Things to Do and See – Last Minute City Breaks

Momuments – Sports TurismAnnual EventsPublic Holidays

Monuments

Short city breaks to Barcelona are all about time. It would be a gross mistake to palm there where you want to go. So, we present to you a detailed catalogue of Barcelona’s most celebrated monuments, sights and “must visit spots”!

  1. Avinguda del Tibidado

This famous avenue offers short break visitors a majestic view over Barcelona and is lined with numerous modernist architectural charms. You may use the “Tramvia Blau” (The Blue Tram) (the only still in use in Spain) to explore this area.

  1. LaBarceloneta (Small Barcelona)

The traditional port – fishermen district of the city, as old as 1753. Right beside it, stretch Barcelona’s long and beautiful beaches, inviting visitors for a swim. You can find some excellent seafood delicacies here.

  1. Market of la Boqueria

If your short break visit to Barcelona was incited by your love for the Mediterranean cuisine you must surely visit this famous marketplace.

  1. Calatrava Tower

Clearly visible from almost anywhere in Barcelona, it will surely reward you for deciding to take a closer look.

  1. Casa Batlló

Situated at Passeig de Gràcia 43 in the Eixample district, this wonderful building was restored mainly by the renowned architect A. Gaudí. Locals call it “Casa dels ossos”, that is “The House of Bones”, as it features a somewhat skeletal shape. One of Gaudi’s more characteristic creations, it will surely further reward the visitors that will devote some time in exploring its interior.

  1. Casa Calvet

Not the most famous of Gaudí’s creations, this building was initially the house and office facilities of the businessman P. Calvet. Should you decide to visit it during your short city break to Barcelona, notice the ingenious design of the rear facade and of the furniture and the fascinating decoration of the hallway.

  1. Casa Milà (La  Pedrera) 

Casa Mila is widely considered Gaudi’s second most acknowledged architectural marvel in Barcelona. Covering a space of more than 100 m2, it features 2 large circular patios, bringing abundant sunlight to every corner of the building. Should you decide to visit, don’t forget to check out the surrealistic chimneys on the roof.

  1. The Cathedral

One of the oldest buildings in Barcelona (construction started as early as 1298), it dominates the the Barri Gòtic district in the old city. Make sure you find some time to see it up close and explore the whole area, teaming with remnant’s of the city’s prolific history.

  1. Iglesia de Betlém (Church Betlem)

Situated in the very heart of the city it grasps your eye’s attention with its baroque characteristics, despite the several damages it sustained during the horrific Spanish civil war.

  1. La Mercè

La Merce is a charming Baroque church. The late September festival dedicated to it features fireworks and a wild parade of gegants and Castellers.

  1. El Born

A “sweethearts” favourite, especially during the night. Alive with stores, restaurants, bars and hang-outs, in some points has managed to preserve its traditional character.

  1. Gran Teatre del Liceu

Constructed in 1847, it was widely considered among the greatest opera houses in Europe, it suffered great damage during the inferno of 1994. Fortunately enough, the reconstructed Liceu retained the original facade.

  1. “Palau Güell

The Guell Palace was built in 1888 by A. Gaudi. Huge arches, imposing stone pillars and the first distinguishing experimentation of Gaudi’s with Art Nouveau. Those of you that really want to visit this monument should bear in mind that since January the 1st Palau Güell will be open for free every first Sunday of the month.

  1. Hospital de La Santa Creu

This medieval hospital (1401) is mainly known because the great architect A. Gaudi died here in 1926 and it’s a prime paradigm of gothic architecture.

  1. La Manzana de la Discordia

This block on Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample hosts the architectural creations of 4 brilliant representatives of Modernism, L. D. i Montaner, A. Gaudí, J. P. i Cadafalch and E. Sagnier, namely,

  • Casa Lleo Morera (Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00 to 19:00 and Sundays till 14:00.
  • Casa Batllo – every day, 9:00 to 20:00.
  • Casa Amatller – entry is forbidden.
  • Casa Mulleras – entry is forbidden.
  1. Mercat de la Concepció

Dominating the centre of Barcelona since 1888 today is better known as the city’s unique flower market. If you love flowers, Mercat de la Concepció will transform your short city break to Barcelona into a paradise trip.  

  1. Mercat de Sant Antoni

A vibrant marketplace that will help you understand what everyday life in Barcelona means.

A special feature is Sunday’s book and coin market (operating from 8:30 to 14:30) offering to collectors a wide range of rare old books and magazines, postcards, comics, coins, records or stamps.

  1. Mercat dels Encants

This is Barcelona’s most famous “flea” market, where you may find literally anything, from damaged toys, to antiques, clothes, books and furniture. If you plan to go there in during a short city break, avoid Saturdays. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (from 7:00 to 9:00) are dedicated to antique auctions.

  1. Mercat del Ninot

The “Market of the Child” will be your choice if you want to watch everyday people in their everyday routine. You may also find here fresh and excellent local products.

  1. Mercat Gotic

A market place operating every Thursday (but not during August) offering antiques and secondhand objects.

