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There are a lot of things to do in Barcelona, Catalonia. Its art and architecture have enriched this beautiful city with worldwide fame, making it one of the main tourist destinations in Spain.
As all of my mother’s family is from Catalonia, I have been traveling to Barcelona for as long as I can remember and I can tell you that you should visit it at least once in your lifetime.
I suggest spending 3 days in Barcelona, but if you want to visit the surroundings, you’re better off with 4 or 5 days. There are many amazing places to visit in Barcelona, one of the best cities to visit in Spain.
If this is your first time, this free tour is one of the best things to do in Barcelona as soon as you arrive. Also, to learn more about the architect that designed many of the main points of interest in the city, don’t miss this free tour about the modernist works of Gaudí.
Keep in mind that not all of Barcelona’s tourist attractions are close to each other. The best way to get around is with this unlimited transport card, which is valid for 2 to 5 days from activation. However, if you’re going to visit museums and other paid attractions, this other card includes unlimited transportation and free entrance to some sites.
Now, here are the 60 best things to do in Barcelona. At the end of this guide, I’ve included a tourist map to help you plan your itinerary.
1. La Sagrada Familia, a must-see in Barcelona, Catalonia
La Sagrada Familia is one of the most important places to visit in Barcelona. This Catholic cathedral was designed by Antoni Gaudí and is considered his most impressive work. Construction began in 1882 and the work is still not finished! Once you step inside, you’ll understand why.
The church is a prime example of Catalan Modernist architecture, and perhaps the most ambitious project in the country. Simply walking up to it, you have to crane your neck to see the impressive façade and all the intricate details. Be sure to take time to see all the religious elements interspersed with natural forms.
The Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so there’s no doubt that visiting it is one of the best things to do in Barcelona. Along with the Alhambra in Granada, the cathedral is one of the most-visited monuments in Spain. The interior is a true work of art, full of symmetrical ornamentation.
The most remarkable thing about it is its massive size and huge towers. Each tower is meant to represent a Biblical character: Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and the four evangelists of the gospels.
I think it’s well worth spending the extra money to climb to the top of the towers. You’ll get the most stunning views of the city! The lines get long, so I suggest booking one of these options in advance: skip-the-line-ticket only, ticket + guided tour, or ticket + guided tour + towers.
2. Park Güell, the most beautiful park to visit in Barcelona
Park Güell is one of those places not to miss in Barcelona. This public park is another dreamy creation by Gaudí, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Entrance to the park is free, although you’ll need a ticket to visit the monument area. It’s worth it, as you’ll get to see the best modernist architecture in Barcelona. Plus, there’s a skip-the-line ticket available. Or, you bundle Park Güell with a tour of La Sagrada Familia.
As you go through the main entrance, you’ll see a whimsical little house overlooking the southern slope of Mount Carmel. The house functions as a bar, exhibit room, and souvenir shop. Also, right in front of it is one of the top tourist attractions in Barcelona: Gaudí’s famous lizard sculpture. The colorful ceramic fragments were made with the traditional trencadís technique, which is reflected in many Barcelona souvenirs.
Take your time exploring the gardens and the Plaza de la Naturaleza, where you’ll find the iconic snake-shaped bench and magnificent views. Be sure to also check out the incredible architecture of the Hypostyle Hall, the Viaducts, and the Laundry Room Portico. You can also visit the Gaudí House-Museum, where the famous architect lived for a few years.
I would plan a few hours at the park so you can take your time to see everything. There are picnic tables and plenty of benches, too. Don’t forget to visit the Austrian Gardens, the Vallcarca Forest, and the Hill of Three Crosses.
3. Watch a match at Camp Nou, popular things to do in Barcelona, Spain
I’m not passionate about soccer, but I know that watching the Barça team play at Camp Nou is a dream come true for many people. I think it’s one of those activities in Barcelona that anyone could enjoy.
Camp Nou stadium was inaugurated on September 24, 1957, and since then, has been where FC Barcelona plays their home games. The arena currently seats over 99,000 fans, making it one of the largest stadiums in Europe. It’s also open to self-guided tours throughout the week, so it’s a popular tourist attraction in Barcelona.
If you can’t catch a match, consider this tour, which takes you behind the scenes to the more private areas of the stadium. A sports journalist will share history about the Barça team while showing you the press room, museum, and press box. The tour ends with a snack and drinks at the local bar.
I did this tour with my brother a couple of years ago and can say that it’s one of the fun things to do in Barcelona for families too.
4. La Pedrera-Casa Milà, a breathtaking place to go in Barcelona
La Pedrera, also known as Casa Milà, is another important work by Antoni Gaudí, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can find it by strolling along Paseo de Gràcia. Once you see it, you’ll have no doubts because it’s the most beautiful place to visit on Barcelona‘s streets.
It’s hard to imagine living in such an incredible building, but Casa Milà was built as a residence. The undulating structure was completed in 1912 for Pere Milà and Roser Segimon, an aristocratic couple.
From the sidewalk, you can see the home’s wrought-iron balconies, each with a slightly different style. You can admire Casa-Milà from the outside or pay to see the inside. Admission doesn’t cost too much, and I think it’s an interesting thing to do in Barcelona.
From inside, you can see that the construction of the windows and patios was very intentional to improve the lighting and ventilation. If you go up to the roof, you’ll get awesome views of the city. I think it’s fun to look around and notice which chimneys and staircases stand out from the ordinary.
The main hall of the building serves as a public museum. It also houses the headquarters of the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation headquarters and some luxury apartments.
If you do want to go inside, I suggest booking a skip-the-line ticket since it can get crowded.
5. Casa Batlló, one of the best museums in Barcelona, Catalonia
Casa Batlló is another famous work by Antoni Gaudí and one of my favorite places to visit in Barcelona. What makes this building so special is that the façade represents the history of Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia. If you visit Casa Batlló on April 23rd (the day of his death and the Day of the Book), you’ll see red roses adorning the balconies.
The exterior façade of Casa Batlló is colorful and ornate, and the designs seem to resemble masks or skulls. The balconies are equally as impressive, especially the uppermost Princess Balcony. Along with the scaly roof, these architectural elements look like the body of a dragon. You could stand in front of this house for an hour and still find little details, which makes it a popular place to visit in Barcelona.
Like Gaudí’s other works, Casa Batlló is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can view the exterior for free, but I recommend reserving a ticket to go inside. The tour includes a virtual reality “smart guide” that gives you an inside look at Gaudí’s design process.
6. Visit Plaza de Cataluña-La Rambla-Mirador de Colón, the best free thing to do in BCN
One of the most iconic things to do in Barcelona is to take a walk through the Plaza de Cataluña to La Rambla and the Columbus Monument. These three attractions are part of any Barcelona itinerary and will give you a great introduction to the city.
The Plaça de Catalunya is a huge square and connects the old town to the Ensanche, or expansion of the city. Shops, bars, restaurants, and a subway station surround the plaza, and it always has a lively atmosphere. If you visit during the holidays, you can experience the Christmas market. There are lots of activities too, making it one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids.
The plaza also connects to La Rambla, the central street in Barcelona. This energetic street leads to the port and is always filled with tourists and enticing stalls. La Rambla passes by popular Barcelona attractions like the Liceu Theater and the Boquería market. While there are lots of things to see here, be sure to stay aware, as lots of pick-pocketers hang out around this area.
At the end of La Rambla, you’ll see the Columbus Monument. It’s nearly 200 feet tall and you can climb to the overlook, where you’ll get spectacular views of the port. Nearby is a scenic waterfront walkway and Port Vell, the old city port. There are lots of restaurants around here, but I don’t recommend them because the prices are high, and the quality isn’t great.
7. Eat at La Boquería, an incredible thing to do in Barcelona, Catalonia
The Boquería Market is one of the most famous places to visit in Barcelona, and it’s quite an experience for the senses.
This open-air market has the perfect location to entice tourists who are strolling La Rambla. It dates to 1840 when it was a popular local market for fresh produce. Today, it’s one of the main Barcelona tourist attractions with a global reputation.
La Boquería covers over half an acre, and you’ll find over 200 vendors here. The products range from local specialties to exotic foods and delicacies. If you can find a seat at one of the bar counters, settle in for some traditional tapas. The market is also a great place to sightsee, and it’s a nice free thing to do in Barcelona.
