With so many things to do in Barcelona, it can be hard to know where to start. I know how you feel. I was overwhelmed when I first arrived in the city, but after living there for two years I have a good handle on what you can do in the city!
The problem is that there are so many things to do in the Catalan capital that it’s hard to know where to start. Sagrada Família, Barceloneta and Parc Güell are just a few of the places to visit in Barcelona that will occupy your time and be included on almost every walking tour!
That’s not to mention Camp Nou, Gaudí’s masterpieces such as Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, and the incredible Tibidabo!
You will find there is no shortage of fun things to do in Barcelona. Narrowing my list down was tough but my time in the city has allowed me to bring you the list of places I feel are the ones you can’t miss out on during your trip.
If you’re wondering what to do in Barcelona and you’re there for a few days or longer, you’ll find plenty of things to do. Here are a few of the best ones for you to enjoy!
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Things to do in Barcelona
After living in the city for two years, I did most of the things to do in Barcelona listed below. The city is a brilliant place to visit on holiday, as there’s so much to do.
You won’t be short of activities and you’ll need at least three days to see everything on this list. I’ve included a map below to help you navigate the city and see where everything is!
Located on a hilltop overlooking the city is Park Güell, a public park designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, whose work can be found across the city. There’s a reason his works have inspired numerous Barcelona quotes, they’re beautiful!
As with Gaudí’s other works in Barcelona, Park Guell is very popular. When I lived nearby in Gracia, I would come here on the weekend and it was always busy.
If you want to avoid the crowds, come here early in the morning. If you get up early enough you may be able to catch the sunrise, which is an incredible sight to witness from high above the city!
Parc Güell is a big place and there is a lot to see. Take your time to walk around and admire the sights. However, the most popular part of the park requires a ticket.
Book your ticket in advance to save the hassle of buying one on the day. This is the part of the park that is home to the municipal garden and Gaudí’s famous salamander among other things.
La Sagrada Família
One of the must see attractions in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia. If you’re spending 3 days in Barcelona, or less, this is one place you need to see! The towering cathedral is an icon of the city, even though I’m not its biggest fan.
I lived near Sagrada Família for a few months and saw the cathedral every day when I walked to work. I think it has become too big, with the scope of the building exceeding what was originally intended. But there’s no doubt it’s an impressive sight regardless.
Incredibly, construction began in 1882 and is still not finished! It’s estimated building work will be completed by 2026, which is the centenary of Gaudí, the chief architect of the original plans, death.
This is one of the most popular spots in the city and is always buzzing with people. It may be an idea to get there early to avoid the inevitable crowds.
If you want to see the interior, I recommend booking your tickets in advance. Queues are common and there is no guarantee you’ll be able to get inside on the day!
Barceloneta is a beachside suburb in Barcelona that is one of the most popular spots to visit. This is for obvious reasons, it’s home to the biggest beach in the city, which is within walking distance of the city center.
You won’t find too many other cities in the world that have a beach so close to the city centre! It’s not the best beach in the world. It can get very busy during the summer and rowdy due to the sheer number of people.
If you prefer a quieter beach, it may be better to head to Bogatell, which is a 30-minute walk down the shore. Or, you can head out of town to Casteldefells or Calella on the Costa Brava, which are quieter and beautiful places to spend the day.
However, for ease of access, Barceloneta is still one of the best things to do in Barcelona. You will find a lot of activities to do here such as paddleboarding, kayaking and much more.
Plus, there are numerous restaurants and cafes to retire to once you’re tired of catching rays!
You can’t visit Barcelona without going to the Camp Nou, home of the city’s world-famous football team, FC Barcelona.
The club is more than a football team to the city, it’s a symbol of Catalan culture which is reflected in the club’s motto, “Més que un club” (“More than a club”). It’s one of the places to visit in Catalonia you have to check out during your trip!
If you can, try and coincide your trip to Barcelona when a match is being played at the Camp Nou. This way you will be able to experience the stadium at its best and see some of the best football players in the world.
