Barcelona has two sides. There are the flamboyant attractions, iconic showpieces that are unmissable but potentially crowded with tourists. Then there are the local Catalonian flavors, easy to miss yet so atmospheric and authentic. Gaudi provides a means of stitching these two sides together. You are greeted at the airport and transferred to a five-star hotel in the oldest part of the city, a pedestrianized area that is perfect for relaxed evenings. During the day, you hop between the architectural extravagance of Gaudi and the Modernist movement. Each destination is one side of the city, and each journey between them is another.
First, you will discover the early pieces, wandering the old lanes of the aristocrats who commissioned Gaudi to build their houses. Casa Mila and Casa Batllo provide an insightful introduction to the architect’s formative style: shocks of color, strange and elaborate shapes, interior minimalism fused with exterior ostentation. Move on to La Sagrada Familia, the ultimate masterpiece that has been under construction for over 130 years. Complete the discovery in Park Guell, the thinned late-afternoon crowd ideal for absorbing the tranquility of the park. Along the way, you will stop at local plazas and small terraces, and wander along narrow lanes unseen by tourism. The evening is free at your hotel in Barri Gotic, with many highly recommended restaurants within walking distance.