I think it’s interesting that this area used to be the site of the Convent of Sant Josep back in the 16th century. However, the convent caught fire, so the market was built in its place.
8. La Barceloneta, one of the best beaches in Barcelona, Spain
La Barceloneta is one of the top tourist sites in Barcelona. The neighborhood is a popular vacation spot for locals and visitors since it offers a convenient location to the beach and the city center.
Because of its proximity to the sea, the Barceloneta district was a fishermen’s neighborhood in the mid-18th century. While the area has been modernized, the old-fashioned essence of remains, mostly in the narrow streets, darkened facades, and squawking seabirds.
Barceloneta Beach is one of the more popular places to visit in Barcelona, particularly among tourists. The beach can get so crowded that many locals prefer to travel to nearby towns instead. While Barceloneta is worth seeing, there are other great beaches in Barcelona, such as Sitges, Calella, and Castelldefels.
When you get hungry, you won’t be far from some great restaurants. One of my favorite pizzerias, NAP, is in Barceloneta. If the weather is nice, you can order a pizza to go and enjoy it on the beach.
There are also lots of interesting things to do in this Barcelona neighborhood. For example, here you’ll find the Museum of History of Catalonia, the Clock Tower, and the Maremagnum Shopping Center. You can also take the cable car to the Miramar Viewpoint on the lower level of Montjuïc, an area I’ll talk about next.
If you’re staying overnight, the beach has one of the best hotels in Spain, the W Barcelona.
9. Montjuïc, an area with more things to do in Barcelona, Catalonia
Montjuïc is one of those places of interest in Barcelona that offers something for everyone. This iconic hill is home to parks, museums, historical sites, and incredible views of the city.
The area has several unique things to do in Barcelona that you can’t find anywhere else. For example, the Castle of Montjuïc is an old military fortress from the 1640s, although it had to be rebuilt in 1751. It has a neoclassical style with bastions, parade grounds, a watchtower, moat, and terrace. It’s at the summit of the hill, over 565 feet above sea level, and you feel like you’re in another world.
If it’s museums that you want, Montjuïc won’t disappoint. The area is home to MNAC, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, the Joan Miró Foundation, and the Joan Antoni Samaranch Olympic and Sports Museum. The Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum that recreates traditional Spanish villages, is another highlight.
Another unforgettable thing to do here is to see the free Magic Fountain show in front of MNAC. Watching the colorful display of water, lights, and music is the best thing to do in Barcelona at night.
Besides, getting to Montjuïc is half the fun. You can take the cable car and take in aerial views of the sea and mountains. It’s a more expensive option, but it’s worth it for the experience.
10. Tibidabo amusement park, the best thing to do in Barcelona with kids
Tibidabo amusement park is the most popular place to visit in Barcelona with kids. The park is on Tibidabo Mountain, which is part of the Collserola Range. It’s the oldest active amusement park in Spain, and one of the oldest in Europe, and makes for a thrilling day trip.
The amusement park will delight kids, but there are also elements for adults to enjoy. If I had to choose an attraction, of course, I’d choose Hotel Krüeger. It’s a haunted house full of creepy characters like Dracula, Freddy Krueger, and the girl from The Exorcist. This is one of the best attractions in Barcelona. It’s so good that you can only go in three times per day.
Other activities at Tibidabo include historic rides like Talaia, a rotating arm built in 1921 that soars over 1,800 feet in the air. There is also Avió, the world’s first flight simulator, which is a to-scale replica of a 1920s Iberian Airlines plane. There are modern thrill rides, too, such as the Dididado 4D cinema attraction and Virtual Express, a virtual reality roller coaster.
When you need a break, you can visit the park’s Automata Museum, which contains over 40 automated machines and puppets from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also several restaurants, picnic areas, and souvenir shops in the park.
Tibidabo is popular with locals and tourists, so it can get crowded. Sometimes it’s impossible to get same-day tickets, so I recommend purchasing them in advance.
11. Barcelona Cathedral, a tranquil place to go in Barcelona, Catalonia
The Barcelona Cathedral is one of the most impressive Gothic temples in Catalonia, so it’s one of the top places for sightseeing in Barcelona.
Also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, this 14th-century church is a stunning example of Catalan gothic architecture. As you approach the structure, you’ll notice the exterior façade is covered in religious motifs and gargoyles. There are also relief sculptures of Christ and the apostles on the large door and Gothic arch.
If you’re an art aficionado, you may notice that some elements in the church are more Renaissance while others are modernist. For example, the impressive bell towers and stained-glass windows reflect these styles.
Of course, you don’t need to be well-versed in art history to appreciate the beauty of this cathedral. One of the most remarkable parts of the church is the Crypt of Santa Eulalia. This tomb is the resting place of Saint Eulalia, a young girl who defended her Christian faith to her death. The 13 white geese in the cloister area represent the age at which Eulalia was martyred.
You should also check out the ornate choir stalls, the monstrance made of gold and silver, and the Chapel of Santo Cristo de Lepanto, which was built in 1407.
12. MNAC, one of the most important museums in Barcelona, Spain
MNAC or the National Art Museum of Catalonia is one of the most important museums to visit in Barcelona. It’s conveniently located in Montjuïc Park, behind the Magic Fountain.
The museum has one of the most impressive collections in the country. Its exhibits cover masterful works from the 11th century to the present day, including works by El Greco, Rubens, and Goya, among others. Along with these famous paintings, you’ll also find drawings, engravings, sculptures, and foreign coins.
It’s worth visiting MNAC more than once, as the permanent collection is massive. That said, the museum also holds temporary exhibits, so check the website to see what’s showing during your trip.
As you walk up to the museum, you’ll feel like you’re entering a magnificent castle. And well, you kind of are! MNAC is housed in the National Palace, a Spanish-Renaissance building that was designed for the 1929 International Exhibition.
If you love art, this is one of the best places to go in Barcelona. You can explore thousands of works all in one location. Plus, if you go up to the museum terrace, you can look out over Plaça d’Espanya and the rest of the city.
13. The Gothic Quarter, an interesting place to visit in Barcelona
The Gothic Quarter is one of the most interesting places to visit in Barcelona. As the oldest and, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the city, you can’t say you’ve experienced Barcelona without seeing this neighborhood.
You might stumble upon the Gothic Quarter by accident, or you can make a left off La Rambla as you’re walking towards the Columbus Monument. Follow the narrow streets to encounter one of the most charming Barcelona attractions.
Some of the small shops in this neighborhood are the original 19th and 20th-century buildings. You’ll also find a few tourist sites like the neoclassical Plaza Real, the Barcelona City History Museum, the Picasso Museum, and the Barcelona Cathedral that I mentioned earlier.
One of the most important areas is the Plaça de Sant Jaume, where City Hall and the Government of Catalonia are located. Several cultural events occur here throughout the year, such as the castells, or human towers.
The Gothic Quarter is also home to the remnants of Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter, known as El Call. One of the oldest synagogues in Europe, the Ancient Synagogue of Barcelona, can be found here.
You want to take your time exploring this distinct neighborhood. I know the labyrinthine streets can be confusing, so consider this 2-hour walking tour. Afterward, you might enjoy browsing the nearby Portal de l’Àngel shopping area.
14. Palace of Catalan Music, one of the most spectacular places to go in Barcelona
The Palace of Catalan Music is a modernist Catalan music hall and a beautiful place in Barcelona. Designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the palace first opened in 1908. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a prime example of the Renaixença, the Catalan Rebirth.
You can see national and international performers at the concert hall, although the stunning interior decorate might steal the show. The palace’s interior is filled with intricate floral motifs as well as traditional Spanish and Arabic elements.
Perhaps the most impressive feature is the stage, which is surrounded by muses, busts of Anselm Clavé and Beethoven, and a depiction of Wagner’s Valkyries. The circular stained-glass skylight looks like a sun radiating throughout the concert hall.
A visit to the palace is an amazing experience in Barcelona and one that you shouldn’t miss. The cheapest seats cost $24-$35, but I recommend spending a bit more so you can really take in the show. If there isn’t a performance you’re interested in seeing, this 45-minute guided tour is a great way to explore the luxury of the palace.