  1. Mercat Santa Caterina(Holy Catherine Market)

This one is the “youngest” market in Barcelona, situated in the Ribera in Ciutat Vella and beautifully renovated just 10 years ago.

  1. Moll d’ Espanya

Easily reached from two entrances, Moll d’ Espanya is actually an extension of La Rambla. It includes a shopping center called “Maremagnum”, that’s usually crowded during the weekends. A great variety of restaurants is the Moll’s main feature, as well as an impressive aquarium.

  1. Monasteri Sant Pau del Camp

The Monastery of Sant Pau del Camp offers a breath of countryside right in the middle of the city. It’s a quite shelter from the city’s fuss built during the Middle Ages as well as the oldest church in Barcelona.

  1. Montjuïc Castle

This impressive renaissance castle overlooks Barcelona ever since 1640. Seen initially as a symbol of oppression and used as prison for political objectors during the dictatorship, it became as the execution place of L. Companys, the highly-esteemed president of the Generalitat of Catalonia. Currently, it hosts a military museum.

  1. The Christopher ColumbusMonument

This world renowned monument reaches almost 60 meters. It’s actually a stele and was erected in 1888 honouring the great seafarer. Whatever you choose to do during your short city break, do not miss this one.

  1. “Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona” (La Monumental)

This is an interesting blend of Moorish and Byzantine characteristics, where often concerts and cultural events are held.

  1. “Palau  de la Música Catalana”

This concert hall built at the dawn of the 20th century serves as the headquarters of “Orfeó Catala”, an innovative institution created to forward Catalan culture.

  1. Olympic port

This wonderful area, overlooked by a gigantic metal structure, is the favorite spot of locals when they wish to relax by having a quiet stroll, by bathing, or having a lunch with their beloved ones.

  1. Virreina Palace

Usually used for hosting major exhibitions, the Virreina Palace was constructed at the end of the 18th century, it features some rather unique Baroque and Rococo elements.

  1. The Guell Park

This wonderful park is actually a remnant of a very ambitious architectural and building venture that ended in utter failure.

  1. Passeig de Gràcia

Used as a central road already from the Roman Era, Passeig de Gracia it is the most wonderful, elegant Avenue in Barcelona, lined with numerous and diverse architectural marvels, such as “la Casa Batlló”.

  1. The Pedralbes Palace

 The Pedralbes Palace now operates as a museum of ceramic creations.

  1. Plaça Catalunya

Placa Catalunya consists the starting point of all the avenues and streets of Barcelona. Many short break visitors prefer this spot to begin exploring the city, because from here you can go virtually anywhere, either on foot, by taxi, bus or the subway.

  1. La Plaça del Rei,

By far the most charming and captivating of the old and ancient city, it is actually a square engulfed by gothic buildings and boasting the wonderful facade of the old Royal Palace, including a tower that dominated the city’s sky ever since the 16th century. The area includes the famous Tinell and the Saint Agata chapel.

  1. Plaza Real

Plaza Real, just outside La Rambla, is considered one of the most traditional and interesting spot in the city. Constructed around 1850 it features a charming arcade designed by the one and only A. Gaudi. Just the perfect spot for a cup of coffee and some rest after exploring most of the city.

  1. Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia is the most widely known emblem of the city of Barcelona. Boasting the colossal church “El Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família”, it consists Gaudi’s most celebrated marvel and the supreme paradigm of his architectural brilliance. Started around 1883, it was sadly left unfinished due to Gaudi’s untimely and violent death.

  1. Sant Jordi Palace

Now a wonderful concert hall, it was initially used for housing the gymnastics during the Olympic Games.

  1. Santa Maria del Mar

A monumental Gothic church built during the 14th century.

Sport Tourism

Most football fans just refer to it simply as Barça or Barcelona, while the club’s official name is Futbol Club Barcelona. FC Barcelona is widely considered as one of the most important football clubs in the sport’s history, and currently probably the best or among the top 3 in the world, with millions of dedicated fans around the globe.

Founded in 1899, the club is the living emblem of Catalan mores and values – something depicted in the famous motto “more than a club”. Ranking among the richest sports and football teams in the world, it features a truly unique ownership status, in which fans own and run the team.

Boasting numerous national, European and world distinctions and trophies and enlisting some of the greatest football players in the world, like Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and Suarez, FC Barcelona is FC Real Madrid’s most “hated rival”, and a match between them is generally designated El Clásico.

Planning your short city break to Barcelona during an El Clásico match will prove a truly unique experience, especially if you are lucky enough to find a ticket and watch the game inside FC Barcelona’s Home stadium, the renowned “Nou Camp“, the largest football stadium in Europe. The stadium offers visitors a special tour inside the facilities, including a museum dedicated to the club’s history. Visitors have numerous options of transportation towards the stadium – Tramway, metro, Bus (TMB and AMB) lines or taxis.

Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol de Barcelona, best known as Espanyol, is also based in Barcelona, boasting a highly esteemed history in local and European history. The game between Espanyol and FC Barcelona is known as the Derbi Barceloni, and if your short visit coincides with the match, you must surely buy a ticket.

