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Top Tourist Things

Here’s our list of some of the best things to see in Barcelona:

This is an incomplete list of things to visit in Barcelona if you only have a few days.

Recent visitors have reminded us how good the official tourist buses are to get an overall impression of the city and get you to the main sites.  You can catch them at each of the main tourist sites and also in the Plaza de Catalunya.  There are now three separate bus routes, but I’d recommend the Blue route + separate visits to the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell if you have time.  I wouldn’t bother with the green route to the Forum.

The Sagrada Familia cathedral (still being built) – impressive modernist architecture – best to go there by metro (L2 - purple line). If you fancy a break while you are in the area there are a lot of nice cafes up the hill from the Cathedral in the pedestrianised Avenida Gaudi. Not sure if it’s worth the visit inside, although we have climbed to the top of the spires.  You can carry on up the hill another modernist marvel the Hopital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau.
Casa Batlló and Casa Milá (La Pedrera) in Passeig de Grácia – more modernist buildings designed by Gaudi.
Take a stroll down the Ramblas – you can walk down the Rambla de Catalunya (where it meets Avenida Diagonal) to the main square Plaza de Catalunya and then continue down the Ramblas pedestrian street all the way to the Columbus monument and then on to the Port Vell marina. There are plenty of street entertainers in the Ramblas – some of them are excellent and some not so good . I feel safer in Barcelona than in most other big cities, but if you are walking down the Ramblas and in the port area watch out for your bags - my cousin’s husband got pick-pocketed here, but then he did have his wallet in his back pocket
Halfway down the Ramblas there are two sights that are really worth seeing – if you are into food, the market La Boqueria (on the right hand side as you go down) is supposed to be the best in Europe – certainly the quality of the food is amazing. Remember that there is not much fresh fish on a Monday, and Saturdays are really busy; so go early in the morning, very close by is the opera house the Liceu. On the left hand side is the Plaza Real square – really nice with tall palm trees. You can stop for a coffee here if you can find a spare table in the shade!
When you get to the bottom of the Ramblas you will be at Plaza Colón – a big statue of Christopher Columbus pointing West(-ish??) You can climb to the top of the statue, but I haven’t tried it yet. If you cross the road here towards the harbour, and then follow the pedestrian path to the left you will reach the Old Port (Port Vell), which has some big expensive yachts in the harbour. If you walk round the port towards the Barceloneta area you will get to a large red-brown brick building which has lots of really good seafood restaurants. Try a “paella parillada” or a lobster salad. You can walk all the way along the Barceloneta until you reach the beach, which isn’t bad, but can get very crowded during the summer and in fiestas.
If you follow the beach round to the left you will eventually get to the Olympic Port (near the big copper-coloured statue of a fish), which is where all the stag parties head for late-night boozing session.
The Barrio Gotico – fantastic old medieval streets around the medieval cathedral where you can easily get lost and lots of small, interesting shops. Have a good look at the medieval cathedral and the church of Santa Maria del Mar.
El Borne area: See the beautiful Palau de la Musica just off Via Laietana; Visit the Picasso Museum – really good, but I imagine the queues can be quite long. If you have time, go to Parc Guell (another Gaudi design) but you’ll have to get there by bus or taxi – it’s quite a walk from the metro station. Don't forget to visit Santa Maria del Pi another fantastic church and also visit the Ciudadella park especially on Sundays for a nice walk and for really spontaneous entertaiment like tango, salsa, marcial arts etc.
Shopping! The main shopping streets are: Paseo de Gracia (all the designer shops).  Avenida de la Diagonal (more designer shops) and Rambla De Catalunya.  There is a huge department store (El Corte Ingles) in Plaza de Catalunya.  Remember that most shops are open until around 8pm or 8:30pm, but all shops are closed on Sundays.