The Best Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain

The 15 Best Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

Hugging the northeastern coastline of Spain, Barcelona is a captivating city that really does have it all. From golden sandy beaches, world-class museums, and excellent shopping avenues to unbelievable architecture, high-octane festivals, and a delicious foodie scene, Barcelona’s an excellent vacation choice, whatever you’re into!

In spring and summer, Barcelona is the place to go if you want to balance sunbathing and watersports with art gallery hopping and farmers’ market shopping. The weather is perfect for spending long balmy evenings outdoors planning what you’ll do tomorrow.

Visit in fall or winter, and you’ll see a totally different side of the city. The streets are lined with roasted chestnut sellers, chocolate museums offering mugs of hot cocoa, and temporary ice skating rinks covered in twinkling lights. Whenever you decide to visit, you’ll be spoiled for choice with things to do in Barcelona.

With such a huge selection of things to see and do, it might seem impossible to know where to begin. To help make your vacation planning a little easier, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Barcelona. Add these Barcelona activities to your travel bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time discovering one of Europe’s most spectacular cities!

15 cool and unique things to do in Barcelona

1. Take a Million Photos at the Sagrada Familia

Cool Things to do in Barcelona: Sagrada Familia

Visiting the Sagrada Familia is one of the coolest things to do in Barcelona. This emblematic basilica was designed by Gaudi in 1882 and is still under construction today! The reason the building is taking so long is that the basilica is so incredibly intricate, with tiny details all over the place.

The outside of the Sagrada Familia is truly spectacular, featuring several spires that reach 560 feet into the sky. It represents Jesus’ life and the history of faith through depictions of important biblical figures that are almost too detailed to believe. Step inside the Sagrada Familia, and it gets even better!

The basilica’s interior features towering bone-like columns and gorgeous stained-glass windows, which look remarkable when the sun is shining. You could spend hours here and still feel like you haven’t had time to take in all its beauty. The Sagrada Familia really is unlike any other church you’ve ever seen and will leave you filling up your phone’s memory with all the photos you’ll be taking.

Buy a Ticket and Skip the Line

2. Fall in Love with Seafood Paella

Must do things in Barcelona: Seafood Paella

There are many different types of paella to try throughout Spain. But many argue that the finest seafood paella can be found in Barcelona. The city’s dazzling coastline, with picture-perfect sands and glittering azure waters, is the perfect place to dig into the Catalonian delicacy.

Pez Vela is a fantastic place to savor the classic rice dish. Located right on the shore, facing Barceloneta Beach, this casual beach restaurant is perfectly positioned so you can enjoy your meal while the sea breeze gently blows through the air. The seafood paella is loaded with the freshest seafood you’ll find, caught that very morning.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can still dig into an amazing paella in Barcelona. It might not be on the seafront, but Cruix Restaurant is a spectacular award-winning restaurant and does an incredible vegan paella loaded with veggies. There’s also a fantastic wine list loaded with everything from classic reds and whites to local cavas and even orange wine!

3. Wander along La Rambla

What to do in Barcelona: La Rambla

La Rambla is one of the best places to go for Barcelona sightseeing. Although walking along a street might not sound that exciting, your opinion will definitely change after you take your first few steps!

La Rambla (sometimes called Las Ramblas) is the main street that runs through the center of the city. It’s lined with all the types of things you’d expect to find on a city’s main street (shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants), as well as many surprises which make this place so special.

You’ll stumble across street stalls selling fresh flowers and handmade trinkets, street performers displaying tricks so fantastic you’ll swear it’s magic, and mosaic artwork that seem too beautiful to step on. If you’ve got time to spare, stop at one of the many cute cafes for a cafe con leche – a mug of thick, frothy milk with a shot of espresso. It’s a great way to people watch while soaking up the atmosphere of Barcelona’s most iconic street.

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4. Become a Picasso Fan at Museu Picasso

Cool Things to do in Barcelona: Museu Picasso

Barcelona is filled with awesome art galleries, and one of the best is Museu Picasso. A great place whether you’re a huge fan of Picasso or you’ve never even heard of him, this art gallery boasts more than 3,500 works of art by the world-famous artist, making it home to one of the largest Picasso collections in the world!

The displays are spread out across five Gothic palaces. Most areas have been completely renovated, so they can best show off the artwork. But some have been kept exactly as they were in the 19th century, giving you a great idea of how Barcelona’s wealthiest families used to live. 

In addition to the permanent exhibitions – which include Man in a Beret, Science and Charity, and the Divan – Museu Picasso also often houses temporary exhibitions. Although you have to pay a little extra to access the temporary section, we’ve found it’s usually worth it, especially if you’re a fan of Picasso. The transitory displays show off lesser-known pieces from Picasso, most of which you’ve probably never seen before and will never see again.

