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Best Things To Do in Barcelona

Barcelona has some of the most unique and inspiring architecture in the world, so a tour of the city's parks, museums and churches is a must. Start your days off with tours of Antoni Gaudí's whimsical architecture, including Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell. Grab lunch at the bustling Boqueria Market then kick back and relax on the shores of La Barceloneta Beach with a cool cerveza (beer) in hand, all the while enjoying a picturesque view of the Mediterranean. After a brief siesta, hit up the nightlife in Las Ramblas or the Gothic Quarter. And if you're a fútbol fan, you can't leave Barcelona without a visit to FC Barcelona's headquarters, Camp Nou Stadium.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1 Parc Güell (Güell Park)

#1 in Barcelona

Free
Antoni Gaudí's Parc Güell is as whimsical as parks can get. The park was originally supposed to be a housing community for the rich, commissioned by Eusebi Güell. Güell hired Gaudí but the project eventually folded due to the land's incompatible building conditions. Gaudí continued on, modeling the park after gardens he had seen in England (Güell means English in Catalan) and building around the natural elements of the land instead of tearing them down.
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Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Parc Güell (Güell Park)
Antoni Gaudí's Parc Güell is as whimsical as parks can get. The park was originally supposed to be a housing community for the rich, commissioned by Eusebi Güell. Güell hired Gaudí but the project eventually folded due to the land's incompatible building conditions. Gaudí continued on, modeling the park after gardens he had seen in England (Güell means English in Catalan) and building around the natural elements of the land instead of tearing them down.
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#2 Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market)

#2 in Barcelona

Free
Even if you're not keen on visiting the touristy Las Ramblas, make the trek to the thoroughfare only for it to lead you to the foodie heaven that is the Boqueria Market. The Boqueria Market is Barcelona's first local market, having opened in 1840. But its foodie history spans much earlier than that. The first food peddlers were said to have been around as early as the 13th century selling meat on the streets. The market you see today wasn't around back then, it took four years to construct once Saint Joseph's convent left the area (hence the name of the market). 
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market)
Even if you're not keen on visiting the touristy Las Ramblas, make the trek to the thoroughfare only for it to lead you to the foodie heaven that is the Boqueria Market. The Boqueria Market is Barcelona's first local market, having opened in 1840. But its foodie history spans much earlier than that. The first food peddlers were said to have been around as early as the 13th century selling meat on the streets. The market you see today wasn't around back then, it took four years to construct once Saint Joseph's convent left the area (hence the name of the market). 
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#3 Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)

#3 in Barcelona

The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, is the oldest part of Barcelona, and considering its location next to the city center, also its most liveliest. Here, you'll find beautiful examples Roman and Medieval-era architecture rubbing elbows with the many shops, restaurants, alfresco cafes, bars and clubs that line this neighborhood's narrow roads and picturesque plazas. And there are so many plazas to explore. Aside from Plaça de la Catedral, which you'll no doubt end up in if you visit the Barcelona Cathedral, make sure you stop in Plaça Reial and the smaller and much quainter Plaça Sant Felip Neri, which was bombed by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War (you can see scars from the attack on the church in the square). The palm tree-clad Plaça Reial is much more energetic and usually buzzes till the wee hours of the morning. Definitely come here to start your night out in Barcelona. Another notable plaza is Plaça Sant Jaume, where the Catalan seat of government has been since the Middle Ages. No matter where you end up in the Gothic Quarter, travelers say its Spanish splendor will leave you charmed long after you leave. 
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, is the oldest part of Barcelona, and considering its location next to the city center, also its most liveliest. Here, you'll find beautiful examples Roman and Medieval-era architecture rubbing elbows with the many shops, restaurants, alfresco cafes, bars and clubs that line this neighborhood's narrow roads and picturesque plazas. And there are so many plazas to explore. Aside from Plaça de la Catedral, which you'll no doubt end up in if you visit the Barcelona Cathedral, make sure you stop in Plaça Reial and the smaller and much quainter Plaça Sant Felip Neri, which was bombed by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War (you can see scars from the attack on the church in the square). The palm tree-clad Plaça Reial is much more energetic and usually buzzes till the wee hours of the morning. Definitely come here to start your night out in Barcelona. Another notable plaza is Plaça Sant Jaume, where the Catalan seat of government has been since the Middle Ages. No matter where you end up in the Gothic Quarter, travelers say its Spanish splendor will leave you charmed long after you leave. 
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#4 Las Ramblas

