29 Best Things to Do in Barcelona in 2023
A quick objective, if I may – I want you to experience the best things to do in Barcelona as I would do them.
After 10 years living here I’ve soaked up all the art museums, followed Antoni Gaudi through every barrio, and ate and drank everything the Catalans have laid down before me – good and bad.
Let’s break down what to do in Barcelona with some local knowledge.
Best Things to Do in Barcelona Spain
La Sagrada Familia
Just look at any postcard in the city – this is the Barcelona must see.
Sagrada Familia is the crown jewel of Catalan wonder architect Antoni Gaudi’s architectural empire, and one of the most spectacular basilicas in the world.
For those tired of traditional churches you’ll be positively refreshed. The arches of this UNESCO world heritage site are modeled after tree branches, and the stained glass here creates a rainbow effect you won’t soon forget.
Every Barcelona itinerary should start here.
Park Guell is a dreamy urban park floating above the city, far from the city center, and was the utopian vision of rich industrialist Eusebi Guell in the early 20th century.
It was originally intended to be 60 luxury homes on the city’s most prime piece of land, far away from the smoke stacks of the city. Only three were built. Today the entrance at Park Guell and its ginger-bread house-like porter’s lodge and emblematic mosaic lizard are a highlight.
At Park Güell, tourists sit on the mosaic benches (remember Vicky Cristina Barcelona?) and take in amazing views.
You can also check out the Gaudí House Museum (La Casa Museu Gaudí) on the grounds.
When coming up with the best things to see in Barcelona, locals tend to cut off the streets from traffic, put up a stage with live music, and get the wine and music flowing.
The eccentric European block parties that honour patron saints andlong-dead political prisoners are the closest a tourist can get to real Barcelona.
I’ve got a list in my Barcelona events calendar but the biggest two of the year are La Festa Major de Gracia (in August) and La Mercè (in September). You also shouldn’t sleep on Carnival in Sitges every February.
Even at Barcelona’s best restaurants it can be difficult to decide what to eat – so why not split 25 things?
These small-portioned savory snacks are ordered in Barcelona’s best tapas bars in rounds of 5 or 6, and are shared by friends over cañas (a small draft beer).
Patatas bravas (pictured) and pan con tomate (crispy bread rubbed with tomato and garlic) are automatic – but pulpo a la gallega (octopus with potatoes and paprika) and gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) are where dreams are made.
My current favourite place to take visitors in 2023 is Season – I like it so much that I’ve set up a discounted tasting menu.
The most folkloric Spanish art form grabs your attention with its cante (singing), baile (dance), toque (guitar playing), palmas (clapping), jaleo (vocalizations), and pitos (snapping).
A typical flamenco recital mixes passion and tranquility with a festive and resistant mood that can bring audience members to tears. The push/pull dynamics of the performers entice and resist simultaneously.
For me, the king of the best flamenco shows in Barcelona is Tablao Cordobes.
It’s not just a tradition… it’s a lifestyle!
And who wouldn’t like drinking tasty and inexpensive wine that’s fortified with spices and botanicals like cinnamon and chamomile?
It’s one of the great cheap things to do in Barcelona at only €1.50 or so each.
Tradition holds that one must consume (at least) one at la hora del vermú (vermut time, 12 noon) before eating lunch. It’s as sacred as the Spanish siesta so if you’re looking to fit in – drink up!
Don’t be afraid to order this drink (pronounced bear-MOOT) at any time of the day though – just make sure it comes with an anchovy-stuffed olive and a slice of orange.
I go for mine at Quimet & Quimet.
The Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is oldest neighbourhood in Barcelona, dating back to the city’s founding as a Roman military camp in 15 BC. You’ll still see some of the original walls as part of the Barcelona Cathedral.
This is basically an open air Barcelona city history museum.
Most of the area is cut off from cars and that means winding roads and tight alleyways opening up into majestic squares like Plaça de Catalunya, Plaça Reial, Plaça del Pi, Plaça George Orwell, and Plaça de la Seu.
Nowadays it’s a hot spot for some of Barcelona’s best bars.
Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera) is another surreal mansion right in the heart of some of the best shopping in Barcelona.
This unconventional Antoni Gaudi apartment block built for the city’s richest industrialists is without a straight line and more wobbling jell-o than building. From above it’s actually built in an asymmetrical 8 shape.
It’s also possibly the most spectacular roof terrace you’ll ever see with its 28 guardian warrior chimney stacks that are more Darth Vader than anything else!
This classic rice dish from Spain was invented by servants using the leftovers from royal banquets – and you’ll feel like royalty by the fork full!
