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14 Best Tourist Attractions Destination in Barcelona

The vibrant capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is a beautiful seaside town that flaunts its beauty and sunny lifestyle. Magnificent scenery, breathtaking architecture and fantastic cultural attractions make it an attractive destination. The balmy Mediterranean climate, of course, adds to the charm. Barcelona has an atmospheric medieval neighborhood, the Barri Gòtic, with an almost magical old-world atmosphere, but its modernist architecture makes it even more famous. Antoni Gaudí and his avant-garde Surrealist buildings left a lasting mark on Barcelona; several are listed as UNESCO.

Tourists will want to simply relax and soak up the joyful vibe of the city after all the sightseeing. Walk down La Rambla, hanging from the locals. Escape to the sandy beaches close to the harbor and linger on the outdoor terraces for leisurely meals. Wander aimlessly and find hidden squares of the city where street musicians strum on Spanish guitars with melodies. At every turn, pleasant surprises abound. Find the best places to visit with our list of Barcelona's top attractions.

01. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

One of the most unconventional churches in Europe, the most famous sight in Barcelona is this spectacular basilica. The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, listed by UNESCO, is located in the northern part of the city, dominating its surroundings with 18 spindly towers that rise above all other monuments. Also known in Spanish by its official name is the Basilica of the Sacred Family: Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.

Antoni Gaudí was commissioned as a neo-Gothic church in 1883 to design this basilica. But he created a signature example of his famous surreal Art Nouveau architecture instead of following the plans. He had no firm ideas in mind, preferring to change and add as work progressed to the plans. Although Gaudí had originally predicted between 10 and 15 years, the church has never been completed. As a result, the main work of the most important modern-day Catalan architect remains only a shell, and no one knows if it will ever be completed or when.

Visitors are first struck by the lavish exterior with its expressive façade of the Nativity depicting Jesus ' birth, and the evocative façade of the Passion illustrating Jesus ' suffering, death, and resurrection. Equally amazing, the interior is a 90 meter long, 60 meter high, huge space. With opulent decorative details, the ceiling shines, and colorful stained-glass windows allow ethereal light to flow in.

The apse features an unusual lantern - rendered Crucifix as a canopy. Jaw - dropping is the overall effect. The essence of his architectural masterpiece was best captured by Gaudí when he described it as "a work in the hands of God and the will of people."

02. Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)

Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)

The Gothic Quarter has been the city's spiritual and secular center for 2,000 years. Relics of ancient Roman buildings are still to be found here, but the historical monuments packed into this quarter best represent the Middle Ages. The medieval cathedral stands on Monte Tabor, the highest point in the city center, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Gothic Quarter is where, after his first trip to the New World, Christopher Columbus was received by the Catholic Monarchs, and since the 14th and 15th centuries, the city authorities have had their seat here.

Walk through this beautiful labyrinth of narrow paved streets and atmospheric alleys to discover this traffic-free magical medieval world. Discover picturesque, quiet squares inspired by the sounds of chatting and laughing people, or classic Spanish guitar strumming. Children often play a soccer pickup game in the Gothic Quarter's hidden corners, and small cafes with sidewalk terraces are located in their courtyards. See the Picasso Museum and Plaça del Rei in the Gothic Quarter, a square where sometimes there are outdoor concerts, along with its inviting little boutiques and restaurants.

03. Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

The UNESCO-listed Casa Milà is the most famous secular building of Antoni Gaudí, located in the Eixample district off the elegant boulevard of Passeig de Gràcia. Also affectionately known as "La Pedrera," Casa Mila translates into "The Stone Quarry" because the building looks like an open quarry. This flamboyant avant-garde dwelling was built between 1906 and 1912 and looks more like a sculpture than a functional building. With rounded windows and metal balcony railings twining around in plant-like shapes, each line of the natural stone façade is curved. In addition to the decorative chimneys, even the roof has an undulating shape.

The building's entrance is on Carrer de Provença, through a remarkable wrought-iron gate leading to an inner courtyard. Ribbed arches designed for load-bearing purposes support the building, a feature that reveals Gaudí's genius as a structural engineer. For a closer look at the strangely shaped mosaic-adorned chimneys, visitors can walk around the roof terrace. The roof area also rewards visitors with sensational city views, with the view extending in the distance to the Basilica de Sagrada Família.

Casa Mila houses the cultural center of the Fundació Catalunya, which organizes events all year round. The monument is open daily for visits to the public and there are audio guides available. A welcome stop for tourists, in a venue worthy of the venue, the Cafè La Pedrera offers a relaxing place for a snack.

04. La Rambla: Barcelona's Social Hub

La Rambla: Barcelona's Social Hub

La Rambla, a wide, tree-shaded avenue that divides the Old Town into two parts, is the heart of Barcelona's social life. La Rambla extends all the way down to the port from the Plaça de Catalunya, where the beautiful Romanesque Santa Anna Convent of the 12th century stands. With expansive pedestrian sidewalks, this wide street is lined with shops, restaurants, and outdoor cafés, making it one of the city's most popular hangouts.

During the day, many locals are found doing their daily shopping at the Mercat de la Boqueria and at night, groups of friends and families take their evening walk on La Rambla to enjoy the fresh air and lively atmosphere. Depending on the day, spectators may be treated to live music, a mime show or other impromptu street performances.

La Rambla borders the Barri Gòtic on its northeast side, and the Plaça Reial is halfway down the avenue, a beautiful palm-fringed square surrounded by historic houses. These elegant buildings have shops, cafes and restaurants filled with arcades. The Three Graces Fountain with a candelabra designed by Antoni Gaudí is at the center.

The Palau Güell, a ostentatious mansion designed by Antoni Gaudí in 1886, is another important monument on La Rambla (number 3-5). The owner, Eusebi Güell, was a great arts patron and the building was built with a large dome hall for poetry readings and private concerts. The entire building reflects the tremendous wealth of Güell, created by Gaudí with sumptuous decoration, valuable textiles, and handmade furniture.

05. Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)

Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)

The Palau de la Música Catalana, built between 1905 and 1908 as a concert hall for Orfeó Català, was designed in the Catalan Modernista style by the architect Lluís Domènech I Montaner. But while the building is characterized by curving lines and colorful palette of the style, unlike the works of Gaudi, this design places function ahead of shape. Although the interior decoration is as colorful and fanciful as the outside, choral and other musical performances are dedicated to its shape and decoration.

The Palau's concert hall, which seats about 2,200 people, is Europe's only auditorium that is fully illuminated by natural light during daylight hours. The walls on two sides consist mainly of stained-glass panels set in magnificent arches, and overhead is a huge stained-glass skylight designed by Antoni Rigalt whose centerpiece is an inverted dome in gold shades surrounded by blue suggesting the sun and sky. The concert stage is framed by elaborate sculptures.

06. Parc Güell: Gaudí's Surrealist Park

Parc Güell: Gaudí's Surrealist Park

This splendid surreal park is a colorful, cheerful and whimsical UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by Antoni Gaudí. The Park Güell was created between 1900 and 1914 and is beautifully landscaped with architectural elements in the signature style of Gaudí. The space is scattered with viaducts, grottoes, a colonnaded hall, winding staircases and semi-closed conversation seats. In multicolored ceramic fragments, these creative structures are decorated. A spectacular terrace overlooks the city and the sea. This area of the city was loved by Gaudí himself, and his home was here.

Surrounded by a pleasant garden, the Casa Museu Gaudí occupies the house where Gaudi lived; the collection displays works of art, mostly decorative objects and furniture, designed by Gaudí.

07. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló

The UNESCO-listed Casa Batlló is one of Barcelona's most characteristic modernist buildings, yet another amazing Gaudí creation. The fantastic mansion for textile manufacturer Josep Batlló I Casanovas was designed as a private residence. This dreamlike building looks like a castle from a surreal fairy tale with its freely swinging shapes and ornamental façade.

Most of the design details are completely different from any precedent in architecture. On the first floor, the window frame is bordered by swinging shapes that suggest plants, while others look like cave entrances. Decorative glazed ceramic tiles add to the flamboyance on the façade in green, blue, and ochre colors. Like that of Casa Milà, the wave-shaped roof has numerous richly decorated chimneys. In addition, Gaudí created the interior decorations that can be seen in Güell Park's Casa Museu Gaudí. The elegant Moments Restaurant, with two Michelin stars, is just a few steps away at 38 Passeig de Gràcia for those looking for a superb gourmet meal.

08. Camp Nou

Camp Nou

Just as Modernista buildings for fans of architecture are must-see attractions, Camp Nou is a must-see for fans of football. FC Barcelona's home, the 99,354-seat stadium is Europe's largest and the world's second largest. Wait here for a game or take the exciting tour and visit the museum. Camp Nou was one of Barcelona's locations for the 1992 Summer Olympics.

09. The Magic Fountain

The Magic Fountain

One of Barcelona's favorite things to do at night is to watch Montjuïc's Magic Fountain at the start of Avinguda Maria Cristina in the neighborhood of Montjuïc. The large Art Deco fountain, built in 1929, delights all ages with its musical choreographed light and water shows. It was designed for the International Exhibition in Montjuïc in 1929 by Carles Buigas. The show lasts an hour or so.

10. Scenic Views and Art Museums in Montjuïc

Scenic Views and Art Museums in Montjuïc

This hilltop neighborhood is on the site of an old Jewish cemetery, which explains its name, "Mont Juïc," which translates into "Mountain of the Jews." Standing 213 meters above sea level, the hillside is crowned by a fortress at its peak and slopes steeply down to the Mediterranean. This city's picturesque area is known for its beautiful natural park with great views and beautiful museums. Catalonia's National Art Museum has an exceptional collection of Catalan art from the 10th to the 20th century, including sculpture, paintings, drawings, engravings and photography.
Another popular spot to visit is the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village). For the World Exhibition of 1929, this charming fabricated village was created. Montjuïc was a venue for the Summer Olympics in 1992, and tourists can visit the stadium where the Olympics took place.

11. La Barceloneta

La Barceloneta

Adjacent to the cruise port, La Barceloneta neighborhood borders the long, wide Sant Sebastià Beach, where locals enjoy sunbathing, surfing and socializing in the many seafood restaurants and tapas facilities overlooking the sea. A long, palm-lined promenade connects the beach area with yachts-filled marinas. From the Port Cable Car, which ascends from here to the Montjuïc hilltop, you get a good view of the marinas and port area.

12. Monestir de Pedralbes

Monestir de Pedralbes

A wonderful example of Catalan Gothic architecture, the Monestir de Pedralbes convent lies in a picturesque little park called the Jardines Reina Elisenda. Native shrubs, palms, cypresses and shady trees fill this idyllic garden. The convent was founded by Queen Elisenda de Montcada for the Order of Saint Clare in 1326. The complex features a beautiful Gothic church, a serene three-story cloister and peaceful monastery buildings. In the quiet setting, visitors enjoy relaxing and learning about the life and work of nuns of the 14th century. Another highlight of a visit is the Monastery Museum, which displays an outstanding collection of 14th century medieval art as well as later created through the 20th century religious art.

13. Mercat de la Boqueria

Mercat de la Boqueria

Colorful displays of fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, glistening candied fruits, savory and sweet pastries, chocolates, whimsical figures of marzipan, fresh-mixed smoothies, Spanish almonds, burritos, breads, olive bins, bright pepper strings — la Boqueria is a riot of colors and aromas. It's also where on a busy morning you'll meet half of Barcelona as they shop for dinner that night. Go here for lunch, picnic provisions, a snack, or just enjoy the sensory pleasures and mix with the locals.

