Things to do in Barcelona: our top 10 essential activities

Pauline
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Article updated 25 April, 2018. 0 comments

What are the best things to do in Barcelona? Here's our pick of 10 essential activities which will make you fall in love with the city!

things to do in Barcelona Casa Amatller

Barcelona is a unique, vibrant and constantly changing city, so it can be hard to pin down exactly what to do first! Here is our selection of 10 truly essential activities.

1. Admire the works of Gaudí and modernist architecture

parc Güell benches

When someone says “Barcelona“, Gaudì’s architecture is the first thing we think of, from the majestic Sagrada Familia to Parc Güell. Don’t miss the chance to discover the architect’s life and works by visiting both iconic and less well-known masterpieces, such as Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Casa Vicens, Palau Güell and the crypt at Colònia Gûell

That said, Catalan art nouveau (Modernism) doesn’t stop at Gaudí, and many other architects created sublime works of art in the Eixample quarter. Follow our fun and instructive free walking tour to discover more.

2. Lose yourself in the Old Town

barri gotic plaça Sant Felip Neri

The historic centre of Barcelona is an absolute gem: take time to explore its streets, stop off at some of its pretty squares, discover magnificent buildings and visit quirky and original shops. The atmosphere is truly indescribable, and you’re sure to fall under its charm.

  • If history is your thing or if you want to find out more about the rich culture and heritage of these quarters, we’d recommend a guided visit.

3. (Re)discover Picasso & Miró

Miró Foundation terrace

 

Barcelona is a city of art and of artists. Although he was born in Malaga, Picasso studied at the School of Fine Art in Barcelona, where his career really took off. The city plays host to a museum devoted to the artist and his work.

Joan Miró is another of the city’s artistic stars. The Catalan painter was responsible for a number of frescoes, statues and mosaics in public locations across the city: at the airport, on Las Ramblas, and in the park which carries his name. Find out more about Miró and his world by visiting the superb foundation.

4. Go to the beach!

Barceloneta beach

Another fantastic thing about Barcelona is its beaches! We’re not just talking about a short and barely-accessible stretch of sand here, either: the city is home to 5 km of beaches lined with cafés, bars and restaurants.

For a better idea of what’s on offer, take a look at our articles on the subject:

5. Wander the parks and museums of Montjuïc

mnac montjuic

If you’re craving some time in the great outdoors, you’ll love a walk around Montjuïc, a hill positively covered in parks and green spaces.

Montjuïc isn’t just Barcelona’s “green lung”: it’s also an important cultural centre, playing host to prestigious museums such as the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, CaixaForum and the Miró Foundation. Fabulous!

Finally, the cherry on the cake: climb up to the top for spectacular views across Barcelona.

6. Discover the local food

paella

Tapas, charcuterie, fideuà, paella, tomato bread… there are plenty of Catalan specialities for you to discover during your stay. The articles below should help you to plan your menu:

7. Go wild for Barça!

camp nou by night

Yet another great thing to do in Barcelona! Barcelona FC is an institution in the city, and the locals’ devotion to their club verges on the religious.

So, what type of fan are you? If you’re interested in the club’s history, visit the Camp Nou Museum to find out more about the mythical team.

Fancy exercising your vocal cords? Practice singing the Barça anthem using our videos!

If you prefer your football live, why not go to a match at Camp Nou?

Finally, if you’re a truly die-hard supporter, there’s only one thing for it: you’ll just have to do the lot!

8. Explore Barcelona’s villages

poble sec

If you like to get off the beaten track, head for some of the former villages which have been absorbed into the city over time. Authentic and picturesque, they hold plenty of pleasant surprises for anyone who knows where to look.

Our top three “villages” are Gràcia, for its boho vibe, Poble Sec, for a glimpse of working Barcelona, and Sarrià, for its tranquil atmosphere.

9. Indulge in some retail therapy

shopping in barcelona

Barcelona is a great destination for shopping! Whether you’re looking for big, budget-friendly Spanish brands or original pieces for local designers, there’s something for everyone. The city also plays host to a wide range of vintage boutiques and a number of major shopping centres.

10. Things to do in Barcelona: relax… and enjoy!

wet deck pool

Last but not least, remember that Barcelona is, essentially, a Mediterranean city. Yes, there are plenty of things to do, but it’s important to take the time to just live and enjoy the present moment, warmed by the sun.

So where’s best? A sunny terrace in winter, late autumn and early spring, or a shady terrace in the summer. For an elegant option, pick out a charming hotel terrace. And if you’re looking for adventure, our list of hidden terraces will take you off the beaten track…

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About the author

Pauline

Pauline loves books, food and new discoveries. For her articles, she loves finding original and authentic places which are a treat for both the eyes and the tastebuds. Her favourite thing to do in Barcelona? Getting lost in the Old Town and soaking up its unique atmosphere... whilst enjoying the appetising smells emerging from restaurant kitchens! Is there anything better than that?