15. Visit Plaça d’Espanya, the best free thing to do in Barcelona
Plaça d’Espanya is one of the most famous places to visit in Barcelona, as you might guess from its iconic Venetian towers. The square holds historical and cultural significance and is a must-see during your trip.
The plaza’s spectacular architecture was designed for the 1929 International Exhibition, and today, it creates a lovely backdrop for the Magic Fountain shows.
This is also where you’ll find Las Arenas, a former bull-fighting ring that’s now a massive shopping center with some good restaurants. If you go up to the roof terrace, you can view the plaza and its surroundings. You can take the panoramic elevator, but they’ll charge you a fee. I don’t think it’s worth it, so I prefer taking the free elevator or escalator.
The CaixaFórum art gallery is also in the square. It’s a cool place to see contemporary art, photography, film, and architecture. If the Fira de Barcelona pavilions are open, check those out, too. Throughout the year, this area hosts interesting trade shows covering a variety of subjects like cars, manga, weddings, and more. Nearby is the open-air Poble Espanyol museum, which I’ll talk about later.
Getting to the plaza is simple since many bus routes stop here. Or you can take the L1, L3, or L8 subway train to the Espanya station.
16. Joan Miró Foundation, another great museum to visit in Barcelona, Catalonia
Nestled atop Montjuïc Hill is the Joan Miró Foundation, which doubles as a museum and a contemporary art institution. Miró was an influential Catalan painter, and the collection spans more than 104,000 pieces of his work, so this is a top museum in Barcelona.
On your way to the foundation, you’ll probably pass through Plaça d’Espanya, which is home to Miró’s Dona i Ocell sculpture. At the museum, not only will you find some of the artist’s best work, but the building itself was designed by him, too. He imagined each gallery space and room layout so they could reflect specific artworks, which I think is pretty cool.
Along with his surreal paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the foundation also holds temporary exhibits of 20th and 21st-century artists. Here, you can find works by Rene Magritte, Alexander Calder, Mark Rothko, and lesser-known artists. The Espai 13 gallery is dedicated to young experimental artists.
The museum also offers family activities and workshops, so this could be a fun place to visit in Barcelona with kids.
17. Ciutadella, a popular place to go in Barcelona, Catalonia
La Ciutadella is a gorgeous historical garden, although it was once a military fortress. After the 1868 Revolution, the fortress had been demolished, leaving the city to decide what to do with the space. Since the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition was approaching, the plan was to create one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona.
Without a doubt, La Ciutadella Park is a prominent site in Barcelona, both for its historical significance and its incredible design. It has a unique five-corner design with the main entrance being near the Arc de Triomf. The entire area covers over 40 acres, making this the perfect place to hang out, practice sports, have a picnic or sightsee.
Speaking of which, La Ciutadella is a prime spot for sightseeing in Barcelona. I suggest checking out the Cascada, a lovely waterfall that mimics the design of Rome’s Trevi Fountain. There is also the modernist Castle of the Three Dragons, where you’ll find the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona.
Be sure to bring your camera because there are lots of cool monuments to see. One of the best is the mammoth sculpture, whose trunk you can climb onto. The General Prim monument and Als Voluntaris Catalans statue, which honors fallen Catalan volunteer soldiers, are also popular.
On a typical day, you’ll see couples and families enjoying the fresh air or a rowboat ride on the lake. Even though it’s in the city and close to several attractions, it’s a peaceful haven.
18. Arc de Triomf, an incredible monument to see in Barcelona, Catalonia
The Arc de Triomf is a Barcelona attraction you can’t miss. Built for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition, the arch is nearly 100 feet tall, although it’s smaller than the Paris arch that inspired it. You can find it near the Ciutadella entrance on the Lluis Companys promenade.
While most arches of triumph are meant to commemorate military victories, Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf is non-combative and instead, welcomes visitors. The inscription on the front-facing side even says Barcelona rep les nacions, which translates to “Barcelona receives the nations”.
The iconic landmark was a collaborative project among several Catalan architects, and all the elements represent various aspects of the city’s history. For example, there are relief sculptures to mark Barcelona’s agricultural industry and commerce, as well as shields of the 49 Spanish provinces. The carved stone bats are a nod to King Jaume I, who oversaw a period of prosperity over the city.
The Arc de Triomf is a unique thing to see in Barcelona, plus it’s close to several good restaurants and tourist attractions. The surrounding area near the Lluis Companys promenade is a pleasant hangout spot for locals, so take your time to walk around and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
19. Güell Palace, a breathtaking place to go in Barcelona
Another Gaudí masterpiece you should check out is Güell Palace. This cultural landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site, which you can find in the El Raval neighborhood, was completed in 1890.
Like all Gaudí’s works, Güell Palace stands out among the other homes on Nou de la Rambla Street. The modernist architecture is something you’ll recognize if you’ve already visited other Gaudí tourist attractions in Barcelona.
If you pay attention to the house’s front entrance, you’ll notice two iron gates, which were designed to accommodate horse-drawn carriages. There are intricate organic forms forged into the iron, some of which resemble underwater plants.
Part of the mansion is a museum, and you can go inside for a reasonable fee. Your visit starts in the basement stable, through the central room, and up to the roof terrace, the most beautiful part. Here, you’ll find 20 chimneys and a central spire, all covered in decorative ceramics. Walking through the terrace feels like traversing a magical landscape of colorful mosaics and curvaceous forms.
If you plan on visiting other places of interest in Barcelona, consider this tour, which guides you through La Rambla, La Boquería, and Güell Palace.
20. Turó de la Rovira, a little-known area to visit in Barcelona, Catalonia
For an interesting yet unusual thing to do in Barcelona, consider a trip to Turó de la Rovira. This hill sits 860 feet above sea level, granting you awesome views of the city and sea.
The site dates to the 4th century, although it was most prominent during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. The famous Carmel bunkers you’ll see here were used as an anti-aircraft battery during the war.
In the 1950s, the area became a shantytown, housing thousands of poor families. This ushered in the urban phenomenon of barraquismo or informal housing.
Today, Turó de la Rovira is home to a Barcelona History Museum archaeological site. You can explore the outdoor museum space and exhibitions to learn more about the Spanish Civil War and the post-war period in Catalonia. I’ll mention the Barcelona History Museum in-depth a bit later.
Turó may be off the beaten path, but it’s a great place to go if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Besides, the area is perfect for stargazing, which is one of my favorite things to do in Barcelona in the summer.
21. Church of Colònia Güell, a secret place to visit in Barcelona
If you loved Park Güell, then you’ll enjoy visiting the Church of Colònia Güell. Also known as the Gaudí Crypt, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hidden gem in Barcelona.
The church is tucked away in a small forest, its man-made materials blending in seamlessly with the natural surroundings. If you visited La Sagrada Familia, you’ll find the Gaudí Crypt to be a similar structure.
Gaudi built the church with colorful materials and textures, which reflects his focus on natural elements. While the architect started building the structure in 1898, he took a decade-long break only to leave the chapel unfinished in 1914. The crypt portion is the only part that’s complete, although local architects did some work on the church so that visitors can stand on the roof, which Gaudi meant to be the floor.
Fortunately, this magnificent building maintains the asymmetrical charm that the Catalan architect is known for. Plus, compared to Gaudi’s other works, the Church of Colònia Güell is the least touristy. Of course, it’s still a beautiful place to visit in Barcelona, particularly for its stained-glass windows. You can get early entry to the church and crypt here.
22. Shop at Agbar Tower & Encants Market, a great activity to do in Barcelona
The Agbar Tower, now known as the Torre Glòries, is a prominent landmark on the Barcelona coastline. It’s also one of the famous places to visit in Barcelona. Thanks to its distinct shape, the building has received several funny nicknames such as the cucumber, the bullet, or the dildo.
From afar the building looks a bit silly, but up close, it’s quite a sight. At nearly 475 feet tall, the 34-floor structure is made of shiny glass and aluminum. The inside mostly contains offices, although the architect’s penthouse is at the top. Rather, Torre Glòries is a cool place to go in Barcelona at night, when its 4,500 LED lights create pretty color and pattern combinations.
Plus, Encants Market is right next door. Similar to the Rastro de Madrid, Encants is a one-stop-shop for just about anything you might want. Here, you can browse through stalls selling furniture, clothing, toys, crafts, antiques, and more. There are also several food vendors offering delicious street food.
