20 Best Things to Do in Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

Construction Photography / Avalon / Getty Images

Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is known for its famous artists, Gaudí architecture, and excellent food. Top sights and attractions include La Sagrada Família church, Park Güell, Casa Milà (La Pedrera), and Casa Batlló, all of which were designed by legendary architect Antoni Gaudí — you'll see art by Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró at the city's many art museums as well. Late in the evening, take in tapas and pintxos (small plates) alongside the locals or see a Flamenco performance. Here's how to make the most of your time in this amazing city.

01 of 20

Pick Up Fresh Food at La Boqueria Market

Fruit at Boqueria Market

TripSavvy / Daniel Gioia

La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 934 13 23 03

Whether you're just passing through Barcelona on your way to other parts of Spain or are spending a few days in town to seeing the sights, start your day with a trip to La Bouqueria, one of the most famous markets in the city and a true feast for the senses.

Pick up some fresh fruit, veggies, meats, cheeses, candies, nuts, olives, sandwiches, and other picnic-making materials to have for snacks and lunches while you're on the go or basking on the beach in Barceloneta. If you accommodation comes with a kitchen, stock up on freshly caught fish and other ingredients to cook a healthy meal with during your trip.

02 of 20

See La Sagrada Família Up Close

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

C/ de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 932 08 04 14

Likely the most famous building Barcelona, Antoni Gaudí's La Sagrada Famí​lia is the most well known of his works and has been in construction since 1892—rumor is might actually be finished by 2026, which, coincidentally, is the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death.

If you thought the outside of this massive 300-foot-tall church was impressive, try the inside. While the church's façade is reminiscent of the gothic style, inside is more contemporary and magical with high, vaulting columns framing colorful stained glass windows rising up to support an intricately carved ceiling. 

Be sure to book your tickets well in advance, as there are limits as to how many people are allowed to enter each day and you don't want to miss out. For a few more euros, opt for the guided tour to better understand the amazing art around you.

03 of 20

Appreciate the Unique Architecture of Casa Batlló

The glittery exterior of Casa Batllo

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Pg. de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 932 16 03 06

The Eixample district is all about the extraordinary modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, Domènech ​i Montaner, and Cadafelch, centered upon the surreally beautiful Passeig de Gràcia. Two of Gaudí's greatest creations, Casa Batlló and Casa Milá (La Pedrera), which we'll get into next, can be found in this section of the city.

Casa Batlló is eye-catching to say the least, with its curious and colorful exterior stealing all the attention from the street. Tickets to this UNESCO World Heritage site include access to several floors of the building, each showcasing another aspect of its creative design and unique architecture, as well as the basement and rooftop terrace. Several immersive exhibits now help to tell the story of how Gaudí used nature as his inspiration.

04 of 20

Marvel at Casa Milá (La Pedrera)

La Pedrera Casa Mila Barcelona

Ed Menendez / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pg. de Gràcia, 92, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 932 14 25 76

Also situated along Passeig de Gràcia, is Casa Milá, which also goes by La Pedrera ("the stone quarry") due to its organic rough exterior. Known as Gaudí's masterpiece of nature, the building puts the artist's sense of imagination on full display, with five floors of creative works and designs, culminating in what is probably one of the most famous roof terraces in the city, if not the world, the Warrior Rooftop. Admire the intricately designed elements of its façade, the Whale Attic, Flower Courtyard, Butterfly Courtyard, and a Gaudí-designed apartment, complete with nature-themed doorknobs, handles, and doors.

Continue to 5 of 20 below.
05 of 20

See Gaudí's Magnificent Park Güell

Park Güell in Barcelona

Jorg Greuel / Getty Images

08024 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 934 09 18 31

Park Güell is a public park system featuring gardens and architectural elements on Carmel Hill, that in 1984, was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most impressive Gaudí projects in the city, the park is very popular—so popular you'll have to obtain a timed ticket and pay an admission fee. Note that access to the onsite Gaudí House Museum costs extra.

The park, which was once a planned neighborhood, a sort of gated community for the city's elite, was commissioned by Eusebi Güell in 1900. Originally, there were to be 60 homes built as well but the concept didn't attract buyers and only two were built. The project was abandoned in 1914, and in 1922, the city turned the land into a public park instead. Even so, it is impressive to explore and is now one of Barcelona's greatest attractions, with colorful walls and buildings, and countless whimsical Gaudí creations bringing in crowds of locals and visitors alike.

06 of 20

Go for a Stroll Along La Rambla

Las Ramblas pedestrian mall Barcelona

 Manfred Gottschalk / Getty Images

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

La Rambla is Barcelona's most famous promenade, often the first landmark that most tourists identify with the city. Also referred to as Las Ramblas, it's a large 0.75-mile long boulevard that runs through the heart of the city center from Port Vell near the cruise port terminal at the southernmost end to Plaça de Catalunya at the northernmost end.