14. Quadrat d'Or

Quadrat d'Or

The Quadrat d'Or (Quadrant of Gold) is an area of the Eixample district renowned for its Modernist architecture. The Plaça de Catalunya, Avinguda de la Diagonal, Passeig de Sant Joan and Carrer de Muntaner border this area. In this area, Antoni Gaudí's work inspired the exceptional avant-garde buildings and built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Passeig de Gràcia is the main road through it. The neighborhood was marked by different architects, and the result is a diversity of Modernist style. A true open-air museum, the Quadrat d'Or offers every step of the way delightful surprises. Visitors will discover interesting ceramic art details, stained-glass windows, forged ironwork, decorative reliefs, mosaics, and statues.

 Where to Stay in Barcelona for Sightseeing

Many of Barcelona's attractions are concentrated in the Gothic Quarter's atmospheric, winding streets and the neighboring district of Eixample, with others more widespread in different directions. Luckily for tourists, in these neighborhoods there is a wide choice of hotels in all price ranges; here are some of Barcelona's highly rated hotels:

·        Luxury Hotels: Mercer Hotel Barcelona adds a rooftop pool to its superb location in the heart of the old Gothic Quarter. A short walk away and only a block from La Rambla, Casa Camper Hotel Barcelona includes breakfast and complimentary snacks all day. It's all about elegance at El Palace Hotel, in a vintage building at the edge of the Gothic Quarter, with a rooftop pool, spa, and afternoon tea.

·        Mid-Range Hotels: Near La Rambla and at the edge of the Gothic Quarter, Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel also has a rooftop pool and views from top-floor rooms. Another pool tops the EuroPark Hotel, surrounded by shops and restaurants in smart Eixample, between the Gothic Quarter and Gaudi's church of La Sagrada Familia. Room Mate Pau, two blocks from La Rambla alongside the Gothic Quarter, offers well-designed rooms consistent with Room Mate's chic brand image.

·        Budget Hotels: Hotel Curious, amid the restaurants and shopping neighborhood just off La Rambla and near La Boqueria market, is close to the airport bus stop. Many of the rooms at Hotel Constanza Barcelona, a few blocks north of the Gothic Quarter, have balconies. Although it's a 30-minute walk to the Gothic Quarter, Ibis Barcelona Centro is only a few steps from La Sagrada Familia and surrounded with restaurants, cafés, and shops. The metro station is also nearby, with connections to all the city's attractions.

Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Barcelona

·        Sightseeing Tours: A flexible way to see all the top sights in Barcelona without the hassle of navigating your way around the city is the City Sightseeing Barcelona Hop-On Hop-Off Tour. Relax and tour the city in an open-air double decker bus while listening to an informative commentary, and hop off at any of the 44 stops to spend more time at your favorite attractions. The pass is valid for either one day or two.
The Skip the Line: Best of Barcelona Tour, including Sagrada Familia, comes with a professional guide if you're looking for a more intimate small-group tour. See the city's top sights, walk the Gothic Quarter streets, and save time with special skip-the-line admission at Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. There are both half-day tours and full-day tours.

·        Day Trip Tours: Cultural and historical attractions dot the beautiful countryside around Barcelona, and an organized day tour is a great way to explore them without worrying about driving and finding your way. Accompanied by a guide, the Small-Group Medieval Villages Day Trip takes you in an air-conditioned minivan through picturesque rural landscapes to see the charming villages of Besalú, Castellfollit de la Roca, and Rupit, where you can explore historic buildings, meander down the cobblestone streets, and feast on traditional Catalan cuisine.

If you're a Salvador Dali fan, on the full-day Salvadore Dali Museum, Figueres and Cadaques Small-Group Tour, you can visit his birthplace and his beloved sun-soaked Costa Brava. With an expert English-speaking guide's informative commentary, you'll learn everything about the famous artist, his life, and works while traveling in the comfort of an air-conditioned minivan.

Try the Three Countries in One Day to check out a few more countries on your travel wish list: France, Andorra, and Spain tour. This full-day guided tour includes a visit to a medieval Spanish village and Mont-Louis listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in France, a walking tour of the capital of Andorra, and the opportunity to go hiking or shopping. It includes a coffee, a croissant and a drink.

A symbol of Western Civilization at its most magnificent, Athens boasts an illustrious history spanning over 3,000 years. The city was the birthplace of Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles during the classical antiquity. Athens today is a busy and modern capital city, more than just a relic of its glorious past. A completely different holiday experience from the idyllic Greek islands, Athens is capable of feeling hectic and crowded but offsets incredible cultural attractions. The Acropolis is one of the most amazing ancient ruins in the world, and the exceptional archeological museums of the city display fascinating uncovered artifacts at local sites. Other hidden charms waiting to be discovered are the beautiful Byzantine churches found throughout the city and the village-like neighborhoods north of the Acropolis. In the narrow pedestrian streets of the Plaka district, lined with quaint bougainvillea-draped houses and inviting restaurant terraces, tourists will enjoy getting lost.

01. The Acropolis

The Acropolis

Few world views compare to the Acropolis of Athens, with its temple of Parthenon perched high on a rocky crag watching over centuries of civilization. The Acropolis was the center of the ancient city, a reminder of the glory of ancient Athens, and functioned as a citadel in its protected hilltop location. The most emblematic building is the Parthenon, the largest temple dating from 447 BC to 338 BC in the classical antiquity period. The temple is an amazing sight with its monumental rows of Doric columns and amazing sculptural details. Reliefs depict the birth of the goddess Athena in the frieze on the east side. Other ruins of the Acropolis include the Erechtheion, a complex of ancient sanctuaries built between 421 BC and 395 BC. The most famous feature of the Erechtheion complex is the Porch of the Caryatids, with six statues of maidens in place of Doric columns.

Also be sure to visit the Acropolis Museum at 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, under the hilltop of the Acropolis. This museum includes one of the world's most valuable collections of ancient Greek art. Two interesting neighborhoods, Plaka and Anafiotika, are also nearby, charming areas where you can stop for a meal and walk around the picturesque streets.

