Photo: Sergi Ferrete / Unsplash
Looking for opportunities for fun sightseeing in Barcelona? Whether you’re here visiting for a day, a week, or (you lucky thing!) even longer, read through Contributor Beth Hoke’s list of the top things to do in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city full of must-see attractions. Award-winning museums, sandy beaches, amusement parks, sports facilities, and historical landmarks will all compete for your attention during your stay.
Whether you are a foodie, football fan, art aficionado, history buff, or just a regular tourist shopping for souvenirs, Barcelona has something for you. See the city from high up on a mountain or stroll around at sea level. No matter how you explore Barcelona, you’re sure to awed by its grand architecture, world-class restaurants, and laid-back atmosphere.
We’re sure you’ll find your own favorite places to see and things to do in Barcelona. But to get you started, here are some of ours.
The Top Things to do in Barcelona
Take a Tour La Sagrada Familia
The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s top attractions. Construction on this architectural masterpiece began in 1882 and is still in progress well over a century later. Though the project was started by Francisco de Paula del Villar, it was taken over by renowned local architect Antoni Gaudí after only one year. Gaudí oversaw the design and construction until his death in 1926.
The Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia, as well as six of Gaudí’s other works, are today recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To learn more about Gaudí and the awe-inspiring architecture of this iconic Barcelona cathedral, you can choose from an app-based audio tour available in 17 languages or a tour led by an experienced guide available in English, Spanish, French, and Catalan.
La Sagrada Familia tickets should be purchased well in advance and are available online only. For access to the towers or skip-the-line privileges, you will need to buy them from an independent vendor or use your rather than purchasing them from the official app or website. You can learn more about this remarkable attraction, visit https://sagradafamilia.org/en/home.
Enjoy a Stroll Through Park Güell
This incredible public park in Barcelona’s Gràcia district was commissioned by Spanish entrepreneur Eusebi Güell and designed by his friend Antoni Gaudí. Park Güell (or Parc Güell in Catalan) is a must-see attraction for admirers of Gaudí‘s work. The structures in the park bear his signature organic style and the ornamental elements reflect his deeply held political and religious beliefs.
Gaudí lived in the park for the last 20 years of his life and his house is now a museum that showcases a collection of artifacts created by Gaudí and his collaborators. The park’s elevated position on Carmel Hill affords visitors panoramic views of the city from the serpentine terrace covered in colored mosaic tiles.
Experience Casa Milà at Night
Over a million visitors come to Barcelona every year to see Casa Milà. Also known as La Pedrera for its resemblance to a stone quarry, it was commissioned by Pere Milà and his wife Roser Segimon.
Acclaimed architect Antoni Gaudí’s design combined form with function, resulting in a unique residential building that is now open to the public through self-guided audio tours and small group tours with exclusive access to select spaces and premier experiences.
Casa Batlló is named for the prominent businessman who hired Antoni Gaudí to remodel the original structure. Located on Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district, the building is locally known as La Casa dels Ossos, or the House of Bones, for the skeletal columns that support the facade.
Fully restored by the current owners, this fascinating building is one of the most popular Barcelona attractions. include headphones with guided narration, a 360-degree new media journey into the mind of Gaudí, and an immersive visual experience in the Gaudí Dôme.
Explore La Rambla
La Rambla, or Las Ramblas if you’re referring to the five streets that create this lively pedestrian zone, extends from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell. Lined with sidewalk cafés and vendor booths, La Rambla is popular with local residents and tourists for its casual vibe.
Spanish poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca was one of La Rambla’s biggest fans, referring to it as “the only street in the world which [he wished] would never end.” Along La Rambla, you’ll find many Barcelona tourist attractions including the Font de Canaletes, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, La Boqueria, and Mirador de Colom, a monument to Christopher Columbus that marks the spot where he returned to Spain after “discovering” the Americas.
Riley Recommends: For a memorable vacation, why not consider checking into a hotel in La Rambla, right in the heart of the action? Check out our list of the top luxury hotels in La Rambla for great ideas and recommendations.
Shop at Mercat de la Boqueria
Built on the former site of the Carmelite Convent of St Joseph after it was destroyed by fire, the has offered shoppers a mouthwatering selection of food and beverages since 1836. One of the best things to do in Barcelona, a visit to this covered market with over 200 stalls selling everything from spices to seafood is a must if you’re a foodie.
Despite its size, it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. The entrance off of La Rambla is just north of the Liceuopera house on the same side of the street. The market is open from Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 8:30 pm with the exception of local and national holidays.
Soak up the Sun at Barceloneta Beach
Barceloneta is a popular public beach along the Mediterranean coast. This well-developed recreational area is family-friendly with a children’s game area, beach volleyball nets, ping-pong tables, toilets, outdoor showers, and, perhaps most importantly, ice cream stands.
Its location in the Barceloneta fishing district means the restaurants along the beach have access to the freshest seafood. Whether you want to make sit-down dinner reservations or stop by a popular lunch spot for a grab-and-go poke bowl, is one of the best places in the city to enjoy the catch of the day.
Visit FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou
Football fans can’t let their vacation go by without paying homage to one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport! The FC Barcelona stadium, or Camp Nou, is a must-see attraction. Even if you’re in Barcelona during the off-season or just can’t score tickets to a match, it’s worth stopping by to explore the museum and tour the arena.
Die-hard fans should check out the which gives you exclusive access to the locker room, the pitch, and the press room, as well as an official club guide, and photos of your visit. Also available: free personalization of shirts purchased in the gift shop.
Take the cable Car Up Montjuïc
Montjuïc (or “Jewish Mountain”) is the site of a number of historic landmarks including Montjuïc Castle, Palau Nacional, which houses the national museum of Catalan art, and the Olympic Stadium, You’ll also find Poble Espanyol, an open-air village showcasing Spanish architectural styles.
Along with several other museums and the beautifully maintained botanic gardens, the attractions on Montjuïc are some of the top things to do in Barcelona. Visitors can transfer to the Funicular de Montjuïc from the Parallel Metro station or take the from the harbor and then continue up to the peak using the .
Have Funat Tibidabo
For a fun family outing, buy passes for the Tibidabo Amusement Park and head to Mount Tibidabo for the day. Your ticket includes access to all of the rides, shows, and attractions at the park. Character meet-and-greets, special events, and are also available for an additional fee.
At the end of the day, take the funicular from the park down to the tram station and ride one of the iconic blue trams down to Avenida del Tibidabo whose stately mansions once housed Barcelona’s wealthiest families. Some of these mansions are now upscale restaurants where you can enjoy fine dining in an elegant setting.
Contributor Beth Hoke is a travel and lifestyle writer who has created content for some of the industry leaders in experiential travel, including Google’s Touring Bird; Tui’s blog, Musement; and Vamonde. Her features have appeared online and in print at RileyMag.com, DispatchesEurope.com, and Military Spouse magazine.