Capital of Catalonia and Spain’s second city, Barcelona is utterly incomparable. It’s one of a few must-see cities with its own identity. This is partly down to a generation of early-20th-century artists and architects, like Antoni Gaudí, whose unforgettable buildings are like nothing you’ll see anywhere else.
There’s something to delight everyone in Barcelona. If you’re a food lover then the city has a total of 20 Michelin stars, and if you want culture you’ve got an inexhaustible choice of beautiful buildings and events. Add to this clean urban beaches, world-class nightlife and so much great shopping you won’t know where to begin.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Barcelona:
1. Las Ramblas
Never mind that a lot of locals shun this sequence of promenades that runs from Plaça de Catalunya down to the Columbus Monument at the waterfront.
If you’re a tourist it’s one of those things that you have to do.
In summer you’ll be under the shade of the tall plane trees and shuffling through the crowds that pass living statues, street performers, bird-sellers and flower stands.
Occasionally you’ll catch the whiff of waffles (gofres) being baked.
Once you get to the water you can keep going along the boards to visit the Maremagnum mall or Barcelona’s Aquarium.
2. Sagrada Família
This is where to begin your adventure through Barcelona and the dreamlike works of Antoni Gaudí.
His minor basilica is a project of incredible scale and ambition that is still only around three quarters complete more than a 140 years after Gaudí first became involved.
When its spires are finished it will be the tallest church building in the world, and hardly resembles any religious structure you’ll have seen in your life.
The Sagrada Família combines several architectural styles including Catalan Modernism, Art Nouveau and Spanish Late-Gothic, but Gaudí’s masterpiece defies these kinds of definitions when you look up open-mouthed at the ceiling of the nave.
Get a Skip-the-Line ticket for fast track entrance: Sagrada Familia Skip-the-Line
3. Casa Batlló
Another of Antoni Gaudí’s most postcard-friendly creations, this apartment block wasn’t created from scratch but was a remodel undertaken at the turn of the 20th century.
You won’t need to have visited Barcelona to recognise the building’s roof, the tiles of which are the scales of a great dragon.
Like all of his work the inside and outside of Casa Batlló has that sinuous quality, with few straight lines, and dazzling attention to detail.
Take the mushroom-shaped fireplace on the noble floor, which like a cosy grotto was designed for couples to warm up in winter.
Available tour: Casa Batlló Ticket and Video Guide
4. Casa Milà
Also known as La Pedrera, as the front of the building looks a bit like the face of a quarry, Casa Milà was completed in 1912 and is another emblematic Gaudí building.
It’s one of several of Catalan modernist works to be UNESCO listed and was the fourth and final Gaudí building on Passeig de Gràcia.
Architects will appreciate the contemporary innovations here, including the self-supporting stone facade and underground car park.
It was designed for the industrialist Pere Milà i Camps to be his family home, with apartments for rent on the upper floors.
The coherence between the design of the building and Casa Milà’s furnishings is a real joy to see, and it’s all from a time when Gaudí was at the top of his game.
Available tour: Casa Milà Skip-The Line Audio Guide Tour
5. City Beaches
Barcelona’s beachfront boardwalk stretches for miles. It will take a good hour to get from Barceloneta to Diagonal Mar on foot, but it’s a walk that really helps you understand the city.
The westernmost beaches like Sant Sebastià are busier and more touristy, but are backed by Barceloneta’s tight lattice of trendy shops and bars with terraces and outdoor seating.
As you move along the waterfront after the Olympic Port you’ll find a bit more room and more Barcelona locals.
Finally, just up from Platja de Llevant is the massive and new Diagonal Mar mall, revitalising a former industrial part of the city.
6. La Boqueria
This is an iconic sight and educational experience in one. There’s been a Boqueria market in Barcelona since medieval times, though this exact spot has only witnessed trade for about 200 years.
That elegant and distinctive iron and glass roof you’ll see was put up in 1914.
Whether you want to do some food shopping or just take in the sights and sounds of a bustling urban market it’s a real eye-opener.
It’s a grid of permanent stalls selling fruits, vegetables, cold meats, cheese as well as olive products.
The whole market converges on an oval plan of fishmongers in the centre.