Booking a stadium tour is something else you should do too. You’ll get to see all the trophies the club has won, visit the FC Barcelona museum and go pitchside and take in the sheer size of Camp Nou.
Ideally, you want to do both, but I would prioritise watching a match over the tour. No matter how good the tour is, it doesn’t compare to watching a live match in a stadium full of 90,000 people!
Note: The Camp Nou is currently being redeveloped
Another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces that can be found in Barcelona is Casa Batlló. The building is located on Passeig de Gràcia, one of the main streets in the city.
As with everything that Gaudí designed, the style of the building is modernisme or Art Nouveau. It’s hard to put into words how incredible the building is. Even when I walked past it for the umpteenth time, I was still mesmerised by it.
I haven’t seen a building like it anywhere else. If you visit Barcelona without checking out Casa Batlló you’re missing out.
While the outside is impressive, the inside is just as good. Gaudí’s locations are popular with tourists and there will be a long queue to get inside most days.
My advice is to book your ticket in advance so you don’t have to queue and you can enjoy the sights inside this amazing building!
El Gótico, also known as the Gothic Quarter, is the historic centre of Barcelona. This area incorporates some of the oldest parts of the city including the cathedral and the Roman Walls.
The layout of the Gothic Quarter is a labyrinth of winding streets that open up into squares near the neighbourhoods of El Raval and El Born. This makes it an ideal place to wander around as you don’t have to worry about cars getting in the way.
If you’re a culture vulture, then El Gótico is a place you can’t afford to miss. You will find so many places to visit such as Plaça del Rei and the Remains of the Roman temple that you could easily spend a whole day seeing everything!
This was one of my favourite things to do in Barcelona. It can get busy, especially during summer, but the number of beautiful buildings and sights to see more than makes up for how busy it can be!
Montjuic is one of my favourite places to visit in Barcelona. I lived close by and would walk there a lot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
It’s a much less frequent part of the city, which baffles me because it’s one of the most beautiful. This is the site of the Olympic Stadium and is home to the towering Torre Calatrava.
You will also find Montjuïc Castle, which is an old military fortress that is now open to the public. You have to pay to go inside but it’s worth it.
The castle has had a big role to play in the history of Barcelona and is a great place for history buffs to learn more about the city.
These are great reasons to visit Montjuic, but I think the main reason I like it so much is that it’s a tranquil spot that offers some fantastic views of the city in beautiful surroundings.
Casa Milà, aka La Pedrera, is one of the most famous examples of Gaudí’s architecture and one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona. La Pedrera translates to The Stone Quarry which reflects the unconventional design of the building.
The front of the building is unlike any I have ever seen before. It resembles a giant slab of rock that has been chiselled away to create the facade that is visible today. You could spend a good five minutes just staring at it, appreciating its beauty!
The interior of the building is just as impressive as the outside. You’re unlikely to find a right angle within the building as Gaudí used natural shapes to create this masterpiece.
Perhaps the best part of the building is the roof. From here you get a fantastic view of Barcelona and the roof itself is a sight to behold. The chimneys that adorn it resemble medieval knights keeping guard over the building.
You will also find a museum in the attic dedicated to Gaudí. If you’re looking for things to see in Barcelona, Casa Milà is without a doubt one of the best! It’s an ideal place to visit during a family holiday in Barcelona!
If you’re a sports fan, then you have to visit the Olympic Museum in Montjuic. Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics and the museum is located next to the Olympic stadium.
A ticket only costs €5.80, which is a bargain compared to a lot of other attractions in Barcelona. You can spend as much time as you want to check out all the various displays in the museum.
You’ll find a variety of places to explore within the museum. There is a section dedicated to the 1992 Olympics and another that details the history of sport from its origins to the present day.
I loved this museum, mainly because I love Sports, due to its wealth of detail on its subject matter.
Combining a visit to Montjuic with a trip to the Olympic Museum is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Barcelona!
Parc de Collserola
Parc de Collserola is one of the hidden gems of Barcelona. Unless you live in the city you’re unlikely to know about it but it’s somewhere you should check out.
