When meandering down Las Ramblas keep your personal belongings close at hand. With all the tourists mulling around, this area is a prime target for pick-pocketing and petty thievery. With that said, I encourage you to take in the displays of (or interact with) street mimes, artists, artisans, etc., and enjoy the local flavor of the neighborhood. You haven’t seen anything until you have cruised Las Ramblas.
Market open Monday through Saturday 0800-1700, some stalls open until 2000.
Metro Plaça de Catalunya or Liceu
Bus 14, 38, 51, 59, 91
The Mercat de Sant Josep, commonly known as La Boquería, is one of the most colorful stops along Las Ramblas. The market displays piles of gleaming produce, as well as tiny bars for coffee or some oysters and cava. Walk straight to the back of the market to avoid tourist prices and to better experience the lively atmosphere. Back out on the Rambla, look for a large colorful pavement mosaic by Miró.
Bus 14, 38, 51, 59
A pair of tall arches opens into Plaça Reial from Las Ramblas. Plaça Reial is described as ‘a grand 19th-century square with neoclassical arcades and lofty palm trees’. Gaudí designed the twin lamp posts near the fountain of the Three Graces for his first municipal commission. The square used to be frequented by squatters, prostitutes, and drug-sellers, but it has recently become more of a tourist hang-out. Be sure to visit one of the dozen terrace cafés. Weekends are chaotic in the square, but if you explore the passages leading off the square, you’ll discover Barcelona’s night life at its best.
Rambla de Santa Mónica
Bus 14, 38, 51, 59
Rambla de Santa Mónica is the last stretch of Las Ramblas. For a long time it was the shabbiest section, suffering from the surrounding red light districts. Now, after a vigorous clean-up effort, cafés cover the pavement and a daily craft and souvenir market attracts more tourists to the area.
Centre d’Art Santa Mónica (CSAM)
Rambla Santa Mónica 7, T93-316-28-10, open Tuesday through Saturday 1100-2000 and Sunday 1100-1500, admission is free.
Bus 14, 36, 38, 57, 59, 64, 91
This modern building incorporates the ruins of the old convent and houses interesting temporary exhibits.
Catedral de la Seu
Placa de la Seu s/n, T93-310-25-80
Cathedral open Monday through Friday 0800-1330 and 1600-1930, Saturday and Sunday 0800-1330 and 1700-1930, admission is free.
Museu de la Catedral, T93-310-25-80
Open daily 1000-1300 and 1600-1830, admission is €1.
Metro Jaume 1
Bus 17, 19, 40, 45
The main entrance to the cathedral opens onto Plaça Nova. This Gothic cathedral dates back to the 13th century, although the dramatic spires were actually added in the 19th century. The interior is a sight to see, with soaring naves supported by decorated Gothic cross vaults. The remains of the city’s patron saint, Saint Eulalia, lie underneath the main altar.
Museu d’História de la Ciutat
Placa del Rei s/n, T93-315-11-11, www.museuhistoria.bcn.es
Open October-May Tuesday through Saturday 1000-1400; June- September Tuesday through Saturday 1000-2000, Sunday and holidays 1000-1400, admission is €4 (ticket includes audio-visual)
Metro Jaume 1
Bus 16, 17, 19, 40, 45
This museum provides an interesting account of the history of the city of Barcelona. It traces al the way back to the ancient Roman city of Barcino, established more than 2,000 years ago.
Barri de Santa Ana
Metro Plaça de Catalunya
All buses to Plaça de Catalunya
North of Placa Nova is the district of Santa Ana. This might not be the area for monuments or museums, but if you’re looking to shop there are plenty of opportunities. The two main shopping streets of the Barri Gótic meet here: Carrer Portaferrissa (lots of young and trendy fashion stores) and Avinguda del Portal de l’Angel (several major chains and a branch of El Corte Inglés department store).
Calle Montcada 15-23, T93-319-63-10, www.museupicasso.bcn.es
Open Tuesday through Saturday 1000-2000, tickets are €5 (entrance to temporary exhibits varies)
Metro Jaume 1
Bus 14, 17, 19, 39, 40, 45, 51, 59
Arrive early to avoid standing in a long line; after all, this museum does attract more visitors than any other in the city. The collection includes a few of Picasso’s most famous paintings, but primarily focuses on his earlier works, especially those created by the young artist in Barcelona. Select paintings from his Blue Period are also on display.
