Barcelona might be best know as the “City of Gaudí” but there is so much more to it than that.
We spent over a month exploring Barcelona recently, and fell in love with its rich history, vibrant, atmosphere, electric energy, thrumming nightlife, expressive people, and majestic views. Filled to the brim with sights to see, things to do, tapas to eat, sangria to drink, and places to explore we currently rank Barcelona very highly on our list of favorite cities in the world.
Big words? You bet, but Barcelona deserves them, and more.
The Down Side of Being Awesome
Barcelona has been growing in popularity rather quickly over the last decade or so, and people are flocking to this amazing city in record numbers. Unfortunately, this has led to some issues with overcrowding during high season, resulting in skyrocketing hotel and hostel prices.
There has also been a bit of a backlash against tourism in the Barcelona, as residents living near the city center have felt pushed out of their homes and habitats by tourists, and landlords seeking to convert apartments into AirBnb rentals. Thus when visiting Barcelona we recommend you put aside some time to LEAVE the city, and explore a bit of beautiful Catalonia. Check out this article for more information on where to go, and why to do so.
With that said, and without further ado, here is our list of top things to do in Barcelona, in no particular order. As always have fun, travel safe, and we’ll see you on the road!
Top Ten Things to do in Barcelona
Take a Walking Tour of Gaudí Landmarks
Artist, visionary, architect, genius. These words all describe the master that was Gaudí. His works are not to be missed when visiting Spain and Barcelona, and visiting them will probably be the number one one your list of things to do in Barcelona.
Download the free BCN app from Trip Advisor or walk into any hotel and grab a map of the city from the front desk and plan out your own self supervised Gaudí tour.
You can also take one with a local guide (just do a Google search for “free walking tours Barcelona”). Free doesn’t actually mean FREE, however, and the guides expect a “tip” at the end, generally in the amount of 5-10 euro per person.
€30.00 for 6 museums is a pretty good deal if you are a museum buff and plan on visiting all the museums on the list. They include the great Museu Nacional D’art De Catalunya and slightly underwhelming Museu Picasso. For more info check out the Articket site.
Nightlife in Barrio Raval and the Marsella Absinthe Bar
Barrio Ravel is the former red light district of Barcelona and is home to a multi-cultured and vibrant community. Filled with bars and restaurants the old world narrow streets ooze atmosphere and really come alive at night. Soak it all in but keep your wits about you. Crime has been on the rise in recent years. Located within the Raval, not far from Las Ramblas, is a seedy looking splinter of history.
Marsella Absinthe Bar was established in 1820 and is said to have been visited by such legendary artists as Picasso and Hemingway (and our favorite contemporary speculative fiction writer George R.R. Martin). The all wood interior of the bar transports you to another time and place with its faded mirrors, dusty decor, dilapidated furniture, and a surly no-nonsense owner/bartender. Atmosphere like no other bar we have ever visited, especially after your first glass of Absinthe.
Climb The Three Crosses in Park Güell
Stroll around Park Güell, where the Gaudi House is located, and head to “Tres Crues” which is the highest point in the park for a breathtaking panorama of Barcelona. The is a great spot to get sunset views of the city, so bring a few snack, bring your camera, and enjoy!
The park is free, but the Gaudí House-Museum will set you back €7.00.
Explore Barcelona via Bicycle
Barcelona has a public bike service, but it is only for residents. However, there are some privately owned rental companies where you can rent a bike for as low as €5.00 a day.
This is a pretty great way to get to see the city, and there are a lot of biking lanes running through the city to make peddling around simple and stress free. Riding a bicycle also reduces your carbon footprint AND is a great form of exercise to burn off all those calories you’ll doubtlessly put on eating Barcelona’s world renown cuisine. Pretty much a win win win situation.
Take a Dip in Montjuic Hill Olympic Pool
Montjuic Hill Olympic pool was constructed for the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992 and affords spectacular views of the city. The pool is open from the end of June to the beginning of September and costs €6.49 for adults and €4.47 for children. Bring your own food and drink and relax while getting a high dose of rays and scenery.
Go here for more details, hours of operation, and directions.
Things to do in Barcelona – Check out Boqueria Market
If you’re at all interested in food markets, Barcelona’s Boqueria Market is not to be missed.
Steeped in history this open air bazaar dates back to 1217. Located near the old city gate it was originally just a few tables selling meat (with flies buzzing everywhere we imagine). The market has grown to host hundreds of stalls selling anything food related you might desire including produce, bread, meat, fish, candies, and ice cream. There are even a few bars where you can take a break from shopping to enjoy a nice Cava or an ice cold cerveza.
Walk the Gothic Quarter (El Barri Gòtic)
Teleport yourself centuries into the past by spending a few hours getting lost in the narrow winding streets of the Gothic Quarter. Once the center of the city, the quarter stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere.
Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th centuries many of the buildings date back to Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlements in Barcelona. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter, is located within this area too.
The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis. We loved it here and visited a few times during our stay in this amazing city.
Go Dancing at Marula Cafe Club
Eating a super late dinner and partying into the wee hours of the morning is standard practice. As such, it is definitely one of the things you need to do in Barcelona.
Barcelona has a lively club scene. If you are into dancing the late night away and greeting dawn you will love the city after midnight.
We visited the funky old school Marula Cafe and adored it. Afro beats, funk, disco, jazz, and more all masterfully mixed into an intoxicating dance floor cocktail. If electronic music is more your thing check out Razzmatazz Club. If you are into rock and alternative Magic Club will be your go-to club/bar. Get there before 1:00 AM and chances are you can find a flier for reduced admission right outside.
For more information take a look at TimeOut’s picks of the best places to party in Barcelona.
Hit the Beaches Near Barcelona
Plenty beaches to pick from in and around Barcelona but our favorite is located some thirty minutes outside of the city proper and is called Castelldefels Beach. Golden sands and blue Mediterranean waters await. Skip the beaches closest to the city and head here for a day of Vitamin D. Subway and bus service make getting here a breeze.
For more information click here.
Well that’s it guys! There are plenty of other things to do in BCN, but we’ll let you figure them out for yourself. If you have limited funds but want to explore BCN check out this nifty little guide we wrote to exploring Barcelona on a budget.
Also, check out our article on the best hostels in Barcelona to find the top budget friendly accommodations in the city.
As always, safe travels!
Find Great Rates on Hotels in Barcelona on Booking.com!
Like this article? Pin it!
Disclaimer – We have included a few handy little affiliate links in case any of our readers want to book accommodations. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.