Barcelona is an unbelievable city: the mix of culture, art, and incredible food make every visit an absolute joy. And even after multiple visits, there will always be hidden nooks of the city to explore. It feels almost impossible to get tired of wandering the streets – although it’s usually in search of my next sangria or dish of paella!
Today, I’m rounding up the best things to do in Barcelona for anybody who is yet to experience the delights of this wonderful Spanish city. So now, sit back and enjoy!
- 1 Visit the Sagrada Familia
- 2 Marvel at Santa Maria del Mar
- 3 Take a Stroll on Las Ramblas
- 4 Indulge in Churros and Chocolate
- 5 Attend a Cooking Class in Barcelona
- 6 Feast on a Food Tour
- 7 Bridge Jumping Near Barcelona
- 8 Take a Tour of Camp Nou
- 9 Explore Park Güell
- 10 Hike Up Tibidabo
- 11 Enjoy Views from Turo de la Rovira
- 12 Take in the Sights on a Helicopter Tour
- 13 Lounge Around Parc de la Ciutadella
- 14 Sip a Cocktail at the W Hotel
- 15 Bar Hop at Passeig del Born
- 16 Dance the Night Away in a Hidden Bar
- 17 Enjoy a Flamenco Show at City Hall Theater
- 18 Visit Casa Batlló
- 19 Wander Around Casa Milà
- 20 Take in Rooftop Views from Casa Vicens
- 21 See a Show at Palau de la Musica Catalana
- 22 Take in the Sights and Sounds of La Boquería
- 23 Taste Delicacies at Santa Caterina Market
- 24 Stroll Through the Barri Gòtic
- 25 Time Travel at Plaça del Rei & The Barcelona City History Museum
- 26 Admire the Crazy Collection at Museu Picasso
- 27 Learn about Contemporary Art at Fundacio Joan Miró
- 28 Dive into the Greats at Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya
- 29 Sample Spain at Poble Espanyol
- 30 Hit the Beach
- 31 Jet Ski Along Barcelona’s Coast
- 32 Parasail Over Spanish Waters
- 33 Shop ’til You Drop
- 34 Make Your Way to Gracia
- 35 Take a Day Trip!
- 36 Where to Stay in Barcelona
Visit the Sagrada Familia
Disclaimer: I’m usually not all about seeing religious sites. After one too many, I’m a bit twitchy and would much prefer to find the next scenic street full of cafes, bookshops and pretty places to browse. So it’s a pretty impressive feat that the Sagrada Familia has made it to the top of this list. Honestly, it’s my favourite building in the entire world. AND…it’s unfinished!
The Gaudí masterpiece is spectacular on the outside but the interior is where things get really special. With colourful shafts of light flooding through the windows and geometric shapes that look almost cartoon-like, this is one queue that’s well worth the wait.
For more local sights and events, check out this list of Barcelona museums and exhibitions by Miniguide.
Marvel at Santa Maria del Mar
So I know I said I wasn’t big on religious sites, but Santa Maria del Mar is another must-see church in Barcelona for the sheer amount of manpower that went into creating this massive structure.
Each boulder used for the construction of the church was carried from the countryside by ordinary civilians. And once they saw the final product you best believe they were in awe how something so amazing could be created from simple stones.
Enjoy the stained-glass windows and soaring columns. Plus, most of the original structure has been standing since 1383.
Take a Stroll on Las Ramblas
Fast forward a few centuries and you get creations like Las Ramblas to round out Barcelona’s religious and cultural scene.
Las Ramblas is a giant pedestrian boulevard, and the most famous street in all of Barcelona. It’s best known for the towering shady trees lining the avenue, talented street performers, and endless terraces to enjoy a meal or coffee.
If you continue all the way down Las Ramblas, you’ll hit the Columbus monument which comes complete with an 18th floor look-out. From here, you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of Barcelona and the sea beyond.
A word from the wise about hanging out in these parts: be sure to keep your belongings secured and close to your body! Las Ramblas is a popular place for pickpockets to hang out so just take extra caution.
