What are the best things to do in Barcelona Spain? Barcelona is probably one of the most alluring cities in Europe. Before heading into any details about Barcelona things to do, we must talk about the city itself! The capital city of Catalonia is outstanding for many reasons. A European metropolis on the beautiful seaside of the Mediterranean sea, a modern city with charming streets, fancy bars, and the most beautiful 19th and 20th-century architecture. Just think about the marvelous works of Antoni Gaudí and his strong influence on architecture in Barcelona that’s present ever since. In Barcelona, you have everything from hills to beaches, old, and new. So let’s cut this short and find out what to do in Barcelona Spain!
Before we start talking about the top things to do in Barcelona, let us share a few more details about the city! The capital city of Catalonia is located on the northeastern side of Spain. Barcelona is the 2nd largest city in the country after Madrid, and it’s the 5th largest rural area in the EU, right after Milan.
Since we’re talking about the size of the city, another fact is that Barcelona is one of the largest metropolises on the whole territory of the Mediterranean sea. Also, it is one of the fastest developing cities in Spain and the financial district of Barcelona is home to many multinational companies.
Now, the city of Barcelona is a really popular travel destination in Spain, and it’s also the home of many UNESCO world heritage sites. Beyond the landmarks, there’s also football that’s really important in Barcelona’s tourism (and not only tourism), and the food! You can try plenty of delicious tapas dishes all around Barcelona!
When it comes to Barcelona things to do, the city has proved itself by being one of the most popular bases for freelancers and remote workers. There are plenty of foreigners living and working online from Barcelona. This makes the city even more diverse and interesting, but the most interesting are the best things to do in Barcelona Spain!
Antoni Gaudí’s architecture is one of the highlights of the Barcelona Spain things to do! Of all his works, La Sagrada Familia church is the most famous, and it’s the top of the best things to do in Barcelona Spain. Walking around the church, admiring it from the park, or going on a tour inside is a must in Barcelona!
Sagrada Familia is under construction since 1882, and it’s estimated to be completed in 2026. Even with today’s modern tools, the church takes over 140 years to be completed. When Gaudi overtook the project, he transformed it combining the gothic and Art Nouveau (Modern Art) styles with his unique style. He spent 12 years of his life dedicated just to this one building.
After Gaudi passed away, the Catalan Modernism architecture style started to overtake the design of the rest of the church. You can see how the style and the architects have changed over the years since each side of the church is different. Inside is really breathtaking as well, so if you’ve been wondering whether the tickets are worth it or not, we say it should be seen once in a lifetime!
One of the best things to do Barcelona and definitely one of the best things to see in Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter! If you want to find the beating heart of the city, the neighborhood that’s the most authentic and has that Iberian charm, you must have a walk through the Gothic Quarter.
This neighborhood is more than 2000 years old so it has plenty to offer. Just like in every historic center, there are plenty of hidden passages, beautiful shops, cute squares, old churches, and hidden courtyards.
The Gothic Quarter is like a labyrinth of older Calatan houses, mysterious alleyways, and shops to buy beautiful local products. On top of that, you can head to Plaça Reial, or find the Cathedral of Barcelona in this neighborhood, among many others.
La Rambla is one of the top things to do in Barcelona, it’s one of the most popular streets to walk through, with shops, bars, street musicians, and much more. I personally think that La Rambla is overrated though, and after the attack a few years ago, I didn’t ever walk through that street again.
However, it’s still one of those Barcelona things to do that most people want to see. A long boulevard that’s connecting Placa Catalunya, and Mirador de Colom (the Columbus Monument) on the seaside. The above-mentioned Gothic Quarter runs along the right side of La Rambla, while on the left side you can find one of Gaudi’s buildings, as well as the famous La Boqueria market.
La Boqueria is one of the highlights of La Rambla that’s visited by many each day. You can buy fresh fruit, street food, sweets, crafted chocolate, and fresh juice in plastic glasses. Beyond these, of course, you could find all kinds of food that is usually on a market, but they also specialize in travelers and ‘quick bites’.
Visiting the Barcelona Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Barcelona Spain. The official name of the cathedral is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. It’s one of the oldest churches in the city, located in the Gothic Quarter, on the Plaça Seu. The Barcelona Cathedral is also the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.
When you ask what to do in Barcelona Spain, you should always see some of the oldest buildings! Dating back to the 15th century (the floorplan is from the 13th century), the cathedral was built in the Gothic style. It’s divided into 5 aisles, while the other two are divided into chapels. The stunning facade was finished in the 19th century. It’s hard to miss it while it’s dominating the Plaça Seu.
