20 fun things to do in Barcelona

Things To Do in Barcelona

Barcelona highlights are many and varied, which is exactly why this city in Catalonia is such a hit – and one of my personal favourite destinations for a European city break.

With around 300 days of sunshine per year, Barcelona offers beautiful beaches, rooftop bars, fabulous food, and some of the most arresting art and architecture to be found anywhere in the world.

If you’re looking for things to do in Barcelona, I’ve compiled 20 top recommendations based on my own experiences of visiting this city over the years.

Whether you prefer Picasso to Gaudi or would rather wander around a park than jostle for space at a popular landmark, I know there’s something in this glorious Spanish destination for everyone. 

Discover iconic cathedrals, a picturesque cable car ride, a modern mural made from thousands of photos, and one of the planet’s most famous footballing icons.

I love that Barcelona boasts far more than its fair share of fantastic – and fantastical – attractions. Which will be your highlight?

Here is my handpicked selection of the best things to do in Barcelona.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

1. Casa Batlló & Casa Milà

Opening times:

  • Casa Batlló: Daily 09:00 – 20:00
  • Casa Milà: Daily 09:00 – 20:30


As some of Gaudi’s most notable works, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà are two Barcelona landmarks that I know you won’t want to miss.

Both are located on Passeig de Gràcia, which is one of the city’s most prestigious addresses and a hub for shopping, dining, and business.

Casa Batlló’s striking façade is a curvaceous, mosaic-clad monument to Modernism.

Some say its structure resembles skulls (the balconies) and bones (the pillars), and I can certainly see the resemblance. The colours of the ceramic decoration, meanwhile, call to mind the ocean. 

Casa Milà is also singular in design and is constructed from roughly-hewn stone. Hence it is often referred to as La Pedrera, which is Catalan for ‘stone quarry’.

2. Arc de Triomf


Barcelona’s answer to London’s Marble Arch and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is the Arc de Triomf.

Located at the end of Passeig Lluís Companys, the Spanish arch is deeper and richer in colour than its rivals, being made from red brick.

Though perhaps somewhat lesser known among Barcelona attractions, the arch is a fine example of classical architecture and I’d recommend stopping by to see it in person.

Discover its intriguing and somewhat symbolic details and decorative touches. It was originally built for the Universal Exhibition in 1888, hosted by the city. 

3. Barcelona Cathedral

Opening times:

  • Weekdays: 09:30 – 18:30
  • Saturdays: 09:30 – 17:15
  • Sundays: 14.:00 – 17:00

Book: Cathedral of Barcelona Entry Ticket

In terms of places to visit in Barcelona, I think the Gothic Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is often overshadowed by Gaudi’s La Sagrada Família.

Yet it is just as arresting a sight. Work on it began at the end of the 13th century, where a Roman temple formerly stood.

The cathedral is located in the Gothic neighbourhood. It remains at the heart of city life for many locals, a significant number of whom attend Mass here weekly or even daily.

For the three million who visit each year, key highlights of Barcelona Cathedral include the Baroque and Gothic altarpieces, the sepulcher of Saint Eulalia, and the cathedral’s accomplished choir.

Insider travel tip: If you visit Barcelona Cathedral, I’d recommend getting a rooftop ticket to experience spectacular views across the city.

4. “The World Begins with Every Kiss” Mural

Originally intended as a temporary piece, this mural near the cathedral looks like a pair of people kissing when viewed from a distance.

At closer range, though, it’s possible to decipher that the artwork is made up of thousands of photographs printed onto ceramic tiles. I’m always blown away by the talent that goes into this kind of art!

As the mural is close to the Gothic cathedral, it’s easy to combine the two during a day’s sightseeing. It’s a must for any fans of street art.

Plus, seeing people’s intimate images used in this way makes for a moving experience as well as a cultural one.  

5. Mount Tibidabo

As the Serra de Collserola’s highest point, Mount Tibidabo looms over the landscape at over 500 metres.

As such there are magnificent sweeping views over the city and coastline from its summit.

View of Barcelona

At the top, the Tibidabo Amusement Park and Sagrat Cor church are also worth stopping for.

To get to Mount Tibidabo, I’d recommend taking the funicular from Plaça Doctor Andreu. Or there are several bus routes serving the area.

6. Parc Güell

Opening times:

  • September to June: Daily 09:30 – 19:30
  • July & August: Daily 09:00 – 19:30


On Carmen Hill, Parc Güell is for many one of the essential things to do in Barcelona – and it’s certainly one of my personal favourite places to visit.

As well as Gaudi’s lavish, rather grandiose creations, the park is another Barcelona hotspot when it comes to impressive city vistas.

Occupying a site that stretches for over 17 hectares, the park is a place for relaxation, exploration, and outdoor activity.

