Barcelona is a must-see cultural center and Spain’s second-largest city. Its location on the Mediterranean coast makes it a popular port on Mediterranean cruise itineraries. And that’s how and when I visited. Our cruise ended in Barcelona and we spent two days there before flying back home.
Barcelona is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We were able to see only one of them: the Works of Antoni Gaudí. Even though they lumped them all together, there are actually seven properties that are included. Two of them made my list of 4 Must-see places in Barcelona. Read on to find out which ones.
1. La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família is a towering basilica and the most visited building in Barcelona. It is unlike any other church I have seen. It was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí who dedicated more than 40 years of his life to its construction. And it is still unfinished.
This magnificent work of art has become an iconic landmark for the city. You must take a tour to appreciate all of the details. Gaudí was inspired by nature. The columns that support the building branch off at the top like the trunk of a tree.
Bronze doors are covered with leaves and flowers, and when you look closely, you’ll notice that there are even insects included in the design.
What struck me most was the way that the late afternoon sunlight coming through the stained glass windows filled the church with color.
La Sagrada Familia is also an especially interesting attraction for math lovers like my family. The geometry is fascinating. There’s also a magic square on one facade. When you add the numbers in any row or column, or even the diagonals, they add up to 33, the age of Jesus at his crucifixion. Cool, huh? Maybe that’s what God meant when He said we should love him with all our mind.
2. Park Güell
Park Güell is the other Gaudí creation that I think is a must-see. Its colorful, curvy mosaic benches are perhaps its most recognizable feature.
The lizard (or dragon) is another popular feature. We had to wait in line to take a picture.
I think that the mosaic-tiled roofs on the buildings make them look like frosted gingerbread houses.
The other features are also fascinating and I recommend taking a tour to learn more.
3. Las Ramblas
This pedestrian boulevard is a vibrant part of the city center of Barcelona. It’s a fun place to walk and people-watch in the city. It’s also a great place to buy some souvenirs. You’ll find all kinds of kiosks along with street artists and performers.
Our hotel was located just a block off Las Ramblas, so we walked there both days that we were in Barcelona.
4. Day trip to Montserrat
My in-laws had visited Montserrat while they were in Barcelona the year before we went there. The pictures looked amazing and I knew I had to go there. Montserrat is a stunning jagged mountain range about an hour’s drive from Barcelona. Perched in the mountains is a Benedictine monastery where approximately 80 monks live.
Once you’re up there, you have a few different options. First, we took a tour of the monastery grounds.
What an amazing setting, right?
Another option is to ride the funicular even higher up the mountain. It looked fun, but we didn’t have enough time to do everything.
Instead, we decided to explore some of the hiking trails.
The vistas from the mountain are breathtaking.
Do you want to visit Barcelona?
I can help! In fact, I’m currently working with some clients to plan a customized itinerary to Spain and Portugal that includes Barcelona. I plan a lot of custom trips for clients, but I can also help you find the right cruise or escorted tour if that’s your preferred travel style. Read about how my services work here. If you think we might be a good fit for each other, send me an email. We’ll schedule a Zoom call for a complimentary consultation.