The facade is really eye-catching, being decorated with gargoyles, mythical animals, and resident geese. The inside of the Barcelona Cathedral is absolutely amazing! You’ll need to pay a small fee of €7.00 to enter. Besides the highly-represented Virgin Mary, you’ll find Santa Eulalia’s crypt in front of the main altar. Eulalia was a local girl martyred in Barcelona during Roman times.
While you’re there, you can visit the Chapter Hall Museum, Lepanto’s Chapel, and this beautiful courtyard, where you can walk around the cloisters. There are palm trees, orange trees, magnolias, gooses, and a 15th-century beautiful fountain in the courtyard. It’s definitely a unique experience to have in Barcelona!
One of the best Barcelona things to do is discovering monuments that are hidden in different parts of the city. And, of all the landmarks Arc de Triomf is one of the best things to see in Barcelona! The triumphal arch was built by Josep Vilaseca I Casanovas. It served as the main entrance of the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exhibition. The arch is leading to the Park de la Ciutadella, where the World Fair was held that year.
As for the design, it is a Neo-Mudéjar construction, which I personally adore! An article is scheduled for the Mudéjar architecture, which will include the Neo-Mudéjar style too! The Arc de Triomf’s unique brickwork, featuring sculptures and decorative fishes has become one of Barcelona’s iconic landmarks. It’s North of the Gothic Quarter, really close to the Park de la Ciutadella.
Imagine the Park de La Ciutadella as Hyde Park in London, the Villa Borghese in Rome, or even Central Park in New York. It’s the greenest oasis in the center of the city, with big spaces for walks, picnics, and just spending time out relaxing. There’s also a lake you can rent a rowing boat on.
When you want to find a relaxing thing to do in Barcelona, Park de La Ciutadella is a great pick! Besides the above-mentioned activities, there are plenty of things to discover in the park. You can find here the zoo of Barcelona, the Catalan Parliament, the Zoological Museum, the Museu d’Art Modern, and the Geologia Museum.
Another reason why this park is an important stop on the Barcelona Spain things to do list is the fountain called Cascada Monumental, designed by Antoni Gaudí. A perfect piece guarded by dragons, at the front of the water basin. Gaudí was using the dragons quite frequently in most of his designs, by the way.
Guell Park is one of the top things to do in Barcelona, for sure! When you’re asking what to do in Barcelona in September, or any other month, the Guell Park is one of those places that everyone must visit in Barcelona! It is Antoni Gaudí’s one of the most famous works. Guel Park is located on El Carmel hill.
The park system composed of gardens and architectural elements opened to the public in 1924. Park Güell was commissioned by Eusebi Güell who wanted to create a stylish park for Barcelona aristocracy. The park is composed of amazing buildings with colorful ceramic tiles, walkways near and around fascinating sculptures, stone structures, and colonnades.
When you enter the parks, between the two stairways, you’ll see Gaudí’s beyond magical dragon sculpture, that’s also covered in colorful tiling. As you arrive at the top of the park, from the terrace, you’ll get to see a beautiful panorama above the city of Barcelona. Entrance fees for adults are €10.00, and you can get your tickets for Guell Park online, so as to not be stuck in lines.
One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen was at El Carmel. El Carmel is one of the best things to do in Barcelona Spain, honestly! This is a viewpoint at the top of Turó de la Rovira, from where you can see the whole city of Barcelona. It was built during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.
The bunkers of El Carmel were used as part of an anti-craft battery to defend against the fascist attackers. It also housed a number of guns at that time. These were taken away under the Franco Regime, and during this period, the bunkers served as shelters, while the city was also facing extreme poverty.
If you’re looking for what to do in Barcelona Spain in the evening, definitely schedule a hike on El Carmel. While the last rays of the sun color the city and the skyline, seeing those symmetrical, straight streets of Barcelona, running all the way to the sea, is just fabulous!
When it comes to things to do Barcelona, this one is a really pretty highlight! El Pont del Bisbe, in English would be Bishop’s Bridge. It was built as part of the Barcelona Exhibition I have mentioned earlier, in 1929. The bridge is hidden in the Gothic Quarter on C. del Bisbe.
The Pont del Bisbe was designed by Joan Rubió I Bellver, who’s been suggesting to beautify the Gothic Quarter and replacing all non-Gothic buildings with Neo-Gothic ones. This was rejected, however, the Pont del Bisbe got to be done. Today, this is one of the cutest things to see in Barcelona!
If you’re facing the Barcelona Cathedral on Plaça de Seu, taking the alleyway on the right-hand side of the cathedral, you’ll see the bridge shortly in front of you. Pont del Bisbe is linking Palau de la Generalitat to La Casa dels Canonges. It’s a highlight of the Barrio Gotico and one of the must-see places in Barcelona!
