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20 Things To Do In Barcelona

Updated September 19, 2023

One thing is certain about Barcelona, you won’t find yourself bored with all of the fantastic things to do in all 73 of its different neighborhoods. No wonder it can be overwhelming to know where to begin! That's why we asked some locals for their input. With their help, we created this guide to the “City of Counts.” So if you’re not sure where to start, read on for the 20 best things to do in Barcelona, no matter what your interests are.

Once you’re inspired here, why not ask someone who lives there to help you put the pieces together for your trip? You can work with a local travel planner and see a side of Barcelona that other tourists don’t. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Things To Do In Barcelona

Find a Castell

Wait but what’s a Castell?

Well, it’s a human tower of course! 

The practice started just outside of Barcelona and has been carried on for more than a century now. 

While you might just be lucky enough to simply stumble upon something as cool as a Castell, if you’re really interested in making sure you see this artform in action, you’d best not leave it to chance. Through July, August, and October, every Saturday night, you’ll find the Catalan festival, and with it, human towers – even just attending the festival can be one of your best experiences in Spain. Outside of those months, find out where and when to see a Castell with this useful calendar

Feel the Buzz at Camp Nou

If you know anything about football (soccer) you probably know that Barcelona is home to the well-known and ever-popular FC Barcelona. Camp Nou is their home stadium – sometimes referred to as Barcelona’s “second temple.”

Getting a ticket to a game isn’t always easy but it is definitely an electrifying and highly recommended experience if you can swing it! Most agree that this is by far one of the best things to do in all of Spain.

Otherwise, go when the pitch is empty and you’ll actually be able to walk on it. There is also a museum in the stadium which can all be seen as part of a guided tour, along with a visit to the locker room and the player tunnel. It really is quite an experience!

Escape the City for Montserrat

Mountains behind the monastery in Montserrat - W K/Unsplash

If you have the time and are looking to explore outside of Barcelona’s city limits, Montserrat is an excellent option. In a car, it’s a little under an hour's trip, or on public transport, it’s about two hours with one transfer.

There are several reasons why people choose to visit Montserrat, and you might too. Beyond the fact that it has gorgeous, volcanic scenery, some of the most popular attractions are the Abbey of Montserrat (free to visit but advisable to book ahead), the cable car to the peak of the mountain (which costs around €8 and takes five minutes), and the Museum of Montserrat (features works by Picasso, Dalí, and plenty of others).

Visit the Iconic Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia is easily the most iconic and famous building in Barcelona and also tops the list as one of the places you absolutely need to visit in Spain. Its never-ending construction has become somewhat of a joke but the final, final product will undoubtedly be a sight to behold. Currently, completion is slated for 2026. But we’ll see how that goes…

In the meantime, visiting is still one of the best things to do in Spain, but it’s important to know some tips and tricks from locals to make your experience as seamless as possible. One of the main tips from locals is to plan your visit to coincide with the least crowded hours of the day, days of the week, and months of the year. Locals recommend avoiding Barcelona in general, but definitely the Sagrada Familia, during the busy summer months (May through August) and year-round they recommend going either first thing in the morning when it opens at 9 AM or around 3 PM when there is a post-lunch, early afternoon lull.

Learn About Gaudí at Casa Batllo


The blue facade of Casa Batllo - Ruggiero Calabrese/Unsplash

Gaudí architecture is all around Barcelona but this is one of the spots that locals recommend most often. The building is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be visited by day or night. 

A visit will allow you to enter on a self-guided audio tour through the immersive experience that is Gaudí. There are different options for ticket levels which include various rooms in the house. Locals recommend booking a ticket that allows you to enter the vividly lit Gaudí Dôme. Whichever level of ticket you decide on you should absolutely book it in advance online to avoid waiting around in any queues. 

Explore the Palau de la Música Catalana

A stunning concert hall, Palau de la Música Catalana is a great opportunity to switch up which talented architect’s work you’re drooling over. Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and while distinctly different from a great deal of the other architecture in Barcelona, it is well worth visiting. 

