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Barcelona is a city that offers plenty to visitors regardless of their interests. Whether it’s art, culture, history or shopping there’s plenty of things to see and do to keep you entertained throughout your entire trip.
Just a short trip by train along the coast from many of the main tourist resorts like Salou and one of our favourites, Tarragona it’s easy to find somewhere to stay that isn’t in the city if you prefer to be in a more typical beach resort style setting.
So if you’re heading to Barcelona for a city break or if you’ve got a beach holiday planned nearby then here’s a bunch of things that you can do in Barcelona to suit all budgets.
Save with a Barcelona Tourist Card
If you’re looking to save a bit of money on your trip and plan on being in Barcelona for at least 3 days, then it’s definitely recommended to grab a Barcelona City Pass card.
This card will give you access to free public transport for the duration of the card as well as discounts at many of the major tourist attractions like museums, cultural venues, leisure facilities, restaurants, shops and more.
Instantly recognisable and probably the most iconic building in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia by architect Antonio Gaudi.
With construction starting in 1882, this building is still yet to be completed and is very much a work in progress. Work on the impressive cathedral is due to be completed around 2026.
As you walk around the exterior of the building you can easily see there different stages of the building as it has been done due to the completely different colours of brickwork where the older bricks are quite weathered compared to the newer stone.
The exterior of the church tells the story of the bible with different sections covering different parts like the birth of christ and the crucifiction.
It isn’t just the exterior that’s ridiculously impressive. The interior is truly breathtaking too with huge stone columns extending from floor to the vaulted ceiling and towers.
Be warned that you may have to queue for a while to get inside, so be prepared and carry plenty of water and sun cream.
Pricing: Starts at lowest price of €17 for the basic access without towers and if you want to go up the towers then that will cost you at least €32 per person.
La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
You’ll learn very quickly that Antonio Gaudi is a name that is extremely prominent in Barcelona tourist attractions. He’s responsible for not only the Sagrada, but numerous other things in the city including La Pedrera.
Originally built for the Mila family this has become one of the main tourist attractions in Barcelona for the sheer uniqueness of it.
The rooftop is one of the most surreal spaces that you can encounter in the city if not all of Spain and is a maze of tiles, arches and turrets.
The building can only be described as a work of art and it’s hard to believe that people actually used to live there.
Pricing: Entrance starts at around €22 per person going up to around €41 if you want a day/night ticket that gives you a guided tour and access to an exclusive night-time show.
If outdoor spaces is your thing then you should definitely make your way up to Parc Guell.
Dating back to 1900, this is one of the main tourist hotspots in the city that yet again features some influence from that man Antonio Gaudi. Told you that you’d hear his name a lot.
Parc Guell features plenty more work that are fine examples of the type of architecture created by Gaudi.
One of the most famous pieces scattered around the park would be the lizard, or “El Drac” as it is also known.
This tiled dragon is one of the standout pieces of the park and was designed in partnership with Joseph Maria Jujo.
You’ll also find countless mini versions of it being sold in tourist shops and by vendors on the street.
It’s become almost a symbol of the city.
In addition to the architecture there’s also 19 hectares of park to explore and relax in.
So if you fancy taking yourself away from the intesity of the city strees then this may be somewhere to head to, although I’m not entirely sure this will be much quieter.
How to get to Parc Guell?
The easiest way to get to Parc Guell from the city centre would be to hop on a bus. Jump on the 24 route from Plaza Catalunya. Be sure to get off at the Ctra. de Carmel – Park Güell stop and you’ll find yourself at the back entrance of the park.
How much is Parc Guell?
Pricing: There is free access to a small section of the park, but if you want to see more and all of the stunning architecture on offer then you must purchase a ticket. Tickets for Parc Guell start at €10 for adults and you are assigned a 30 minute window in which you must enter the park. If you miss the window then you will be denied access.
Casa Batllo is very similar to Casa Mila and is another residential property that was designed by Gaudi for wealthy families in the past.
The difference with Casa Batllo is that it doesn’t have as much left in the interior compared to the other.
Again the rooftop of Casa Batllo offers another opportunity to see the style the Gaudi is famous for and why his architectural design skills were so sought after during his lifetime.
You can’t actually go out on to the rooftop like you can at Casa Mila, which is why in my opinion the other attraction should be higher on your list of things to visit than this one. The choice is entirely yours.
Montjuic is effectively a big hill in the middle of Barcelona that was used as one of the main strategic points in the defence of the city due to the high elevation.
Nowadays it’s more of a tourist magnet than a defence point.
There’s plenty of things to do in Montjuic to keep you entertained for hours and draws in hundreds of tourists each day.
One of the best ways to get to Montjuic is via the cable car that runs from the port up to the top and offers some of the best views of the city over the journey which takes around 10 minutes from the bottom to the top.
Alternatively you could take the bus, but I would always recommend the cable car if you can choose between the two and aren’t too afraid of heights.
Once you’ve reached the top you’ll be greeted by the sight of Montjuic castle which gives you 360 degree views of Barcelona and offers a bit of insight into the history of the castle.
Entrance fee for the castle is around €5.
You also have the choice of multiple other tourist attractions including:
- Joan Miro Foundation
A Museum dedicated to the artist famous in the region with over 14,000 pieces of his works.
