10 Top Things to Do in Barcelona

Get the full Barcelona experience with these activities.

Aug 14, 2023
person paddle boarding on a barcelona beach person paddle boarding on a barcelona beach

There are a million and one things to do in the magnificent city of Barcelona. Some of them you’ll know about even if you’ve never set foot on Spanish shores. Others you won’t, unless you stay here for a long time, or move here. There are too many great things to read about in one article, so we’ve handpicked the best things to do in Barcelona that have to be on your list if you visit the Catalan capital.

1. See the Sagrada Familia

You’ll no doubt have heard of this one, and it certainly lives up to the hype. The most astonishing basilica on Earth is one of the absolute best things to do in Barcelona. The outside alone can keep you busy for hours, and the inside is equally spectacular. You can climb to the top of some of the towers if you’re comfortable with heights, and Gaudí himself is buried in the crypt- which is also worth seeing. After years of slow progress, building has sped up considerably, and the enormous central column is now rising out of the center. The Sagrada Familia should finally be finished in 2026, after over 140 years! A Catalan national treasure.

There are many other churches and cathedrals in the city worth visiting. The Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar and the Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia are the next most impressive, in our humble opinions.

Sagrada familia church looking up

2. More Gaudí

I’ll have to group the rest of Gaudí’s work together, or this what to do in Barcelona, Spain guide will be completely overtaken by the artist. Besides the Sagrada Familia, the next most famous Gaudí attraction is Parc Güell, and it is definitely worth it. Part park and part monument, Park Güell showcases Gaudí’s creative genius and also his playful side with gorgeous architecture and mosaics. As with much of his work, nature is a central theme. Walking around offers a blend of the manmade and the natural, and provides fantastic views over the city. Much of the park is free, but you do have to pay for the monumental zone, unless you’re a local resident.

If you enjoy his work, there are many more examples of it throughout the city that are worth a look. Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, and Casa Vicens are some of the other most famous works of the artist and of the things to do in Barcelona. There are also organized tours available which take you round the city to see them all.

3. Stroll down La Rambla

The most famous street in the city, and maybe the whole country, we present you with La Rambla. Also known as Las Ramblas, as it used to be made up of several streets. Nowadays, this wide boulevard starts in the city center at Plaça Catalunya and finishes at the Columbus Monument by the sea. (Many don’t know that you can climb to the top of the statue, and look out over the Mediterranean). La Rambla always makes for a nice walk, and the market stalls and street performers will keep you entertained throughout, earning its place as one of the top things to do in Barcelona. Here’s a few things to notice on the way down:

In the middle of the Rambla is a large mosaic by Joan Miró. In photos it looks impossible to miss, but the street is often so crowded that you can’t see much of the ground, and with your eyes elsewhere you might walk straight over it. Nearby is a memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack of August 2017, which is hard to spot. Canaletas fountain at the top of the Rambla is said to hold a special power- if you drink from it you are destined to return to Barcelona (so drink up). It’s also where Barça fans congregate to celebrate the soccer team’s many victories. Other Rambla-based attractions include the Liceu Opera house, the Wax museum, and the Erotica museum.

Boquería Market really deserves its own entry on the list of what to do in Barcelona, Spain, but we don’t have the space. Just off La Rambla in Plaça Sant Josep, this market is the most popular in the city. With top quality local produce, and more exotic offerings from around the world, this market is a magnet for locals and tourists alike.

4. Visit Camp Nou

Field of camp nou with FC Barcelona crest

After the Sagrada Familia, nothing attracts more visitors in Barcelona than the Nou Camp, the stadium of FC Barcelona. If you don’t know who they are then you clearly have absolutely no interest in soccer, in which case it may not be for you. For anyone with even a glimmer- it’s a must. The second biggest football stadium on Earth, it seats almost 100,000 (and plans are underway to increase capacity even further). The museum tour is also fascinating, thanks to the club’s remarkable success.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Barcelona during soccer season and are looking for things to do in Barcelona, be sure to check out a game. El Clásico (versus Real Madrid) is a spectacle to not be missed, and you shouldn’t find it too hard to get tickets. The most exciting way to see the stadium is with a live game.