Espanyol’s home stadium is the beautiful Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, a wonderful option not very long away from the city’s centre.

Basketball enthusiasts surely know FC Barcelona Lassa and its prominent place in European Basketball history. Founded in 1926, it is oldest club in the Spanish Liga and proudly displays several European trophies.

The renowned Palau Blaugrana serves as the team’s home stadium, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

Annual Events Calendar

The Catalans’ seemingly endless enthusiasm for festivals and parties means that there’s scarcely a week in the year that doesn’t include at least a couple.

  • May 13th

The famous Spanish Gran Prix car racing, attracting thousands of F1 enthusiasts from all around the world.

  • June 2nd

Pimavera Sound, a wonderful three day music festival.

  • June 16th

Sonar Music Festival is a captivating 3 day event of concerts.

  • June 23rd

Verbena de St. Joan (St. John).  This pagan festival of Solstice is combined with the feast day of St. John. It is the shortest day of the year and is celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and parties where the cake ‘coca’ is eaten.

  • July 1st

Summer Festival (El Grec) begins a month of music, theatre and dance events which take place in the romantic setting of the Greek amphitheatre at Montjuic.

  • August 15th

21st Festa Major de Gracia is held a 20 minute walk from the city in the direction of the hills to the west.  It is primarily a street festival for residents but they welcome visitors as long as they show respect.

  • September 1st

Fiesta de la Mercia (Virgin of Mercy). There is live music, parades of giant wooden figures, human pyramid contests, synchronised fireworks with music and plenty of the national drink ‘cava’ a type of champagne. The festival is a bizarre blend of dwarfs, castellers (human castles), and gegants (huge papier-mâché/fibreglass giant princesses, fishermen, and sultans), as well as the correfoc (a frenzy of pyromania) and the sardana (Catalonia’s folk dance).

See more here.

Public Holiday Calendar

Banks and offices and public constitutions are all closed during the festius or festivos, i. e. the public holidays, along with the majority of shops. Bars, restaurants and clubs, on the other hand are open during the night. Bear in mind that on holidays transportation options are fewer than usual, so plan your short city break carefully. Main holidays include:

  • 1 January

Any Nou (New Year’s Day).

  • 5 – 6 January

Dia de Los Reyes Magos (3 Kings Day), on the eve of the Epiphany. The “Three kings” arrive by boat and celebrations are held including religious parades.

  • March 26th

Semana Santa (Holy Week), including Dilluns de Pasqua (Easter Monday), and Divendres Sant (Good Friday) with three Easter processions that start from two different churches.

  • 1 May

Festa del Treball (Labour Day), when meetings and peaceful demonstrations held at the Arc de Triomf. Shops are closed, but museums, tours, bars and restaurants are typically open.

  • 1 June

Segona Pascua (Mon after Whitsun).

  • June

Corpus Christi, honouring the Catholic Eucharist and featuring impressive religious processions. The date changes every year, and the festival is considered the oldest continuing celebration of the city (held since 1320).

  • 24 June

Sant Joan (Summer Solstice), celebrating the start of the summer and the longest day of the year. As one of the most significant festivals for locals, it is celebrated throughout the whole city. Actually a pagan festival with Christian clothing, aims at strengthening the sun with bonfires and fireworks.

  • 15 August

Verge de l’Assumpció (Assumption Day), when Catholics, according to their beliefs, celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to Heaven after her death. In Barcelona it is a relatively uneventful public holiday.

  • 11 September

Diada de Catalunya (Catalan National Day), a day-long festival commemorating the final defeat of Catalonia during the War of the Spanish Succession (11 September 1714) that brought the loss of the Catalan constitutions. The holiday was suppressed by Franco but reinstated in 1980 by the autonomous government of Catalonia. Organizations and political parties use to lay floral offerings at the monuments of men that heroically led the defense of the city, while Catalan nationalists organize demonstrations and meet at the Fossar de les Moreres, paying homage to the city’s defenders.

  • 24 September

La Mercè,  a festival lasting around 5 days in honour of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona – basically a farewell festival to the ending summer with a bang and a warm welcome to the approaching autumn.

  • 1 November

Tots Sants (All Saints’ Day), when Catholics visit family graves placing flowers and wreaths and lighting candles. Short city break visitors often visit the Montjuic cemetery museum for its collection of funeral carriages. Shops are closed, but attractions, cinemas, bars and restaurants are typically open.

  • 6 December

Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day), celebrating the re – establishment of Democracy in Spain. Constitution Day is not widely celebrated in Barcelona.

  • 8 December

La Immaculada, is a feast of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrating the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mary.

  • 23 December

Fira de Santa Lucia, when Christmas markets take place on the Avenida de la Catedral in the Gothic Quarter of the Old City.

  • 25 December

Nadal (Christmas Day), alive with local traditions, concerts and events.

  • 26 December

Sant Esteve (Boxing Day).

See more here.