One of the best ways to experience a building is to go and use it for its intended purpose, in this case: concerts. There are shows year-round, just check for tickets during your visit. However, if you’d like to learn more about the building and the architecture, you can book either a guided or self-guided visit. With limited spots daily this is not only something to book in advance, but something to help you get away from the masses as entry is a great deal more limited than at other attractions.

Visit the Catedral de Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia takes such center stage in Barcelona that even spectacular buildings like the Cathedral are overshadowed. And this is not a shabby building!

The Cathedral in some form has been around for centuries, but it has grown, evolved, and been restored throughout history. Now it remains a functioning house of worship, but you can also go on a tourist visit which includes the cloister and main area of the cathedral but also allows access to the rooftop which is by elevator (a rare lack of many steps to get to those views!).

Have a Drink in The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gòtic in Spanish, is a fantastically beautiful area to get lost in. This is the old city and is full of Gothic architecture – thus named. If you’re short on time you could get a good taste of the neighborhood in about 2-3 hours but locals recommend taking your time, stopping for a drink, and really soaking in the space. 

Check out La Burnessa for a delicious and beautiful cocktail or L'Antic Bocoi del Gòtic for a cozy sit-down meal. 

For other tips on where to stop and what to see in the area make sure to chat with a local to help you plan your own self-guided tour.

Explore the Design of Nature in Park Güell

Woman posing on a bench in Park Güell - Jeison Higuita/Unsplash

Park Güell is definitely one of the coolest things to do across all of Spain. It is an expansive park full of unexpected architecture and sprawling gardens. But it is now fully private so you will need to book a ticket to enter. The park is open every day throughout the year but the opening hours do fluctuate slightly depending on the season. The official recommendation is to give yourself two hours for your visit, but once you’re in you can take as much time as you like!

Tickets absolutely do sell out so it's a good idea to book in advance. And make sure to arrive on time, if not early. Your ticket will be time-slotted and you only have 30 minutes from that time to arrive or you will be denied entry. 

Immerse Yourself in Art at The Picasso Museum

More than four thousand of Picasso’s works can be found in the Picasso Museum. If that’s not enough to awe you, there are also various temporary exhibits that change every several months. And beyond the art, you’ll also learn a great deal about the man and his relationship with the city of Barcelona.

You can book your ticket online in advance and you also have the option to book a tour with a guide or the use of an audio guide. 

For quieter visiting hours locals recommend avoiding weekends or school holidays. They say that you should budget about two hours of your time for a visit, but of course, that depends on how much of an art connoisseur you are!

Escape the Crowds at Sant Pau Recinto Modernista

Once a home for the sick, this art-nouveau complex (the largest in the world) has been refurbished and is now very much worth a visit. You can visit on a guided (just over an hour in length) or self-guided tour (note: if you choose to get a Barcelona card you’ll get a 20% discount on your ticket price here).

There are 27 buildings in the complex and you can follow an easy route that brings you through all of them without backtracking.

While this complex is fairly well known, locals advise that if you want to get away from the really dense crowds you might choose to spend an afternoon here.

Get Lost in the Labyrinth Park of Horta

Made from high hedges of cypress, this labyrinth is incredible to explore. According to lore, depending on what happens inside of the labyrinth the park may just rob you of your heart! Developed first in the late 1700s, the park is the oldest in the city so has plenty of history to share.

Given that the park is on the edge of Barcelona, it will be a bit of a trip, so you might want to check in with a local for recommendations on what else to do in the area including where to eat, drink, or other spots to really get away from the crowds!

Feel Your Mouth Water in Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria

Once a central market where locals did their daily shopping, La Boqueria, as it is commonly called, is now much more of a major tourist attraction and you are unlikely to find so many locals just going about their day. 

But there are still plenty of shopping opportunities, from butchers to fish vendors to more basic groceries. The market has some of the freshest food around and is bright, vibrant, and a food lovers paradise. 

While a stop by the market is something most visitors have on their itinerary, knowing exactly which stalls to stop by can be a bit more challenging. So why not chat with someone in the know and see their favorites?

