Top at the list of the attractions that you have to see in Barcelona are the works of the renown Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. His most famous work is the enormous, and still under construction, church of La Sagrada Família. But there are also another five properties built by Gaudí that are also UNESCO World Heritage listed and situated close by in Barcelona, in the districts of Eixample and Gràcia. And the best way to see them all in one day? By bicycle!
If you’re a serious student of architecture, you’ll probably want to visit inside many of the properties, and spend more than a day. However, for other visitors, I recommend choosing just two or maybe three properties to visit inside, especially considering the high entry fees charged by each individual property. For the rest of the properties, just view their exteriors.
The only problem I found when putting together my itinerary, is that the properties are a bit too spread out to easily walk in between, and not all are close by metro stops. However, the properties are the perfect distance apart for a self-guided bike tour. Plus the wide, flat streets of the modern Eixample and Gràcia districts are excellent for bike-riding.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to end up following this itinerary myself, as it poured rain for most of my time in Barcelona. But I hope that you have fine weather and can use it. Let me know how you go!
Hiring a Bike
Barcelona has a share bicycle scheme, Bicing, but usage is restricted to Spanish residents. Instead, head to one of the many bicycle hire shops scattered all over the city.
For this tour, I recommend hiring a bike from Rent-a-bike, at 29 Carrer del Perill in the Gràcia district. It’s close to many of the Gaudi properties (and was down the road from my accommodation). If you’re not staying close by, the closest metro stop is Diagonal. Bike hire is €11 per day, with the option to reserve in advance. The shop is open from 9:30am to 8:00pm daily.
Recommended Itinerary & Distances
Start: Rent-a-bike, 29 Carrer del Perill
Stop 1: Casa Milà, 261-265 Provença (cnr Passeig de Gràcia) (Distance: 700m)
Stop 2: Casa Battló, 43 Passeig de Gràcia (Distance: 500m)
Stop 3 (optional): Palau Güell, 3-5 Carrer Nou de la Rambla (Distance: 2.3km)
Stop 4: La Sagrada Família (Distance: 2.2km from Stop 2, 4.5km from Stop 3)
Stop 5: Park Güell, Carrer d’Olot (Distance: 2.8km)
Stop 6: Casa Vicens, 20 Carrer de les Carolines (Distance: 1.8km)
Finish: Rent-a-bike, 29 Carrer del Perill (Distance: 1.7km)
Total Distance: 9.7km without Stop 3, 14.3km with Stop 3
1. Casa Milà
It’s not far to the first stop on your bike tour, Casa Milà, which is just 700m away. It’s easy to see why this building has been nicknamed La Pedrera, or the “quarry house”. Although sombre in colour, its curvaceous lines are highly typical of Catalan Modernism.
2. Casa Battló
It’s just a short 500m further down the wide boulevard of Passeig de Gràcia to Casa Battló, or the “dragon house”. It’s fun to try and spot the dragon motifs scattered over the building’s exterior. I found it quite difficult! And be warned – the stretch of bike path outside this house is one of the most dangerous in Barcelona, due to the overspill of spectators taking photos!
3. Palau Güell (optional)
At this point, it’s optional to head a further 2.3km into the historic centre of Barcelona to Palau Güell. Most of the bike riding will be along the busy La Rambla. However, considering that you’re liking to walk along this stretch on foot at some point during your visit to Barcelona, it’s probably better to visit this property then. Doing so will save a sizeable 4.6km off the total distance.
4. La Sagrada Família
You’ll spot La Sagrada Família well before you arrive at it. Its towers and cranes dominate the Barcelona skyline. After being under construction for over 100 years, the latest plan is for construction to be finished in 2027 – the centenary of Gaudi’s death. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens!
While Gaudi designed the entire church and it is undoubtedly his masterpiece, the only parts that have been UNESCO World Heritage listed are the Nativity Facade and the Crypt. These were the two main parts of the building constructed during Gaudi’s lifetime. The Nativity Facade in particular was my favourite part of the church. With it’s intricate details it’s possible to spend ages staring up at it.
Make sure you book in advance if you want to enter inside (and see the facades up close). Included in the entry ticket is a display about Gaudi’s architectural techniques, in the downstairs exhibition space.
5. Park Güell
The most difficult part of your bike ride will be the 2.8km uphill to Park Güell. Luckily then, the park is a wonderful spot at which to chill out, enjoying the views of Barcelona below, while also admiring the elements constructed by Gaudi. Entry to the monument section is ticketed, and you’ll also likely need to book in advance.
6. Casa Vicens
It’s a 1.8km ride back downhill through a maze of smaller streets to Casa Vicens. The first house that Gaudi built, it was mainly obscured by scaffolding during my visit. But the scaffolds should now be gone, with its interior open to the public for the first time.
Once your visit is over, it’s just a leisurely 1.7km back to your starting point.