Barcelona is loved by many and thought of as the best city in Spain to visit. It’s no wonder, there are so many amazing places to visit in Barcelona that will take your breath away.
We’ve been to Barcelona many times and realized that we never really shared our list of the best things to do in Barcelona, so we decided it’s about time!
Things to do in Barcelona
Table of Contents
While Paris may have the reputation of the “city of love”, many travelers will be pleasantly surprised by the romantic charms of Barcelona.
The difference between Barcelona and Paris is that you don’t feel the need to run around and see every famous site. Walking around and enjoying the city’s energy is one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
Looking for where to stay in Barcelona?
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If you and your loved one are planning a romantic European holiday, then you should know that there are many romantic places to see in Barcelona for couples. But solo travelers will fall in love with Barcelona as well!
1. Sagrada Família
You cannot mention Barcelona without including Gaudí’s famous unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família. It stand proud above the entire Barcelona skyline.
Antoni Gaudí was an architect who led the Art Nouveau style of the Catalan region of Spain. He began construction on the massive cathedral in 1882.
It is scheduled for completion in 2026 to commemorate 100 years since Gaudí died.
Gaudí’s works are so prevalent in Barcelona, you will explore many places where his architecture is on display. Seven of his designs have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city.
You can read more about it at the complete works of Gaudí here.
- Get your Skip The Line Tickets for Sagrada Familia in advance. Free/no-hassle cancellations up to 24 hours in advance.
- Book a walking tour of Barcelona to discover Gaudí
2. Park Güell
Our second choice for places to see in Barcelona is a continuation of Gaudi architecture with a visit to Park Güell.
This is a famous park that was also designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí.
It’s one of Barcelona’s top attractions and a great place for couples to hide away from the touristic crowds, listen to street musicians, and kiss in the artificial caves.
The place not to miss is a terrace with a spectacular view of the city.
- The best way to explore Park Güell is to take a walking tour to learn about the life of Gaudi and of all the houses and architecture on display in the park.
- Reserve now and pay later! – Book your skip the line tour of Park Güell with the guaranteed entrance. While exploring Park Güell be sure to go into the Gaudi House Museum to see how the architect lived his life.
3. Do a night tour of La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
Officially known as Casa Milà but called La Pedrera by the locals, this unique apartment block is another Gaudi design and a must-see for any couple visiting Barcelona.
It only opened up recently so it’s a great time to check out now before it gets too popular.
To spice up the romance, we decided to go at night and had no regrets.
The soft lighting at night made the experience much more intimate and the building was truly spectacular.
To cap off our romantic evening we finished up with a glass of Pinot Noir on the roof terrace.
- You can book tours of La Predera ahead of time
4. Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is located along Passeig de Gracia and this street is worth walking just for the row of houses that make it famous.
This is a major thoroughfare of Barcelona and we stayed in the … hotel located on this street.
There are several shops and restaurants, but it is Casa Batlló that is the star attraction.
Another work by Gaudi, this townhouse was designed for the Battló family in the 19th century. If you look closely at the balconies, they look like skelatons.
5. Palau de La Musica Catalana
A tour of the Palau de La Musica Catalana is a wonderful experience for its ornate interior. It looks like something that Gaudi would design, but he didn’t.
It was in fact designed by architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Built between 1905 and 1908 it has that classic Catalan modernism feel.
Tours can be booked to see the concerta hall and its ornate glass ceiling, the stained glass windows and colourful design. It is definitely worth going inside as it is very impressive.
6. Barcelona Opera House – The Gran Teatre del Liceu
Sticking with our music theme, a visit to the Barcelona Opera House is another interesting place to visit in Barcelona.
It is one of the most popular opera houses in all of Europe.
It opened in 1847 and has seen some of the greatest performers in history grace its stage. Domingo, Pavarotti, you name it, they’ve played here.
Tours will take you to see the stage and seating area of 2300 patrons, but you will also get to see rehearsal halls and other important rooms.
7. Santa Maria del Mar
Dave and I tend to explore our religious side when visiting cities in Europe, and Barcelona is no different. It is the Gothic Churches that interest us, and Santa Maria del Mar checks all the boxes.
