Looking for Things to do in Barcelona? The Bumper Crew has it covered! Before we get into this, who else thought Barcelona was the capital city of Spain? We can’t be alone?! Ha! It turns out that title goes to Madrid. Despite not being the capital city, Barcelona is the most visited and undoubtedly famous city in Spain for international travellers. It turns out Marid is the most visited when including national travellers. Anyway, this post isn’t about Madrid; it’s about the best things to do in Barcelona!
Barcelona is full of things to do, but the cornerstone of Barcelona’s attractions is Gaudi’s architecture. If you don’t know who he is, Antoni Gaudí was a Spanish architect best known for his unique and fanciful style that combined Gothic, Art Nouveau, and Catalan modernism elements (whatever they are!). Gaudi is celebrated throughout Barcelona, and you can visit his most famous works across the city, including La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. Gaudi’s work is so unique and impressive that it continues to influence architects worldwide today.
Your trip’s booked. You’re going to Barcelona. That’s why you’re researching things to do in Barcelona. But there’s one thing to be aware of: avoid staying in the El Raval area. We chose accommodation in this location because it couldn’t be better located, and the price was great. But the place comes with a caveat – it’s supposedly a bit dodgy, and we didn’t feel particularly safe during our stay. Barcelona hasn’t been our favourite city break ever, but it’s got enough things to do to keep you occupied for a few days. Anyway, that’s enough of that. So, read on to discover the very best things to do in Barcelona, Spain!
Things to Do in Barcelona
1 | Take a Free Walking Tour
We love a walking tour here at The Bumper Crew and try to jump on one whenever possible. Walking tours are a great way to understand the history of Barcelona. They are educational and informative, often humorous. Usually, they end with some insider insights into the best places to visit for food, drinks and entertainment, and the one we did was no exception. We also find them more engaging than reading! Plus, we love walking. So, what’s not to love?! How do free walking tours work? They aren’t necessarily free. You are requested to pay what you think they are worth. That could be one Euro or 20 Euros. The choice is yours.
2 | Explore the Gothic Quarter
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is one of the most famous districts of Barcelona and one we learned a lot about on the walking tour. The Gothic Quarter is a medieval neighbourhood with a maze of narrow streets and lovely squares. We recommend visiting Plaça Reial and Sant Felip Neri Square. Sant Felip Neri Square has some fascinating history; you can still see the scars of bomb damage from the Civil War and where Antoni Gaudi was on his way to when he was hit by a tram and subsequently died. The Gothic Quarter is also home to a few famous landmarks of Barcelona, including Barcelona Cathedral and Pont del Bisbe.
3 | Visit Park Güell
A visit to Park Güell is a must if you’re visiting Barcelona. The park is whimsical, with colourful mosaics and sculptures designed by legendary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Built between 1900 and 1914, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers more great views over Barcelona, some lovely walks and the chance to get close to the unique, organic shapes and colourful mosaics that Gaudi is famous for. Gaudi fan or not, the park is worth a visit where you can easily spend a few hours. You might even spot the odd Monk parakeet.
Park Güell gets busy, so don’t forget to book your tickets online, or you risk not getting in! The buildings you often see in Park Güell are the old gatehouses, which are now accessible, and one is a souvenir shop, but they look equally as impressive from the outside as they do inside the park.
4 | Stroll Around Ciutadella Park
Ciutadella Park is an unmissable thing to do in Barcelona because it’s so lovely. The park is located northeast of the Gothic Quarter and is a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the middle of bustling Barcelona. Ciutadella park was created in the late 19th century and is home to all sorts of plants, trees, and flowers, as well as a rather impressive fountain and monument. The park even has a boating lake! Ciutadella Park is an ideal location to wander, sit and enjoy lunch or escape the busy streets of Barcelona. Ciutadella Park is also home to several cultural institutions, such as the Catalan Parliament, the Zoo of Barcelona, and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.
5 | Walk Under the Arco de Triunfo
Once you’ve finished in Ciutadella Park, we recommend your next stop in Barcelona is the Arco de Triunfo. The Arco de Triunfo was completed in 1892 to honour the soldiers who fought in the Peninsular War and the Catalan Campaign in the early 1800s. Enjoy a stroll up the Promenade Passeig de Lluís Companys from the park, and you will see the impressive archway ahead in all its glory.
6 | Admire La Sagrada Familia
Have you even visited Barcelona if you didn’t visit La Sagrada Família? Undoubtedly, La Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks and another iconic building by Gaudi, which is unbelievably still under construction. That’s because its origins date back to 1882, when the cornerstone was laid. It’s suggested the church will be completed in 2026, on the centenary of Gaudi’s death.
7 | Hit the Beach
That’s right! Barcelona has its very own beaches. There are quite a few, but the best place to hit the beach in Barcelona is in a place called La Barceloneta because it’s the closest to the city and the most popular. You’re looking for Barceloneta Beach, which Somorrostro Beach flanks to the north and San Sebastian Beach to the south. You’ll find people playing a bit of volleyball, too, if that’s your thing. It’s also full of beachfront bars and restaurants along the promenade and has the best vibe in the entire city.