Skip the Line and Take a Tour

5. Feel Like a Kid Again at Cavalcada dels Reis

What to do in Barcelona: Cavalcada dels Reis

If you’re visiting at the beginning of January, you’ve got to add Cavalcada dels Reis to your Barcelona bucket list. January 6 is the day of the main holiday celebration throughout Spain when the three kings bring presents to the local children. The evening before, Cavalcada dels Reis takes place throughout the city center.

On January 5, thousands of families flock to the center of Barcelona and line the streets. As the sun sets, the larger-than-life parade kicks off. All kinds of performers – acrobats, musicians, magicians, guards on horseback, and famous cartoon characters – march throughout the streets.

The highlight is the three kings who make a grand entrance on a boat in Barcelona’s port. From there, they board spectacular floats and ride throughout the streets, showering everyone watching with candy and small gifts. Look out for little kids handing their Christmas wish lists to their favorite kings – it’s a really sweet thing to see!

6. Treat Your Sweet Tooth at Museu de la Xocolata

Think you don’t like museums? Museu de la Xocolata will change your mind! A chocolate lover’s dream, this decadent museum is an excellent place to learn all about chocolate, whether you want to know more about its history or you want to find out how to make it.

While the displays are really interesting (you won’t believe the many different ways chocolate was used!), the most fascinating parts of the museum are the chocolate displays. There are wonderfully detailed models of cartoon characters, the Sagrada Familia, horse-drawn chariots, and famous sculptures – all made entirely out of chocolate!

If you like getting involved, we recommend signing up for one of the workshops. If you’ve got little ones with you, you can try painting with chocolate or making lollipops. 

For something a bit more challenging, there are more intense chocolate courses where you can make gourmet chocolate gifts. There’s also a tasting experience that combines chocolate with various brandies or cavas.

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7. Get Lost in Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Best Things to do in Barcelona: Parc del Laberint d’Horta

For one of the most unique things to do in Barcelona, head to Parc del Laberint d’Horta. The oldest conserved garden in the city, this park is a blend of the original 18th-century Neoclassical Italian garden it started out as and the 19th-century Romantic garden style it later adopted.

Parc del Laberint d’Horta is a beautiful place for a stroll. Spend enough time exploring, and you’ll discover a castle, Greek mythology sculptures, ponds full of fish, rippling streams, and a classical pavilion, among many other hidden treats. There are flowers, plants, and trees from all over the world scattered throughout the park, too.

The highlight of the park is certainly the maze. The entrance is marked by two Greek statues standing next to giant hedge walls made from cypress trees. With plenty of red herrings and dead ends, the maze is pretty challenging but fun! If you manage to get to the center, you’ll be rewarded with a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love.

8. Try a Little Bit of Everything at La Boqueria

Unique Things to do in Barcelona: La Boqueria

When you’re feeling hungry, one of the must-do things in Barcelona is to head to La Boqueria. This huge market has served families throughout the city since 1836, providing them with everything they need to make the most amazingly delicious, healthy, and wholesome meals at home.

If your accommodation includes a kitchen, La Boqueria is an amazing place to grab some top-quality ingredients. From incredible spices, garden-fresh herbs, locally-sourced meat, and organic produce to handmade candy, dry-aged charcuterie, savory olives, and beautifully cured cheeses, you’ll find everything you need to make restaurant-quality meals.

But if you don’t feel like cooking or you can’t wait a second longer, La Boqueria is also an amazing place to eat. There’s a vast selection of stalls to choose from selling iconic Catalonian dishes such as fried eggs with baby squid, blood sausage with garbanzo beans, and salted Padrón peppers. You’ll also come across tons of stalls selling locally-produced wines and cavas.

9. Feel Inspired at Parc Guell

Must do things in Barcelona: Parc Guell

Parc Guell is a park that’s so magical that you’ll think you’ve stepped into the pages of a fairytale. Designed by Gaudi and completed in 1914, this park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is loaded with photo opportunities.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can see tons of the park for free. From a bird’s-eye view of the iconic gingerbread houses flanking one of the entrances to the emblematic mosaic staircase decorated with a smiling salamander, the most whimsical parts of the park are available for everyone to enjoy. There are also several walking trails throughout the park, which are free to follow and take you to secret sections where you’ll find amazing views and even more Gaudi masterpieces.

The monumental zone is the part of the park you need to pay to enter. Here you can see more examples of Gaudi’s work, as well as close-up views of the gingerbread houses, staircase, and salamander.

Buy an Admission Ticket

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10. Find the Best View of the City at the Tibidabo Amusement Park

Best Things to do in Barcelona: Tibidabo Amusement Park

For the best views of Barcelona, ride the funicular from the main station (Plaça Doctor Andreu) to the top of the hill and get off at the Tibidabo Amusement Park. This small, family-friendly attraction features a giant Ferris wheel from which you can see all across Barcelona and out to the sea.

