Things to Do in Barcelona

Travel Tips - Things to do in Barcelona
credit: Martin

Looking for tips on things to do in Barcelona?

As part of our city guides series, we interviewed Mariana Calleja who has been in Barcelona since January 2010, fell in love with the place, and decided to stay longer.

Mariana shares with us her insider tips on the best things to do in Barcelona plus where to eat, sleep, drink, shop and explore.

Why Visit Barcelona?

Barcelona is a very rich city in many aspects. The easiest way for me to describe this would be through the senses.

Taste:

In this city you get to eat really good food overall. The catalan cuisine is quite exquisite, from main dishes to pastry shops. No matter what time of the year, they always have special delights for everyone. Definitely a place to come, eat and relax!

See:

Barcelona has incredible sightseeing routes. From Gaudi’s architecture to the natural mediterranean landscape. There’s something for everyone here, for sports lovers the Camp Nou, for art lovers amazing museums, for budget travelers lots of free things all year round. It’s impossible not to enjoy Barcelona.

things to do in barcelona
Casa Pedrera o Milá, by Antonio Gaudi

Smell:

Well, this might go in many ways, from cuisines all around town to the seaside afternoons. Each season offers something different and smells will definitely catch your way into curious experiences. I would suggest “just let go”.

Listen:

Street sounds and catalan language. Musicians all over the place makes my day every day. Inside the metro, on the streets, along the beach. To me is like being in a movie every time!

Not to mention spectacular concerts in the different theaters which can go from a budget to expensive prices. And catalan language: an interesting one to listen to within all the stories attached. They really want to teach it to those interested. Again, there’s something for everyone.

Feel:

Barcelona is definitely a place to feel things, to experience feelings. Just walk around, there’s magic hard to describe. There is friendly ambience. Safety too somehow, depends where you are coming from but still is a safe city to just enjoy day or night.

Barcelona is vibrant and intense, yet relaxing and welcoming.

things to do in barcelona
Barcelona’s sea front view

Things to Do in Barcelona?

  • Magic Montjuic Fountains, from friday to sunday (oct-apr) from 7pm to 9pm. Free outstanding show.
  • Rent a bike and ride along the beach.
  • Festes de Gracia in August is a must-sense!
  • Local festivities such as Sant Jordi and La Merce are quite big parties around town, with beautiful unusual activities that can easily be enjoyed by travelers.
  • Santa Lucia Christmas Market in front of the Cathedral.
things to do in barcelona
Magic Montjuic Fountains     Photo credit: lets-go.com

Best Neighborhoods to Explore?

Gracia

The traditional old spanish kinda neighborhood. All filled with little plazas perfect for a coffee afternoon or some beer and tapas. Also known both for a nice night life and a family friendly place.

Gothic Quartier

Mystique area perfect for night life as well. All kind of bars, restaurants and international food makes of this neighborhood one of the best in Barcelona in my opinion. Cozy, alive and magical.

Raval

A unique and contrastant place. Deserves a good walk around into its authentic and ethnical streets, filled with an incredible mix of islamic and hindu cultures all around. Great for curious travelers into something beyond the city guides.

Eixample

The modernist heart of Barcelona. Ideal for long walks while getting delighted with its great architecture and buildings, including Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and Casa Milá, as for the most known attractions in the city. Not to mention the endless number of nice places for eating, having coffee or just a nice chat.

Where to Eat in Barcelona?

Boqueria Market (yes, the touristy one but food here is quite something, worth the rush!)

things to do in barcelona
Juicy Mercat de la Boqueria

Any other local markets such as Mercat de L’Abaceria and Mercat de la Barçeloneta.

Ciutat Comtal: great for dinner time, quality catalan food.

La Bodegueta: Really good tapas with the homemade feeling. Also nice to have some wine and relax on the inside. Very local.

Not very catalan but good food around if you go to Arepería La Taguara in El Born neighborhood,inside the gothic quartier, although it’s venezuelan traditional food, it’s definitely not on the city guides and for some reason I can’t explain, you’ll love it too! Haven’t found another like these on my
travels so worth a try.

You Can’t Visit Barcelona Without Eating?

Fideua! Like a paella but made up with little special noodles and served with a traditional sauce called “alioli”.

Calçots in winter season! Your fingers and palate will be grateful forever.

Where to Drink in Barcelona?

Any bar at Gracia Negihborhood is always good. Specially at Calle Verdi and Plaza del Sol. Also around the Passeig del Born street you can find lots of nice places to grab a drink.

Best Place for a Night on the Town?

Gothic quartier is the place to go bar-hopping! For everyone, all tastes and all ages too. Amazing little place full of night life.

