Spend the first 2 days as described in the other itineraries. On Day 3 make a leisurely morning exploration of L'Eixample, the 19th-century district that expanded the city away from the congested Barric Gòtic and Ciutat Vella in general. This is where you'll find Barcelona's widest avenue, the Passeig de Gràcia, and greatest concentration of moderniste (Art Nouveau) architecture, highlighted by the Manzana de la Discordia zone, where Gaudí's Casa Batlló, Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Amatller, and Domènech i Muntaner's Casa Lleo Morera are all so close they virtually shake hands with each other. Most famous of all is another Gaudí gem, Casa Milà (popularly known as La Pedrera), further along the paseo. Pop into Vinçon, the city's famed design emporium, for a descent to relative normality, and then continue up to the village-like district of Gràcia at the northern edge of L'Eixample. Return to have lunch in Casa Calvet, a restaurant housed in an early work of the omnipresent Gaudí.
In the afternoon catch the Metro up to Pedralbes to visit the monastery and palace. Then continue up to Tibidabo by funicular for the best panoramic views of the city and coast stretching north toward the Costa Brava. In the evening wander into the adjoining Collserola Park , still high above the city.
Compared to the color and life of La Rambla, this 60-m (200-feet)-wide avenue, with its traffic-filled center, two pedestrian mini-paseos, and four rows of trees, is both more urban and more cosmopolitan. It is known locally as "Queen of Paseos" and is lined with elegant buildings, sought-after eating spots, and high-end shops like Adolfo Dominguez for stylish clothing, and Tous, which sells spectacular jewelry. The street rises gently from Plaça de Catalunya through the heart of the 19th-century Eixample to the village-like district of Gràcia.
A short way up the paseo you'll find this remarkable block, with its trio of architectural standouts designed by maestros of the moderniste movement: The inimitable Gaudí's frilly and curvaceous Casa Batlló was built 1904-6, Puig i Cadafalch's staid Flemish-style Casa Amatller in 1898-1900, and Domènech i Muntaner's decidedly eccentric Casa Lleo Morera in 1902, compared by some to a collapsed wedding cake. Manzana means both "block" and "apple" in Spanish, so the double meaning could also refer to the mythical golden Apple of Discord, which was to be given to the winner of a beauty contest judged by Paris. Decide for yourself which building comes out on top.
You've not finished with moderniste architecture by a long shot. On its own some 457m (1,500 feet) further up the avenue is what many feel to be the most striking building of all: Casa Milà (by Gaudí again), also known as "La Pedrera" (the rock quarry) since its twisted verandas and frivolous chimneys are all made of bizarrely sculptured limestone from Montjuïc hill. It's really a block of apartments (one is open to the public), the most original in the entire city, and the high point of any visit comes when you get onto the roof and enjoy the Mary Poppins cityscape visible past those astonishing chimneys.
This intimate district at the northern end of the Passeig de Gràcia, just past the Avinguda Diagonal, started life as a small village built around an 18th-century convent; during Barcelona's Industrial Revolution in the late 1880s, it became a working-class zone where a famed revolt over the reintroduction of the military draft is commemorated by a tall bell tower that stands in Plaça Ruis i Taulet. Today it's a sought-after and slightly gentrified corner of the city in which many traditional features, such as vintage herbolarios (health-cure shops) and fortune-telling palm readers, have lingered on amid the abundance of tiny squares and narrow lanes. Its mood is vaguely bohemian, and many artists have chosen to establish their workshops here. The August Festa Major de Gràcia is a riot of street fun that lasts a week; don't miss it if you're here then.
5. Take a Break -- Casa Calvet
Head back down into the lower Eixample for an indulgent (but not too indulgent if you want to get through the afternoon) lunch at Casa Calvet, a Gaudí-designed ground-floor restaurant. The moderniste setting is complemented by a new-and-old blend of top Catalan cuisine.
Take Metro Line 6 from Plaça de Catalunya to Reina Elisenda and walk to the monastery. Situated high up in one of the city's classiest suburbs alongside the Catalan Gothic monastery church, this 14th-century gem founded by Queen Elisenda is one of Barcelona's oldest and most attractive religious buildings. Once inside, take a peep at its secluded garden and fountain; explore the beautiful three-floored cloister; and visit the pharmacy, kitchen, and high-vaulted refectory with restored artifacts of daily convent life.
You can arrive at this strange mixture of the ecclesiastic and the brassy either by Tramvía Blau (Blue Tram; weekends only in winter) and funicular lift, or by taking a bus all the way up from Plaça Doctor Andreu. At the top, 488m (1,600 feet) above the sea and enjoying sensational views of the city and coast, is one of the few places in the world you'll find a church next to a fun-fair. The church, named Sagrat Cor (Holy Heart), is built in an unattractive gray neo-Gothic style. It was designed by Enric Sagnier and built between 1902 and 1961; its silhouette can be seen from so many miles away that it's become one of the city's most familiar landmarks. The fun-fair's been in operation for over 80 years and its vintage attractions include the wheezy Aeromàgic mountain ride and a 1928 flight simulator.
To the southwest of Tibidabo, on the same high massif, is this splendid 8,000-hectare (19,800-acre) area of wild countryside where footpaths meander amid the oak forests and offer occasional spectacular vistas. Within the park are farmhouses, chapels, and springs, including the charming Font de la Budellera. Along the way you'll also see plaques with verses by the Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer. See the small museum dedicated to him inside the 18th-century Villa Joana. A far more recent eye-catcher is the Norman Foster-designed Torre de Collserola, shaped like a giant syringe, which is just 5 minutes' stroll away from Tibidabo . There's an unbeatable view from the top, accessible by a vertigo-inducing elevator. At night you can see its lights flashing from way below.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.