Things to do in Barcelona City

Barcelona is vibrant city in Catalonia Spain and one of my favourites. If you are visiting Barcelona it is like stepping into a living masterpiece where history, art, and culture converge. Finding Things to do in Barcelona is not that hard as you will find there is so much on offer. You can explore the enchanting labyrinth of streets of the Gothic Quarter or the sun-kissed shores of Barceloneta Beach.

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I personally love the wonder of Gaudí’s architectural wonders, from the iconic Sagrada Família to the Park Güell. Strolling around the bustling markets like La Boqueria, or the street market of Palo Alto are always top on my list.

Whether you are visiting Barcelona from your cruise ship in Barcelona port or spending a few days or a week here, this is everything you need to know about exploring the wonderful city of Barcelona. So Grab a map, and let’s discover Barcelona’s endless charms. Keep on reading as we uncover Barcelonas top attractions as well as some hidden gems.

A guide on things to do in Barcelona City pin image

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Everything you need to know about the Best Things to Do Barcelona Spain

One of the best things about Barcelona is the fact that you can explore the area by yourself. There are endless museums, attractions and many restaurants to visit. Take a look at our things to do in Barcelona city with hidden gems to find and explore.

Water fountain outside the Museu de Cara, Waxwork museum in Barcelona on Las Ramblas
Water fountain outside the Museu de Cara, Waxwork museum in Barcelona on Las Ramblas

Visit Sagrada Família

One of the most renowned and awe-inspiring works crafted by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi is the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Its construction commenced in 1882 and remarkably, even after all these years, it remains unfinished. It is hoped to achieve completion by 2026, coinciding with the centenary of Gaudi’s passing.

Both the outer facade and inner sanctum of the cathedral are nothing short of breathtaking, eloquently showcasing Gaudi’s distinctive architectural flair. To gain access to the Sagrada Familia’s interior, procuring tickets is a necessity. However, we strongly advise securing your tickets well in advance. Acquiring them on the day of your visit can prove to be an extremely challenging especially if you want to go up the tower.

The stunning of the Facade of the Basílica de la Sagrada Família
The Basílica de la Sagrada Família

Take a walk up to Park Güell

Another iconic architectural gem by Gaudi in Barcelona that holds immense appeal for tourists is Park Güell. The park boasts several captivating and distinct elements, most notably the main terrace, terrace walls, columned pathways, and adorned mosaics. While Gaudi didn’t directly build the residences within the park, it’s noteworthy that he resided in one of them. This house has since been transformed into a Gaudi museum.

Just like the Sagrada Familia, gaining entry into the central precinct of Park Güell requires a ticket. You will not be able to purchase on the day. If you can not get a ticket it is still worth the visit to the Gardens around it which are still accessible. Without a ticket you will not get in to the walled area as seen in the photo below.

It’s worth noting that Park Güell is situated a considerable distance away from other prominent Barcelona attractions. It is also very uphill steep walk so you may want to take a taxi. You can also access it via a hop-on-hop-off bus, which offers a scenic way to explore the city.

Park Guell as seen from the surrounding park area. Not the castle of Montjuic  in the distance
Park Guell as seen from the surrounding park area. Note the castle of Montjuic in the distance

Stroll Along La Rambla

La Rambla is one of Barcelona’s most famous streets, it is filled with restaurants, bars ,souvenir shops, and pubs. It here you will find a busy bustling tourist area with lots going on such as street entertainers and sellers. You are a sitting target for food here so it may not be the cheapest. Consider popping around the back streets for some tapas where you will find it a bit cheaper. Las Ramblas stretches for just under a mile long and you can walk the entire road of La Rambla in 30 minutes.  

Las Ramblas Barcelona Street performer in street
Las Ramblas Barcelona Street performer in street

Experience the Vibrant Atmosphere of La Boqueria Market in La Rambla

Along La Rambla is a market called La Boqueria. The Market is filled with stalls selling fruit, meat, and delicious Spanish food. The cultural atmosphere in La Boqueria bring Barcelona alive which makes it a popular place to visit in Barcelona.