Arrive here in the afternoon and spend some time perusing the market as well as the Glòries Shopping Center. Around dusk, you’ll be able to see the Tower lights go on. It’s a unique thing to do in Barcelona that I highly recommend.
23. Gràcia, a bohemian neighborhood you must visit in Barcelona, Catalonia
Gràcia is a quintessential Barcelona neighborhood. It has a fun, bohemian vibe with lots of artistic and cultural characteristics. Without a doubt, it is one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona.
Some of my best memories are from my days in Gràcia, so it’s one of the neighborhoods I like the most. If you can, I suggest visiting during the Fiesta Mayor de Gràcia in mid-August. Gràcia residents compete for the best street decorations, and visitors come to see all the themed displays, many of them handmade. The event is an awesome thing to do in Barcelona in the summer, and people line up around the block to see it!
Besides that, Gràcia is a charming district with beautiful squares and architecture. Check out the Plaza de la Virreina, where you’ll find the Church of Sant Joan, the Plaza del Diamante, the peaceful Plaza del Norte, or the Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia, a modern area with bars and coffee shops.
To enjoy some sightseeing, visit the Mercado de la Libertad, the Vallcarca Viaduct, Gaudi’s Casa Vicens, or the Teatre més petit del món (The Smallest Theater in the World). You can visit the one-room theater for an intimate performance, but space is limited, so book ahead.
24. Picasso Museum, one of the top museums in Barcelona, Spain
The Picasso Museum is one of the best museums to visit in Barcelona. Pablo Picasso covered a wide scope of artistic styles throughout his career, and this museum has thousands of his works, the most in the world. If you need something to do on a rainy day, or you just love art, check this place out.
What’s unique about this museum is that Picasso himself established it in 1963. After a friend suggested having the museum in Málaga, Picasso decided it would be in Barcelona, a city he had come to love.
This Barcelona attraction occupies several houses along Montcada Street as well as a building in nearby Sabartés Square. These impressive structures are a good example of Catalan civic gothic architecture and seem perfect for containing Picasso’s work. Along with its permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibits related to Picasso’s life and artistic style.
The museum is a popular tourist spot, so I suggest booking your ticket in advance. Better yet, this walking tour includes museum admission and a walk through Picasso’s old hangouts, such as Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats). If you have time, visit this iconic cafe, which played a pivotal role in Barcelona’s age of modernisme.
25. Gran Teatro del Liceu, another must-see in Barcelona, Catalonia
Along La Rambla, you’ll come across the Gran Teatro del Liceo. It first opened in 1847 for the city’s upper class, so seeing a performance there is a luxurious thing to do in Barcelona. You can find out who is performing at the theater on the website.
Unlike other opera houses in Europe, private shareholders funded the construction of the Gran Teatro. This fact is reflected in the theater’s design and lack of a royal viewing box. Despite being emblematic of Barcelona’s elite, it became a beloved city icon.
Over the years, a fire and bombing destroyed parts of the theater, but it was rebuilt in the original style. Still, some locals believed that the theater was cursed since it was built on the former site of a convent!
Cursed or not, the Gran Teatro is a must-see in Barcelona. I was lucky enough to be in town when Les Misérables was playing at the theater, and I was blown away by the quality of the acoustics and the Art Nouveau architecture. If you love theater, add this to your Barcelona to-do list.
26. Plaza de San Felipe Neri, a historical place to go in Barcelona
The Plaza de San Felipe Neri is hidden among the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, and it deserves a section of its own. This historical attraction in Barcelona is equal parts beautiful and mysterious.
The square has a medieval Baroque style, which you’ll notice in the surrounding buildings, such as a school and church. There is a nearby playground and a lovely octagonal fountain, which many interpret as a symbol of life and hope.
All this Renaissance beauty aside, there is a somber air about this place. You’ll probably notice the damaged walls of the church. While tour guides and locals sometimes say that the pockmarks are the result of an anarchist execution, that’s not true.
The damage occurred on January 30, 1938, during the Spanish Civil War. It was one of General Franco’s planes that dropped bombs on the church in the plaza. The bombings killed 42 people, many of whom were children.
Visiting this square is one of the more unusual things to do in Barcelona, but it’s a historically significant area that I think is worth seeing.
27. Air-raid shelters, another unusual place to go in Barcelona, Catalonia
The Spanish Civil War was just 80 years ago and had a strong impact on the country and Catalonia in particular. One of the more unique things to do in Barcelona is to visit the air-raid shelters throughout the city. If you’re interested in diving into this part of Barcelona’s history, I’ll tell you where to find the most significant shelters.
One of the largest is Refuge 307 de Poble Sec at the foot of Montjuïc. The Barcelona City History Museum manages it now, but back in the late 1930s, the residents of this neighborhood dug a tunnel over 1,310 feet deep to build the shelter. Today, the refuge is open to public tours, so you can see how the 9,000 residents lived within the walls of these tunnels.
Another shelter, the Refugio de la Plaza del Diamante, is in the Gràcia neighborhood. It’s smaller, just 40 feet underground, and with a 200-person capacity, but it’s still impressive. I also suggest you visit the Refugio de la Plaza de la Revolución, which housed 1,400 residents and is also in the Gràcia district. This shelter is lesser-known, and sometimes it’s closed off, but you won’t know until you get there.
Finally, be sure to visit the refuge used by Lluís Companys, president of the Generalitat de Catalunya at that time. Les Heures was his secret residence during the Spanish Civil War, and the University of Barcelona organizes tours of the shelter.
28. Go out for tapas, something you must do in Barcelona
Going out for tapas is one of the best things to do in Barcelona. Tapas are small dishes that you can enjoy alone or with friends, and I’m sure that the typical Catalan foods will leave you satisfied.
One of the simplest yet most delicious tapas is pan tumaca. It’s nothing more than crusty bread with tomato, although some people add ham or cheese, too. Other popular dishes include patatas bravas, calamari a la romana, tortilla de patatas, and bombas.
Going out for tapas is common throughout Spain, but some dishes are synonymous with Catalonia. For example, calçots with romesco sauce, which are a kind of scallions with a tomato and garlic sauce. If you want to taste this dish, I suggest going to El Disbarat in Gràcia. You’ll also find caracoles (snails) on the menu. These are very typical in Catalonia and were my grandmother’s signature dish!
If you have a sweet tooth, trying crema Catalana is something you must do in Barcelona. This special egg yolk cream has a layer of caramelized sugar, so it’s crunchy on the outside and gooey inside.
You can try all these delicious dishes on this food tour which takes you through the Gothic Quarter, El Born, and Barceloneta for tapas.
29. Laberint d’Horta Park, the oldest park in Barcelona
Besides Ciutadella Park, Laberint d’Horta Park is one of my favorite parks in Barcelona. It’s the oldest park in the city and it’s quite romantic, so spending a few hours here is a great thing to do in Barcelona for couples.
This beautiful garden is the perfect blend of nature and architecture. Spanning over 135 acres, the landscaped grounds reflect the neoclassical style, so you’ll see lots of symmetrical columns and buildings. As I said, it’s a romantic place full of lovely plants, including agapanthus, which is known as the flower of love.
As the name suggests, the park also has a topiary labyrinth, and the maze is a fun thing to do in Barcelona for both kids and adults. I must admit that it took me a while to find my way out, but it’s an enjoyable experience. The maze is full of stone benches and beautiful sculptures, so you won’t mind getting lost.
The romantic fountains, the fun labyrinth, the soothing nature; it’s the perfect escape from the busy city. Plus, there is no admission cost on Sundays, so it’s one of the best free things to do in Barcelona.
30. Santa María del Mar Church, a peaceful place to go in Barcelona, Spain
Santa María del Mar Church, also known as the Ribera Cathedral, is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. In fact, it’s the only church in the pure Catalan Gothic style, so it’s a must-see in Barcelona.
The church is the work of Berenguer de Montagut, who built it in the 14th century. If you’re a fan of medieval architecture, this cathedral will delight you. One of the first things you’ll notice is the three naves and the massive columns, which create a feeling of expansiveness. A few of the stained-glass windows have remained throughout the centuries, making this a beautiful place in Barcelona.
