Looking for the best things to do in Barcelona?
You thrill seeker, you.
My husband and I spent two weeks exploring Europe by car and the four days we spent in Barcelona were some of the most memorable. Seriously!
When asked why we enjoy Barcelona so much we find ourselves stumped because the city is hard to describe.
The best I can do? Barcelona moves slowly in a way that feels good. Which is hard to fathom because the city is abuzz with a contagious energy that attracts swarms of sociable youth.
Simply put, Barcelona feels fun. It’s not uncommon for lunch to turn into a three hour affair and to drink sangria at noon without judgement. And it was great because we completely lost track of time in a way we only dream of.
So, without further ado, let’s get to 10 things you MUST do in Barcelona!
Top 10 Things to Do in Barcelona
#1. La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia has been in construction since 1886 and isn’t slated for completion until 2026 – 140 years later! We’re talking about 14 decades of pent up excitement leading to a magnificent structure impossible to disappoint.
If you only have two hours to explore Barcelona, this is the one thing you cannot miss.
- Advanced booking is strongly recommended because tickets sell out several days in advance. The basic entrance fee is 17 euros per person, worth every penny.
- If you’d like access to one of the towers, the admission jumps to 32 euros per person. We opted for the general admission with a self guided tour and loved it! For a complete list of admission fees and details, click here.
Length of visit: 1 hour to 1.5 hours, depending on your interest in history.
Visiting La Sagrada Familia was one of the more emotionally charged experiences of my life. There’s an indisputable sacredness about this place.
Tip: The museum at the end of the tour is fascinating, I suggest taking the time to explore it because it houses replicas of the older versions of the cathedral.
La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#2. The Gothic Quarter
Barcelona is up to its sleeves in history and the Gothic Quarter is where it proves most evident. The Gothic Quarter is connected via narrow streets lined with restaurants, cafes and picture-perfect squares.
Strolling these lively streets is a pleasure on its own so allow yourself to wander. But if you’re looking for specific things to do, make sure to visit Bishop’s Bridge and the Barcelona Cathedral.
We spent a relaxing afternoon enjoying a meal in one of the squares and loved every easy second of it.
Oh, if you see a gelataria, run, don’t walk towards it!
#3. Parc Guell
Barcelona owes a lot to Antoni Gaudi, an architect engrained in the heartbeat of the city. Barcelona is a testament to Gaudi’s bold talent and his work is proudly displayed for all to see.
This is especially evident at the whimsical Parc Guell, an outdoor museum of sorts displaying Gaudi’s finest work. While touring the park, you may notice two charming pavilions, the one on the left plays videos about Gaudi’s life and the one on the right is a souvenir shop … choose wisely. ????
- Admission: 10 euros per person. Show up early to avoid crowds!
- Length of visit: Approximately 1 hour, allow more time if visiting the pavilions or if you have an interest in tiles/art.
Tip: Park Guell is a very popular tourist spot, as such, it fills up quickly. We arrived at opening time on a rainy day and found ourselves in crowds of people within minutes. Come as early as you can, and even then, expect crowds. You know what they say, the more the merrier!
Parc Guell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#4. Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo was redesigned as a private residence for the prestigious Battlo family by Antoni Gaudi. In hopes of having their home stand out, the Battlo’s hired Gaudi because of his work at Parc Guell.
The family gave Gaudi free rein to do as he pleased, without limitations, and his creative mind ran wild! Subsequently, Casa Battlo became known as one of his true masterpieces.
Fun fact: The local name for Casa Battlo is “House of Bones” and after touring the interior – I can see why. Half the time I felt like I was in the skeleton of a fish.
- Admission: 25 euros per person.
- Length of visit: typically 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
In my opinion, admission to Gaudi attractions is steep but you can’t come to Barcelona without visiting some of them. I suggest prioritizing your favorites and seeing the top two or three.
We decided to tour two structures and Casa Battlo was one of them. We learned so much about Gaudi by taking the self-guided cell phone tour included with admission.
Casa Battlo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
#5. Casa Mila
Next, continue on to Casa Mila, a mere three blocks away. Casa Mila is affectionally referred to as “The Stone Quarry” by locals. It was built for Pere Mila and was the last private residence designed by Gaudi.
Upon completion, Mila’s neighbors ceased to greet him and argued that the gaudy (see what I did there?) building will decrease home values. Years later, Casa Mila still functions as a residential apartment building while averaging more than one million visitors annually.
- Admission: 22 euros per person.
- Length of visit: typically 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
Casa Mila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
#6. Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is a wide, mile-long street shaded by plane trees created specifically for public enjoyment. Open day and night, Las Ramblas is full of vendors, street performers and restaurants. Its central location makes it an inevitable destination for visitors.