Dating back to the 14th century, construction began in 1329 and it was completed in 1350.
It is dark and stark on the outside like the usual gothic cathedrals, but inside it is light and open feeling like a lighter basilica.
Something of note to see is the tomb of the Martyr Saint Santa Eulalia.
And it is worth spending the couple of Euro to go up to the rooftop for a view of the city. each to go up to visit.
8. Ciutadella Park – Arc du Triomph
Did you know there is an Arc du Triomph in Barcelona? Well, not really, but it certainly looks like one and it’s worth visiting for this alone.
But the giant arch marks the entranceway to the beautiful Ciutadella Park.
Here you’ll find the Parliament of Catalunya and a lovely lake with a fountain modeled after the Trevi Fountain.
9. Cascada Fountain
The Cascada Fountain is a beautiful fountain that is the centerpiece of Ciutadella Park.
- Cool fact: Gaudi designed the water tanks and hydraulics of the fountain.
One of the most romantic activities we did was to rent a rowboat at the lake in Ciutadella park.
It cost us only twelve euros for a full hour (a bargain!) and it was a marvelous way to crown what was already a memorable vacation.
Moving up and down the lake was a great way to reflect on the charm of Barcelona and get a close view of the beautiful scenery of the park.
10. Gothic Quarter Ciutat Vella
The ciutat vella – the old city of Barcelona is a place you will definitely find yourself experiencing a feeling of a bygone era.
Built on top of old roman ruins, the streets of Barcelona are a maze of small alleyways and walk ways. E
ach turn takes you to yet another old church or remains of a Roman Wall.
It is worth it just to wander away an hour or two and stop at a café to have a draught beer at the bar before heading off for a late lunch.
Get lost in the streets, stop in a tapas bar for a glass of sangria or cava (Spanish sparkling wine), and wander the streets admiring the architecture and daily life.
11. La Rambla
Even though it is touristy, a trip to Barcelona wouldn’t complete without strolling along La Rambla. Also known as Las Ramblas or just Ramblas.
Barcelona’s bustling main tourist street. It is a gorgeous piece of roadway that has a wide pedestrian walkway right down the middle.
Street performers line the edges posing with tourists for a few coins. The famous human statues are a lot of fun to watch.
Vendors sell chickens, guinea pigs, flowers, and vegetables.
It is a lively place filled with swarms of people. It is also the main walkway down to the water and towards many of the cities tourist sites.
This pedestrian boulevard runs for 1.2 km beginning at Plaça de Catalunya and ending at Port Vell.
If this is your first time to Barcelona, this is a good place to start to get your bearings and a feel for the Barcelona tourism scene.
Plus, it’s a great place to find a fix price meal, a cheap pitcher of Sangria and free people watching.
12. Palau Guell
The 1st Count of Güell,” Eusebi Güell kept Gaudi very busy commissioning many of his famous buildings in Barcelona.
This was one of his first commissions, beginning construction in 1886. It was the private residence of the Guell family and like many places in Barcelona, you must go inside to appreciate its true splendor.
The Parabolic Dome is the showstopper.
13. Mercato Boqueria
Be sure to pop in to La Bouqueria to grab some snacks for a picnic. We filled up with meats and cheese, breads and olives to take with us to the beach for a picnic lunch.
Barcelona is known for its food culture and it doesn’t take long to walk around the city to realize how much the Barcelonians value this.
We hit the Boqueria market one morning and were amazed by the huge variety of fruit, vegetables, meats, and countless Spanish delicacies.
If you are staying at a holiday apartment like an Airbnb or have access to a kitchen, then you must hit the market.
Going to the market and cooking in our apartment afterwards gave us a sense that we were a couple living the romantic dream in a European city rather than just visiting for a short summer.
14. Barcelona Cathedral
I nearly forgot about this beautiful cathedral that we visited on our first trip to Barcelona. Until I was looking through photos.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (aka Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona) may not be as famous as Sagrada Familia but it is much older. It dates back to the 13th century!
It’s steeple peeks out from the city skyline beckoning you to visit.