Though technically from nearby Valencia (where the rabbit and chicken version reigns supreme) you’ll find the mixed seafood paella to be the go-to for Barcelona paella restaurants.
For couples visiting Barcelona this is a great option as it’s usually served in portions of two.
Make sure to scrape the soccarat (toasted, scorched rice) off the bottom of the pan – flavour town!
The Moco Museum
The hottest new museum in Barcelona burst open its bright pink doors in October 2021. Sister museum to the one in Amsterdam, this is the place to go for modern art.
The Moco Museum Barcelona hosts amazing works from Banksy, Hirst, Warhol, Kaws, and Kusama.
You’ll probably remember the Diamond Matrix (pictured) the most, though Chilean artist Guillermo Lorca really got me with his massive surrealist fantasy paintings.
Camp Nou is arguably the most historic football stadium in Europe and home to FC Barcelona.
Visiting the FC Barcelona Museum means living the glory through overloaded trophy cases and an interactive museum offering a Mecca-like experience for football fans.
If you take a Camp Nou tour you can even walk onto the field yourself via the players tunnel, seeing 4 Champions League trophies, sitting in the visitor’s dressing room, and Messi’s Ballon d’Ors.
Here in football season? Of all top Barcelona attractions, football at Camp Nou has got to be one of the best – FC Barcelona tickets are a must.
With all due respect to Amsterdam it’s Barcelona that’s Europe’s most bike-friendly city – with nearly 300 km of bike lanes in the city center and the weather to merit every push of the pedal, you’re gonna wanna saddle up on holiday.
This 90 minute ride through the city’s tops sights like Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, Las Ramblas, El Born, and La Pedrera unveils the city’s magic in a new light with a friendly, professional, knowledgeable guide.
Each booking includes helmet, insurance, and a bottle of water.
Rides depart daily from Arc de Triomf at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
Any self respecting tourist looking to check off a huge chunk of the top things to do in Barcelona will be seeing the Gaudi trifecta: Sagrada, Batllo, and Mila.
But what if you’re such a big fan of the man that you want to go back to his humble beginnings? The only recently available to the public (as of 2017) summer chalet Casa Vicens will get you there.
With an €18.00 price tag this is probably the cheapest way to experience Gaudi’s genius – and the lush garden, terracotta tiled rooftop, Catalan art, and Turkish and Oriental influenced Noble Floor will make you glad you did.
Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s most famous street and one of those top places you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Start at Plaça de Catalunya and walk the whole way down to the Columbus Monument.
Here you’ll find an explosion of bars, street performers, and souvenir shops.
While this is in fact tourist trap central you can cut to the chase by finding Gaudi’s lanterns in the picturesque square Plaça Reial.
In Pla de l’Os you’ll find a brilliant pavement mosaic by Joan Miro – the site of the city’s old gate.
🚌 Heading to La Rambla? Make sure you know how to get around Barcelona on public transport first.
La Boqueria Market
It’s hard not to put La Boqueria Market at the very top of Barcelona’s best markets.
The quality of the fruit, meat, and fish here will amaze you and its infectious energy is something to be seen: don’t leave before trying one of their delicious €1.00 smoothies.
Looking for a meal with market fresh ingredients? Grab the fried eggs with baby squid at El Quim de la Boqueria or get adventurous with the garbanzo beans and blood sausage at Bar Pinotxo.
Not a fan of crowds? Hit the nearby Santa Caterina Market for the same vibe, with less stress.
Related: How Many Days Should I Stay in Barcelona?
For those looking to truly discover the city you need to see a bit more than just the main Barcelona attractions and postcard streets – so why not do it in Barcelona’s most unique and diverse neighbourhood?
El Raval offers skateboarders, cheap cocktail bars (along Carrer de Joaquín Costa), epic ethnic food, and some of the best museums in Barcelona like the CCCB.
Make sure to walk the famous Rambla del Raval to see Botero’s Cat.
The Magic Fountain
If you’re looking for free things to do in Barcelona this is it. This enchanting magic fountain and light show uses 3620 water jets and 4760 lights to create over 7 billion combinations.
The show is set to beautifully choreographed music ranging from classic to swing to modern hits. Just make sure you gauge the wind before picking your spot – you might get soaked!
Magic Fountain shows go Thursday to Saturday (Sunday in high season) and you can get all the info on my article on Barcelona’s Magic Fountain Show.
The Picasso Museum
The Barcelona Picasso Museum is arguably the most important Picasso museum in the world.