5. Hit the Beach

No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a trip to the beach, whatever time of year. Even if it’s cold, it’s normally sunny in the beautiful Barcelona city, and a stroll along the beach is a great way to spend your time. You’ll also find beach bars, or Chiringuitos, on nearly all of them. The city beach, Barceloneta, is one of the nicest to walk around, and a great place to see local artists and street entertainers. If you want to actually be on the beach for a day though, we recommend heading up or down the coast, where you get a lot more space. Bogatell and Ocata to the north, or Castelldefels and Sitges to the south, are excellent choices.

Beach with buildings behind in barcelona

6. Live the High life

Barcelona is a magnet for the rich and famous, as you can tell from the incredible array of yachts at the port. If you arrived here by boat you probably already know where to go to live a life of luxury. In case you didn’t though- you can do much worse than start down by Vila Olímpica. The casinos, bars, restaurants, and clubs such as Carpe Diem are classy enough for the super wealthy, but not so expensive as to price out everyone else looking for some fun things to do in Barcelona.

7. Climb to the top of Tibidabo, and beyond

You may know that the backdrop of beautiful Barcelona city is a mountain called Tibidabo, and that atop this mountain sits an exquisite church - Sacred Heart. What you might not know is that this church is also an amusement park. You probably don’t know that Tibidabo is the start of the Parc Natural de Collserola - the largest metropolitan park in the world.

Going up this mountain is a must for those looking to do the best things in Barcelona. You can get there by funicular, which is always nice, and the views at the top are spectacular. The attractions at the top have something that will interest everyone, whatever their age. You may choose to come straight back down to Barcelona, or take a proper walk down the back of the mountain and get the train home. Either way the descent is delightful.

top of tibidabo mountain with church and amusement park

8. Go for a calçotada

If you’re here during winter or spring, you really must try out this wonderful Catalan tradition. The normal routine is to start with a walk and build up your appetite. Given that you have 8000 hectares of Collserola on your doorstep you shouldn’t find that too difficult. Once you’re hungry you find a table at one of the region’s many fantastic rural restaurants (the name will normally start with “Can”) and the fun begins.

Whenever your waiter brings you an apron and gloves for the mess you’re about to make, you know you’re going to have a good time. The calçots (an onion/leek type vegetable) are barbecued. You then need to strip the outer layer off, dip them in the very tasty romesco sauce, and then dangle them over your mouth while you catch the other end. After that you get served a delicious selection of meats (veggie options are available), and plenty of wine. An optional extra activity is the porrón, a jug with a very fine spout that you drink wine from. The idea is to extend your arm fully while pouring the wine in, hence the apron. The whole experience is an absolute riot, and usually a top cultural experience in Barcelona.

9. Have a Pincho crawl

Everyone has heard of tapas, but not everyone has heard of pinchos. These are a type of tapa that consists of a small piece of food, normally on a small piece of bread. The advantage of these over tapas is that you get to try lots of different things; tapas in Barcelona are often served in large portions, so you eat more of the same. Also, they’re great to eat on the move, as you can just have one in each bar.

display of different pinchos

Carrer de Blai in Poble Sec is probably the most famous street in the city for pinchos. Depending on the month, there is often a Ruta de Pinchos on Thursday evenings. Basically a bar crawl, perfect for meeting people in your search of things to do in Barcelona, you get a drink and a pincho in each bar for €2. They’re surprisingly filling- I dare you to eat more than five. The most delicious pinchos in the city are at La Gasterea, in Gràcia.

10. Drink at a Cava bar

There are a lot of things that are cheaper in Barcelona than back home, but if I really want to impress my friends with fun things to do in Barcelona when they come to visit, I take them to a cava bar, like the Rincon de Cava in Poble Sec. When I tell them you can get a cava for €3.50 they get excited, and to make their jaws drop I tell them that’s not for a glass, but a bottle. There are more upmarket options, but I love mine. It has a really authentic atmosphere, complete with photos of its many happy customers.

It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with the beautiful Barcelona city. Beware, if you make it even halfway down this list of top things to do in Barcelona, you may never leave. It’s well worth it though, so let Ukio take care of your accommodation, and give this wonderful city a try.