#4 in Barcelona

Free
This bustling thoroughfare is one of the city's major tourist hubs. So much so that if you're visiting Barcelona, you're bound to end up here eventually. Las Ramblas is a pedestrian-friendly pathway situated right smack dab in the middle of the city, so expect it to be busy all hours of the day and night. During the day, you can peruse souvenir stands, watch buskers and street performers, pick up some local art from artists selling on the street, or sit down and enjoy a light snack at one of the many alfresco cafes found here. When the sun sets, you should head here to start your night out, as many bars and clubs can be found in the surrounding area.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Las Ramblas
This bustling thoroughfare is one of the city's major tourist hubs. So much so that if you're visiting Barcelona, you're bound to end up here eventually. Las Ramblas is a pedestrian-friendly pathway situated right smack dab in the middle of the city, so expect it to be busy all hours of the day and night. During the day, you can peruse souvenir stands, watch buskers and street performers, pick up some local art from artists selling on the street, or sit down and enjoy a light snack at one of the many alfresco cafes found here. When the sun sets, you should head here to start your night out, as many bars and clubs can be found in the surrounding area.
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#5 La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family)

#5 in Barcelona

From 1882 up until his death in 1926, Catalan Art Nouveau master Antoni Gaudí devoted himself to the construction of La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family), a towering Gothic-style-with-a-twist church. And even then, he was unable to finish; Gaudí was known for saying "My client (God) is in no hurry." The church, which is funded by private donations, is still under construction today and is said to be completed by 2026.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family)
From 1882 up until his death in 1926, Catalan Art Nouveau master Antoni Gaudí devoted himself to the construction of La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family), a towering Gothic-style-with-a-twist church. And even then, he was unable to finish; Gaudí was known for saying "My client (God) is in no hurry." The church, which is funded by private donations, is still under construction today and is said to be completed by 2026.
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#6 Casa Batlló

#6 in Barcelona

The details highlighted in Casa Batlló show famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí at his best. Of all the Gaudí apartments in Barcelona, this is probably the most recognized (it's also a UNESCO World Heritage site). Sitting down the street from Casa Milà, Casa Batlló is known for its vibrant colors, intricate tile work and skeletal terraces. The unconventional façade depicts the legend of St. George slaying the dragon to save the princess. The roof in particular depicts the dragon's scaly back while the skeletal balconies and boney windows are said to represent the dragon's previous victims (the legend goes that someone would be sacrificed every day so the dragon wouldn't take the whole town). After you've taken the time to absorb the monstrous amount of detail used on the outside of the building, stop inside to tour the equally eye-catching interiors, including the Noble Floor, which was once home to the Batlló family. With your ticket, you're also able to access the roof to check out Gaudí's admirable mosaic work up close, including those on the dragon's back and the roof's many colorful chimneys. 
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Casa Batlló
The details highlighted in Casa Batlló show famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí at his best. Of all the Gaudí apartments in Barcelona, this is probably the most recognized (it's also a UNESCO World Heritage site). Sitting down the street from Casa Milà, Casa Batlló is known for its vibrant colors, intricate tile work and skeletal terraces. The unconventional façade depicts the legend of St. George slaying the dragon to save the princess. The roof in particular depicts the dragon's scaly back while the skeletal balconies and boney windows are said to represent the dragon's previous victims (the legend goes that someone would be sacrificed every day so the dragon wouldn't take the whole town). After you've taken the time to absorb the monstrous amount of detail used on the outside of the building, stop inside to tour the equally eye-catching interiors, including the Noble Floor, which was once home to the Batlló family. With your ticket, you're also able to access the roof to check out Gaudí's admirable mosaic work up close, including those on the dragon's back and the roof's many colorful chimneys. 
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#7 Camp Nou Stadium

#7 in Barcelona

Even if you're not a fútbol (soccer) fan, Camp Nou is worth a visit to experience the pride Catalans have for the FC Barcelona team. Able to hold nearly 100,000 screaming fans, which can be quite intimidating for visiting teams, Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe. The on-site museum showcases trophies and awards the team has garnered through the years. Interesting and interactive displays invite visitors to learn a little more about the fútbol culture and its impact on the city.  For example, Catalans rallied behind the motto "més que un club" (more than a club) during the oppressive Francisco Franco regime, becoming a symbol of striving for independence. The slogan is even spelled out in giant gold letters among the royal and ruby stadium seats. Depending on which team they're playing, tickets to a game can be expensive (especially for El Classico). However, visitors note that seeing the dedicated fans and watching some of the best soccer players in the world in action is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Camp Nou Stadium
Even if you're not a fútbol (soccer) fan, Camp Nou is worth a visit to experience the pride Catalans have for the FC Barcelona team. Able to hold nearly 100,000 screaming fans, which can be quite intimidating for visiting teams, Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe. The on-site museum showcases trophies and awards the team has garnered through the years. Interesting and interactive displays invite visitors to learn a little more about the fútbol culture and its impact on the city.  For example, Catalans rallied behind the motto "més que un club" (more than a club) during the oppressive Francisco Franco regime, becoming a symbol of striving for independence. The slogan is even spelled out in giant gold letters among the royal and ruby stadium seats. Depending on which team they're playing, tickets to a game can be expensive (especially for El Classico). However, visitors note that seeing the dedicated fans and watching some of the best soccer players in the world in action is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 
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#8 Catedral de Barcelona (Barcelona Cathedral)

