Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona (Approximately)

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Greetings, Internet Stranger and welcome to the approximately top 10 most beautiful places in Barcelona! Of course, any list of the most beautiful places in Barcelona has to start with the Picasso Museum. Here, you can find some of the most stunning works of art by Spain’s most famous artist.

But we will do so much more than look at women with cubes for faces! We will check out other types of modern art, climb to a dizzying height, meet a rude waiter, and eat 15 different things–at least! Well, I will eat them. You will just look at my pictures from the safety of your home, drool, and wish you were in Barcelona.

Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona

How To Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a Picasso of your very own. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to Barcelona.

But I can tell you that I used a lovely airplane to get from my hometown NYC to Barcelona, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Barcelona at the best time of day. It was pretty easy to find a direct flight from NYC to Barcelona, but if you don’t live on the East Coast, it might be trickier.

You can even use Expedia to rent a car so you’ll be all set when you arrive at your destination. (I can’t drive, but if you can, this must be helpful.)

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to the most beautiful places in Barcelona ASAP.

Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona

Where to Stay?

Barcelona is hugely popular with tourists, so you’ll find a wide variety of places to stay here. I was rolling with almost no dough in my trip to Barcelona, so I was lucky to find a great budget destination: the Pension Portugal.

This hostel offered a private room, free wifi, and a great location just next to La Boqueria market where you can get a different fresh juice every single morning for breakfast. But you might have more Euros to spend and be looking for something a little pricier.

If you want to join me for juice time in the morning, just click here. And if you’re a juice hater and want to find a great deal on a different hotel in Barcelona, click here.

Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona

What to Pack?

  • The most beautiful comfy walking sandals that are perfect for a day of seeing the most beautiful places in Barcelona.
  • Stylish boots so that your feet can stay beautiful even if it rains
  • A cell charger so your battery will stay strong as you use your GPS to get around to all the most beautiful places in Barcelona
  • A great sunscreen that’s also a spray so you can reapply it no matter where you are or who you are with
  • The best travel adapter so you will be able to plug your electronic devices in at your hotel even if you’re not from the EU
  • My favorite guidebook to Barcelona
  • Barcelona, by Robert Hughes, which will teach you everything you need to know about how Barcelona got so beautiful.
  • Life With Picasso, a true memoir about what the arteeste was like as a human being, written by his lover Francoise Gilot, an artist herself.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country without help. You never know when extreme weather will strike or some other emergency. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a bunch of Cubist paintings when you’re looking for the most beautiful places in Barcelona.

Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona

Morning: Explore La Ribera

Let’s kick off our day of the most beautiful places in Barcelona with one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Barcelona. Like El Raval, La Ribera is one of the neighborhoods in the Old Town in Barcelona, and therefore it is filled with delicious restaurants, traditional markets, and fascinating architecture.

If you think you can handle a day that starts with chocolate pastries and Picasso and ends with wine, cheese, and flamenco, then La Ribera is for you!

Approximately top 5: la ribera

most beautiful places in barcelona
1) Breakfast at Mercat de Santa Caterina

The Mercat de Santa Caterina is a beautiful place to grab a quick breakfast. (In Barcelona, even the markets are beautiful.) The market is just as notable for the dramatic undulating waves of its roof as it is for its fresh produce, ham, and fish. So of course you could make a meal out of only a perfectly ripe piece of fruit or two.

But this morning, I presume you are like me (and if not, please explain yourself), and you will want to snack on a pastry instead of something disgustingly healthy. There are many freshly baked pastries available in the Santa Caterina, so I suggest picking up something like this tasty looking chocolate twist for about 1 Euro. Then we’ll be good to go!

most beautiful places in barcelona

Ugh, I still remember how the pastry was perfectly flaky and melted in my mouth. Plus, the chocolate was rich and sweet, but not too sweet. In fact, all the chocolate in Barcelona is really outstanding. I strongly suggest making the sacrifice and eating as much as you can!

most beautiful places in barcelona
2) Visit the Picasso Museum

The Museo Picasso is an extraordinary collection of many of Picasso’s most famous works. Sadly, no photography is allowed inside the museum, so I will have to do my best to recreate the experience by painting a portrait with my words (and a little help from free images off of Wikipedia).

24 Hour Tip

I strongly recommend getting the Barcelona Art Pass if you’re going to see other museums in Barcelona, like the CCCB contemporary art museum. It ended up saving me about half the price of all the museums I visited, and it’s super easy to use. Plus, it will make seeing all of the most beautiful places in Barcelona that much more convenient.

24 Hour Treasure

Don’t miss Picasso’s many paintings deconstructing and reimagining the legendary painting Las Meninas by 17th century Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. Here is the original by Velasquez:

most beautiful places in barcelona

And here is one of Picasso’s many reinterpretations of Las Meninas:

most beautiful places in barcelona
Image Credit

It’s amazing how this is recognizably the same composition as Velazquez’s painting, though at the same time it is obvious that the work is done by Picasso. I believe that the most important requirement for being a great artist is having a special way of seeing the world and being capable of sharing that vision with others.

