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La Sagrada FamiliaGaudí’s unfinished cathedral (it has a projected completion date beyond 2026) is one of the most famous sights in Barcelona and a landmark of Modernista architecture. Be sure to visit each side of the cathedral’s façade, as they are all vastly different from the next. Tours are available, as is a lift ride to the cathedral spires.
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Museu PicassoMore than 3,500 permanent pieces make this the largest collection of Picasso’s works anywhere. Special focus is placed on his formative years, rather than his famed Cubist period. The crown jewel of the museum is the Las Meninas room where 58 of Picasso’s sketches and oil studies of the Velázquez masterpiece are housed. Guided tours in English are available on Thursdays at 6pm and Saturdays at noon.
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Parque GüellA veritable fairy-tale, Gaudí’s park is a blend of curving paths and 'Alice in Wonderland'-like sculptures tucked amongst the gardens. Views of Barcelona from the park terrace are breathtaking, as are the mosaic tiles that cover the benches there. Gaudí lived in a house on the property that has been turned into a museum, and is open to visitors for €4. Street musicians and various performers provide entertainment.
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MontjuïcThe hills of Montjuïc provide what are arguably the best views of Barcelona; the entire city is laid out below you, while the Mediterranean Sea glitters beyond it. Gardens and sculptures are plentiful, and in front of the Museu Nacional d’Arte de Catalunya (MNAC) the Magic Fountains dance to classical music in the evenings. The Fundació de Joan Miró houses frequent exhibits as well as works by the artist. There is also the Olympic Stadium and Museum, as well as the Palau Sant Jordi, the city's main venue for big-name concerts. If you want to brave the trail up the hill, the open-air escalators are a big help.
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La RamblaThe famous street (and side streets) that cannot be missed. It winds down to the port from Plaça Catalunya, and is famous for its bird sellers, street performers and flower stalls. Not forgetting the market, La Boqueria, where colourful stacks of fruits and vegetables are piled next to herbs, meats, cheese and fish stands. Gelato and fruit juice as well as unique candies are also sold. Just make sure to keep valuables somewhere safe as pickpockets are known to join the throngs.
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Passeig de GràciaPerhaps best known for housing Gaudí’s Modernista creations, Casa Battló and Casa Milà, fondly known as La Pedrera, which is open daily. Passeig de Gràcia is the main street in the classy and upscale Eixample district, where high-end designer names like Chanel, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo and Hermes abound. Multiple retail chains like Zara and H&M can also be found as well as mid-priced classics. Plenty of restaurants line the street, and at its lower end is Plaça Catalunya, a park-like square that leads to La Rambla.
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La PedreraOfficially titled Casa Milà, this architectural wonder by Antoni Gaudí is a must-see, even if you skip the tour and just gaze in awe at the soft lines and curves of this 1912 building. La Perdrera means ‘stone quarry’, as it was disdainfully nicknamed in its early years. Now however it’s a well-loved symbol of the city and of the daring and imaginative Gaudí. Tours are available for all three floors, including the main floor art gallery and giftshop, as well as the rooftop space adorned with chimneys and excellent views of the city.
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Barri GotícKnown as the Gothic Quarter or Old Town, the Barri Gotíc is a wealth of fascinating and impressive historical sights, including medieval churches, Roman walls, and architectural wonders from every century all the way back to the 1100s. The history of Barcelona is around every corner, and the streets follow the lines of the original Roman roads. Restaurants and cafés are plenty but head to the café Els Quatre Gats, where Picasso and other Bohemian artists gathered in the last century; the service can be brusque, but the ambience is special.
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Palau de la Música CatalanaSumptuously decorated Modernista architecture at its most opulent, and one of the most visually startling music halls in the world. Stained glass in vibrant colours are brilliant, breathtaking tile work covers the columns, and reliefs and sculptures are practically bursting from the walls and ceiling, depicting scenes of famous composers and mythical muses. Winged horses and charging Valkyries surround the balcony and stage, where some of the greatest names in music have performed over the years.
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Camp Nou98,000 football spectators need a grand stadium, and Camp Nou rises to the call. The passionately followed FC Barcelona has played in the stadium for 52 years, and many tears of both joy and despair have been shed within the cavernous walls of the grounds. Join the guided tour to get an inside look at the President’s Box, the players’ tunnel, and the dugouts. A club museum is also open to visitors where more than 100 years of FC Barcelona history is housed and hailed.
Sometimes visitors to Barcelona feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of 'must sees' that their guidebooks include or their friends recommend, so in order to ease the pressure we have simplified things for you. View our essential Top 10 slideshow and make sure you squeeze in most, if not all of these sights in to your visit to the city.
Slide 1 - La Sagrada Familia
Mallorca 401, Tel. 93 207 3031, www.sagradafamilia.org
Open: April-Sept 9am-8pm daily and Oct-March 9am-6pm daily
Admission: general - €12; reductions - €10-11 ; free for under-10s, disabled visitors + 1 companion; spire lift - €2.50; audioguides - €4
Metro: Sagrada Familia: L2 / L5
Slide 2 - Museu Picasso
Montcada 15-23, Tel. 93 256 3000, www.museupicasso.bcn.cat
Open: 10am-8pm Tue-Sun.
Admission: All exhibitions €9; €6 reductions; Temporary exhibition only €5.80; Under 16 years free; Free admission first Sunday of the month and after 3 p.m. each Sunday thereafter.
Metro: Jaume 1: L4
Slide 3 - Parque Güell
Olot, Tel. 93 219 3811
Open: 10am-sunset daily
Metro: Lesseps: L3
Slide 4 - Montjüic
Parc de Montjüic s/n
Open: 24 hours
Metro: Parallel, then take the bus (€1.40)
Slide 5 - La Rambla y La Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Metro: Catalunya: L1 / L3; Liceu: L3
Slide 6 - Passeig de Gràcia
Metro: Passeig de Gràcia: L3
Slide 7 - La Pedrera
Provença, 261-265 Tel. 93 484 5900, www.lapedreraeducacio.org
Open: Nov-Feb 9am-6:30pm daily, March-Oct 9am-8pm daily
Admission: €11; students and unemployed - €7; under-13s free; audioguides - €4
Metro: Diagonal: L3 / L5
Slide 8 - Barri Gotíc
Metro: Jaume 1: L4; Liceu: L3
Slide 9 - Palau de la Música Catalana
Palau de la Música,4-6, Tel. 93 295 7200, www.palaumusica.org
Open: Box office 10am-9pm Mon-Sat, two hours before showtime on Sun. Tours: Sept-July 10am-3.30pm daily, Aug 10am-6pm
Admission: €12 (English tours on the hour)
Metro: Urquinaona: L1 / L4
Slide 10 - Camp Nou
Avinguda Aristides Maillol, access 9, Les Corts, Tel. 93 496 3600/08, www.fcbarcelona.com
Open: April 6-Oct 4 10am-8pm Mon-Sat; 10am-2.30pm Sun; Oct 5-April 5 10am-6.30pm Mon-Sat; Sun 10am-2.30pm
Camp Nou Experience (museum, Camp Nou and multimedia area) - €19 for adults; €15,50 for kids up to 13, OAPs and students; kids under 6 free; audioguide: €5; cava and canapes: €3
Metro: Collblanc: L5; Maria Cristina, Palau Reial or Les Corts: L3
First published March 2009, updated August 2010.