Barcelona is an enchanting seaside city with boundless culture, fabled architecture and a world-class drinking and dining scene.
Architecture of the Ages
Barcelona's architectural treasures span 2000-plus years. Towering temple columns, ancient city walls and subterranean stone corridors provide a window into Roman-era Barcino. Fast forward a thousand years or so to the Middle Ages by taking a stroll through the shadowy lanes of the Gothic quarter, past tranquil plazas and soaring 14th-century cathedrals. In other parts of town bloom the sculptural masterpieces of Modernisme, a mix of ingenious and whimsical creations by Gaudí and his Catalan architectural contemporaries. Barcelona has also long inspired artists, including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, both of whom have major Barcelona museums devoted to their works.
A Moveable Feast
The masters of molecular gastronomy – Albert Adrià, Carles Abellan et al – are part of the long and celebrated tradition of Catalan cooking. Simple, flavourful ingredients – seafood, jamón (cured ham), market-fresh produce – are transformed into remarkable delicacies and then served in captivating settings. Feast on hearty, rich paella at an outdoor table overlooking the sea or step back to the 1920s at an elegant art nouveau dining room. Barcelona's wide-ranging palate adds further complexity: Basque-style tapas bars, Galician seafood taverns, avant-garde Japanese restaurants and sinful chocolate shops are all essential parts of the culinary landscape.
Under the Iberian Sun
The deep blue Mediterranean beckons. Sun-drenched beaches make a fine backdrop to a jog, bike ride or long leisurely stroll along the seaside – followed by a refreshing dip. You can also enjoy the view from out on the water while kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or taking it easy on a sunset cruise. Looming behind the city, the rolling forest-covered Collserola hills provide a scenic setting for hiking, mountain biking or just admiring the view. Closer to the city centre, hilltop Montjuïc offers endless exploring amid botanic and sculpture gardens, an old castle and first-rate museums with panoramic views at every turn.
Twenty-four-hour Party People
The night holds limitless possibilities in Barcelona. Start with sunset drinks on a panoramic terrace or dig your heels in the sand at a rustic beachside chiringuito (temporary snack bar). As darkness falls, live music transforms the city: the rapid-fire rhythms of flamenco, brassy jazz spilling out of basements, and hands-in-the-air indie-rock at vintage concert halls. Towards midnight the bars fill. Take your pick from old-school taverns adorned with 19th-century murals, plush lounges in lamp-lit medieval chambers or boisterous cava bars. If you're still standing at 3am, hit the clubs and explore Barcelona's unabashed wild side.
Where to find Barcelona's most beautiful architecture
6 min read — Published August 8th, 2021
Lonely Planet EditorsWriter
Famed for its architectural treasures, Barcelona is dotted with striking Gothic cathedrals, fantastical Modernisme creations and avant-garde works.
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BasilicaLa Sagrada Família
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona by many residents, and the…
Visitors and locals alike love Park Güell. The waving balcony and the colorful Guard’s House, with the imposing Barcelona skyline and sea in the…
In the top tier of Gaudí's achievements, this madcap Unesco-listed masterpiece, with 33 balconies, was built in 1905–10 as a combined apartment and office…
One of Europe's strangest residential buildings, Casa Batlló (built 1904–6) is Gaudí at his fantastical best. From its playful facade and marine-world…
Located along the grand, medieval street of Carrer de Montcada, the Museu Picasso is dedicated to one of the world’s greatest artists, Pablo Picasso. Born…
MuseumMuseu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
The spectacular neobaroque silhouette of the Palau Nacional can be seen on Montjuïc's slopes from across the city. Built for the 1929 World Exhibition and…
Barcelona’s central place of worship presents a magnificent image. The richly decorated main facade, dotted with gargoyles and the kinds of stone…
MuseumMuseu d’Història de Barcelona
One of Barcelona's most fascinating museums travels back through the centuries to the very foundations of Roman Barcino. You'll stroll over ruins of the…
GalleryFundació Joan Miró
Joan Miró was a Catalan painter and sculptor born in Barcelona who combined abstract art with surrealism. He is considered one of the most influential…
ArchitecturePalau de la Música Catalana
A fantastical symphony in tile, brick, sculpted stone and stained glass, this Unesco-listed, 2146-seat concert hall is a high point of Barcelona’s…
Built off La Rambla in the late 1880s for Gaudí's wealthy patron the industrialist Eusebi Güell, the Palau Güell is a magnificent example of the early…
MarketMercat de la Boqueria
Barcelona's most central fresh-produce market is one of the greatest sound, smell and colour sensations in Europe. It's housed in a packed-out Modernista…
MuseumBarça Stadium Tour & Museum
A pilgrimage site for football fans around the world, Camp Nou is a must for FC Barcelona fans. On this tour, which can be guided or self-guided, you'll…
ChurchBasílica de Santa Maria del Mar
At the southwestern end of Passeig del Born stands Barcelona’s finest Catalan Gothic church, Santa Maria del Mar (Our Lady of the Sea). Begun in 1329,…
GalleryFundació Antoni Tàpies
The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is both a pioneering Modernista building (completed in the early 1880s) and the major collection of leading 20th-century…
An extraordinary all-white, glass-fronted creation by American architect Richard Meier, opened in 1995, the MACBA has become the city's foremost…
MuseumMuseu Frederic Marès
The wealthy Catalan sculptor, traveller and obsessive collector Frederic Marès i Deulovol (1893–1991) amassed one of the wildest collections of historical…
A Unesco-listed masterpiece, this angular, turreted 1885-completed private house was Gaudí’s inaugural commission, when the architect was aged just 30,…
The city's maritime museum occupies the mighty Gothic Reials Drassanes (Royal Shipyards) – a remarkable relic from Barcelona's days as the seat of a…
La Rambla is a tree-lined boulevard featuring a wide array of architectural delights, beautifully decorated flower stalls and particularly talented (and…
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Barcelona.
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