Relax at a cafe, especially late in the evening, and watch the world go by. There is much to do on the promenade and along the side streets, though you should be careful to keep your belongings close, as it's also a popular spot for opportunistic pick pockets.

07 of 20

Explore the City's Historic Gothic Quarter

Plaza in Barcelona

TripSavvy / Daniel Gioia

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona, Spain

Barrio Gótico is Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, where La Seu Cathedral, Plaça del Pi, and a number of dark, winding alleyways preserve the area's rich medieval heritage.

A good first stop is the Museu d'Història de Barcelona, or the Barcelona History Museum, on Plaça del Rei, which houses exhibits covering the city's history from its origins in Roman times through the present day. The area's narrow medieval streets are filled with bars, clubs, and Catalan restaurants. Plaça del Pi, named after the adjacent Gothic church, also hosts a weekend art market.

08 of 20

Learn All About Pablo at the Picasso Museum

A man visits the photo-exhibition "Picasso, photographer's gaze", on June 5, 2019 at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

Lluis Gene / Getty Images

Carrer de Montcada, 15-23, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 932 56 30 00

Barcelona's historic El Born neighborhood is the site of one of Spain's finest Catalan Gothic churches, Santa Maria del Mar, built between 1329 and 1383. The medieval passageways adjoining it will take you to the Picasso Museum, home to one of the most extensive and complete permanent collections of artwork by Pablo Picasso, with 4,251 pieces.

After taking in the museum, visit nearby Passeig del Born, one of the trendiest places in the city for a paseo, an afternoon stroll, lined with plenty of modern bars and bistros.

Continue to 9 of 20 below.
09 of 20

Feast on Seafood and Hang by the Beach in Barceloneta

Seafood at Restaurante Barceloneta

Restaurante Barceloneta

Moll dels Pescador, Port Vell, Carrer de l'Escar, 22, 08039 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 932 21 21 11

Barceloneta is Barcelona's fishermen's barrio, home to the most popular beaches and nightclubs in the city, some of the best seafood eateries, and a magnificent port. It's also a fun place to fly a kite, kick back and relax in the sand, wade in the surf, watch the fishing boats come in at the docks, and pick up souvenirs from local hawkers.

After you've worked up an appetite strolling up and down the beach, head to Restaurant Barceloneta, where you can enjoy fresh seafood with a view of the docked yachts and fishing boats. For something more casual, try Can Mano, where they say the fish is so fresh it's delivered through the back door as you are entering the restaurant from the front.

10 of 20

Appreciate Contemporary Art in El Raval

MACBA in Barcelona

KarSol / Getty Images

El Raval, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona's El Raval neighborhood looks, smells, and tastes different, showcasing delicious international cuisine, much of the city's best graffiti, a number of unusual drinking spots, and contemporary art in the award-winning MACBA Museum, also known as the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art in English.

This contemporary art museum, situated in the Plaça dels Àngels, offers a range of ever-changing temporary exhibits that in the past have included sketches by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Picasso's works that focus on Paris. Visit on Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., when entry is free.

11 of 20

Enjoy the Gràcia Festival

Verdi street decorations Festa Major de Gràcia

Francisco Goncalves / Getty Images

08024 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 934 09 18 31

While Barcelona's Gràcia neighborhood is known for upscale shopping and vibrant nightlife along Plaça del Sol and basically sees itself as a village within the city, you'll want to visit buzzing Carrer de Verdi and Plaça del Sol during its vibrant community festival.

For a week each August, the streets of Gràcia are decorated in a neighborhood competition. A theme, such as underwater sea life or hot air balloons, is chosen by each street and visitors can walk under the canopies of decorations enjoying food stands and special events.

12 of 20

Experience the Magic of Montjuïc

The Magic Fountain show at Montjuïc in Barcelona

TripSavvy / Daniel Gioia

Pl. de Carles Buïgas, 1, 08038 Barcelona, Spain

While Montjuïc is dominated by the presence of its 17th-century castle, Olympic Stadium, and the Royal Palace of Pedralbes, it's also home to some of Spain's finest museums, including the CaixaForum Cultural Museum and Fundació Joan Miró, established in 1968 by the Catalan artist Joan Miró himself to make his art more accessible to the public. The museum houses more than 10,000 of his most famous works in a beautiful white building, where you'll also find pieces by some of his contemporaries such as Alexander Calder—his fountain of moving mercury is quite stunning.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona is Montjuïc's Magic Fountain, a spectacular display of color, light, music presented via an epic water show. Designed for the 1929 Universal Exhibition by engineer Carles Buigas, the Magic Fountain was restored in 1992 for the Olympic Games. Today, the huge fountain bubbles and spouts cascades of water in a sensational 20-minute long water show set to music and lit by a rainbow of colors several times per week. While the schedule varies by the season, thousands gather at night to see the spectacle year-round.

