Did you even visit Barcelona if you didn’t do these things?
Barcelona is the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. This large city is full of art, modern architecture, shopping, delicious food, wild nightlife, and of course beaches. It can be overwhelming being in Barcelona without a plan because you’ll be distracted by something every time you walk down the street. So, to get you started, these are some must-do activities when you visit Barcelona.
Designed by renowned artist and architect, Antoni Gaudi, Park Güell is a must-see when visiting Barcelona, especially if you love to brag about your travels on social media. It’s here that you can snap that iconic picture of mosaic tiles overlooking the city of Barcelona.
While the park itself is gorgeous and full of unique architecture, mosaic figures, and a fountain, it’s the outskirts of the park that will really awe you. The gardens surrounding the park are full of colorful flowers, places to sit and admire the view over Barcelona, and great photo opportunities.
I would recommend buying your tickets to Park Güell in advance as they are likely to sell out if you go the day of. If traveling by metro, a roundtrip shuttle is included in your ticket from the L4 so you don’t have to hike up hill after hill to the entrance.
La Sagrada Familia
Yet another iconic Antoni Gaudi structure makes it on this list of things to do in Barcelona. La Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and isn’t expected to be finished until 2026. It was finally consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 as a minor basilica. Inside the church, you’ll find towering white pillars and large stained glass windows that reflect rainbows on the the church’s floors. When climbing up to the towers, you’ll have an impressive view of the city of Barcelona.
Along with entrance to the church itself, you can also walk through a museum about the construction of La Sagrada Familia and learn about the influential life of Antoni Gaudi. You can also walk through an old school for boys that was located (and then pushed back for construction) in front of this incredible structure.
I would also recommend buying tickets to La Sagrada Familia in advance because they are likely to sell out for days. There are different tiers of tickets so you can choose which type of experience you would like to have. It’s also important to note that you should dress conservatively (i.e. no shorts, no shoulders showing) to enter the church.
The Gothic Quarter is a neighborhood rich in history and Medieval architecture in Barcelona. It is now geared towards the tourists and offers a variety of restaurants, gelaterias, cafes, and bars. Make sure to stop into the Cathedral of Barcelona, which dates back to the early 14th century. Outside of the cathedral you’ll be sure to find street performers and hundreds of tourists, making it a great place to enjoy a gelato and people watch.
If you’re looking for a cheap meal and authentic Spanish food in the Gothic Quarter, give La Boqueria a visit. This large market has hundreds of permanent stalls offering cooked food, meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, candies, and more to both tourists and locals. This market dates back to the early 13th century and has been active ever since.
This is a great place to stop for a quick bite to eat during a busy day in Barcelona. Stalls will sell quick to-go snacks of freshly cut fruit, sliced meats and cheeses, or small cartons of fried fish. If you’re looking to sit down and enjoy some food with a glass of sangria, you can also find bar seating in the market.
La Rambla is a tree-lined promenade full of shops, restaurants, and bars that is dedicated to tourists. You’ll find both large brand-name stores and small boutiques along this crowded street along with restaurants with authentic Catalonian cuisine.
This 1.2 kilometer promenade stretches from the Gothic Quarter all the way down towards the beach where you can admire impressive yachts and browse knock-off designer bags and shoes along the water.
Paella, Tapas, and Sangria
When traveling, it’s imperative to enjoy some authentic food! When in Barcelona, take a night and treat yourself to tapas, paella, and a pitcher of sangria.
Tapas are small plates of vegetables, meats, cheeses, croquets, and more that are meant to share between multiple people. It’s a great way to try all different types of food and enjoy the flavors that Barcelona has to offer.
Paella is a large dish of rice with meat, vegetables, or seafood cooked into it. While it’s meant to share, you can find single servings of the dish. It’s typically only available in Catalonia, so you don’t want to miss out on this delicious and filling dish when visiting Barcelona.
While Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city, it has a gorgeous beach right along the coast. So, you can go from a day of shopping and site seeing right to relaxing on the beach with a cocktail in your hand. Feel free to walk along the beach until you find a place that draws you in. There are certain parts that are mainly used by tourists, but if you walk along the beach you’ll find parts that mainly locals frequent.
Barcelona is known for its wild nightlife. It isn’t rare that people will stay out until the sun rises. There is something for everyone when it comes to enjoying a night out on the weekend. From intimate cocktail bars like Carlos and Matilda, to loud Irish pubs, and large clubs like Opium, you’ll be sure to find a great way to spend your weekend night. If you aren’t sure where to go, sign up for a bar crawl! It’s a great way to meet fellow travelers and get a taste for all Barcelona has to offer in the nightlife scene.
You should take note, though, that people don’t really start going out to the bars until around 11 pm. Nobody likes being the first person to arrive at the party.
While Barcelona is famous for its renowned artists like Gaudi and Picasso, it’s the street art you see on the walls of buildings and door gates that will really grab your attention. Unlike in America, graffiti and street art in Barcelona isn’t a sign of a “bad” neighborhood, but of artistic expression that is appreciated by many. In fact, it’s an entire community of people who get together and give the city color with their unique style and designs. No matter where in Barcelona you find yourself, you’ll be able to admire and explore the street art on every street.
Getting Around Barcelona
Like I said, Barcelona is a huge city. Make sure to take advantage of the public transportation system when possible. It’ll save you a ton of time when traveling throughout the city. You can buy a 10-ride pass in any metro station that is valid for the metro, bus, and tram throughout Barcelona.
If you prefer, you can always call a cab off the street. They’re everywhere! Uber doesn’t work in Barcelona, so it’s time to take it old school and stick you hand out to hail a car and give the driver an address.