Fascinating culture and museums, beaches and the Mediterranean Sea, and some wonderful parks and gardens are all to explore in Barcelona – not to mention the famous works of Antonin Gaudi, so highly regarded that 7 of Barcelona's 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites belong to the Reus-born architect. So with so many sights and attractions to see in Barcelona and so many guide books out there, it's difficult to know which one to choose. Well, let me take one of the biggest things to do on your list off your hands.
The best way to see the main attractions of Gaudi is to dedicate a day aside, and this way you can ensure you see the main sights that Barcelona has to offer, as well as taking in some fascinating scenery and history at the same time. This also means that if you only have a short weekend trip in the city, you can then dedicate another day to shopping or visiting the beach, etc. I've prepared this list of visiting the city sights by Gaudi after living in Barcelona for over 9 years, and I think it's a really easy route to follow – and can be done in either order.
Starting in the city centre and the old town, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without a stroll along the famous promenade of "Las Ramblas" – the old river bed running alongside the city walls of the Roman town of Barcino, as the city used to be known. Palau Güell - recently re-opened after extensive renovation work in 2008 – is the first stop, and with Free entrance is well worth a visit to whet your appetite for the coming day.
The next stretch is easily walk-able from Palau Güell, but also just as easy on the city's metro, and quicker. Take the green line a little further up Las Ramblas at Liceu and travel a couple of stops to Passeig de Gracia. As you leave this station, you'll see Casa Batlló – unmistakeably Gaudi, with its bone-like window frames, and dragon's scale tiled rooftop in homage to Saint George; the Catalan Patron saint.
Strolling up Passeig de Gracia is a delightful experience and you could make a stop in one of the various pavement terraces at the many cafés for an early lunch of Tapas, or a coffee break in the Mediterranean sunshine. Follow this street a couple of blocks further, and you'll arrive at Casa Mila, or La Pedrera. Gaudi's influence from his father, an ironmonger is equally visible here as it is in the downtown Palau Güell, and by now you'll be getting a real feel for the man's style and genius. Casa Mila is a building bereft of straight lines, and well worth the entrance fee which includes a visit to a period apartment, the fantastic attic museum with original blueprints, and a visit to the spectacular rooftop terrace for some amazing views and chimneys like you've never seen before.
A short walk into the neighbouring Gracia district can take you to Casa Viçens, which although you cannot enter, is another UNESCO site which looms great over its neighbouring buildings. If you prefer to leave this one out, from spending more time than planned on another of the morning's attractions, then it's not a real disaster don't worry. This is also on the Green metro line (Fontana metro station) where we'd go back and join up to Vallcarca.
After leaving the Vallcarca metro station, outdoor escalators will take you to the back of Park Güell – backwards is in fact the best way to visit the park as it's all downhill this way. This also means that you'll save the best for last – the ornate entrance with the dragon fountain you'll have seen on hundreds of postcards all day, and the great plaça decorated with broken tiles which has become so iconic with Gaudi. This is also a great place for a picnic for example.
Your final stop for the day is an easy downhill walk, 4 blocks to perhaps the most famous of Gaudi's works, and one which has been converted into the landmark of Barcelona – the Sagrada Familia or Holy Family cathedral. This magnificent cathedral draws over 2.5 million paid visitors per year, and it's not even finished yet! You can spend a full afternoon visiting the cathedral, and although the main part is indeed a building site, there is a great museum in the crypt (where Gaudi himself is also buried) with scale models, photos and other interesting artefacts. It's also possible to climb the spires and photograph the area, and explore both facades. After this, you'll be an expert in Gaudi, but still have another couple of days to explore the rest of the city, too!