8 | Get Food at Mercado de La Boqueria
If you’re wandering down La Rambla, you must head into Mercado de La Boqueria. Mercado de La Boqueria is an indoor food market housed in a 19th-century iron and glass building. You’ll find a bustling atmosphere and super colourful stalls selling all sorts of food, from fresh produce to meats and cheeses. There are also stalls to sit and eat freshly prepared food, where you can soak up the vibrant market atmosphere.
9 | Head Up to Montjuïc Park
Montjuïc is a hill in Barcelona that offers the best views over Barcelona. Not only that, it’s got loads of stuff to do up there, such as the Barcelona Cable Car, Montjuïc Castle, Poble Espanyol, a botanical garden, the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc and the impressive Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is an art museum.
The Barcelona Cable Car is expensive for what it is, but it offers a terrific view of Barcelona and saves you from walking up a rather steep hill to the castle!
10 | Visit the Gaudi Buildings
Gaudi’s architecture is impressive, there’s no doubt about that, but once you’ve seen some of it, you’ll likely be satisfied with your dose of Gaudi. Plus, getting into all the Gaudi sites can get pretty expensive. Having said that, if you’re a diehard architect or Gaudi fan, you’ll want to visit the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, in addition to La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.
If so, you’re lucky because a few to visit are dotted around the city. The other sites you can visit are Casa Vicens, Guell Palace, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila (La Pedrera).
11 | Head Up Tibidabo
A visit to Tibidabo is worth it if you have the time. That’s because it’s pretty far out of the centre of Barcelona and will take you around an hour to get there. Still, you’ll be rewarded with an epic panoramic view of Barcelona and an enjoyable and adventurous journey if you take the cheaper route mentioned below.
At the top of Tibidabo, you’ll find the impressive multi-layered Basílica del Sagrat Cor de Jesús, Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in English, which is worth a wander, and there’s also a little theme park for the kids.
How to get to Tibidabo? There are two options. The cheapest route is taking train S1 or S2 from Placa Catalunya to Peu del Funicular, jumping on the Vallvidrera Funicular and then on bus 111, right outside the station, which will take you to the top. One ticket (~2.50 Euros) will take you up because it allows unlimited Barcelona public transport travel within 75 minutes of activation. Alternatively, take the Tibidabo Funicular from Plaça Doctor Andreu. This route will cost you 12 Euros for the funicular alone.
12 | Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Our walking tour ended at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, and it’s hard to believe it was once next to the sea. The name translates as The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Sea and is a beautiful Gothic-style basilica built by, and to serve, the local community, which were mainly sailors, merchants, and artisans. As land in Barcelona was reclaimed, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar now sits a 15-minute walk away from the sea! You will pay a fee to enter during the day, but after 6 pm, it’s free to enter. Just wait until the main doors are open and wander in to admire the simplistic interior.
13 | Check Out Barcelona Cathedral
When you think of Barcelona Cathedral, you might think it’s the famous building with the spires you’ve seen in the pictures. But that’s La Sagrada Familia. Barcelona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, is a Gothic cathedral in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona and considerably different to La Sagrada Familia. If you take the walking tour we suggested, you’ll discover the church today isn’t how it looked when it was first built and the facade you see today is far more impressive than it once was. You’ll also find the odd market in front of the cathedral, which is well worth a wander around, and a replica of a Roman aqueduct.
14 | Walk La Rambla
La Rambla, AKA Las Rambles, is the most famous street in Barcelona and practically unavoidable. It’s a hive of activity where you’ll find street performers, food vendors, souvenir kiosks, and theatres. It’s also the gateway to other treasures of Barcelona, like Plaça de Catalunya, the Gothic Quarter, Mercado de La Boqueria market and Güell Palace. Be aware La Rambla is one of the top European tourist spots for pick-pocketing. So, keep your wits about you and enjoy the bustle of the street.
15 | Visit Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya (Catalunya Place) is another practically unavoidable place to visit in Barcelona. Not because it’s fantastic, but because it’s the very heart of Barcelona. It’s another busy location full of shops and is the meeting point for the Free Walking Tour, which is a must-do thing in Barcelona! You’ll also find it’s the host location for events such as the Christmas Festival.
Things to Do in Barcelona Map
Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain
- Take a Free Historic Walking Tour
- Explore the Gothic Quarter
- Visit Park Güell
- Stroll Around Ciutadella Park
- Walk Under the Arco de Triunfo
- Admire La Sagrada Familia
- Hit the Beach
- Get Food at Mercado de La Boqueria
- Head Up to Montjuïc Park
- Visit the Gaudi Buildings
- Head Up Tibidabo
- Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
- Check Out Barcelona Cathedral
- Walk La Rambla
- Visit Plaça de Catalunya
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