With its own language and unique local customs, Catalonia feels distinct from the rest of Spain, and, beyond Barcelona, its four provinces unveil an astounding wealth of natural splendour. Pyrenean peaks loom above meadows and glittering lakes, plains are pock-marked with volcanic cones, rocky coves border sandy beaches and wind-blown capes give way to serene seaside paths and fertile vineyards.
The Costa Brava’s shores are its biggest lure, though travellers will also uncover medieval architecture, Jewish history and culinary wizardry in Girona, and Dalí's gloriously surreal 'theatre-museum' in Figueres. Sitges, on the Costa Daurada, fizzes with summer fun and Modernista mansions.
North, where the Pyrenees rise to 3000m, hiking trails weave between hushed valleys and outstanding Romanesque churches and monasteries crown lonely villages. Spinning back in time, the Roman ruins of Tarragona and Empúries rank among Spain’s most impressive, while entirely different landscapes await amid the Delta de l’Ebre’s shimmering wetlands.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Catalonia.
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 one place you shouldn’t miss when you visit the Catalan capital. Initially intended to be a simple Roman Catholic church dedicated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the church ultimately became the most prominent example of Catalan Modernism. Pope Benedict XVI declared it a basilica in 2010. Dreamed up by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the basilica exemplifies Gaudí’s philosophy that nature is the work of God. Gaudí sought to combine Christian speech and biblical allegories with complex natural symbols like organic, geometric shapes which are prominent in every column, pinnacle and stained glass window of the basilica. The end result is an astounding architectural masterpiece which, despite being unfinished and under construction for nearly 140 years, has become one of the most visited monuments in Spain, receiving 4.7 million visitors in 2019. History of the Sagrada Familia The creation and construction of the Sagrada Familia is living history. Local bookseller Josep Maria Bocabella wanted to build an expiatory temple consecrated to the Holy Family. Bocabella initially assigned the project to the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, who designed a neo-Gothic project, and began construction in 1882. However, because of several disagreements with Bocabella, Antoni Gaudí took over the assignment. Gaudí conceived a groundbreaking design that pushed the boundaries of all known architectural styles. Gaudí’s primary goal was to build a church with facades that highlighted the three phases in the life of Jesus: Nativity, Passion and Glory. The architect’s vision was to incorporate organic symbolism in the architecture, stained glass and design elements in order to tell Jesus’s story as well as highlight some key biblical histories. In 1891, when development of the Nativity facade began, Gaudí realized that the construction of the Sagrada Família was such an ambitious project that he certainly would not see its completion in his lifetime. In fear of the project being stopped after his death and once the church acquired its worship function, Gaudí decided that, instead of building the central nave, he would start on the external part of the church. At the time, Gaudí was also working on Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and when that was completed in 1912, he focused exclusively on the construction of the Sagrada Família. He worked on it until he died in 1926 and was buried inside the crypt. After Gaudi’s death, Domènec Sugrañes i Gras assumed the main role of architect. The temple suffered heavy damage during Spain’s Civil War (1936-39), when a group of anarchists set it on fire, burning a significant part of Gaudí’s workshop. Fortunately, part of his material could be restored. Work resumed in 1954 and it’s been under construction ever since. Why is the Sagrada Família not finished and when will be completed? Even with today’s technology, skilled architects and engineers are finding it challenging to decipher