In a city that lives and dies with tourism there’s going to be a lot of scrapping for your money.
From paltry paella propositions in the middle of the street to state sponsored museums that’ll bore you all the way back to the office you’ll need to choose your visits wisely.
Luckily you’ll be prepared.
Here’s a simmered down list of things to do in Barcelona perfect for city beginners.
Remember to click on the additional information links to find out how to score online ticket discounts and get the advantages of all sorts of attraction hacks.
Whether you have no idea what to see in Barcelona or are just looking to pad an already solid itinerary you can skip ahead to the most useful ideas using the links below.
Barcelona Attractions: Can’t Miss
Area: Sagrada Familia | Carrer de Mallorca 401 | Metro: Sagrada Familia (purple L2, blue L5)
Just look at any postcard in the city. This is the crown jewel of Gaudi’s architectural empire and one of the most spectacular basilicas in the world: of all the things to see in Barcelona this is in can’t miss territory.
Opening times: Oct-Mar from 9 am to 6 pm, Apr-Sept from 9 am to 8 pm.
Tickets: €15 to €39 depending on the kind of ticket you choose.
Click the link for more Sagrada Familia information.
Area: Gracia | Carrer Olot 5 | Metro: Lesseps or Vallcarca (green L3)
A dreamy urban park. The utopian vision of rich industrialist Eusebi Guell in the early 20th century: who was the man put in charge of its construction? Antoni Gaudi.
The views here are spectacular.
Opening times: variable, check the link below.
Tickets: €7.00, children 7-12 and 65+ €4.90.
Click the link for more Park Guell information.
Area: Centre | Passeig de Gracia 43 | Metro: Passeig de Gracia (purple L2, green L3, yellow L4)
A colourful mosaic mansion. This is another of Gaudí’s architectural jewels. If you don’t know what to see in Barcelona know that visiting without at least passing by this modernist landmark is criminal.
Opening times: 365 days/year from 9 am to 9 pm (last entrance 8 pm).
Tickets: €23.50 with children up to 7 entering free.
Click the link for more Casa Batllo information.
Casa Mila/La Pedrera
Area: Centre | Carrer Provença 261 | Metro: Passeig de Gracia (purple L2, green L3, yellow L4)
Another one of Gaudi’s surreal mansions right in the heart of some of the best shopping in Barcelona. It’s possibly the most spectacular roof terrace you’ll ever see and if you’re asking yourself what to do in Barcelona at sundown this could be the number one choice.
Opening times: Nov 5 to Feb 28 from 9 am to 6:30 pm, Mar 1 to Nov 4 from 9 am to 8 pm.
Tickets: Adults €22.00, kids up to 12 €11.00, kids under 6 free
Click the link for more La Pedrera information.
Area: Les Corts | Aristides Maillol 12 | Metro: Les Corts (green L3)
Arguably the most historic football stadium in Europe and home to FC Barcelona. Outside of a match the overloaded trophy cases and interactive museum are the best things to do in Barcelona for football fans.
Opening times: vary depending on matches, check the link below.
Tickets: adults €25.00, children/65+/students €20.00
Click the link for more Camp Nou information.
If you don’t know what to do in Barcelona you’ll get plenty of ideas here! This is easily Barcelona’s most famous street and one of those places you should visit at least once in your lifetime. An explosion of bars, street artists, and shops.
Click the link for more Las Ramblas information.
La Boqueria Market
Area: Raval | La Rambla 91 | Metro: Liceu (green L3)
Easily Barcelona’s best market and right at the top of the list of things to see in Barcelona. The quality of the fruit, meat, and fish here will amaze you and its infectious energy is something to be seen: don’t leave before trying one of their delicious smoothies.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8:30 pm.
Click the link for more La Boqueria information.
The Magic Fountain
Area: Plaça Espanya | Plaça Carles Buigas | Metro: Espanya (red L1, green L3)
An enchanting fountain and light show set to beautifully choreographed music. Definitely one of the best free things to do in Barcelona.
Opening times: Nov-Mar (Sat and Sun from 7 pm to 8:30 pm), Apr-May-Sept-Oct (Sat and Sun from 9 pm to 10:30 pm), Jun-Aug (Sat and Sun from 9:30 pm to 11 pm)
Click the link for more Magic Fountain Barcelona information.
Barcelona Attractions: Worth a Visit
The Picasso Museum
Area: Born | 15-32 Carrer Montcada | Metro: Jaume 1 (yellow L4)
Arguably the most important Picasso museum in the world. If you’re wondering what to see in Barcelona you can start with over 4000 permanent pieces of his art. Here it mostly showcases the early years of the world-renown artist.
