One of the major tourist destinations in Spain, Barcelona is home to many top attractions and activities: a rich cultural heritage, a world-renowned football team, stunning arts and music, and many more. With that in mind, it is easy to get lost on what things to do in Barcelona, especially if it is your first time visiting, which is why we are here to help you get some of the best ideas.
From visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites to downing some tasty tapas, you will find some of the best bucket-list-worthy things that you can do for a full-on experience in your adventure to Barcelona!
Barcelona Bucket List: Best Activities & Things to Do in Spain’s Top City
1. Barcelona City History Museum
Travel back 2000 years into the past in the Barcelona City History Museum! Also referred to locally as MUHBA (Museu d’Història de Barcelona), it aims to conserve and showcase the history of Barcelona. They also manage several historical sites spread around the city.
Inside the main headquarters located in Placa del Rei, you’ll see a collection of artifacts dating from Roman times. Underneath it all, you will also get to explore the old Roman city called Barcino! Of course, the views above ground like the Viŀla Joana and Turó de la Rovira are just as spectacular and are definitely worth a visit.
2. Ogle Casa Batlló
A masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture and one of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Batlló is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district. It also forms a part of four other Modernista houses in the same row.
From the dragon spine-like roof arch to the rounded shapes and lip-like edges on the main floor’s facade to its creative interior design, you’ll be at a loss for words on how magnificent the whole building is!
PS: You can take the Gaudi Tour that will take you to Sagrada Família, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló!
3. Be Amazed by The World Begins With Every Kiss Mural
From afar, it may look like wall art or graffiti of two people kissing, but it is actually a collection of freedom-themed photos turned into tiny mosaics. You can find the mural in Plaça d’Isidre Nonell.
Created by Joan Fontcuberta in 2014 as part of Barcelona’s Tricentenary celebrations, the pictures came from the locals, who sent them to a local newspaper called El Periodico. Next to the mosaic, you will see a plaque that quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes.
4. Be Awestruck by the Sagrada Família
Sagrada Família is a large unfinished minor basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi and is considered his greatest masterpiece. It began construction in 1882 and is still under construction as of the time of this writing.
Like all of Gaudi’s works, Sagrada Família’s exterior is already a work of art in itself, with religious depictions and a design that imitates Mother Nature. Inside the cathedral, a flood of colors coming from the stained glass windows will welcome you, depicting stories from the Bible.
You can navigate your way to Sagrada Familia on your own, or take one of these top rated tours:
- Art Nouveau & Gaudí Tour
- Barcelona: Instagram Tour of the Most Scenic Spots
- Barcelona 3-Hour Segway Tour with Sagrada Familia
5. Create (& Drink!) Your Own Cava
Where’s all my bubble drinker’s at? Barcelona is not just about its stunning art and architecture, cultural heritage, and world-class cuisine. It is also a chance to get a taste of the local Catalan sparkling wine called cava! And to level up the experience, why not make your very own cava as well?
To start your cava tasting (and making) activity, you can take a train from Barcelona to the region of El Penedés, where some of the best local wineries offer Cava-making workshops and tasting sessions. Or just sign up for this tour: Create you Own Cava Experience at Local Winery near Barcelona.
6. Day Trip to Montserrat
Montserrat’s stunning views from the top, historic sites, and hiking opportunities make it a popular day-trip destination in Barcelona. These include the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, which houses the Virgin of Montserrat, and Sant Jeroni, Montserrat’s highest peak.
There are many ways to get to this majestic mountain range. The easiest one is by taking the R5 train from Plaza España in Barcelona going to Manresa. You can then take a cable car ride up the mountain at the Aeri de Montserrat stop. Or for something even simpler just take one of these tours that will take you there from Barcelona:
- From Barcelona: Montserrat Full-Day Trip with Guided Hike
- Montserrat: 6-Hour Hike with a Choice of 3 Levels
- From Barcelona: Montserrat Monastery and Hike with a Local
7. Delve into the IDEAL Centre d’Arts Digitals
If you want to experience a different take on art in Barcelona, look no further than IDEAL Centre d’Arts Digitals. Unlike classical art, IDEAL produces and showcases many forms of digital art. It is also the first of its kind in southern Europe.
People of all ages will be able to immerse themselves in many of the digital works, which delve into augmented reality, holography, and audiovisual projections.