Calle Nou de la Rambla 3, T93-317-39-74
Guided tours only offered Monday-Saturday 1000-1330 and 1600-1830, €2.50 (Tours fill up quickly – book in advance in summer.)
Bus 14, 38, 51, 59
This narrow mansion was Gaudí’s first major comission for the man who was to become his most important patron, Eusebi Güell. It is said that both men were intensely Catalanist and religious, and for this reason these themes are repeated throughout the décor of the mansion.
Passeig de Gracia 43, T93-216-03-06, www.casabatllo.es
Open daily 0900-2000, €10 (includes audio guide in English)
Metro Passeig de Gracia
Bus 7, 16, 17, 22, 24, 28
Casa Batlló could be the creation of none other than Gaudí, with its shimmering, multicolored trencadis (broken tiles) and undulating scaly roof. One theory about the symbolism of the building is that it tells of the story of St. George and the dragon. The interior first opened to the public in 2002, as part of the Gaudí Year celebrations. It was scheduled to close at the end of that year, but remains open to this day due to its popularity.
Calle Provença 261-265, T902-400-973, www.caixacatalunya.es
Open daily 1000-2000 (last admission at 1930), €7
Bus 7, 16, 17, 22, 24, 28
La Casa Milá, better known as La Pedrera (‘the stone quarry’) is one of Guadí’s most famous buildings. The apartment building was first occupied around 1911; a recreation of an apartment from that era is open to the public on the top floor. As is characteristic of Guadí, there isn’t a straight line in the whole place, with the walls, ceilings, doorways, and windows flowing together. The attic houses L’Espai Gaudí, a museum detailing the architect’s life and works in the city. Continue to the rooftop terrace to see Gaudí’s response to the building’s need for chimneys, air vents, and stairwells.
La Sagrada Familia
Calle Mallorca 401, T93-208-04-14, www.sagradafamilia.org
Open October through March daily 0900-1800, April through September daily 0900-2000, €8
Metro Sagrada Familia
Bus 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51
La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, is Barcelona’s most controversial monument. The completed towers reach almost 330 feet and the central spire, when finished, will extend 590 feet. It is undoubtedly the biggest tourist attraction in Catalunya; good luck feeling any sense of religious awe as a result of the constant crowds! The temple design has three facades: Nativity and Passion on either side of the nave and Glory as the main entrance. Gaudí was only able to complete the Nativity before his death in 1926. Since then, progress on the temple has been slow and conflict-ridden, interrupted by architects’ disagreements over Gaudí’s original design. Climb up the towers via tight spiral staircases for €2 in between the hours of 1000-1745.
Calle Olot 7, T93-413-24-00
Open daily November through February 1000-1800; March and October 1000-1900; April and September 1000-2000; May through August 1000-2100, admission is free.
Metro Lesseps, then a (sign-posted) 10-minute walk, or take bus 24 to the gate
Park Güell wasn’t originally designed as a park; rather, it was meant to be an aristocratic housing estate. When the project never took off, the empty grounds were passed to the city for public use in 1922. The trencadi seating which winds colorfully around Park G?ell is the park’s most noted feature.
Annella Olímpica (Olympic Ring)
Galeria Olímpica: Estadi Olimpic, Passeig Olimpic s/n,
Entrance by prior booking only, open Monday through Friday 1000-1300 and 1600-1800, €2.50
Metro Espanya, then bus 61
Visit the new stadia and the other buildings erected for the 1992 Olympics. All are located along the Avinguda de I’Estadi, halfway up the hill of Montjuïc.
Parc de Montjuïc s/n, T93-443-94-70, www.bcnfjmiro.es
October through June, open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 1000-1900, Thursday 1000-2130, Sunday and holidays 1000-1430; July through September, open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 1000-2000, Thursday 1000-2130, Sunday and holidays 1000-1430. Admission is €7.20, €3.20 for temporary exhibitions.
Bus 50 or 55, or Montjuïc funicular from Paral.lel.
Located further down the Avinguda de l’Estadi from the Olympic Ring, Fundació Miró, established in 1971, contains the most important and comprehensive gathering of Miró’s works in the world.
Bus 14, 17, 19, 36, 39, 40, 45, 57, 59, 64, 157
Port Vell (‘old port’) was transformed for the 1992 Olympics. The port’s activity was transported down the coast to an industrial zone and the old docks and warehouses were demolished to make room for the restaurants, shops, a marina, and new tourist attractions. La Rambla de Mar, a floating wooden walkway, leads to Maremagnum shopping center, the IMAX cinema, and the aquarium.