Barcelona - My top 10 favorite attractions

Sunday, November 15, 2015 Books And Trips

Still under the influence of my most recent trip to Barcelona, here are my top 10 favorite attractions from the city of Gaudi. The order is totally random, because everything impressed me in a different way and enriched my experience in this amazing city.

1. Casa Batlo - one of the most renowned constructions of Antonio Gaudi, is located on Passeig de Gracia, on a bustling street full of unusual buildings, posh restaurants and luxury stores.
I compared it with Champs Elysee. The Modernista house isn't like anything else I've ever seen - it looks visceral, skeletal, organic, you name it. The local name for the building is Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones), and it is easily identifiable by the irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. Most of the facade is decorated with mosaics made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadis), ranging from shades of golden orange to greenish blues. The feeling you get when you are inside this wonder of architecture is of underwater bliss. Totally worth the visit, but I wish this attraction wasn't so overcrowded by other tourists.

2. Cathedral of Barcelona (La Seu) - this is a gem, situated in the Gothic Quarter. It was as imposing as Notre Dame de Paris or the Dome of Florence, another example of Gothic architecture from the middle ages, rebuilt over centuries. I am still awed on how something like this was built back then without cranes and modern tools. A stunning work of architecture, that makes you feel so little compared to its greatness. The artwork inside is amazing and the structure vast. Don't miss the garden area in the back, with its honking geese and the unexpected palm trees. If you want to visit it for free, you may do so from 8 to 12 in the afternoon Monday to Saturday, after 1 PM the entry is 7 euro and allows you to climb up to the top for an amazing view over the city. Sundays are free!

3. Mercat de la Boqueria - can I just say "YUUUUUM"!!!! It took us 3 tries to get in there. On the first day we went to Mercat de la Boqueria it was a national holiday, so the market was closed, on the second time it was a Sunday and it was again closed - therefore, as an inside joke we named it "Mercat de la Porqueria". Not the market's fault, just us the pesky uninformed tourists! However, the moment we got in there we were overwhelmed by all the food stands, the fruit, the candy, the Jamon Serrano - there was just such an amazing feast for the eyes and the palate. We tried the best tasting smoothies in there Coco Pina and Mango Pina - made of exotic fruit and tasting of paradise. I could gain 5 pounds just in a visit to this place!

4. Parc Güell - this park is another one of Gaudi's works of art, commissioned by Eusebi Güell who wanted to create a stylish park for Barcelona aristocracy. The park contains amazing stone structures, stunning tiling (trencadis) and fascinating buildings. At the top of Güell park is a terraced area where you get a wonderful view of the park and of Barcelona City. Park Güell also hosts a small house in in which Gaudí lived in at one stage. The house has now been converted into a museum and contains interesting furniture also designed by Gaudí. If you're visiting the park by metro be prepared for at least a 20 minutes walk. The last 200 m walk is up a steep hill, so wear comfortable shoes and bring some water!

5. Poble Espanyol - this was one of my favorite attractions in Barcelona and I would definitely go back there again if I had the chance. Poble Espanyol is an architectural museum in Barcelona, just a few meters away from the Fountains of Montjuïc, initially built for the Internation Exhibition from 1929. Although it was planned to be demolished when the International Exhibition was completed, it was preserved due to it's great success and by public request. This has been built as a village, made up of different quarters, so visitors can still see streets, squares and facades with reproductions of buildings of different Spanish areas. The village today celebrates various gastronomic festivals, concerts in summer, Flamenco shows, private events (weddings, celebrations...), children's activities, festivals and more… Be sure to add it on the list, you can see the whole Spain in one village! Also, the restaurants offer delicious food and you can also find some souvenirs to bring home from the artisan shops.

6. Sagrada Familia - I will confess - we did not go in! This is something we plan to do once the basilica is finished, and you always need a reason to go back to Barcelona, right? Plus, the lines were huge and we did not book any tickets in advance. However, the construction is amazing and I was impressed with its size and details of the facade.

7. The Marina & Beaches - I love a city with beaches! That being said, we really enjoyed strolling in the Barceloneta quarter, full of nice little restaurants, serving the freshest of food. The beaches are very clean, the water extremely salty from my point of view, but it is definitely worth going for a swim in Barcelona. Also, the Old Port is a really nice attraction, with Columbus' statue pointing to the Americas and all the lovely buildings in the area. If you walk down the Rambla, all the way to the statue, you will reach Port Vell, and enjoy the sight of the yachts like we did!

8. Barcelona History Museum - this is one of the greatest finds. It was free to visit on Sundays, so we took advantage of it and got to see the history of Barcelona, from it's time as a Roman colony, to today's fantastic development that was prompted by the 1992 Olympic Games. Also, you get to walk underneath the Placa del Rei, through the ruins of medieval Barcelona - it's a treat!

9. MNAC - The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is situated on Montjuïc hill at the end of Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, near Pl Espanya. It is an impressive building, which embodies the academic classical style that predominated in constructions for all the universal exhibitions of the period, surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering a view of the Magic Fountains. Its façade is crowned by a great dome inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City in Rome, flanked by two smaller domes, while four towers modelled on Santiago de Compostela Cathedral stand at the corners of the so-called Sala Oval, or Oval Hall. It hosts a great number of art collections, so it is definitely a stop for art lovers. Well worth the visit, and keep in mind that it is free on Sundays!

10. Passeig de Gracia - Barcelona's Champs Elysee. This is one of the major avenues in Barcelona and one of its most important shopping and business areas, containing several of the city's most celebrated pieces of architecture (Casa Batlo, Casa Milla are here). It is located in the central part of Eixample, stretching from Plaça Catalunya to Carrer Gran de Gràcia. This is where you will find the greatest brand stores, as Passeig de Gràcia is regarded as the most expensive street in Barcelona and in Spain.

There are still so many other things I did not get to explore, so many experiences I did not have, but it's fine, you cannot do everything in a week and I'd love to have something to come back here for. As corny as it sounds, I do feel I left a little piece of my heart in Barcelona and I would go back there at moment's notice if I had the chance.