Indulge in Churros and Chocolate
For plenty of exploring, you’ll need plenty of energy. This easily-distinguishable long doughnut-style dessert is a Spanish delicacy and you’ll be hard pushed to find better than in Barcelona.
Find a tiny cafe in the Gothic Quarter with a table outside and settle in for an afternoon of people watching. Smothering churros in lip-smackingly thick dipping chocolate — is there really any better way to spend a lazy afternoon in the sunshine?
P.S. Want more Spain travel tips? Check out our full page for a full breakdown on top things to do, eat, and see!
Attend a Cooking Class in Barcelona
Spanish food is incredible so being able to recreate these amazing dishes at home is a huge plus — it’s worth the trip to Barcelona hands-down! I recommend checking out Cookly which has loads of options for cooking classes in Barcelona where you can indulge and bring out your inner chef.
Feast on a Food Tour
If cooking isn’t your thing but eating definitely is, take a food tour to taste some of the best delicacies in Barcelona!
There are hundreds of food tours to choose from, all offering visitors a different type of experience. Whether you’d like to explore markets with a professional chef, dine off the beaten path with companies like Devour Tours, or taste tapas by candlelight, there’s a food tour for you.
It’s undoubtedly the best way to discover all that the Barcelona food scene has to offer!
Bridge Jumping Near Barcelona
Looking for an activity that breaks away from the traditional sightseeing routes in Barcelona? For something truly unique, jump off a bridge while attached to a rope!
For this activity, you’ll travel to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia bridge, just 50 kilometers from Barcelona, where you’ll be strapped into a harness attached to a bungee cord. The rest is up to you!
This is a true thrill seekers activity that only the bravest will dare conquer. If you’ve ever wanted to try bungee jumping, now’s your chance!
Take a Tour of Camp Nou
Calling all football fans: Don’t miss out on a tour of Barcelona’s famous futbol stadium, Camp Nou! This stadium holds more people than any other stadium in Europe, and is home to some of the best players in the Spanish league.
A tour of Camp Nou comes complete with a walk-through of the FC Barcelona museum. You’ll also to walk around the stadium, visit the player’s changing rooms, the tunnel onto the pitch, commentary boxes, television studio and more! Talk about an all-access pass.
Explore Park Güell
Park Güell is another of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions — and for good reason. It’s impossible not to include it in a piece of things to do there because each time I visit, I can’t help but pay another visit!
From the incredible “gingerbread cottages” that could easily be something out of a fairytale – I always imagine the witch’s house in Hansel & Gretel – to the stunning views of the entire city, stretching right down to the sea, there are a myriad of places to explore in the Gaudí-designed park.
Getting to Park Güell is easy: just hop on the Metro to Vallcarca where you can take a set of huge escalators up the incredibly steep hills towards the park. Believe me, you’ll be thankful for them after just a few minutes of climbing uphill!
Hike Up Tibidabo
Speaking of great places to enjoy city views, a climb to the top of Tibidabo will give you some awesome 360° views of Barcelona and the surrounding areas. Tibidabo is basically a giant hill that, as legend goes, was where Jesus was first tempted by the devil.
Today, it still has some devilish charm in the form of a lavish amusement park sitting on top of it. Hop on the ferris wheel to see the city from the highest point possible, or walk across the skywalk for a shot of adrenaline. Don’t forget to eat some cotton candy while you’re at it!
Enjoy Views from Turo de la Rovira
For a more casual view of Barcelona from above, take a trip to Turo de la Rovira. This site was once a place of strategic defence during the Spanish Civil War, and some of the warlike structures and bunkers remain.
While it’s no longer a war zone, today Turo de la Rovira is a popular hangout place among locals and visitors alike as it offers unparalleled views of the city in a much more laid back atmosphere. You won’t find lines of people pushing one another here, but rather people lounging on the grass to take in the city sights.
Take in the Sights on a Helicopter Tour
For the most upscale aerial views of Barcelona, take a helicopter tour over the city! There’s no better way to get your blood pumping and capture unbelievably unique images as you soar through the Spanish skies.