Relax on the Beach at Barceloneta

Barceloneta Beach with its long promenade provides visitors with 2.5 miles of sand and sea, making it a popular spot for families visiting Barcelona. With bars, restaurants, and cafes lining the beach, Barceloneta Beach is a great spot for lunch. There is so much to do and many places to grab an ice-cream. It is easy to spend an hour or two here sunbathing here and relaxing.

Barcelonata beach view at sunset With palm trees in Barcelona
Barcelonata beach view at sunset

Visit L’aquarium Barcelona

Positioned just a stone’s throw away from the beach, L’aquarium Barcelona stands as an aquatic marvel within Europe. This attraction offers an opportunity for families with children to immerse themselves in a world of captivating marine wonders. Boasting a diverse collection of marine life, the aquarium showcases over 11,000 animals representing around 450 species. From the awe-inspiring Oceanarium, one of the largest in Europe, to the mesmerizing underwater tunnel that allows visitors to walk through a marine ecosystem. L’aquarium Barcelona promises an enchanting and educational journey for all ages.

Explore the Sant Pau Art Deco Museum Hospital

The Sant Pau Art Deco Museum Hospital is an amazing building that fuses art,architecture, and history. This captivating institution, once a working hospital, now serves as a captivating museum that pays homage to the Art Deco movement while preserving its medical heritage. The hospital’s meticulously preserved interiors boast intricate details, elegant curves, and stunning mosaics. Visitors are transported to the glamorous era of the 20th centuries Art deco era with it’s amazing interiors. As you explore its corridors and chambers, you’ll be immersed in another time zone where you will see the hospital past.

The museum’s exhibits and displays showcase the evolution of medicine and design incorporated. Visiting the Sant Pau Art Deco Museum Hospital is is a must do experience when in Barcelona.

Inside the Barcelona Sant Pau Art Nouveau hospital showing a ward with beds
Barcelona Sant Pau Art Nouveau hospital

Stroll Through the Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic in Catalan) is situated in the heart of Barcelona, Spain. It encompasses the area between La Rambla and Via Laietana. It stretches from Plaça de Catalunya to the Mediterranean Sea. This historic district is known for its medieval architecture, narrow winding streets, and a rich cultural and architectural heritage. The Gothic Quarter is mainly a pedestrian-only area with narrow streets amongst five-story buildings.

The gothic quarter in Barcelona Bishop’s Bridge above the street with people walking along
The gothic quarter in Barcelona, Bishop’s Bridge above the street with people walking along

Here is what you can expect to find in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona:

  1. Barcelona Cathedral (Catedral de Barcelona): A stunning example of Gothic architecture, the cathedral features intricate details, a beautiful cloister, and a serene courtyard filled with greenery and geese.
  2. Plaça del Rei: This square boasts historical significance and showcases medieval buildings, including the Palau Reial Major (Royal Major Palace) and the Chapel of St. Agatha.
  3. Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA): An archaeological museum that provides insights into the city’s history, with exhibits displaying ancient Roman ruins and artifacts.
  4. Plaça Sant Jaume: A central square where the Barcelona City Hall (Ajuntament) and the Palau de la Generalitat (seat of the Catalan government) are located.
  5. Plaça Reial: A lively square known for its vibrant nightlife, outdoor cafes, and a central fountain surrounded by palm trees.
  6. Santa Maria del Pi Church: A charming Gothic church with a distinctive façade and an impressive interior.
  7. El Call: The former Jewish quarter of Barcelona, featuring narrow streets and remnants of the old synagogue.
  8. Roman Walls: Sections of ancient Roman walls and structures are scattered throughout the district, offering a glimpse into the city’s past.
  9. Carrer del Bisbe: A picturesque street adorned with medieval architecture, leading to the Bishops bridge that connects the Palau de la Generalitat with Casa dels Canonges.
  10. Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu: A historic hospital complex that now houses the Library of Catalonia.
Plaça Reial Square in the Gothic Quarter Barcelona With palm trees and fountains
Plaça Reial Square in the Gothic Quarter Barcelona

Marvel at Casa Batlló

An essential Gaudi marvel to explore is Casa Batlló, an epitome of the architect’s most iconic creations. In 1900, Josep Batlló acquired the property and entrusted Gaudi with carte blanche for its design a few years later. Josep’s vision was unequivocal: he sought a residence distinctively unparalleled in the city’s landscape. Gaudi, without a doubt, brought that vision to life.

