Ten things to do in Barcelona


Art by Joan Míro in Barcelona.

Barcelona is one of the world’s ultimate city break locations. No matter what time of year you choose to visit Spain’s second largest city, you will find fabulous sights, fine food and a carnival atmosphere. Bursting at the seams with unique experiences, world-renowned works of art, spectacular architecture and sporting excellence, Barcelona is one of Europe’s richest cities and has established itself as a hugely popular global brand. Here are ten things to do in Barcelona.

1. La Rambla

Despite becoming a major tourist hotspot, La Rambla has retained its unique atmosphere and the kilometre stroll from Placa de Catalunya down to the harbour is the perfect introduction to the city. Whether you make a few purchases or just absorb the atmosphere, you’ll carry the memory of La Rambla with you long after you leave.

2. City Beach

In the summer, when the hotels and hostels of Barcelona fill up, the more adventurous tourists like to make the short walk down to the beach to find a comfy resting place. During the day, the beach is alive with people and has an atmosphere to compete with any city beach in the world. Alternatively, you can take a bus or train (about 30+ minutes) to Sitges. Read my post about what to do in Sitges.

Parc Guell

3. Festival de Sonar

Officially a festival of ‘Advanced Music and Multimedia Art, Sonar has evolved into one of Europe’s premier music festivals. If you enjoy a bit of a dance to the sounds of artists like Devo, Goldfrapp, Scissor Sisters or The Chemical Brothers, then Sonar could be for you. Usually held around the middle of June, it’s a hot one, so bring your sunscreen!

4. Parc Guell

Amongst the most striking and memorable sights in Barcelona are the works of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. His Parc Guell is a garden he designed and built in the first 14 years of the 20th century and, like so many of Barcelona’s most exciting attractions, entry to the park is free. Cheap holidays in Barcelona are wonderfully easy to plan and a picnic amongst the surreal architecture and animal sculptures of Parc Guell on a sunny day is an experience not to be missed.

5. Camp Nou

F.C. Barcelona are regarded by many as the finest football team on the planet at the moment. If ‘Barca’ have a home fixture during your stay in the city, the match will be an experience to savour. If not, the team’s stadium, Camp Nou, is a spectacular sight in itself and stadium tours are popular for good reason.

6. Casa Mila

The idea of a building with no supporting walls, made entirely from natural stone seems almost impossible. Take a look at Gaudi’s Casa Mila and it only seems more impossible, with its dramatic curved balconies and wobbly walls.

Magic Fountains Montjuic

7. The magic fountains of Montjuic

In the summertime, up a large hill to the south of the city, a performance takes place that sums up the magic of Barcelona. The spectacular ‘magic’ fountains of Montjuic explode into life in the summer, shooting into the air in an array of colours and lights. Again, those planning cheap holidays in Barcelona will love the price of this attraction – entry to Montjuic is free.

Palau de la Musicana Catalana

8. Palau de la Musica Catalana

The Catalan art nouveau architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner created this spectacular palace and his manipulation of light and space is life affirming in its beauty. The gargantuan stained glass roof of the Palau de la Musica Catalana is worth a visit on its own merit.

9. Sagrada Familia

Perhaps the most famous building in Barcelona – and it’s not even finished yet! Gaudi never finished the Sagrada Familia but this perpetually changing symbol of modernism is still a sight to behold.

Sagrada Familia

10. Festes de la Merce

The quintessential Barcelona party is the Festes de la Merce, or “Fiesta Mayor”. It is the largest festival in the city’s busy calendar of carnivals. Typically held in the last week of September, the festival features ‘Gigantes’ – giant figures of noble characters who dance through the streets, ‘Correfoc’ – a procession of fire-breathing dragons, and ‘Castellers’ – huge towers of people who assemble in the Placa de Sant Jaume.

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28 Responses to “Ten things to do in Barcelona”

  1. Richard@onedayonetravel 10/02/2013 6:24 pm

    Yeah ! I Love BCN. Great city, nice atmosphere ! I travel there for 15years and its my favorite city in Europe. I just came back from BCN and i publish some post on it on my travel blog like Enjoy your first time in Barcelona : http://www.onedayonetravel.com/visiter-barcelone-pour-la-premiere-fois-conseils-et-astuces/
    Have a nice trip

  2. These are 10 reasons why I’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona — hoping I make it there one day!

  3. JD (@aitor_vca) 22/10/2011 7:51 pm

    Great places!!!