and bring to life the complex geometric shapes that compose what is going to be the tallest church in the world (172.5m). In addition, despite its international renown, the Sagrada Família is a project that was promoted by the people for the people, so it has always relied on private donations. There have been times in history when there wasn’t any funding, especially during Spain’s Civil War and the decades that followed. It was only after the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, when the city started to gain an international reputation and the number of visitors increased, that construction accelerated exponentially. The Sagrada Família was expected to be completed in 2026 - for the centenary of Gaudí’s death – but its completion has been postponed because of COVID-19. Work has resumed already but a new completion date hasn’t been announced. Visiting the Sagrada Família The site of the Sagrada Família has four main sections: the basilica, the school building, museum and towers. In the past, each section required its own ticket to visit. However, due to COVID-19, the only portion available to visitors is the basilica. To visit the basilica, an individual ticket with an audio-guide app - available in 16 languages - costs €26. If you prefer visiting it on a guided tour - available in 6 languages - an individual ticket costs €27, which also allows you to visit the site on your own after the 50-minute tour is finished. The Basilica The Basilica is composed of five naves, built in the shape of a Latin cross, the roof of which is supported by the angled pillars. These angled pillars are a treelike column structure that creates the effect of a living forest with dappled light streaming in. Gaudí Museum The Gaudí Museum has a recreation of the architect’s workshop, as well as a set of his materials and mockups. School Building Gaudí designed and built the school building, which was for the workers’ children, in 1909. Its design is similar to that of the Casa Milà. The Towers Four towers representing the 12 apostles ascend from each of the three exterior facades (Nativity, Passion and Glory). Gaudí built the Nativity Facade, and in 2005 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the crypt. On the west side is the controversial Passion Facade, whose architect, Josep Maria Subirachs, has been heavily criticized for being too abstract and not strictly following Gaudí’s model. The unfinished Glory Facade is supposed to be the most gorgeous of the three once it’s complete and crowned with its missing four towers. How to get to the Sagrada Familia The Sagrada Família is in the Eixample district, in Mallorca, 401 street. Metro lines 2 and 5 stop at Sagrada Família station. From Barcelona’s Old City, it’s a 30- to 40-minute walk. When to visit the Sagrada Familia The Basilica is open to visitors every day of the year, subject to change due to special events taking place inside. To avoid the largest crowds, it’s best to visit early weekday mornings. A complete visit takes 2-3 hours. Things to do around the Sagrada Familia The Right Eixample is home to some of Barcelona’s major attractions which can be easily visited after your Sagrada Família tour. An unmissable landmark is Hospital Sant Pau, a building designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the most influential architects of Catalan Modernism after Gaudí. Monumental, a former but imposing bullfighting arena, is also worth the detour. Finish your Eixample circuit at Barcelona’s triumphal arch, located at Passeig de Lluís Companys, a palm-lined boulevard that leads to Parc de la Ciutadella, the largest park in town. Where to eat near the Sagrada Família Be aware that all restaurants surrounding the Sagrada Família cater to the tourist crowd. However, by walking just a few blocks, you come to a particularly local area of l’Eixample. For Spanish tapas and wine, we recommend Hasta Los Andares. For authentic Spanish tortillas, look for La Granota and, for traditional Catalan food, grab a bite at Olé Mallorca, which tends to get busy at lunch time (2 to 3pm). In the morning, you must stop at Puiggròs, a one hundred year-old patisserie.
