These are the 11 Best Things to Add to your Barcelona Bucket List
I loved travelling through Europe. A continent which rich history, culture, sites, experiences, and food, Europe ticks many wanderlust bucket list boxes. There’s a story behind every nook and cranny, and a flavour infusion ready to be tried. And Barcelona, the Catalonian capital, is no different! It has the complete package of things to see and do, untold stories ready to discover, and the usual cobbled streets with history and moments between every crack. Here are the essential 11 things to see and do that belong on your Barcelona Bucket List as you plan your ultimate European vacation.
These Are Essentials for your Barcelona Bucket List
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So, when I arrived in Barcelona, I did have a set schedule with various options I could choose. Besides stuffing my face with my first ever tapas and scouring the streets for the so-called Jordi Labanda shop (I was heartbroken to find out it closed down…) I decided to have a blast and take a stab at a Flamenco class.
A traditional cultural dance that gets the nation on their feet, heading to a flamenco dancing show and then taking a stab for yourself is some of the most fun you will have while in the city. Pair it with a cocktail and a few more tapas and it is an unmatched evening in the heart of Barcelona. There are several clubs where you can sign up and take part in the experience. Although to some it may seem touristy, I did find it very enjoyable and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Although, I did admit to having 2 left feet while attempting the moves….don’t judge me.
Sant Pau Hospital Barcelona
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A visit to the Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona is a unique peak into how modernist architecture blends with everyday functional use. This former hospital is located not far from the Sagrada Familia and can be visited on your own or with a guided tour.
The Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona was built between 1903 and 1930 by Lluís Domenech i Montaner. It was built in typical modernist style of that time. The compound was in use as a hospital until 2009 and opened its doors to the public in 2014 as one of the best off the beaten path things to do in Barcelona.
When you visit, you’ll be surprised by the lay out of the hospital with different houses for different medical treatments. You’ll be dazzled by the rich art nouveau features that make up the exterior and the interior of the Sant Pau Hospital. Colorful stained glass, intricate details and a quiet escape among orange trees that will certainly have helped the healing process of all the people who went through the hospital. If you’re interested in cultural sights, read more cultural nightly activities in Barcelona.
A visit to the Sant Pau Hospital can take up to 1.5 to 3 hours, depending how much of the different exhibitions you’d like to see and how many selfies you’d like to take. This is one hospital visit you can look forward to!
Admiring the Views at Sunset from one of Barcelona’s Coolest Rooftop Terraces
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With the good weather that the city of Barcelona enjoys most of the year, one of the best plans for people passionate about sunsets and travel photography is to get on one of the many terraces in the city and simply enjoy the natural daily show of the sunset over this wonderful city.
As I mentioned, there are many terraces. Some of the most famous are Terrasa Del Gotic, Hotel Arts, Mood, and Midmost. In any case, my favourite is the rooftop terrace bar of hotel Barcelo Raval, called 360. A real treat as captured in the photo below!
This terrace is perfect to admire the different neighbourhoods of the city in any direction because as its name suggests it gives a 360 degree vantage point. With plenty of room to sit, drink delicious cocktails, and plunge in a carefully designed pool, there is no better place in Barcelona for a drink after a busy day of sightseeing and start planning the next day. A definite must on your Barcelona bucket list.
Just keep in mind that should it rain, the experience may be diminished as it is completely outside. Enjoy!
Pavilion Mies van der Rohe
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More than thirty million tourists visit Barcelona every year. That’s right…thirty million. So, it’s not surprising that sometimes you just want to escape the crowds in the Catalonian capital, and I have preferred a spot for seeking out a moment of solace.
Situated at the base of Montjuic, tucked away to the side of the Font Magica and the Palau Nacional, Pavilion Mies Van der Rohe is quite possibly my favourite place in the entire city. In 1929, architect van der Rohe designed the pavilion to serve as the German national pavilion at Barcelona’s International Exhibition.
When the exhibition was over the pavilion was dismantled, but its stone, steel and glass design was so powerful that it remained an architectural talking point for the next half-century. In the 1980’s a group of urban planners and architects petitioned to reconstruct the pavilion according to its original plan, on its original site, and the rest is history.