La Rambla del Mar is on the sea-seaside, steps away from Mirador the Colom and the street of La Rambla. This is one of the best Barcelona things to do if you’re not in a rush! In 2011, we’ve been staying close to the Rambla del Mar, and we went out there every single day for at least a coffee, to sit near the sea and admire the city.
The Ramble del Mar is giving an exquisite view of Montjuïc, and the lower section of the Gothic Quarter. It’s basically a wooden walkway, that’s leading out to this small peninsula in the harbor. You can sit here, enjoying the view, or discover where it leads!
You’ll find a shopping mall, with some restaurants and cafes on both sides with an outside terrace. Also, you can see from there the famous W Hotel, and the other side of the harbor, leading to the beaches of Barcelona.
Casa Batlló is my personal favorite piece of Gaudí’s works across Barcelona, and it’s an amazing thing to do in Barcelona. For me, this piece of architecture represents the unbelievable endless human creativity. The perfect example of how a person with the right tools can create the most unbelievable pieces that he visioned.
The design of Casa Batlló, along with Gaudí’s architecture, we recognize as part of the Modernisme or Art Nouveau style in the broadest meaning. It was remodeled and redesigned in 1904. Gaudí had assistance for this project, by name Josep Canaleta, Joan Rubió, and Domènec Sugrañes i Gras.
Casa Batlló is open 360 days a year, and there are tickets available online such as the tickets you can get with Smart Guide. The interiors are even more breathtaking than the exterior, so we really suggest booking a visit at Casa Batlló and experiencing the magical world of Gaudi.
Another of the best things to see in Barcelona is another beautiful work of Gaudí. When we are looking at the things to see in Barcelona, his name is all over the place, I know. But what he created was fantastic, and he basically made all the must-see landmarks in Barcelona.
So, let’s dive into another piece! Casa Milà is known as La Pedrera or “The stone quarry”, a reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance. It was designed again in a combination of Art Nouveau and Modernist styles, spiced with the architect’s endless imagination.
It was his last residential project built between 1906-1912, commissioned by Pere Milà. The building is now visitable, hosting exhibitions as well. Casa Milà is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re looking to visit, check here for tickets to one of the must-see things in Barcelona.
If you’re visiting Barcelona during summer, one of the best things to do in Barcelona Spain is definitely the beach in Barcelona! One of my new favorite places to see in Barcelona! Barcelona has 4.2km long sandy beaches, with 4 main beach areas. One of these is the most popular, previously mentioned La Barceloneta.
There are plenty of things to do along the beach, as well as on the sideboard. So what to do in Barcelona Spain along the beach? There are plenty of pubs, bars, and restaurants all around. Some other beaches to explore are, Icària Beach, with plenty of cocktail bars and beachfront terraces. You can go to Mar Bella Beach which, heads up, is a nudist beach.
There are sides down to the W Hotel, that are nudist areas, but nobody passing by really cares. Along the seaside, you can rent a bike, or an electric scooter and stroll around, enjoying the sunshine, under the palm trees. You can also roll on a bike tour with stops on the beach. If there’s one urban seaside in Europe I really think it’s amazing, that’s in Barcelona for sure!
Plaça d’Espanya is one of the most important squares in Barcelona, and one of the best Barcelona things to do! It was built on the occasion of the previously mentioned 1929 International Exhibition, held at the foot of Montjuïc, in the Sants-Montjuïc district. Plaça d’Espanya is one of the city’s biggest squares, designed by Josep Amargós.
It is the junction of several major roads. It’s leading to the Palau Nacional, which houses one of Catalonia’s finest museums, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. The fountain at the center of the square was designed by Josep Maria Jujol, a collaborator of Antoni Gaudí, while Miquel Blay designed the statues. The buildings were designed by Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí. The show of the Magic Fountain starts in the evenings at 8 pm.
And this time is also great to see the square in the orange sunlight. The Plaça d’Espanya is magnificent when dancing in the sunset! Especially at the Venetian Towers. You can also visit here Parc de Joan Miró – previously known as Parc de l’Escorxador, and the Arena de Barcelona bullring. This was built at the beginning of the 20th century, in Moorish revival style. Today it’s functioning as a large shopping center.
One of the most beautiful things to see in Barcelona is Placa Reial. We’ve been listing many Barcelona Spain things to do in the Gothic Quarter, and this is definitely a favorite! Gaudí designed two lamps on Placa Reial that are located near the famous street of Barcelona, La Rambla. The square is closer to the end near the sea, and it leads into the Gothic Quarter.
