Top 10 Things to Do in Barcelona
Barcelona is an amazing, diverse, cultural center with fun things to do for everyone. There are constant events, parades and parties throughout the year, mixed with pockets of tranquility. There are places to be indoors and also for the nature lovers. There are many free events, activities, and sometimes free entrances to certain attractions.
10. Explore Gaudí’s work
Antoni Gaudí is one of Catalonia’s most famous and inspirational architects. He designed Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia that has been building for the past century, as well as, many houses and parks.
Most of his work is unusual which sparks an alluring, beautiful view, even if you are not into art or architecture, you will be blown away by the splendor when walking the streets of Barcelona.
His other works include Casa Vicens, one of the first works demonstrating Art Noveau and his residence. A little south closer to the Diagonal metro station are two of his more famous houses: Casa Milá (La Pedrera) a beautiful stony and wavy building and his other masterpiece Casa Battló.
Both of these houses have unusual structures and extraordinary feats, but La Pedrera has a spectacular rooftop that has a great view of the city and Sagrada Familia.
Parc Güell is a beautiful park designed by Gaudí and if you can arrive before 8 A.M. you can enter for free and it is one of the many spots to watch the beautiful sunrise.
Farther away from the city is Colonia Güell which is where Gaudí’s crypt and a peculiar church he designed are at.
He had many other works of arts, but the last iconic one that is a must visit is near Arc de Triomphe in Parc de la Ciutadella, the Cascada Fountain. Inspired by the Trevi fountain in Rome, this is a definite must-see.
9. Montjuic and Plaza Espanya
This area of Barcelona is extraordinary. In Plaza Espanya is Las Arenas mall that looks like a sports stadium with a view of Plaza Espanya, the Venetian towers, the magic fountain and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, MNAC.
Two important facts to note, at night, the magic fountain has a free light show that changes throughout the time of the year. In summer, it starts from 21:30-22:30 from Wednesday to Sunday.
The other important fact is that if you enjoy free events, then you can enter the MNAC and many other museums for free on the first Sunday of the month in Barcelona.
This part of Barcelona is great, and if you want some nature fun in the city, you can walk up to Montjuic or take a bus. If you take a bus you may miss out on some key spots though.
First there are a lot of gardens and parks that you can stroll through, such as, Jardins de Joan Maragall, Jardins de Laribal and Barcelona’s Botanic Gardens. If you follow Joan Maragall Gardens towards the west, passing the historical botanic gardens, you will eventually come across a tunnel meant for climbers called: Zona D’Escalada de la Foixarda.
A climbers paradise, a free tunnel with various holds, a great place to practice for anyone or just to watch other climbers. From there, you can head southeast and find Palau Sant Jordi and the Olympic Stadium which then leads to the large cemetery.
If you start heading uphill from any of these directions you will eventually reach Montjuic but fair warning, it is kind of steep and can be difficult especially in the summer heat. On the other side is one of my favorite parks, a cactus garden, a more atypical park next to Jardins de Mossen Costa I LLobera.
Lastly Montjuic Castle, this is another great spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. It used to be a fortress, but now more of a museum with a great view of the city and ocean.
This summer they are also showing different movie screenings at night, some in English and others in Spanish, where people pay to see it up on a projector and can have a picnic. After you visit Montjuic Castle, you can then take the cable car all the way down to Barceloneta and enjoy the beach!
Tibidabo is accessible by different public transportation or various hiking routes. This is by far the best and highest viewpoint of the city. This viewpoint also has the least amount of obstruction from trees and buildings as well, to watch the beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
Tibidabo also has an amusement park to take children to for a day of fun. To even get a higher viewpoint you can gain access to the top of the cathedral next to the amusement for €3.50 and an elevator will take you to the next section and you can climb up the narrow stairwell to get to the very top of the cathedral and have one of the best views of Catalonia.
If you are into mountain biking or hiking, there are many trails here that can lead to practically any part of northern Barcelona or the other side of the mountains.
Barcelona’s beachfront makes it unique in its own right. Starting with Barceloneta, the most famous, tourist packed beach and closest one to the city center. Barceloneta also has a free workout area if that piques your interest.
During summer time, a lot of the beaches get more packed in general, but if you are looking for tamer beach fun, then you will have to explore further past Barceloneta. If you are interested in windsurfing then Badalona and Bogatell are some of the beaches to check out.
Castelldefels is a bit farther out, still in Zone 1 but a much more tranquil beach. A lot of beaches have showers, bathrooms, can rent bikes or play volleyball in some nets that are already set up. Barceloneta also has some of the more popular nightclubs which you can check out.
6. Clubs and Bars
Barcelona is known for its history and culture, as well as its astounding nightlife. What kind of music do you like? Techno? Reggaeton? Latin American? Pop? Tango? Flamenco? Barcelona has a little bit of everything, and they have clubs to match your music and dance preference.
One of the best clubs in Barcelona is Razzmatazz. It is essentially five clubs in one with indie rock, techno, pop, and a mix in separate rooms. There is a good bar next to Razzmatazz, D9, with cheap drinks to pre-game the night.
Near the diagonal metro there are also a few clubs, namely The Oak, that plays mix music between Latin and pop and then there is Mojito, a good place to practice your Latin dance moves.
There are a few other clubs as well. The bar scene in this area is also quite up to par if you are looking for an old-fashioned cocktail bar, Tandem Cocktail Bar and then there is the well-known chain shots bar, Espit Chupitos, across the street, where if you really want to prank a friend you should order the Monica Lewinsky or the Viking drink.
