Barcelona's Best Views

City on the hill, city by the sea, city of big, beautiful views.

Sweeping up the hillside — from its beachy waterfront, through its narrow, medieval streets — Barcelona is a city known for its trippy architecture, amazing restaurants, buzzing nightlife, and unwavering Catalan pride. But Spain's second largest city, with a population of 1.6 million, is also known for its views. Don't miss these.

The Unfinished Church Diogo Salles The Unfinished Church The Sagrada Familia is a monumental, glorious, and still-unfinished Catholic church that has been under construction since 1882. Architect Antoni Gaudí essentially spent most of his career building the church, certainly one of the world's most unique. There is much to look at here; don't blink. Close to Heaven laura rangel copyright Close to Heaven Gaudi's work, detailed and expansive, combined Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau styles. Peering up at the nave of Sagrada Familia, the columns look like trees. Colorful Cascades, Part Uno RenataAphotography Colorful Cascades, Part Uno There are fountains, and then there are fountains, and then there is the fountain at the base of Montjuic: At night, it erupts into choreographed waterfalls of color and light. Even the most cynical travelers find themselves swept up in the sight of the colorful cascades. Colorful Cascades, Part Dos Travel Ink Colorful Cascades, Part Dos If you take the gondola to the top of the mountain before ambling down to the fountain, you get an unreal view of the city — and then an unreal fountain show. The Bustling Market Jon Hicks The Bustling Market Fruit pyramids that look like they've been arranged by an architect, hanging stalactites of salami, fish fanned out like winning poker hands, tapas bars, juices — the Mercat de la Boqueria is colorful, crowded marketplace where you see what Barcelona eats and who eats it. Tram to the Church Yann Arthus-Bertrand Tram to the Church When you think about it, there aren't that many churches you can ride to in a funicular. The Tibidabo Cathedral overlooks the entire city from about 1,800 feet above sea level. The views? Oh, just sweeping and spectacular. Güell of a View Jorg Greuel Güell of a View Pressed against the hillside, Park Güell shows off more of the architectural handiwork of architect Gaudí. Undulating, wave-like shapes and giant mosaic geckos make you feel like you're walking through a dream with the entire city unfolding beneath you — the neighborhoods, the landmarks, the sea. Rambling on La Rambla Luis Martinez / Design Pics Rambling on La Rambla La Rambla is a major avenue with a huge median nearly always bustling with cafes, street performers, bird-sellers, balloon-sellers, souvenir-sellers, sometimes even drug-sellers. From here you can see the pulse of the city, thousands of people coming, going, and hanging out. In the Gothic Quarter Fernando Vazquez Miras In the Gothic Quarter Small, maze-like streets that cut this way and that give you the feeling of walking in circles and through time. Put your iPhone-slash-Google Maps down and you never know what you'll find: a tiny butcher shop, a corner tapas joint, and then — bang! — the Picasso Museum, then a toy shop, a gelato store, and on and on. A view of what life used to be... Look Up AFP Contributor/AFP/Getty Images Look Up The alleyways are narrow in the Gothic Quarter and sometimes the best views are straight up. Big Fish Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images Big Fish That giant metallic fish sitting right by the boardwalk? Frank Gehry designed it and it's more than 160 feet long. But its magic rests less in its size than in the way the changing light hits the metal, giving the fish a subtly different color and shimmer throughout the day and as the weather changes.