Where to Stay in Barcelona?

Anywhere close to La Rambla and Paseo de Gracia are good spots, well communicated within transport system or just walking. Anywhere around the street called Passeig de Gracia and/or Plaza Cataluña-Las Ramblas will be perfect for anyone visiting.

things to do in barcelona
La Rambla     Photo Credit: monumentsdebarcelone.com

Budget:

Plenty of hostels around Plaza Cataluña and Passeig de Gracia are reliable.

Mid-level:

Top End:

Also, Airbnb has plenty of places in the city, in every economical range and well located. Barcelona is not a big city really, so is easy to move around, is walkable, is nice and fortunately, weather allows it most of the times too.

Markets and Shopping?

Food markets are always a good idea! La Boqueria is the touristy one but is a nice place to admire and get the senses go active. Not on a budget but just watching and smelling is free.

Then, there are local markets such as Mercat de L’Abaceria in Gracia, located in a quite unique old building.

For a unique market experience, the Book Market in Sant Antoni on Sundays is a must-see! And last but not least, just get lost any weekend around El Raval nieghborhood, over its cozy Rambla you will find local artisan market stands, away from the city rush.

things to do in barcelona
La Boqueria      Photo Credit: gustavoarruda.squarespace.com

Major Events and Festivals in Barcelona?

  • Sant Joan: the shortest night of the year must be lived on the beach over bonfires, good friends and endless fireworks in the sky.
  • Sant Jordi: on april 23 rd, a special event takes place: red roses and books take over the city entirely, celebrating the defeat of the dragon by Sant Jordi, saving the princess and giving peace to the whole town from the dragon’s menace.
things to do in barcelona
Barcelona Beer Festival

Getting Around?

Barcelona is totally walkable, but it has many attractions all over the city. Sometimes you will need the metro or bus service to go from one corner to the other. The best thing would be to organize every day during your visit around sectors or neighborhoods. So you can enjoy the walking, the views and the local feeling while going on your own feet.

Is it WiFi friendly?

Barcelona is completely WI-FI friendly. You can find lots of wi-fi access points throughout town, around main attractions, even close to the beach. The sign is as shown on this picture:

things to do in barcelona

Best Time of Year to Visit?

This is a very weather-friendly city. Summer is not extremely hot or winter not extremely cold. Of course best seasons would be intermediate temperatures, such as April-June and September-November.

Few rainy days throughout the whole year and even in winter you get sunny days with deep blue skies.

things to do in barcelona
Park Guell main entrance building

Favorite Side Trip?

Montserrat even though it’s touristy, is an amazing place to visit, into nature, hiking and all kind of activities for all ages and tastes. A place that should be seen.

Amazing Roman ruins in Tarragona is also an incredible day trip, and definitely not as crowded as Rome! Interesting place with the catalan touch.

things to do in barcelona
Montserrat           photo credit: visit-bcn.com

Getting There and Away?

Barcelona is a great place in terms of location and transportation. Getting there is easy in any way: car, train, bus, airplane, ships. You choose! Airport is well located and well connected to downtown with bus and train service, all on a budget and in good timing.

Vueling Airline is one good low cost company that arrives in BCN from lots of destinations. Just to mention one. But definitely BCN is a VERY well connected city with the world, so no trouble here!

things to do in barcelona
Views from Park Guell’s main plaza

Best “insiders” tip?

For tea lovers you might not want to miss El Salterio Tea House, in the gothic quartier.

For tapas, any corner out from the city rush will be good. Ciutat Comtal is one great spot for tapas & montaditos. Really good food all year round. Very popular among the catalan community.

As always a good idea to try eating at the local markets, where any food will be 100% fresh and tasty!

I love Barcelona because?

It has given me life experiences, more than just travel. It has given me a dream come true, a life, a home away from home, a new language and culture, friends too and above all, it has given me a base to do my whole travel dream, to move around, to get to know more.

More Resources for Barcelona

Check out these helpful travel guides:

And these useful posts:

 

BIO: Mariana Calleja is a 30-year old costarican travel blogger based in Barcelona since 2010 with her travel and life partner, both curious for experiences involving the five senses in a conscious way. Between her two biggest passions, travel and writing, she found the perfect spot to do both in order to inspire everyone into their own senses, into sensing their own way through the world. Check out her blog “Travel Thirst” and connect with her on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

Do you have tips on things to do in Barcelona?

