Gaudí's Barcelona: The top 10 must-see sights

Barcelona was Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí’s real-life playground. The king of Catalan Modernism, Gaudí’s unique, world-famous architecture characterises this splendid Spanish city–seven of his buildings are UNESCO sites.

Well ahead of his time, Gaudí broke structural conventions and pushed the boundaries of design to produce spectacular buildings that continue to wow visitors today. Influenced by the beauty of light and the delights of the natural world, here are the top 10 must-see Gaudí sights in Barcelona.

1. Parc Güell

Nestled in the hills of the city, Park Güell is one of the most beautiful places ever designed by Gaudí. Characterised by colourful mosaics, gorgeous curves and boasting stunning views of the city, this relaxing park is one of the best places to spend an afternoon,embracing the extent of Gaudí’s creativity. The entrance is particularly impressive, reminiscent of a fairy-tale house with rainbow coloured mosaic reptiles adorning the staircase.

2. Palau Güell

One of Gaudí’s earliest creations, Palau Güell is a functional palace, commissioned between 1886 and 1890 for a friend. It represents the Art Nouveau architectural style, featuring mushroom-shaped pillars and an enchanting rooftop featuring colourful mosaic chimneys in an array of shapes, including spikes, trees and candy-coloured spirals.

3. Casa Batllo

Combining Gaudí’s love of nature and marine life, Case Batllo is a must-visit. A modernist house situated in the city centre of Barcelona, the structure is an iconic example of Gaudí’s work full of light and dazzling colours. It’s spectacular to admire from the outside – with wriggling, drooping lines and egg-shaped windows – and even more special inside, with a fairy-tale entrance hall decorated in stunning blue and white ceramics.

4. Casa Calvet

As one of Gaudí’s earlier works, Casa Calvet is positively modest when compared to some of his more extravagant creations. Its facade is still impressive, featuring his archetypal curves and romantic attic balconies. It was crowned the city’s building of the year in 1900. H2: 5. Casa Vicens Designed in 1883, Casa Viscens was Gaudí’s first commission. Aged 31, he was influenced by a mixture of Modernism and eastern Exoticism, which was highly influential and popular at the time. As a result, the house is inspired by the carnations of India, featuring rich-red and marigold-yellow hues.

6. Casa Mila

Designed as a home for the Mila family – who eventually occupied one of the apartments– Casa Mila is one of Gaudí’s most impressive creations in terms of both structure and functionality. It was the last private residence he created and broke many architectural conventions when it was built between 1906 and 1912. It’s widely known as the stone quarry – La Pedrera – thanks to its resemblance to one, and is one of the greatest examples of civic architecture in the world. 

7.Eldrac de Gaudí at Finca Güell

Another of Gaudí’s earlier projects, eldrac de Gaudí is a salamander sculpture, standing guard at one of the gatehouses of Finca Güell, the estate owned by the Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell. Inspired by the guardian dragon of the mythical Greek Garden of Hesperides, the forged iron dragon guards the entrance to the gardens of the summer palace. It was the first of many projects Güell commissioned Gaudí for and led to a fruitful partnership.

8. La Sagrada Familia

Gaudí’s masterpiece. No trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting the spectacular Basillica Sagrada Familia. Construction began in 1883, with Gaudí spending the last 12 years of his life solely devoted to its creation, before he died in 1926. And it hasn’t stopped since. By the time it’s completed – expected to be 2026 – the work will total 143 years.

9. Güell- the Gaudí crypt

Providing a stark contrast to other Gaudí designs, this half-finished church design is part of the Güell colony and one of Gaudí’s less well-known works. It sits on the outskirts of the city in an area owned by Güell, where he created a community for the workers of the textile industry to live. It features colourful stained-glass windows, ergonomic benches and a 40 meters high central dome. The Guell family cut the funding for the project half way through as it was too ambitious, but it was refurbished in 2000 to become the popular tourist attraction it is today.

10. Cascada fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella

Gaudí’s influence can be found throughout the city – including one of its most peaceful spots, the Cascada fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella. Designed by Josep Fontserè, Gaudí is believed to have helped with the mechanics of the fountain, rather than the decorative elements, but the upper section’s two stone medallions, featuring lizards, are distinctly Gaudí.

With car hire in Barcelona, you can make the most of seeing all of the amazing Gaudí sites and enjoy the dazzling delights of Barcelona.