The park is huge. You can spend the whole day wandering around the numerous trails in the Collserola mountain range above the city which offer spectacular views of the city below.
The park is set in the same hills as Tibidabo so you can combine the two if you wish. You can reach the park via lines 3 and 11 on the metro.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can catch the train to Sant Cugat and hike back to Barcelona through the hike.
I did this on a few occasions and it’s a great day out, especially when the weather. plus, there are several restaurants in the park that you can eat at before you make it back to Barcelona!
Arc de Triomf
You might be thinking, isn’t the Arc de Triomf in Paris? Well, you’re half correct. Barcelona has its own version of one of France’s most iconic landmarks.
It may not be as impressive as the French version but it’s still worth checking out and stunning in its own right. It was built as the main access gate to the 1888 Universal Exposition held in the city.
The Arc is a popular photo spot and it’s not hard to see why as it is an impressive structure. When I lived on this side of the city, I used to walk by it regularly.
Even after the umpteenth time, I still found it to be as magnificent as the first time I saw it.
The Arc de Triomf is located outside of Parc de la Ciutadella which makes it an ideal place to visit before you head that way and possibly down to Barceloneta and the beach!
Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella is the main park in Barcelona and the best thing about it is that it’s based right in the heart of the city.
If you’re looking for somewhere to relax on a warm summer’s day, this is the place! You will find ample green space to relax in and catch some rays if you want.
Apart from relaxing, you will find a few things to do in the park. A giant fountain is the main attraction and has to be seen to be believed.
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Rome, you’ll know that the Trevi Fountain is incredible, well this one is a close second!
The Catalan Parliament is also based in the park, as is the Barcelona Zoo and with it being close to Barceloneta, it’s an excellent place to check out before you head to the shore!
Picasso is one of the most famous artists in the world. Even if you don’t like art, almost everyone has heard of him. Pablo Picasso spent a large portion of his life in Barcelona, including his formative years.
The museum is a must-visit for anyone with a light interest in Picasso. You won’t be disappointed when you visit, with 4,251 works by the artist, it has one of the most complete collections of works of Picasso anywhere on the planet.
Two of Picasso’s first major works, The Secret Communion and Science and Charity, are housed at the museum. Not only will you get to see some of the best paintings on the planet, but you will also learn more about the man himself.
As you can imagine, the museum is a popular place and can be busy. My advice is either to get there early or book a tour which allows you to skip the queue and learn about Picasso from an expert.
Mercado de la Boqueria
The Mercado de la Boqueria is one of the largest public markets in Barcelona. It’s located on La Rambla and is always teeming with people eager to nab a bargain.
The market has been in operation since 1217 when the first recorded instance of someone selling food in the location was documented. Today, the market is home to over 300 stands selling a range of items.
It’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and has become a popular tourist spot. You can get a wide selection of food here and it’s quite a sight to see a mass of people in one market!
Similar to the markets you may find when you visit Valencia, numerous stands offer special daily menus for you to enjoy!
Sagrada Família is not the only cathedral in Barcelona, the city has one that is much older and finished! It’s located in El Gótico and was completed in 1448.
It’s a beautiful building and although not as imposing as Sagrada Família, it’s arguably more impressive. It’s certainly more classical than Gaudí’s design!
You can wander around the interior of the cathedral and admire its beauty. You can even take an elevator to the rooftop allowing you to see the bell towers and presenting you with a panoramic view of the city.
Even if you’re not religious, it’s still worth visiting the cathedral. It’s a beautiful building and given its central location, it would be still to miss it.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is also nearby and it’s worth checking out too as it’s one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Barcelona!
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music) is on this list, not because of the music that is played there, but because it’s an incredible building!
Barcelona is a city full of amazing buildings and the Palau de la Música Catalana is up there with the best of them. It was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the style of modernism, made famous by Gaudí.
It’s hard to put the building into words but it needs to be seen to be believed. The exterior is elaborate while the inside might be even more so with its stained glass windows.
My advice is to book a guided tour. This way you will get to experience the building in all its glory and learn more about its history and how it came to be the way it is today!
