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14 Best Things To Do in Barcelona Spain – Recommended by a Local

Barcelona is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. No wonder that the Catalan capital attracts Millions of visitors every year and is one of the most-visited cities worldwide. It’s because there are so many things to do in Barcelona. And who visits this beautiful Mediterranean city once is likely to come back.

A lot of unique sights and a beautiful beach are waiting for you here – and don’t let me get started with the mouthwatering Catalan dishes. No other city in Europe combines incredible architecture so impressively with an exciting cultural offer and kilometers of sandy beaches as my beautiful hometown Barcelona.

Since you will be visiting quite a few of the top sights in Barcelona, the Barcelona Card might be worth it for you. If you time it right and visit the included sights in 1-2 days, you can safe quite a bit. The Barcelona Card also includes public transportation, which makes it very easy to explore the city. Book your Barcelona Card here>>

Also read:
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Perfect Barcelona Weekend Itinerary
Best Barcelona Day Trips

Aerial view of Barcelona Eixample residencial district and Sagrada familia between typical urban grid, Spain. Late afternoon soft light. Best things to do in Barcelona Spain
Aerial view of Barcelona

The 14 best things to do in Barcelona

Visit Sagrada Familia

Of course, nobody can visit Barcelona without seeing the famous basilica of Sagrada Família. It has been part of Barcelona for years and has become an integral part of the cityscape. This might sound surprising because this famous sight of the city has not even been completed yet. The constructions on this masterpiece by designer Gaudí has been going on since 1882.

It’s crazy to think that Sagrada Família is already one of the most visited sights in all of Europe, even though it is still considered a construction site and is unlikely to be completed in the next five years. However, it is hoped that the construction work will finally be completed in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of the death of its designer. As it is so popular, I highly recommend a skip-the-line ticket and tour for the Sagrada Familia. You can book your tickets here>>

Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia. It is designed by architect Antonio Gaudi and is being build since 1882.
Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia: Top Sights in Barcelona (currently under contruction)

Visit the most beautiful Gaudi buildings in Barcelona

Park Güell

Nobody can leave Barcelona without seeing the famous Park Güell. The popular park, like the Sagrada Família, was designed by Barcelona designer Antoni Gaudí. Inside of it, a fantastic view over the roofs of Barcelona to the Mediterranean is waiting for you.

But also, the colorful mosaic benches and the dragon in the typical Catalan Modernist style are known worldwide. Today they are a landmark of the city. With its colorful shaped art, this popular park definitely will become one of the most extraordinary parks you have ever visited. As this also one of the top sights in Barcelona, skip-the-line tickets are highly recommended, and pretty much essential in the high season. You can book your tickets here>>

Weekend in Barcelona view over Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain with brightly colored Gaudi buildings
Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

In addition to the impressive Sagrada Família and Park Güell, numerous other buildings and works of art by Gaudí await you in the city. Some great examples of his work can be found on Passeig de Gràcia near the city center. Just stroll along the street from the center of Plaça Catalunya, and you will find two fascinating representatives of his outstanding work.

Casa Batlló

This masterpiece by Gaudí can hardly be overlooked. With its beautiful colors, Casa Batlló stands out clearly from the other houses on the street. At the beginning of the 20th century, this building was not seen well by the residents of this area until it was finally entirely redesigned by Barcelona designer Gaudí.

To date, this building now represents the city’s national saint, Sant Jordi. A visit here is particularly worthwhile on Sant Jordi Day in April, as the whole building is decorated with roses.

artistic Window of Casa Batlló Barcelona
Casa Batlló – designed by Antoni Gaudi

But even if your visit does not fall on this special day in April, a visit is always worthwhile. The striking building, which, like many other of Gaudí’s buildings, has been designed in the modernist style, is a true eye-catcher. In every corner of this particular building, which is now an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are new, unique colors and shapes to discover.

You can also see that the roof of the house is shaped like a dragon if you look closely. The reason for this uniquely shaped roof is that the legend of Saint Sant Jordi is about a dragon.

Casa Mila

You can discover another imposing building by Gaudí, Casa Mila, if you walk a little further on Passeig de Gràcia. The popular attraction, also known as La Pedrera, is another standout masterpiece.

Roof  with chimneys and tourists in Casa Mila building in Barcelona in Spain. Also called as La Pedrera, or Miracle Home, or The Quarry. Designed by Antoni Gaudi
Casa Mila, Barcelona Spain. Designed by Antoni Gaudi

Even if La Pedrera doesn’t stand out due to its colors, it attracts your attention even more with its impressive shapes and balconies. But it’s not just the outside that it’s worth seeing. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also a real highlight from the inside.

