Madrid may be Spain’s capital, but everyone’s talking about Barcelona. When you travel to Barcelona, you’ll be at the heart of the fiercely proud Catalonia region, with its own language and heritage—not to mention its adored soccer team. Drink in the view from the twisting lanes of the Gràcia district, where you can look out over the busy city to the golden beach. Head from the iconic Sagrada Familia to a rambling side street in the Gothic Quarter for your fill of tapas and cava—walk slowly, take it all in, and make the most of Spain’s second city.
This incredible cathedral is Barcelona’s most beloved sight, combining Gothic, surrealist, and Art Nouveau styles from the genius brain of Antoni Gaudí. From the stone turtles supporting the columns of the Nativity Facade to the kaleidoscopic interior where light shines through stained-glass windows, this place is unlike any cathedral you’ve ever seen. Come back in 2032 for the finished product—it’s currently been under construction for 137 years.
Barcelona’s most famous street, Las Ramblas is the city’s hub of activity. Stroll along the sun-kissed sidewalks, gazing up at the iron balconies of the elegant 19th-century buildings. No vacation in Barcelona is complete without seeing the chaotic Boqueria market, packed with slices of chorizo and fresh fruit. When you’re full, find a sidewalk bar for a cold Estrella beer and tangy green olives—you could spend a whole weekend on this one street.
Another of Gaudí’s masterpieces, Parc Güell provides a relaxing break from Barcelona’s breakneck city life. Don’t miss the Dragon Stairway, where a mosaic lizard guards the park’s gateway. Stop by to the Gaudí House Museum, the architect’s former residence, where his wrought ironwork sits in the garden. This serene park is a fitting monument to the genius whose fingerprints are all over this magical city.
Pintxos is the Basque equivalent of tapas, which Barcelona has adopted for itself, remembering to add a distinct Catalan twist—no Barcelona trip is complete without it. Get down to the Poble-Sec neighborhood, whose Carrer Blai is the best street in the city to satisfy your appetites away from the crowds. Spend an evening bar hopping, sampling tortilla, octopus, and anchovies, best matched with a local cava. As they say in Catalan—Bon Profit!
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is the key to the city’s history, better suited to rambling than rushing. Admire the facade of the city’s original gothic cathedral before heading into its cloister, where a gaggle of geese lives among the orange trees. Explore the vintage stores of Calle Avinyó en route to the Plaça Sant Filip Neri, a square pockmarked with bullet holes from the Spanish Civil War.
End your Barcelona trip in one of soccer’s cathedrals, the Camp Nou, where 98,000 people make a weekly pilgrimage to watch FC Barcelona do their thing. Tour the stadium and its museum before following in the footsteps of Ronaldinho, Xavi, and Messi as you walk through the tunnel, coming face to face with the team’s motto: Mes que un club, “more than a club.” Less