There are so many things to do in Barcelona! It’s such a great place, just listen to Ed Sheeran’s ode to the Catalonia capital, or ask one of the many students studying there each semester. But, it can be intimidating. It’s a big city, with a lot of area to cover, a lot of sites to see, and a lot of tapas to eat. Plus, after all of that walking and site seeing you have to have enough energy to go out, because the city is also known for its nightlife. These are my tips on what to do so you can make the most of your time in Barca.
1. Go to the Beach
I didn’t realize Barcelona was such a beach town, since there’s so much else to do in the city. It made me wish I had gone later in the season, and taken advantage of the prime Mediterranean beach. It’s a seriously beautiful stretch of coast, right in the city! The vibes reminded me of California, with shops selling surf brands on the boardwalk. Great places to stop for a drink and watch the waves, too. If you’re near the beach, then you MUST get a bocadillo (sandwich) at Bo d Be. This is my one and only food recommendation for Barcelona, and literally everyone raves about it. See #6 for more information on that.
2. Visit Parc Güell
But make sure you buy a ticket! My friend and I decided to save the cost of the ticket and wander around the free area, but I wish we would’ve just waited in line and paid to go in. The free admission part of the park has beautiful landscape, but can’t compare to the one-of-a-kind mosaics we would’ve seen if we had gone into the park with a ticket. Famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí designed the park, and the historic home museum, where he lived for almost 20 years, that’s on the site. This park is definitely one of the top things to do in Barcelona.
3. Go to La Boqueria Market
I absolutely loved this market! Although it can be crowded, the one euro juices are refreshing and there are so many food options to choose from, we had to take two laps around before we could decide on something to eat! Definitely make this a stop around lunch time on one of your days exploring the city. It’s entrance is located right off the famous street Las Ramblas, which is a must-visit as well.
4. Eat Tapas!
My friend and I joke that all we did in Barcelona is eat, which isn’t entirely true. But, we did eat a lot and we ate very well! The process of tapas was so intimidating to me at first for some reason. Most places have all of their offerings laid out on the bar. Once you sit down (and order sangria), you can choose what looks good, eat, then pay via the honor system. Tapas were the most amazing thing once we got the hang of it, and definitely one of my top things to do in Barcelona. So many delicious little eats, we would often be too full for dinner!
5. Visit La Sagrada Familia
Schedule a visit to this famously uncompleted cathedral at a time of day when the sun will be shining, for full effect. Early in the morning isn’t a great time to book your reservation for a church visit in a city that’s known for its late-night nightlife. Make sure you go when the sun will be out, though, because the colors of the stained glass are absolutely beautiful. Take in the full height of the cathedral from the park across the street.
6. Eat a Sandwich from Bo d Be
I have not stopped thinking about this sandwich since I had it. Bo d Be is a bocadillo shop that may just be the most famous in Spain, for very good reason! File it under your things to do in Barcelona and add at least five stars to it. It is totally worth the wait in line. If you’re vegetarian, you can get a sandwich with a full avocado in it, instead of meat. I was in heaven!
7. See Works by Gaudí and Picasso
Gaudí’s influence on Barcelona is seen everywhere. The best part about it is that you can view many of his works just by standing on the street in front of them. His curvy and unique style of architecture certainly can’t be missed on any trip to Barcelona. While you’re there, a visit to the Picasso Museum is also required! The famous artist spent a lot of his formative years in the Catalonia Capital. The museum is located in the charming Gothic quarter, so once you’ve seen all the masterpieces you can take, explore that neighborhood a little!
8. Take the Montjuïc Cable Car
Barcelona is a city with some of the most amazing views I’ve seen in my life. You can take them in from Parc Güell, or the Bunkers (see #10). For a different experience, however, admire the views from the cable car up to Montjuïc. Montjuïc is Barcelona’s most historic mountain, with a castle. Because what major European city doesn’t have at least one castle to explore? If you take the cable car to Montjuïc you can expect sweeping views over the city to the see. Truly breathtaking! Just make sure you check the times the cable cars are operating, you may need to purchase tickets online.
9. Go Shopping
Barcelona might just be the Zara capital of the world, because it sort of feels like there’s a Zara on every corner. But besides Zara, and Mango, there are so many great little shops to discover when you’re in Barcelona. Get lost strolling through the side streets and see what you discover.
10. Watch the Sunset from the Bunkers
This is the best overlook of the city, for sure, and one of my favorite things to do in Barcelona. Bring a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down over the Spanish capital. You can see the whole city, with La Sagrada Familia rising above everything else, all the way down to the sea. It is quite breathtaking, especially as the sun sets. There’s a bus you can take to get almost to the top, from there it might feel like you’re in a dystopian novel. There’s concrete and graffiti, just follow the people and then choose a spot to hunker down.
Did I miss anything on your list of things to do in Barcelona? Leave them in the comments below!
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Images via theartfuleveryday.com.
Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.