02. National Archaeology Museum

National Archaeology Museum

Athens ' National Archeological Museum, founded in the 19th century, is Greece's largest archeological museum and one of the world's largest antiquity museums. The museum is housed in a stunning Neoclassical building with an exhibition space of 8,000 square meters. Five permanent collections with over 11,000 exhibits are on display, offering a comprehensive overview of Greek civilization from prehistory to late antiquity through the classical period. The Prehistoric Collection covers the sixth millennium BC to 1050 BC (Neolithic, Cycladic, and Mycenaean periods) and presents findings from Thera's prehistoric settlement. The Sculpture Collection displays ancient Greek sculptures, including rare masterpieces, from the sixth century BC to the fifth century BC. The collection of Vase and Decorative Objects presents ancient Greek pottery from the 11th century BC until the Roman Classic period. The collection of Stathatos features minor objects from a variety of historical periods. The Metallurgy Collection displays exquisite small statues and figurines sculpted from metals.

03. Byzantine Museum

Byzantine Museum

This interesting museum provides fascinating insights into Greek history's Byzantine period. Housed in a palace built in the 19th century for the Duchesse de Plaisance, Charles-François Lebrun's wife of France, the museum exhibits a precious collection of Byzantine art. The Byzantine Empire was the heritage of the eastern half of the Roman Empire after it fell; in religion and Greek speaking, the expansive empire was officially Orthodox Christian. The Byzantine Empire ruled the land of what is now the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor from the third century to the fifteenth century. Religious art has been highly valued during this time. Byzantine artists created masterpieces of detailed, glittering mosaics and gilded icons.

The Byzantine Museum, with more than 25,000 artifacts on display, is a treasury of Byzantine religious artifacts as well as early Christian, medieval and post-Byzantine artifacts. Sculptures, paintings, icons, textiles and mosaics are included in the collection. Highlights are the architectural fragments of early Christian basilicas and Byzantine churches, as well as the reproduction of a fountain depicted at Dafní Monastery. The courtyard of the museum features a splendid fragment of a fifth-century mosaic floor.

04. Agora: Ruins of the Ancient Marketplace

Agora: Ruins of the Ancient Marketplace

The ancient Agora in ancient Athens was the marketplace and the center of daily life. For an impressive distant view of the Agora, head to the Acropolis ' north wall or the Areopagus roads. The northern gate off Adrianoú Street (near Saint Philip Church) is the best place to enter the Agora. The Greek word "Agora" means "gathering and orating," indicating that this site was a public-speaking location. The Agora, as well as the Agora tou Dimou, a civic decision-making group, was a place of administration and commerce. Also held here were athletic events and theater performances. One of the Agora's most interesting features is the 18-meter-long Royal Stoa, Archon Basileus ' seat, which took over the earlier kings ' cultic functions. This BC stoa of the sixth century may have been the scene of the trial of Socrates in 399 BC.
Tourists can take an enjoyable walk from the Agora along the footpath leading up to the Agora Hill (Kolonos Agoraios). There is an amazing sight on the top of the hill at 24 Andrianou Street, the Temple of Hephaistos. This BC Doric temple of the fifth century is one of the best preserved ancient Greek temples due to its conversion into a Christian church that saved it from destruction. The temple was designed on a classic plan with six rows of 13 columns, and on the Parthenon the Ionic friezes seem to be modeled. Only 16 meters from the Roman Agora is the site of Hadrian's ancient library, a complex of buildings founded after 132 AD by Emperor Hadrian.

05. Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art

The Museum of Cycladic Art was established by the Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris Foundation in the Kolonáki quarter in 1986. Nikolas P. Goulandris, the shipowner, was a well-known patron of Athens ' arts and cultural life. The collection of Goulandris itself forms the core of the exhibits of the museum. The permanent collection of the museum is housed in a sleek modern building with a marble and glass façade. The collection represents ancient Greek art, ancient Cycladic art (the Aegean Sea islands surrounding Delos Island near Mykonos), and Cypriot art (from Cyprus Island) from the fourth century BC to the sixth century AD. Many of the displayed artifacts date back to the sixth century BC. The elegant Stathatos Mansion of the 19th century, accessible from the main building by a passageway from the atrium, holds temporary exhibits.

06. Church of the Holy Apostles

Church of the Holy Apostles

The Church of the Holy Apostles was the only building left standing on the site of the ancient Agora when this whole quarter of Athens was demolished to dig the archeological site of the Agora. Built in the 10th century, over a nymphaion (sacred spring) stands the church. The exterior is characterized by its ashlar masonry and its ornamental inscriptions of Kufic (a style of Arabic script). The church has a dome supported on four columns, typical of Byzantine architecture, and the apse and transepts feature semicircular conches. Original frescoes depicting Christ Pantocrator (Ruler of All), John the Baptist, adorable little cherubim, and archangels adorn the interior of the dome. Much of the original 11th-century iconostasis (wall of icons and religious paintings) has also been well preserved.

07. Panaghia Kapnikaréa Church

Panaghia Kapnikaréa Church

The Panaghia Kapnikaréa Church is a delightful place to visit, with a little square opening onto Ermoú Street. The intervention of King Ludwig I of Bavaria saved this beautiful little church from demolition in the 19th century. The church is a beautiful example of Byzantine 11th-century architecture. Domed cruciform churches like this one were typical during this period. The church was enhanced in the 12th century with a graceful portico entrance and a narthex with four pediments (built on the west end). Inside, the church is decorated with paintings from the 19th century created in Middle Byzantine iconographic style.

08. Olympieion: Temple of Olympian Zeus

Olympieion: Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Olympiaion was the largest temple in ancient Greece, dedicated to Zeus. Although the Parthenon is better preserved, an even more monumental structure in its day was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The temple dates back to the sixth century BC but was not finished by Emperor Hadrian until the second century AD. The great impression this temple made in its complete form is easy to imagine. The grandiose sanctuary was once supported by more than a hundred huge marble columns. Only 15 columns remain standing, and there is another surviving column on the ground, but the monumental presence of the ruins gives a sense of the original building's massive size. The gigantic structure was an appropriate shrine for Zeus, the most all-powerful God of the ancient Greeks, known as the King of Gods. Nearby, just north of the Olympieion, there is a small park with the ruins of the wall of Themistokles and the ancient Roman baths.

