Barcelona travel guide: city break best things to do, hotels, restaurants, attractions

Gaudí’s architecture

The Sagrada Família church in the Eixample quarter is Barcelona’s “most iconic symbol” and the most visited landmark in the whole of Spain, said Construction started in 1882 and a year later it was commissioned to Antoni Gaudí, Catalonia’s most famous architect. Still unfinished, it’s Gaudí’s best-known shrine to eccentric architecture.

In Barcelona, art is everywhere – even in the architecture. For example, take the Casa Milà, located on Passeig de Gràcia, one of Barcelona’s grandest avenues. Completed in 1912, Casa Milà, or La Pedrera (stone quarry) as it is also known, was designed by Gaudí. In 1984 it was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

Referred to as “God’s Architect”, you can’t visit Barcelona without seeing Gaudi’s influence everywhere you go, said the Nomadic Matt travel blog. Other Gaudi attractions include Park Güell, one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona, and Casa Vicens, considered to be his first major project.

Museums and culture 

Barclona has long had the reputation of being the “avant-garde capital of Spain”, said Rough Guides. The art museums here are “world-class”, including the “celebrated” Museu Picasso and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Most museums are closed on Mondays, said Sally Davies in The Telegraph. The one “notable exception” is the MACBA contemporary art museum. 

The city’s opera house, La Gran Teatre del Liceu, was first built in 1847 and has seen it all: fires, wars, and recessions. Yet it still stands, magnificent and opulent. Adorned with gold leaf, rich red seats, and ornate carvings embellishing every surface, the setting might just be as grand as the performance. It is one of the world’s most spectacular classical opera houses and over the years has continued to fulfil its role as a centre for culture and the arts staging a world-class programme of operas, concerts and dance with its own orchestra and choir.


Located half an hour away from Barcelona is La Roca Shopping Village, a spot to which all serious shoppers flock. You’ll find all the best contemporary brands from Calvin Klein, G Star Raw and Diesel, to Barcelona labels Desigual and Custo Barcelona. 

If you’re not looking to travel far, Passeig de Gràcia, one of the city’s main avenues, boasts impressive Modernist buildings and an abundance of international designers (think Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada). If you take a left at the top of Passeig de Gràcia, you’ll find many more quality shops along the Diagonal and the top section of Rambla Catalunya, where you can shop for bridal dresses designed to feel like “princess dresses” and various interior design stores.


The 1992 Summer Olympic Games “totally transformed” Barcelona, said Xavier Trias, the former mayor. The city hosts world-class sporting events throughout the year, including sailing, marathons, triathlons, MotoGP, showjumping and the annual Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It’s also home to two football teams that play in Spain’s La Liga – FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol de Barcelona. Thousands of football fans visit Barça’s Camp Nou stadium for matches and tours every year.