Take in the Sunshine in La Barceloneta

La Barceloneta is the seaside neighborhood of Barcelona, just next to the Gothic Quarter. So if you’re looking to lie out in the sun, dip your toes in the sand, or jump into the sea, this is the place to go. 

If you’re in Barcelona in the warmer months, know that this area gets absolutely jammed with umbrellas and beach towels, so if you don’t arrive early you may not be able to find a patch of sand to yourself.

Beyond the sea, this neighborhood is another charming area of the city and it’s a great idea to wander and see what you stumble upon.

Hop On the Cable Car to Montjuïc Castle

The Montjuïc cable car is an amazing way to see Barcelona – stretching for nearly a kilometer (about half a mile) – you’ll be high above many of the famous sights of the city, and on a day with clear skies you can see quite far! 

If that’s not enough, when you get out of the cable car you’ll be at the castle where you can tour the building, the gardens, and the onsite museum which explains the immense history of the site.  

As with so many Barcelona tourist attractions, locals recommend booking your cable car tickets in advance so that you can “jump the queue” on arrival!

Relax in Citadel Park

Parc de la Ciutadella is a refreshing green space within the chaos of Barcelona’s downtown. If you’re simply looking for a refreshing break and a bit of quiet, you can just pop into the park, entry to which is free. 

But there are also lots of things to do within the park. You can hop on a boat and go for a spin around the waters. You can visit the zoo which has everything from penguins to hippos to tigers. Or you can stop by the Parliament of Catalonia, which you can explore on a guided tour. 

Beyond the park, this neighborhood is also recommended as one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona

See Even More Gaudí at Casa Mila

One of Gaudí’s final designs, this building is commonly referred to as The Stone Quarry and is another exceptional masterpiece by the renowned architect. There are a variety of tours available – from the basic experience to a nighttime tour that culminates in a historical multimedia show on the rooftop.

As with other Barcelona attractions, book your ticket online in advance to avoid any waiting when you arrive. But regardless, aim for an early morning visit (unless you fancy the nighttime tour!) to have a bit more space and fewer crowds. The visit will take about 90 minutes. 

Eat Tapas

While you can find delicious tapas across the whole of Spain, each region has its own spin on the experience as well as the dishes.

A few must-tries in Barcelona are:

  • Olives! (basic but delicious)

  • La bomba (fried potato croquette)

  • Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus – a dish from farther north, but if you won’t make it there, try it in Barcelona instead!)

  • Patatas bravas (simple but delicious fried potatoes)

  • Tortilla de patatas​ (more potatoes, more deliciousness)

If all of that sounds good, make sure you have the best tapas restaurants in Barcelona included in your itinerary – and what better way to know which is the best than to talk with a local.

Stumble Upon Roman Ruins

Exterior of Museum of History of Barcelona - matressa/pixabay

Did you know that Barcelona was once named simply Barcino and it was Roman? That was in the 1st century AD, but there are still remnants of that town that can be found around the city.

The Museum of History of Barcelona is one of the spots where you can walk through Roman ruins (even an old laundry room!). The Temple of Augustus was once, you guessed it, a temple to Augustus (the emperor). Now, all that stands of it are four pillars. But those pillars are quite impressive, so be sure not to pass them by.

Since the Roman ruins are sometimes missed due to their scattered nature, it can be a good idea to book a tour to make sure you don’t pass by any of these ancient remnants. 

Catch a Flamenco Show

Flamenco may originate in the south of Spain, but if heading that way isn’t part of your itinerary, you can still catch a show in Barcelona. 

Locals recommend Tablao Flamenco Cordobes which has been around since the 70s and often has top Flamenco talent in. You can also get a delicious meal there along with the show. Do definitely book in advance though! 

There are loads of other options as well so if you’re looking for something in a specific neighborhood that might be more convenient for you, check in with a local as to where they suggest you go.

Hopefully this list has given you a lot of inspiration for your trip! If you’re still not sure how to best fit all of the pieces together, get connected with a local travel planner who can help you create the ideal itinerary for your tastes and time!

For even more tips on planning your Barcelona trip, check out:


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