09. Panathenaic Stadium & Olympic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium & Olympic Stadium

The largest building in Ancient Athens, the Panathenaic Stadium, can accommodate 60,000 spectators. Built in the Herodes Atticus era around 335 BC, the venue hosted the Panathenaic Games where runners competed in races around the track. The 204-meter-long track was designed with four double herms that would turn runners in the races. Around AD 140, Herodes Atticus updated the stadium with new marble seats. The structure that tourists see today is a replica of the original stadium that was reconstructed for the 1896 Olympic Games. This modern-era Olympic Stadium was created in the identical fashion as the Panathenaic Stadium, with 47 tiers of seating and a rounded southeast end.

10. The Charming Neighborhoods of Pláka and Anafiotika

The Charming Neighborhoods of Pláka and Anafiotika

Between the northern slopes of the Acropolis and Ermoú Street, there are two important archeological sites in the picturesque Pláka neighborhood on Pepopida Street: the Roman Agora of the 1st century BC and the Hadrian Library of the 2nd century. However, this historic area's main attraction is its charming village atmosphere. Narrow pedestrian streets and quarter Pláka's cheerful little squares are lined with beautiful pastel-painted houses trimmed with bougainvillea. Historic churches, such as the Metamórfosis Church in the southwest and the Kapnikaréa Church in the north, are tucked away in the quiet corners of the neighborhood. The picturesque setting invites you to take pleasant walks.

There are plenty of authentic Greek restaurants with inviting terrace seats in the Plaka quarter. The area is renowned for its Mnisikleous Street Staircase Restaurant. Many of the restaurants look attractive, but most of them are tourist traps (with aggressive hosts baiting passengers for entry) and should be avoided. Consult a guidebook or ask a local for recommendations before choosing a restaurant in this area, or try the quieter hidden streets on the hillside that hide cute little cafes and tavernas. Anafiotika, another atmospheric village-like neighborhood where tourists can enjoy traditional Greek food, is also nestled in the slopes north of the Acropolis. The winding medieval streets of this Anafiotika are also a delight to explore.

11. Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square

Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square

Watching the Guard Change at Syntagma Square is an exciting and memorable experience for many tourists. The Presidential Guard soldiers stand 24 hours a day, year round, in front of the Hellenic Parliament on Syntagma Square. The guards are wearing traditional costumes with folded skirts, leg tassels and pompom shoes. The Guard Change takes place daily at 11 am in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Monument. This monument honors anonymous soldiers who have passed away fighting for the country. The monument features a marble relief imitating an ancient times warrior grave stele.

12. Saint Demetrius Loumbardiaris Chapel

Saint Demetrius Loumbardiaris Chapel

This tiny Byzantine chapel of the 12th century offers tourists an enchanting spiritual experience in a green setting on Philopappou Hill. Because of the ancient belief that divinity protected the gates, the chapel was built at the Diateichisma Gate. The chapel has a single-aisle vaulted basilica shape inside, and the walls are decorated with frescoes dating back to 1732. The chapel's name "Loumbardiaris" is linked to the legend that the church was saved by a miracle around 1650 when the Acropolis ' Turkish commander, Yusuf, bombed the church. Architect D restored the church in the 1960s. Pikionis. Pikionis Another highlight of visiting Philopappou Hill is the chance to take in spectacular views of the Parthenon from this location.

Where to Stay in Athens for Sightseeing

The best place to stay in Athens is near the neighborhoods of the Plaka Acropolis or Anafiotika. This will put you at the center of the action and walking distance from the Acropolis, Roman Agora, Hadrian Library, and Syntagma Square. Both neighborhoods are picturesque and picturesque, with narrow pedestrian streets, lots of restaurants and interesting shops. Some high-quality hotels in convenient locations are as follows:
·        Luxury Hotels: Within walking distance from the Temple of Olympian Zeus and many good restaurants, the boutique AVA Hotel Athens offers quaint and cozy suites with kitchenettes. The O&B Athens Boutique Hotel is a 10-minute walk to the Acropolis and features modern rooms and a spectacular rooftop patio with amazing views. The elegant Grande Bretagne Hotel, with a well-regarded rooftop restaurant, is set in a prime location that it has occupied since 1874.
·        Mid-Range Hotels: The appropriately named Plaka Hotel offers good rooms in a great location, and the rooftop patio has views to the Acropolis. Free coffee and tea are on offer all day long. The Hermes Hotel in the Plaka is newly renovated and just a two-minute walk to the attractions of Syntagma Square. On a quiet side street, the Central Hotel has also been recently renovated and offers modern, comfortable rooms and a hot breakfast. It's a 15-minute walk from the Acropolis, and the view from the rooftop patio is quite spectacular.
·        Budget Hotels: The Hotel Acropolis House is a good value option close to all the attractions. Basic but comfortable rooms are on offer, and the shops of the pedestrian-only Ermou Street are a short stroll away. The Kimon Athens Hotel features small but well-appointed rooms and is a two-minute walk from Syntagma Square. The Hotel Metropolis has been recently renovated and provides rooms with balconies, some facing the Acropolis.

Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Athens

·        See the Sights: For maximum sightseeing flexibility and value, it's hard to beat the City Sightseeing Athens Hop-On Hop-Off Tour. Accompanied by an audio commentary, you can cruise around Athens in an open-top double decker bus, hopping on and off at any of the 14 stops to spend more time at your favorite attractions, such as the Acropolis or the Plaka. If you only have a few hours to see the highlights of Athens, the Athens Half-Day Sightseeing Tour blends both the city's ancient and modern attractions. An expert guide takes you to see top sites such as the Tomb of the Unknown, the Acropolis, and the Pantheon. This 3.5-hour tour includes admission to the Acropolis of Athens and the Acropolis Museum (optional), hotel pickup, and free Wi-Fi on the coach.
·        Delphi Day Trip: If you want to complement your Athens tour by exploring historic monuments further afield, consider the Delphi Day Trip. This full-day tour takes you to this World Heritage-listed archaeological site to see the Temple of Apollo and the Delphi Archeological Museum. On your way home, you have a chance to explore the picturesque towns of Arachova and Levadia. Included in the tour are hotel pickup and drop-off at select hotels, free Wi-Fi, and entrance fees.
·        Mycenae and Epidaurus Day Trip: Stunning scenery and hilltop ruins are the highlights of the Mycenae and Epidaurus Day Trip. This full-day guided adventure includes a beautiful drive along the Saronic Gulf and into the Peloponnese to see the hilltop ruins of Mycenae as well as a visit to Epidaurus, the birthplace of Apollo's son, and the picturesque town of Nauplia. Also included are entrance fees, a professional guide, free Wi-Fi on the coach, and a map.

·        Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon Day Trip: See one of Athens' most famous monuments on the Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon Half-Day Trip. Traveling in an air-conditioned coach, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic drive to Cape Sounion to see the remains of the clifftop Temple of Poseidon, overlooking the sea, while an experienced guide shares information about its history. This four-hour tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off at select hotels, entrance fees, and free Wi-Fi on the coach.

Venturing Beyond Athens: Mythology, History, and the World's Most Beautiful Beaches

Greece's rich history extends far beyond Athens, but the remains of Corinth's Apollo Temple and Delphi's oracle seat are within a day trip's reach. Besides numerous continental attractions, such as the monasteries above Metéora's rock formations, the numerous Greek islands are known for their iconic whitewashed houses with brightly painted shutters, ancient ruins, medieval monasteries, and varied landscapes. Santorini's romantic island (also known as Thíra) is popular with couples and celebrities, renowned for its bright houses that seem to cling to the side of the volcanic cliffs of the island.

Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands and the southernmost part of Europe, which is large enough to occupy a whole holiday. Heraklion is the main port and capital city on the island, best known for Knossos' Minoan Palace. The city of Rethymnon has several interesting historical attractions west of here, including Turkish mosques and Venetian churches. Farther west, Chania's coastal city was founded almost 5,000 years ago by Minoans as Kydonia's city-state. The island of Delos is a UNESCO-listed site north of Santorini, known in mythology as the birthplace of Apollo. Heraion (Hera's Temple) is also a UNESCO site, located on the far-reaching island of Sámos, less than two kilometers from Turkey's coast. Also strongly influenced by surrounding cultures, the port city of Rhodes Town is a popular cruise stop. On Corfu Island you can find the best beaches in Greece; Corfu Town, its capital city, is a pedestrian-only holiday paradise with Mediterranean charm.

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands Kingdom, is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. Amsterdam is the country's leading cultural center with its universities, academies, and research institutes, as well as more than 40 museums, numerous theaters, and entertainment venues. The city is also famous for its historic homes, laid out in the shape of a fan in a concentrated segment pattern and built on piles driven into the firm's sandy bottom up to 18 meters below through an upper layer of mud. All in all, some 6,750 buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries are crowded into an area of 2,000 acres, dissected by 160 canals (grachten), houseboats themselves. Many picturesque bridges connect the city's 90 islands, eight of them old wooden bascule bridges, including one of the city's most frequently photographed Magere Brug (Mager Bridge). With our list of top-rated tourist attractions in Amsterdam, discover the best places to visit in town.

01. The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum was founded in 1809 to house the vast collection of rare art and antiquities in the country, one of Amsterdam's most popular attractions-and certainly its most important art repository. The impressive collection of the museum includes some seven million artworks, including over 5,000 important paintings spread over 250 rooms in this sprawling building. The Rijksmuseum boasts, in addition to its paintings, a well-stocked library of over 35,000 books and manuscripts, as well as numerous fascinating displays dealing with the development of art and culture in the Netherlands. His collections of traditional crafts, medieval sculpture and modern art styles are particularly noteworthy. A variety of guided tours in the thematic English language are available. Try the fun art history canal cruise to take in many of the sites represented in the collections of the Rijksmuseum for a special experience.

02. The Anne Frank Museum

The Anne Frank Museum

The Anne Frank Museum on the Prinsengracht is dedicated to the all-too-short life of one of the best-known victims of the Holocaust in the world. In the actual home where Anne's family hid for much of the Second World War — they were Jewish refugees from Frankfurt's German city — Anne wrote the diary that became an international bestseller after the war, just a few years after her death at the age of 15 (she died just two months before the end of the war). Much of the home has been kept as it was during the time of Anne, and it serves as a poignant monument to a tragic historical period.

Next door to the Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam's West Church (Westerkerk) is one of the most popular churches in the city. Completed in 1630, because of its many internal and external Gothic features, this Renaissance church is unusual. Its 85-meter tower, popularly known as "Langer Jan" (tall John), is the highest in the city, and a large replica of the emperor's crown, placed there in memory of Emperor Maximilian of Austria, is on the tip of its spire. The hours are proclaimed by a carillon inside the tower. Other highlights include a fine organ dating back to 1622, along with an interesting marble column placed there in memory of Rembrandt in 1906, who was buried outside the church (he was later reinterred inside the church).

03. The Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum

The spectacular Van Gogh Museum has been a must-visit for art fans and historians since it opened in 1972. This modern Gerrit Rietveld-designed structure, dedicated to the often troubled life and extraordinary art of one of the most revered painters in the country, is home to the world's largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and artifacts, much of which was donated by his brother, Theo, and other family members. The collection boasts an impressive 200 paintings, 500 etchings and drawings, as well as 700 letters written to (and by) friends and family, and is divided into key periods of the artist's life: his realistic works (1880 to 1887), including the famous The Potato Eaters, and his Impressionist period from 1887 to 1890, which saw the creation of Vase with Sunflowers, perhaps his most famous work. Works by contemporaries of Van Gogh, including leading artists such as Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, are also of interest. In such disciplines as painting and photography, be sure to check the availability of the museum's educational workshops.