The Picasso Museum has many examples of Picasso’s unique vision, especially his interpretations of the human face and body. If you are an art lover, there is no excuse for not stopping here!

3) Passadis Del Pep

Before we continue on our quest to find the most beautiful places in Barcelona, we’re going to want to eat a lot of calories. That way we can walk them off as we explore. That’s just science.

Passadis Del Pep is one of those fabulous, atmospheric restaurants inside a building with no sign at the entrance and stone walls, tables with fancy white tablecloths, and waiters with impeccable manners that every traveler is always hoping to discover in Europe. Delightfully for adventurous eaters like we are, it has no menu. Instead, the waiters just bring out to you what is fresh for the day.

Ordinarily I do not like to have a large meal for lunch because it makes me sleepy. But in Spain I felt that a big lunch was appropriate because presumably one would want to take a siesta not long afterwards. Also this giant meal was delicious, and I regret nothing. Sadly I did not photograph the free-flowing cava, but believe me that it was there for our enjoyment.

24 Hour treat: Pa Amb tomaquet and ham

My meal started with some scrumptious pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomatoes) and some gorgeous sliced ham. You probably could end here and be happy with your lunch.

most beautiful places in barcelona

It continued with a fresh lentil, chicken, and tomato salad. There are literally no things on this earth as beautiful as a fresh tomato.

most beautiful places in barcelona
24 Hour Treat: Catalan seafood

Now it was time for the parade of seafood to commence! I started with some salty and garlicky sea snails. (That’s a bed of salt, not rice. Don’t eat the salt. I don’t know why it’s there.)

most beautiful places in barcelona

Then there was a dish of tiny clams called coquinas. They are tender and redolent of the sea, but be careful when eating them because you have to use your fingers to pick them up and you’ll get olive oil on yourself. The waiters will bring you a washcloth, so don’t be shy!

most beautiful places in barcelona

As a seafood palate cleanser, I was brought these pleasantly spicy pimientos de padron. I love peppers, so I ate the whole plate!

most beautiful places in barcelona
24 Hour Treasure

Up next was a squid, which was my favorite course of the meal. You know how squid can sometimes be overcooked and then tough to chew? There was none of this here. The squid virtually fell apart in my mouth.

Some people don’t like seeing their food’s head, but I don’t mind. I’m no hypocrite! I know that’s an animal that died to feed my belly and I am unashamed. (PS. The tentacles are very tasty too.)

most beautiful places in barcelona

Then I had two different kinds of prawn: one with a tomato based sauce and one without because clearly one kind of prawn is just unacceptable. I didn’t eat the heads because it seemed gauche, but I totally would have done so if the waiter had told me to.

most beautiful places in barcelona

But what would a meal be without a main course? Ours is a rich and creamy seafood stuffed crepe. The seafood filling and cream sauce blended together in a perfect smoothness, especially since the crepe was so thin I could hardly feel it.

The crepe seemed but a mere tissue designed to prevent the seafood filling from spilling into the cream and erupting into chaos.

most beautiful places in barcelona
24 hour treat: crema catalana

Do we have room for dessert? What a silly question! The final coursewas the very traditional crema catalana, which is like creme brulee, only a little less pretty because it’s not necessarily served in a ramekin. Don’t worry, it’s just as tasty.

most beautiful places in barcelona

Finally, you will be given a choice of one of three liqueurs for an aperitif. My options were limoncello, whiskey, or grappa. I don’t drink whiskey for lunch unless I am actually in Ireland, so I chose the grappa. It had the just the fiery strength to put me in a really good mood for an hour and then make me fall asleep.

most beautiful places in barcelona

Passadis Del Pep is expensive, but it is definitely worth it given the quality and quantity you are served. I highly recommend it if you are looking to try some classic Barcelona seafood.

most beautiful places in barcelona
4) Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar is an astounding example of Catalan Gothic architecture, and it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona. I freely admit I’m just quoting what I’ve read in Lonely Planet here because I don’t know what Catalan Gothic architecture is supposed to look like.

But that’s not going to stop me from taking wild and rapturous guesses! We know it is Catalan Gothic because of its columns and high arched ceilings…

most beautiful places in barcelona

It has a large rose window…

most beautiful places in barcelona

Plus the church is in Catalonia and that makes it Catalan Gothic. Voila! Actually, if stained glass and arches is enough to make something Gothic, then Santa Maria del Mar is as Gothic as a Hot Topic employee.

most beautiful places in barcelona
24 Hour Treasure

You must take the tour that gets you to the roof. Times vary, so check the website to see when tours will be offered on the day you visit. The price is a great bargain because you get a church tour and a glorious view of Barcelona in one. Presto!

most beautiful places in barcelona

Isn’t that a beautiful Catalan Gothic view? (I still may not be 100 percent clear on what Catalan Gothic means.) And finally the Parc de la Ciutadella awaits!

most beautiful places in barcelona

Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona

Afternoon: Parc de la Ciutadella

I’m a big believer in finding a good place for rest and relaxation at some point in the late afternoon/early evening. You’ve had a long and busy day finding the most beautiful places in Barcelona, interpreting Picasso, eating sea snails and drinking cava, and exploring the mysteries of Catalan Gothic architecture. So you deserve a rest in the gorgeous Parc de la Ciutadella.