 

Craig
Craig Makepeace is the founder of yTravel Blog and has been traveling the world since 2002, first with his wife Caz, and now with his two daughters. Get his free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow him on Google+

52 Comments on “Things to Do in Barcelona”

  1. Glad I saw this because I hope to go back to Barcelona someday soon. I didn’t have a great experience my first time but know that I missed so much, so this information will definitely come in handy.

    Reply
    • Hey Jenna,

      I’m hoping to get to Barcelona for my first visit sooner rather than later, and this will come in very handy for me also!

      Reply
  2. Great post. We will be in Barcelona with our kids in 3 weeks time. Montserrat will be on our list for sure!

    Reply
  3. The Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain is also my top tip when people ask me about Barcelona recommendations. It`s such a great experience, make sure though you check the hours/days of the show as I know from when I visited the shows are on different days and later during the summer time. Also consider taking the metro or bus out there, as it`s about 30 min walk from Plaza de Catalunya.

    Reply
  4. After many many months of travel Barcelona still remains one of my favourite cities in the world. The food, the architecture, the culture the… well everything

    Reply
  5. Great points. Can’t wait to try some of them out. I’ve taken notes. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. The article would do all travellers a big favour if it pointed out the negative aspects of a trip to Barcelona, particularly petty crime. After 10 years in Catalunya the first thing i say to anyone new to Barcelona is ‘look after your stuff’. Theft is incredibly common in the central areas (Barrio Gotico, Raval, Born) and the beaches. Be careful!

    Reply
    • Yes and no. I think all countries pose some sort of danger, some more than others. I think it is best not to dwell on these and allow them to spoil a destination, but instead to be aware of them and take necessary precautions. I myself traveled to Barcelona and never had a problem. I have been to places taht are considered far more dangerous and have not had a problem either. I am so glad that I went.
      But to help people be aware is a good thing so thank you for reminding future visitors to be careful and in those areas as well.

      Reply
  7. Wow, great post! Very thorough! Who needs Lonely Planet?!
    One word of caution is Barcelona, like many cities, has a bit of a problem with pick-pocketing and theft. Within 30 minutes of my arrival my bag was stolen right off of me as I walked down the street. A funny side note is that I found some police officers just after it happened but my Spanish was so limited that I couldn’t really explain what had just happened. I managed to get out, “Tango un problema con mi maleta” (I have a problem with my bag). But then they asked what the problem was and all I could think of to answer was “Banditos (bandits)” to which they laughed. I laughed too as I knew how ridiculous this must have sounded. They helped me make a police report.
    I’ll be sure to be more alert the next time I go to Barcelona. :)
    Ligeia recently posted..Visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok
    Ligeia recently posted..Visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your tips and advice Ligeia. So funny, I had a comment on another Barcelona post just the other week talking about the theft problem. Must be getting bad. It’s important for people to be aware so they can be more alert!

      Reply
  8. Great post. I love walking around the Eixample area and looking at all the amazing buildings. The fountains are one of my favorite things to see and one of the few attractions in Barcelona that are free.

    For travelers I would recommend visiting the bookstore Altair. It is a bookstore that is devoted to travel books. I have never seen another bookstore like it.
    Jeff @ GoTravelzing recently posted..The Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona
    Jeff @ GoTravelzing recently posted..The Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona

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  9. Cathy Nelson

    okay….I am single, open minded, friendly and curious afro american woman, traveling alone to Barcelona. After reading your blogs/web site I feel that I can do this and I will use your information as my guide. I plan on going in May 2013. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  10. JamieT

    Amazing guide – you should get these published one day! Question – have you tried eatwith.com? I read abou them on Fodors but couldn’t find any reviews. looks like a pretty exciting way to travel and eat and thought someone might have some feedback on the experience/food… keep up the great work!

    Reply
  11. I’m living in Barcelona from 3 months ago, and my fav place is Bimbas, what a cool Trattoria, thefood and service are amazing, I love this kind of places, this is why I love Barcelona!!

    Reply
  12. Hi, I lived in Barcelona for three years and agree with the majority of what has been written. There is just one thing that I think has to be noted though.. for places to stay, Las Ramblas is the worst place. It is the most expensive area for a hotel and is not somewhere you want to be at night. Areas like El Born, Gracia or Eixample are better to stay. Las Ramblas is a fun place to visit, as is the market which is in the middle of Las Ramblas, but if you want to stay safe, it isn’t somewhere to visit at night. Lots of pickpockets etc looking for tourists.

    Reply
  13. Barcelona is an exciting city and there are some superb hotels – I’ve reviewed many and here is my list of the top 25 from budget to luxury – the great thing is many of these are wheelchair accessible as is much of Barcelona

    http://citybreaks.amoretravel.co.uk/barcelona/barcelona-hotels-city-break/

    Reply
  14. Great post. I love walking around the fountains ,Last month i visited the Barcelona with my friends and really great fun and this is very beautiful city to see. Before going to Barcelona, i have read your post and noted the main things to do in Barcelona and really its works . Thanks and the pics you have clicked are

    really awesome clicks.