The Santa Maria chapel includes a stained-glass window depicting the Ascension. Interestingly, part of the cathedral sits on former burial grounds, adding to the solemnity of the place.
If you go, be sure to check out the rose window. The original was destroyed in the 1428 earthquake, but the replacement is just as stunning. I also suggest going up to the roof, where you can enjoy incredible views of the city.
Avid readers may recognize the Santa Maria del Mar church from the famous novel Cathedral of the Sea, by Idelfonso Falcones. If you understand Spanish, you can even take this book tour through the cathedral, something interesting to do in Barcelona.
31. Visit Parc de la Creueta del Coll, a free thing to do in Barcelona, Spain
Another cool thing to do in Barcelona‘s Gràcia neighborhood is to visit La Creueta del Coll Park. The “Park of the Corner of the Hill” was formerly an abandoned quarry, but now it’s a fun place to go, especially in the warmer months.
The best part of this park is its huge public swimming pool. There are lots of trees scattered throughout the park, too, so it’s a popular hangout when the weather gets hot. Not too many tourists know about this place, but visiting it is a great thing to do in Barcelona in the summer.
Besides the pool, you can also enjoy ping pong tables, playgrounds, and picnic areas. There’s also lots of space to ride a bike, practice sports, or simply relax and people-watch. If you’re looking for something to do for free, this is one of the best Barcelona areas to visit, and you won’t get crowded out by tourists.
A centerpiece of the park, besides the pool, is the Praise of Water sculpture by Eduardo Chillida. This curious 50-ton artwork hovers above a placid pond and is supported by four steel cables. American sculptor Ellsworth Kelly also has a piece, Escultura, at the park’s entrance.
32. See the castells, a unique activity to do in Barcelona, Catalonia
The castells, or human towers, are an essential part of Catalan culture. This tradition dates to the end of the 1700s in the city of Valls. From there, it spread throughout Catalonia, and nowadays, seeing a castells performance is one of the most popular things to do in Barcelona.
There are several colles castelleres (teams) in the city, and they usually perform on holidays and some weekends. The best time to see them is from April to November in various plazas around town. You can check this website to see if there’s a performance during your stay.
Of course, there is much more to these human towers than simply scrambling on top of each other. The castells have a hierarchical structure, starting with the pinya or base. The tiers get progressively smaller until you get to the crown of the castle, which is usually a child.
The towers can vary depending on the number of levels and the number of people in each tier. Even so, each performance is accompanied by music from a gralla (similar to a flute) and a timpani drum.
I’ll admit, the first time I saw a performance, I was terrified for the kids at the top of the tower. However, castells are an iconic part of Catalan culture, and they’ve even been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Seeing the human towers is a quirky thing to do in Barcelona, one that you’ll want to tell your friends about!
33. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, a cool museum in Barcelona
The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, also known as MACBA, is a modern art museum in the El Raval neighborhood. If you’re looking for things to do in Barcelona in winter, check out this place.
While there are lots of historical museums and modernisme artworks in the city, MACBA is the best museum to visit in Barcelona if you want to see contemporary art. Most of the pieces are minimalist or abstract, and the collection spans over 5,000 works.
Some of the prominent artists you’ll find here include Bruce Nauman, Cristina Iglesias, Antoni Muntadas, and Xavier Miserachs. One of the most interesting exhibits is the 1989 graphic poster Do Women Have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum? It’s a piece by the Guerilla Girls, an anonymous group of feminist artists devoted to gender equality.
MACBA also has a second building in the Convent dels Àngels complex, a gothic chapel just a few minutes away. I know contemporary art isn’t for everyone, and for some travelers, this museum isn’t essential. Still, it’s an interesting place to go in Barcelona if it rains.
34. Carretera de les Aigües, the best hike to do in Barcelona, Catalonia
The Carretera de les Aigües or, Road of the Waters, is the perfect place to visit outside of Barcelona‘s city center. It gets its name from an old water pipeline running parallel to the route. The pipes aren’t there anymore, but the area is still one of the best sites to hike in Barcelona.
The entire route is just over six miles, and it starts at Sant Pere de Màrtir to the west of the city center. From there, it travels northeast to Rabassada Road and runs through the Collserola viewpoint where you can look out over the vast cityscape and enjoy the natural park. The walk itself is pretty easy since it is quite flat. Still, I suggest wearing comfortable shoes!
One of the great things about this city is its proximity to outdoor areas and natural spaces. The Carretera de les Aigües is popular with locals who need a break from city life so you might make some new friends. If you enjoy getting out in nature and away from the hustle and bustle, this hike will be a relaxing thing to do in Barcelona.
35. Pedralbes Royal Palace gardens, another lovely place to go in Barcelona
The Pedralbes Royal Palace gardens are one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona. The Palace was the home of the Spanish Royal Family when they would visit the city from 1919-1931.
Today, you can visit this lovely area, and it’s a romantic thing to do in Barcelona for couples. The lush gardens are protected by a wrought-iron gate, which adds a distinctive air to the place. It’s certainly a calmer and more regal section of the busy city.
The Royal Palace is surrounded by greenery, trees, and vegetation, bringing the entire landscape together. Today, the building houses the Museum of Ceramics, Museum of Textiles, and the Museum of Decorative Arts, which are interesting to walk through if you have the time.
Of course, the gardens alone are quite a sight to behold, and the sculptural elements here reflect the style of Antoni Gaudí. Speaking of the arts, if you visit in June, you may catch the Jardins Pedralbes Festival, a popular music festival. It’s one of the top things to do in Barcelona in the summer, as you can see international and national artists like James Blunt, Juanes, and Raphael.
Besides that, the Royal Palace is close to Cervantes Park, a public garden full of Mediterranean plants, rose bushes, and beautiful modern sculptures.
36. El Born, a neighborhood to visit in Barcelona at night
El Born, also called La Ribera, is the medieval quarter of Barcelona’s “old city”. Not only is it an aesthetically interesting place, but it’s a popular place for nightlife. If you’re wondering where to go in Barcelona at night, hit this neighborhood first!
The evenings in El Born are lively, as locals gather in cafes and bars for food and fun. Taking it easy with a beer or mojito after a long day is one of the most relaxing things to do in Barcelona. Fortunately, El Born has plenty of cool places where you can sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.
That said, this is one of the coolest neighborhoods to visit in Barcelona during the day, too. Here, you’ll find hip boutiques and shops, although they’re on the expensive side. If you want to do some sightseeing, El Born is home to sites like the Plaça de Sant Pere and the church of the same name.
Some of the attractions I mentioned earlier are also in this neighborhood, like Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral, Picasso Museum, and the Palace of Catalan Music. Another nice spot is the Santa Caterina Market, which is a great alternative to La Boquería.
37. Monastery of Pedralbes, another calm place to go in Barcelona
The Monastery of Pedralbes, also known as the Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes, is a must-see attraction in Barcelona. King James II of Aragon founded this Gothic monastery back in 1326. Originally, it was a community of Poor Clares, a group of Catholic nuns. Today, a handful of nuns still live there, and the monastery is now a national monument.
You should visit this structure to see a prime example of Catalan Gothic architecture. While only a small portion of the original monastery remains, it still exudes the same solemn spirit.
Be sure to walk through the cloister and visit the bedrooms and day cells where the nuns would rest at the end of the day. This part of the monastery is on display for the public, as is the Chapel of St. Michael. Here, you can see frescos by the Catalan painter Ferrer Bassa, who worked for the 14th-century Count of Barcelona. In one of the cloister’s wings, you can find the alabaster tomb of King James II’s wife, Queen Elisenda.
This is certainly a unique Barcelona attraction, especially if you’re into medieval history, so don’t miss it!
38. Poble Espanyol, one of the most popular places to go in Barcelona, Spain
I do not doubt that Montjuïc is one of the Barcelona sites you’ll visit, so be sure to check out Poble Espanyol while you’re there. Literally translated to “Spanish town”, Poble Espanyol is a life-size museum of traditional Spanish villages. It was built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, and it’s still well worth visiting today.
The whole project was meant to promote the architectural and cultural wealth of the country. Visitors can walk through the open-air museum, which has 117 buildings representing different regions of Spain.