You can take the Costa Tour which will fly you over the gorgeous sandy beaches and the Mediterranean, with sights of Barcelona’s main landmarks. Alternatively, go for the SkyTour which will take you over Camp Nou, Sagrada Familia, and other famous points in the city.
If you’re looking to explore outside of the city a little, consider opting for the Montserrat Tour which will follow the same route as the SkyTour but also fly over Montserrat, the largest mountain in Catalonia.
Lounge Around Parc de la Ciutadella
Barcelona’s largest park is one of the best places to enjoy the great Spanish outdoors without leaving the city. There’s tons of open space (perfect for an afternoon picnic), a large lake where you can take a ride on a rowboat, and even a zoo!
On a trip to Parc de la Ciutadella, be sure to make your way to La Cascada, the park’s fountain that was loosely based on Rome’s Trevi Fountain! It’s a great place for a little bit of everything the park has to offer like street performers, artists, and plenty of locals (and tourists) going about their business.
Sip a Cocktail at the W Hotel
The W Hotel has become a famous landmark in recent years, thanks to its location on the Barceloneta boardwalk and its distinctive shape.
For those of you able to splash out on a luxury stay, the infinity pool is great for getting those enviable Instagram shots. But if you’re on a somewhat tighter budget – which I always am – then get a taste of the glamor with a cocktail at the rooftop bar Eclipse. You can make up for the cost later with a jug of cheap sangria back in the heart of town!
Editor’s Note: Planning a trip to Spain? Check out our Europe Packing List Guide to make sure you don’t miss out on anything!
Bar Hop at Passeig del Born
If fancy drinking isn’t really your thing, head to Passeig del Born for some good old-fashioned bar-hopping.
This district is famous for being the congregation place for citizens during ancient times where Spaniards celebrated and enjoyed sporting events. No wonder there are so many bars in the area!
This district isn’t nearly as touristy as some of the others in Barcelona and it’s packed with places to eat and drink to your heart’s content.
Dance the Night Away in a Hidden Bar
As a self-confessed granny before my time, coming across hidden nightlife gems doesn’t happen often but there’s something about Barcelona that just pulls me in every time.
On my first visit, we were looking for somewhere to have a simple meal when the sounds of jazz music floated upwards from a mysterious staircase on the street. We ended up having a whale of a time enjoying a few drinks and listening to the sultry music – you can’t beat it for that real holiday feeling.
On my second visit at New Year, a wander through the streets after the firework display took us to an outdoor party without a tourist in sight. Instead, locals danced until the early hours and us with them – loving every second.
Discover somewhere like this for yourself and you’ll never forget your time in Barcelona.
Enjoy a Flamenco Show at City Hall Theater
If you’d prefer to watch other people dance over dancing yourself, head to a flamenco show at City Hall Theater (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) for some Spanish culture.
Watch the women twirl around in their flouncy dresses and stomp your feet to the beat of the classical guitar. There’s no better show in Spain than one that involves flamenco, so grab tickets and enjoy while in Barcelona!
Visit Casa Batlló
Another Gaudí spectacular besides the Sagrada Familia– what can I say? This house is often covered with scaffolding of some sort but even with that, it’s worth a visit.
It’s been refurbished several times since its original design in 1904 but the original character still remains in the mosaics and irregular tiles that are typical of his Gaudí’s work. If you’re into quirky architecture and love Gaudí’s work, Casa Batlló is definitely a must-visit.
These fairytale buildings scattered across Barcelona make it such a special city to explore!
Wander Around Casa Milà
Are you sick of Gaudí yet? Hopefully not, because Barcelona is bursting at the seams with his designs and personality! Casa Milà is yet another splendid example of this.
As the last project Gaudí took on before he passed away, Casa Milà is actually considered to be the pinnacle of his career. It was originally designed to house the wealthy families of Barcelona. You may also hear it referred to as La Pedrera (meaning “stone quarry”), a name that came about due to the vast amount of stone used to construct the building and the many features that seem to come from nature.