8. Eat a Traditional Catalan Cuisine
A trip to a new place like Barcelona warrants a taste of its traditional cuisine—eating is one of the best activities in the city! Catalan cuisine owes much of its flavors to the ingredients on the Mediterranean coast, from fresh produce like tomatoes to animal products like pork and even fish.
And what better way to taste the Catalan (and other Mediterranean-inspired) flavors than to dine at Dos Pebrots. From their version of the coca de recapte to txogitxu beef steak, you will be leaving a few pounds heavier! You could also try Nou Celler or
Bar del Pla.
9. Eat Tapas, Lots of Tapas
If you are not yet acquainted with Spanish cuisine, munching on some good ol’ tapas with family and friends is a way to get started. Usually served as a light snack or appetizer, tapas range from fried cheese to sauteed prawns and many others.
Some of the best places to get some tapas include:
- Tapas 24: try out their signature chicken croquettes, runny scrambled eggs, and ham-and-cheese toastie. They have two spots in Barcelona: at Street Diputació and Avda. Diagonal.
- Bar Lobo: a 3-min walk from La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous street. Try out their version of patatas bravas and octopus/meatball dish!
- Tapeo: The squid fideuà and ham croquettes are just some of the many flavors awaiting you. Located at Carrer de Montcada, 29.
>>> Get two bucket list checkmarks with the Tapas Walking Tour & Flamenco Show tour!
10. Enjoy the View at Tibidabo
If you want to take a break from touring the beautiful sights around Barcelona, why not take a trip to one of the world’s oldest amusement parks: Tibidabo!
Situated at the top of Mount Tibidabo (500+m above sea level), Tibidabo Amusement Park has been around for over 100 years and has more than 30 family-fun attractions for people of all ages! They also boast a picturesque view of Barcelona in their Panoramic Area (which is free access!). PS: the Full-Day Guided City Highlights Tour of Barcelona will take you there and to many of the other best places in Barcelona.
11. Explore Montjuïc Hill
Montjuïc Hill is a broad, shallow hill that is said to be the birthplace of Barcelona, located right next to the Mediterranean sea. Today, the hill is famous for its Parc de Montjuic, a large park that hosts many different must-go tourist attractions like the Jardins de Laribal (a beautiful public rose garden), museums, Olympic Stadium, and much more!
For a more dramatic entrance to the park, I suggest going to the Placa d’Espanya near metro station Espanya, with two Venetian towers as landmarks. Walking down Placa d’Espanya leads you to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic (the light show at night is a must-watch!).
The hill is also home to the Montjuic Castle, which sits at the top. Cable cars are one of the best ways to get to the castle (via the Telefèric de Montjuïc).
For another top experience, take the Montjuic Hill E-Bike Tour that will take you all over the city too!
12. Explore Park Güell
Park Güell is a privatized park system located in La Salut, in the district of Gracia. There are two areas in the park: the monumental area (an UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the woodland area. Entrance to the park is free, however, tickets are needed to enter the Monumental Area.
Designed by none other than Antoni Gaudi himself, the park is a spectacle of color and nature like the Serpentine Bench and the salamander statue called ‘El Drac.’ You will also find here one of the MUHBA sites, the Casa del Guarda.
If social media is your thing that Park Guell is just one of the cool stops on the Instagram Tour of the Most Scenic Spots.
13. Find Your Favorite Street Art
Art in Barcelona is not just confined to museums and art galleries. Take a stroll down a street or two, and you will see some form of street art or graffiti on one of the walls (or someplace you least expected).
Some of the best spots to find street art include The Gothic Quarter, Poblenou, and the Three Chimneys Urban Park. You can also go on a street art hunt of your own to make it more exciting. Just don’t forget to have your cameras ready!
14. Get Cocktails at an Ice Bar
Want to escape the heat in Barcelona and have a refreshing drink? We got the right place for you.
Located in Somorrostro Beach, Icebar is a new and exciting place to enjoy a cocktail (or juice) while wearing a warm jacket, gazing at stunning ice sculptures. From Yoda in Star Wars to the Xenomorph in the Alien franchise and much more, there is always something new to see each year!
15. Hang Out in Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya is a large square found at the heart of Barcelona. With a transport hub both underground and above ground, and being close to several Barcelona attractions, it is an ideal meeting spot for locals and tourists.
