No matter whether you’re a history buff, food fanatic, party animal or maybe you just enjoy the sights and sounds of one of Europe’s most exciting cities, there’s never a shortage of things to do during your stay in Barcelona. From the bustling cobblestoned streets of Las Ramblas to the more sedate surrounds of Parc de la Ciutadella, the city boasts a wealth of activities and tours that are sure to delight visitors of all persuasions. Sometimes however, after a busy day exploring the enchanting works of Gaudi or perhaps marvelling at the city’s seemingly endless variety of cathedrals, it’s nice to simply sit back, relax and watch as the city hurries by. Thankfully on this front, Barcelona in blessed with an abundance of views that create not only postcard-perfect photo opportunities but also memories that will live long in the minds of visitors lucky enough to have experienced a slice of this iconic city.
Perched 1680 foot (around 500 metres) above sea level, Mount Tibidabo is the highest peak in the Serra de Collserola mountain range, dominating the Barcelona skyline and offering visitors, at least those willing to make the hike, a breath-taking panoramic vista of the city. Whilst the views are undeniably amongst the most stunning in the city, perhaps the biggest draw to the mountain is the Tibidabo Amusement Park, an ever-popular funfair that has been thrilling tourists both young and old for well over a century. Along with the impressive architecture of the Sagrat Cor church, the mountain offers the culinary delights of the renowned Mirablau restaurant which is an ideal spot to watch the sun set and the twinkling lights of the city to emerge from below. For those not quite prepared to make the climb, a funicular train is available to take visitors to the top of Mount Tibidabo for as little as €3.
Established in the first half of the 17th Century, Montjuïc Castle was once an important strategic military post and latterly a prison. Nowadays however, the quaint interior of the castle attracts visitors all year round but is particularly impressive during the spring months. Settled at the highest point of the hill, Montjuïc charms visitors with its sweeping sea-view but for those who are really in search of the spectacular, a cable car ride to the summit allows eyes to move inhibited across Barcelona’s distinctive skyline.
3. Parc Güell
There can be few more iconic places within the whole of the Ciudad Condal than Gaudi’s Parc Güell, a place where the architect’s trademark creativity and eclectic colour-work are very much on display. The park is characterised by a patchwork of vibrant ceramics and an ethereal, almost dreamlike quality, the views of the city stretching far out into the distance. Although there is a small fee charged for entrance to the most dramatic areas of the park, Plaça de la Natura, Sala Hipóstila and Dragón de la Escalinata, make no mistake; the entirety of Parc Güell is a visual delight and somewhere that countless hours can lost amid one of Barcelona’s most cherished attractions.
4. La Sagrada Familia
Yet another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, La Sagrada Familia remains one of the designer’s most famed but as yet unfinished works, the towering Catholic Church displaying the height of his architectural prowess. Situated within the centre of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia grants visitors access to a museum documenting Gaudi life and works as well as to the crypt where he continues to rest. The Church’s two soaring spires stretch high into the Catalonian sky and require more than a little effort to scale but rest assured; for those who manage to make it to the summit, a truly awe-inspiring vision of the city awaits.
5. The Rooftop Terrace at Palau Nacional (MNAC)
For anyone of an artistic bent, there can be few more enthralling places in Barcelona than Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalan Art), a museum that claims to exhibit the best of the regions art from the last thousand years. Boasting work from artists such as Picasso to El Greco, countless hours can be lost wandering around the hallways of the MNAC and, for the serious art aficionado, it may require more than a single visit to really appreciate the astonishing amount of work that is on display. In addition to the culture however, for the very reasonable price of €2, visitors are granted access to the rooftop terrace which overlooks the Magic Fountain, a view that only improves as the night progresses.
6. Turó de la Rovira
Situated on the outskirts of the city, Turó de la Rovira presents visitors with a view of Barcelona that is comparable to any other entry on this list, all whilst remaining free from the crowds of tourists that so often occupy the more famous hotspots. Originally an anti-aircraft bunker during the Spanish Civil War, the site has spent much of its history in a state of disrepair and has only recently been restored to its former glory, the 860 foot summit rewarding visitors with views of some of Barcelona’s most celebrated sites. Indeed, it is this stark contrast between the city’s rich and varied past and its dynamic present that make a trip to Turó de la Rovira a truly unique experience.
7. Las Arenas
While bullfighting in Barcelona may no longer be must-see social event it once was, Las Arenas was once the sport’s stronghold in the region. It has been almost 30 years since the last fight took place here and indeed Las Arenas has now been transformed from a sports stadium into a multi-purpose shopping mall. After indulging all your retail needs, why not take the escalator to the rooftop where, entirely free of cost, you can enjoy not only the cathedral and skyscraper-dotted horizon but also the hustle and bustle of the streets below. With an assortment of bars and restaurants, Las Arenas embodies the perfect place to take the weight off your feet whilst enjoying a much-needed sangria.
8. Teleferic del Port
Dangling 101 metres above sea level, this vertigo-inducing cable-car ride may not exactly be to everyone’s tastes but for those with a head for heights, a truly jaw-dropping view awaits. The short, 10 minute journey transports visitors from the Barceloneta Beach front to the peak of Montjuïc, the cable-car providing the perfect vantage point from which to watch the yachts and cruise liners as they skirt along the Mediterranean coastline. Prices for a single journey might seem a tad expensive at €11 but with unrivalled views of the old harbour, you may just find yourself booking a return journey.
9. Jardins del Turo de Putxet
With a permanent population of almost 2 million people and a whopping 8 million visitors expected to pass through the city annually, it can be difficult to find a moment of tranquillity during your stay in Barcelona. Thankfully however, the Jardins del Turo de Putxet offer a perfect antidote to all the hubbub of the city, its lush greenery and delightful explosions of colour guaranteeing to bewitch any visitor as they make their way through its pleasant surrounds. Overlooking the downtown rooftops, the gardens enjoy a quietness that can prove elusive in Barcelona, all the while remaining only a stone’s throw away from the Parc Güell and other major tourist attractions.
10. The Eclipse Bar at the W Hotel
After a long day exploring the streets and alleyways of the Catalan capital, it might just be time to relax with a drink or two atop the 26th floor Eclipse Bar. The 360 degree glass surround affords an uninterrupted view of the Mediterranean coastline, the city gradually giving way to the striking backdrop of the Collserola hills. The bar is a favourite amongst visitors and locals alike and regularly hosts performances from some of the biggest names in the world of DJs. Be warned however; the Eclipse bar is a high-class establishments and as such, it is necessary to make a reservation quite some time in advance while smart dress is not only encouraged but strictly enforced. Whilst this spot might not be suitable those visitors on a budget, for those of a more refined taste or others who simply want to enjoy a cocktail while taking in one of the most famed views in the city, the Eclipse Bar is practically beyond compare.
It is an unfortunate truth of a visit to Barcelona that there is simply not enough time to take in all that the city has to offer. Nevertheless, simply by climbing above the skyline, whether by hiking, cable-car or scaling the towers of one of the capital’s many cathedrals, visitors can at least glimpse some of the city’s most recognisable sights and in the process, cast their eye over thousands of years of European history.
Check the virtual tour below, choose your landmark and zoom in!
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