Barcelona is a beautiful coastal city on the northwest side of Spain. This unique city that hosts two distinct cultures, Spanish and Catalan, has many wonderful activities and sights to see. When going to a new city it is always a struggle to know what to prioritize so you do not miss anything. Unfortunately, there is only limited time in the day. You must narrow it down to the most amazing structures and locations to wisely utilize your time. This list of the top ten sites to visit during a study abroad program in Barcelona will make sure you visit the cream of the crop during your stay in this artistic city.
1. Ciutadella Park (Parc de la Ciutadella)
This must see park is actually easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. It is incredibly beautiful and filled with locals enjoying the sunshine. You’ll see everything from people paddling around in the small lake, to enjoying the beautiful view of the fountain in the middle of the park. This must see park is the perfect place for a picnic lunch, or a bottle of wine on the paddle boats.
2. Casa Batllo
Architect Antoni Gaudi designed this lovely house for a wealthy Catalan family in the early twentieth century. Many say that he pulled his inspiration from the water and the creatures within it. This colorful house is an amazing place to visit, although it is one of the more pricy Gaudi locations to visit, it is truly one-of-a-kind. You will never see architecture like this in your life again.
3. La Pedrera—Casa Mila
This is another one of Gaudi’s famous houses designed for a wealthy family in the twentieth century. However, the style is very different from Casa Batllo with more cast iron and stone used in the design. Although both locations were designed by the same architect, they both have very distinct personalities. Lucky for you, La Pedrera is only a couple of blocks from Casa Batllo, so you could hit both in one day!
4. Sagrada Familia
This massive Roman Catholic Church is probably the most famous building in Barcelona and was also designed by Antoni Gaudi. However, he died before he could see it finished. Construction began 1882 and continues to this day. Gaudi was constantly changing his vision and redirecting the design. Upon completion, the church will have 18 towers and be able to seat 13,000 people.
5. Park Guell
Yet another amazing but very different design by Gaudi, this hillside park makes visitors work a little to enjoy it. Visitors will need to walk up hundreds of stairs to take it in so wear comfortable shoes. The beauty of the park is completely worth the hike. The same beautiful mosaics bring the park to life. Make sure to get some great photos by the lizard on the lower part of the portion designed by Gaudi.
6. Las Ramblas & La Boqueria
Las Ramblas is the most famous street in Barcelona. It is a lovely and has lots of food options and tourist shops. The must see on this strip of road is La Boqueria, which is a traditional Spanish market that has everything from fruit, to goat heads, to olives. Plan to eat lunch or breakfast at La Boqueria and enjoying the taste of traditional Spanish cuisine.
7. Montjuic Park
This huge park is on the opposite side of the city from Park Guell. It is best to visit the two on different days to avoid spending too much time traveling. The park also includes a castle with free entrance that gives visitors a sprawling view of the Port of Barcelona. There are several beautiful gardens that are nice to stroll through. Once again, be prepared for a lot of walking. You can take a gondola to the top and back down, but then you miss the gardens in between. If you want to minimize walking, do a one-way gondola ride up and then stroll back down through the gardens.
8. Plaza Espanya
This beautiful plaza has a lovely fountain that goes off every half hour starting at 9 pm. The fountain lights up and is a spectacular site accompanied by music. Most visitors stake out a spot on the steps below the lovely Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC). The area around it is filled with events and conventions, plus, it is near Barcelona’s old bull fighting ring.
9. Plaza Catalunya
This is another lovely plaza that has a large fountain in the middle. This is a great neighborhood with delicious food and some good shopping. Plaza Catalunya is also a metro stop so you will likely stop there at some point and be pleasantly surprised by this lovely piece of Spanish artwork.
10. The Barcelona Beach
One of Barcelona’s many alluring features is its beautiful sandy beach. The challenge is with a city so filled with history and beautiful landmarks, do you have time to lounge on the sand? An afternoon at the beach is a great way to rest your feet and let the beauty of the city soak in. The sun is strong here so make sure to bring sunscreen to avoid a nasty burn.