If Placa Reial wouldn’t be beautiful enough on its own with the stunning buildings around it, the huge palm trees all over the square, and the beautiful fountain, well two outstanding lamps decorate it and make it even more beautiful. The two street lights in Placa Reial were designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1879.
If you get closer, you can see the lamp posts are made of stone, while the upper part is cast iron and they have six arms holding cute glass lamps. The fact that the arms are painted red, and the lamps have some blue makes them mom out, for their color, but as design as well, it is just perfectly unique. You can recognize floral patterns on the lamps, but most importantly, you can see at the top the dragon (or lizard) that’s present in most of Gaudi’s work.
We love rooftop bars! An especially rooftop bars in big cities which offer breathtaking views! The good news is, that one of the best things to do in Barcelona Spain is actually going to rooftop bars! Most of these places are on top of hotels, and yes, they are pricy. Also, most of the rooftop bars have a dress code that excludes beach dresses, and flip-flops. Or joggers.
So these rooftop bars are more sophisticated, and great venues to have an elegant night with unforgettable views over Barcelona’s skyline. What is there to do in Barcelona? Dress up, find a great rooftop bar in Barcelona, and enjoy some cocktails with views over the Sagrada Familia, or at places with a DJ set, or sea views even!
If you spend more than 2-3 days in the city, visiting Tibidabo hill is one of the best things to do in Barcelona Spain! Tibidabo is another of the beautiful viewpoints in Barcelona that you must see! The hills of Barcelona are surrounding the Tibidabo, with the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor on the very top.
It’s a stunning church of the 20th century, completed in 1962. The Tibidabo mountain, as I said offers an incredible panoramic view above Barcelona. You can get up theforre with a funicular (cablecars) which you need to pay €7.50. If you do include the Tibidabo Amusement Park in the schedule, the funicular ticket is just €4.00.
For the theme park, with a breathtaking panorama, you can get your tickets online right here! Especially if you’re looking for what is there to do in Barcelona with kids, Tibidabo hill is a must! If you’re on a short city break, there isn’t too much time for amusement, but for 1-2 hours, just for the view, it is possible to schedule it!
Our next stop, a unique thing to do in Barcelona is Casa Vicens which is a museum. If you’re looking for what to do in Barcelona Spain that’s related to Gaudi, you will have to pass in the Gracia neighborhood, since more of his works are located there, such as Casa Vicens on Carrer de Les Carolines 20-26.
Casa Vicens is considered to be one of the first buildings of Art Nouveau and it is also the first building Gaudi ever designed and built. When it comes to his artwork, you must have already recognized, that some elements are always present.
Casa Vicens is a Neo-Mudejar architecture – and as you might have already noticed, I love the Mudejar architecture. You can also discover in this specific work many Oriental and neoclassical elements as well. The Casa Vicens was commissioned by Manuel Vicens i Montaner in 1883 to build a summer house (villa) for him. It is indeed one of his greatest works!
Garcia is the night highlight of things to do Barcelona. If you’re looking for lovely places to spend the evening, one of the top things to do in Barcelona is to explore the restaurants and bars of this neighborhood!
Gràcia is a stylish, safe neighborhood, with beautiful buildings, cozy streets with orange trees along with them, and vibrant squares with big outdoor spaces to sit for some fun night with delicious tapas and drinks! Also, Gràcia is also the home of plenty of ecological shops in diverse industries!
The Gaudí House Museum is also located in this neighborhood, as well as the Guell Park. While you’re there, definitely visit the charming Plaça de la Virreina, and definitely try to approach it from Carrer de Torrijos, which street on both sides is framed with trees, giving a charming overlook to the square.
Right, so when it comes to Barcelona things to do, the basic, the “usual”, the “cliche” is still a must! You must eat tapas in Barcelona! The most delicious small portion dishes to share, that you will ever try! Barcelona is packed with tapas bars!
Another of the top things to do in Barcelona is to drink Sangria, but be careful with the doze! And eat other local things, Spanish dishes, Paella, or Serrano ham. Whatever is that you like and it’s a local dish, try it. Barcelona is one of those cities where food is honestly, absolutely delicious!
And here we have the 20 best things to do in Barcelona Spain! Make sure you explore more articles about the city beyond Barcelona Spain things to do! You can also explore tapas recipes, places to live in Spain, and much more around our websites! We hope you found enough tips for what there is to do in Barcelona and you’ll enjoy the Catalan capital city! From Gaudi to food, from the beaches to rooftop bars, Barcelona has many faces, and offers things to do for everyone! Also, for Hungarians, we have this article for things to do in Barcelona in our Hungarian digital magazine.
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