#8 in Barcelona

Free
Towering above the center of the Barri Gòtic district is Barcelona's principal cathedral. The Gothic cathedral's construction began in the late 13th century, though it wasn't completed until the mid-15th century. While you're here, make sure to dedicate plenty of time to the numerous examples of artisanship that went into completing this cathedral, from its exterior details to the many gold furnishings within, including the stately altarpiece, part of the Church of Saint Severas as well as 140 statues of saints that call the cathedral home. While you're here make sure to mosey on over to the cloister, which features a verdant tropical garden. 
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Catedral de Barcelona (Barcelona Cathedral)
Towering above the center of the Barri Gòtic district is Barcelona's principal cathedral. The Gothic cathedral's construction began in the late 13th century, though it wasn't completed until the mid-15th century. While you're here, make sure to dedicate plenty of time to the numerous examples of artisanship that went into completing this cathedral, from its exterior details to the many gold furnishings within, including the stately altarpiece, part of the Church of Saint Severas as well as 140 statues of saints that call the cathedral home. While you're here make sure to mosey on over to the cloister, which features a verdant tropical garden. 
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#9 Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum)

#9 in Barcelona

When you feel like you've hit your Gaudí limit, head to the Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso) for a change of pace. While most people know Pablo Picasso for his distorted portraits, this museum displays his work on a timeline of sorts, allowing you to follow his progression from the more controlled works of his early years to the very whimsical paintings and sculptures from the end of his career. Make sure you dedicate plenty of time to Picasso: the museum itself holds several thousand pieces by him, including works from his famous Blue Period. The museum also explores the artist's lifelong relationship with Barcelona, explaining why he chose the city for his museum before he died. 
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum)
When you feel like you've hit your Gaudí limit, head to the Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso) for a change of pace. While most people know Pablo Picasso for his distorted portraits, this museum displays his work on a timeline of sorts, allowing you to follow his progression from the more controlled works of his early years to the very whimsical paintings and sculptures from the end of his career. Make sure you dedicate plenty of time to Picasso: the museum itself holds several thousand pieces by him, including works from his famous Blue Period. The museum also explores the artist's lifelong relationship with Barcelona, explaining why he chose the city for his museum before he died. 
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#10 Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

#10 in Barcelona

The nickname, La Pedrera (meaning "The Quarry") is appropriate for Antoni Gaudí's stately, fortress-like Casa Milà. Bobbing around the corner of Passeig de Gràcia and Carrer de Provença, this eclectic Catalan-style art nouveau building rubs elbows with the more classic architecture usually found in its neighborhood, Eixample. It is known for its wavy stone façades and intricate carvings that can only be attributed to Gaudí's quirky style. Casa Milà was originally constructed as a home for the commissioners of the building (Pere Mila i Camps), who also requested the complex includes apartments be built for rent. Casa Milà was not only Gaudí last work on Passeig de Gracia (Casa Batlló is just a few blocks south) but his last civil work as well. Since then, Casa Milà has been designated as a National Monument of Interest by the Spanish government and a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
The nickname, La Pedrera (meaning "The Quarry") is appropriate for Antoni Gaudí's stately, fortress-like Casa Milà. Bobbing around the corner of Passeig de Gràcia and Carrer de Provença, this eclectic Catalan-style art nouveau building rubs elbows with the more classic architecture usually found in its neighborhood, Eixample. It is known for its wavy stone façades and intricate carvings that can only be attributed to Gaudí's quirky style. Casa Milà was originally constructed as a home for the commissioners of the building (Pere Mila i Camps), who also requested the complex includes apartments be built for rent. Casa Milà was not only Gaudí last work on Passeig de Gracia (Casa Batlló is just a few blocks south) but his last civil work as well. Since then, Casa Milà has been designated as a National Monument of Interest by the Spanish government and a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
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#11 Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)