Characterized by its irregular oval windows, intricate stonework, mosaic embellishments, and a rooftop reminiscent of a dragon’s back, Casa Batlló stands as an unequivocal masterpiece. Much like numerous other Gaudi marvels, Batlló proudly holds the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Climb to the Top of Barcelona’s Cathedral

The Barcelona Cathedral, a magnificent embodiment of Gothic grandeur. Standing as a timeless testament to the city’s rich history and architectural prowess. Located in the heart of Barcelona’s charming Gothic Quarter, this awe-inspiring cathedral beckons visitors with its intricate façade, soaring spires, and captivating sculptures.

Stepping into its hallowed halls is like entering a sacred realm where sunlight filters through majestic stained glass windows. Not only can you explore the cloisters with its gaggle of geese but you can also climb up to the roof for amazing views of the city.

View from the roof of Barcelona Cathedral
View from the roof of Barcelona Cathedral

Discover the Magic of Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera (which translates to “The Quarry” in English), is a renowned modernist building in Barcelona. It was designed by the famed architect Antoni Gaudí and it is considered one of Gaudí’s most distinctive creations.

Built between 1906 and 1912, Casa Milà was commissioned by Pere Milà, a businessman, as a combined apartment and commercial building. Gaudí’s design for Casa Milà is characterized by its organic forms, undulating façade, and innovative structural techniques. The building lacks traditional straight lines, and its exterior is adorned with intricate wrought-iron balconies and unique stone carvings.

One of the most notable features of Casa Milà is its rooftop, which is a masterpiece of sculptural design. The building’s interior is equally remarkable, featuring curved walls, creative use of space, and a central courtyard that provides natural light to the apartments.

Today, Casa Milà serves as a cultural centre and museum, offering visitors the opportunity to explore its unique architecture. You will Learn about Gaudí’s innovative concepts, and gain insights into early 20th-century Barcelona when you explore this stunning building.

The Case Mila is just a short walk from the Casa Batllo. So you can visit two Gaudi sites at the same time. It is also advisable to book tickets in advance.

A view over park Guell  Barcelona
A view over Barcelona from Park Guell

Watch the Magic Fountain Show at Montjuïc

The Montjuic Fountain is Spectacular show of light, music and water. Initially constructed for the 1929 World Fair, the Montjuïc Magic Fountain orchestrates a captivating spectacle of vibrant hues, shimmering illuminations, and cascading water. With grand total of 3,620 jets and an impressive capability to conjure a staggering 7 billion combinations. This magic fountain stands as an extraordinary cost-free attraction within the city of Barcelona.

The hours and times of the fountain varies depends on the time of the year. During the summer season which is June to September, the magic fountain shows take place from Wednesday to Sunday. The rest of the year it is just on Thursday to Saturday. There are generally two shows a night that last about 15-20 minutes. Check out the show times here for more information.

Barcelona Palau Nacional Montjuic Palace
Barcelona Palau Nacional Montjuic Palace

Take a different route to Tour Around the City

There are plenty of ways to get around Barcelona from hop on hop off buses, local buses and trams but it all is by bike. Hiring a bike will make it a fun way see and learn all about Barcelona and its iconic landmarks. You even take a fun Segway around the city too. You can find Bike tours with English speaking guides that will take you all around Barcelona allowing you to see all of the city’s attractions in one go.

Admire the Picasso works of art in the Picasso Museum

Picasso is one of the world’s most famous painters. And although he is known for his colourful abstract art, the Picasso Museum is actually home to some of his early realism pieces that he painted when he was just a teenager. The museum takes you on a journey through Picasso’s career, from his formative years to his revolutionary contributions to modern art. With a diverse collection spanning paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and sketches, visitors have the privilege of tracing the maestro’s creative trajectory.

The Picasso Museum not only showcases the artist’s profound impact on the art world but also provides a unique window into the vibrant cultural landscape of Barcelona during Picasso’s time.

Picasso museum Barcelona someone looking at paintings
Picasso Museum Barcelona

Take a Picnic at Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella is an impressive park in the centre of Barcelona. The park is a great place for visitors the chance to relax, walk, and picnic on the grass areas. The park is also home to the Zoo, the Museu d’Art Modern, and the Zoological Museum, which are all situated within the walls. It also is home to an impressive fountain loosely based on the Trevino fountain which is a massive structure in the north of the park. It was designed by Josep Fontsére with a some help from a young Gaudi.

