Barcelona and art are synonymous with each other. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find historic architecture with an especially artistic flair, especially if you’re looking at one of the many fantastical buildings created by Antoni Gaudí. It’s physically impossible to see every bit of art the city holds, both in its architecture and its museums. But you can cover a lot of ground in a day if you’re really motivated to soak in as much culture as possible. So put on your walking shoes and charge your camera, because you’re in for a long, culturally-fulfilling day.
Begin your day by visiting the Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic neighborhood. Not to be confused with the Sagrada Familia, the Barcelona Cathedral is traditionally Catholic in design, but still incredibly impressive. While not as popular as Gaudí’s church, it still attracts crowds, so visit early to be able to get photos of it without other people in the way. Have a wander around inside before heading under the iconic, intricately designed bridge at Carrer del Bisbe.
Continue over to El Born and allow yourself to get lost in the bohemian streets. An especially nice street to walk down is Carrer de la Princesa which is lined with independent shops and bakeries. You might want to stop for coffee or a glass of wine at the Rambla del Born.
Stroll down Passeig de Picasso and pop into the Picasso Museum for a visit. This museum houses the artist’s work from the time he lived in Barcelona, as well as some paintings from his French period. The most interesting pieces of art here are the paintings he did when he was 14 years old. Unless you’re a lifelong Picasso scholar, you’ll never be able to tell these traditional-looking paintings are in any way connected to his later work.
The visit should only take an hour, as the well-curated museum is short and sweet. This gives you a chance to head over to the Arc de Triomf and enjoy some sunshine while watching kids play and skaters show off their latest tricks.
Head uptown by taking Passeig de Gràcia. Stop at Casa Batlló and Casa Milà — two famous buildings by Barcelona’s favorite architect, Antoni Gaudí. It’s a good idea to buy tickets online for both places in order to avoid waiting in a long line. Whimsical Casa Batlló has curved edges inspired by nature and a roof that resembles dragon scales, in honor of St. John, the dragon slayer. Casa Milà is equally as quirky with the puppet sculptures on its roof that tower over the shiny boulevard. Here you’ll see a stylish apartment designed for a wealthy 20th-century merchant and trust us, you’ll wish you could live in it.
Hop on the metro at Passeig de Gràcia and take the Green Line (L3) to Lesseps. Once you arrive, go to Park Güell. Here you’ll find the best of Gaudí — an entire living complex decorated with mosaics at the bottom of a beautiful natural park where the architect really put his eccentric style to work. Watch the sunset here and be sure to take a photo with the iconic lizard sculpture, who would very much like you to know that he’s actually a dragon.
Afterward, take the metro to Placa d’Espanya. By now, it should be dark, which is perfect timing for the Magic Fountain show. It starts at 9:00 PM from March through October, and 8:00 PM from November through January (it’s only closed between January 7th and February 28th). The colorful, glowing fountain draws a big crowd, and music accompanies the light show to create an awesome symphony of sight and sound.
Once you’ve seen the show, you can congratulate yourself on completing a full day of seeing Barcelona’s diverse corners and experiencing as much culture as possible in a day. Celebrate with a nightcap at one of the rooftop restaurants at Mall Arenas and you’ll get a well-earned 360-degree view of the city at night.