If you’re looking to fill up an afternoon, especially when it rains, you can start with over 4000 permanent pieces of his art. Here it mostly showcases the early years of the world-renown artist when he was based in Barcelona.
Make sure to have a coffee at Els Quatre Gats, one of the best cafes in Barcelona and a meeting spot for modernist artists of the time, Pablo Picasso included.
A colourful mosaic mansion whose every last detail down to the doorknobs was designed by Antoni Gaudi. Visiting Barcelona without at least passing by modernist landmark Casa Batllo is criminal.
Here it’s a constant ode to nature with jaw bone balconies, mushroom-shaped smoke vents, and tropical fish based radiators.
The ceramic tile shards on the facade (a style known as trencadis) were taken from broken cups at local factories to create a unique colour play.
Did I also mention that the Casa Batllo roof is a sword in a dragon’s back? Yeah.
Visiting Poble Espanyol is what to do in Barcelona if you want to see all of Spain in one afternoon.
Built for the 1929 World’s Fair, this mock Spanish town has 117 full-scale replica buildings representing the architecture of all 15 of Spain’s regions.
Here you can see the emblematic white streets of Andalucia, Pre-Roman Austurias, and all sorts of Castillian classics.
It also has over 20 artisan craft shops for some great jewelery, handbag, and glass shopping.
Ciutadella Park is Barcelona’s biggest urban park, and it’s a great picnic spot for those looking for an outdoor escape but want a break from Barcelona’s best beaches.
At Parc de la Ciutadella you’ll find a ton of open space, the zoo, and a great artificial lake for rowboat rides.
I also suggest heading up La Cascada (pictured) which is a fountain loosely based on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. From here you’ve got a bird’s eye view of the park’s personality – which also includes a ton of musicians, street artists, and the odd marijuana brownie salesman.
The contemporary art museum.
If you want things to see in Barcelona you’ll get it with over 5000 pieces from well known 20th century artists. Check out the mesmerizing photography, sculpture, painting and more.
Discounts can be had by buying the Articket BCN museum discount card.
The Barcelona Cathedral
It’s almost impossible to miss this imposing building during any casual walk through the Gothic Quarter.
The Barcelona Cathedral (not to be confused with Sagrada Familia) is neo-Gothic church is notable for its gargoyles and domestic and mythical animal rooftop. It is dedicated to the co-patron Saint of Barcelona – Santa Eulalia – who was martyred by the Romans in 303 AD.
A must see is the cloister that is home a small garden with orange and almond trees, a pond, and 13 geese – one for each year of life lived by Eulalia.
Tibidabo Amusement Park
In our list of stuff to see Tibidabo Mountain is right at the top, quite literally.
Tibidabo offers some incredible views from the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus church – not to mention the super geeky retro amusement park with 100 year old Ferris Wheel.
Visiting with family? This one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids.
Get up their with the super, almost San Francisco-like Tramvia Blau for extra extra effect.
Palau de la Musica
The Palau de la Musica, a musical palace with golden-age acoustics in the ‘key’ of Catalan modernism, is the best place for music lovers to take in some opera, Flamenco, or even a symphony.
The explosion of colour and chandelier centre piece (pictured) are world class.
If you’re interested in seeing musical performances check out the calendar of events. Another tip? Follow it up with a trip the nearby Santa Maria del Mar church to admire the stained glass windows.
Turó de la Rovira – “The Bunkers”
The highest point (560 feet) above metro Barcelona was once an anti-aircraft bunker defending the city against Spanish Civil War bombings.
Today The Bunkers is great museum, lookout point, and picnic spot with an insane panoramic view and a great option for budget conscious Barcelona nature lovers. For young adults this is the weekend hangout spot.
It’s probably my favourite thing to do in Barcelona on Sunday.
Grab bus 22 from Plaça Catalunya and get off at the last stop.
The Dali Museum
The Dali Museum is a fantastic museum dedicated to the surrealist genius Salvador Dali – it actually finds itself 140 km from Barcelona in his hometown of Figueres.
It’s a can’t miss for fans of the man and insanity in general.
Two favourites here are the Spectre of Sex Appeal (1932) and The Basket of Bread (1945).
One of Barcelona’s best neighbourhoods is full of cool décor bars, quirky shops, and street musicians.
The bohemian atmosphere of Gracia makes it the top place for people watching or a coffee or beer in squares like Plaça del Sol, Plaça Vila de Gracia, Plaça de la Virreina and Plaça de la Revoluciò.