04. The Jordaan (neighborhood)

The Jordaan (neighborhood)

The Jordaan is the most popular neighborhood in Amsterdam, known for its mix of residential areas with patios, lively markets, and upscale boutiques and restaurants. Tourists could easily spend a day wandering the picturesque streets, but there are many things to do in the area as well. The area is also home to lesser-known treasures such as the Woonboat Museum, a floating museum dedicated to houseboats, mostly known as the Anne Frank Museum's home. Lindengracht turns into a huge open-air market on Saturday mornings where you can find perfect local crafts, produce, flowers, and goodies to fill a picnic basket. It is Westerstraat on Monday mornings that fills the stalls of 200 vendors, this time selling a wide range of goods in a bazaar in the flea market style. The restaurants and cafes of the Jordaan have become the trendy place to sit and watch people while enjoying traditional folk music from the Netherlands.

05. Vondelpark


Vondelpark, Amsterdam's largest and most visited park, occupies 116 acres, containing a lot of things to see and do. In addition to green spaces dotted with peaceful ponds and traversed by wide paths, the park is home to a rose garden with over 70 flower types. It also has a variety of sculptures and statues, playgrounds and other recreational facilities, including rollerblade rental and the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, which from May to September serves as a venue for musical and stage productions. Do not worry-the park is also full of cafes where you can enjoy a snack or a full meal. As in any large city, after-dark visits to the park are not recommended.

06. Dam Square

Dam Square

Dam Square is, for good reason, one of Amsterdam's most tourist-packed areas. Its most prominent feature is the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace) from the 17th century, the former home of the royal family of the Netherlands and the present royal functions venue. Dam Square also houses top tourist attractions such as the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk); Madame Tussauds wax museum; and the National Memorial Statue dedicated to Dutch soldiers who lost their lives in the Second World War. This huge public square is, of course, lined with cafes and shops, and full of vendors selling food and souvenirs. Tourists will also find a Ferris wheel, perfect for getting a different perspective, as well as plenty of entertainment, which ranges from street performers to annual music festivals.

07. The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

Formerly the Town Hall, when he's in town, the Royal Palace serves as the residence of the King. Its construction was a monumental task when it began in 1648 and in support of the mammoth structure it required the sinking of 13,659 piles. The exterior is strictly classic based on the architecture of ancient Rome, while the interior is magnificently furnished, its apartments are decorated with a wealth of reliefs, ornamentation, marble sculptures and friezes, as well as ceiling paintings by Rembrandt's pupils Ferdinand Bol and Govert FlinckOther highlights include one of the world's finest collections of furniture; the City Treasurer's room with Cornelis Holsteyn's marble fireplace and ceiling paintings; and the Aldermen Hall, also featuring Bol and Flinck paintings. The Council Hall, sumptuously decorated and one of Europe's most beautiful staterooms, is the largest and most important room. Guided tours in English are available.

08. Rembrandt House Museum

Rembrandt House Museum

Other highlights include one of the finest furniture collections in the world; the City Treasurer's room with Cornelis Holsteyn's marble fireplace and ceiling paintings; and the Aldermen Hall, also featuring paintings by Bol and Flinck. The Council Hall is the largest and most important room, sumptuously decorated and one of the most beautiful staterooms in Europe. Guided tours are available in English.

A two-minute walk from the Rembrandt House Museum is Zuiderkerk (South Church), where three children from Rembrandt and one of his pupils are buried. Built between 1603 and 1611, it was the first Protestant church after the Reformation to be built in Amsterdam and designed by architect Hendrick de Keyser, who is buried here as well. It is now a center for local cultural activities and events after extensive restoration. Rembrandt Square, home to numerous cafés and restaurants, along with a statue of the famous painter, is another Rembrandt-related destination in the city.

09. The Botanical Gardens & the Zoo

The Botanical Gardens & the Zoo

Amsterdam offers in the heart of the city a double dose of nature. One of the oldest in the world is Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, the botanical garden of the city. It began as a humble herb garden for physicians and apothecaries, founded in 1638. It now features rare plants and trees, exotic flowers, and a large hothouse that includes various tropical areas. Less than a five-minute walk away, in a shady garden setting dotted with historic buildings, Natura Artis Magistra ("Artis"), Amsterdam's excellent zoo, spotlights creatures from around the world. You can learn about coral reef systems in the aquarium and take a look beneath a canal in Amsterdam. Other highlights include the nocturnal animal house, zoological museum, Insectarium, Butterfly Pavilion, and Planetarium. Also of interest near these fun nature-based attractions is a replica of the Normaal Amsterdams Peil, the NAP, which shows the average water level of the North Sea.

10. The Old Church (Oude Kerk)

The Old Church (Oude Kerk)

Built in 1306, the Old Church (Oude Kerk) and North Holland's first hall church became the model for many other local churches. Over the centuries, numerous additions have been built, like the large side chapels of the early 1500s. A portal leading to the Iron Chapel, where documents showing the privileges of the city, including the freedom from tolls granted in 1275, were kept locked behind an iron door, is also dating from this period. The tower was added in the 16th century and has a 1658 carillon that is considered one of the country's finest (it also offers great city views). The church's interior has pre-Reformation features, including three magnificent Dutch High Renaissance windows from 1555 and finely carved wooden choir stalls. Take a two-minute walk across the bridge to Zeedijk, one of Amsterdam's oldest streets, after exploring this beautiful historic building. Many houses along here lean from the vertical angle, and the house at No. 1 in the 15th century is believed to be the city's oldest surviving building.

