15 Things to do in Barcelona
Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Barcelona is one of my favourite cities, because of the relaxed vibe of the place. Maybe it’s the beach that’s nearby, or maybe the most beautiful people! (really, everywhere I went, I saw stunning women-it felt like all the most beautiful women and some men :P of Europe were right here!)
I loved everything about Barcelona- the food, the vibe, and of course, Gaudi’s architecture! So, this guide is going to take you through all my favourite things to do in Barcelona. It might be touristy, and on every list you may have seen, but some things you’ve just got to do!
Gaudi’s architecture brings millions of tourists from around the world to Barcelona. If you have not heard of Antoni Gaudi, he is a magician who changed around the architectural landscape of Barcelona in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I didn’t know anything about his work until my trip to Barcelona, but it was love at first sight! I’m not much of an architecture geek, but his work took me back to the whimsical land of fairytales that I used to imagine for myself as a child.
I have an entire blogpost dedicated to exploring Gaudi’s work in Barcelona, which includes the most popular landmarks in the city- La Sagrada Familia, Batllo, Casa Mila, and more!
2. Relax at the Beach
I spent so much time at the Barceloneta, doing nothing. But, I have to say, it was the most crowded beach I ever spent time at. I still had a nice time though, just people watching, and looking at the ocean. I was told by the staff at my hotel that the Barceloneta beach is their favourite, and that’s why I made my way over there.
The beach stretches for about 4.5km, and walking down from Barceloneta Beach you can see all the different beaches, and experience the vibe of each.
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How to get to Barceloneta I walked from Las Ramblas to Barceloneta Beach, which took about 20 minutes, but it was an enjoyable walk, as I like to explore places on foot (stopping in between if I see something interesting.)
3. Barcelona Columbus Monument
On the walk from Las Ramblas to Barceloneta, I chanced upon the 60m tall monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus. The lift at the base of the monument takes you to the top, from where you can see all of Barcelona!
4. Eat at Barceloneta
The road leading up to the Barceloneta beach is lined with restaurants that are bustling, and inviting( the smells of the food were incredible) I came to this part of town a little after I had a late lunch of paella elsewhere in the city, so I couldn’t try anything at the restaurants here, but, they did look amazing!
5. Get some churros!
I was looking for churros on the streets, exacting them to be ubiquitous, but it wasn’t so! But a little further down from the Barceloneta area, I finally found a cart selling churros with chocolate & I was beyond excited! (yes, they were really good)
6. Las Ramblas
Everyone who comes to Barcelona walks down Las Ramblas, and has the best time doing it! The street is tree lined & has beautiful buildings on either side. It is a 1.2 km pedestrian road that stretches from Port Vell to Placa de Catalunya.
The southern side (near Port Fell), is a little seedy especially at night, so keep that in mind when you are there.
There are hotels & shops along the Las Ramblas. The street is always crowded with locals & tourists, and is a haunt of numerous entertainers-musicians, caricaturists, human statues, & more!
The famous painter Joan Miro created a mosaic installation which is part of the walkway in the Las Ramblas-it is near the Liceu theater & Liceu metro. It is a blue, white, & red mosaic tile work-look down for it when you are near Liceu! Apparently one of the mosaic tiles are signed by Miro himself-though that might be a bit difficult to find in the crowd!
Needless to say that such a popular tourist spot will have a lot of restaurants, but expect the prices to be high.
El Corte Ingles is a huge department store that is 7 floors of everything that you can think of to buy from an adaptor to clothing! So if you are at las Ramblas, and you need to go somewhere that has everything-this is the place to go!
Safety in Las Ramblas
Beware of pickpockets- keep your belongings close, and be aware of people brushing up against you- it may not be an accident in a crowded street!
7. Walk through the Gothic quarter
The Gothic Quarter dates back 2000 years, and it is an area that shouldn’t be missed whilst in Barcelona.
El Call, Barcelona’s Old Jewish Quarter is here- it is beautiful with narrow streets (some of the narrowest streets in Barcelona), cute restaurants, and an old synagogue.
Picasso spent a lot of his younger days in what is now the Gothic Quarter, there are some funky homegrown brands here which are worth checking out.
8. La Boqueria Market
It is one of the oldest markets in Europe, and is a great place to shop for some food souvenirs to take back home- they have a wide selection of cheeses and cured meats, among other things. It began operation in 1217 with just a few stands selling meat. Plan to go there early in the morning, and on an empty stomach so you can try as much of the food as possible, and then end your time there with a meal at whichever place catches your fancy!
It does tend to get crowded with tourists post 11AM, so keep that in mind when you plan to go there.
9. Barcelona Cathedral (The Cathedral of the Holy Cross & Saint Eulalia)
This Gothic cathedral which is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona was constructed in 1448. Its notable features include the gargoyles and other animals that are depicted on its roof!
10. Picasso Museum
The museum boasts of 4251 works by Pablo Picasso, and is the only place you need to go to understand his work. There are guided tours which you can take to understand the history bhind each of the pieces, or to learn more about Picasso.
11. Hike Mount Tibidabo
If hiking Mount Tibidabo sounds familiar, then you are a fan of the show called F.R.I.E.N.D.S, where a story about Mount Tibidabo becomes the theme for a couple of episodes!
Atop Mt Tibidabo, there is Sagrat Cor church and an amusement park. Get to Mt. Tibidabo even if you aren’t a fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, for the view of all of Barcelona is worth the effort.
You don’t need to hike the hill, it is possible to get there by public transport as well.
12. Sant Pau Art Nouveau
A building which was used as a hospital for over 80 years, is now open to public to just admire it. It was designed by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, and is stunning in its colourful architecture.
13. Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)
Another architectural marvel by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, it has hosted musical legends over generations. You can tour the building during the day, and then come back in the evening to listen to the musical performances. Check ahead of time if there is a show happening around the time of your visit, so you can plan your time in Barcelona accordingly.
14. Learn to cook at the Paella club
The Paella Club is famed for its experiential gastronomic sessions, and it can be the highlight of your trip to Barcelona! Check out their website to see the different experiences they offer. But they don’t come cheap- the Paella experience is €50, and others like a full menu cooking experience are more expensive.
15. Go for a cooking class
The Paella club isn’t the only place where you can learn how to cook the delicious Paella, or other Spanish delights. Check at your hotel for suggestions from the local community, or just keep an eye out for sign boards advertising cooking classes-or just ask at any restaurant, they will be able to guide you. If you are taking a cooking class at a local home, you will be helping the local community directly!
Getting around in Barcelona
The metro is really great to travel around Brcelona. It services all the points that you would want to visit as a tourist. I was extremely comfortable using the city metro- it is safe, affordable, & convenient.
How to see Gaudi's work on a budget!
If you are short on money, like I was, you could satiate your cravings from looking at the buildings from the outside-though the insides are absolutely worth visiting. But, I was cash strapped and could not afford the over €20 entrance fee for every attraction. So it makes more sense to know what you want to see and all the entrance fees before hand so you can figure out how to manage your finances.
If you are planning on doing a lot of sightseeing in Barcelona, you could take the Barcelona City Pass, or even a bundle pack for Gaudi attractions like the Barcelona Card. Choose wisely, because all the attractions are expensive, and will add up to make a big hole in your wallet sooner than you expect. Choose a bundle pack depending on your interests and what you would like to visit.
The Barcelona City pass gives you free public transport and discounted entry into some attractions, the hop on hop off bus, and free entry and property entry into Sagrada Familia and other attractions. Check out all your options and the time you have in hand before you spend money getting any of these bundle cards.