    Reply
  15. Great article about a amazing city, Barcelona! What I love the best is gastronomy, the tapas is a great invention! And the best tapa you can eat is the Pata negra ham one! The Spanish pata negra is really incredible, its taste is fruity and strong, it has no similar taste, any of the other hams I’ve ever eaten taste as this one… Check here some info about Spanish ham, it very interesting: http://www.jamonarium.com/en/content/27-spanish-ham-pata-negra-bellota-serrano-iberico-iberian

    I love Barcelona because its a city with joy!
    REgards!

    Reply
  16. Hi, I was in Born Street last weeks and this neighborhood is so cool, in Addition I went to Gran Café restaurant, one of the best ever been in Barcelona! :)

    Reply
  17. Barcelona is so cool ! I was last week in RoigRobi restaurant I loved this place!

    Reply
  18. Nice list, I’d like to add climbing up the magical Montjuïic, one of the best activities to do when in Barcelona.
    Barcelona Getaway recently posted..Charismatic Sardenya Apartment – Poblenou
    Barcelona Getaway recently posted..Charismatic Sardenya Apartment – Poblenou

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  19. Wow! What a nice market La Boqueria, it’s amazing, there are many differents kinds of food, frutis, meat, fish… really cool.

    I went to lunch next to La Boqueria 2 days ago, at Gran Café restaurant, and the service and food was so good, I recommend you to go here.

    Reply
  20. Good list! I visited most of these when I was in Barca. Don’t forget to visit the beaches while you’re there — they are outstanding!
    Pretired Nick recently posted..Pretirement story: Planning a move to Spain
    Pretired Nick recently posted..Pretirement story: Planning a move to Spain

    Reply
  21. Great post! Hard to resume it this short! I’ll add some tips about where to eat great tapas (not in Las Ramblas!): http://savetheguiris.com/map-barcelona/tapas-bars
    And don’t miss Correfocs and Castellers neither!
    Charly recently posted..Correfocs in Barcelona
    Charly recently posted..Correfocs in Barcelona

    Reply
  22. I love Raval neighbourood, Barcelona is so cool, there many differents kinds of cultures.
    One of the best restaurants in the city are in my opinion Bimba’s and Tenorio.

    Reply
  23. […] I’ll get back to you with tales of my Barcelona trip after New Year, but if you can’t wait that long, you can always check out this list of things to do in Barcelona by Caz and Craig from Ytravelblog. […]

    Reply
  24. I think eixample is the best place to stay.

    One tip: some museums are free the 1rst Sunday of each month: http://www.yourguidebarcelona.com/en/tourist-guide/helpful-information/free-museums-barcelona.aspx

    Reply
  25. Thank you for posting this! I’m using this for my school project! My project is due tomorrow but I was wondering if you had any last minute information on Barcelona like what is it most famous for and why someone should visit? I’d love to see different views so I can get the most amount of research possible! Thank you to whoever comments and thank you for doing it in time hopefully! Have a great day(:

    Reply
  26. Totally fabulous words n details !

    Reply
  27. I am so glad I found this, I just scheduled a family vacation for Easter break. I am so excited to finally get to visit Barcelona. This article has some great advice.
    Amy recently posted..Getting to Switzerland
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  28. I can’t believe you included the Salterio tea house! It is an extraordinary hidden place that no many people know about.
    Great tips about Barcelona! Although I would include also Calella de Palafrugell for a side trip. Or Cadaqués if you have the time. The Dos cielos restaurant is also a great place to go and enjoy the views of the city.
    I understand you can’t include everything in a post but since these are some of my favorites places I couldn’t help to write about them :-)

    Reply
  29. […] about Barcelona but still you are not sure what can you expect about the city, here you have a great post of what to visit in Barcelona. Restaurants, monuments, the best neighborhoods, side trips, special […]

    Reply
  30. hi,
    Ive been to Barcelona and just love this city. I stayed at this cute quaint hotel named the continental palacete, conveniently located near to the end of the Ramblas and can walk to it from plaza catalunya. – very small rooms but nicely decorated and surprisingly the environs were quiet. (food is non descript)
    While Antonio Gaudi’s fantastic and beautiful architecture especially Casa Battlo, is not to be missed, i would like to point out a few more attractions that are worth seeing.
    1.The cable car ride back from Montjuic castle, torre Colserola with a beautiful view of the Barcelona harbor.
    2. walk down the Ramblas from plaza catalunya all the way to the Columbus monument and the harbor front.
    3. Catalan village- spanish village, a recreation of the catalan part of spain.
    4. Parco Guell- a gaudi wonderland.
    5. Torre agbar
    6. The Barcelona pavilion which is a reproduction of the Mies Van der rohe pavilion built for the world exposition.
    7. soccer fans will like the stadium where FC barcelona plays.
    8. Barcelona cathedral in the Barri gottic.
    Most of these sites can be visited on the Red bus tour a convenient way to tour Barcelona i felt.

