Barcelona Must-Dos

Photo: Cable car ride in Barcelona

A cable car ride from Montjuïc, the hill overlooking Barcelona from the southwest, takes in views of the harbor.

Photograph by Guido Cozzi/Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis

Camp Nou
See a home game at Futbol Club de Barcelona’s 98,772-seat soccer stadium. Season runs September-June; showdowns with Real Madrid unloose the passions of local patriotism. FCB’s museum draws over a million visitors a year. Carrer d’Arístides Maillol 12-18; tel. 34 90 218 9900; fee.

Font Màgica de Montjuïc
Spectacular choreography of classical music favorites, dancing sprays and floodlights in the huge fountain at the foot of the steps leading up to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Seasonal days and times, on the half hour.

Hospital de Sant Pau
Revolutionary 1902 masterpiece by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, in the exuberant colors and shapes of art nouveau. UNESCO World Heritage site. Tip: Guided visits in English daily at 10:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167; tel. 34 93 291 9000.

Casa Milà, “La Pedrera”
Exhibition space in Gaudí’s signature apartment building provides a comprehensive course on his visionary ideas of form and design. Explore the roof, with its whimsical chimney towers, and the apartment restored in the style of the period. Carrer de Provença 261-265; tel. 34 90 240 0973; fee.

Mercat de la Boqueria
Barcelona’s biggest, oldest, and best market. Present building dates to 1840, but the open-air markets on this site date to the Middle Ages. Fish, meat, fresh produce, and preserves; 265 stalls selling over 20,000 different products. Tip: Lorenç Petras, at Fruits del Bosc (stall No. 867 in the back), sells wild mushrooms and herbs, edible flowers and insects, and is extremely knowledgeable about these and other exotic ingredients. Plaça de la Boqueria; tel. 34 93 318 2017.

Museu d’Història de la Ciutat
Descend 2,000 years to the sprawling remains of the Roman settlement under the Barri Gòtic quarter, and exit at the Saló de Tinel—the audience hall of the Royal Palace, where Columbus reported his discoveries to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1493. Plaça del Rei 7-9; tel. 34 93 256 2122; fee.

Templo de la Sagrada Família
Gaudí’s masterpiece, the city’s iconic building, still in progress. Fascinating to see how the parts built when he was still alive—all rippling curves and motifs of plants and animals carved in stone that seem to flow down the walls like melted candle wax—contrast with the recent work. Carrer de Mallorca 401; tel. 34 93 207 3031 fee.

Santa Maria del Mar
“The most elegant of all Barcelona’s churches.”—George Semler, author, Barcelonawalks. A 14th-century Catalan Gothic masterpiece of stunning, elegant simplicity. Tip: Visit Saturday morning when a well-connected Catalan family might be having a wedding. Choral or orchestral performances here are breathtaking; check weekly listings. Plaça de Santa Maria1; tel. 34 93 310 2390.

The hill overlooking Barcelona from the southeast, main site of the 1992 Olympics. Acres of parks and sculptured gardens, sweeping views of the city. Don’t-miss attractions on Montjuïc include the Fundació Joan Miró (Avingudade Miramar; tel. 34 93 443 9470), the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya with its unique Romanesque and early medieval collection (Mirador del Palau Nacional; tel. 34 93 622 0376., the Olympic Stadium and adjacent Palau Sant Jordi (Passeig Olímpic; tel. 34 93 426 2089), and the Poble Espanyol open-air museum of representative buildings from different regions of Spain (Avinguda del Marquès de Comillas; tel. 34 93 508 6300; Tip: Poble Espanyol also has a flamenco dinner show at the Tablao de Carmen (tel. 34 93 325 6895); if you have confirmed reservations, admission to the rest of the complex is free.