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is one of the most popular museums in the city and houses some works of art by the likes of Dali, Picasso and many more.
- Olympic Ring
If like me, you’re a child of the 80’s then you might remember that the Olympics were held in Barcelona back in 1992. Here at the top of Montjuic you’ll find a number of different venues that were used during the event, unfortunately many aren’t accessible but you can have a look at some of them including the famous diving pool that has beautiful views over the city and was also used by Kylie Minogue for the video of her song, Slow.
One of my favourite parts of the city and probably one of the busiest.
Las Ramblas is the main thoroughfare of the city centre and leads all the way down from Plaça de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument and the Maremagnum shopping centre just across the marina.
Many locals avoid this area and it’s easy to see why. It gets extremely busy during peak tourist seasons and can be quite hard to navigate through the crowds at times, but it’s just one of the things that you have to do when visiting Barcelona.
Along Las Ramblas you’ll encounter plenty of street vendors, little outdoor cafes and street performers.
I would suggest to keep your wits about you in this area as the close quarters and crowds can make it an easy target for pickpockets.
Half way down Las Ramblas, you’ll find the entrance to another of my favourite things to do in Barcelona and the next thing on our list.
As I mentioned, La Boqueria is situated about half way down Las Ramblas and is a large market selling loads of fresh fruit, veg, meats, seafood and other local produce from the area.
Often extremely busy, it’s definitely something that you should experience once in your life.
Whether it’s listening to the market stall holders shouting to entice people to buy or just wandering around and seeing all the bright colours and smells, it’s an assault on the senses, but a good one.
You’ll also find a number of bars and restaurants inside the market offering great food and drinks at a decent price. So if you’re looking for somewhere to head for a bite to eat during the day then it’s worth checking out some of them.
Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is an area of narrow medieval streets that is filled with trendy bars, clubs and restaurants.
This area is one of the most beautiful parts in my opinion and just has loads of character and history behind it showing how the city used to be.
It can be quite easy to get lost in this area as you discover areas that you’ve not seen before when you were sure that you were just retracing your steps.
You’ll also find the Gothic Cathedral in this area that is just stunning. On the edge of an open square where market stalls sell antiquities and local products whilst listening to local talented buskers. This is a section that we just stumbled across and absolutely adored.
Be sure to seek it out if you have the time.
Plaça de Catalunya
Considered to be the city centre of Barcelona, the large open space is a hive of activity.
Most of your tour buses leave from this area so if that’s something that you’re interested in then this is the place.
Situated right at the top of Las Ramblas and at the bottom of Passeig de Gracia which is one of the main shopping streets in the city there’s plenty on offer for those who love to shop.
With many of the larger stores including El Corte Ingles which is one of the largest department stores in Europe and the only remaining department store chain in all of Spain.
You can find literally anything in here and many compare it to Selfridges due to it stocking many high fashion brands like Gucci, Prada and more.
There are also many fountains and statues situated in the square and is somewhat similar to Trafalgar Square in London with flocks of pigeons looking for people to feed them seeds sold by vendors in the square.
Home to the greatest football team in the world. Well that may be contentious to some, but it’s true. 🙂
THe home ground of FC Barcelona is something that any football fan should visit.
The stadium itself is incredible and the museum and trophy room is something to marvel at.
With so much history and information it can take a while to get around and is excellent value for money.
In the museum you’ll learn about players past and present as well as bits about the club that you probably wouldn’t have known.
You can get the chance to have your photo taken beside the press boards where players do interviews after the match and sit in the press room where all press interviews with managers and signings take place.
As a football fan and a Barcelona fan this is somewhere that sits very highly up my list of places to visit in the city and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city.
Similarly to Malaga, Barcelona also has ties to Pablo Picasso and there has been a museum opened in the city to recognise his works.
The Museu Picasso houses one of the largest collections of his work with over 4000 pieces in the exhibition. If you’re an art lover then this is one that you should add to your list and should probably chalk off around 2 hours to make your way around all the exhibits.
Pricing: Starts at €12 for the standard collection and €6 extra for the temporary exhibitions. There are free entry periods on certain days, so double check before you go and plan for a freebie if you can.
One of the greenest areas of the city, Cuitadella park offers an escape from the city and a place to relax for those in need of a rest.
Whether you want to go for a long walk in the park, have a picnic or spend some time in the many attractions in and around the park, there’s plenty of choice.
Some of the main attractions here include the Zoo, the Catalan parliament building, the zoological museum and the Museu de geologica.
Pricing: Admission to the park itself is free, but attractions inside do cost some money to enjoy.
With some of the most stunning views over the top of the entire city, Tibidabo is the mountain that overlooks Barcelona and also the rest of the coastline.
When visiting the top you’ll find a number of tourist attractions to accompany the view including the Sagrat Cor church and the Tibidabo theme park which you’ll find just opposite the church.
How to get to Tibidabo: via the Tibidabo Funicular and by the Tramvia Blau or road and it should take you around 10 minutes to get to from the city centre.
Barcelona Hop on bus tours
To quickly see a lot of the city and have the option to get around the top tourist attractions, you could grab yourself a hop on and off ticket for the local tour buses.
These can be booked in advance to save time and let you see as much of the city as possible and at your own pace.
Already done Barcelona and fancy another Spanish city break? Check out this Madrid Itinerary.