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 background, is the city’s favorite postcard. It's also a great summary of what the Catalan capital is like: a creative, cosmopolitan city with a Mediterranean lifestyle. Antoni Gaudí created Park Güell, an architectural masterpiece, with tree-shaped columns and undulating forms that merge in perfect harmony. The colors of the broken tile mosaics that cover the surface of the distinct elements is an unprecedented technique of Gaudí that makes the astonishing shapes come to life. It was also built in the middle of the city atop a hill, hence it is blessed with some of the best views in Barcelona. Park Güell is one of the outstanding examples of Catalan Modernism and an unmissable destination for anyone visiting Barcelona. History of Park Güell The 1888 World Expo showed that Barcelona had become a modern metropolis, at a time when local artists and architects started to seek new forms of art and expression that represented urban elements. That’s how Catalan Modernism began to prosper. It was then that local businessman and count Eusebi Güell ordered Antoni Gaudí to design a residential area for wealthy families. Güell’s idea was to recreate the popular British condominiums, which is why he named it Park Güell, instead of Parc Güell, its Catalan translation. This wasn’t the first time that Gaudí and Güell had worked together – Palau Güell, Celler Güell, Pavellons Güell and Cripta de la Colonia Güell, were all pieces of Modernism built by the architect for the count. Construction began in 1900 but was abandoned in 1914 because they never managed to sell the different plots of land. Park Güell became a big private garden instead and Güell decided to give it up for public functions. Very quickly, the park began to show up in tourist maps and, not many years later, became one of the most visited spots in the city. By that time, only two out of sixty planned houses had been built. Today’s Gaudí House Museum is one of those two houses, which the architect bought in 1906. Eusebi Güell died in 1918 and his heirs sold the park to the Barcelona Council. It became a public park in 1926. In 1984, Park Güell became a UNESCO World Heritage site for its historical, architectural and artistic uniqueness. How to visit Park Güell Park Güell is essentially divided into two parts, the forest and the monument's area, where most of Gaudí’s work is concentrated. The monuments can be accessed from Carrer d'Olot (Olot Street). The majestic entrance to the park is loaded with strong symbolism, with allegories and references to industrial development, the Catalan bourgeoisie and, of course, religion. The entrance represents the access to heaven. Interesting that it was intended to be the access to one of the most exclusive residential areas in Barcelona. Beyond the entrance, the first elements you find are two cute Modernist buildings, Casa del Guarda, where the doormen used to sleep, which is now a museum, and Pabelló de l’Aministració, which houses a souvenir shop. Both buildings demonstrate the purest Gaudí style. Continue walking and you will bump into the magnificent stairway, which features the most famous element in Park Güell, the 2.4-meter-long dragon, or salamander, a fountain covered with Gaudí’s technique of trencadís (broken tiles mosaic). Its real meaning is uncertain but most people believe it represents the natural element of fire, while others claim it refers to the crocodile emblem from Nîmes (France), Güell’s native town. Climb over the stairs and you will find yourself in La Plaça (The Square), which is circled by the colorful, undulating bench, from which you get the imposing city views. La Plaça is supported by the 86 columns that form Sala Hipòstila. The rest of Park Güell is the forest area, a set of trails and pathways which all form a proper city park where the local citizens go for a jog or a stroll. El Calvari is the highest point in the park (182m). Gaudí’s initial idea was to build a chapel there but instead, he built a calvary-shaped monument with three crosses. The views from the top are also stunning. Park Güell tickets In 2013, due to the exponential increase of foreign visitors, the Barcelona Council restricted access to the monuments in order to preserve the work of Gaudí. They limited the entrance by only allowing a certain number of people per hour and imposed a fee. The forest area, however, can be accessed for free. - General admission: 10€ - Guided tour: 22€ - Private tour: 50€ Rates subject to change If you want to avoid unnecessary queues, it is recommended to book Park Güell tickets online through the official website. An entrance ticket allows you to visit the 12 hectares that comprise the park, including the monuments. For the Gaudí House Museum, you have to buy a separate ticket. Once inside the monument area, you can stay as long as you want but must enter no later than 30 minutes after the time specified on your ticket. Best time to visit Park Güell If you want to beat the crowds, the best time to visit Park Güell is on weekdays at 9:30am, when the park opens. How to get to Park Güell From Lesseps metro station (Line 3), it is a 15-minute walk to the monumental area main gate. From Vallcarca metro station (Line 3), it is also a 15-minute walk, but you access the park from the west. For those coming by foot, Park Güell is within a 20-30-minute walk from anywhere in the districts of Gràcia and Sant Gervasi, but the Old City is not within easy walking distance. Where to eat around Park Güell The good news is that Gràcia is filled with inexpensive local eateries and tapa joints that are absolutely delightful. La Pubilla, for example, is considered to be one of the best restaurants in the city for traditional Catalan food. In addition, look for Bar Bodega Quimet for traditional homemade tapas. For slightly more modern and elaborate tapas, we recommend Vermuteria Puigmartí.