Book your Hop on Hop Off bus tour for your visit to Barcelona. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city, plus tickets can be purchased in advance or last minute with easy and free cancellation within 24 hours of tour.
15. Plaza de España (Plaça d’Espanya)
This gorgeous plaza which sits in will make you want to confess your love to the world.
We walked through there in the evening by chance and it was hard not to be blown away by its beauty.
The gorgeous Ciutadella fortress and the beautiful Venetian Towers create the atmosphere of a fairy tale.
The long walking street with hundreds of shops start here as well, making it a perfect place to buy a souvenir to remember about your romantic getaway.
16. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Even though we aren’t the biggest museum fans, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is a sight to see in its own right.
Inside you’ll see Catalan art dating back to the 10th century and you’ll browse, everything from Gothic and Romanesque to Modern and Baroque art. And it is here you’ll find some painting by El Greco.
But it truly is the outside that is beautiful as it looks like a grand palace more than a museum.
17. Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc was built in 1929 for the Universal Expo. It’s a beautiful fountain to see, but it is the colorful light show that attracts visitors at night.
The show performs 3 to 5 days of the week from 8-9pm or 9-10 pm depending on the time of the year.
- Check out the timetables and note that it is closed from Jan 7 – Feb 28 for annual maintenance.
The light show at Montjuic Fountain is marvelous.
Read about all the things to do in Barcelona at night
18. Poble Espenyol
Poble Espenyol is a replica of a Spanish Village that was built for the 1929 World’s Fair.
During the day it is a spot to walk through replicas of Spanish buildings, craft workshops and museums honoring Dali to Picasso.
When the sun goes down, it is alive with, Flamenco dancing, tapa bars, and night clubs.
To really explore it, book skip the line tickets in advance.
16. Port Vell – Barcelona Harbour
The old port of Barcelona is a sight to see. We had never witnessed so many huge yachts and rows of boats lining the harbour.
Who owns these multimillion-dollar floating homes? There were so many in port and we marveled at their extravagance and how someone could possibly afford one of these. And what do we do to get one?
The waterfront is a perfect place to enjoy the afternoon.
Port Vell is an enormous entertainment complex complete with Aquarium, Imax, shopping, restaurants, and a giant marina filled with yachts and sail boats.
A popular Barcelona attraction is The Port Vell Arial Tramway. Opened in 1931, it takes you from Montjuïc to Torre Sant Sebastià. If you want to see it from above, this is a fun option for a bird’s eye view of the city.
19. Hit the beach
One of the things that make Barcelona stand out among the large European cities is the beaches.
We were blown away by the pristine Mediterranean waters of Barcelona’s beaches.
As a bonus, the coastline is located right in the city center so it’s a great place to take your shoes off and walk after lunch or dinner.
Playa Barceloneta is the city’s most famous beach but there are many beaches you can visit in the city.
We took a sailing trip from the harbour to see Barcelona from the sea and it was amazing.
20. Columbus Monument
While walking from Las Ramblas to Port Vell, we stumbled upon the Columbus monument. At 60 meters high (197 feet) it is an impressive monument.
Like fountain, it was constructed for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1881. It is there to commemorate his first voyage to the Americas and to remind that he reported to Queen Isabella I and Kin Ferdinand V here in Barcelona immediately upon his return.
21. Plaça de Catalunya
Another important square in Barcelona is Plaça de Cataluya. It is the major transportation hub of the city.
Close to the university you’ll see students enjoying the outdoors.
If you are like us, we enjoy visiting Hard Rock Cafés and we couldn’t resist popping in for a beer to check out Barcelona’s version of the famous restaurant.
22. Afternoon Dessert at Plaça Sant Felip Neri
This chilled-out square has a violent history as it was bombed during the Spanish Civil War but today it is one of the most romantic hideaways in the city.
We ordered an amazing gelato and dessert at one of the nearby cafes and walked over to the plaza hand in hand to enjoy a nice and much needed quiet escape from the city.
If you are lucky enough as we were you might even catch some Spanish guitar being played by one of the lingering locals.
