Perhaps one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and undoubtedly one of the most popular travel destinations on the continent – Barcelona is eternally popular, and there is plenty of things to do in Barcelona.
In this guide, we look at things to do in Barcelona to be noticed on a trip to the Spanish coastal city.
- 1. Sagrada Familia – Barcelona’s most famous sight
- 2. Shopping & sightseeing on the Rambla
- 3. La Boqueria – food market next to the Rambla
- 4. Telefèric de Montjuïc (Barcelona Cable Car)
- 5. FC Barcelona from the inside – visit Camp Nou
- 6. The beaches 🏖
- 7. Park Güell
- 8. Barcelona Cathedral
- 9. The Gothic Quarter
- 10. Hop On Hop Off Bus
- 11. Experience a Flamenco show
- 12. Day trip to Montserrat
Let’s jump straight into the travel guide, beginning with one of Spain‘s most famous tourist attractions.
What to do and see in Barcelona? Here are some of my favourites after 4 trips to the Spanish coastal city.
1. Sagrada Familia – Barcelona’s most famous sight
I can’t have a Barcelona travel guide without the Sagrada Familia. As Antoni Gaudi started building the iconic building in 1882 (!), he hardly expected that the work on the church would last well over 100 years.
Nevertheless, this is the case with the Sagrada Familia, which still needs to be completed, but Barcelona’s most famous landmark nonetheless and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Barcelona.
The Sagrada Familia is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and you can enjoy the view of the church from many parts of Barcelona. Of course, it is free to look at the church from the outside, while it costs money to visit the church.
Tip: buy a ticket to the Sagrada Familia online & skip the queue
The church is one of the most famous in the world and most tourists who visit Barcelona want to experience the church from the inside. That’s why there is a long queue!
You can avoid this if you are a little bright as you can buy fast-track tickets, which allow you to skip the queue and enter directly.
You must buy these tickets online.
2. Shopping & sightseeing on the Rambla
La Rambla is a street in the centre of Barcelona that you will undoubtedly pass by if you visit Barcelona for the first time.
There is a string of restaurants, bars and shops on the street, where there is always plenty of life. In the summer months, when there are extra many tourists, the street can feel too packed, and there are queues at the good restaurants.
As the Rambla is the street everyone must visit when they travel to Barcelona, there are, unfortunately, some tourist traps you must watch out for.
Therefore, I recommend anyone who wants to experience the good Barcelona atmosphere and enjoy a meal at one of the Rambla’s many restaurants to read up on various restaurants from home.
Use a site like Tripadvisor or Google Maps and read reviews from previous guests. Then you will surely get a good meal and not waste your money on a tourist trap.
You can also stroll on the Rambla and look at shops (and people). Start at the top near Placa Catalunya metro station and walk down to the old port.
It’s an excellent walk.
By the way, I recommend getting the Hola BCN Card that gives you unlimited access to public transport in all of Barcelona for either 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours.
You can even use the Hola BCN Card to and from Barcelona Airport.
3. La Boqueria – food market next to the Rambla
Around the middle of the Rambla, we find La Boqueria, which is a brilliant food market in the city centre of Barcelona.
There are also small ‘restaurants’ inside the market where you can sit at the bar and watch your fish being prepared.
There is everything from fresh fruit to street food and huge frozen fish.
Undoubtedly one of the places in Barcelona you have to experience – even though it is pretty touristy (with the location right on the Rambla), it is a fascinating place to drop by.
Have you read my guide on the best areas and places to stay in Barcelona? In that guide I’m mentioning several hotels close to La Boqueria.
4. Telefèric de Montjuïc (Barcelona Cable Car)
One thing that sets Barcelona apart from other popular big cities in Europe is the opportunity to take a (rather long) trip by cable car, where you can see how big the city is.
From the Montjuïc cable car, you can spot the city’s well-known sights, with the Sagrada Familia, as mentioned above, naturally being the easiest to spot.
The cable car is named after the district/hill of Montjüic, an epicentre of art in Barcelona and thus worth exploring if you have these interests.
The Montjuïc cable car is a reasonably cheap sight/experience in Barcelona, so I would recommend everyone to experience it.
The trip is approximately 750 meters long, and there are 3 stops on the cable car, so there is plenty of opportunity to explore the entire hill.