Casa Milà is certainly one of Gaudí’s most iconic works and can’t be missed! On a visit here, be sure to make your way to the rooftop to traverse the wild staircases and immerse yourself in a landscape that looks like it’s from another world completely.
Take in Rooftop Views from Casa Vicens
Anyone who visits Barcelona is likely to swing by the three most famous Gaudí buildings in the city: Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, and Casa Batlló. But if you’re particularly fond of this Spanish architect, consider making your way to Casa Vicens.
Set a little ways out from the city center, this summer chalet was just opened up to the public in 2017 and is a splendid place to visit.
As one of Gaudí’s earliest works, Casa Vicens is a marvellously colorful creation with interesting ornate details, a gorgeous garden, a rooftop tiled with terra-cotta, and an insane floor influenced by the Turkish and Oriental empires.
See a Show at Palau de la Musica Catalana
A true Barcelona showstopper, Palau de la Musica is basically a concert palace, rather than hall. It’s one of the best places to catch a show in the city, whether it be musical shows, operas, symphony orchestras, and even flamenco shows!
Besides being designed with impeccably clear acoustics, this performance space is a colorful wonder, complete with a chandelier centerpiece hanging from the middle of the ceiling.
Take in the Sights and Sounds of La Boquería
Right in the centre of La Rambla, you’ll find one of Barcelona’s most popular markets.
If food is your thing, La Boquería has almost everything you could want including freshly caught fish, mounds of fruit, and even sweetie posts to tempt any eye away from the healthier fare.
Shop or sit on stools at one of the small cafes for lunch — the choice is yours. We did this a market tour of the La Boqueria and loved it!
Check out our video of the market tour below. Warning- do not watch if you are hungry! 🙂
Taste Delicacies at Santa Caterina Market
La Boqueria is great to get a taste of the hustle and bustle of Barcelona life, but Mercat de Santa Caterina has more of a homey, neighborhood feel, making it a lovely place to stroll through.
Instead of crowds of tourists, Santa Caterina is more laid-back, so you can get your tasty bites and morsels without any bumping and pushing. Go for local specialties like jamon iberico, local olive oil, and other mouth-watering delicacies.
And don’t forget to look up! The roof of the market is particularly striking with its wavy, colorful design.
Stroll Through the Barri Gòtic
While the vibrant La Rambla is a heaven for people-watching, you’ll often get ripped off by the premium priced cafes and stores lining the street.
Head just a couple of streets across and you’ll be happily lost in a maze of winding roads that you won’t want to end. This is easily one of my favourite areas of the city, and one where it’s really hard to get bored in.
Time Travel at Plaça del Rei & The Barcelona City History Museum
While strolling around Barri Gotic, stop by the center square, Plaça del Reii. Historically, this medieval Barcelona square has been a place for activity and meeting by noble people. It was even graced by the likes of Christopher Columbus when he returned from the “New World!”
Have a snack on the steps of the Palau Reial under the arches and stop by the Barcelona City History Museum to learn even more about the ancient history behind Plaça del Rei.
While wandering the City Museum, you’ll also get to walk on preserved remains from the Roman era, visit what’s left of a garum factory, and see the seat of the medieval Dukes that once ruled Barcelona.
Admire the Crazy Collection at Museu Picasso
For all art lovers, a stop at Museu Picasso is a must as he spent much time in Barcelona when he was a young artist. The museum that stands today holds more than 4,200 of Picasso’s early works in the form of paintings, engravings, and sculpture pieces, making it more than noteworthy.
The layout of this museum is particularly interesting as it’s crafted from five 13th and 14th century residences, so be sure to marvel at the artwork in between Picasso pieces! This Picasso tour comes well recommended for art lovers!
Learn about Contemporary Art at Fundacio Joan Miró
Sitting on top of Montjuïc, a hill that sits high behind Barcelona’s city center, you’ll find Fundacio Joan Miró, a museum dedicated to the late and great contemporary artist.
Miró was greatly responsible for spearheading the contemporary art movement in the 1960s, and this shines through in his quirky works. He even worked with the architect of the museum to come up with the building’s design!