Fun Barcelona City Tours
23. SEAT 600 Driving Tour
Pretty much one of the coolest tours we’ve ever done was the Seat 600 Classic car tour through the city. These were the popular car from the 60’s and we all followed in a line on this self drive tour through Barcelona.
Be prepared to drive a stick. If you aren’t comfortable, have someone else drive, the skinny steering wheels, sensitive clutch, and strange shifter made for quite the adventure as we drove around the city tasting tapas.
We ended high on a hill overlooking the city and eating an outdoor feast under the stars.
24. Sidecar Tour
We were picked up at the Barcelona waterfront by a pair of motorbikes with a couple of sidecars attached.
We put on our helmets, hooked up our microphones and proceeded to enjoy a tour of the city.
We whizzed all through the streets seeing such famous sites as the Columbus monument, Old Port, Palau de la Música Catalana, Sagrada Familia Temple, Casa Milán Casa Battló, Plaza España, El Raval district and Las Ramblas promenade just to name a few!
We got to see the city from all different sides and enjoyed catching a glimpse of the Barcelona night life. If you get the chance to try a sidecar tour in Barcelona, we highly recommend you do it. For more information on the side car city tour visit Ride The Brightside
25. Food and Market Tours
When visiting Spain, a lot of your most memorable experiences will be about food.
One of our favourite things to do in Barcelona was to join a local chef to visit the city’s two main markets, Mercat Boqueria and Mercat de Santa Caterina. The two oldest markets in the city.
Food tours are the best way to learn of the local cuisine and it makes visiting the restaurants of Barcelona more fun because you now know what to order!
Check out these Barcelona Food Tours. Explore Barcelona through your stomach with these tasty tours. Free cancellation up to 24 hours notice plus last minute bookings.
- Santa Caterina and Boqueria Market Tours with Local Chef – Take a tour through one of the most famous markets in the world plus small local grocery shops. Tastes Spanish delicacies like olive oil, vinegar, olives, Iberian ham, tomatoes, Manchego cheese, pork sausage, and more.
- Paella Cooking Class & Mercato Boqueria – Go shopping for ingredients to make your own Spanish Paella. Sample Catalan hot and cold tapas and learn about Basque Pintxos. Don’t forget the sangria!
- Go off the usual Gaudi Route and instead take a Tapas Tasting tour with a visit to the Picasso Museum – Tour Ciutat Vella with tapas tasting at three different venues.
Day Tour from Barcelona
A highlight of any trip to Barcelona is to take a day trip to the Benedictine Monk mountain retreat of Montserrat.
It takes an hour to get their by train, or you can rent a car like we did. We actually had a car for most of our visits to Barcelona to give us freedom to explore Catalunya with ease.
A funicular will take you to the top of the mountain for spectacular views and mountain hikes.
And of course, listen to the Montserrat Coir boys perform. They perform daily at 1pm.
Book Montserrat tours from Barcelona. Free cancellation and last minute bookings.
- Monsterrat Cable Care and Easy Hike – Transportation from Barcelona to Montserrat where you’ll take the cable car up the world famous Monastery. See the Black Madonna and take an easy hike with your guide.
Where to Eat in Barcelona
There are many places to eat in Barcelona and you can easily just walk the streets to find a packed restaurant, but one we wanted to mention was Bar Velodromo.
Bar Velodromo where we checked the menu with 3D glasses and enjoyed great meat and cheeses
Barcelona Tourist Attractions Map – Our Route
Click here for your Interactive map to take with you to Barcelona
Read More about Barcelona
- A Local’s Guide to What to do in Barcelona at Night
- The 16 Most Romantic Cities on Earth
- Gaudi in Barcelona – 13 Must-See Architectural Wonders
Going to Spain? Read more about these Spanish Cities
- Toledo, Beautiful Spanish History Awaits
- Cuenca and the Casas Colgadas
- 15 Free Things to do in Seville, Spain
- Andalusia Travel – 5 Reasons to Visit the South of Spain
- Camping in Spain: Everything You Need to Know
- Via Ferrata, Spain – Take your adventure to New Heights
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This post was originally written by Illia and Nastia from crazzzytravel.com. It has been rewritten by Dave and Deb for 2020 with updated information and tours.