If you’re really looking for stuff to do in Barcelona with very little effort, head to an outdoor spot with homemade tapas to enjoy life at your own pace – I recommend Sol Soler.
The vibes here are as local as it gets.
Nature offers a great escape from the urban hustle at 1236 meters: the highest point in the Catalan Lowlands. At Montserrat you get the most breathtaking jagged mountains around.
Some highlights are the Benedictine monastery and its Black Madonna statue, while the less religiously-inclined usually head to the Sant Jeroni lookout.
If you’re not up for the mountains there are a ton of other Barcelona day trips.
What to Do in Barcelona FAQ
What are the best things to do in Barcelona?
Visitors usually construct an itinerary that includes the top attractions in Barcelona, some of the city’s natural wonders, and a few visits some culinary hot spots.
If we had to boil it down to just a few choices, we would select Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, the Gothic Quarter, the beach area of Barceloneta, and a nice round of tapas and paella for food.
What are the must see things to do in Barcelona?
If you’ve only got just a short time, the two must see attractions in Barcelona would be Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.
What are the best outdoor activities to do in Barcelona?
The top things to do outdoors in Barcelona include visiting the lookouts at Montjuic Hill, the Bunkers, and Park Guell. Visiting the city’s many rooftop bars like Hotel Pulitzer and Sky Bar at the Grand Central Hotel are also a good idea.
Finally, a trip to the city’s beaches and walks around the Gothic Quarter, Gracia, and El Born are definitely in order.
What is Barcelona famous for?
The city of Barcelona is famous for its distinctive, and arguably superior architecture due to a modernism movement lead by starchitect Antoni Gaudí.
It’s a bustling, multicultural city where the urban is in a constant flirtation with nature. It’s a place where large, vibrant street festivals and blaring, state of the art cocktail bars compete with tranquil, rural hill walks and introspective museum evenings.
It’s culture, nature, and good taste shacked up in a warm Mediterranean climate.
Looking for Things to Do in Barcelona?
If my list of top Barcelona activities wasn’t enough then let me know – I’m usually quick with a suggestion.
Also don’t be afraid to join the Barcelona attractions discussion by giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.
Looking forward to hearing from you before your Barcelona holiday 🤝
June 29, 2021 at 4:25 amHello! Thank you for the wealth of knowledge your page provides! My family and I will be going to Barcelona in August 2021. My boyfriend enjoys the outdoors, wondering if you could recommend any hiking or nature sight-seeing places we could go to in between our days of drinking, eating, dancing, and visiting museums! Thank you!
June 29, 2021 at 9:19 amHi Lauren, Thanks so much for writing in and your kind words :) There are a few options here that I would recommend... if you're feeling low on energy due to all the drinking, eating, and dancing I'd just walk up Montjuic and check out the botanical gardens along the way. At the end you're rewarded with an amazing view of the city and can even take the Port Teleferic back down. The second option which is a bit more of a hike, but with an even better view reward would be hiking up to Tibidabo, which is the highest mountain in the city, home to a cool retro amusement park, and a panorama that's impossible to beat! Simply get off the metro at Penitents Station and get on the Camino de las Aguas trail. Cheers,
January 9, 2021 at 12:13 pmMoved to Barcelona in August with my family and can't wait to explore this amazing list!! Thank you for making this website, its so easy to follow! Really enjoy your hacks of this beautiful city! Happy once everything is opened again! cheers
January 11, 2021 at 6:15 pmThank you so much Alyse! I really hope everything opens again soon, this site is getting pretty lonely :( Haha. Best of luck!
September 18, 2020 at 8:02 amI live in Barcelona and sometimes I forget all the beautiful places and plans to do in this city! I loved the suggestions you made, I will use them myself to make some plans :) Thanks!
September 18, 2020 at 8:09 pmGreat to hear! Please let me know how the plans turn out :) Cheers, Ash
February 15, 2020 at 11:53 amHey, I was wondering if you had any recommendations for what to do in Gracia for 1 whole day, from day to night please? :) Love your site btw I'm so so so happy I stumbled upon it!