Take a Cable Car to Montjuïc for Panoramic Views

One of the best ways to see the city of Barcelona from afar is from the hilltops. You can take a cable car to Montjuïc castle from the port if you feel adventurous you can walk up in about 40 minutes. This takes you 270 feet up the hillside, the cable car offers panoramic views of the entire Barcelona region. There is a second cable car that takes you up to the castle itself too. You’ll also see iconic landmarks from afar like the Sagrada Familia and the port where you will the sweeping port. 

Barcelona view from Montjuic castle Of the cruise port
Barcelona view from Montjuic castle Of the cruise port

Climb to the Top of Montjuïc Castle

The Montjuïc Castle is a fortress on top of Montjuïc Hill with amazing views of the port. Dating back to the 17th century, the castle once played a significant role in Barcelona’s history. Now, however, it offers a glimpse into the city’s military heritage. 

Aside from witnessing the beauty of the castle, climbing up Montjuïc Hill offers truly spectacular views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. The walk to the top should take you around 30 minutes or catch one or both of the cable cars. Buses also go to the top of the hill as well.

Montjuic castle In Barcelona with 360 view from the top of the roof
Montjuic castle In Barcelona with 360 view from the top of the roof

Watch a Football Match at Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s Stadium)

For soccer enthusiasts, few experiences rival the thrill of witnessing a match at Camp Nou, the iconic stadium of FC Barcelona. While the availability of matches aligns with your specific arrival date and schedule in Barcelona, the allure remains undiminished. And even if match tickets prove elusive, a stadium tour coupled with a visit to the Barca Museum offers an enriching opportunity. The tour delves into the history and essence of this legendary club.

Eat some Local Tapas and Traditional Catalan Cuisine

Barcelona’s culinary scene is a blend of traditional Spanish flavour’s and modern gastronomic innovations. One must-try dish is “tapas,” a quintessential Spanish tradition where you can savor a variety of small plates, each with distinct flavours. From Spanish tortilla, patatas bravas, meatballs and calamares fritos, there are so many tapas options to try. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in “paella,” a rice dish often prepared with seafood or other ingredients, offering a taste of Spain.

Venturing into the charming backstreets, you’ll stumble upon “pintxos” bars, offering a Catalan take on tapas. These delectable morsels, often skewered with toothpicks, are an ideal way to sample a medley of flavors while mingling with locals.

pintxos in barcelona
pintxos in barcelona

Shop at Passeig de Gràcia for High-End Fashion

If shopping is what you fancy head to Passeig de Gracia. With shops from some of the most well-known designer labels to smaller boutiques the Passeig de Gracia is perfect for shopaholics.

Passing de Gracia also has beautiful architecture and plenty of cafes and restaurants to frequent. There are also even many roof-top bars in Barcelona to explore, so there is plenty to keep you entertained!

Visit the Palo Alto Market on the outskirts of town.

The Palo Alto market in Barcelona is s fun market on the outskirts of the city. The market is situated in he Poblenou area of Barcelona and is held the first weekend of every month Depending on the weather.

Palo Alto market is like a craft and street food market with and beer tents and music. The area was once a factory but now houses live bands, artisan stalls. The Palo Alto market costs around €5 to enter and tickets can be purchased on the door. The queue is well worth the wait though to enjoy a cool beer in the sunshine. There are also vintage stalls with homeware, clothes annd handmade jewellery. To get to the Market you take the metro out of Barcelona to the Selva De Mar stop. From there it is then just a 10 minute walk.

The front of Palo Alto Market in Barcelona with a car outside and poster
Palo Alto Market in Barcelona

Where we stayed in Barcelona

One of my favourite places to stay in Barcelona is Barcelona Hotel Colonial with amazing views of the city and close to the Gothic Centre.

Barcelona ( we last stayed in Barcelona Hotel Colonial with amazing views of the city From the balcony.

In Barcelona the Mediterranean breeze carries a sense of endless adventure, so whether you visit with kids or a partner there is something for everyone.

Explore some of my favourite places in Spain Here;


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