Cool off with a beer and a tapa at one of the market’s bars.
7. Camp Nou
In the western Les Corts neighbourhood is the 99,000-seater stadium that has been the home ground of FC Barcelona since 1957.
It’s one of Europe’s football cathedrals and even if you have no affinity for the team you have to visit Camp Nou to appreciate the dizzying scale of the arena.
And if you are a fan you’ll be in heaven, touring the stadium and browsing the memorabilia of one of the world’s most prestigious teams at the museum.
The stadium tour is unavailable on or just before match days so keep an eye on the calendar.
Available tour: Camp Nou Experience: F.C. Barcelona Museum and Tour
8. Park Güell
Round off your Gaudí experience with a trip to this garden complex on Carmel Hill.
Many make the trip to this part of Gràcia for those gorgeous panoramas over Barcelona from the park’s main terrace.
You’ll have seen these serpentine benches and their mosaics on postcards and in movies.
Elsewhere there are colonnades, fountains and sculptures, all in the architect’s distinctive style.
If you still haven’t had enough Gaudí you can enter his House-Museum, where he lived from 1906 to 1926, with furniture and decorative items designed by him on display.
9. Barcelona City History Museum
The History Museum preserves a few Roman sites across the Gothic Quarter, such as the temple of Augustus and the Funeral Way on Plaça de la Vila de Madrid. But Plaça del Rei is where you can see Barcelona’s ancient history in detailed layers.
You’ll take a lift down to where the remnants of a garum factory, laundries, dyeing shops and parts of ancient Barcino’s walls are all visible.
The site is large, covering 4,000 square metres, which you’ll explore via elevated walkways.
As you rise through the museum building you’ll step forward through time and enter the vaults of the Palau Reial Major, seat of the medieval Dukes of Barcelona.
This city district was developed for the 1929 International Exhibition and features several high-profile museums including the National Museum of Catalan Art, the Museum of Archaeology and the Ethnology Museum.
Of those the art museum is particularly recommended, and the views of the city from its steps are stunning.
Below this, and also built for the exhibition was the Magic Fountain, which puts on light and music shows ever half-hour on the weekends. This is best seen at night of course.
At the very top of the hill is the 17th-century fortress, which saw action in the Catalan Revolt in the 1600s as well as during the Civil War in the late-1930s, after which it was a prison.
11. Fundació Joan Miró
Just like Gaudí, Joan Miró was a quintessentially Catalonian artist, and a visit to his museum will give you a more vivid picture of Barcelona’s spirit and style.
The Fundació Joan Miró was set up by the artist in the 60s to encourage contemporary art in Barcelona, and Miró worked closely with the architect Josep Lluís Sert on the museum building’s design.
This means there’s a harmony between the venue and the work inside it that you won’t find very often.
Within there’s a large collection of the artist’s work, including sculptures, drawing and paintings.
There are also temporary exhibitions of 20th and 21st century art, and all sorts of collaborative and educational projects going on.
If you wonder what life is like in the small towns of Catalonia then a visit to Gràcia is a way to find out.
This area wasn’t even part of Barcelona until the 20th century, and thanks to its layout of tapered streets and little squares, feels like a different place.
It’s a young, stylish and cosmopolitan area with students and artists, so there’s a multitude of bars, cafes and independent shops to be found.
If you come to Gràcia during the Festa Major in August the area is transformed as the residents come together to decorate individual streets in imaginative ways to be the best in the neighbourhood.
13. Palau de la Música Catalana
This turn-of-the-century concert hall is yet another piece of Barcelona’s UNESCO-listed heritage.
It was built by Gaudí’s contemporary, Lluís Domènech i Montaner for the Orfeó Català, a Barcelona choral society.
This was at a time when investment and commissions by wealthy Catalan industrialists were helping a generation of artists and designers to create a new sense of Catalan identity.
The hall is a sublime venue for opera, symphonies and folk music, so have a look at the schedule when you plan your trip.
14. Plaça de Catalunya
This is the best meeting point in the city. It’s right at the bottom of the posh Passeig de Gràcia and at the top of Las Ramblas.
If you’re waiting for friends in the evening for a meal or getting ready for a shopping expedition by day nowhere in the Ciutat Vella or Eixample will be more than a few minutes on foot from this grand square.