The roof terrace, in particular, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Because from here, you have an exceptional view of the city. Of course, the designer made sure that you will have the most amazing view of his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família. You can book your skip the line tickets here>>

Stroll along Las Ramblas

Another must-see in the city is the 1,4 km long promenade Las Ramblas. Stroll along this famous street while enjoying the view of the wonderful buildings along the way. Las Ramblas connects the old port of the city (Port Vell) with the center of Barcelona (Plaça Catalunya).

Aerial view of tree-lined shopping street Las Ramblas Street and city scape of Barcelona
Las Ramblas Barcelona

Along the way, you can find many street artists who use their tricks to stop and amaze you. But you can also discover a lot of small shops. Particularly, you can find stands selling flowers, candies, and souvenirs. But there are also some bars and restaurants. However, you should try to avoid the restaurants in this area by all means. That’s because those places are a single tourist trap, which serves the tourists that decided to eat here only poor quality and absolutely overpriced food.

However, there are two attractions in this area that I can totally recommend you to have a little stop-over.

La Boquería

This market is not only the most visited but also one of the oldest markets in the city. If you are looking for a little refreshment, this is the place for you. In addition to countless types of candies, you will mainly find fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, fish, meat, sausages, and cheese.

I recommend a cup of fresh fruit or freshly squeezed fruit juice that you can enjoy as you continue walking across Las Ramblas. You can also book a food tour with a local chef to show you the best food stalls and eat your way through the market. Book your tickets here>>

Tropical fruits in La Boqueria market, Barcelona Spain
Tropical fruits in La Boqueria market, Barcelona Spain

Plaça Reial

The second point that you should definitely visit in Las Ramblas in Plaça Reial. It’s is one of the most popular squares in the city. Here you will find a handful of bars, clubs, and restaurants, a beautiful fountain in the middle of the square, and lots of enormous palm trees.

Take a seat at the fountain and let the magic of this beautiful place work on you. In addition, there is often live music here in summer, while in winter, the square is usually decorated with stunning fairy lights.

Plaça Reial, metal fountain in front of large yellow building with many columns in the background, square with palm trees, Barcelona, Spain
Plaça Reial, Barcelona, Spain

Barrio Gótico

One of the most popular neighborhoods in the city is Barrio Gótico. That’s the reason why thousands of tourists come here every day. With its narrow old streets and many small boutiques and cafes hiding in the winding streets, this is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona.

With its walls and the old cathedral in the middle, this area of the city exudes a kind of medieval atmosphere.

palm trees and yellow buildings around Plaça Reial square at the Gothic quarter of Barcelona in Spain. View of the old Plaça Reial town square or plaza showing the traditional architecture of the Spanish Barcelona
Plaça Reial town square in Barrio Gótico

Take some time to stroll through the old streets of this neighborhood and discover new beautiful buildings and cute squares everywhere along your way. Also, a visit to the Barcelona Cathedral (not to be confused with Sagrada Família) should not be missed either.

Bunkers del Carmel

The Bunkers del Carmel are definitely one of the best things to see in Barcelona for me. Because from here, you have a spectacular 360° view over the roofs of the city up to the sea. Until a few years ago, this place was still an absolute insider tip, but today the bunkers are always well-visited.

Panoramic city scape of Barcelona from Bunkers Del Carmel
View over Barcelona from Bunkers Del Carmel

It is hardly surprising, however, because this place is perfect for picnics, Instagram photos, and watching sunsets.

However, the good view from here didn’t happen by chance. On the contrary, during the civil war, the bunkers were built right here to have a good view of the sea and the city in case enemies approached from the sea. This way you could recognize them early.

Plaça d’Espanya and Magic Fountains

Plaça d’Espanya, or Plaza de España in Spanish, is one of the most important transport hubs in the city. To be honest, the square itself doesn’t really have much to offer. However, there are plenty of sights and great photo spots of the city around the square.

Long exposure night photo of Plaça d'Espanya at night in Barcelona, Spain
Plaça d’Espanya at night in Barcelona, Spain

On the one hand, you can experience the former bullfighting stadium “Las Arenas” here. A few years ago, this place was converted into a shopping mall, from which you can experience an incredible view over the Plaça d’Espanya to the Montjuïc mountain free of charge.

You can also discover the exhibition center, the National Palace, and the Museum of Catalan art. We recommend that you come here in the evening in order to enjoy the city’s yet another extraordinary attraction: The Magic Fountains.

Almost every evening during the summer months (times and days change depending on the season) you can experience a fantastic water and music show here free of charge. Try to be here early enough to get a better view because it will definitely get very crowded. Three is also a night tour to show you the best spots along the Barcelona Waterfront, that ends with the magic fountain show at Montjuïc fountain.

