Hopefully you already read our post about Barcelona travel tips and now you have decided you are ready to go, get some stamps on your passport. You have opted not to join a travel tour so now you want more specifics on what to actually do while you’re in Barcelona Spain.
List of Best Things to Do in Barcelona in 2020
- Be Awed by Sagrada Família
- Enjoy the View at Park Guell
- Party at a Barrio Festival
- Share some Tapas
- Flirt with Flamenco at Palau
- Get lost in the charm of the Gothic Quarter
- Dig into some Paella
- Watch FC Barcelona kick around Camp Nou
- Wander Las Ramblas
- Chow down at La Boqueria Market
- Magic Fountain Show
- Marvel at the Barcelona Cathedral
- Discover Spain at Poble Espanyol
- Admire Casa Batllo
- Move to MUHBA and MACBA
- Dance to Tibidabo Mountain & Opium
- Drink a Beer at the Black Sheep
- Get cultured at the Museu Picasso
- Bring your shades to Barceloneta Beach
- Chill like a Catalan at Parc del Forum
You’re in luck, through a combination of personal travels and other resources we have put together a great list to build your Barcelona trip from. Finding things to do in Barcelona is easy, but if you want to get the most out of your trip, I suggest you do some planning earlier.
I can’t tell you how many trips I have been on where the first part of the first day is spent just deciding what we want to see. Now, depending on the place that can be a ton of fun. This is actually how my previous Barcelona Spain trips have been, but looking back I definitely missed out by not being at least a little prepared.
For that reason, we are covering some of the staples of most trips to Barcelona Spain, but I have added a few things to do that I highly recommend from my own experiences. Without future ado, let’s build your Barcelona Spain Vacation!
1. Be Awed by Sagrada Família
As discussed in our Barcelona travel tips blog, we highly recommend you get your tickets earlier to save yourself a ton of time, and stress. In the late 1800’s the construction of the church “… dedicated to the Holy Family…” or Sagrada Família began, and a man named Antonio Gaudi took over as the architect in 1883.
At his death in 1926 he was still working on what he knew would be his legacy and that for the city of Barcelona Spain. As you stand in amazement of this marvel understand the importance of Barcelona and Catalunya as not just a beautiful building with so much history, but a house of worship in a deeply Catholic country.
2. Enjoy the View at Park Guell
According to the official Park Guell site, this is one of the largest green spaces within Barcelona. The history of Park Guell was that of a real estate development project for wealthy Catalan families while still preserving and enhancing the plant-life on the property.
In the 1960s the museum was opened and the park was subsequently opened to the public. I have made this walk from central Barcelona Spain, and it is doable but it’s further than you might initially think. So, when you plan your day allow for that slight bit of walking time to the park or just take a taxi.
As one of the most famous attractions, the city has to offer you should put this on your list of what to see and to enjoy the beauty of Barcelona Spain.
3. Party at a Barrio Festival
If you plan to visit Barcelona in the summer the locals and tourists alike speak highly of the street parties, also know as festes majors or “big party.” In the Barri Gòtic neighborhoods these famous street parties are part of the fabric of Catalunya and with a description that includes “rock concert” and “craft fair,” it must be worth checking out.
These seem to be fun for the adults but have things for the kids as well, but don’t quote me on that. The most famous ones are held in summer but there are some in Barcelona and surrounding cities to be found at other times of the year.
I wish I had known about these parties when I visited Barcelona, but next time I’m eager to check one out and I have no doubt that these parties will not lack great food and wine. I would love to know if you have been to one of these, especially if you have been to Festa Major de Gràcia , and how you enjoyed it.
4. Share some Tapas
You simply cannot travel like a Catalan if you don’t try some new food. Whether you walk into some Barcelona Bars, your hotel restaurant or anywhere else serving locale fare you will see that the small plate tapas are king.
From their casa to their restaurant the Spanish have made small plates famous. As a typical American, it was a little bit confusing to me initially, but once you understand two things it makes a lot more sense.
First, tapas are meant to be shared, which means when you’re visiting Barcelona you’re not going to get too many plates just to yourself. Secondly, they are small so you’re supposed to order several tapas.
It’s not dissimilar to sharing appetizers in most other western countries, so if you think of it in that way I’m sure you can handle it. And make sure to enjoy!
5. Flirt with Flamenco at Palau
Flamenco is beautiful and when you’re scouring “things to do Barcelona” in Google, chances are some Flamenco activities will pop up. Taking a look at Trip Advisor you can also book a variety of Flamenco experiences, but I have also found that someone willing to explore will come across some organically as well.
If you’re traveling with kids they will almost certainly be enthralled with the beauty and rhythm of the dance. I have heard great things about The Palau de la Musica Catalana as one of the most famous flamenco theaters.
No matter if you make it to Palau or only catch 5 minutes on the street, you don’t want to miss out on the elegance of flamenco.