Barcelona’s flagship branch of El Corte Inglés is right here, and if you’re new to the city and want to get oriented you could go inside to pick up a map.
15. Eating in Barcelona
International food is superb in Barcelona, especially when it comes to Japaese-style noodle bars, which have become popular in the last 10 years.
Another trend is pintxos, Basque-style bar snacks in which delicious things like croquettes and fish are served on a piece of bread held together with a toothpick (pincho).
For a typically Catalan snack there’s Pa amb tomàquet, rustic bread covered in a mix of tomato pulp and oil. This often serves as a base for sandwiches or bocatas.
For a main course here on the coast nothing beats arròs negre, rice simmered with cuttlefish or squid, followed by rich crema catalana for dessert. Have a look at the available food tours in Barcelona.
Tip: Have a look at the tours offered by Barcelona City Tellers, they even offer a free walking tour! A great way to start off your visit as you’ll learn more about the city and will get lots of tips on which things to do and avoid during your stay.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Barcelona, Spain
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Barcelona is a Mediterranean city with excellent beaches and good weather. Art, gastronomy, and sports excel exceptionally. Gaudi's architecture, 37 Michelin stars, and the Barcelona Football Club (soccer) have made our city a world-famous tourist destination.Is 7 days too long in Barcelona? ›
You could practically spend a lifetime discovering hidden local gems that most tourists would never stumble upon. However, a week is still the perfect amount of time to spend in the city. During 7 days in Barcelona, you'll hit up all the major tourist sights, get off the beaten path and even have time for a day trip.How do you avoid looking like a tourist in Barcelona? ›
- 1 1. Getting by in Catalan.
- 2 2. Adopt the local timetable.
- 3 3. Dress appropriately.
- 4 4. Wear a Barça jersey (why not?) but only on match days.
- 5 5. Know the Barça anthem by heart.
- 6 6. Always keep an eye on your belongings.
- 7 7. Drink vermouth.
- 8 8.
The best amount of time to spend in Barcelona is between 3-4 days. If you spend up to 4 days in the city, you will have adequate time to visit all of the best attractions that Barcelona has to offer. You can easily spend a full day exploring the surrounding mountains in the city.Can you wear jeans in Barcelona? ›
General Style Tips
Throughout Spain the locals really care about their personal appearance, and Barcelona is no different. On the whole they dress smartly and make an effort when they go out in public. Jeans are very popular here – but make sure they are smart and clean.
The dress code here is pretty laid back, but you should still be relatively smart. That means no flip flops or beach wear. Guys should go for dark shoes rather than light ones and avoid trainers like the plague. For women, heels aren't common at most of Barcelona's clubs, except the fanciest ones.Do they wear jeans in Spain? ›
For the cooler fall and winter months, Spanish women wear pants and jeans.In the fall and winter months, a typical outfit for a Spanish male can consist of woolen pants or jeans, with button-down shirts topped with a sweater, and dress shoes or sneakers.What is Barcelona's famous gift? ›
- Cheese. ...
- Cava. ...
- Chocolate. ...
- Coffee! ...
- Modernist Ceramics. ...
- Some Artisan Turrón. ...
- A Custom Made FC Barcelona Shirt. ...
- Handmade Espardenyes.
SUNDAY IN BARCELONA CAN BE DISAPPOINTING…
Shops and food markets aren't open, churches can't be visited during services, and most museums close after 2pm.
April, May, September, and October are the best months to go sight-seeing in Barcelona. Barcelona is least crowded during the shoulder seasons of March - April and September - October.