What makes Poble Espanyol such a popular Barcelona tourist attraction is its ability to transport you to other territories in Spain. In addition to exploring the distinct architecture of each place, there are often cultural events and cuisines to experience. The village hosts concerts, film festivals, flamenco shows, and much more.
The area is also home to the Museum Fran Daurel, a private collection of works by Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Chillida, Josep Guinovart, and other prominent artists. While you’re there, I also suggest visiting the Sculpture Garden, which is full of contemporary works by several artists.
Poble Espanyol is a fun and affordable thing to do in Barcelona for families, so I recommend booking skip-the-line tickets here.
39. Visit Port Olímpic, something fun to do in Barcelona, Catalonia
I found it interesting that there wasn’t much of a harbor in Barcelona until the arrival of the Olympic Games in 1992. The city had to prepare to play host to one of the most iconic international sporting events. This led to the creation of the Olympic Port, one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona.
The port was an urban redevelopment project that created one of the top recreational spots in the city. Here, you can rest on the beach, enjoy delicious Mediterranean food, or go to a nightclub. Two of the most famous places to go in Barcelona at night are the clubs, Opium, and Shôko.
If you don’t like partying, the Olympic Port is a wonderful place to go in the daytime, too. Take a relaxing stroll along the promenade, eat some good food, or get in a refreshing bike ride or jog.
Also, be sure to snap a photo of El Peix, the golden fish sculpture by Frank Gehry. This 183-foot-long steel fish glistens in the sun and forms the backdrop for the Barcelona Casino and the Hotel Arts Barcelona.
To get a good view of the Olympic Port area, go to the Moll de Gregal, where you’ll also find some nice restaurants.
40. See Casa Vicens, one of Antoni Gaudí’s first works
As I mentioned earlier, Casa Vicens is another beautiful work by Gaudí, and it was one of his first. The mansion is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and another must-visit in Barcelona.
Casa Vicens is an example of Gaudí’s signature style. The previous homes in Catalonia looked nothing like this mansion, which adopted a modernisme aesthetic.
You’ll get a better idea of it when you see the house in person. This masterpiece has a front door made of cast iron, while ceramic tiles depicting marigolds adorn the facade. Gaudí was mindful of incorporating natural and local elements into his designs, which you can see in the painting, carpentry, and tiles. Bird, vine, and floral motifs repeat themselves throughout the home’s interior as well.
The mansion was a private residence until 2014 when it was purchased and restored. It opened as a public museum in 2017 and is one of the best places to go in Barcelona to experience Gaudí’s magic. If you want to go inside, you can purchase a skip-the-line ticket here. Or you can simply admire the building’s exterior from Carrer de les Carolines in Gràcia.
41. La Roca Village, one of the best places to shop in Barcelona
If you love shopping, La Roca Village is one of the best places to visit in Barcelona. It’s one of the largest outlet complexes in Spain, and the shops here offer discounts of up to 60%. If you’re traveling from out of Europe and you want to take advantage of some name brand items, look no further than La Roca.
You can browse through more than 140 big brand stores such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Bvlgari, Gucci, Montblanc, and many more. To see a directory of all the stores, check out the La Roca Village website.
Hitting the stores is a fun activity in Barcelona you can do on a rainy day. These outlets are open seven days a week, and the complex includes several restaurants so you can make a whole day of it.
This cute luxury village is about 40 minutes from downtown, but it’s a great place to visit near Barcelona if you have the time. You can get directions here or take this shopping tour from Barcelona.
42. Go out partying, another fun thing to do in Barcelona at night
Hitting the town and partying is one of the best things to do in Barcelona at night. For the night owls out there, this city has plenty of hotspots where you can dance the night away. If you want to go to some of the most popular clubs in Barcelona, I recommend this card, which grants you complimentary access to several of them.
Along with the Barcelona Casino, the Olympic Port area is home to a few top party places, such as Opium, Shôko, Carpe Diem, and Danzatoria. That last one is frequented by a more adult audience.
The Eixample, in the city center, is where locals and tourists mingle. Here, you’ll find the Arena, Barcelona’s famed gay nightclub, as well as Teatre Principal and Moog. City Hall Nightclub is perfect for electronic and techno music lovers.
If you’re in the Zona Alta, some nighttime Barcelona areas to visit include the luxurious Bling Bling nightclub and the Sala Bikini, which hosts themed parties.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with Razzmatazz in Poble Nou. At this quintessential club, you can dance the night away and hear some great bands.
If you want to experience the nightlife scene in Barcelona, you have more than enough options. Even if you only go once, it’ll be an unforgettable experience.
43. Hospital de Sant Pau, a lovely modernist building to visit in Barcelona, Spain
Part hospital, part museum, the Hospital de Sant Pau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a beautiful modernist attraction to see in Barcelona. It was a functioning hospital until the summer of 2009 when a new hospital opened next door. Now, the 20th-century building is a cultural center and museum.
The hospital was built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who also designed the Catalan Palace of Music. While you can visit the hospital on your own, I recommend this guided tour, which takes you to different areas in the building.
The tour begins at the opposite end of the entrance, where you’ll see the different pavilions, including the Sant Salvador Pavilion. This was the first area to function as a hospital, and it now includes a historical exhibition about the architect and his design process.
Next, you’ll go through the modernist tunnels to the Hypostyle Room. This room reflects the Art Nouveau style with Domènech i Montaner’s Catalan twist. The room leads to the Sant Pau Gardens, one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona.
The garden area was meant to be a place where patients could get fresh air, talk a leisurely walk, or simply sit and relax. That calming atmosphere is what attracts tourists and locals to this day.
44. Sant Jordi Festival, the best experience in Barcelona for couples
The Festival of Sant Jordi, which takes place on April 23rd, is one of the best things to experience in Barcelona.
This beloved Catalan celebration is a day of love and culture. Traditionally, men present their partners with a rose, while women give their significant others a book. More recently, Catalans have tweaked the tradition, so people give both a flower and a book.
Even if you’re just visiting, the Sant Jordi Festival is something not to miss in Barcelona. Strolling along La Rambla and the surrounding areas, you’ll see book and flower stalls and lovers holding hands. The aroma of fresh-cut roses fills the air, and there is a joyous atmosphere.
The best part about this day is that you can see local theater performances and other cultural activities throughout the day. You may even run into an author holding a book signing. As you wander the streets, you may notice some city monuments or buildings decorated for the festivities. For example, the owners of Casa Batlló are known to adorn the balconies with fragrant red roses.
The origins of this day are a bit mixed up, but legend says that long ago, a dragon was terrorizing the people of Montblanc. To appease the dragon, the residents would hold a lottery to choose a human sacrifice.
One day, the princess was the unlucky victim, but Sant Jordi the knight came to the rescue and defeated the dragon, and a rose bush grew from the beast’s puddle of blood. Therefore, people give away roses. As for the books, that’s because the day coincides with The Day of the Book, which commemorates the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, and the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.
45. Casa de les Punxes, another luxurious place to visit in Barcelona, Spain
Casa de les Punxes, or Casa Terradas, is another beautiful modernist building in Barcelona. Located in the Eixample area, it looks like a medieval castle in the city center.
Casa de les Punxes was the work of Josep Puig i Cadafalch, who was tasked with building a house for each of three royal sisters. The spectacular result was this construction of castles named after the punxes, or spikes, that crown the towers.
If you’re walking around the Eixample, it’s impossible to miss this Barcelona attraction because it’s so gorgeous. The pointed towers and the wrought-iron balconies with floral motifs are distinctly Catalan modernist. The ornate decoration on the home’s facade includes ceramic panels, stained-glass windows, and a colorful mural of Sant Jordi.
If you’re going to tour other modernist buildings in Barcelona, such as La Pedrera or Casa Battló, I recommend this attraction pass. If you go into Casa de les Punxes, go up to the largest tower where you can get stunning views of the city.
46. Drink sangria at Bosc de las Fades, the best thing to do in Barcelona for date night
Bosc de les Fades is a bar-cafe, but not just any bar-cafe. Translated to “Forest of the Fairies”, this is one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona to enjoy a sangria or warm beverage with your sweetie.
This magical cafe is part of the Wax Museum of Barcelona, so it’s like two attractions in one. Visiting this woodland dream of trees, streams, and fairy lights is one of the best things to do in Barcelona for couples. The menu includes fondue and crepes, making it a delicious date night venue.