The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc

Ciutadella Park

Another popular place is the so-called Parc de la Ciutadella. Barcelona doesn’t have a lot of green space, which is why this park is so popular with its locals. Hundreds of tourists and locals meet every day on the meadows within the park walls to sunbathe, do sports or just enjoy the green area.

Inside the park, there is a beautiful fountain, which became one of the most popular photo spots in the city. There is also a small pond where you can rent a little boat for a small fee.

Cascade fountain in Ciutadella park, Barcelona, Spain
Cascade fountain in Ciutadella park, Barcelona, Spain

For families with children, the highlight of the park is arguably the Barcelona Zoo. This zoo is located at the rear entrance of the park and is a popular destination for the locals, especially during the summer months.

Beach Day

Barceloneta Beach

Barcelona is so much more than just good food and unique architecture because the Catalan capital is also perfect for a beach destination. So if you come to the city during the warm season, you should definitely make sure to make time for a beach day. The most popular beach in the city is arguably the city beach of Barcelona, Barceloneta.

Dramatic sunset on Barceloneta beach of Barcelona with palm in the foreground, Spain
Barceloneta beach

You can reach this beach within a 20-minute walk from the center. But there are also two metro stops and various bus stops that take you to Barceloneta Beach.

There is always something going on at the beach in Barceloneta, and you can find volleyball players, yoga classes, and surfers in addition to people enjoying the refreshing water of the Mediterranean. Besides, many street artists show their skills. Thus, it is worth taking a walk along the beach promenade to watch the artist build extraordinary sandcastles.

Day Trip to Costa Brava

If you prefer a quieter beach, you can also rent a car or take the train to go on a day trip to another beach in the region. Costa Brava, for example, is just a short drive from Barcelona and offers beaches that make you think you’ve landed in the Caribbean because crystal clear water and breathtaking beaches await you here. This tour takes you to some of the best beaches on the Costa Brava. Book your tickets here>>

Fortress in the evening in Tossa de Mar on Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain
Tossa de Mar on Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain

Day trip to Montserrat

There is so much to discover in Barcelona that you could spend several weeks in the city. But there is also a lot to see in the whole of Catalonia. That’s why I strongly recommend you take a day trip from the city if you have enough time.

The city’s most popular day trip is to Montserrat. It is located just around 50 km from the city center and can be easily reached by car or public transport. Various buses and trains connect this amazing destination directly with the city center of Barcelona. Book your ticket here>>

Aerial view of the Montserrat monastery. Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey located on the mountain of Montserrat, in Monistrol de Montserrat, in Catalonia, Spain
Santa Maria de Montserrat, Catalunya Spain

Another option is to take a tour from the city center. By taking a tour, you can not only get to know more about this unique place but also have the chance to meet other travelers.

In addition to spectacular views, Montserrat offers terrific hiking opportunities and a popular monastery. Many believers are drawn here to see the Black Madonna statue, which is located at the mountain, with their own eyes.

How to get around the city

From the airport to the city center

There are several ways to get from Barcelona Airport to the city center. On the one hand, you can take the (express) bus, on the other hand, the train or the metro. The train is usually the cheapest option. If you get this public transport pass, you can use the train or metro from the airport and it includes public transport on busses, metro, and trams for the duration you choose. You can, of course, also take a taxi that will take you directly to your accommodation. Depending on the location, a taxi shouldn’t cost you more than € 35.

Aerial view over the rooftops of the Eixample district in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Transport in the city

Walking is clearly the best way to discover this beautiful city if you want to explore places on foot.

Barcelona is not a huge city, and many sights are within walking distance from each other. Moreover, walking is an easy way to discover all the beautiful buildings on the street corners that are not written down in the average travel guide. Because there are many of them.

Barcelona, Spain. Road for public transport and alley of palm trees. Sunny summer day. Urban street landscape with bus station.
Public Transport in Barcelona, Spain

But there is also a very well-developed network for public transport in the city that you can use relatively cheaply. I recommend you to purchase either a day-ticket or a T-Casual Ticket which offers you ten rides. You can also get a multi-day pass, which is the easiest option.

Barcelona is a popular tourist destination and if you have not been, you should add it to your bucket list. I hope these recommendations from a Barcelona local were helpful to you to plan your next trip to Barcelona.

Best things to do in Barcelona was written by Vicki Viaja. On her blog Vickiviaja, you can accompany Vicki and her husband Eduardo to the most diverse places in the world and their hometown Barcelona – also far off the typical tourist paths. In addition to helpful travel tips (Vicki is a tourism manager by profession), stunning places, and practical itineraries, the two will help you save a lot of money on your trip – without missing anything. Also follow her on Social Media: Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

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