Every time I visit Barcelona I make a point of stopping at the pavilion, typically first thing in the morning or in the hour before it closes. Often I am the only person there and can spend a few quiet moments appreciating the modern design, quiet surroundings and stunning statue by Georg Kolbe. Somehow, it magically feels like I’ve been transported to the past and the future, simultaneously, and I always leave with a renewed feeling of tranquility.
An iconic masterpiece work by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo is a perfect example of Modernism or Art Nouveau style of architecture. Gaudi comes from an aristocrat textile family of Barcelona, becoming a famous architect for his special extraordinary style of creative structures.
Now listed as a UNESCO listed masterpiece building, his residence has now been converted into a museum with the local name House of Bones or House of Dragon.
The whole façade is irregularly shaped with oval balconies resembling protruding jaws with a base like abstract bones with a scaly roof made with blue ceramic tiles. The exteriors are covered with multicolored pieces of ceramic tiles, broken stained glass pieces put together to create a water lily motif, and a roof shaped like a back of a dragon or giant.
While touring inside, you can see the explosion of colour and special lights reflecting from uniquely placed intricate floral patterns on the windows and balconies. Everything is designed in such a way for the colours to reflect everywhere for you to witness the beauty in front of you. Entrance to the building is approx. 25 Euros per Adult or Free with a Barcelona Pass holder.
The Casa is opens 365 days a year and can be reached by public transport, Taxi, and Big Bus tours. It Located in the main heart of Barcelona. You can also book your place for Evening shows at Dragon Roof Terraces to immerse yourself into magical & colourful evenings in the city.
Unfinished but still the most visited spot in Barcelona, the Basilica of Sagrada Familia was constructed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. There are long queues and booking an online ticket is advisable. We bought the audio guide with a tower visit for 29 Euros.
Book a Tour: Fast-Track Sagrada Familia Entrance Ticket
We went up the Passion Façade and climbing down the spiral stairs was a fun experience. In the middle is the tower dedicated to Jesus Christ and around it is four towers representing the Gospels; the books containing the teachings of Jesus. The tower crowned by a star, represents his mother the Virgin Mary, while the remaining 12 towers represent the 12 Apostles, witnesses to his deeds.
The three monumental façades each one representing one of the pivotal moments in the life of Christ: his birth his passion, death and resurrection, and his present and future glory is a marvellous design piece.
The play of light and colours inside the Basilica is breathtaking. Sunlight glistens on the pinnacles of the towers. The rising sun lights up the Nativity facade, accentuates the joy for life that is the birth of Jesus. On the Passion facade the interplay of light and shadow produced by the setting sun heightens the unique character of the facade’s theme. The Glory facade receives the mid-day sun that shines on the 16 lanterns of the monumental porch and lights up the main entrance to the basilica.
Tibidabo Mountain and Amusement Park
If you’re travelling with a family or group that includes different age tastes, then this destination is a great option for you. Tibidabo is the name of a mountain, that when seen down from the city centre, looks like an enchanted castle, but when seen up close, holds a lot more value than just its’ evident beauty.
After just a short bus ride from the city’s central plaza, (or arriving by car), the first thing you will notice is the breathtaking city views that Tibidabo has to offer. Not only will you get to see the entire city next to the beach, but you will also notice the contrasting mountain views behind the hill. After driving a bit higher, on top of the mountain, you will see the “Sacred Heart” church, a neogothic building with a Cristo Redentor statue on top.
Following the views of the chapel, checking out the scenery, and walking around Tibidabo’s picturesque streets, you can also wind down and sip cocktails in the restaurant terraces surrounding the plaza. For those visiting with little ones, a convenient amusement park is situated right in front, which not only offers fun rides with a view, but allows the entire family to have fun on this day out in Barcelona!
The Montjuic is a hill in Barcelona. On top of the hill, the Palau Nacional is located. It was built for the International Exposition of 1929. Nowadays, the building is home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), which is the largest museum in Catalonia. In the museum, you can find Medieval Romanesque, Medieval Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern art. Luckily, an entrance ticket for the museum is valid for 2 days, so you’ll be able to explore the treasures of the museum at your own pace.