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 in the Andalusian city of Málaga in 1881, Picasso moved to Barcelona at age 14, where he spent his adolescence, youth and formative years with his family. Opened in 1963, the “Picasso Museum” not only showcases some of the painter’s earliest works, but it aims to show the strong, emotional bond Picasso had with the city, which was key in discovering, developing and shaping his artistic skills. The museum occupies five Medieval palaces, providing an immense setting for visitors to take in the 4000 or so original works on display. History of Museu Picasso Jaume Sabartés was a Catalan writer and Picasso’s close friend and personal secretary. He conceived an idea of creating a museum dedicated to Picasso but wanted to put it in Picasso’s birth city of Málaga. Picasso, however, convinced Sabartés to open it in Barcelona. This was, after all, the city where he’d become a recognized artist, spending his days mixing with intellectuals and visionaries in places like Quatre Gats, a bar in the Gothic Quarter that served as a meeting point for artists. Picasso and Sabartés opened their gallery in 1963, mainly with Sabartés’ private collection, and named it Col.lecció Sabartés. Picasso deliberately omitted his name from the museum to avoid censorship, as the artist’s well known political views opposed the Franco regime. At the beginning, the museum only occupied Aguilar Palace, one of the five current mansions that house the gallery, but, after subsequent donations, including 58 paintings of Las Meninas de Velázquez and 921 of his earliest works, the first expansion was carried out in 1970 by annexing Baró del Castellet Palace. Despite Picasso’s death in 1973, the museum kept expanding and growing over the following decades, eventually becoming one of the most appreciated cultural heritage sites in Barcelona. Museu Picasso collection For potential visitors, it’s worth noting that Picasso’s most famous works are spread out across the globe. Paintings like Guernica, Three Musicians or Family of Saltimbanques, for example, are all displayed in Madrid, New York City and Washington DC, respectively. Museu Picasso, however, is unique in a way that it contains the largest collection of works from the artist’s earliest years, crucial to understanding Picasso’s world and the solid connection he had with the city of Barcelona. Though the collection does include some of his trademark Cubist masterpieces too. The permanent collection is displayed in Palau Aguilar, Palau del Baró de Castellet and Palau Meca. The first few rooms are dedicated to his initial paintings, consisting of complex portraits that already showcase Picasso’s great talent. For that, Aunt Pepa Portrait (1896) is a fine example. The museum also displays several paintings from his well-known Blue-period (1901-1904), when Picasso painted monochromatic paintings in shades of blue. The Rooftops of Barcelona (1903) is a well-known piece from this time. Picasso, however, is more internationally known as one of the pioneers of Cubism, an art movement from the beginning of the 20th century that consisted of elements all fragmented, like in a broken puzzle. The last rooms of the permanent collection contain some excellent Cubist examples, the most acclaimed being his series of Meninas de Velázquez. In these paintings, the artist Picasso represents the work of Diego Velázquez in Cubist style. The remaining two palaces focus on temporary exhibitions. Museu Picasso tickets A general admission ticket to the museum costs €12, which includes the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. You can also buy a separate ticket for the temporary exhibition for €6.50. Tickets can be purchased online from the museum’s official website. How to enter Museu Picasso for free Entry to the museum is free of charge on Thursday afternoons, from 5pm to 8pm, the first Sunday of each month, and on the following days: February 12, May 18 and September 24. It’s worth noting that capacity is reduced on these days, so booking online in advance is recommended. Museu Picasso Opening Hours Museu Picasso opens Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 8pm. On Mondays the museum is closed. The museum is also closed on January 1, May 1, June 24 and December 25. The museum also runs reduced hours on certain days, including January 5 (10am to 5pm), and December 24 and 31 (10am to 2pm). How to get to Museu Picasso Museu Picasso is located on Carrer de Montcada, which dates back to the 12th century and was once the city’s most coveted address. It is located in the Old City, in El Born district. Jaume I (Line 4) is the closest metro station. Restaurants around Museu Picasso El Born is the area with the largest culinary range in Barcelona, with fine-dining restaurants, international eateries and informal tapas spots aplenty. Bar Joan is one of the oldest in the area. They offer market cuisine, serving all the classic Spanish tapas, but also traditional Catalan and Spanish dishes. Tiny Tantarantana is another local restaurant serving delicious tapas, with terrace tables and an informal atmosphere. If you are a fan of Asian dishes, Red Ant is a popular place for noodles and craft beer.