If you look into the hills overlooking Barcelona, you may recognise a large building. When I first moved to the city, I was amazed and baffled as to what it was.
Eventually, I found it’s a cathedral that’s also home to a 19th-century amusement park!
It’s worth visiting for the views of the city. As you can see from the photo, on a clear day, you get a fantastic view of Barcelona! Plus, you can ride on the big Ferris wheel if you want to!
You can go inside the cathedral and look around, but if you want to test the best view from the top, you’ll need to pay €3 to go up the elevator.
It’s worth it if you want to see the view. To get to Tibidabo, you need to take the L7 to Avenida Tibidabo and hop on the Tramvia Blau to the top.
Alternatively, you can take the S1 or S2 to Peu de Funicular, change to Vallvidrera Funicular and continue on Bus 111 or walk the remainder of the way to Tibidabo.
I lived a 5-minute walk away from Plaça d’Espanya and went there often. It’s one of my favourite spots in central Barcelona and somewhere that probably doesn’t get visited as much as it should.
Plaça d’Espanya used to be home to a bullring. Following the ban on bullfighting in Catalunya in 2012, the Arenas de Barcelona was converted into a shopping centre.
It also has a viewing platform from which you can see a large portion of the city.
Aside from the shopping centre, you will see two towering Venetian Towers and a splendid building in the background.
The building is home to a museum and if you head this way you will find the magic fountain which has an elaborate show every Sunday evening during warmer months.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of the city and shouldn’t be missed due to the incredible from every part of the square!
I’m not the biggest fan of Las Ramblas. It’s crowded and not as good as it’s made out to be. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. You absolutely should.
La Rambla is perhaps the most famous part of Barcelona. Ask anyone what they think of when you mention Barcelona and apart from the football team, they’ll likely say Las Ramblas.
For this reason, you should check it out. You will find a lot of authentic tapas bars and cafes down the winding street and there are a few interesting shops and museums to check out too.
Placa Catalunya which is located above La Rambla is a beautiful square and worth checking out too, as are the numerous shops and bars around there.
My advice is to visit La Rambla and make up your mind about it. You may love it, you may hate it. That’s the beauty of travelling, everyone sees something differently! It’s one reason why we travel!
Visit the hip Gracia neighbourhood
When I first moved to Barcelona, I lived in Gracia. It’s the most bohemian part of the city and very lively. I loved living here as there was always somewhere to go nearby.
Compared to where I ended up living near Sants Estacio, which was a lot quieter, you could always find something to do!
You will find plenty of restaurants and cafes in Gracia. It’s a good area to stay in as you won’t struggle for places to eat! Plaça del Sol is a great place to find cheap and tasty food options. Plus, there’s always a lively atmosphere in the square.
Gracia has plenty of interesting boutique stores too. You can wander around the neighbourhood for hours, diving in and out of shops and entranced by what you might find.
Gracia isn’t the most well-known part of Barcelona, but it’s a brilliant place to visit in the evening or on the weekend if you want to find places with a good atmosphere and great food!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
As one of the most popular places to visit in Spain, there is no shortage of hotels, hostels and apartments in Barcelona.
Such is the choice it may be hard to decide where you want to stay. This is something you have to consider in Barcelona due to the size of the city.
Where you stay in Barcelona affects your experience of the city. Do you want to be close to the beach? Or would you prefer to stay in the heart of the city by Plaça de Catalunya?
Answer these questions before you book somewhere to stay. When I first went to Barcelona, I stayed in a hostel by Avinguda Parallel, which was out of the way and not in the best location.
If that’s what you find, then that’s great. But if it’s not it can affect your trip negatively. To help you decide where to stay, I’ve included a list of Barcelona’s best hostels and some hotels below.
|A hostel with a great vibe that’s a good place to stay if you’re by yourself.
|A great hostel in the centre of the city that has excellent facilities.
|Kabul Party Hostel Barcelona
|This is the place to stay in Barcelona if you want to party. I don’t recommend staying here if you want somewhere quiet.