If you don’t have time to visit the museum, don’t skip the Montjuic! The exterior of the palace is equally stunning and an imposing structure to behold. From the top of the hill, you’ll have a gorgeous panorama over Barcelona. You can make out the sea and the Sagrada Familia. It’s a great place if you want to escape the busy city and relax.
Another sight in this part of Barcelona you cannot miss is the Magic Fountain, located on the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina. In the evening, the Magic fountain show is a spectacle of colour, light and music. It’s a must-visit. However, the fountain is still beautiful and worth a visit during the daytime.
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One of the best things to do in Barcelona is to eat your way through the La Boqueria market. Since it opened in 1840, La Boqueria has become one of the most famous markets in the world. It is popular so you will want to go early. Also be mindful of your belongings as pickpockets love crowded markets.
So what can you find at the La Boqueria Market in Barcelona? Meats, cheeses, seafood, bread, olives, pastries (empanadas), fruits, vegetables, juices, candy, gelato, and popsicles, to name a few. Buy some to sample while you are there or take it home with you. We tried a few things and I think the jamon was my favorite. There are also a few tapas bars too, so be sure you come to the market hungry.
La Boqueria is located close to La Rambla, the famous pedestrian street in central Barcelona. The closest metro stop is Liceu on the green line (L3). Be sure to bring some cash as not all stalls will accept credit card. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm and closed on Sundays.
Book a Tour: Park Güell Admission Ticket
Palau de la Musica Catalana
Barcelona is a city with no shortage of breathtaking architectural sights; the Palau de la Musica Catalana is definitely one of the highlights. The Palau is a shining example of the Catalan Art Noveau style of architecture, which was popularized by the famous Antoni Gaudi. However, the Palau is one of the most notable buildings in the city that was not designed by Gaudi.
It was instead created by Lluis Domenich i Montaner, who was a Gaudi Contemporary. The Palau took only 3 years to build (1905-1908), and was originally constructed to be a home for Barcelona’s choir. Today, it is the only concert hall on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and many word-class orchestras, choirs, recording artists, and singers have performed on its stage.
The Palau’s facade features rich, ornate details, while the interior of the concert hall features an innovative iron structure that allows light to stream through from the glass walls and stained glass ceiling. The Palau also has a gorgeous terrace, featuring colorful mosaic pillars. The entire structure is a feast for the eyes.
There are only two ways to see the Palau – to see a performance there, or to book a guided tour. It is absolutely worth doing the tour to be able take in the breathtaking beauty of the building, and to get some insight into the Catalan Art Noveau style.
The Magic Fountain
The Magic Fountain (or Font Magica) in Barcelona is one of the must-see spots for any tourist and as an added bonus, it’s completely free! . Every weekend just as it gets dark, music fills the air and the fountain puts on a dancing light show. The circular jets of the fountain are illuminated in such pretty pastel shades of color. I love that they are constantly changing so that no two pictures are alike.
The approximately 30 minute show is completely mesmerizing and the accompanying music which consists of recent hits is so much fun. The location is easy to find, right in front of the column lined steps to the National Art Museum in the Montjuic neighborhood. And as long as you arrive about an hour early, you can generally find a good watching spot. My husband and I perched on a rail front and center, but then later walked around during the show to see it from all angles. We ended up having a lovely date night with a dinner of tapas followed up with a Magic Fountain show.
Bunkers del Carmel
The closest metro stations to Bunkers del Carmel are El Carmel and Alfons X. From there you have to either take a short bus or walk up a hil for 20-30 minutes. The walk is quite steep but not hard as it’s all on paved roads. If you chose to do the walk, you will feel even more satisfied when you later start drinking sangria and eating snacks on top of the hill. So if you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Barcelona, while getting away from the tourist crowds, make sure to pay Bunkers del Carmel a visit.
So there you have our Barcelona Bucket List of amazing architecture and experience to get your trip rolling and off to a great start. Which of these have you already experienced?
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