03 one way or €2.06 return with a T10 ticket. That said, it only takes you halfway up, but handy if you’re travelling from the other side of the city.

How to get there:  Metro: Paral-lel (Green Line, L3)

Teleferico de Montjuic

If you alight the Funicular and want to continue your journey up the mountain, then ride this cable car to the summit and the castle.

Transbordador Aeri del Port:

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From Port Vell, you can hop on a cable car for a scenic cruise across the Mediterranean Sea that will land you around halfway up the mountain of Montjuic. Official website http://www.telefericodebarcelona.com/en/

How to get there:  Metro: Barceloneta (Yellow Line, L4)

There are museums, gardens, and sporting venues to explore with a castle at the summit.

Fundació Joan Miró

A museum dedicated to the artist Joan Miró. It first opened to the public on 10 June 1975 that displays the private art collection of Miró. https://www.fmirobcn.org/en/

Estadi Olímpic

The Barcelona Olympic Stadium is a sports arena that was constructed in 1927. The stadium was originally built in preparation for the International Expo in 1929. It was then renovated in 1989 for the Summer Olympics in 1992. https://www.estadiolimpic.cat/en/

The Magic Fountains of Montjuïc

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As you head down from Montjuic towards Placa d’Espana you will see these amazing fountains. There are nightly performances of a light, music and water extravaganza that just can’t be missed, times vary depending on the time of year.

https://www.barcelona.cat/en/what-to-do-in-bcn/magic-fountain?lang=en_GB

How to get there:  Metro: Plaça d’España (Green Line, L3) and (Red Line, L1)

Back at street level, you may want to visit another must for sports fans.

Camp Nou Stadium

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The home of Barcelona FC. With the stadium’s capacity of almost 100,000 people, the grounds are a Mecca for football/soccer fans around the world.

One of the most popular tours in the city is the Barcelona FC Stadium and Museum Tour.

https://www.fcbarcelona.com

How to get there: Metro: Collblanc (Blue Line, L5)

Picasso Museum

Montcada, 15-23 08003 Barcelona. The museum is a key reference for understanding the formative years of Pablo Picasso. The genius of the young artist is revealed through the 4,251 works that make up the permanent collection.

http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en

How to get there:  Metro: Jaume l (Yellow Line, L4)

FURTHER AFIELD

If you have the time, I’d suggest a couple of places outside of Barcelona that can easily be visited in a day and accessible with the minimum of effort by train.

Montserrat Monastery

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For many visitors, a trip to Montserrat is the highlight of their visit to Barcelona. It is a spectacular Benedictine monk mountain retreat about one-hour from Barcelona by train.

You can travel to Montserrat from Plaça d’España rail station which is on the green and red metro lines making it accessible from any part of the city centre that has a metro stop. Once there, look for Line R5 headed towards Manresa.

It is advisable to arrive in plenty of time as it can be a little confusing to find the R5 track. The rail station is large, extremely busy and the directions to the R5 track could be clearer.

(check out https://highseasescapades.co.uk/10-tips-for-sightseeing-safely-in-barcelona/)

The Journey time to Montserrat from Plaça d’España station takes approximately one hour.

You have two options to reach the Monastery once you have taken the train ride. The first is a cable car ride (Aeri) up to the Monastery the second is the Funicular Cremallera Train.

Cable Car (Aeri de Montserrat)

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The cable car ride from the train stop Aeri de Montserrat is only a 5-minute ride. You will have breathtaking views on the cable car ride up to the monastery however you will need to stand for the journey. Official website for the Montserrat Cable Car

Cremallera Funicular – Rack Train

If you don’t feel comfortable taking the cable car ride you can choose to take the Rack Train instead. For the Rack Train, you will need to get off one stop after Aeri de Montserrat at Monistrol.

The Rack Train ride will take 15 minutes to the Monastery and is a more comfortable ride than the cable car. However, you won’t have as good views as you would from the cable car.

The other advantage of taking the Cremallera Funicular is that you can sit down during the journey and the train is also suitable for those with wheelchairs.

I recommend that you arrive in plenty of time at Plaça d’España rail station because there are often queues to buy the tickets and the trains to Montserrat leave on time.

Make sure you buy the right tickets

You need to decide whether you want the Cable Ride (Aeri ticket version) to the Monastery after the journey from Barcelona or do you want the Funicular ride to the Monastery (Cremallera ticket version).

Look out for the helpful Montserrat tourist information staff at the stands just at the entrance to the Montserrat trains. They are excellent and will explain all the options available and help you purchase your tickets.

Although the tickets have the same name and the same prices there are two versions and so you will need to specify which one you want when you purchase your ticket.

They are not interchangeable and you cannot change your mind and use the other route once you have purchased the ticket.

e.g. for the “Trans Montserrat Ticket”, you will need to specify if you want the Cable Car version or if you want the Cremallera funicular version of that ticket. If you buy a cable car version of the ticket you cannot use it on the funicular or vice versa.

Sitges http://www.visitsitges.com/en/

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Sitges is a charming and extremely popular beach resort and a coastal town, located in the Garraf area in the province of Barcelona.

Sheltered by the Garraf mountains, Sitges has a warm “micro-climate” that makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities almost every day of the year.

Throughout the year numerous events take place: from the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, Carnival, the Festa Major, Theatre Festivals, The Barcelona-Sitges Vintage Car Rally, to the Harvest Festival, … the list goes on.

However, you can also enjoy a simple stroll along the sea-front boulevard, relaxing in the numerous bars and cafes, take a bike ride through the Garraf Natural Park or just soak up the atmosphere of the nightlife on the renowned “Dos de Mayo” street.

With 4 kilometres of beach and a delightful sea-front promenade featuring turn of the 20th-century colonial “Indiano” mansions on one side and the sea on the other, there is always a good excuse for a trip to Sitges.

How to get there: easiest by regular commuter train “R2 Sud” (Southbound) from the city.

This train service is available from three different train stations in Barcelona and takes approximately 35 minutes from the centre of the city. Sitges railway station gives easy access to the whole of the town as you make your way through the narrow winding streets flanked by shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels.

Estació de França

Located next to the Ciutadella Park on Avinguda Marqués de l’Argentera 1, between the neighbourhoods of La Barceloneta and La Ribera (also known as the Born neighbourhood)

Metro: Barceloneta (Yellow Line, L4)

Passeig de Gràcia

Is an underground railway and metro station located on the boulevard from which it takes its name at the height of Carrer Aragó (access available in front of Gaudí’s Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia).

Metro: Passeig de Gràcia (Purple Line, L2) and (Green Line, L3) and (Yellow Line, L4)

Sants

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Located in the Sants neighbourhood (Plaça dels Països Catalans, s/n), it is the main station for long distance national and international trains. Metro L3 & L5

Metro: `Sants Estacio’ (Green Line, L3) and (Blue Line, L5)

 

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Peter Horton

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