Moving closer to the Gothic district there is El Bosc de les Fades a hidden spot resembling a fantasy forest with interesting décor, filled with butterflies and trees combined with the fading lights and listening to the sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning inducing a mystical ambience. This is a great place for sangrias, cocktails and tapas.
There is also Nevermind, which has two locations, a small venue in the Gothic district and another west of Plaza Catalunya which has an indoor skate ramp. This bar’s vibe is for the more unconventional type of person.
If Latin interests you there is also Bombon, a Mexican bar-restaurant with a secret back entrance with a dance floor where people dance mostly Salsa and Bachata. On the beachfront near Barceloneta, there is Opium, Pacha, Club Catwalk and Magic.
Magic plays mostly rock music while the other three play a mix between Latin and pop music. These clubs can be pricey, fun, touristic, but you can end the partying with a night swim and relax on the beach. Also on this side of the world is Icebarcelona,
One great thing about partying from Saturday to Sunday or on a holiday is that the metro runs all night long. And Barcelona is well-situated with public transport.
Barcelona has some amazing cuisine, but also a lot of diversity to choose from due to its multiculturalism. It has standard Catalan dishes, typical of the region and then it expands to have food from other parts of Spain. You can go tapa hopping and try and find the best patata bravas. There is also a Spanish fast food chain, 100 Montaditos, with various cheap bites.
Tip: On Wednesday all montaditos cost 1 euro!
There are a lot of food markets in Barcelona with fresh food, with the most popular and pricier one being Mercado de La Boqueria, but if you want local ones, go a bit outside of the city center and you will find where the locals shop at decent prices!
Here you can order all the Spanish ham, seafood and cheese you heart desires. One of the priciest but unique tasting hams is Jamón ibérico de bellota, well worth to try. It comes from pigs raised in the Iberian peninsula on an acorn diet and this ham will practically just melt in your mouth.
There is a strong Middle Eastern presence in Barcelona, and with that, a lot of their great cuisine, including Lebanese, Israeli, Iranian and Palestinian. There are many kebab places for a cheap, fast meal. There is obviously a strong presence of Moroccan and French cuisine as well. In fact, pretty much all types of European food can be found, including Hungarian, Romanian, Scandinavian, German and Italian.
If you want to be blown away by the best pizza, I’d suggest Da Nanni Pizzería, a place Italians are envious of.
All the typical American fast food chains can also be found including Burger King, McDonalds, Domino’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell, which are great as they are the few places still open late.
Latin American countries also have a strong presence in Barcelona. There are many Mexican, Brazilian, Argentine and Venezuelan places to name a few. I would suggest Tierra del Fuego, an Argentine restaurant, bit pricier but great quality food.
There are also various all you can eat sushi to higher end Japanese restaurants. And other Thai, Chinese, Indian and other east Asian places.
Lastly, there are many fusion and high end restaurants that are definitely worth trying, such as, Rufus and Urban Jungle. You can find many blends of foods and this is just a snippet of what Barcelona has to offer.
Sagrada Familia is the iconic church of Barcelona that is a must see because of the beauty inside and out yet Barcelona is home to many more cathedrals that are beautiful in their own right.
The Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar is another beautiful church that has accessible rooftop towers.
The Cathedral of Barcelona is massive and beautiful with Gothic style architecture, so after getting lost in the windy roads of the Gothic District, you can rest and admire the inside of this building. During Christmas this Cathedral has a street fair with live music.
Lastly, as already mentioned, the Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon is the Cathedral next to Tibidabo’s amusement park with the best view of the city and the mountain ranges in the distance.
Barcelona is home to many museums where one can admire the work of Dalí, Picasso and many others. If you are a museum buff, then Barcelona has more than enough to please.
Fundació Joan Miró is a beautiful museum that entwines art and architecture. There is the Picasso Museum where one can relish in his works of art.
MACBA the Contemporary Art Museum is a building that can be appreciated by non-artists, but is an exceptional place for those interested and invested in the art world. MNAC is a great museum with a view of the city that has a large overview of Catalan artwork in the past millennium.
Then there are Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Fundación Mapfre and Fundació Suñol, which are three museums close in proximity to one another, all mostly focusing on artwork in the 18th to 20th century, the latter contains some of Picasso’s artwork.
2. Day Trips
Need a break from the city life? And tired of all the expansive nature spots within the city? Well you’re just in luck, because that is doable from Barcelona. One of the awesome things of Barcelona is being able to leave Barcelona and go on nearby trips.
Montserrat is one of the best hikes of the Catalonia region. If you go a little more up north, you can find places with waterfalls, hikes, camp grounds and the Pyrenees. Girona is a little city nearby well worth a visit. Then there are so many beach towns up in Costa Brava up to Tarragona that can be accessed for a cheap day trip.
My number one favorite thing to do in the city is walk around. I love getting lost in the Gothic District, I think I’ve been down every road but then there is always a new side street to be found. If you’d like to walk with a guide, take one of our free walking tours!
There are so many restaurants to try, so many people to meet. If walking isn’t your thing, then there are bike, scooter and moped rentals. Just taking it all in, a random street corner may have a cool shop that suits your interests, which is the value of strolling through the city.
If I didn’t stroll through, I wouldn’t have found half of the things on this list, not to mention all the experiences that I gained.
Barcelona is a great city, and rather safe, minus the pickpockets. So always be careful, especially of your belongings as in any city, but enjoy it. It’s an incredible place to know, understand and learn from.