    I live in Barcelona and agree with your 10 places of the city. I would change La Rambla for the Gotic and Borne to get lost and just have a walk enjoying the small streets, small bars and restaurants…

    Hope to see you arround here soon!!


  4. velvet 12/07/2011 10:53 am

    Thank you Lara for the additional tips. I fully agree: Gracia is a gorgeous neighbourhood and such a magical place on a warm evening when everyone is out.

  5. lara dunston 12/07/2011 5:49 am

    Perhaps my favourite European city – ties with Venice and Madrid I think. Next time you must stroll down the hill from Parc Guell to the centre – a wonderful walk through everyday Barcelona. Also go out go out in the Gracia neighbourhood in the evening – fun ethnic restaurants and fabulous late night bars and barely a tourist in sight.

  6. Bonbons 21/03/2011 11:33 pm

    Barcelona is amazing, it’s got everything one may need!

  7. Maya Northen 15/02/2011 10:10 pm

    I agree with Ken, I went to the Olympic park not sure what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised. Yes there is the touristy restaurant with bad, over-priced food and such, but the history of the park and the view of the rest of the city is worth the experience to me.

  8. Travelogged 13/02/2011 5:26 am

    #8 was closed when I was there! Barcelona is my favorite city in Europe…

  9. Income tax return 10/02/2011 12:17 pm

    Everybody goes to Camp Nou :)) Go Barca!

  10. MovingToBarcelona 07/02/2011 9:26 am

    Barcelona has the biggest gothic quarter in Europe – not to be missed.

  11. Don Nadeau 06/02/2011 8:29 pm

    Great post, Keith.

    I’d add the Montjuïc funicular railway and then the aerial tram to the top of Montjuic Park, with a walk back down. The views of Barcelona are outstanding!

  12. Jenn 04/02/2011 6:55 am

    Great post Keith! Madrid will always be my pick of Spanish cities, but as a tourist there is definitely more to see and do in Barcelona. These are all great choices, and I would also add the Picasso Museum- it’s small but very worthwhile!

  13. Christia 02/02/2011 11:11 am

    Please, do not forget that we do not feel Spanish, we are catalans.

  14. Simon 02/02/2011 9:45 am

    Barcelona, one of my overall favorite cities. Love it! That’s probably why I like writing about it…

    Great post, Keith!

  15. Zablon 02/02/2011 8:36 am

    Being a football fun Camp nou is a must for me, and i would travel to ensure i can watch a game, even though it would be way up in the stands

  16. Cathy Sweeney 01/02/2011 11:33 pm

    Gorgeous photos and great things-go-do list. Just read another blog today about the Gaudi buildings. I definitely need to get to Barcelona!

  17. Holiday Abroad 01/02/2011 8:16 pm

    Barcelona is such a wonderful place to spend your holiday! I’d go back there in a minute 🙂

  18. Vera Marie Badertscher 01/02/2011 7:58 pm

    Wow! That picture you open this post with is amazing! And the more I hear about Barcelona, the more I yearn to go back to Spain, since I stayed south of that intriguing city. Thanks for the tour.

  19. Ali 01/02/2011 6:49 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to Spain!! Haven’t made it to Europe yet though. This gives me 10 more reasons to start planning. Great post!

    Global Basecamps’ latest post: Ready. Set. Go.

  20. velvet 01/02/2011 6:29 pm

    Thank you Jessie & Ken for your comments. Barcelona is an awesome city. Absolutely love it! 🙂


  21. wandering educators 01/02/2011 6:07 pm

    i want to go!

  22. Ken Kaminesky 01/02/2011 3:58 pm

    When in Barcelona, also go to the Olympic Parc/Garden in the morning. It is a perfect place for a run or walk. Gaudi’s Casa Batlló is another must see place and was a favourite spot of mine when I visited.

    I was able to photograph a lot of beautiful places in Barcelona, but I hope to go back soon and continue shooting all the great locations that the city has to offer.

    Thanks Keith 🙂

    Barcelona Photo Gallery


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