This enchanted forest cafe is also a fun place to go with friends. You can enjoy a variety of typical cafe foods, and the atmosphere is out of this world.
I’ve visited the Bosc de les Fades and loved it. It is the perfect place to have a drink, although it is always quite crowded, so you might have to wait for a table. Still, enjoying a drink here is one of the most romantic things to do in Barcelona that I highly recommend.
47. Escape Rooms, something fun to do in Barcelona for families
Escape rooms have become a popular activity in Barcelona, so if you’re traveling with family or friends, consider trying one out.
There are over 150 escape rooms in the city, many of them with specific themes. I’m sure you’ll find one that suits your interests! Plus, this attraction is a good backup plan if the weather is bad.
Since escape rooms are so popular here, the newest ones boast the latest technology to challenge participants. Trying to get out of these rooms is quite an experience, as you must solve tough puzzles and interact with interesting characters.
While some rooms can accommodate couples, most of them are for groups of four or more. If you’re looking for things to do in Barcelona for couples, I recommend this horror-themed escape room.
For larger groups, I suggest Escape Barcelona, which hosts all kinds of themed rooms like Alien: The Origin and Tomb Hunter: The Legend of Akasha. I also like Unreal Room Escape, where you can find attractions like The Mine and Narcos.
No matter the theme, you can’t go wrong. These escape rooms are loads of fun, but they’re also super popular, so you should book in advance. Also, if you’re planning on a specific neighborhood to visit in Barcelona, check this website to find an escape room in that area.
48. Take a trip to Montserrat, the best place to go near Barcelona
Montserrat is one of the most popular places to visit near Barcelona. This mountain range is just outside of the city, making it a great day trip for getting out into nature.
Its name comes from the jagged rock formations at the mountain’s peak, which you can see from a distance. The summit is over 4,050 feet above sea level, and Montserrat is one of the most significant mountains in Catalonia. Not only is it a beautiful place to go near Barcelona, but it’s also the site of a Benedictine sanctuary and monastery.
The sanctuary is dedicated to the Virgin of Montserrat and includes a statue of the Madonna and Child. She is the patron saint of Catalonia and shares an altar with Sant Jordi, whom I mentioned earlier. The statue is one of the Black Madonnas of Europe, carved in the 12th century. For this reason, many make the pilgrimage to Montserrat to pay respects to the Virgin.
To get the most out of your time in Montserrat, I recommend this day trip, which takes you up the mountain by train. You’ll tour the Royal Basilica, see the Black Madonna, and enjoy a wine tasting hosted by the monks at the sanctuary. If you’re lucky, you’ll also hear the Escolania boys’ choir, one of the oldest children’s choirs in Europe.
Without a doubt, Montserrat is one of the most stunning areas to visit in Barcelona.
49. Montseny Natural Park, one of the most popular hikes to do in Barcelona
Montseny Natural Park is one of the best places for hiking in and around Barcelona. Nestled in the Catalan countryside, the area features diverse climates as well as a variety of flora and fauna. Along with hiking, mountain biking is another popular activity to do in the park.
Montseny is just over 30 miles from the city, so it’s a great place to visit around Barcelona. As the oldest natural park in Catalonia, it is also a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Here, you’ll find gorgeous Mediterranean vegetation like holm oaks and pines, as well as Eurosiberian trees like beech and white fir. The alpine meadow area on Montseny has lots of boreal pines. There are also hundreds of species of wildlife, including the Montseny Brook newt, Panoptes Blue Butterfly, and the Little Egret, among others.
Beyond the natural park, life in the Montseny area is charming and slow-paced. That said, there are beautiful sites to see, including the Roman ruins in La Garriga as well as Montsoriu Castle. So, if you’re wondering where to go near Barcelona, be sure to check out Montseny!
My favorite part of the natural park is all the hiking trails, so take some time to explore this lovely park around Barcelona.
50. Visit CosmoCaixa, another thing to do in Barcelona with kids
The CosmoCaixa science museum is one of the coolest places to visit in Barcelona with kids. Even if you’re traveling alone, I still recommend CosmoCaixa, as it’s one of my favorite museums in the city.
This interactive science museum has permanent exhibits and temporary displays covering a wide variety of subjects. Through touch-and-play kiosks, you can learn about the Amazon Rainforest, geological structures in Catalonia, Mediterranean flora and fauna, and the Big Bang.
What I like about this museum is that it uses practical and local examples to teach you about complex topics like biology, chaos theory, and astronomy. It’s also affordable, making it a great thing to do in Barcelona for families.
One of the coolest parts of CosmoCaixa is the Bubble Planetarium, which has an advanced full-dome projection system, so you feel like you’re stargazing in space. It even has a stereo sound system to create a fully immersive experience. The planetarium regularly hosts special shows to take visitors on an educational and exciting adventure. If it’s this exciting for an adult, imagine what it’s like for a kid!
CosmoCaixa is open seven days a week and is one of the top museums to visit in Barcelona. Consider it if you have a rainy day in the city or some extra time during your trip.
51. Collserola Natural Park, another beautiful place to hike in Barcelona, Catalonia
Collserola Natural Park, commonly called the city’s “green lung”, covers nearly 20,000 acres and is a must-see place in Barcelona. If you go to Tibidabo, you’ll find actually be in the highest part of this park. The area is perfect for hiking and getting away from the busyness of the city center.
The park is the largest green space in Barcelona, and you can find a variety of Mediterranean flora and fauna here, especially white pines and foxes. You might even see a wild boar in the more secluded areas.
Collserola Natural Park is also rich in Catalan culture, particularly architecture. Here, you can stumble across the ancient Iberian town of Ca n’Oliver, the medieval castle of Castellciuró, and numerous old churches and hermitages.
Another cool place to go near Barcelona is the Collserola Tower on Mount Tibidabo. It’s over 960 feet tall and was built by Sir Norman Foster for the 1992 Summer Olympics. Its primary function is as a broadcasting antenna, but there is an observation deck about 500 feet up, granting you incredible views of the surrounding area.
With its hiking trails and scenic refuge from the traffic and noise, a visit to Collserola Natural Park is a relaxing thing to do in Barcelona.
52. Visit Tamarita Gardens, a romantic thing to do in Barcelona
Tamarita Gardens is one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Barcelona. Covering nearly 5 acres, these public gardens once belonged to an aristocratic Belgian family that settled in Barcelona in the 1700s. The manicured lawns are still surrounded by a wrought-iron wall, and when you walk through the gate, you’ll be transported into a world of beauty and grace.
The gardens were designed by landscape artist Nicolau M. Rubió i Tudurí, who divided them into two distinct sections. The more natural and rugged garden features small pools, fountains, decorative vases, vines, a pavilion, and exotic and tropical species. The other section has a more classical look with French flowerbeds, rose bushes, a small square, and a nymphaeum (ancient Greek spring) with waterfalls.
Tamarita Gardens offers peace and quiet, and a visit here is a great thing to do in Barcelona for couples. It’s located in the Sant Gervasi-Bonanova area, yet it feels like it’s miles away from the city. The natural beauty here is undeniable. You’ll see myrtle, privet, sweet bay, black locust, and jacaranda. Near the Torrent del Frare stream, there are cypresses, acanthuses, and bamboo trees.
There are more exotic trees, too, including Australian silk oaks and purple-leaf European beechwoods. Keep an eye out for the 100-year-old English oak tree; it’s 75 feet tall! This garden is a little pocket of relaxation, so don’t miss it.
53. PortAventura World, another exciting place to visit around Barcelona
PortAventura World is a fun place to visit near Barcelona. This popular amusement park, which is in Salou, Tarragona, is one of the largest in Spain.
The park is divided into several thematic areas: the Mediterranean, Polynesia, China, Mexico, and the Far West. Each section includes a variety of attractions relating to the particular theme, such as the Imperial Cobra kiddie coaster in China and the 328-foot Hurricane Condor free fall in Mexico.
There is a good mix of kiddie and family rides as well as thrill rides. Some of the best attractions include the Dragon Khan rollercoaster; Furius Basco, which goes from 0 to 83 mph in just three seconds; and the record-breaking Shambhala coaster.