    Reply
  31. Hi,
    I’m going again to Barcelona in June. I can’t get enough of this city. I like your post, it’s really well organized and you posted the Catalan meal : Fideua! Let me add a must must must : The Arroz Negro.
    You might want to have a look to this VLOG : http://youtu.be/uAb4vcPKJYM
    That gives additional tips on Catalan culture/languages and more things to see in Barcelona. :-)

    Reply
  32. We just got back from a 2 week trip to Barcelona with our 4 small children. We had so much fun. We were there for Sant Jordi day and it was so much fun to see all of the rose and book sellers in the streets. We stayed in Sant Cugat and we loved it. It is a small city just through the tunnel from Barcelona and they have a charming little monastery in a great downtown area. We were able to rent a 4 bedroom house with a pool for our stay. We enjoyed our day trips to Tarragona and Montserrat as well.
    Amy recently posted..More Barcelona Fun with Discover Walks
    Amy recently posted..More Barcelona Fun with Discover Walks

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  33. I’m headed to Barcelona soon – my first trip to Spain but will just spend the whole 10 days in Barcelona. Staying in El Born so I can walk to most places. Thanks for the great tips – just added Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain to my list!
    Susan Moore recently posted..Canon Powershot SX-700 w/30x Zoom Lens Test Photos – Initial Review
    Susan Moore recently posted..Canon Powershot SX-700 w/30x Zoom Lens Test Photos – Initial Review

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  34. Going for a few days in June and this was a great summary!
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    Adrienne @ AdrienneAway recently posted..24 Hours in Viña del Mar

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  35. […] yTravelBlog – Things to do in Barcelona […]

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  36. I’ve been several times now and there are always things to see. The last time I completely fell for the Montserrat Monastery! I would recommend, if people have the time, they visit Montserrat for the day — a beautiful beautiful mountain monastery that’s easily reached.

    Reply
  37. We visited barcelona a couple of months ago and stayed in the born area which was great. I’d say avoid the ramblas area which is overpriced and not a very nice area after dark. We went on a scooter tour with a guide which lasted four hours and was the highlight of our trip. We booked prior to arriving via a travel website and I would recommend this way of exploring the city to anyone!

    Reply
  38. Shannon

    Went to Barcelona last summer and could have stayed longer! A few words of advice though. Lineups during tourist season can be very long around the Sagrada Familia and the other Gaudi sites It’s also know as the pickpocket capital of Europe so just be smart and aware. Food-wise, if you take a walk a few blocks off the beaten path of la rambla the food is much, much cheaper ( I highly recommend a tapas place called bar easo) Happy travels!

    Reply
  39. To see it the fun way, can we recommend renting an electric bike? It has a GPS (to get lost…and found!) as well as an audioguide for each sight. Do it like the locals. We’d love to hear from you and help you enjoy the city.

    Reply
  40. I went to Barcelona for the first time in May / June for over a month, and it’s now my all time favourite city in Europe, and also my top 4 fave in the world overall, after all of my travels. I could easily see myself living there (well, for as long as I can ever stay in one place).

    I’ve put together a roundup of all of my recommendations – they’re mainly food, but also a few sites and accommodations that aren’t already on this list! http://victoriasfoodsecrets.com/2014/07/barcelona-spain-travel-map-food-accommodations-sites/

    Hope they come in handy for those who are yet to go. I’m hoping to head back to Spain again this fall!
    Victoria Chemko recently posted..Barcelona, Spain Travel Map: Food, Accommodations & Sites
    Victoria Chemko recently posted..Barcelona, Spain Travel Map: Food, Accommodations & Sites

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  41. Barcelona is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world! It’s unique position in the Mediterranean has allowed it to develop a culture that blends influences from all over Europe (and beyond!). This is especially obvious in it’s food, with typical dishes like canelones and meatballs! Check out our Barcelona food blog for tips about eating in Barcelona!

    Reply
  42. inspiring and informative…..definitely on my bucket list. hope someday….

    Reply
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