Continue to 13 of 20 below.
13 of 20

Ride to the Top of Mount Tibidabo

Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona

TripSavvy / Danie Gioia

Plaça del Doctor Andreu, s/n, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 932 11 79 42

A funicular ride to the top of Mount Tibidabo provides the best views of Barcelona. Start with the Tramvia Blau vintage streetcar, which gets you halfway up the mountain, then catch the funicular to the summit. Families will love the little amusement park at the top, which was built in 1889 and features several rides dating back to that era.

Located lower down the mountain, the Royal Palace of Pedralbes, a residence of the Spanish Royal Family from 1919 until 1931, is home to a wonderful ceramics museum, while Pedralbes Monastery displays a treasure trove of religious art.

14 of 20

See a Flamenco Show

Palacio del Flamenco

Palacio del Flamenco

La Rambla, 35, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 933 17 57 11

While in Barcelona, make time to take in a show by some of Spain’s foremost musicians and dancers, and, depending on the theater, enjoy some tapas, cocktails, or a meal as you watch. Flamenco has its origins in the folk music of Spain and was influenced by Spanish, Andalusian Roma, and Moorish instruments and styles. Most of the top Flamenco venues in Barcelona offer two or three shows a night.

Located on La Rambla, Tablao Flamenco Cordobes is one of the most popular Flamenco venues in Barcelona, featuring a cave-like hall where artists perform musical and dance numbers to awe-struck audiences.

15 of 20

Sip Cava, Catalan's Answer to Champagne

Can Paixano

Can Paixano

Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 933 10 08 39

If you're a fan of sparkling wine, you're going to love cava, which is fermented in the bottle and basically the Catalan answer to Champagne. Cava bar Can Paixano, or La Xampanyeria, is probably the most highly regarded place to drink locally made cava, popular with both locals and visitors and a great place to taste or purchase a bottle or two. Don't forget to order some tapas or a ración (small portion) of food with your bubbles, as is the expectation at this relatively inexpensive bar.

16 of 20

Get Around Town on the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Barcelona City Tour

Josep Lago/ Getty Images

C/ de Sardenya, 311, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 933 17 64 54

If you're short on time, try seeing the sights of Barcelona at your own pace on a one-day or two-day hop-on hop-off tour aboard a red double-decker bus. The tour makes an easy way to get around town, with two different routes covering main attractions like La Rambla, the Port Olímpic beachfront promenade, and La Sagrada Família.

Book your pass online and go to one of the route stops to hop on the bus. For a fantastic city overview, book both loops and settle in for a great sightseeing trip, as audio commentary describes what you are seeing as you go via headphones. If you hop off, don't worry about how long you want to visit an attraction, as the buses come by every 15 minutes.

Continue to 17 of 20 below.
17 of 20

Learn to Cook Paella

chef cooking Spanish paella in outdoor area

libin jose / Getty Images

Barcelona, Spain

Small groups can learn about the ingredients and prepare paella, drink wine, and have an authentic cooking experience with Marta, a good host, cook, and instructor, all in her own top floor Barcelona apartment. While paella is a Valencian rice dish hailing from the east coast of Spain, it is popular in Barcelona because of the easy availability and sincere love of seafood by those in the Catalan capital.

18 of 20

See a Soccer Game

Football match between FC Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on March 9, 2019

Lluis Gene/ Getty Images

C. d'Arístides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 902 18 99 00

Soccer fans love to cheer on Barcelona’s home team, Futbol Club Barcelona (“Barça” for short). The soccer stadium, Camp Nou, seats nearly 100,000 spectators. If there is no game scheduled, you can take a guided tour of the stadium, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at the players’ tunnel leading to the field, the locker room, and a visit to the museum. For an additional price, game day tours are also available.

19 of 20

Relax in Parc de la Ciutadella

Fountain of Parc de la Ciutadella in a sunny day in Barcelona December 2013

Gerard Puigmal / Getty Images

Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Phone +34 638 23 71 15

Parc de la Ciutadella, a lush 19th-century green space built over the previous site of a military citadel, is made for relaxation. Scope out a bench in the shade or if you're up for some exercise, take a rowboat out on the lake. The Cascada fountain, a Neoclassical work designed by Josep Fontserè, features two tiers, a monument with an arch, and a central Venus statue that is a must-see.

20 of 20

Enjoy Music at The Palace of Catalan Music

Interior of Concert Hall, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona

Danny Lehman / Getty Images

Palau de la Música Catalana, C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona's beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana is an amazing example of Catalan art nouveau. Built by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a stunning interior that features mosaic pillars, intricate sculpture work, sparkling stained glass windows, and a massive skylight.

The Palace of Catalan Music is a marvelous place to hear the symphony, international musical acts, and traditional Catalan music. If you can't get a ticket to a performance in the palace, opt for one of the daily guided tours, which take place every 30 minutes and last 55 minutes. Tickets are available on the Palace of Catalan Music's website.

Back to List

20 Best Things to Do in Barcelona