February 15, 2020 at 8:51 pmHi Mia, For one whole day it's a bit complicated but I've put together a post on Gracia which details the most important sights. I would go see Casa Vicens, spend my afternoon drinking in the sun in Plaça del Sol, have vermut at Vermuteria del Tano, and head up to Park Guell (it's not Gracia but basically!). Cheers, Ash
February 2, 2020 at 8:26 pmHey dude great list thanks. Any info you can share about pickpockets would be highly appreciated. I keep reading stuff on the topic but I feel like there is a lot of incorrect information out there based off peoples bias and experience. Id appreciate your input! Tx
January 23, 2020 at 10:55 pmthanks very much for all this info ! im french traveler and i love your content
January 24, 2020 at 5:35 pmYou're very welcome :)
August 11, 2019 at 9:36 amDear Ash Your website is excellent. We are currently in Barcelona but plan to come back in slightly cooler weather to see more of the city. I wanted to thank you for your recommendations of the Season Restaurant and the B Burger one. They were great! Off to Barcoleneta today and the Magic Fountain tonight. Best wishes Helen
August 11, 2019 at 2:09 pmHi Helen, That is great to hear! Always so happy to hear about the experiences of my readers... always talk to them before but never after or during! Fantastic :) When you come back in cooler weather do be in touch if you need anything! Ash
July 11, 2019 at 2:33 pmHello Ash, Thank you for this informative site! We will be visiting next week and wanted to go to the Magic Nights at the Casa Batllo, but wondered if it is appropriate for children (ages 7 and 9) who are accustomed to attending concerts? With the drink being included in the price I wonder if this is an event more geared towards adults. Thanks in advance for any information you can offer.
July 12, 2019 at 2:24 pmHi Cara, Thanks so much for the very kind words, I am happy to help :) This question comes up often and I always find it hard to answer since I don't have kids... yet when you tell me they're accustomed to attending concerts, combined with the fact that it's 'only' an hour and should play well even with kids of a limited attention span... I think it's a fine option. The drink included is obviously a 'sweetener' for adults looking to have a couple drinks but by no means can this not be switched out for soft drinks for your kids. I have seen kids there around those ages and it didn't seem strange. Sure, it's geared towards adults by nature but by no means can kids not enjoy it. The best part is your 7 year old will get in free :) Cheers, Ash
July 1, 2019 at 11:47 pmLove this site, and wish I’d seen it sooner than now, as our travel plans are right around the corner!! My husband, our 20 yo daughter, and I will travel via train from Madrid to Barcelona, arriving about noon July 27 (Sat), staying at the Continental Barcelona (a couple of blocks off Las Rambles) two nights. We will also have all day Sunday, July 28, with our flight out of Barcelona at 8 am Monday, July 29th. Places we don’t want to miss are: Las Ramblas Sagrada Familia Casa Ma Park Guell Picasso Museum Magic Fountain Questions are the best way to get to each of these sites, most efficiently, and transportation to the sites. I assume getting tickets to all ahead of time would be best, but not sure if the Barcelona City Pass would be worth it? Or a different “pass”? Also, would a 2 day Barcelona Hola card would be best for us, or some other mode of transportation card, or simply paying as we go? Since we arrive by train I don’t know if that changes things. I know our trip is coming up quickly, so thanks for any guidance! Best :)
July 2, 2019 at 12:45 pmHola Lori, Thanks for the kind words on the site! Always glad to help :) Let's see, my gut instinct is that you're super super central, probably impossible to be any more central... and you'll be doing a lot of walking so perhaps the Hola isn't as needed as other people. I would just grab the T-10 pass (at any metro station) that gives you 10 trips and then get another when you use it up. Pay as you go is probably the best... just make sure you don't get individual tickets as you'll be paying double. To get to the following attractions from your hotel I'd say this: Las Ramblas: 2 minutes walking Sagrada Familia: walk up to Passeig de Gracia metro and take the purple line a few stops (20 min) Casa Mila: 10 minutes walking up Passeig de Gracia Park Guell: Bus 24 from Plaça Catalunya will get you right to the gates in 35 min Picasso Museum: 15 minutes walking Magic Fountain: red line of metro from Plaça Catalunya to Espanya, then a 10 minute walk (25 min total) At any rate... about the passes since you're not doing many museums and you're also not (or are you?) interested in the Bus Turistic I would say you won't be able to make up the value so I'd recommend simply buying all your tickets individually. Please do make sure to book them advance online though as in high season you may run the risk of being shut out. It has already happened to some readers and I feel helpless as I can't suggest alternatives! I've just launched my own web shop which connects into the ticket database of Clorian (Barcelona Turisme) and allows my readers to book attractions at the lowest prices possible while giving me a small commission to cover server costs and the time I put in (which is up to 4-5 hours a day now, wow!)... so if you could reserve via my shop it would be appreciated though certainly not expected :) Please let me know if you have any more questions! Cheers, Ash
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June 10, 2019 at 10:18 amHi Pierre, Can you send me an email? I would rather discuss this in private ;) [email protected] Cheers, Ash