11. The Stedelijk: Amsterdam's Municipal Museum

The Stedelijk: Amsterdam's Municipal Museum

The Stedelijk Museum-Municipal Museum Amsterdam-was founded in 1895 and is one of the most impressive collections of modern art in Europe. The museum focuses on Dutch and French painting in the 19th and 20th centuries and features works by several renowned art movements, including De Stijl, with examples from Van Doesburg, Mondrian, and Rietveld; Pop Art, with works by Rosenquist and Warhol; and painters such as Chagall, Dubuffet, De Kooning, and Matisse. There are also examples from Rodin, Moore, Renoir, and Visser in the sculpture garden. Guided tours in English are available, as are fun workshops in the family.

12. The Begijnhof

The Begijnhof

The Begijnhof is one of those rare quiet downtown spots that are simply not noticed by many tourists as they hustle from attraction to attraction. And that's a shame, because this amazing old Amsterdam corner just begins to stroll. While most of the old homes are occupied, the tiny lanes and paths around them provide access to the public, so don't be shy to explore. Views of well-kept green lawns-the courtyards-surrounded by some of Amsterdam's oldest houses, including its only remaining 14th century wooden house, will be rewarded. Originally occupied by a commune of pious Catholic women (begijnen), the area's small chapel (still open for services) saw the last of these women buried here in 1971.

13. The Jewish Historical Museum

The Jewish Historical Museum

The Jewish Historical Museum is housed in four redundant synagogues, one of which dates back to 1670, the Grote Synagogue. Highlights include a large collection of religious objects such as silver Torah containers, Torah robes and decorated Torah headdresses, as well as hangings and ceremonial canopies (the white marble Holy Shrine is of particular interest). There is also a large library in the museum, while there is a kosher restaurant in the Upper Synagogue, the Obbene Sjoel. The Docker Monument, built in 1941 to commemorate a strike when workers refused to cooperate with the deportation of their Jewish fellow citizens, is noteworthy outside the museum. The Portuguese Synagogue, a temple of the late 17th century housing the Ets Haim Library, the oldest of its kind, is also of interest. Join one of the Jewish Historical Museum's special English language tours that include the historic Jewish Quarter for a more in-depth look at this fascinating history.

14. The New Church & the National Monument

The New Church & the National Monument

The New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), the official Dutch monarch coronation church since 1814, is located near the Royal Palace in Dam Square ("The Dam") in the heart of Amsterdam. Built around 1270 to separate the Amstel from the IJ, this historic square gave the city its name. Today, for public functions such as antique fairs and art exhibitions, the square and church are used. This church of the 15th century also hosts regular organ concerts. A striking feature is its magnificent 1649 pulpit, a Baroque wood carving marvel decorated with the four evangelists and figures that symbolize Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice and Prudence. Also the church has a 1670 organ, an exceptionally beautiful bronze choral screen cast, and fine choral stalls. The tombs of famous Dutchmen, including PC Hooft and Nicolaes Tulp, and Admiral Michiel de Ruyter's Baroque tomb, which died in 1679, are also of interest. The stained glass windows are beautiful; one of them dates back to 1650 and depicts William IV's granting of the city's coat of arms, while Queen's 1898 Window commemorates Queen Wilhelmina's coronation.
The National Monument, a 22-meter-high obelisk, was built here on the opposite side of The Dam after World War II as a memorial to its victims and a symbol of liberation. It's been designed by J. J. P. Oud and J. sculpture decoration. Among other things, W. Rädeler symbolizes war (four male figures), peace (woman and child), and resistance (two men with hurling dogs). The urns containing earth from the 11 provinces are embedded in the obelisk, and a 12th urn contains earth from Indonesia's cemetery of honor. Queen Juliana dedicated the monument to the National Day of Remembrance on May 4, 1956. Every year on this date, wreaths are laid here and a two-minute silence is observed throughout the Netherlands. During other times, the monument is a place where young people from all over the world meet.

15. Kalverstraat and Vlooienmarkt: Shop 'til you Drop

Kalverstraat and Vlooienmarkt: Shop 'til you Drop

When a little shopping therapy is needed, there comes a point in every holiday. Amsterdam has plenty of great shopping spots, whether for luxury high-end goods, local crafts or fun souvenirs. Kalverstraat with many smart boutiques, galleries, perfumeries, cafés, and restaurants is the best known-and usually the busiest. While humanity's crush may be somewhat intimidating (especially on a Saturday), it's an experience you won't forget soon. Head over to the Vlooienmarkt, the famous flea market in Amsterdam, held here since 1886 for a completely different shopping experience. It's a true smorgasbord of commodities, with everything from antiques and food to new and used clothing. Another unique shopping experience awaits at Amsterdam's Flower Market, an amazing spectacle that includes every imaginable type of plant. Most of the best shopping streets fan the Muntplein, a town square once home to a 15th-century sheep market. The Munttoren (Mint Tower), which dates back to 1672 when Amsterdam was the mint's site for two years while the French occupied Utrecht, rises above the square.

16. The Amsterdam Museum

The Amsterdam Museum

Housed in the former municipal orphanage built in 1414, the Amsterdam Museum has a number of spacious courtyards where visitors can learn about Amsterdam's ever-changing role in the country and the world. Highlights range from prehistoric finds and the original charter of the town to contemporary items, as well as shows how the land was reclaimed from the sea. Other highlights like the old shooting gallery are also fun to explore and house in the inner courtyards. There's also a café on site. The library has a rich collection of literature on the city's history, and prior arrangement can be used to view graphics and drawings.

17. The Museum of the Tropics

The Museum of the Tropics

Founded in 1864, the Tropic Museum (Tropenmuseum) is a fascinating excursion for those interested in the history of the former colonies of the Netherlands. The museum houses numerous displays of art and everyday objects from tropical and subtropical areas in a cavernous hall built especially for it. Exploring the authentic bazaar is fun as you walk around and peek inside the Far East houses as well as the fully stocked oriental shop. The museum also hosts regular Eastern and Asian music concerts using traditional instruments (Guided tours are available in the English language).