The square itself also has its share of fascinating sculptures, like the Francesc Macià monument. There are also plenty of spaces for you to sit down while admiring the city scene.
16. Immerse Yourself in Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC for short) is one of the most magnificent museums you can go to in Barcelona, located at the foot of Montjuic. They have an outstanding collection of art spanning different timelines, from Romanesque to Gothic to Renaissance and Modern Art.
The library inside is a treasure trove for people looking for any info regarding art, with a collection of books and archives coming from Barcelona and abroad.
As a bonus, their restaurant offers a fantastic view of Montjuic. And if you want to take it a step up, definitely visit the roof!
You can get your tickets in advance here: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya Admission Ticket. Or here:
Barcelona: Skip-the-Line Entry to 6 Top Art Museums
17. Nosh at a Pinchos Bar
Snacking and socializing is a fun and enjoyable activity in Barcelona. Aside from tapas, there is another snack you should try: pinchos! It is made of sliced bread with toppings like cheese or chorizo (and many more), skewered by a toothpick.
As to where we can enjoy some of the best pinchos (aka: pintxos) in the city, you can check out the ones below:
- Las Tasqueta de Blai (at Carrer de Blai)
- Irati Taverna Vasca (Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, 19; near La Boqueria)
- Taktika Berri (at Carrer de Valencia, 169)
If you are a foodie who likes to try a variety of food while traveling, then take a Barcelona Private Food Tour that will include 10 tastings (including pintxos!). If you want to know more pintxos, then read our Guide to Spanish Pinchos (Pintxos) + Traditional Recipes.
18. Ogle Casa Vicens
If ever you are in the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona, you should visit Gaudi’s first major project: Casa Vicens. The house is a perfect example of Gaudi’s earlier work, a “Gaudi before Gaudi” if you will.
Almost every aspect of the house has an adaptation of nature, from the walls to the design. When touring the house, don’t miss out on the two smoking rooms, made specifically for men and women, each with its unique design.
19. Pass Through Arc de Triomf
Arc de Triomf is a triumphal arch in Catalonia built as a gateway to the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona in 1888. You’ll see it on the Passeig de Lluís Companys, which leads to the Ciutadella Park. Don’t pass up on the chance to go through when you are in the area!
It contains various sculptures like the one in the front face of the arch called Barcelona rep les nacions and the Recompense on the opposite side. You will also see carvings depicting the Barcelonan coat of arms atop the structure and the coat of arms of the Spanish provinces on the sides.
20. See a Flamenco Show
Celebration of Barcelona’s culture is not just through its works of art, rich history, and Mediterranean cuisine. It is also through its rhythmic tunes and expressive song and dance, in the form of flamenco!
To get a taste of this passionate Spanish art form (after having a drink and/or tapas on the side), you can visit some of the best flamenco shows. A couple top ones are listed below, but for a full list see this article: Where to See the Absolute Best Flamenco Shows in Barcelona.
21. See a Game at Camp Nou
Camp Nou (which translates to “The New Ground”) is a large football stadium in Barcelona, and is the biggest in Europe. It has been the home stadium of FC Barcelona since it opened in 1957 and has witnessed some of football’s greatest players like Ronaldo and Messi.
With a seating capacity of over 99,000, you will have no trouble getting a ticket for a game most of the time. You can get tickets either online or at the ticket office of the stadium. For the ultimate bucket list experience then take the Secret Camp Nou Tour with a Sports Journalist!
22. See a Show at Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)
This concert hall is one of Barcelona’s hidden gems, concealed from sight in the corner of a cramped street in Carrer Palau de la Música. It was also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Catalan modernista style during 1905 to 1908, one could not help but admire the building with its rich detail and dynamic shapes.
Palau de la Música Catalana mainly hosts regular performances by internationally renowned musicians (which is a must thing to do!). Because of the building’s beauty, they also host tours inside, which you can book here.
23. See La Casa de la Seda
Home to the Association of the Silkmakers’ Art, La Casa de la Seda (The House of Silk) is the only guild house open to the public in Barcelona with guided tours. It is located near the Palau de la Música Catalana.
This magnificent building has over 300 years of history in its walls, and the rooms inside are nothing short of elegant like the silk-lined walls of their guild room and the presidential office and meeting room.
24. See the Royal Monastery: Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes
The Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes (Royal Monastery of Santa Maria of Pedralbes) is a perfect example of Gothic architecture in Barcelona. It features a three-story cloister (said to be the largest in the world) and a beautiful garden in the courtyard.