6. Get lost in the charm of the Gothic Quarter
The name Gothic Quarter can be somewhat misleading because not all of the famous buildings are truly Gothic, but are from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Much like the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Gothic Quarter was refurbished and rebuilt as a beautiful tourist attraction.
In this part of Barcelona, you will find old and unique shopping as well as new shopping, Don’t be afraid to explore a little bit of everything this famous section of Barcelona has to offer.
Although the name isn’t entirely accurate don’t hold it against the neighborhood and enjoy the beauty of the quarter while you take your own walking tour and capture all the pictures and video you can.
7. Dig into some Paella
When you go to Barcelona Spain, trying paella is an absolute must. As a disclaimer, I don’t like paella and I have tried it quite a few times in Barcelona Spain several times and other Spanish speaking places. But just because I don’t consider it the best doesn’t mean that you should skip it.
You can find it almost anywhere within Barcelona, but we aware that from some places the yellow coloring of the dish might actually stain your hands. If you don’t know actually know what paella is here is a recipe to give you a good idea.
Whether you end up loving it or hating it, your list of Barcelona things to do isn’t done until you have tried some.
8. Watch FC Barcelona kick around Camp Nou
Barcelona Spain loves football (soccer) and FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi are a great reason to go see a game at Camp Nou. If you have never been to a European soccer match it is quite a site, and the intensity is something you won’t forget.
Going to a game here is still on my to do list, but if you have the opportunity you should do it! If you aren’t able to make a match there are also tours available. Or do like we did if time is limited and pick up a Messi Jersey for the kid, but embrace the soccer feeling that drives Barcelona Spain crazy.
9. Wander Las Ramblas
When you think of Barcelona Spain chances are you think of Las Ramblas which is a grouping of streets with shopping, food, street performers, etc. When the weather is nice one of the amazing things to do in Barceloneta is to have lunch or dinner at one of the outdoor restaurants in the middle of the one-way streets.
There are a variety of bars in the area with wine selections or whatever your poison is. The moral of the story is that Las Ramblas is beautiful and you will enjoy your time, but be careful not to get sucked in.
It’s so easy to spend a large portion of your time in this area and neglect the other amazing things and attractions, sites, museums with catalan art and so much more just blocks away.
10. Chow down at La Boqueria Market
When it’s time to eat your future self will thank you for visiting La Boqueria market. My first time in Barcelona I wandered here without meaning too but I am so glad I did. You don’t have to find it by accident because now you know and it’s the best. If you want a little preview of what you can expect check out this video.
You will find a combination of groceries and prepared foods that you can buy and eat on the spot. Come hungry and try a little bit of everything.
This is also a great opportunity to really mingle with locals as this is spot for tourists and people from Barcelona Spain alike. And it costs nothing to get in so if you only want to window shop the view is free!!
11. Experience a Magic Fountain Show
The magic fountain of Montjuïc gives onlookers a FREE and beautiful nighttime light and water show. The show lasts for 20 minutes and runs again a half-hour later. Some people recommend getting there an hour before the first show of the evening or taking it in from the Catalonia Barcelona Plaza terrace.
Be aware that depending on the season the showtimes/days vary, but here is a like to the city’s official site. The magic fountain of Montjuïc is considered to be right up there with the Bellagio and Trevi fountains in terms of beauty, so hopefully, you get a chance to experience it yourself.
12. Marvel at the Barcelona Cathedral
Although is less well know than the Sagrada Família in Spain Barcelona specifically this is actually the much older of the two famous churches. Having been constructed over the course of the “thirteen to fifteenth centuries,” “it was completed in 1448. “
Just understanding the age of the building and considering how the world has changed in almost 600 years is mind-boggling. Then to appreciate the beauty on top of that and how it was built without the aid of technology is incredible. Allow yourself to marvel at this hallmark of Barcelona Spain’s history, faith, and future.
13. Discover Spain at Poble Espanyol
The Poble Espanyol is an open-air architecture museum which like many of the attractions on the list was built for the World Exposition of 1929. This brings to life in one place the architecture of Spain, not just Barcelona or Catalan. Like the front-page video says it was an attempt to capture the spirit of the Spanish soul.
In doing the research for this I discovered from the site that they do a major Halloween event and turn the streets into a scary little city. This sounds like it would be an amazing time to check it out.
14. Admire Casa Batllo
An extremely interesting architectural marvel is the Casa Batllo which has gone through several owners after the original Batllo family. With full control, Antoni Gaudi overhauled the facade of the building and “turned the inside into a true work of art.”
When viewed as just a building it’s really difficult to get your mind wrapped around it. However, when you think of it as a giant work of art it really makes a lot more sense.
With a variety of events on their calendar, it’s likely that you can find one that best suits your style and schedule. And if you can’t make it inside you can still get some great pictures of the exterior!!