Also, PortAventura acquired two other parks: Ferrari Land (named after the luxury Italian sports car), and Caribe Aquatic Park. There are also several resort hotels on the premises, although the amusement park is less than 1.5 hours from Barcelona, so you probably won’t need to book an overnight trip.
That said, if you want an advance ticket to PortAventura and Ferrari Land, you can book one here. The reservation includes round-trip transportation by bus from Barcelona.
54. Botanical Garden of Barcelona, the most stunning lookout from Barcelona
The Botanical Garden of Barcelona is another beautiful place to visit in Barcelona. Conveniently located in Montjuïc, the gardens cover nearly 35 acres and create one of the most important plant collections in the city.
The main purpose of the botanical garden is to conserve Mediterranean flora for study. This is why you’ll find all kinds of plants from various regions in the Mediterranean, including olive trees and chaparral shrubs.
There are also non-native species here that can thrive in the garden environment. As you stroll through the grounds, you’ll see euphorbia and echium palms from the Canary Islands, acacias, and cedars from Africa, eucalyptus, and kangaroo paw from Australia, redwoods from California, and San Pedro cactus from Chile.
Thanks to its location on Montjuïc hill, visitors to the Botanic Gardens will get magnificent views of the city and coast. If you’re looking for some fresh air and quiet time, a stop at the gardens is a good thing to do in Barcelona.
55. Sant Llorenç del Munt Natural Park, something you must see in Barcelona, Catalonia
Sant Llorenç del Munt Natural Park is part of the Catalan pre-coastal mountain range. If you’re into hiking or rock climbing, this is one area in Barcelona not to miss.
The natural park is a protected area and, as I said, it’s a great place for hikers and climbers. Thanks to its incredible rock formations and caves, you can enjoy a day of adventure across this rugged landscape.
There are over 300 chasms and caverns to explore, as well as some famous lookouts. La Mola is over 3,600 feet above sea level, and Montcau is only slightly shorter.
The park spans two mountain ranges that are separated by the Les Arenes Stream and dotted with holm oaks, white pines, and other forested areas. It isn’t too far from the city center, but it is secluded and peaceful, making it one of the best places to go near Barcelona for some quiet time.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the Sant Llorenç del Munt Monastery atop La Mola. This Catalan landmark was rebuilt in the 19th century, but it reflects the original 11th-century building. Inside, there is a small exhibit about the sanctuary and mountain. Attached to the monastery is a farmhouse that serves as an information center.
56. Themed tours, one of the best activities in Barcelona
If you want to discover the capital of Catalonia in a totally original way, a thematic tour is the best thing to do in Barcelona. Since this is such a popular city, there are plenty of guided tours through its distinct neighborhoods and areas. I’m sure you can find a tour that suits your specific tastes.
We’ve done this mystery tour through the Gothic Quarter, which recounts the creepy legends of this historic neighborhood. The guide did a great job of sharing interesting information while adding personality to the tour.
If you’re into spooky stuff, I also recommend this Barcelona ghost tour through Sant Pere, Santa Caterina, and La Ribera. As you walk past iconic landmarks in the city, you’ll hear stories of spirits and other terrors. It’s definitely a unique thing to do in Barcelona at night.
For those who don’t like horror, there are lots of other fun thematic tours. The medieval Barcelona tour is a cool journey around the city center’s historic cathedrals and monuments. Another option I recommend is the Forbidden Barcelona tour, where you’ll learn about the city’s brothels and secret erotic activities.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with the Gaudí & Modernism tour. This is one of the best ways to learn about Catalan modernisme and one of Barcelona’s top artists, Antoni Gaudí. A good number of his works are in the city, so you’ll get to learn the story behind his iconic style.
57. Girona, a beautiful place to visit around Barcelona
If you’re going to have a longer stay in Barcelona, then I highly recommend taking a day trip to Girona.
After visiting Girona, it became one of my favorite Catalan cities. I love its medieval architecture and the tranquil atmosphere. The city’s old quarter has several ancient, preserved buildings, and the old castles and fortifications are popular with tourists.
If you’re wondering what to visit around Barcelona, look no further than Girona. The placid river and quaint houses will charm you in an instant. Also, if you visit in May, you’ll be able to catch the Temps de Flors Festival, when all the streets, plazas, and monuments are adorned with flowers.
That said, any time of year is a great time to visit this city. Girona has some amazing landmarks, including the Stone Bridge, the San Martí Church in the Jewish Quarter, and the Girona Cathedral, a nearly 150-foot-tall church built in the 11th century.
Girona is such a magical place to go near Barcelona, so consider spending one or two days here. If you’re short on time, consider a day trip or a guided day tour. This one includes Girona as well as Figueres and the Dali Museum, two other awesome places worth visiting. Or, take this tour of Girona and Sitges, a beach that I’ll talk about later.
58. Costa Brava, the best summertime spot near Barcelona
Costa Brava is one of the top places to visit near Barcelona in the summer. The deep blue waters, the chill coastal atmosphere, the fresh seafood…there is so much to enjoy at Costa Brava.
If you’re already in Girona, you are not far at all from Costa Brava. However, the town is less than a 2-hour drive from Barcelona, and lots of guided tours offer day trips. This area is a must-see near Barcelona, so if you have time, I encourage you to go.
A good option is this half-day tour, which includes bus service to Lloret de Mar, a touristy hotspot in Costa Brava. After spending some time touring the village, you’ll board a boat to Tossa de Mar, a scenic medieval town.
Or you could do this full-day tour, which takes you to the cliffside beach town of Blanes, where you can enjoy botanical gardens and delicious seafood. This tour also takes you to Tossa de Mar before heading back to Barcelona.
My absolute favorite is this tour because it takes you to some of the most gorgeous coastal areas in the region. You’ll see Calella de Palafrugell, a cute fishing village, then walk along the beautiful Camino de Ronda waterfront path. The tour continues with a visit to Llafranc, a traditional seaside resort. You’ll then visit the medieval village of Pals, the port city of L’Estartit, the Greek/Roman settlement of Ampurias, and finish with a boat ride around the Medes Islands.
59. Freixenet wineries, another fun thing to do in Barcelona
Less than an hour from the city center, you’ll find Cavas Freixenet, a top place to visit near Barcelona. This Catalan winery has been operating since 1861 and is the largest global producer of cava, a Spanish sparkling wine.
The family business has been passed down from generation to generation, resulting in an award-winning recipe that has even been endorsed by celebrities like Shakira. The cava business really took off in the 1910s, and the iconic winery building was built in 1927 by the modernist architect Josep Ros i Ros.
If you love wine and want a relaxing getaway, consider this tour of the Freixenet vineyard. You’ll learn the history behind Freixenet cava, tour the facilities, and enjoy a glass of superb sparkling wine.
To make a whole day of it, book this day trip to Cavas Freixenet, Jean Leon Winery, and Torres Winery. At each vineyard, you’ll enjoy wine tastings and light refreshments. If you’re traveling with your partner, it’s a great couples thing to do around Barcelona, too.
60. Sitges, one of the best beaches near Barcelona
Many locals consider Sitges to be one of the most beautiful places to visit near Barcelona, so I highly recommend adding this beach town to your itinerary.
Sitges is known for its pretty coastline and lively promenade. There is a laid-back, bohemian atmosphere here, and it makes for a pleasant blend of tradition and modernity. During your time here, you might browse some boutiques, enjoy live music at a cafe, or look at the vibrant street art. The town also hosts the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, also known as the Sitges Film Festival, every year.
Besides, they say the best beaches in Barcelona are in Sitges! If you’re looking for things to do around Barcelona in the summer, check out this full-day tour of Sitges and neighboring Tarragona, a city with a strong Roman heritage. Transportation is included, so you don’t even have to worry about getting there.
Another option is this day trip to Sitges and Girona, a charming town that I mentioned earlier. After enjoying the historic Old Quarter of Girona, you can spend the afternoon basking on the beaches of Sitges.
Now that you know what to do in Barcelona, here is a map of all the tourist attractions in Barcelona and the nearby areas I mentioned. You can use this map to better plan and organize your itinerary and make sure you see all the best places in Barcelona.
I know you’ll love Barcelona as much as I do. If you have any questions about your trip to Barcelona, you can leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you. Happy travels, or, as they say in Catalonia, bon viatge!