Winter: By far, the cheapest months to come are "off months," such as October, November and then February through April. Inexpensive flights can be snagged during these months as well as deals on hotels and rental cars. It is typically too cold to swim in the Mediterranean during these off months.Should I take cash to Barcelona? ›
We do not recommend carrying a lot of cash with you while visiting Barcelona. However, it is a good idea to bring a small amount of Euros cash in advance to cover some initial expenses like taxi, meal etc. until you can arrive at a bank or cashpoint to obtain some more money.Can you speak English in Barcelona? ›
Yes. Many people speak English especially the people that tourists generally come into contact with. English is quite widely spoken in Barcelona, especially in the tourist industry and by many young Spanish/Catalan people.Is Barcelona a walkable city? ›
Barcelona is a very walkable city. We could stroll through the differernt neighborhoods first hand and get a feel for the local markets and shops. Of course a stop at the open air market of La Boqueria is a must.Is Barcelona expensive for tourists? ›
While Barcelona can be expensive when compared to other Spanish cities, at an average cost of €60-120 per person per day you'll likely still find it more affordable than many other Western European cities if travelling on a mid-range budget.Are leggings acceptable in Spain? ›
When deciding what to wear in Spain, pack at least a pair of jeans and a pair of thick leggings. If you plan to explore the north of Spain where some of the most fantastic cities are – like Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Asturias you may even want to layer your leggings underneath your jeans.Can you walk around Spain without a shirt? ›
"Being bare-chested has also been banned in some areas of Spain. Some local councils will impose fines if you're caught wearing swimwear on the seafront promenade or the adjacent streets."Is food cheap in Barcelona? ›
The average cost of food in Barcelona is not expensive. For example, meal prices range from 7 to 20 euros, being that lunch is usually cheaper than dinner. If you love eating out but don't want to spend too much, here are some suggestions for good spots where you can eat out on a budget.Do people wear jean shorts in Barcelona? ›
Fashion for Men in Barcelona
A casual look for men from Catalonia would be slim jean shorts (or jorts). Again, for both men and women, white sneakers and Converse are still in.
Visitors are required to dress appropriately by covering their shoulders and wearing trousers/skirts that come below the mid-thighs. Hats, swimwear and costumes with promotional content or offensive/distracting designs are not allowed. Q. Can I wear flip flops to Sagrada Familia?
In Spain, as of 20 April 2022 it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask indoors or outdoors with certain exceptions. You must wear a mask: When travelling by plane, train or bus, as well as in all other public transport.Do people use condoms in Spain? ›
Firstly, in relation to use of condom in sexual practices and according to past results , Spanish people have reported the higher frequency of condom use in vaginal sex, that means using it most of the time, followed by anal and oral sex in which its use was reported sometimes and almost never, respectively.Do people wear sneakers in Spain? ›
Sneakers are also a staple piece when traveling in Spain, which makes exploring much more comfortable. Nicer sneakers are paired with EVERYTHING. This includes dresses, skirts, shorts, jeans you name it. Currently, platform sneakers can be frequently seen throughout the day.Is kissing in Spain normal? ›
In Spain, people greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. Don't be mistaken - these aren't wet, sloppy kisses! In fact, these aren't really proper kisses at all. People usually touch their right cheeks together and make a kissing sound, then repeat the process on the left side.What is a typical breakfast in Barcelona? ›
Typical and traditional breakfasts in Barcelona
Typical foods include tomato bread, omelettes (often served cold) and milky coffee. Other popular options include sandwiches. Almost all of Barcelona's many cafés offer a breakfast menu.
Women should wear dresses or skirts for business and a conservative cotton blouse. As a general guideline, the more casual your clothes are (shorts, vests, flip flops) the more you are likely to stand out as a tourist. Barcelona is a vibrant multi-cultural city with a good variety of clothes and styles.What is the most famous street in Barcelona called? ›
The Ramblas, or Las Ramblas when you're in Spain, is one of the most famous and iconic boulevards of Barcelona. Stretching for approximately 1.2km from the Port Vell to Placa Catalunya, this street is hugely popular with both locals and travellers alike and provides one of the main thoroughfares of the city.Where do the rich stay in Spain? ›
According to the statistics, Madrid and Barcelona have the 10 neighbourhoods with the highest average net annual income per inhabitant in Spain, making Madrid and Barcelona the wealthiest cities in Spain.What is the safest area in Barcelona to stay? ›
Like many cities, Barcelona's safest areas tend to be the more affluent barrios. This includes Eixample and Poblenou. No one barrio in Barcelona should be avoided at all costs.What should tourists buy in Barcelona? ›
- Cava. Cava got its name back in 1970 with the idea of distinguishing it from French champagne, the word meaning 'Cave' or 'cellar'. ...
- Modernist Inspired Ceramics. ...
