Antoni Gaudí's Casa Milà, or La Pedrera (The Quarry), Barcelona, Spain
Sergi Camara

Experience Barcelona

What should you see and do in Barcelona?

We think these are the top sights, and they start with the crowning glory of the Modernista movement, Antoni Gaudí's Casa Milà is better known as La Pedrera (The Quarry) for its wavy mass of limestone. Most people come to see the fascinating roof, guarded by a set of warriorlike chimneys that look like the inspiration for Darth Vader.
Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Spain
Neil Schlecht
Wandering the Bari Gòtic
Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is a mesmerizing labyrinth of medieval buildings and narrow streets; it's a joy to take a stroll and discover a quiet square or picturesque patio. Meander down Sant Sever and slip into Plaça Sant Felip Neri, or along Carrer dels Banys Nous.
La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain
Jon Arnold/
Joining the Throngs on La Rambla
Barcelona's pedestrian-only boulevard is the epicenter of life in the capital, and even though it's touristy, joining the vibrant street parade is the best way to immerse yourself in the city. Pick up fresh flowers and come face-to-face with outrageous human statues.
El Palau de la Música
Sergi Camara
Tuning in to El Palau de la Música
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the spectacular Palace of Music draws hordes for its architectural tours. But there's nothing quite like experiencing a concert here; this spine-tingling monument to Art Nouveau excess takes a back seat to no musician.
Mosaic benches in the Parc Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Quim Roser/Puig Photography
Relaxing in Parc Güell
Yet another of Gaudi's signature creations, this open-air park on the outskirts of the Eixample district is pure whimsy. Resembling an idiosyncratic theme park, it features a mosaic-covered lizard fountain, Hansel and Gretel pagodas, and undulating benches swathed in broken pieces of ceramics.
The colorful, wave-like roof of Mercat de Santa Caterina, Barcelona, Spain
Neil Schlecht
Shopping at Mercat de Santa Caterina
Barcelona is one of the top eating cities in Europe. In addition to haute cuisine restaurants and chef-driven tapas bars, there are scores of colmados (grocery stores), chocolatiers, and food markets. The gorgeously redesigned Mercat de Santa Caterina (in operation since 1848), a covered food market with a casual restaurant inside, is a big hit with foodies and architecture fans alike.
The beach at Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain
Josep Curto/AGE Fotostock
Soaking up the Sun at Barceloneta Beach
Barcelona's fishermen and their families inhabited this picturesque beachfront neighborhood for decades before it received a stylistic makeover in 1992. It was a traditional haunt for low-key seafood restaurants called chiringuitos, several of which have survived.
Picasso and Hemingway were regulars at Marsella, Barcelona, Spain
Quim Roser/Puig Photography
Sipping Absinthe at Marsella
This dusty joint--around since 1820--is the place to try absenta (absinthe), the wickedly strong anise-flavored liqueur distilled from wormwood, said to be hallucinogenic and still banned in some countries. They say that Picasso, Dalí, and Hemingway were regulars here.
Casa Batlo, Barcelona, Spain
Thecla Teo
Touring Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló owes its extraordinary facade to Antoni Gaudí, who completed a remodeling in 1906. Thought to represent the legend of Saint George and his dragon, the house glimmers with fragments of colorful ceramics, while the balconies evoke Carnivalesque masks or menacing monster jaws. The sinuous interior, full of custom Gaudí-designed furniture, is similarly stunning.