Even if you decide not to go inside the park, you can still get amazing shots from being so high up. As an added bonus, by not riding the Ferris wheel, you can get the Ferris wheel in your pictures and wow your followers on Instagram. But if you do have some time to spare, we do recommend you head into the park.

With a range of exciting attractions to enjoy, the Tibidabo Amusement Park is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Barcelona, especially if you’ve got kids. From classic amusement park rides like merry-go-rounds, bumper cars, log flumes, and pirate ships to more modern rides, including 4D cinemas, robotics rooms, interactive water fountains, and shows that invite you to be the star, this park has got it all!

11. Start Your Day Off with Pa amb Tomàquet

Barcelona Bucket List: Pa amb Tomàquet

One of the top things to do in Barcelona if you want to experience life like a local is to have Pa amb Tomàquet for breakfast. This iconic Catalonian dish can be found in practically every cafe in the city and is best enjoyed with a cafe con leche and a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice. 

The recipe is super simple, so if you prefer, you can make your own Pa amb Tomàquet in your hotel. The dish literally translates as “Bread with Tomato,” and that’s exactly what it is – slices of lightly toasted baguette sprinkled with salt, rubbed with a slice of fresh tomato, and drizzled with olive oil.

It sounds basic, but when made using top-quality ingredients, the result is sublime. It’s pretty healthy, too, and gives you enough energy to explore the city without filling you up too much. It’s a great choice if you want to enjoy all the other culinary delights Barcelona has to offer.

12. Get Hands On at CosmoCaixa

What to do in Barcelona: CosmoCaixa

Looking for fun things to do in Barcelona that are also educational? You can’t beat CosmoCaixa. The best science museum in the city, CosmoCaixa is bursting with interactive exhibits that invite you to really get hands-on and have fun learning.

The focal point of the museum is the Universe Gallery, where you can discover everything about the cosmos from the big bang right up until today. But what sticks in our minds most is the Flooded Forest. 

This section of the museum is set inside a humid glass greenhouse and is designed to recreate the Amazon’s ecosystem. With crocodiles, capybaras, piranhas, and more plants than we could count, this exhibit really felt like we were in the jungle!

You can easily spend the day here for less than the change in your pocket, making it an incredible value-for-money day out. There are usually several temporary exhibits going on at once, giving you even more reasons to go.

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13. See Giant Human Towers at Festes de la Merce

Cool Things to do in Barcelona: Festes de la Merce

Festes de la Merce is one of the coolest, most bizarre festivals in Barcelona. Held each year in September, the festival spans several days and includes more than 500 cultural attractions, from street art festivals, music concerts, and guided tours to sports competitions, movie screenings, and treasure hunts.

Out of everything going on, our favorite part of Festes de la Merce was seeing people try and build the biggest human tower. These towers can be six or more people high and are definitely not for the faint-hearted! You won’t believe how high people can get without any support at all.

Another quirky part of the festival that’s worth seeking out is the fire run. This is a parade where people dress up as devils and run through the streets with firecrackers. 

People are divided into teams and each team “gives birth” to a fire-carrying monster hidden in the center. The devils and monsters are followed by drummers, who add to the creepy atmosphere. The whole thing is so unusual, yet so cool at the same time!

14. Row Across the Lake in Parc de la Ciutadella

Barcelona Bucket List: Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella is one of the most popular Barcelona attractions, and one of the best things to do there is rent a small wood boat and row across the lake. If you’re traveling with kids, bring some food to feed the fish and birds. For something a bit more romantic, take a bottle of wine and some Catalonian charcuterie to enjoy while you row.

The lake is just one small part of the huge space that is Parc de la Ciutadella. There are loads of other things to see and do here. From a zoo, geological museums, and tropical plant house to a modern art museum, the Catalan Parliament building, and a handful of cafes, Parc de la Ciutadella includes so much that you could easily spend a full day here.

As well as all these interesting attractions, the park also has all the usual things you’d expect to find. There are plenty of grassy areas for picnics, walking trails that lead to hidden statues, and shaded benches where you can relax and take a break from sightseeing.

15. Have a Siesta at Barceloneta Beach

Barcelona Things to do: Barceloneta Beach

You can’t visit Barcelona in the summer without spending an afternoon at Barceloneta Beach. This gorgeous shoreline is made up of super-soft golden sand and blissfully calm aquamarine waters that are the perfect temperature for swimming.

If you’ve tired yourself out of seeing everything Barcelona has to offer, this beach is the perfect place to take a step back and enjoy a little nap in the sunshine. But if you don’t want to waste a second of your vacation, there are plenty of things to do at this beach, too.

You can have a go at all kinds of watersports, from snorkeling and scuba diving to sailing and standup paddleboarding. There are kids’ play areas located along the sandy shore, as well as a few statues and art pieces. When you get hungry, head to one of the wood huts located directly on the beach, where you can indulge in an ice-cold beer and fresh seafood.

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Barcelona. What’s your favorite thing to do in Barcelona? 

Planning a trip to Spain? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!

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