8 places to visit in Barcelona we loved in 2012
I’ve been to the Catalan city two times so far, and I’ll gladly go back. As long as the city keeps calling me and as long as I get to hang out at my favorite places to visit in Barcelona.
That’s one of the things I enjoy about my travels: I get to know a place well enough to want to know more or leave it as a one-time fling. It’s all about passion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always in for a long-term relationship.
Why does Barcelona keep pulling me in? Apart from being a beautiful city with an unmatched architectural style, each of these eight places to visit in Barcelona comes with a memory for my son and me — this was his first trip to Barcelona.
1. Museu del Modernisme de Barcelona
On a walk we took after a heavy lunch at a 1950’s style American diner, we found this museum. Something like “let’s go up this street and then down again just to check it out.”
We roamed around checking the exhibitions for almost two hours. By then, we had seen Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, so my son was quite enthusiastic about the Gaudì aesthetics and soaked it in wherever we spotted one of his works.
2. Museu de la Xocolata (The Chocolate Museum)
The greatest thing I loved about the Museu de la Xocolata is that the ticket was a chocolate bar!
It displays replicas and works of art made of chocolate. It’s nice to look at and a place to cross off the “seen it” list, but that was pretty much it. If you’re a chocolate lover like I am, it turns you off if you look at the objects too close. Chocolate is an organic thing. So is fungus.
3. Museu del disseny de Barcelona
A museum where you can touch and feel most of the exhibitions. We were so excited feeling different textures and experimenting and leaping (almost) from room to room (very few visitors here too) that we were kind of embarrassed when an employee came to tell us (softly), “you can’t touch the objects in this exhibition…”.
What’s the emoticon for “child whose ice-cream just fell to the floor”? That was the look on my face.
Back then, the museum was temporarily set at an old house. Today it was given a proper place — although I think I preferred the temporary setting.
4. Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona's Opera House)
I have to say the Ramblas are my pet peeve in Barcelona.
Crowded, overpriced restaurants, every step of the way you stumble into a souvenir stand. You can tell it’s not my favorite place in the world.
However, I had to walk down (or up) the Ramblas at least once to show him the area and on our way to the Barcelona Opera House. I’m usually skeptical about guided tours, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
The guide was passionate and told a story with such detail and knowledge that we wanted to shout, “tell me more!”. This comes from someone who’s had bad experiences, okay? Either lousy guides or no guides at all (not even audio).
5. Palau Güell
After leaving the Gran Teatre, we stumbled upon this Palace. For some reason, I had missed this the first time — it happens if you’re rushing.
The entrance was free that day, we didn’t wait a long time in line, and the employees were incredibly nice and organized (unlike the Picasso Museum that I still find slightly overrated), making sure there was enough time (and space) between groups but never rushing us out of a room.
6. Camp Nou
Probably the place where I took more pictures of my son without him complaining. Several angles, standing up, sitting down, facing the field, with his back to the field.
Yes, it’s a football Stadium. But it’s Barça’s football stadium, and he wanted to show everyone he had been at his (then) favorite team’s field. We almost saw a game there, but the available tickets were separate and on opposite sides of the stadium, and I had to say “no” to very bright and hopeful eyes.
7. La Sagrada Familia
Yes, it’s always crowded, but it’s also always changing because it’s still under construction, so it’s worth the visit. This time I went up the towers. This time I had the time and patience to wait in line for the elevator that takes us up.
I’m afraid of heights. So I went up the elevator, checked the fantastic view, took pictures, and was ready to come down. Kindly they ask you, “do you want to take the elevator down or the stairs?”. And before I could say anything, my son yelled, “the stairs!”.
I did come down the stairs, like an old lady, one step at a time. Occasionally I stopped to take some pictures. And to allow people (some twice my age) to pass me.
8. Barcelona Cathedral
The square in front of the cathedral became our regular spot; the hostel was five minutes away, walking distance. After dinner, we’d stop there until it got dark (and too cold to bear), watched people go by, street vendors and street performers, and talked about silly things and life in general.