#11 in Barcelona

Barcelona's Palau de la Música Catalana is considered to be a masterpiece of Catalan art nouveau. Built by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the palace earned the title of a UNESCO World Heritage site for its striking architectural features. Outside, make sure to snap a few photos of the intricate mosaic pillars and the busts nestled atop some of them, which depict famous musicians such as Bach and Beethoven. The interior of the palace is even more of an eyeful, complete with mosaic pillars and intricate sculpture work of its own as well as stained glass windows and beautiful motifs of flowers spread throughout. And you won't be able to miss the massive stained glass central skylight — it protrudes from the ceiling, treating the concert auditorium to plenty of natural light. Aesthetics aside, the Palace of Catalan Music is a hub for symphonic and choral music and of course, Catalan musical arts. It also acts as a concert venue for local, national and international acts.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
 Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)
Barcelona's Palau de la Música Catalana is considered to be a masterpiece of Catalan art nouveau. Built by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the palace earned the title of a UNESCO World Heritage site for its striking architectural features. Outside, make sure to snap a few photos of the intricate mosaic pillars and the busts nestled atop some of them, which depict famous musicians such as Bach and Beethoven. The interior of the palace is even more of an eyeful, complete with mosaic pillars and intricate sculpture work of its own as well as stained glass windows and beautiful motifs of flowers spread throughout. And you won't be able to miss the massive stained glass central skylight — it protrudes from the ceiling, treating the concert auditorium to plenty of natural light. Aesthetics aside, the Palace of Catalan Music is a hub for symphonic and choral music and of course, Catalan musical arts. It also acts as a concert venue for local, national and international acts.
... more

#12 Montjuïc Castle

#12 in Barcelona

If you have even the slightest interest in history, make sure to add Montjuïc Castle to your Barcelona itinerary. While it may not be as fun as admiring Gaudi's whimsical works, the stone structure is teeming with history dating all the way back to the 11th century. The castle started out as a single watchtower that was occupied by a sailor looking out for enemy ships. During the Revolt of Catalonia during the mid 1600s, the government decided to add walls surrounding the watch tower when the threat of invasion from Spanish King Philip IV's fleet became imminent. Montjuïc Castle ended up defending the city from many attacks moving forward, including those carried out during the War of the Spanish Succession. It also served as a prison during the War of the Pyrenees and was occupied by Napolean's troops in the early 1800s.
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Castles/Palaces Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Montjuïc Castle
If you have even the slightest interest in history, make sure to add Montjuïc Castle to your Barcelona itinerary. While it may not be as fun as admiring Gaudi's whimsical works, the stone structure is teeming with history dating all the way back to the 11th century. The castle started out as a single watchtower that was occupied by a sailor looking out for enemy ships. During the Revolt of Catalonia during the mid 1600s, the government decided to add walls surrounding the watch tower when the threat of invasion from Spanish King Philip IV's fleet became imminent. Montjuïc Castle ended up defending the city from many attacks moving forward, including those carried out during the War of the Spanish Succession. It also served as a prison during the War of the Pyrenees and was occupied by Napolean's troops in the early 1800s.
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#13 La Barceloneta Beach

#13 in Barcelona

Free
In between all the cultural and artistic attractions Barcelona has up its sleeves, it's easy to forget that the city is situated right along the brilliantly blue waters of the Mediterranean. The city's largest stretch of sand is broken up into two beaches; La Barceloneta and Platja de la Nova Icària. Both are separated by the Port Olímpic harbor, easily recognized by the two seafront skyscrapers and giant golden fish sculpture, El Peix. La Barceloneta is the more visited of the two, known for its lively atmosphere on both the sand (vendors walk around selling everything from mojitos to on-the-spot massages) and the beachfront promenade (there are cafes and bars situated on the beach throughout). The beach features loads of amenities on-site including bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, umbrellas, lounge chairs, sports courts such as volleyball and beach tennis and more. 
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
La Barceloneta Beach
In between all the cultural and artistic attractions Barcelona has up its sleeves, it's easy to forget that the city is situated right along the brilliantly blue waters of the Mediterranean. The city's largest stretch of sand is broken up into two beaches; La Barceloneta and Platja de la Nova Icària. Both are separated by the Port Olímpic harbor, easily recognized by the two seafront skyscrapers and giant golden fish sculpture, El Peix. La Barceloneta is the more visited of the two, known for its lively atmosphere on both the sand (vendors walk around selling everything from mojitos to on-the-spot massages) and the beachfront promenade (there are cafes and bars situated on the beach throughout). The beach features loads of amenities on-site including bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, umbrellas, lounge chairs, sports courts such as volleyball and beach tennis and more. 
... more

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