Originally developed in 1766, it served as a hang out spot for locals but you won’t find many today due to the popularity and crowds.
Admittedly touristy, it’s still enjoyable and every visitor should check it out, especially since it’s en route to our next spot, Mercado de la Boqueria.
Photo credit: The Guiri Guide
#7. Mercat de la Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria is a massive public market teeming with vendors eager to share. Originally opened in 1840, this indoor market is one of Barcelona’s most visited tourist attractions.
Think foodie haven chockfull of everything from fresh-squeezed juices to crisp fruits and veggies to seafood and chocolate. Take your treat outside and enjoy it while people watching, it’s a great way to spend an easy afternoon.
- No admission fee but bring an empty stomach!
- Length of visit: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
#8. Arc de Triomf
We swung by the Arc de Triomf on our way to Las Ramblas and I was smitten within seconds. Unlike many of the arcs we’ve seen before, Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf is a non-military arc that reads “Barcelona welcomes the nations.”
Fitting, considering it was built as an entrance gate for the 1888 World Fair, held in Barcelona.
Want to know something interesting? The Eiffel Tower in Paris was also built as an entrance to a world fair … the 1889 World Fair, just one year after the one in Barcelona. Interesting to think that both of these cultural structures were built for world fairs and have become so iconic.
#9. Barcelona Magic Fountain of Montjuic
The Barcelona Magic Fountain of Montjuic was originally constructed for the Barcelona International Exposition in 1929 and restored in 1992.
This fountain sprays 700 gallons of water per second through 3,620 jet streams, with the highest water sprout reaching 170 feet.
The best time to visit the magic fountains is in the evening when the fountains light up in a grand colorful display and dance to music. It’s quite the spectacle!
Photo credit: Emilia Murray
#10. Palau de la Musica Catalana
Palau de la Musica Catalana is a marvelous concert hall built in 1904. Tours are available to the public, but to take in the grandeur in true style, try to go during a live performance. (Click here for upcoming concerts and performances.)
The beauty of the interior is hard to describe and the humbling ambiance more so. You have to see it for yourself.
- Admission fee: 20 euros per person.
- Length of visit: typically 1 to 2 hours.
Palau de la Musica Catalana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Is the Barcelona Pass worthwhile?
Prior to our trip, I spent hours researching Barcelona’s city pass to see if it would be worthwhile and came up empty handed.
With Barcelona, there appear to be several vendors that offer a city pass and I found that challenging.
Based on research, there’s three key players: the Barcelona City Pass, the Barcelona Pass, and the Turbo Pass. Different passes cover different attractions, but between random flash sales and inconsistent privileges, I decided to avoid the headache altogether and did not purchase a city pass for Barcelona.
Based on personal experience, I would not recommend purchasing a Barcelona Pass. We didn’t and had no regrets.
Get lost in Barcelona
If there’s only one thing you leave this post with, allow it to be this: Roam the streets of Barcelona aimlessly, eat too much and stay out past your bedtime.
Barcelona is incredibly charming and vibrant so spend as much time as possible simply exploring. Because I am confident you’ll miss this city for years to come.
Where to Eat in Barcelona
I know that this is a post about Barcelona’s Top 10 Spots, but what kind of hostess would I be if I didn’t mention food?
Remember this: No good story starts with oatmeal. If you’re visiting Barcelona, you need to experience the vibrant food culture.
One of the best things about Barcelona is that indulging in a culinary food experience doesn’t break the bank. This Mediterranean city is a mecca for seafood and tapas. All of our meals were delicious but two stood out drastically.
Brunch and Cake
Brunch and Cake doesn’t just offer a delicious meal, it offers an experience. We arrived around 9am and were luckily seated right away (the couple behind us were placed on a waitlist).
I had the Levain pancakes (using dough from my favorite bakery in New York City) and Will had the breakfast burrito. Both dishes came with splashes of sauces and creams that added to the overall complexity of the dish.
We were surprised to find that our entertaining food experience, accompanied by coffee and fresh-squeezed juice, only set us back 30 euros – not bad!
Oh my goodness, where do I begin? Our dinner at Cerveceria Catalana was the most memorable meal we had in Barcelona. Some of the freshest seafood we’ve had to date, for a very reasonable price.
This restaurant is very well-known by tourists and locals alike so it gets busy quickly. We waited in line for an hour and a half, so if you’re like us and sometimes unprepared, prepare for that.
Cerveceria Catalana is definitely worth a visit, no argument about that.
And that’s a wrap for our quick list of Barcelona’s top 10 spots, I hope you enjoyed the post!
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Barcelona’s Top 10 Spot
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