15. Move to MUHBA and MACBA
The Museum of History of Barcelona and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art also know as MUHBA and MACBA are staples of Barcelona. When it comes to things to do these are typically very high on the list.
Trip advisor users rate their experience at MUHBA very highly. Here you can place yourself in the Barcelona Spain of the past with underground ruins of the old city.
The contemporary art museum offers a variety of rotating exhibitions so new visits will allow you to consume new pieces and new things each time. If you want to add some extra culture to your Barcelona trip this is a very nice way to do it!
16. Dance to Tibidabo Mountain & Opium
Barcelona Spain has an immense amount of culture, but the Catalan also really know how to party!! Enjoy yourselves and don’t forget to let loose and see the nightlife of Barcelona. A great way to see a few different parts of the city is a party bus tour. Due to a variety of reasons, this is one of my absolute best things to do in Barcelona.
For the price of the ticket, the bus takes you the base of Tibidabo Mountain where you will get a breathtaking view of the city that words and pictures won’t do justice. You will also get to see the Temple de Sagrat Cor, which is another beautiful Barcelona church, lit up at night.
You might feel as though the views aren’t even real. Then you get to end the night at Opium which is one of the best-known clubs in Barcelona, with no additional charge and no line. You might want to find yourself wandering around the area which overlooks the beach still taking in the views.
Because Opium doesn’t close until 5 am your night can last as long as you can handle. It may not be suited for a saint, but the number of things you get to do and the different parts of Barcelona Spain you get to see makes it quite worth the price of the bus ticket.
17. Drink a Beer at the Black Sheep
L’ovella Negra Ramblas is one of the coolest bars you will find in Barcelona and is worth a stop by. You will get the feeling of being transported back in time with the stone interior and large wooden tables. You can order your beer or sangria by the glass or by the large jug.
If you have an opportunity to take in a major soccer match this is a great place to do it. We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona during the world cup one year and this place was crazy!! Even if you don’t drink the pictures make it worth a stop by to grab some food.
18. Get cultured at the Museu Picasso
We all need some culture in your life and when it comes to Art Picasso is where it starts and ends. According to the website dedicated to him he is “probably the most important figure of the 20th century, in terms of art, and art movements.”
Even someone such as myself that can barely draw stick figures has an appreciation for Pablo Picasso and his work.
Although not from Barcelona, he is a Spanish born artist so there is a special place for him in Barcelona. He may have spent a good portion of his life in France, but he is in the heart of the Spanish.
Here is your chance to visit the museum dedicated to him as well as experience part of his collection of amazing works. With a rotation of exhibits getting tickets for the Picasso Museum may be something you want to budget for.
19. Bring your shades to Barceloneta Beach
That’s right, on top of being a beautiful historic location with overlooking mountings that offer views of the city, Barcelona is also a beach town! The Spanish love their beaches so many times of the year you will find the beaches very busy.
The neighborhood by the famous beach La Barceloneta is a quaint beach town where you will walk through and find trunks, bathing suits, and towels hanging on the balconies and out the windows leaving now down that you are close to the water.
I highly recommend you set aside at least a few hours in the neighborhood even if you don’t plan to go in the water. If you do want to spend the day at the beach get there early to get a good spot and enjoy yourself.
You are going to get a chance to have a whole different experience in this part of Barcelona Spain than it other parts of the city. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
20. Chill like a Catalan at Parc del Forum
I have not been to the Parc del Forum and it seems like I am really missing out. Every major concert or festival seems to have events at the Parc del Forum in Barcelona Spain and I think we should all experience it.
It doesn’t seem to matter what genre of music you enjoy because you can find an event at the Parc del Forum. In brushing up on my Barcelona Spain information for this post I came across this gem and I am disappointed I haven’t made it out there.
This venue is very cool looking as you can see from the many pictures and I would love to hear about any events you have been to there. So far I only get to imagine seeing a great show as you look out over the bay but I am excited at the prospect.
Barcelona Spain is amazing, and I hope that my little guide will help may sure that your trip is a huge success. However, just like anything don’t limit your research to one site or one post but allow it to guide you and give you inspiration. Chances are you aren’t going to be able to fit everything in one short trip.
If you’re planning for a longer trip to Barcelona Spain in Catalunya then you will be able to hit it all and then some. No matter the time limit get out there and do some amazing things. Leave your hotel or vacation rental and see the collection of beauty that this city has to offer.
What’s the best thing to do in Barcelona?
There is no one best thing, but after sites for a fun and relaxing vacation go on the bar crawl and visit the beach.
What should I not miss in Barcelona?
Do not miss the water. It might sound silly because it is on the sea, but it is possible to enjoy your trip and not get close to the water. Even if you don’t get in check it out!
What is Barcelona known for?
Barcelona is known for history, food, architecture, and beauty so soak it all in!!