Here you’ll find more than 10,000 works of art on display, making it a great place to spend a rainy afternoon in Barcelona!
Dive into the Greats at Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya
For traditionalists, perhaps a visit to Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya is more appealing. Here, you can admire famous works like Velazquez’s San Pablo and the biblical fresco, Apse of Sant Climent de Taüll.
The expansive galleries here are filled with a wide range of art covering Barque and Renaissance time periods. But the real draw here is the Romanesque collection which is best known for the pre-Gothic religious art created in Catalonia.
Sample Spain at Poble Espanyol
A museum in its own right, Poble Espanyol is essentially a display neighborhood created for the 1929 World Fair. There are 117 buildings in this little village that are replicas of Spanish architecture from the 15 regions of the country — how cool is that!
Take in the whitewashed streets famous in Andalusia, stroll around a pre-Roman Austrias block, and pop into the many artisan craft shops selling handbags, glass, and jewelry in between.
After a few hours here, you’ll feel like you’ve seen all of Spain without leaving Barcelona!
Hit the Beach
And…relax. La Barceloneta beach is a short walk from the main area of the city and even in the winter months, it’s a lovely place to sit and listen to the waves crash against the shore. In the summer, however, get down there early to bag the best spot for yet more people watching and a relaxing day away from pounding the city streets to take in the sights.
After all, holidays are all about unwinding, right?
Jet Ski Along Barcelona’s Coast
For an adrenaline-filled beach day, take a jet ski tour where you can wiz up and down Barcelona’s coastal waters.
You don’t need any previous experience to hop on one of these bad boys and take a ride on the wide open Mediterranean. Don’t worry though, you’ll be supervised by trained staff members who will ensure your ride is nothing but smooth sailing.
Parasail Over Spanish Waters
If jet skiing isn’t your thing, perhaps parasailing is more your speed. Take a leisurely flight 85 meters over the sea where you’ll get to see unbelievable views of the Barcelona skyline and beach below. Parasailing is surprisingly peaceful, and gives you the chance to do something a little different from the typical tourist circuit.
This parasailing activity is super easy and doesn’t require any previous experience. Plus, you can even fly with other members of your group if you don’t want to be in the air alone!
Shop ’til You Drop
Well, you can’t go home without a few souvenirs now, can you?
If you’re after big brand names, El Corte Inglés is handily located at Plaça de Catalunya but otherwise, just browsing the markets and side streets will present a whole treasure trove of wonders. Just try to resist the urge to smuggle a few pans of paella away with you…
Make Your Way to Gracia
As you venture outside of Barcelona’s city centre, you’ll find the hip neighborhood, Gracia. Known for its funky bars, interesting shops, and eclectic street performers, this is a great place to enjoy a sunny afternoon for a change of pace.
Hang out in the neighborhood squares, sit on a terrace for some tapas, and take in the local vibes of the place to get a sense of what it’s like to live in a quieter part of Barcelona, away from the hustle and bustle of everything.
Take a Day Trip!
Barcelona’s coastal location puts it in a prime position for awesome day trips to surrounding cities and towns. You could hit Girona, famous for looking like it’s straight out of a fairytale, or Sitges aka a beachy paradise.
We love renting cars whenever we travel -it just gives you so much freedom to explore at your own pace. If you want to go on a day trip while in Barcelona, click here to compare car rental prices. You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is!
If you’re feeling adventurous, one of the best day trips from Barcelona is to mammoth Montserrat, a must-see while visiting Spain!
I hope this guide inspires you to visit Barcelona! It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain and there’s so much to do it’s impossible to capture it all in a single list. Enjoy exploring the city streets, feasting on tapas, and some of the best panoramic views in all of Spain!
If you’d like any more tips for a city break to Barcelona, head over and visit Wander with Laura for more! What is your favorite thing about Barcelona?
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Looking for the perfect place to stay in Barcelona? Check out our full article featuring hostels and hotels that would suit every type of travel budget! This also includes tips on the best neighborhoods and which areas we recommend.
Additional content contributed by Jane Elmets
Need help planning your Spain trip? Check out these articles
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