…Oh, you want a little more instruction than that? You’re very needy, Internet Stranger. But I aim to please, nonetheless.

Three Fun Facts: Parc de la Ciutadella

most beautiful places in barcelona
1) Why should I go to this park?

The Wifi in the Parc de la Ciutadella is free, which is nice if you don’t have an international data plan. But can’t you stay off your phone for just a few minutes, Internet Stranger? Learn to stop and smell the flowers!

2) What’s the coolest thing inside the park?

The most extraordinary object in the Parc de la Ciutadella is this fabulous (and I use that word in the RuPaul sense) gaudy fountain. It’s possible that it is a Gaudi fountain as well since some people think the architect may have worked on it as a young man.

most beautiful places in barcelona

Some people think this fountain is too tacky. Those people are wrong. With the shooting sprays of water, triumphal arch, and myriad gold neoclassical statues, this fountain is exactly the right amount of tacky. Plus you can walk up the staircases at the sides and take pretty pictures of the water.

most beautiful places in barcelona

See! Lord Poseidon approves of this fountain too.

most beautiful places in barcelona

That pretty little waterfall cascading down the moss is just a bonus.

3) Where can I eat near the park?

We have a show to attend this evening, so there’s no chance you’ll be having a big dinner out. I don’t do big dinners and shows on the same evening since that one time I did a food tasting and wine pairing on the same night and ended up puking my guts out in the bathroom at the Metropolitan Opera.

Instead, if you’re still hungry after that ginormous meal you had at lunch, why not stop at a charming wine bar called La Vinya del Senyor right outside Santa Maria del Mar? You were there earlier today, so it’s shouldn’t be hard to find.

I was presented with a little attitude when I came in to order and said, “Una por favor”, meaning one woman. The bartender yelled at me, “One what?” and I was a bit taken aback. Fortunately, he left, I presume to go and be rude to his girlfriend, and was replaced with a nice waitress who served me a delicious glass of rose and a cheese plate.

most beautiful places in barcelona

One of these cheeses was of course Manchego, the king of Spanish cheeses, because even though Manchego, like Don Quixote, comes from La Mancha, you can find lots of it in Barcelona. One of the other cheeses was a creamy goat, and I forget what the third was. 

I mostly just remembering slathering pieces of bread with the cheese goodness, topping my creation with nuts or some of that sweet fruit jelly, and then gulping the whole shebang down. I probably should work on being a little classier when eating cheese in a wine bar!

If you want dessert afterward, or alternatively if you can’t even fathom scarfing down wine and cheese, why not try some ice cream?

most beautiful places in barcelona

Head to La Campana, which is more well known for its nougat candy, but I thought their crema catalana ice cream was pretty outstanding, especially since the flavor is really burnt sugar + egg custard. You’re welcome to try the nougat, if you want, though. I won’t stop you.


Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona

Evening: Palau de la Musica Catalana

Gaudi gets all the press, but he actually wasn’t the only famous architect in Barcelona. One of the other most renowned Catalan masters of the art of architecture was Lluis Domenech i Montener, and the Palau de la Musica Catalana was his most famous creation. No list of the most beautiful places in Barcelona is complete without this one.

Domenech i Montener was an important figure in the Catalan Art Nouveau movement, also known as Modernisme”. As far as I can tell, this style is characterized by being extremely ornate and pretty. so I already prefer it to say, Italian Futurism.

You can take guided tours of the Palau, but I wanted the full theatrical experience, so I bought a ticket to Historia de un Amor, an extremely passionate opera and flamenco show. You can see the Palau’s schedule here to find what will be on when you visit.

People in Barcelona will be eager to remind you that flamenco is not authentically Catalan, but there are sometimes flamenco shows in clubs in Barcelona, and anyway, the music hall itself is about as Catalan as it gets.

Before your show starts, you need to walk around the building and take in all the magical architectural details.

most beautiful places in barcelona

With Catalan Modernisme, it’s always fun trying to interpret the intricate details that decorate the exterior of a building. Are those meant to be heads on sticks in the middle there? How many different kinds of flowers are decorating those poles?

Are those supposed to be flowers decorating the bases of the column too? How long did it even take to build this majestic creation and did building it drive someone mad?

The show itself was a fantastic experience, though since I was sitting in the cheap seats it was easier for me to experience the opera singing than the complexities of the DANCE. I especially admired the intense emotion that the performers put into their singing.

I am not naturally inclined to overt expressions of emotional intensity, but I admire those who are able to pull it off with style. And after a day of walking around the most beautiful places in Barcelona, it was nice to sit while others danced.

That’s the Most Beautiful Places in Barcelona!

What do you think are the most beautiful places in Barcelona? What made that waiter at the wine bar so cranky? And could you look a squid in its eyes as you ate its face? Please leave your thoughts below!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Barcelona. If you want to add a Barcelona itinerary with La Sagrada Familia, click here. And if you’d like a Barcelona itinerary with Gaudi architecture and the Palau Guell, try this one.

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