I won't be popular for saying this, but Barcelona doesn't really have any 'must-see' attractions - its charms are much more organic. If I only had a weekend here, I'd spend it wandering around, taking in medieval and modern architecture, stumbling across street art and sculpture in the most unlikely places. I'd maybe take the funicular up Montjuïc and eat lunch looking out over the city. I'd almost certainly stroll up the Passeig de Gràcia and check out the Modernista creations of Gaudí and his contemporaries. Hey, I might even go to the beach.
If you have a little longer, however, or you have kids in tow, there's plenty to keep you occupied.
Things to bear in mind:
• Most museums (and restaurants, come to that) are closed on Mondays. One notable exception is the MACBA.
• Municipal museums are now free on Sunday afternoons, and open later (until 8pm). Most museums are also free on 12 February (Saint Eulàlia's Day); 22 April (Earth Day); 23 April (St George's Day); 18 May (International Museum Day); 24 September (La Mercè).
• Museums with lengthy queues, such as the Picasso, are often best visited last thing in the evening. You might only have an hour, but the time you'll save queuing and jostling for a good view can more than compensate.
• There are discount cards available, such as the Barcelona Card (www.barcelonacard.com), but they tend not to be great value unless you're planning on a sightseeing blitz. The Articket (www.articketbcn.org/en) is good value at €22, however, and comprises free entrance to seven of the city's best art museums.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
I've tried to go for a mix of the big guns and small offbeat places, but inevitably had to omit some from either category. One of my favourite museums, for example, is the quirky little Frederic Marès museum (www.museumares.bcn.es), a magnificently random selection of collections. I didn't have space to include all of Gaudí's creations either and La Pedrera (www.caixacatalunya.cat/obrasocial) was nudged out. Just.
Know, too, that about a quarter of this selection was included with families in mind, and might not figure on a Top 20 for anyone without children (although I defy anyone to resist the wonderfully kitsch charms of the Magic Fountain).