There are kids’ play parks, seating and tables dotted around the site, where colourful and fanciful Gaudi works can be seen at every turn. 

Insider travel tip: I’d advise aiming to arrive for when it opens to the public at 09:30 (only locals are allowed in from 07:00-09:30). The park gets really busy, so try to beat the crowds if you can.

7. Take the cable car up to Montjuïc Castle

Opening times (Montjuïc Castle):

  • March to October: 10:00 – 20:00
  • November to February: 10:00 – 18:00


As long as you have a head for heights, the Montjuïc cable car ride up to Montjuïc castle is one of the most fun things to do in Barcelona.

The 750 metre route affords those taking the trip breathtaking views over the city, where you can look out for key icons such as La Sagrada Familia.

The castle is a hilltop fortress dating from the mid 17th century. In my opinion, the small entry fee is well worth paying to explore the site located at more than 170 metres above sea level.

On the return cable car trip, there is also an optional stop at the Mayor’s viewpoint, Mirador de l’Alcalde.

8. Magic Fountain

Show times:

  • January & February: Closed
  • March: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 20:00 – 21:00
  • April & May: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 21:00 – 22:00
  • June to September: Wednesday to Sunday 21:30 – 22:30
  • October: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 21:00 – 22:00
  • November & December: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 20:00 – 21:00

Book: Barcelona Cable Car Sky Views, Magic Fountain & Castle Visit

Also in the Montjuïc area is the Magic Fountain. Dating from the late 1920, this showpiece was fully restored in the early 1990s and comprises an illuminated watery spectacle set to music.

By day it’s a pleasant ornamental sight, but it’s after dark that this dazzling and sizeable water feature really comes to life.

The Magic Fountain is capable of displaying around 7 billion unique sequences. So I love that even frequent visitors are highly unlikely ever to witness the same one twice. 

9. Parc de la Ciutadella

Opening times:

  • November to March: 10:00 – 19:00
  • April to October: 10:00 – 21:00

Parc de la Ciutadella offers visitors to the popular city a chance to chill and take some time out from the round of Barcelona tourist attractions.

I’d recommend hiring a rowing boat to take out on the lake here. Or go for a long stroll while marvelling at the historic buildings, which include the Castle of the Three Dragons and the neo-classical Geological Museum.

The Parc’s grounds are also home to the Catalan Parliament, the city zoo, and the Modern Art Museum.

Plus, there is an attractive winter garden and the Umbracle, a site dedicated to the culture of big tropical plants.

10. Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Opening times:

  • April to October: 10:00 – 20:00
  • November to March: 10:00 – 18:00

Parc del Laberint d’Horta is another of Barcelona’s most memorable green spaces. Designed in an Italianate style, this fabulous park is the city’s oldest garden.

It’s packed with neo-classical touches as well as artistic flair, and I really think it’s worth adding to your Barcelona itinerary.

There’s lots to discover at Parc del Laberint d’Horta, including small but perfectly formed squares, a cypress maze, waterfalls, and folkloric sculptures.

A renovated historic home, Torre Soberana can also be found here. This dates from the 1300s, and was reimagined in an Arabesque fashion during the 20th century.   

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11. La Boqueria market

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 08:00 – 20:30


La Boqueria is a foodies’ paradise and the place to pick up a picnic for any afternoon you plan to take in one of Barcelona’s fine parks. The covered market can be accessed via La Rambla.

Inside, visitors rub shoulders with locals as everyone pores over local produce. From cured meats and pungent cheeses to fresh seafood and plump Spanish olives.

The market offers a feast for the senses, as well as the most discerning palate. Fellow foodies, I know you’ll love this spot.

12. Port Vell


Commencing at the end of La Rambla, Port Vell is a waterside harbour area that I think is a lovely spot to go for a stroll.

The glittering yachts moored in the harbour can be a most envy-inducing sight, and the area is also home to a large statue of Christopher Columbus.

A timber boardwalk leads to Maremagnum, a large modern complex that houses the aquarium, a range of restaurants and retail outlets, and a cinema.

The port was created prior to the 1992 Olympics, breathing new life into an area formerly occupied by abandoned warehouses and factories.

13. La Sagrada Família

Opening times:

November to February:

  • Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 18:00
  • Sundays 10:30 – 18:00

March and October:

  • Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 19:00
  • Sundays: 10:30 – 19:00

April to September:

  • Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 20:00
  • Sundays: 10:30 – 20:00


La Sagrada Familia Barelona

Of all famous landmarks in Barcelona, Gaudi’s masterpiece is probably the best known. Yet to this day it remains incomplete, despite the fact that work commenced in 1882.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, I don’t think a trip to Barcelona would be complete without seeing La Sagrada Família. I’d advise arriving early if you want to explore the interior before the crowds descend. 

And it is well worth venturing inside to see the sunlight streaming through the colourful stained-glass window from above.

