At its bottom end, by the port, is a Columbus statue. From there, if you want, you can walk to the Gothic Quarter next to it; or to the beach area, about a 10-minute walk. You can also walk toward Passeig de Gracia, where there are two famous buildings by (famed architect) Antoni Gaudi: Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, and Casa Batlio. The rooftop of Casa Mila is amazing: It has varied chimes and is expansive – you can walk around up there. There are many stairways to the top, where you’ll get incredible views of Barcelona.
A tip for visiting these Gaudi houses: Purchase your tickets online, so when you arrive there’s no waiting in line. Otherwise, on a busy day, you can wait an hour.
The tapas bars are bigger places than you find in Madrid, but the food is incredible and worth finding. Go for the pimentas – the green peppers from the Galacia region. They’re made a bit different here: a little salty, but classic.
An amazing place is Cervecería Catalana, a walk-in that’s always packed. Getting served without a reservation takes an hour, unless you get there around 6 p.m. It’s on La Rambla, but not the touristy part between the port and Plaza Cataluña. Walk inland about 15 minutes and it’s full of restaurants. This is one of the best. Sit at the bar and you can see all the tostas: little pieces of bread with a little of everything on them. They have a lot of microbeers there. Everything is good.
In the Gothic Quarter, Los Caracoles – “the snails” – is famous for snails and paella. It can get expensive, depending on how much you order, but it’s reasonable.
I need to mention two other places. Tapas 24 is fantastic. It’s gourmet tapas in a cramped but chic setting.
The other place is Mercat de Santa Caterina, about a minute walk from the cathedral. It had international and Catalan cuisine. Very gourmet but inexpensive and with generous portions. Two people can get food and a bottle of wine and spend about 80 euros ($108).
In Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, you can buy a good bottle for 3 euros ($4) – 8 euros for the best bottle. Back in Barcelona, you’d maybe pay double that.
Montserrat is a forested national park – basically a monastery on a mountain. You have to take the cable car up the incline to get there.