There is no shortage of things to do in Barcelona. Open any travel guide and you’ll find a dozen suggestions for one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.
As one of the biggest metropolises in the region, Barcelona has something for everyone. You can spend your time visiting historic sites or finding modern day excitement at an amusement park. There are numerous high end shopping malls and eclectic flea markets – or you could check out a thrilling FC Barcelona football match.
Not sure where to start your sightseeing adventure? Just follow the recommendations in this guide to the best Barcelona attractions…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Barcelona: Top attractions & best places to visit
- Watch street performers and load up on caffeine on La Rambla
- View Gaudi’s masterpiece in La Sagrada Familia
- View the city from the top of the Barcelona Cathedral
- Learn about the life and work of Picasso at the Picasso Museum
- Walk along the sand with thousands of tourists at La Barceloneta Beach
- Fill up on desserts, wine, and cheeses at Boqueria Market
- Cheer along with 100,000 fans at Camp Nou Stadium
- Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Barcelona
What to do in Barcelona: Top attractions & best places to visit
It’s easy to spend your time looking up at the unique architecture found throughout the city, but you’ll miss out on some of the other sites. If you truly want to experience the best parts of the city, make sure that you check out these top things to see in Barcelona.
Watch street performers and load up on caffeine on La Rambla
If you’re not sure what to do in Barcelona, start with a walk along La Rambla. La Rambla is the main thoroughfare that takes tourists from the port area, through the centre of the city, and to some of the most important landmarks in the city.
This pedestrian roadway has become a major attraction. As it’s always full of tourists, La Rambla attracts a wide range of locals looking to feed, and entertain visitors.
You’ll find street performers, artists, merchants, and food vendors along the entire stretch of La Rambla. Walking this thoroughfare is a great way to experience Barcelona.
View Gaudi’s masterpiece in La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is a neighbourhood just north of the centre of the city. It’s named after one of the most famous works by important local architects, Antoni Gaudi.
When it comes to Barcelona sightseeing, you’ll need to view at least one building designed by Gaudi and La Sagrada Familia (The Church of the Sacred Family) is considered his masterpiece.
The Gothic-style church was his focus until he died in 1926. Nearly 100 years later, the building is still not quite complete. In fact, it’s expected to be completed exactly 100 years after Gaudi’s death.
The building is open to the public and features a combination of unconventional design elements and traditional details. Like most buildings designed by Gaudi, the Church of the Sacred Family is a one-of-a-kind structure.
View the city from the top of the Barcelona Cathedral
The Barcelona Cathedral is one of the most popular Barcelona attractions and a must-see whether you have 24 hours in Barcelona or manage to carve out a couple days. It’s located in the centre of the Gothic Quarter and the main cathedral in the city.
Construction on the cathedral started in the 13th century and wasn’t completed until about 200 years later. The impressive cathedral is a great example of the gothic architecture that you’ll find throughout Barcelona. It’s also got a tall tower that extends above the Gothic Quarter.
If you visit the cathedral, you can take a trip to the top of the tower and get an amazing view of the city. While the tower doesn’t provide a full 360-degree experience, you can still see some of the most prominent sights in the city.
Keep in mind that taking a tour of the tower costs extra. On top of the entry fee for the cathedral, you’ll need to pay several Euros to venture to the top.
Learn about the life and work of Picasso at the Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum is one of the best-curated collections of Pablo Picasso’s artwork.
Most people are familiar with the abstract paintings by Picasso. You may not realize that he did plenty of other work. His early years included more less abstract, more traditional paintings (including works from what are known as his Blue and Rose periods). He also created sculptures. You’ll also be sure to see many of his more famous “cubist” style paintings that became his signature.
Instead of simply showcasing the more recognizable styles of Picasso’s painting, the museum offers visitors a chance to see how Picasso’s style evolved over the years. The art is presented in chronological order, showing various stages of his career.
This is one of many spots that tend to get crowded during busy tourist seasons. You may want to get your tickets online if you’re worried about getting in.
Walk along the sand with thousands of tourists at La Barceloneta Beach
If you run out of ideas for where to go in Barcelona, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the beach. La Barceloneta Beach offers up the largest stretch of sand in the city.
The beachfront promenade includes numerous bars and cafes. You’ll also come across vendors selling just about everything – from mojitos to massages. It’s an interesting, lively destination that attracts millions of tourists each year.
Keep in mind that the place fills up quickly. On a hot day, expect the entire sandy beach to be covered with locals and tourists alike.
If you want a prime spot, you’ll need to arrive early and stake your claim with an umbrella and lounge chair.
Fill up on desserts, wine, and cheeses at Boqueria Market
Boqueria Market is one of the best places to visit in Barcelona, thanks to the variety of treats and snacks that you can find here.
The history of this market goes back to the 13th century when food vendors would sell their goods to locals. The modern market was established in the 1800s, and is now a covered marketplace with a wide selection of options to please foodies.
You can source local specialties, including manchego cheese, or find wine, fruit juices, fresh fish, and all types of produce. It’s a major market for both tourists and locals.
Besides the food and produce stalls, the market includes numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars. It’s also right off La Rambla, making it an easy place to stop at if you’re out exploring the city.
Cheer along with 100,000 fans at Camp Nou Stadium
Camp Nou Stadium is one of the most important Barcelona points of interest for football (soccer) fans. Catalans are devoted to their local football club – FC Barcelona.
The stadium can hold up to 100,000 fans and often gets close to capacity during home matches. It’s also an important part of Barcelona’s history. During the Francisco Franco regime, citizens used football as a symbol of independence.
You don’t need to visit during a home game to explore the stadium. Tickets to tour the stadium are available throughout the year. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium and stop for souvenirs at the gift shops.
Like many popular tourist attractions, tickets sell out quickly. If you plan on visiting Camp Nou during peak tourist season, you should purchase your tickets online in advance.
Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Barcelona
For most travellers, the best areas to stay in Barcelona float within the city centre, particularly the areas around Ciutat Vella, the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, and Eixample. Here are a few ideas to start your Barcelona accommodations search…
- Hotel Cantón: A budget-friendly hotel in Ciutat Vella with simple rooms that’ll fit the bill for your Barcelona sightseeing itinerary without complete breaking the bank.
- Room Mate Anna: A boutique hotel featuring a uniquely funky design that’s quite out of the ordinary among hotels in Barcelona. Upgrade to a deluxe room to enjoy views of Casa Batlló from your private balcony. The city views from the seasonal rooftop pool are equally spectacular.
- Hotel Casa Camper: Another boutique hotel that charms with colourful modern rooms. Boqueria Market is located five minutes away by foot.
- El Palace Barcelona: A top luxury pick that’s among the best 5-star hotels in Barcelona. Many of the city’s top tourist attractions are within walking distance. Be sure to carve out some time to relax in the hotel’s Mayan-style spa and rooftop pool.