Visiting Barcelona: what are the best things to do and see in Spain’s second-largest city and capital of Catalonia?
Spain’s second-largest city, Barcelona is packed with tourists throughout the year and it’s no denying that the city provides a vast array of interests like architecture, gastronomy, art, sports, and history. But that is not all, it is also famous for its lively nightlife and beaches on the Mediterranean Sea. In actuality, the town used the 1992 Summer Olympics as a springboard to become one of the most visited cities in Europe!
With centuries of history to research through miles of winding roads, visiting Barcelona can look a bit daunting. But if you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time, this listing of the best things to do in Barcelona will permit you to enjoy everything the city has to offer!
1- The Sagrada Família
Visiting Barcelona Isn’t possible without the Sagrada Familia. And the great thing is that the conclusion of the Sagrada Familia is declared for 2026 and in its entirety in 2032, 150 years after its construction in 1882 (yes, you read that right).
Fusing Gothic and Art Nouveau styles in a new way and also drawing inspiration from nature, the Sagrada Familia has been contentious for many years since for many, the modern construction materials used for the renovation don’t honor the initial work of the famous Antoni Gaudí. An emblematic monument of town, the queues can therefore be quite long to see the Sagrada Familia: we suggest that you buy tickets beforehand and cut the queues brief.
2 – Güell Park
What can you do in Barcelona to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? If you are seeing Barcelona, take a stroll through Parc Güell, one of Gaudí’s biggest hits and a must in the Catalan capital. It’s using the Collserola hills in the background which Gaudí designed this architecturally rich park whose structures (houses, fountains, columns, alleys) often appear to be one with nature.
The columns grow like tree trunks, the arches are twisted such as cave entrances, and the fountains are guarded by giant lizards whose scales are made of mosaic tiles. As you follow the steep trail and climb higher, the scenic views awaiting you at the top are magnificent!
Just like many other attractions to see in Barcelona, it is sensible to buy tickets beforehand, since the park just allows 400 visitors per half hour. To find out more about the region, you may even take a guided tour of Güell Park.
3- Casa Milà
Better known as La Pedrera (“the quarry”) because of its elaborate rock, the Casa Milà was the final civil job completed by Gaudí before his departure and represents the apogee of his career. The building, designed as a home for Barcelona’s elite, went dramatically against the grain of what the people of Barcelona were used to seeing, with its undulating interior patios, curved walls, and oblique columns.
The most striking feature of the construction is unquestionably its roof, whose diving staircases and human-shaped chimneys evoke a landscape from another world.
4- La Casa Batlló
The undulating façade and kaleidoscopic mosaics of Casa Batlló make it one of the most emblematic and visited websites in town. The exceptional modernist façade, representing a calm sea, contains a whole world of surprises and subtle architectural information.
Inside, a trip will take you to the legendary noble floor (the former residence of the Batlló household ), the loft (the old sheds and laundry rooms), the terrace, and the mythical chimneys (in which the spine of the dragon slain by Saint George is located), in addition to the magnificent interior courtyard (the old stairwell).
Both”Casas” is 500 meters apart on foot on the Passeig de Gràcia.
5- The Barri Gòtic district
No place in the world can compare to the Barri Gòtic in regard to the breadth and concentration of Gothic architecture. It’s the oldest aspect of the town, where labyrinthine streets flow into medieval plaças such as the beautiful Plaça Reial.
Yet despite its older and side, the Gothic Quarter has some of the best shops in town. Handmade espadrilles, by way of instance, are a wonderful souvenir to take home with you. You can locate them in La Manual Alpargatera (7, Carrer d’Avinyó).
For milder discoveries, wake up early on a Sunday morning to explore the Mercat Gòtic, where you are able to go antique hunting and, if you are lucky, attend a traditional Catalan dance in one of the nearby squares.
6- La Rambla
The Gothic Quarter is bordered by La Rambla, a shady pedestrian boulevard that leads down from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell. Popular, La Rambla is extremely lively with street artists specifically: you won’t get bored.
However, it’s also a famous place to attract pickpockets, so be careful with your possessions.
7- La Boqueria Market
Do you want to see Barcelona as a neighborhood? A gastronomic mecca that brings over 45,000 visitors a day, La Boqueria is possibly the most famous food market in the world, and for good reason. Its endless aisles bring visitors with abundant stalls selling the best cheeses, cold cuts, fish, and other goods in the area.
A few of the sellers have over time adapted to the requirements of tourists, but to get a flavor of what La Boqueria was like, head over to the Pinotxo Bar, where you can enjoy some of Barcelona’s best tapas (or at least the very best at La Boqueria), for example, amb botifarra negre (chickpeas cooked in the black pudding) or amb mongetes (tender squid and white beans) for half a century.
The market of La Boqueria is available from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 to 20:30.
8- The Mirador de Colom
If you are in town and wondering what to do in Barcelona to find a wonderful view, visit the Columbus Column, aka the Mirador de Colom.
Constructed in 1888 for the Universal Exhibition, the pillar clearly pays homage to Christopher Columbus, who picked the port of Barcelona to disembark on his return from America.
Today, it’s possible to climb to 60 meters to enjoy the panoramic view of Barcelona!
Barcelona’s famous seaside district has everything to please: the beach, amusement, and friendliness. The kites fly, the sellers shout, the music vibrates, the waves crash… Barceloneta is a very wonderful district.