Best Time to Visit Barcelona
The best time to travel to Spain is in the warmer months and Barcelona is no different. This is when the weather is at its best and you can enjoy the city more than if you visit during winter.
The downside is that Barcelona is a popular destination and the summer months see tourists flood the city. I remember how there would be many more people in the city from April to September than there were for the rest of the year.
If the weather is your main consideration for visiting Barcelona, go when it’s warm. Barcelona can be enjoyed all year round, but it’s much better during summer than winter. It does get cold in the winter and you don’t want to spend time at the beach when it’s windy and cold!
On the other hand, if you’re not bothered about the weather, visiting the city outside of the summer months might be better. Flights and hostels are cheaper in winter and you will have to contend with fewer tourists. Barcelona is a brilliant winter destination in Europe if you’re looking for a cheap weekend getaway!
Barcelona is a great destination all year round, however, I do feel it’s best during the summer. Alternatively, you can visit from March to April and September and October to get warm weather and fewer tourists!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Barcelona famous for?
The answer to this question is a lot! The second-biggest second city in Spain is famous for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most well-known is the football team that bears the name of the city.
FC Barcelona are one of the most successful clubs in recent years with players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta familiar to millions around the world. The Camp Nou, the home of the club, is the biggest stadium in Europe and cannot be missed if you’re a sports fan!
Las Ramblas is another famous spot. The sprawling street connects Placa Catalunya with the harbour at the bottom. The street was mentioned frequently in George Orwell’s account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage To Catalonia. Although I’m not a big fan of the street, it should still be one of the things to do in Barcelona when you visit.
The most well-known landmark in Barcelona is without a doubt, Sagrada Família. Construction on the cathedral designed by Gaudi started in 1882 and is still ongoing. It towers above the skyline and is visible from many vantage points around the city.
It’s usually packed with visitors all scrambling to get a shot of the unique facade. Despite the crowds, you have to visit. It’s unlike any building I’ve seen before and is truly a sight to behold!
What should I avoid in Barcelona?
This is a very good question. When you explore Barcelona, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by what you can see. There are just so many options. Therefore, it’s good to know beforehand, which places are good and which places aren’t so good.
One place you should visit, but not with any urgency is Las Ramblas. This is the most famous street in Barcelona but it’s also the most overrated. Apart from some interesting buildings and Placa Catalunya at the top, there isn’t an awful lot to see here.
My advice is to walk the street in one direction, ideally heading towards Barceloneta, and be done with it. There are much better places to visit in Barcelona, especially if you’re only there for a few days!
Torre Glòries is a building you can’t miss on the Barcelona skyline, but it’s one you should skip on the ground. It’s an impressive building, that has the Mirador Torre Glòries, which gives you a good view of the city. But there’s not much else to see there.
How expensive is Barcelona?
When I moved to Barcelona in 2015, I expected it to be an expensive city. Well, I got a pleasant surprise.
If you’re clever, Barcelona can be a very cheap place to visit. You can eat out for under €10 if you visit cafes offering a menu del dia.
Tours can add up, but if you plan and decide which ones you want to do, it won’t cost too much. A great way to save money is to purchase a T10 metro ticket. This allows you to travel on the metro 10 times for just over €10.
Alternatively, you can purchase a Barcelona Card which entitles you to free travel on the transport system for 3 or more days depending on how long you’re there.
Despite being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, Barcelona is surprisingly affordable. You won’t be out of pocket after your trip!
Can you walk everywhere in Barcelona?
You can walk everywhere in Barcelona, but depending on where you want to go, it may take a while to get there.
Here’s the thing:
Barcelona is a big city. Walking from Placa Espanya on one side of the city to Torre Agbar on the other will take at least an hour. Unless you’re walking a short distance, it can take a while to get around on foot.
If you’re new to the city and unfamiliar with its grid system layout, it can make getting around difficult. Barcelona has an extensive public transport system which is your best bet if you need to get from one part of the city to another.
My advice is to walk to places when you can, but if you need to travel from Sagrada Familia to Barceloneta for example, use the metro.
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Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!