On the Lane to Spain

Spain is a wonderful country full of romantic sights, sounds, and smells. In Barcelona, relax on the beaches, marvel at innovative architecture and art, and explore mountains and famous parks. Take a trip to España for one you will never forget!

Barcelona is loved for its closeness to the sea and its gorgeous architectural sights and artistry. Start off with the most famous landmark the city has to offer: La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family). Catalan Art Nouveau master Antoni Gaudí is responsible for some of Barcelona’s most intricate and outstanding architectural work, and this landmark is considered his best. Gaudí committed his life to the construction of this church, a passion project that started in 1882 and continued until the artist’s death in 1926. The construction continues on even today and it’s expected to finally be completed in 2026. The church features a Gothic look, but with a twist as other elements come into play. The tall and proud building is a treat to the eyes.

Continuing the recognition of Gaudí, head to one of his other famous creations: Parc Güell (Güell Park). The building of the park was set into motion by Eusebi Güell, who hired Gaudí to design it as a housing community for the rich. The plan fell through when the pair noticed that the land wasn’t suitable for building conditions. Instead of giving up, Gaudí decided to pursue the project in a different light by turning it into a park. The result is today’s funky and whimsical Parc Güell that includes Dr.Seuss-esque buildings, a wavy stone bench with mosaics, interesting stone patterns, and impeccable views of the city.

The legendary Gaudí wasn’t only involved in grand development plans, the master architect also helped design apartment buildings! Check out two of his most famous, located directly across from each other! The first, Casa Batlló, looks like a building straight out of a Walt Disney theme park! Bright pinks, greens, and blues make up the shingles on the roof of the building, which look like the reflective scales of a mermaid’s tail. The skeletal twists and turns of the buildings structure gives it an unreal, dream-like look. This UNESCO World Heritage Site once housed the Batlló family, but now it’s open to the public as a museum. Explore the interior of the building, where you can head up to the roof to check out the famed artist’s work up close! casabatllo.cat

Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
Casa Milà (La Pedrera) chimney garden

Casa Milà (La Pedrera) is the other famous apartment that Gaudí is responsible for. It was originally built for the commissioners of the building, but now it’s a cultural center where you can learn more about the artist. You can check out the exhibits inside, and when you make your way up to the top, see Gaudí’s chimney garden, which is an impressive art piece on its own! lapedrera.com

Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music) exterior
Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music) interior

After you decide you’re Gaudí’d out, head over to Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music) for a change of pace! Built by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, this venue boasts extravagant designs and an awe worthy interior. From the outside, gaze at the mosaic pillars and the busts of well-known musicians like Bach and Beethoven. From the inside, stained glass windows and details of rich reds and glowing golds will surround you. If you’re stopping by just to tour, you’ll definitely have more than enough to gawk at, but if you actually buy tickets to one of the venue’s shows, you’re in for a real treat! Make sure to check out the schedule to attend one of their concerts or shows. palaumusica.org

How can you say you visited Barcelona without at least catching a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea? Strut on down to La Barceloneta Beach! On the boardwalk, you can check out cute cafes, bars, and restaurants, but if you don’t want to lift your bottom off of the sand, don’t worry, there’s plenty of vendors around! You can purchase anything from a mojito to a massage to a plate of food, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Tibidabo Cathedral del Sagrat Cor (Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Tibidabo’s retro theme park

For your last sightseeing escapade of the day, get up high on the top of Tibidabo mountain. The 1,700-foot peak of the mountain will reward you with dazzling panoramic views. Plus, there’s a theme park, and who doesn’t love those? Tibidabo’s retro theme park has a ferris wheel, a carousel, and a few other basic rides, but the charm of the park comes from the antiquity of it all. It was first built in 1899 and opened later in 1905. It’s considered one of the oldest theme parks in the world that are still functioning! After experiencing the thrills of the rides, climb up to the famous church that resides on the mountain: Tibidabo Cathedral del Sagrat Cor (Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). This Roman Catholic church and minor basilica is one of the most recognized and stunning buildings in Barcelona. The impressive design leans on Modernista influence, and the giant statue of Jesus Christ is the structure’s most attention grabbing element: Jesus’ arms are outstretched outwards as he stares down the mountain. tibidabo.ca

Finally, relax at a nice dinner before going out for the night. ABaC, a two-star Michelin restaurant, is sophisticated and intimate with a menu that focuses on modern Catalan. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask for a Spanish wine pairing for each of your dishes; the wine menu here is superb! abacrestaurant.com

After dinner, get ready to party! Barcelona is one of the most sought after locations for nightlife due to their high amount of clubs and bars. Take the night to dance away! Razzmatazz is the first club you’ll want to stop at, and it’s quite a lot to explore. Dubbed a “nighttime playground” this venue has five areas dedicated to different genres: indie rock, tech-house, techno pop, electro pop and electro rock. Live acts also perform here on the regular so make sure to check out the schedule; you may be able to catch a singer or DJ!

Next head to City Hall, where the music ranges from deep house to electro rock. Bright lights will dart around the room as you mingle and party with both tourists and locals alike! If you need a breather, retreat to the terrace, where you can check out some pretty views and get your heart rate back to a normal speed again!

To settle down for the night, accept nothing less than the best! Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is located right in the middle of the city on Passeig de Gràcia. Some of their suites include luxe amenities like butler service, a private balcony, a spa-like bathroom, and more. Their rooftop pool is a must-see, and they have plenty of restaurants to satisfy your food cravings throughout your whole stay, including Moments, a two-star Michelin restaurant. mandarinoriental.com

On your next day, enjoy further fun in Barna by starting it off in Las Ramblas. This pedestrian-friendly pathway is one of the major tourist hubs in the city where you can get some shopping done, people watch, and get a bite to eat! Souvenir stands and street performers are all over the place, so make sure to snap some pics and buy some goodies for memories to take back home!

Dive into some more art on your second day (don’t worry, you’re done with the Gaudí masterpieces!) at Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalan Art). This massive museum is home to many Baroque and Renaissance masterpieces, as well as a big Romanesque collection that is one of the most exhaustive in the world. Additionally, Modernista furniture and decoration is on display here. Once you’re done taking your time cruising the exhibits, relax in the scenic museum restaurant! museunacional.cat

Catedral de la Seu (Catedral de Barcelona) from the front
Catedral de la Seu (Catedral de Barcelona) from the back

The Gothic masterpiece that is Catedral de la Seu (known informally as Catedral de Barcelona) is one of the city’s easiest to recognize figures, and also one of the most striking. Thick crosses, sharp points, gargoyles, flying buttresses, and barrel vaults all stick out on this building as some of the more prominent Gothic elements. The interior is quite big, with high ceilings, impressive pillars, and stained glass windows. It’s definitely worth checking out as the whole structure feels larger than life! catedralbcn.org

For your last stop, take a look at some of Spain’s military history at Montjuïc Castle. Some parts of this magnificent structure date back to the 11th century! The castle started out as a watchtower, but in the 1600’s, tall walls were added, and it served as a fortress to help protect the city. Catalan patriots were tortured by fascists in the castle after the Civil War in the 1930s, and in the century before that, it was captured by Napoleon’s troops, making it a structure with a crazy past! Check out the castle’s museum to see military artifacts and dungeons where prisoners were once held, and then after, stroll through the gardens, which provide a more positive light to the historical building. bcn.cat

España has many more cities to see and many more adventures to embark on, but pat yourself on the back for uncovering one of the country’s gems: Barcelona! The city is full of culture, art, amazing eats, warm people, and unbelievable sights; make sure to plan your next trip soon! Spain will be beckoning you back!

By Aaliyah Pasols