Like many European cities, Barcelona's Old Town is mostly explorable on foot. There are 7 main neighborhoods:
Near the Olympic Port (where you can see the iconic golden fish sculpture), El Born is a trendy neighborhood where you can find the Picasso Museum (largely overrated for the non-Picasso fans), the Mercat Santa Caterina and Mercat del Born where you can stock up on food before going for a picnic in the Park de la Ciutadela. Head over to the Museu d'Historia de Catalunya's rooftop restaurant (free access) for beautiful views of the city.
The Gothic Quarter
Beautiful architecture dating back to the Gothic period, this neighborhood is now full of trendy bars and restaurants. It is most beautiful at sunset when the light bounces of the stone buildings. Make sure to visit the stunning Placa Reial.
This neighborhood hosts the most famous promenade in Barcelona, La Rambla, which connects Placa de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument. Go up the Colombus monument (€2-3) for stunning views. Don't forget to stop off at La Boqueria market for a sensory overload. Don't shop at the first stalls, their prices are higher. And while we're at it, don't shop on La Rambla at all, it's largely overpriced. Careful with your bags, pickpocketing is common here.
At the end of La Rambla, you'll find Barceloneta beach. The beach itself is not the nicest, but enjoy the view and some seafood and drinks at one of the many chiringuitos (or beach bars).
It used to be a seedy area, but now it is becoming the multicultural, bohemian neighborhood of Barcelona. Just wander around, soak in the colors and cultures, but watch your bags.
Although not a very tall mountain, Montejuic has cleaner air and beautiful panoramic views. Montejuic Castle and Park are free to access and they have great views onto the Plaza d'Espanya. Plaza d'Espanya is also surrounded by the Miro Foundation, the Magic Fountains and the National Museum of Art of Catalunya. If you don't want to make it all the way up to the castle, go up to the rooftop of Placa de Toros de las Arenas - the bull-fighting ring reconverted into a mall - for some great views. If you've got time to relax or a picnic to snack on, head to the Jardin Mossen Cinto or the Parc d'Espanya Industrial.
This is one of the largest neighborhoods of Barcelona and houses Casa Batllo, La Pedrera (Casa Milo) and the Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's most popular works. They are all just as spectacular from the outside as from the inside. If you do choose to go in, buy your tickets online and save yourself a long wait! If you decide to go into the Sagrada Familia, opt for the Basilica+Tower ticket, and go up the Nativity tower for great views. Not far from the Sagrada Familia is the Hospital de San Pau, another stunning example of Barcelona's modernist architecture.
This neighborhood is perhaps the most quiet and authentic neighborhood if you care to get lost in it. Just make sure you visit Parc Guell. Get off at Vallcarca Station to avoid climbing uphill.
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