The basilica is also especially noteworthy, as the angled pillars that support its roof were built to resemble woodland with daylight spilling through the gaps between the trees. 

 14. Visit the beaches 

Often overlooked, purely due to the plethora of beautiful things to see in Barcelona, spending a day at the beach can make a refreshing change from exploring the city’s monuments and green spaces.  

The city itself has close to three miles of golden sands. Barceloneta, the most famous beach, occupies a little over 400 metres of this.

It’s a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, strolling along the promenade, and participating in watersports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing. The beach huts also serve up delicious edible treats.  

Other great Barcelona beaches that I’d recommend visiting include peaceful Nova Icària, squeaky clean Bogatell Beach, lively Sant Sebastià and spacious Mar Bella.

15. Picasso Museum

Opening times:

  • Tuesday to Friday: 10:30 – 18:00
  • Saturdays & Sundays: 09:30 – 18:00


Arguably the most significant artist of the 20th century, the Picasso museum proves that Barcelona isn’t only about Gaudi.

There is a vast permanent collection of the creator’s works here, with over 4,000 pieces on display.

Picasso lived in the city during his teens. I think this Barcelona museum catalogues the artist’s progress throughout his formative years particularly well, providing a fascinating insight.

16. Stroll through the Gothic Quarter


Close to the Las Ramblas area, Barcelona’s bustling Barri Gòtic comprises a maze of medieval streets thronged with stylish bars, smart eateries, lively clubs, laid-back cafes, and lots of stalls. 

I really love this area, and it’s the place to be after dark, as well as by day if you want to sample street food or snap up unique items made from leather or one-off pieces of jewellery. 

There is an art market held every weekend in the Plaça del Pi. The Museum of the History of Barcelona is also located in the Gothic Quarter. 

17. Camp Nou

Opening times:

  • January to March 18: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 18:30, Sunday 10:00 – 14:30
  • March 19 to October 16: 09:30 – 19:30
  • October 17 to December 18: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 18:30, Sunday 10:00 – 14:30
  • December 19 to December 31: 09:30 – 19:30

Book: FC Barcelona Museum “Barça Immersive Tour” Ticket

Fans of the beautiful game will not want to miss Camp Nou, home to Barcelona FC. Europe’s largest stadium opened in 1957 and can accommodate close to 100,000 people.

Camp Nou

While it’s the fourth largest football stadium on the planet, it’s quite possibly the most famous.

Barcelona FC have won numerous European titles, while the stadium has played host to many football tournaments.

These include the Champions League, the Olympics, and the Cup Winners’ Cup, as well as regular La Liga games. 

I’m not really a football fan myself, but I have no doubt that fans of the game will love visiting here.

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18. Day trip to Montserrat


Montserrat is a mountain range and national park north west of Barcelona. The train trip from the city takes around an hour, and the area is also home to a Benedictine monastery.

This is positioned on a lofty mountainside site. As such, it affords those who venture up here awe-inspiring views over the landscape – I think it’s well worth the trip.

Other things to do in Montserrat include spotting native flora and fauna in the national park, seeing the Black Madonna in the basilica, and exploring the art museum.

19. Palau de la Música Catalana

Opening times:

  • Tours every 30 minutes
  • Daily: 10:00 – 15:30
  • Easter & July: 10:00 – 18:00
  • August: 09:00 – 18:00

Tour length: 55 minutes


Palau de la Música Catalana

A UNESCO listed world heritage site, Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert venue in Barcelona. Architecturally it’s a masterpiece, and the hall can hold over 500 people.

Equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, the acoustics can be adapted to suit various music genres as well as speech.

I’d recommend this working music hall as one of the top things to do in Barcelona for any fans of culture and architecture, as well as music.  

20. Eat Tapas


Sharing an array of small tapas dishes while sipping local wine is a must for many who visit Barcelona. Or if you’re travelling solo, then it’s just more for you to enjoy!

In fact, indulging in tapas is probably what I most look forward to whenever I visit Barcelona!

If you want to avoid the tourist traps, I’d highly recommend visiting El Xampanyet, which tends to be packed to the rafters with locals.

While El Nacionel is a more glamorous place popular with tourists – but understandably so.

Both offer outstanding food, and El Xampanyet also serves up its very own Cava by the glass as you sit at a marble table or lean against a blue-tiled wall.

On the prestigious Passeig de Gracia, El Nacionel is well known in gastronomic circles and has four bars and an equal number of dining areas.

These include La Taperia, where you can try some of the city’s finest small sharing plates. 

If you have any recommendations for the best things to do in Barcelona then do get in touch in the comments!

Planning a trip to this beautiful city? Discover my pick of the best hotels in Barcelona, the top Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona and my favourite Barcelona rooftop bars.

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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