5. FC Barcelona from the inside – visit Camp Nou
FC Barcelona has been one of the best football teams in the world for many years, and you can think about the club what you want, but their stadium & the club’s history is unique.
Therefore, I recommend anyone with the slightest interest in football visit Camp Nou and experience FC Barcelona from the inside.
You have to book your tour of the stadium in advance and it is recommended to book as far in advance as possible.
If you have already booked your flight and hotel in Barcelona, then you can start planning when you will visit Camp Nou and book the tickets.
You get a 1.5-hour tour of Camp Nou, including the dedicated FC Barcelona museum, where many treasures from the great club’s incredible history are displayed.
By the way, it is super easy to get to the stadium from the Rambla with the metro.
I used the Hola BCN Card and got there in 15 minutes from the Drassanes metro station.
I am not a fan of FC Barcelona myself, but I am happy with football, and it was awe-inspiring to visit the Barcelona museum at Camp Nou.
Whether you like the club, its history is imposing, and the stadium is iconic.
As a football fan, it was a great experience to step into the stadium (which, by the way, you do directly from the museum) from which I have sat and watched so many football matches as a child.
Camp Nou is indeed Barcelona’s best thing to do for football fans.
6. The beaches 🏖
And then to something that attracts many tourists when the summer holiday destination has to be chosen, and the choice falls on Barcelona: the excellent beach.
Fascinating big cities with a beach are relatively hard to find here in Europe, but Barcelona has excellent beaches close to the city centre.
It doesn’t get much better 😀
If you want to experience Barcelona from the seaside, consider taking a boat trip.
7. Park Güell
Park Güell is as iconic to Barcelona as the beach and the Sagrada Familia. If you didn’t get enough of experiencing Barcelona’s skyline from the cable car, then in Park Güell, you can also get an outstanding view of the city.
The park is also the place in Barcelona that most travellers visit yearly – with good reason.
In addition to the epic view of Barcelona, there are an incredible number of quirky buildings in the park, so the cheap entry price is well worth it.
I recommend walking down towards the city centre from the park as you’ll walk through the romantic Gracia area – one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona.
8. Barcelona Cathedral
We jump right back to the central part of the city, where the impressive cathedral is one of the things to do in Barcelona you need to drop by.
La Sagrada Familia naturally takes first place in “must-see churches”, but the cathedral in the centre is also stunning.
9. The Gothic Quarter
The cathedral is located in a neighbourhood high on the list of areas in Barcelona you would like to visit and stay in as a tourist.
Here are narrow streets and beautiful old buildings. For me, it evoked memories of the old town in Florence and perhaps Trastevere in Rome.
In any case, without a doubt an area where you can spend many hours just wandering around, looking at buildings and shops and then finding a cosy café and getting some delicious food.
10. Hop On Hop Off Bus
As in all other big cities in Europe, Barcelona has dedicated sightseeing buses. I enjoy walking a lot of kilometres when I’m on a city break, but I’ve also enjoyed taking sightseeing buses.
In Barcelona, you can take a few different lines on the sightseeing buses so that you can see most of Barcelona’s best-known sights from the open double-decker bus.
You can see the routes and get tickets online at GetYourGuide here.
11. Experience a Flamenco show
If there is one place in the world you must experience a flamenco show, it is Spain. Here in Barcelona, there is a long-standing tradition of dancing flamenco.
It is challenging to sit still and not be captivated when you experience a Flamenco show, so if you would like to have a different evening in Barcelona, this is a good bet.
12. Day trip to Montserrat
There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona for many days, but if you want to experience something completely different from the busy streets and beaches, then a day trip to the Montserrat monastery is a great idea.
Montserrat is a small town up in the mountains a little inland from Barcelona, which, as you know, is on the coast:
You can take the train from Barcelona to Montserrat, but guided tours from Barcelona to the monastery run daily. GetYourGuide has launched their own tour, which includes a visit to the Montserrat monastery, a wine tasting and lunch.
I hope you can use this guide to the best things to do in Barcelona. You are welcome to comment below if you have any questions about Barcelona or your trip.
Otherwise, I just want to wish you an excellent trip to fantastic Barcelona.
Read all my Barcelona travel guides here.