Additionally, it is a district famous for its restaurants that serve fish and very fresh fish. If you come to see Barcelona and wind up in this area, visit Port Vell, which will be completely renovated, or the Port of Barcelona where you can go to the Aquarium, and also take the cable car that will take you to the top of Monjuïc.
10- Camp Nou
Millions of football fans make the pilgrimage to Barcelona annually to cheer on Barcelona’s local team, Futbol Club Barcelona (“Barça” for short). This level of excitement means using a stadium to match, and the Camp Nou plays its role to the full: it can accommodate nearly 100,000 spectators.
Though nothing can compare to seeing a match in the Camp Nou, you can go through the Barça adventure on a guided tour of the stadium, which permits you to walk through the players’ tunnel as though the stadium were complete, and go to the edge of the mythical pitch.
11- Picasso Museum
Though Pablo Picasso is originally from Málaga in southern Spain, it was the city of Barcelona, where the artist studied as a young artist at the moment, he chose as the location for the museum that bears his name.
Home into a 4251 of Picasso’s early works (sculptures, paintings and engravings), it’s an almost complete representation of his portfolio which may be discovered on a trip to the museum, as well as the five big houses and palaces of the 13th and 14th centuries in the Born district.
12- The Holy Cross Cathedral
Six centuries older than the Sagrada Família, La Seu Cathedral was built as a monument to Saint Eulalia, patron saint of the city of Barcelona. Gargoyles, buttresses, and barrel vaults differentiate this classic Gothic structure, and you may enjoy them from above, with the city skyline, on a rooftop tour.
See if you can see the 13 white geese, which represent each year of Eulalia’s life before she suffered martyrdom, as you walk around the cloister.
If you come to see Barcelona, the Montjuïc mountain is the best location to get a green walk with excellent views of the city and the ocean. However, you need to make a small effort to get there, which has the benefit of being less populated by tourists. But do not let that dissuade you!
Besides the natural setting and spectacular views, you’ll see buildings in the 1992 Olympic Games, such as the Palau Sant Jordi and the telecommunications tower designed by Santiago Calatrava.
If you’re feeling fit and get to the top of the hill, you’ll have the ability to see the Olympic Stadium and the Jardi Botànic. The Plaça Espanya, at the foot of Montjuïc, is the most frequent access point to the mountain, and where it is also possible to go to the Pavelló Mies van der Rohe and the CaixaForum cultural center.
14- The Joan Miró Foundation
Perched on Montjuïc Park, the Fundació Joan Miró was founded in 1968 by the Catalan artist of the same name with the goal of creating his art accessible to the general public.
Now, more than 10,000 of his masterpieces, from ancient surrealist paintings to works inspired by Dadaism, are on display. Whether you invest half an hour or an entire afternoon there, do not miss the humorous painting Man and Woman in front of a pile of excrement.
15- National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)
Needless to say, there are lots of Baroque and Renaissance masterpieces on display at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, and it houses one of the most famous portraits of Diego Velázquez, San Pablo.
However, what distinguishes this museum is the reach of its Romanesque collection, which is among the most complete in the world and relates the pre-Gothic beginnings of religious art in Catalonia. Don’t forget to stop by the biblical fresco entitled Abside of Sant Climent de Taüll, the highlight of this collection.
16- Port Olímpic and the shores
Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet read, a celebration, or a surf session, there’s a beach for every type of traveler if you come to go to Barcelona. Weather permitting (nearly every day of the year), the scenic shores and yacht-filled docks at Port Olímpic are available with a short subway ride.
A quiet spot for a daytime stroll, the beachfront turns into a party place at night where discotecas enjoy Opium are available until early in the morning.
17- Tibidabo Park
What to do in Barcelona if we’re searching for thrills? On top of Mount Tibidabo is the playground of the identical name which will delight old and young alike. Along with enjoying the 29 attractions scattered through the park’s 7 hectares, you can even see Barcelona from above, since the park is situated at an altitude of over 500 meters.
18- La Casa Vicens
The Casa Vicens is a true legacy treasure, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is none other than the first work of Antoni Gaudí. With its purchase by a bank in 2014 and the installation of exhibitions inside, it’s now possible to go to this original residence, a gem of modern art.
Things to see and do in and around Barcelona
To visit Barcelona, it’s important to know that this huge city is well served by air and land. The Catalan capital can also be 1 hour’s drive from the French border and can also be reached by train. With competition from airlines for this destination, flights are relatively cheap at any time of the year, as long as you plan ahead.
Where to sleep in Barcelona?
To stay in Barcelona, there are numerous choices, depending upon your desires. Do you need to unlock the secrets of historical Barcelona? Then Pick the Gòtic or Born districts.
Are you searching for village life in the center of the city? Then select the Gràcia or Sant Antoni districts. Would you prefer to stay in a cheap and lively neighborhood? Then select the Sants or Poble Sec districts. Are you looking for a lively neighborhood in a modernist setting? Pick the Eixample Esquerra or Eixample Dret districts. Do you wish to sunbathe and breathe the sea air throughout the year? Pick Barceloneta or Vila Olímpica. Are you really adventurous and listen to unknown artists? Pick the Raval or Poblenou districts.
The way to get around Barcelona?
Getting around Barcelona by public transport is a rather straightforward and convenient way to see the city. Vehicles and facilities are clean, modern and the city’s tourist points are well served by its urban community. We tell you in our article about getting around Barcelona by public transportation.
If you visit Barcelona by car or have chosen to rent a car, finding a place to park can be a small headache. If that is true, read our article on parking in Barcelona.