What to do in Barcelona: 10 Unmissable Sights in Catalonia’s Capital

Explore beaches and basilicas in this Spanish seaside city

A Mediterranean coastline, vibrant nightlife and melt-in-the-mouth tapas – Barcelona really does have it all and it doesn’t skimp on culture either. This Catalonian capital was once home to big names like Antoni Gaudí and Pablo Picasso, who literally left their mark on the city. Take an amble from the old Barri Gòtic neighbourhood to the unmissable (and yet unfinished) Sagrada Familia church, and don’t forget to try some sangria along the way. Here’s our pick of Barcelona’s must-try experiences, from bar hopping to yachting:

1. Check in on construction at the Sagrada Familia

You won’t find an article on Barcelona without a mention of the city’s as-yet-unfinished icon, the Sagrada Familia. Artist Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece may be just three-quarters complete but its towers already dominate Barcelona’s skyline. This basilica is famous for its rainbow-coloured stained glass windows, distinctive spiked facade and offbeat symbols (look out for the tortoises and turtles!).

It can be busy, so you might want to skip the queue by booking a fast-track Sagrada Familia guided tour. You’ll also get exclusive access to the Passion Facade tower with far-reaching views over the city’s neatly clustered neighbourhoods.


2. Discover artist Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical world

You can spot more of Gaudí’s offbeat Catalan Modernism all over the city. The best-known sight is Park Güell, a weird and wonderful collection of buildings with quirky curved lines and bright mosaics. Look out for the multicoloured, gargoyle-esque El Drac Salamander statue. You’ll also find the collonaded Sala Hipóstila and the wavy Serpentine Benches at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.


3. Make your way to Montserrat for memorable views

This mighty mountain towers above Barcelona and has views that stretch over the glittering Mediterranean Sea. For a fuss-free visit to this designated natural park, book a Montserrat half-day tour. You’ll be whisked uphill via air-conditioned bus, passing boulders in quirky shapes. A little culture’s thrown into the mix, with a stop at the 1,000-year-old Basílica de Montserrat, home to the Black Virgin patron saint of Catalonia.


4. Dance till dawn in the clubs and bars of El Born

The nightlife in Barcelona is nothing short of epic and El Born is one of the neighbourhoods leading the charge. This swish area of the Old Town brims with high-end bars. Head here for ice-cold Estrella beers before ending your evening at the famous beachside clubs in Port Olímpic. Or wind things down in a buzzing cocktail bar in El Raval.

You can go from bar to bar easily using public transport. Travel by metro, bus, train and tram by getting yourself a Barcelona City Card & Express Card. It’ll also give you discounts or free entry to lots of the city’s attractions and is valid on the airport train too.


5. Get a glimpse of the grand architecture in the Gothic Quarter

We love the bustling Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) for its narrow streets full of independent cafés, cute boutiques and atmospheric bistros. Barcelona’s most convivial neighbourhood is also known for its stately architecture. Sign up for a Old Town walking tour to learn about the area’s historic buildings. Your guide will give you the lowdown on the crumbling Roman walls, Plaça del Rei square’s medieval houses and the Gothic Barcelona Cathedral.


6. Soak up the seaside vibes at urban beaches

It takes about an hour to stroll along Barcelona’s main seafront from Barceloneta beach to Diagonal Mar. Stop at buzzing Sant Sebastià beach, popular with the locals, or get more room to spread out your towel at Port Olímpic. Platja de Llevant is right in front of the huge new Diagonal Mar mall – handy for a spot of shopping after you’ve soaked in the sunshine!

See the city beaches from the water with a sunset sailing experience on a 12-metre yacht. You’ll glide around the Old Harbour while sipping local wine and sparkling Cava.


7. Live the dream at FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou

Footie fan? Make a beeline for FC Barcelona’s iconic football stadium with a tour of Camp Nou and its museum. Even if you’re not a devout supporter, we reckon you’ll still get a kick out of standing on the famous pitch. Learn all about “Barça” in the audiovisual multimedia area that brings the story of this La Liga and Champions League-winning team to life.

Don’t forget to drop by the FC Barcelona Official Store at Carrer de Jaume I:

8. Go for a ramble along the famous La Rambla

La Rambla is a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard and one of the city’s most popular places. It’s full of life, thrumming with both locals and tourists. Visitors come here to see street entertainers such as the eerily convincing living statues and to browse the lively stalls at La Boqueria market.

It’s also a great place to shop, with stores like the iconic Spanish fashion brand Zara and the famous department store El Corte Inglés both near the Plaça Catalunya end. Get some retail therapy with a guide who’ll show you the hottest spots in town on a shopping experience and Old Town tour.

9. Flock to Museu Picasso with the other culture vultures

Gaudí’s not the only world-class artist with links to Barcelona. At the Museu Picasso, you can check out the mind-boggling works of – you guessed it – Pablo Picasso himself. This local landmark displays a whopping 4,251 pieces by the painter. In fact, it’s one of the most complete permanent collections of any artist ever.

Use the Barcelona sightseeing hop-on, hop-off bus to get dropped right next to the museum. There are three routes to choose from and the bus stops at many of the city’s best attractions.


Tip: Head up to the open-top deck for super snaps to add to your Insta-story with the free Wi-Fi on board!

10. Hop in a helicopter for panoramas over the city

While the bus is a great way to see the city, we reckon heading sky-high in a helicopter might just pip it to the post! Wrap up a memorable stay with a scenic flight over the city’s spires. The Barcelona Skywalk Combo also includes a walking tour of the Old Town, with a stop at the aromatic La Boqueria market. A boat trip on the sparkling Mediterranean Sea tops it all off in style.


Where to stay in glorious Barcelona

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