The monastery gives you an insight into the daily lives of the nuns, with historical and religious artifacts on display. One of the rooms contains the fresco paintings of Ferrer Bassa, a 14th-century painter.
You will also get to see the tomb of Queen Elisenda de Montcada, who founded the monastery in 1326, with his husband’s support, King James II of Aragon.
25. Shop at La Boqueria
For a unique Barcelona food shopping experience, you can never go wrong with La Boqueria! Located in the heart of Barcelona in Las Ramblas, this food paradise features a plethora of different food and ingredients on its many stalls, from fresh fruits to seafood and meat, and much more!
There are also bars around the market where you can satisfy your different food cravings, like some mouth-watering pintxos or seafood platters. With the smell and sight of fresh ingredients all around, your senses will surely feast in La Boqueria!
26. Step Inside Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
Casa Milà, commonly known as La Pedrera (The Quarry), is another creation of Antoni Gaudi and was built between 1906 to 1912. Today, it is the head office of Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The building is known for its extraordinary shape, from its facade to the balconies to the interior decorations. However, the icing on the cake is the rooftop with its many unorthodox designs.
27. Stroll Through Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
Take a stroll in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona, Barri Gòtic! As you take a look around, you’ll find that it is easy to spot the old buildings and structures (which date back to Roman times) from the modern ones.
Some of the attractions you will see include the Barcelona Cathedral at the heart of the district, the Barcelona City History Museum, and Plaça Reial (famous for its nightlife and the streetlights made by Gaudi near the fountain).
28. Stroll Through Parc de la Ciutadella
Dubbed as “The Green Lung” of Barcelona, Parc de la Ciutadella is an excellent place to retreat from the urban life in the city. The rich green landscape of the park and places to visit within it are perfect for long walks or to slow down and relax.
Some of the attractions in the park include the Barcelona Zoo, the Palau del Parlament de Catalunya, the park’s fountain, and the Als Voluntaris Catalans (a bronze sculpture by Josep Clarà).
29. Study Pablo’s Artwork at the Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso is one of the greatest painters of the 20th-century, and here in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, we will get the chance to see and study over 4,251 of his works. Even if you are not an art lover, don’t let that stop you from visiting this place!
The museum offers a guided tour that shows and explains the different phases of Picasso’s career and art style in chronological fashion. You can also go on a self-guided tour if you want to take a look around at your own pace.
If you don’t like waiting in queue, then book your tickets in advance. The Skip-the-line Guided Tour will not only get you inside quicker, but you’ll also learn from a specialized art expert.
30. Sunbathe in La Barceloneta
Want to spend a day on the beach in Barcelona? Then head over to La Barceloneta! Situated in Ciutat Vella, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the neighborhood is known for its sandy beach, restaurants, and nightclubs (especially in the summer).
Besides swimming and sunbathing, you should also try out their paella, which is one of the best in Barcelona! You can also go to the nearby Aquarium Barcelona, which is home to over 400 species of marine wildlife.
31. Take a Cooking Class
Taking a souvenir back home with you from Barcelona is a great way to remind you of the experiences you had. But you know what is even better: learning how to cook some of their Spanish and Catalan cuisine!
Not only will you impress your family and friends with your very own tapas or paella, but you will also be able to relive your time in Barcelona through cooking. You can check out some of their best cooking classes below:
32. Take Pictures at Nau Bostik
Nau Bostik is another hidden gem located in the La Sagrera neighborhood. It was once a glue factory that was abandoned during the Industrial Revolution.
Now covered with murals from some of the best street artists from Barcelona, this place aims to be a go-to place for anyone interested in cultural and artistic expressions.
They also host events like the monthly Barcelona Vintage Market and Eat Street, which became highly popular with the young crowd.
33. Visit Catedral de Barcelona
The Catedral de Barcelona is a Gothic cathedral found in the center of the Gothic Quarter and serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.
There are plenty of things to see inside the cathedral, like the crypt of Santa Eulàlia, the museum, and the thirteen live geese in the cloister (which represents a year of Santa Eulàlia’s life before her martyrdom).
It is also said that the Catalan tradition of the “dancing egg” started on the cathedral’s fountain in the 16th century.
34. Visit Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site is the world’s largest Art Nouveau complex and a UNESCO World Heritage site, comprising twelve pavilions connected by a kilometer of underground tunnels. It was once a hospital before it was renovated and turned into the attraction that we see today.