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 painters in the world from the first half of the 20th century. When you visit the Catalan capital, it’s difficult to miss the legacy that Miró left in the city. In fact, Miró’s work might be the first thing you see upon your arrival in Barcelona, since Airport Terminal 2 features a 50-meter mosaic that he designed. La Rambla includes one of his mosaics as well and the logo of the largest bank in Catalonia, La Caixa, which is visible on every corner, was also created by Miró. Most visitors, however, tend to miss his museum, Fundació Joan Miró, founded in 1975 by the artist himself. Fundació Joan Miró is a cultural institution that contains Miró’s largest collection and, along with Gaudí’s buildings, should be part of any first-timer’s itinerary. History of Fundació Joan Miró Joan Miró dreamt of having a foundation which not only served as a regular museum where artists’ works could be displayed, but he also wanted to create a real art gallery of cutting edge art, where rising talents could be discovered and promoted. For its construction, the Barcelona Council offered Joan Miró the palace in the Old City, where the Picasso Museum is now, but, for such a new concept of a museum, he knew that his foundation had to be built in a brand-new emblematic building with its own personality. For that, he sought the help of the renowned Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert and, together, they designed an imposing building with Mediterranean features that is integrated perfectly in Montjuïc’s landscape. Today, the building of the Fundació Joan Miró is considered to be one of the finest examples of rationalist architecture in Barcelona. Its opening provoked an unquestionable positive impact on Barcelona society, which perceived the museum as a new way of connecting with art and artists. Fundació Joan Miró quickly became one of the “art galleries” of reference in Spain and such was its growth that an extension had to be built in 1986. Fundació Joan Miró Collection Joan Miró was an extremely valued artist, so visitors should note that the greatest of his works are displayed in other parts of the world. From the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to the National Art Gallery in Washington DC and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, Joan Miró is present in some of the top art galleries worldwide. It is also important to mention that Joan Miró had many debts with Spain’s Treasury Department, debts which were paid off with some of his most valued works. Those works are displayed in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. However, Fundació Joan Miró houses absolute masterpieces. The collection is composed of more than 200 paintings. Man and woman in front of a pile of excrement (1935), Morning Star (1940) and The gold of the azure (1967) are among his most significant paintings. In addition, there are more than 169 statues that had been unseen before being displayed here and over 8,000 drawings and sketches which are essential to understand Miró’s work. Besides Miró’s works, the collection also includes works from the American artist Alexander Calder, like the Mercury Fountain (1937). Antoni Tàpies, one of the most important Catalan artists from the era, has some of his works displayed at the foundation, as well. Fundació Joan Miró tickets A general admission ticket costs 13€, which includes the permanent collection and access to the temporary exhibition. It is also possible to book a separate ticket for the temporary exhibition only, which costs 7€. Guided tours cost 20€. Tickets for the Fundació Joan Miró can be booked online through the official website. Fundació Joan Miró for kids With his fantasy allegories and colorful shapes and patterns, the work of Joan Miró has always attracted the youngest generation as well, which is why the foundation is known for organizing activities for kids. Most of them are only available in either Catalan or Spanish, but they do organize some in English, like Miró Universe. In this play, the actors represent the landscape of a certain painting with movement, sounds and shadows, while kids also learn about Miró’s world. You can find out the latest activities on their official website as well. How to get to Fundació Joan Miró Fundació Joan Miró is located in Parc de Montjuïc. The easiest way to get there is by taking the metro to Paral.lel (Line 3), from where you can take the funicular to the upper part of the park. For a more epic arrival, you can also take the cable car that departs from La Barceloneta and drops you off right next to the foundation. Restaurants in Fundació Joan Miró Inside the foundation, there is one restaurant-bar with a garden and great city views. They serve traditional Spanish and Catalan dishes with a slight modern touch. It’s actually not bad for a museum, but we also recommend exploring Montjuïc and looking for Terraza Martínez, a restaurant serving one of the best paellas in town. It’s always packed with locals, so do book in advance. If you want to have some drinks in a relaxed atmosphere, go to Caseta del Migdia.
