I recently stumbled upon the top 10 visited sights in Barcelona (official figures of the visited/paid entrances) and I have to say, I was very surprised at the list and order. OK, there were no big surprises, like number 1 was Sagrada Familia for example - no surprise there. I suppose the list is also dependant on actual bought tickets - so something like visiting the olympic stadium up on Montjuic might have made number 7 or 8, but of course it's free, so couldn't be counted.
After reading it I got thinking, and I decided that if you based your trip to Barcelona solely on this information, then you'd be missing out on some great places, so started making my own top 10 places (not really in any order, just thinking about it), and thought it might be something to share. After 9 years here, I've seen most things touristy - some through personal choice and some accompanying relatives or friends who came to visit. So, and I must stress this is in no particular order, here are my top 10 places in Barcelona to visit!
1. Sant Pau del Camp church. "Saint Paul of the countryside" is the oldest church in Barcelona, and is a roman building which is just off Paralello on Calle Sant Pau. The thing I like about this church is that it looks the same on the inside as the outside - big stones. There are no golden candlesticks and huge icons, etc. It's a real back to basics place, and if you have the chance to visit the cloister, you'll have an idea of the age of the place - it dates as far back as 912 AD.
2. Las Ramblas. Ok, this might seem an obvious inclusion, but there are many people who post on sites saying it's not worth visiting/too touristy/too dangerous, and people do actually believe this stuff. I've read other posts saying "we went to Ramblas, but stopped for 2 minutes and got right back in the taxi cab, as it looked so seedy". Incredible. For me, you have to at least walk up or down it once to take in the whole experience. Otherwise, you'll miss number 3...
3. La Boqueria Market. Just for the food that you can see there! Ok, forget the hoards of tourists at the fruit stalls at the entrance - I mean have a real wander, and go and see all the funny stalls. There's an African stall which sells BUGS, like crickets, locusts, etc. (not all year round), the best Iberian hams (not in the city, but some great ones), the amazing offal stalls (I wonder how on earth they can stay open, if like 8 kilos of stomach costs you 1 euro 50?! What do they make on that?!), the fish stalls, and much more. Has to be done.
4. Cable car at Montjuic. I've done this a few times (although not since it got re-opened this year), and it's so cool it makes you fell like a little kid again! If it's a clear day, there are some cracking views, and there's the "is this really safe" question. I love it!
5. Park Guell, but backwards. The park is on a hill, and although the incline is not too steep, the walkways are so windy, that moving up 50 metres involves walking 500, so I always say, take the metro to Vallcarca, and then take the escalators (how lazy is that?!) to the back entrance to the park. You then start with the best view, and can casually (and often smugly as you pass red-faced tourists) meander down the rest of the way, saving the best till last - the ornate entrance with fairytale houses.
6. Horta Maze. This is a little out of the way, but if you live in Barcelona and have never been, it's worth a look. It's a maze from hedges, very well kept, and great fun. If it ever snowed and laid in Barcelona, I'd be straight there for me "Shining" experience!
7. El Bosque de las Hadas. The forest of the faries. This is actually a pub, just off Las Ramblas, and is a fitting neighbour to the wax museum. It's bigger nowadays that it used to be, but the entrance is still the strangest pub you will ever walk into - something straight out of a Tim Burton film. Fake trees, funny mirrors, portcullas all included with the price of a beer. Classic.
8. Palau de la Musica Catalana. I think maybe the reason this place wasn't on the official top 10 is that many people think you can just turn up and go in, whereas you do actually need to take a guided tour. One of Barcelona's many weird/cool buildings and the best is the stained glass roof window. I don't know much about art, but that's verrrrry nice.
9. Cuitadella Park on a Sunday. There's enough to see in the park on any given day (rowing boats, the Gaudi-designed fountain) and the cool Mammoth thing (just whay it's there I have no idea), but Sunday in Cuitadella seems to go back in time, to the late 60's early 70's! Lots of hippies arrive with bongos and start playing and after an hour, there's loads of them! The other thing I love is that lots of different nationalities go and take a dish they've made which is typical from their country/city. So for 2 euros, you can try Argentinian empanadas, enchilladas from Mexico (or Los Angeles, the last time I think!), Filipino chicken sticks, the list goes on...
10. Finally, but remember, it's in no order, I have put the Magic Fountains at Montjuic. I know it's a bit cheesy (I still love the way people clap after the songs, like as if there's a man inside pushing loads of buttons and winding handles, etc.) but it's still a spectacle with the Palace and lights behind that can't fail to put a smile on your face.
So there you have it. Some are obvious, and some maybe not so, but check them out - 5 are free!
Barcelona Apartments for rent and Apartments in Barcelona for groups.