- Cheese. ...
- Catalan Sauces. ...
- Jewellry. ...
- Barcelona Fashion. ...
- Porcelain Figures. ...
Passeig de Gràcia is the most famous shopping street in Barcelona.What time is dinner in Barcelona? ›
Dinner is a lighter meal than lunch and typically is eaten between 9 and 10 pm during the week, although if you go out to dinner on the weekend you might not eat until 11 or 12!Can you wear jeans to clubs in Barcelona? ›
For example in Jamboree, a popular Jazz and Dance club or Hyde nightclub any casual outfits are allowed. For their parties can choose comfortable, informal clothing, as for example jeans or other pants and appropriate tops.
In Barcelona and in Spain generally speaking, you do not have to tip, unless you want to. If you feel like tipping, because you feel that you have been very well looked after, then by all means tip 5% for good service and 10% for excellent service, but generally tipping is not expectd and locals do not tip.Is 5 days too much in Barcelona? ›
All in all, 5 days in Barcelona leaves plenty of time to dive into this city, while still seeing most of the major attractions. Even though you still won't see everything (you'll just have to come back, right?), this week-long introduction to Catalonia's capital will leave you feeling exhilarated and eager for more.What is the cheapest time to go to Spain? ›
According to Hotels.com, the cheapest time to visit Spain is usually from December to March, which also happens to coincide with both its coldest months and its thinnest tourism season.How much money should I take to Barcelona for 5 days? ›
Budget-Friendly Travel Planning. How much money will you need for your trip to Barcelona? You should plan to spend around €123 ($128) per day on your vacation in Barcelona, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.When should I buy tickets for Barcelona? ›
Book at least 4 weeks before departure in order to get a below-average price. High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly from United States is February. Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest Barcelona flight deals.What month are flight tickets cheaper? ›
♦ Cheapest month to fly: January
For the lowest fares on domestic flights, travel in January. But for international trips, you'll find the cheapest fare in August.
Because of its beautiful sunsets. Barcelona has a very distinguishable skyline, formed by emblematic buildings such as la Pedrera, la Sagrada Familia or de Agbar tower. Enjoying them from a high spot is one of the best activities you can do when visiting the city.
- Barcelona has 2 official languages. ...
- Picasso has roots in Barcelona. ...
- The famous Basilica of the Sagrada Familia has taken longer to complete than the Egyptian Pyramids. ...
- Barcelona is the only recipient of the Royal Gold Medal for architecture.
The Ramblas, or Las Ramblas when you're in Spain, is one of the most famous and iconic boulevards of Barcelona. Stretching for approximately 1.2km from the Port Vell to Placa Catalunya, this street is hugely popular with both locals and travellers alike and provides one of the main thoroughfares of the city.What is the most popular tourist trap? ›
- Beware the 'broken taxi meter' ...
- The 'free' trinket routine. ...
- Suspiciously helpful bag handlers. ...
- The guilt trip. ...
- Mysterious rental vehicle damage. ...
- Fake money and wrong change. ...
- Fake police.
The people of Barcelona are generally very friendly, non-aggressive, calm, helpful and generous, particularly with their time. To most, maintaining enduring relationships is more important than the desire for more and more material wealth.What is the number one attraction in Spain? ›
The outstanding Sagrada Familia Basilica located in the city of Barcelona remains the most visited attraction in Spain and is arguably the best place to visit in Spain. A world heritage site, the Sagrada Familia attracts over three million visitors each year.What is the most famous dish in Spain? ›
Paella is perhaps the most famous Spanish dish of all, and certainly one of the most abused. Authentic paella originates from the region around Valencia, and comes in two varieties: Paella Valenciana, with rabbit and chicken; and seafood paella.Why is Barcelona called Barthelona? ›
The reason why people in Barcelona pronounce it "Barselona" is that they speak Catalan, not Castillian. Catalan does not have the "c" pronounced as "th".What makes Barcelona so special? ›
But what is Barcelona famous for? Barcelona is famous for its outstanding football team, stunning architecture, lively nightlife, sandy beaches, and world-class cuisine. Not to mention a vibrant cultural heritage and colourful neighbourhood festivals that attract visitors from around the world.