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Barcelona is one of the most exciting cities in Europe. It is ideal for a city break and it daily impresses thousands of visitors with its trendy urban lifestyle, spectacular sights as well as hundreds of luxury boutiques and hotels. 2-3 days are obviously not enough time to explore all the major attractions AND go on an extensive shopping trip, however it is still enough time to get a first good impression of the Catalan capital and enjoy all its glamour and nightlife. Here is our list of top things to do for a weekend in Barcelona, kindly researched by the Austrian travel blog Fotoreisen-Abenteuer.

1. Park Güell

Park Güell is one of the most charming parks in the world. For people who love the playful architecture of Gaudi, this attraction cannot be missed in Barcelona. The original goal of Gaudí was to build a garden city with 60 villas that should join together apartments, art and nature. However, the plans of a garden city could not be implemented and ultimately, only 3 luxurious villas have been constructed.
The park is almost completely accessible free of charge, however for the sculptures of Gaudi an entrance fee is applicable and strict access quotas apply. Who wants to access this area - the monumental zone – has to sacrifice several hours for queuing. Our insider tip: It is definitely worth coming early to avoid the worst queuing and postpone your shopping tour and drinks to the afternoon.
If you can resist these temptations and visit the park, we suggest our favourite place in there: the stone cross. It is located on the highest point of the park. Originally, it was planned to erect a church there, however, ultimately only a stone hill with 4 stone crosses was built. From there you have a stunning view over almost all the main sights of Barcelona. Standing there, one realises how extensive the city actually is. The only drawback is the armada of tourists at the narrow top of the stone cross.

2. Montjuïc

The Montjuïc is the striking mountain of Barcelona. On top of the mountain, the Castell de Montjuïc is enthroned. Originally built to protect the harbour, it later served the Spaniards as a military base to control the city. Who actually climbs on the fortress walls is rewarded with a great view of the inner districts of Barcelona.

1929 World's Fair was held at the bottom of Montjuïc; the most striking landmark from this period is the Font Magica at the base of the Palau Naciona. Several times a week spectacular water features are held in the evening, which are accompanied by music and light effects. A must for Barcelona travellers!

In 1992, Montjuïc was the main venue of the Olympic Summer Games and it can still be visited today, however the Olympic ruins are rather desolate and deserted. The Montjuïc is relatively easy to climb by foot, which in the midday heat, however, can be quite a chore. To facilitate the ascent you can use the cable car: It starts at the port and leads up to the Castell de Montjuïc.

3. Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) is the largest church construction site in the world and looks like an oversized sand castle. Works on the cathedral started in 1882 and completion is scheduled for 2026. Although the Sagrada Familia is far from being finished, it is still one of the most exciting buildings in Barcelona.
It pays to examine the church not only from the outside but also to visit the magnificent interiors; however the queue at the ticket office can be quite long. At worst, you will queue for one hour in the hot sun, so you should try and visit it as soon as possible - this tip actually applies to all tourist attractions in Barcelona! If you are not afraid of heights and have time to queue, you can buy a ticket to the observation deck on the tower, from which you have a great view over the whole city. The entrance to the crypt beneath the Sagrada Familia, where Antoni Gaudí is buried, is free of charge.

4. Walk along the port

The Port of Barcelona is one of the most important harbours in Spain. Although only few tourists will visit the huge container port, a stroll along the waterfront of the marina close to the city centre is an absolute must.

If you have time you can visit the aquarium and the 3-D cinema in the Maremagnum, one of Barcelona’s main shopping centres. The mall can be reached via an innovative wooden bridge. Nearby, at the end of the legendary Rambla (a central street in Barcelona), the 60 meter high Columbus monument, which was inaugurated in 1888, is located. Along the waterfront a lively hustle and bustle takes place at all times. Beware pickpockets though!

5. Relaxing on the beach

The Barcelona beach extends over 4km and is easy to reach via public transport. The beach promenade is ideal to visit by bicycle. The so-called Playa de la Barceloneta offers an excellent infrastructure: There are showers, toilets, changing rooms and bars, and you will even find a small muscle beach. The water quality is also excellent. The swimming season ranges from May to September, but if you are resistant to the cold you can also venture to take a swim in the sea in the months before or after.

By no means, expect a peaceful beach idyll. Especially during the summer season, the beach is crowded with people and there are a lot of street vendors selling massages, alcohol or sunglasses to tourists. Under no circumstance leave any valuables unattended here!

6. Eating out in Barcelona

The Catalan cuisine is considered to be one of the best in Spain and manages to conjure out of simple ingredients fantastic dishes. It is good to know that the locals eat quite late. You will hardly see anyone having dinner ​​before 9pm. Similarly to all big cities you should try and avoid tourist areas if you want to eat well. You can find the best local restaurants (where you can have mouth-watering Paella) in the district Eixample.

7. Parties and Nightlife!

The party life in Barcelona is noisy, intense and lasts until the late morning hours. If you make the mistake of going out early the bars will be quite empty as clubs usually only fill up around 1am-2am in the morning. In the Barri Gòtic and on Rambla are many small bars and pubs, however mostly targeted at tourists.

The larger clubs like Opium can be found along the beach promenade close to the
Port Olímpic. If you prefer to party with locals, then you should hang out more in the district of Gràcia. Also the Sutton Club is located there, one of the most exclusive addresses in the city.
A good place to pre-ignite is the roof terrace of the Hotel Omm, where you can enjoy wine and cocktails whist listening to live music or DJ’s as well as a stunning view over Gaudi’s Casa, the Sagrada Famili a or the Montjuïc.
Image Attributions in this article: © Philipp Stelzel