There are plenty of fascinating things to see in each pavilion, like the Operations Pavilion, which shows historical recreations of life in the former hospital, and exhibitions like Patient and Doctor.
35. Visit the Fundació Joan Miró Museum
The Fundació Joan Miró is a museum of modern art on Montjuic Hill in Barcelona, dedicated to the works of Joan Miró, a Spanish painter known for his abstract and Surrealism art.
It is not surprising to marvel and be amazed by the artworks around the museum, most of which Joan Miró has donated himself. Aside from the artworks, there are areas in the museum worth visiting.
The Olive Tree Patio at the center offers a view of Montjuic Park and Barcelona on either side. If you want to take a break, you can head over to the Carob Tree Patio, while the North Patio and roof terrace have note-worthy sculptures and an excellent view of the surrounding landscape.
36. Visit the Gothic Santa Maria del Mar
The Santa Maria del Mar (Saint Mary of the Sea) is one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic style in Barcelona, located in the La Ribera neighborhood. Due to the support it received from the common folk, it is also known as “The People’s Church.”
The church’s facade owes its beauty to the simplicity of Catalan Gothic architecture. Inside, however, is surprisingly spacious and decorative. Two of the many glass-stained windows inside have some things for you to look out for (hint: Olympics and Barcelona Club crest). Don’t miss out on the view from the rooftop as well!
37. Walk the City’s Most Famous Street, La Rambla
Bustling with tourists and locals alike, La Rambla is Barcelona’s most famous walking street, and for good reason.
In this 1.2 km stretch of pavement and trees, it is not unusual to see a human statue entertaining people. Grabbing a quick bite or sitting down for a meal is easy as well, with plenty of bars and restaurants to go around, especially in La Boqueria. You will also come across popular tourist attractions like the Columbus Monument.
“With plenty of things to do and see around, it is also critical to keep an eye on your belongings, so make sure to keep your valuables hidden away as you walk down the street.
38. Walk Through the Historical Gardens at Parc del Laberint d’Horta
Parc del Laberint d’Horta means “Park of the Labyrinth of Horta.” As you might have guessed, this park/museum is best known for its hedge maze made up of trimmed cypress trees. It is also the oldest garden in Barcelona.
At the entrance, you’ll find the former palace of the Desvalls family, who once owned the park. Numerous sculptures around the park depict Greek Mythology figures, like Theseus and Ariadne (which you’ll see at the entrance to the hedge maze). Fountains, springs, and pools are also scattered around and make for a nice view along with the greenery.
With lots of things to do in Barcelona, you’ll have plenty of reasons to come back for more! And if you haven’t started living your bucket list yet, now is your chance to take the first step and go out there! Like the hidden treasures still buried beneath the soils of this majestic city, Barcelona is waiting for you to dig and explore its wonders and story.
Essential Tips for Visiting Barcelona
Getting There: Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (also known as Barcelona Airport or simply El Prat Airport) is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to the city center, you can use take a bus, aerobus, taxi, train, metro or car hire.
Where to Stay in Barcelona: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. Hotel Casa Camper is a great choice in the Ciutat Vella, Barcelona (0.4 kilometers from the center). For something on the less expensive side, try Praktik Èssens located in Eixample, Barcelona (0.4 kilometers from the center). For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Mercer Hotel Barcelona. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis and Uber are available all over the city, plus most of the major attractions can be accessed with the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. For a more budget friendly option, metro, trams, buses, and the Catalan government’s city and suburban rail service (FGC) – all of which prioritize sustainable energy – are available. The city also boasts a public bike rental program and more than 200 kilometers of bike lanes, as well as a taxi service that comprises hybrid and electric vehicles as well as natural gas cabs. They also rent out electric automobiles that are favorable to the environment. The Hola BCN Card is an all-in-one transit card offering rides on multiple forms of transportation (metro, buses, trams, and suburban trains) for one fee.
- Barcelona: 3.5-Hour Street Art Tour by Bamboo Bike
- Barcelona: Art Nouveau & Gaudí Tour
- Barcelona: Montjuïc, Raval and Gothic Quarter E-Bike Tour
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.
Universal Adapter: Your American plugged equipment will need an adapter. I use the Celtic Universal Adapter, which has brought me around the world with no problems.
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