Barcelona is an unbelievable city: the mix of culture, art and – of course – 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 ten of 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 Feast on Churros and Chocolate
- 3 Explore Park Guell
- 4 Sip a Cocktail at the W Hotel
- 5 Dance the Night Away in a Hidden Bar
- 6 Visit Casa Batlló
- 7 Take in the sights and sounds of La Boquería
- 8 Stoll through the Barri Gòtic
- 9 Hit the beach
- 10 Shop ’til you drop
- 11 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 and honestly, it’s my favourite building in the entire world. AND…it’s unfinished!
The Gaudí masterpiece is spectacular on the outside but the inside 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.
Feast on Churros and Chocolate
Because for plenty of exploring, you need plenty of energy. The 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!
Explore Park Guell
Park Guell is another of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions but it’s there for a 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 out to Park Guell 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!
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 it’s 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!
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.
Visit Casa Batlló
Another Gaudí spectacular – 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. These fairytale buildings scattered across Barcelona make it such a special city to explore!
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.
Stoll 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 that it’s really hard to get bored in.
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?
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…
I hope this guide inspires you to visit Barcelona! If you’d like any more tips for a city break to Barcelona, head over and visit my blog Wander with Laura (link in bio) for more! What is your favourite 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!