Planning a trip to Spain? Maximize your time in Catalonia’s capital with our round up of the best things to do in Barcelona.
The jewel of Spain’s Catalonia region, Barcelona is a busting seaside city rich in culture and divine food offerings. With its mesmerizing architecture and modern art installations, it’s easy to get lost wandering the winding streets of this colorful city. Whether you’re visiting the city on your own or on one of our guided tours, there are a number of things you simply can’t miss — from parks and markets to public beaches and famous buildings. Here are a few of our favorites things to do in Barcelona.
Sagrada Familia – Perhaps the most recognized of all architectural structures in the city, this towering Gothic church (pictured above) stands sentry as an uncompleted work of art. Construction began under artist Antoni Gaudi in 1882 and continued through his death in 1926. The artist was famed for saying “My client (God) is in no hurry.” Today the church remains under some form of construction and is completely funded by public donation.
It’s free to take a quick peak inside the Sagrada Familia, but you are asked to pay admission if you’d like to explore the inside artistry in depth. The donation price, generally under the equivalent of $20 per person, is certainly worth it to see the nativity scene and pillars alone, but becomes a real value when you pair it with a city ticket for about $22 to get into both the Sagrada Familia and the nearby Gaudí House Museum. Click here for more information on visiting the Sagrada Familia.
Casa Batlló – One of the many apartments crafted by famed artist Antoni Gaudí that speckle the city, Casa Batllo is perhaps the most easily identifiable. Marked by skeletal windows, terraces, and a facade that is said to depict the legend of St. George slaying a dragon, there’s no shortage of design details to explore here! The home, which once served as residence for the Batllo family, is now open to the public and is among the city’s most popular attractions. Favored by locals and tourists alike for its whimsical facade and interiors, Casa Batlló is among the best examples of Gaudí’s artistic impact on Barcelona. Admire the buildings intricacies before heading inside, or simply spend your time admiring the building’s whimsical facade. Click here for more information.
Park Guell – Look up photos of Barcelona and you’re sure to see the iconic color tiled bench of Park Guell. Originally designed by — yes, you guessed it — Antoni Gaudí, the park is considered by many experts to be the world’s most impressive man-made landscape. The outdoor space is spread across several acres of lush green space featuring everything from mosaic walls to mushroom shaped chimneys. Walking trails take you through the park and past a mock indoor marketplace called the Sala Hipostila, designed by the Spanish artist Josep Maria Jujol. You’ll find the iconic mosaic snake bench, believed to be the longest of its kind in the world, near the Sala Hipostila. The park is free to visit, but hours do vary based on season, so it’s best to plan ahead! Click here for opening hours and ticket information.
Boqueria Market – Any traveler who considers themselves a true food lover should plan on spending an hour or two at this lively market dating back to the 17th century. Browse the market stalls to find an incredible selection of local and international goods including high quality produce, wines, meats, seafood, cheeses and snacks and more. The market is attractive for its colors, aromas, and selection but also because if offers a first-hand look at how the shoppers of Barcelona bustle! With endless food options to choose from, a visit to the Boqueria is one of the best things to do in Barcelona if you’re in the mood for a quick snack or lunch at a reasonable price. Plan ahead though, the market is closed on Sundays. Click here to learn more.
La Rambla – This bustling street in Barcelona is a huge hit with tourists. Here you’ll find street vendors, artists, and performers around the clock, giving New York a run for its money as the “City that Never Sleeps.” Daytime on the boulevard has a certain festival feel to it, but things really heat up when the sun goes down and nightlife heats up with restaurants and bars serving a selection of drinks and tapas. The area might have a seedy reputation among some locals, but it’s the perfect place to experience a unique taste of Spain’s social culture. With that said, it’s a good idea to keep your wallet safely tucked away and an eye on your surroundings. Don’t miss a stroll along La Rambla during your visit to Barcelona. Click here for a list of things to see and do near La Rambla.
La Barceloneta & Port Olimpic – Because not everything you see needs to be about art and architecture, we present this seaside destination. Take in nature’s gifts to Barcelona as you view the blue waters of the Mediterranean along this popular beachfront neighborhood. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and vendors to pass the time with, but do be aware, that swimming is hit or miss for most tourists. While some enjoy it, others note that the water isn’t as clean as they’d expected!
Tapas – Get a taste of the city’s local cuisine by sampling a variety of Spanish tapas. Here are some of the best places to find a variety of tapas options in a traditional setting:
Other Places of Interest – Don’t stop at just the above sites, though! Barcelona offers many other fine attraction to fill your day, or week-long trip. Other favorites earning an honorable mention on our list include:
- The Picasso Museum – Featuring a collection of pieces from the early stages to the end of Pablo Picasso’s career
- Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) – One of the oldest parts of the city, this is where you’ll find City Hall and several Gothic churches
- Camp Nou Stadium– The home of Barcelona’s favorite sport – futbol – is a popular site for soccer fans
Ready to explore Barcelona? Check out our collection of guided tours to Spain and tell us what you’re most excited to visit.