La Rambla is a tree-lined boulevard featuring a wide array of architectural delights, beautifully decorated flower stalls and particularly talented (and certified) human statues. Foodies will definitely enjoy the tapa joints at Mercat de la Boqueria, considered by many to be the best gourmet food market in Europe. It is infamous for the incredible numbers of both pickpockets and tourist-first restaurants serving mediocre paella, but there is plenty to see and appreicate. Linking Plaça de Catalunya, the central square in Barcelona, with the old harbor, strolling La Rambla, or ramblejar, as the local people say, while admiring the imposing facades and doing some people watching, is something everyone should experience when visiting Barcelona. History of La Rambla Unlike most landmarks in Barcelona, the history of La Rambla is neither epic nor glamorous. Its name comes from the Arabic word ‘’ramla’’, which translates into ‘’sandy or muddy area’’. Today’s La Rambla used to be an open sewer named Riera d’en Malla, which also served as a natural culvert for the water coming from Collserola, the hills that limit Barcelona to the north. In the 15th century, the Barcelona Council wanted to extend its city walls by including El Raval district. For that, they had to divert the stream, so it could flow outside of the walls. The empty area resulting from the stream diversion became the actual street that was later named La Rambla. Over the following decades, several convents and monasteries were built along La Rambla, but most of them were burnt down during the anti-clerical revolution of 1835. It wasn’t until then, that La Rambla started flourishing. The most visited landmarks like Plaça Reial, Mercat de la Boqueria, Teatre Liceu, and Font de Canaletes were all built in the 19th century on the ground where Catholic buildings used to stand. Very quickly, La Rambla became the center of urban, modern city life in Barcelona. With the arrival of mass tourism, however, La Rambla has turned into the busiest tourist hot spot in the city, losing the local essence that once used to prevail there. Barcelonins are a rare thing to see these days, the reason why this was the area most affected by the consequences of COVID-19. The restaurants along the boulevard initiated a campaign to attract local customers by offering big discounts, but it’s been so long since the arrival of mass tourism, that barcelonins are not used to going there anymore. La Rambla or Les Rambles? La Rambla or Les Rambles? During your visit, you will probably realize that some locals call it La Rambla, while others say Les Rambles. This can be confusing for first-time visitors, but both terms are accepted. La Rambla refers to the whole pedestrian boulevard, while the plural form of Les Rambles refers to the five different sections into which it is divided. These distinct sections will help you shape your walking tour. Exploring La Rambla The first stretch of the famed boulevard is La Rambla de Canaletes, home to the Font de Canaletes. It is said that whoever tastes the water flowing from this fountain, will certainly come back to Barcelona one day – a local legend that always encourages happy visitors to drink from it. Canaletes is also the place where FC Barcelona fans gather when the football club wins titles. Meander down the road and you will bump into Església de Betlem, a 17th-century baroque church, and one of the few which wasn’t burned down during the anti-clerical revolution. The boulevard’s second stretch is named La Rambla dels Estudis, named after Estudi General de Barcelona, a 16th-century university and the predecessor of Universitat de Barcelona, one of the top public universities in Spain. Art lovers will enjoy walking through the third stretch called La Rambla de les Flors, which features a big mosaic made by surrealist painter Joan Miró, as well as the neoclassical Virreina Palace. Operating continuously since the 19th century, the flower market can be found in this section too. The newest addition to the sites is a memorial for the victims of the 2017 terrorist attack. Continue rambling down the boulevard until you find La Rambla dels Caputxins, named after a former monastery inhabited by friars from the Capuchin order. This is where you’ll find the acclaimed El Mercat de la Boqueria, a central market offering all the freshest produce in