Barcelona is one of the great capital cities of the world, so perhaps it's not a surprise that it's visited by million upon millions of people each year. What makes it particularly special is that everything a tourist could want is within easy reach - from mountains to beaches, buzzing nightlife to places for a relaxing walk, Michelin-starred restaurants, great hotels and museums, and everything in-between.
Created for the International Exposition that was held in the city in 1929, these stunning gardens actually lie alongside a Greek theater, which was constructed concurrently for the expo, yet deserve an entry on this list in their own right due to their sheer beauty. Orange trees and aromatic herbs abound in these gardens, and they also offer great views of the city due to their elevated location on Montjuïc hill.
The beating heart of the city achieved infamy in the past due its seedy nightlife, cabarets, prostitution, and crime, however gentrification efforts in the past few decades have seen it transformed into a trendy, cosmopolitan area full of the best bars and restaurants. It's also notable for its street art and large immigrant community - nearly half of all its inhabitants were born outside Spain.
Appearances can be deceiving, and that's definitely true for this particular attraction. While it looks like an Ancient Greek theater, it isn't one. This is yet another example of a construction that was only completed due to Barcelona hosting the 1929 International Exposition. Nowadays, it is used as a venue for summer festivals.
This beautiful venue is an opera house that opened all the way back in 1847. It is located on La Rambla, which is Barcelona's most recognizable drag (more about the street later in the post). Many a famous opera star have performed here, and to this day, the building retains its original facade, hall and staircase, as well as its foyer.
The home of F.C. Barcelona, one of the world's most successful soccer teams, is fittingly one of the world's largest stadiums - it can seat no less than 99,000 people. If you happen to be in the city, be sure to catch a soccer game and witness a master-class from the likes of Lionel Messi (the best soccer player in the world), Luis Suarez (one of the most prolific strikers in the world) and Andres Iniesta (F.C. Barcelona's talisman captain and play-maker). Even if you aren't much of a soccer fan, you should definitely go and take in the sheer scale of the place.
9. Museu Picasso
Pablo Picasso was one of the most gifted artists of the 20th Century, and one of the greatest artists ever to live. Although he spent much of his adult life in France, his formative years were spent in Barcelona. The Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of his works anywhere in the world. There are some 4,000 of his works on display, spread throughout five adjoining medieval palaces. What's even more intriguing about this museum is that it gives detailed insight into the relationship between the legendary artist and the city itself.
If scenic viewpoints are your thing, be sure to visit Montjuïc, which is a plateau-like hill to the southwest of the city center. The eastern side of the hill offers amazing views of the city's harbor immediately below, while the top of the hill was the site of several fortifications. A place of interest at Montjuïc is the National Palace, which was built as the central pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Expo. Built in the neo-Baroque architectural style, the palace is truly a sight to behold.
What's not to love about a fountain that can turn pink and put on a spectacular light show for visitors? Just like the preceding National Palace, this beautiful (and very large) fountain was constructed ahead of the 1929 Barcelona International Expo, and is also located atop Montjuïc hill. If this is an attraction that appeals to you, you should know that the display only occurs on selected evenings.
When speaking of Barcelona in architectural terms, it can be said that the city is Antoni Gaudí's city. The Catalan Modernist architect's influence can be seen everywhere, not least at the Casa Ballo, which is a 19th Century building that received his touch. This building's architecture is unique, and its interior is just as extraordinary as its exterior.
Arguably the aforementioned Antoni Gaudi's greatest completed architectural legacy is the Park Guell, which is a location emblematic of Barcelona. The area where the park stands today was supposed to be turned into a residential property development, however only two of the planned houses were ever built. The rest of the land was subsequently sold to the city of Barcelona and turned into the world-famous park. The views from it are some of the best in the city.
Although Barcelona has numerous beaches to offer along its 2.8 miles of coastline, the Barceloneta is probably the best. This is because of its proximity to the city center and facilities. It is very popular among joggers and cyclists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this beach can become extremely crowded during the summer months, as both tourists and locals alike flock to it in droves to soak up the Mediterranean sun.
Yet another architectural masterpiece by Gaudi to be found in the city is Casa Milà (aka. La Pedrera). Built between 1906 and 1910, this building is notable for not having a single straight edge on its exterior. Inside, the eccentricity continues. In fact, you can actually go on a guided tour inside the building to view its weird and wonderful interior, together with its incredible roof structures.
This pedestrianized drag is the most famous street in Barcelona, it's lined with bars, is full of street performers, and is home to one of the city's most famous markets, the Boquería. It is often called Las Ramblas, because although it appears to the untrained eye as a single street, it's actually a series of different, yet interconnected, streets.
This beautiful basilica is Antoni Gaudi's crowning glory as an architect. Its attracts some 2.8 million visitors each year, and is so intricate in its design that it has been under construction since 1882, yet isn't scheduled to be completed until around 2026. That's a construction period of almost 150 years. There's so much to see at the Sagrada Familia that it's practically unmissable if you happen to be visiting the city.