Many celebrities have recently been spotted in Barcelona, Spain. If you view the social media feeds of Tip “TI” Harris, Maxwell and Dr. Ian Smith (who remembers Celebrity Fit Club), you’ll see proof of their travel to this cosmopolitan city. Barcelona isn’t only popular among the stars, it’s also the number one travel destination for Europeans. Based on the hashtag #barcelona, it’s also quickly becoming the hot spot for Americans as well.
Barcelona is located in the Catalonia region of the country and known for its art, architecture and culinary expression. This past March, I decided to experience the city for myself. Since the peak season for tourism is May – September, I opted to go in March to avoid the crowds.
There are numerous sites to see in Spain. So many that I'm already planning my second trip to visit the places I didn't get a chance to see. In the meantime, here's a list of the top 10 sites you must see while in Barcelona. This Instagram-worthy catalog will have you getting a multitude of likes in a matter of seconds.
The Top 10 Countdown
#10. Casa Batlló Gaudí – Antoni Gaudí was a Spanish architect and is considered a genius for his ground-breaking expression of art. He designed several landmarks in the city, but one that will catch your eye, in particular, is Casa Batlló. Located in the center of Barcelona, it shows off the exquisite designs Gaudí is internationally recognized for. This modernist building is considered one of his masterpieces.
#9. Gràcia – This famous district in Barcelona is the home to graffiti walls and vegan restaurants. The neighborhoods have a certain character and charm that it will have you feeling like a local in no time. It’s home for many young professionals as well as older Catalans. It’s also home to the next stop on our list, Park Güell.
#8. Park Güell – Get lost in the many awes of Park Güell, a public park composed of beautiful gardens, natural structures, and whimsical architecture. Antoni Gaudí, the designer of the park, displayed his works throughout this 45-acre park system that established in 1914. 70 years later Park Güell was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#7. Frank Gehry’s Peix – There are four major local beaches in Barcelona. Two of them (Barceloneta Beach and Icària Beach) are joined together to this giant goldfish designed by Frank Gehry (something in the city not designed by Gaudí). It’s one of the most popular symbols of post-Olympic Barcelona. The boardwalk is an active, artsy, and adventurous strip that deserves a spot on this list.
#6. El Born – The El Born district of Barcelona is known for its Medieval character. It's home to designer boutiques, cocktail bars and samba dancing. And of course, art plays a significant factor here, as El Born is also home to the renowned Picasso Museum. For that reason alone, El Born is a must-see.
#5. Gothic Quarter – Also known as Barri Gòtic, this a charming Medieval Old Town area of narrow streets is lined with trendy bars. The remains of the Roman city can be viewed at the Museu d’Història de Barcelona. Another point of interest is the Plaça del Pi, which hosts a weekend art market. The Gothic Quarter is also home to the next two sites on this list.
#4. Las Ramblas – Las Ramblas is an iconic street in central Barcelona that is ¾ mile of fabulousness. You can experience everything from artistic expression to vendor shops to eclectic bars. The street that divides Old Town and Gothic Quarter is lined with trees, bars, and thieves. Las Ramblas is well-known for its very active (and cleaver) pickpocketers. While it’s a must-see, you must also be smart about where you keep your cash.
#3. Mercat de la Boqueria – The market to rival all markets, La Boqueria, is located at the end of Las Ramblas. This iconic produce and product market is a maze of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, olive oils, and saffron. It also offers several of Barcelona's most popular restaurants. This market thrives on the local tourism, but I can guarantee you it's an experience that's worth it.
#2. Montserrat – This unique mountain range is located just outside of Barcelona in Catalonia. The many peaks of this pre-coastal range will leave you speechless with its spectacular views. It’s also a Benedictine monk retreat home to new hostels and an old library (created in the 11th century) that houses a collection of more than150,000 books. There are multiple experiences to enjoy at Montserrat, including horseback riding.
#1. The Basílica de la Sagrada Família – La Sagrada Família, meaning “holy family,” is the focal point of Barcelona. The construction of this breath-taking work of art began in 1882 and continues to this day. The detail, the dedication, and the divinity of it all are worth witnessing. The church is open during construction, which is planned for completion in 2026, ending the 144 years of work on this masterpiece designed by none other than the Father of Barcelona himself, Antoni Gaudí. This building is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s very well-deserved.
Now deemed as one of my most-favored places in Europe, Barcelona is a city that definitely lives up to the hype. With easy access (three non-stop flights per week from Boston) and a little less than 8 hours, you too can experience perfect paella, Gaudí’s designs, and everything in between.