Let me tell you a secret. I love Barcelona. This Catalonian city full of Spanish vibes with direct access to the beach is my favourite city in the world. I love everything about Barcelona, from the variety of food, cosy cafés, relaxing on Playa de Barceloneta to its evening chills and moods. There is something for everybody. For students seeking their University exchange programs, for couples looking for a romantic getaway, to families with kids and those who just want to enjoy some architecture and history. Are you ready to explore the Best Things to do in Barcelona with me?
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The Boardwalk around Playa de Barceloneta
With the ocean and sandy beach on one side and various shops, cafés, restaurants and cocktail bars on the other, the boardwalk is definitely one of the best things to do in Barcelona. The beach is stretched over one kilometre, offering great exercise for everyone who loves ball games, or chilling under the sun. There are many places to rent a bike and explore this Spanish city the way you want it.
Good to know: Tip: If you are coming during the busy season, this favourite beach in Barcelona gets very busy.
Try tapas and sangria in hidden bars or rooftop bars with a view
If you never had tapas or sangria in your life, Barcelona is the best place to start. With so many hidden spots offering authentic Spanish cuisine and drinks, you simply can’t go wrong. Unless you have too many sangrias… but there is no such thing! Plus, if you are a sucker for views, you get one of the best combinations Barcelona has to offer. La Terrassa De Les Indianes is missed by most tourists, but famous with the locals, show casting breath-taking views of the harbour and mountains on the horizon. It is a great choice for that afternoon tapas or an evening sangria.
Visit La Sagrada Família
You can’t visit Barcelona and not see the most iconic place there. Designed by Catalan Antony Gaudi back in 1852 and now part of UNESCO World Heritage Site guarantees that this church is always busy and full of tourist. I personally haven’t been inside but heard its an exquisite masterpiece, so I do recommend to book tickets in advance. This applies to pretty much everywhere you go in Barcelona if you don’t want to miss things and your time there is limited.
Have an ice cream in the Park De La Ciutadella
Without a doubt, Parc de la Ciutadella is one of my most favourite parts of Barcelona. Full of green scenery, mandarin trees, picnic places and benches to sit down and let the time pass by, it is a great escape from all those busy tourist attractions. Interested in outdoor yoga classes? Not a problem! In the summer you can rent a paddleboat on the pond or cool down with ice cream on a hot day!
Safety tip: As you probably heard, Barcelona is full of pickpockets. I went twice and never had any problems (touch wood). You have to be conscious around your surroundings, don’t wear a backpack in busy places like Las Ramblas, make sure your purse and expensive items are somewhere where you can reach for them, e.g., hidden pocket in a jacket or a fanny bag.
Go back in time in the Gothic Quarter
If you want to get lost in a historic part of Barcelona, look no further than the Gothic Quarter. It used to be a Roman village, and it still has the beautiful remains and its spirit hidden within these old walls. Nowadays it is a mix of old and new and is one of the most popular places when staying in Barcelona. The old town, or Gothic Quarter as you like, has got plenty of cafes, bars, shops and restaurants and hidden squares around. You just need to find your way through this concrete maze. Gothic Quarter gets very busy during the day so I suggest exploring this part of Barcelona early morning.
Cable Cars: Port Cable cars and Teleferic de Montjuïc
What about seeing Barcelona from a different perspective? All those dormant boats and yachts in the harbour, people moving around like ants in their nest? You can either jump inside the Port Cable Car or climb all the way to Castell de Montjuïc and then take a ride on top of the hill by Telefèric de Montjuïc.
Good to know: : Don’t confuse the Port Cable Car with the Castell de Mountjuic aka Telefèric de Montjuïc, which is located at the top of the Castle and takes you even higher. You will also need two separate tickets to be able to ride them both.
Telefèric de Montjuïc is a modern cable car while Port Cable Cars are a little bit outdated. Nevertheless, they both offer a breath-taking view of Barcelona.
Visit Castell de Montjuïc
Built-in 1640 as a military fortress, Barcelona castle is now a municipal facility spread across the top of Montjuïc Hill. A year after the Castle was built, it already faced its first battle. In 1694 the fortress was repaired and turned into a castle.
The Castle is a tourist attraction which you don’t want to miss, not only offering a piece of history but also gorgeous views of the harbour and the city; and in warm summer evenings the open-air cinema ‘Cinema a la Fresca’ takes place on the castle grounds.
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Strolling through Las Ramblas
The most famous street in Barcelona. Lined by trees, filled with local markets, scammers, artists, street performances and also – thieves. Alongside the street is plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to buy anything from tacky t-shirts, mobile cases, camera gear to some knock-off stuff (Signs are warning you not to buy from some people). Keep your belongings close to yourself and watch out for dodgy people or purposely made fights to avoid a big disappointment. This place is chronically overcrowded during the day, and when the darkness sets in and the streets are emptier, local prostitutes offer the trade.
Visit local La Boqueria Market
La Boqueria Market has been in Barcelona since medieval times, but this exact trading spot has been used for the past 200 years. If you love local food, fresh fruit and vegetables, the hustle-bustle of any market, this might the place for you. It is also the perfect place to grab all the essentials you need for a picnic on the beach or in the Ciutadella Park.
Walk under the Arc De Triomf
Fun fact: Arc de Triomf was built in 1888 as a gateway to the Universal Exhibition held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. Since then it became one of Barcelona’s iconic landmarks.
You don’t have to be a child to enjoy Tibidabo
But I mean, who doesn’t like amusements park? What’s even better is this one comes with a breath-taking view of the entire Barcelona. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to the park for the view if you don’t want to (but I suggest you do); you can skip the amusement park and visit Temple de Sagrat Cor instead. It is a church built on top of the Tibidabo back in 1806 with a bronze statue of Jesus. Entrance is free, you only have to pay for the lift on top of it and please your eyes and heart with a view from 575 metres above sea level.
Watch the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The fountain was designed back in 1929, restored for the Olympic Games in 1992 and since then is one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona. The fountain lights up with every colour of the rainbow and plays music – so if you are visiting Barcelona, make sure you see this show of lights and music. It is a perfect way to end your day in Barcelona!
Visit Casa Milà
Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera, is that weird-looking building you probably saw on all those Pinterest images from Barcelona. It was completed back in 1912 and yes, it is another Gaudi’s masterpiece visited by thousands of tourists every year. Book your tickets and skip the line!
Visit Park Güell (but be prepared for a disappointment)
As much as I love Barcelona, I’m not a big fan of Park Güell. The view is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, and the Gaudí’s architecture looks like it is from another world, but this Park gets so busy that it takes away all that enjoyment. You have to book tickets in advance.
Visit the Monastery of Pedralbes
It is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings of the Catalan Gothic. It is now a museum of its own art.
Watch my weekend in Barcelona on my Vlog:
Where to stay in Barcelona?
I’ve stayed in both hotels and enjoyed them both. The rooms are spacious and clean with beautiful interiors. It is all down to where in Barcelona you want to stay.
Sallés Hotel Pere IV
Location: Pallars, 128-130, Sant Martí, 08018 Barcelona, Spain
Hotel/Price: 4* Hotel/ £££
Breakfast included: Optional
Hotel Ciutadella Barcelona
Location: Near the Park de la Ciutadella
Hotel/Price: 4* Hotel/£££
Breakfast included: Optional
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