Barcelona. In La Boqueria, look for Pinocho Bar, an award-winning, 75-year-old tapa joint where, despite being consistently packed with visitors, the food quality remains impressive. Don’t miss their calamarcets amb mongetes de Santa Pau (little squid with local white beans). Across the street, pop into the very popular Erotic Museum, thought to be a bit sassy by some, the museum takes you through the fascinating influence of sexuality throughout the history of Barcelona. The last stretch of road belongs to La Rambla de Santa Mònica, also named after one of the monasteries which burned down in 1835. The southern edge of La Rambla leads into the 60m tall Columbus statue, which overlooks the old harbor of Barcelona. How to get to La Rambla Plaça Catalunya metro (Line 1, Line 3 and FGC) is located on the northern edge of La Rambla which is considered the starting point. Liceu and Drassanes metro stations (Line 3), are located in the middle and south end of La Rambla, respectively. Things to do around La Rambla La Rambla is a 1.2km boulevard that goes through the Old City, dividing the Gothic area and El Raval. On El Raval side, the Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the most visited museums in Barcelona. La Rambla del Raval is also gorgeous, much quieter, plus it features a cat statue made by the Colombian artist Botero. The Gothic area doesn’t come up short when it comes to neo-Gothic and Gothic buildings, the Barcelona Cathedral being the most astonishing architectural masterpiece. North of La Rambla and Plaça Catalunya, you have Passeig de Gràcia, a fancy-like street home to the Gaudí-designed buildings of La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. The southern edge of La Rambla links to the wooden dock and promenade, which connects to the beach district of La Barceloneta. Best restaurants near La Rambla Except for some tapa joints in Mercat de la Boqueria, we recommend skipping the restaurants found along La Rambla and instead, exploring the labyrinthine lanes of both El Raval and the Gothic area which are home to several local eateries and restaurants. On the Gothic side, have a meal at Agut, known for its traditional Catalan cuisine. Neri is slightly more expensive, but it’s a good place for getting a taste of what modern Catalan cuisine is like. For classic Spanish tapas, you will never go wrong in Babia. On the Raval side, we recommend Arume for Galician food, a northwestern Spanish region famous for its octopus. For a real Spanish experience, go to Bar Cañete, one of the oldest in the area. Those who need a break from Spanish food can pay a visit to the popular burger joint Buenissimo Burger.
The first name that pops into your head when you lay eyes on this red castle-like building, topped with giant eggs and stylised Oscar-like statues and studded with plaster-covered croissants, is Salvador Dalí. An entirely appropriate final resting place for the master of surrealism, it has assured his immortality. Exhibits range from enormous, impossible-to-miss installations – like Taxi Plujós (Rainy Taxi), an early Cadillac surmounted by statues – to the more discreet, including a tiny, mysterious room with a mirrored flamingo.
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 block. Formally called Casa Milà, after the businessman who commissioned it, it is better known as La Pedrera (the Quarry) because of its uneven grey stone facade, which ripples around the corner of Carrer de Provença. Gaudí's approach to space and light as well as the blurring of the dividing line between decoration and functionality are astounding.
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 inspiration to its revolutionary experiments in light and architectural form (straight lines are few and far between), this apartment block is one of the most beautiful buildings in a city where the architectural stakes soar sky-high.
Overlooking a peaceful cove in Port Lligat, a tiny fishing settlement 1km northeast of Cadaqués, this magnificent seaside complex was the residence and sanctuary of Salvador Dalí, who lived here with his wife Gala from 1930 to 1982. The splendid whitewashed structure is a mishmash of cottages and sunny terraces, linked by narrow labyrinthine corridors and containing an assortment of offbeat furnishings. Access is by semi-guided eight-person tour; book well ahead, by phone or online.