Barcelona: 10 of the top things to do in the Catalan capital

Barcelona, the city known for its art and architecture, is a must visit. Here, we take a look at some of the best things to do in the Catalan capital.

A city with endless charm, Barcelona has plenty to offer, from awe-inspiring architecture to historical intrigue, more than two miles of beaches, and a myriad of culinary tastes to keep foodies on their toes. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or have been there several times, here’s a look at some of the best things to do in this iconic city.

The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most popular attraction, is a must-see. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi’s outstanding Modernisme architecture sets this basilica apart from Europe’s other churches. Gaudi gave shape to Christian beliefs through his design using nature-inspired forms and shapes inspired by nature. His immeasurable attention to detail left no stone unturned as even the light and colors have a special significance. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Gaudi’s fascinating work. And if you want to delve deeper in the history and details of this church, we recommend you take a guided tour for small groups.

Another one of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces, Casa Batlló is definitely worth visiting while you are in Barcelona. The house, located in the heart of the city, is an adventure in itself as it is brimming with fantastic imagination and serves as an inspiration for your inner child. It is perfectly located within the city, only a short walk from Plaça de Catalunya, which connects to some of the main streets of the city. Here is where you can start a city tour and admire more gothic medieval architecture.

3. Take a day trip to Montserrat

Montserrat is an active monastery that is still called home by many monks today. This fascinating mountaintop sanctuary is believed to have been in use since Roman times, but the Monastery itself has a history that dates back to the 10th century which is evident in its design. Sitting at 1,236 meters (4,055 ft) above sea level, it’s the perfect escape for those who want to spend a few hours surrounded by nature. This magical place of pilgrimage, which is less than an hour’s drive from Barcelona, is another must-see when visiting Barcelona and one of the most popular excursions from the city.

4. Have some good old fashion fun at Port Aventura & Ferrari Land

Port Aventura is the perfect opportunity for some travel fun that the whole family can enjoy. Children may not always appreciate the wonderful intricacies of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, but they will definitely love one of Europe’s most iconic theme parks with its thrilling rides, Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land. Ferrari Land offers the full Ferrari experience, which means adrenaline-pumping events including the Maranello Grand race. Challenge your whole family to some fun on the 570-meter racing circuit. Also, aside from tons of exciting experiences for the kids, Port Aventura World hosts some great shows such as Bang Bang West. Pack your cowboy boots and stirrups because you are going to need them…Giddy up!

5. Get some fresh air at Park Güell

The original intention and inspiration for this park by Eusebi Güell was to create an estate for wealthy families in one of Barcelona’s most beautiful neighborhoods, with amazing views of the city and sea. Gaudi was the man who Güell deemed responsible for his illustrious vision of paradise and luckily today, you can admire the leftovers of the project as it was never fully completed and turned into a Public Park due to its exclusive and one of a kind character. Another wonder of architecture by Gaudi, it is a beautiful place to explore, as every piece of Gaudi’s realization is incredible. The curves of its natural beauty, the colors, and textures, even the park benches are brimming with attention to detail. And since 1984, the park has been recognized as a World Heritage site. Here are a few tips for planning your visit to Park Güell.

6. Be transported back in time in Medieval Girona

Girona is an independent city from Barcelona, although it is easily accessible by train and more than worth the time to visit. It is an ancient city with a rich history and is located at the point where four rivers converge, giving it its unique shape and charm. It has been influenced by the Romans, Moors and Visigoths, in the 12th century it became home to a Jewish community including great Jewish thinkers such as Mosse ben Nahman, oh and it was besieged by Napoleonic troops in the early 19th century. In other words, it is bursting with character and historical sites, a must-see for lovers of history and poetry.

7. See modern art at the Moco Museum

There’s no shortage of museums in Barcelona, with options running the gamut from the Picasso Museum to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and CosmoCaixa. But now let us introduce you to a museum that only opened its doors in 2021: the Moco Museum. After the success of the original museum in Amsterdam, a second one, dedicated to contemporary art, was opened in the Catalan capital. It’s housed in a 16th-century palace that provides a gorgeous backdrop to works from the twentieth century to the present. Book your tickets and admire the works of Banksy, Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin and many more artists.

8. Admire Barcelona from above

Sometimes it can be a touch tiring to walk through the hilly streets of Barcelona, but those great heights do make for some spectacular viewpoints. From the Bunkers del Carmel you have a 360° view; from 1679ft-high Tibidabo you can admire the city and its surroundings; whereas from Montjuïc you can look down not only on the city but also the harbor.

Barcelona’s tall buildings also offer up some sensational vistas, particularly from the terrace of the Cathedral of Barcelona or from 560m above sea level at the Torre de Collserola. For a combination of art and views, head to the viewpoint at the Torre Glories, one of the city’s icons. Here you can not only admire the city, but also immerse yourself in the sculptural world of Tomás Saraceno at Cloud Cities. Additionally, Unlimited Barcelona on the 20th floor of the Torre Urquinaona has floor-to-ceiling windows with birds-eye panoramas.

9. Taste the local gastronomy

A trip to Barcelona naturally includes a wealth of fantastic food. The Spanish and Catalan cuisines are extremely varied and have something for everyone. The classic patatas bravas, queso manchego and croquetas should of course not be missed during a tapas dinner, but don’t forget the lesser-known dishes. Escalivada, consisting of grilled peppers, eggplant and onion, is an appetizer that’s packed with flavor. If you visit from February to early April, tasting calçots (green onions) is also a must. And wherever you dine, naturally the meal ends with a crema catalana.

10. Learn about more activities in Barcelona from a Local!

It’s always helpful to get an insider’s perspective, to avoid seeing only touristy attractions and to really get to know a city. That’s why we suggest experiencing it with a local. This way you can uncover some little-known gems and also discover some excellent local food. Curious to find out more? We’ve got more ideas for things to do in Barcelona here.

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