Opening times: 9 am to 7 pm, Thurs 9 am to 9:30 pm, closed Mon.
Tickets: €11.00 adults, 18-25/65+ €7.00, minors and students free
Click the link for more Picasso Museum Barcelona information.
Area: Montjuic | Frances Ferrer i Guardia 13 | Metro: Espanya (red L1, green L3)
Here’s what to do in Barcelona if you want to see all of Spain in one afternoon. Built for the 1929 World’s Fair, this mock Spanish town has 117 full-scale replica buildings representing the architecture of all 15 of Spain’s regions.
Opening times: vary depending on events, check the link below.
Tickets: €11.05 adults, kids 4-12 €5.95, kids under 4 free.
Click the link for more Poble Espanyol information.
Area: Born | Passeig de Picasso 21 | Metro: Arc de Trionf (red L1)
Barcelona’s biggest park is a great picnic spot for those looking for an outdoor escape but want a break from the beach. Here you’ll find a ton of open space, the zoo, and a great artificial lake for rowboat rides.
Opening times: daily from 10 am to 10:30 pm.
Click the link for more Ciutadella Park information.
Area: Raval | Plaça dels Àngels 1 | Metro: Catalunya (red L1, green L3)
The modern art museum. If you want things to see in Barcelona you’ll get it with over 5000 pieces from well known 20th century artists. Check out the mesmerising photography, sculpture, painting and more.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 11 am to 8 pm, Sat 10 am to 8 pm, Sun 3 pm to 8 pm.
Tickets: €10.00 adults, students/65+ €8.00
Discounts can be had by buying the Articket BCN museum discount card.
The Barcelona Cathedral
Area: El Gotico | Plaça de la Seu | Metro: Jaume 1 (yellow L4)
Another of the great things to do in Barcelona that costs nothing: this fantastic neo-Gothic cathedral is notable for its gargoyles and domestic and mythical animal rooftop. It is dedicated to the co-patron Saint of Barcelona Eulalia, who was martyred by the Romans in 303 AD.
Opening times: vary depending on type of visit, more info here.
Tickets: free general entrance, €3.00 for choir and rooftop visits.
Area: Collserola | Plaça del Tibidabo, 3-4 | Metro: n/a (see link for transport info)
At 512 metres this is the highest point in Barcelona and offers some incredible views from the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – not to mention the super geeky retro amusement park and 100 year old Ferris Wheel.
Opening times and ticket prices vary depending on the day and attraction.
Click the link for more Tibidabo information.
Palau de la Musica
Area: Born | Carrer Palau de la Música 4-6 | Metro: Jaume 1 (yellow L4)
This modernista music palace with golden-age acoustics is the perfect place for music lovers to take in some opera, Flamenco, or even a symphony. The explosion of colour and chandelier centre piece are world class.
Opening times: vary depending on the day and attraction.
Tickets: tours start at €18.00.
Click the link for more Palau de la Musica information.
Santa Maria del Mar
Area: Born | Plaça de Santa Maria 1 | Metro: Jaume 1 (yellow L4)
This imposing 14th century Gothic church was built during Barcelona’s maritime prominence and became popular after the publishing of the book of the same name written by Falcones Ildecondo.
Opening times: Mon to Sat from 9 am to 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 8 pm, Sundays and holidays from 10:30 am to 1:30 and 4:30 pm to 8 pm.
Plaça de Catalunya
Of all the things to see in Barcelona this is one you probably won’t have to plan. This bustling 50,000 m2 square full fountains, statues, and pigeons is the place where all Barcelona’s main arteries intersect and it’s impossible to avoid.
It’s also an important shopping area and home to major football celebrations.
Plaça de Espanya
Area: Sants | Metro: Espanya (red L1, green L3)
This exuberant square is quite unique as it’s home to a central fountain, the shopping mall Las Arenas (an ex-bullfighting arena), Barcelona’s main exhibition center, and two prominent Venetian towers.
Barcelona Attractions: Off the Beaten Path
Turó de la Rovira – “The Bunkers”
Area: Gracia | Carrer de Marià Lavèrnia | Bus: V17 from Passeig de Gracia
The highest point in metro Barcelona was once an anti-aircraft bunker defending the city against Spanish Civil War bombings. Today it’s a great museum and picnic spot with an insane panoramic view and without a doubt one of the best things to do in Barcelona for budget conscious nature lovers.
You’ll need walk 10 minutes uphill from the bus stop.
Opening times (museum): Mon-Fri 10 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm
The Dali Museum
Area: Figueres | Plaça Gala i Salvador Dalí, 5 | Bus: various
This fantastic museum dedicated to the surrealist genius Salvador Dali actually finds itself 140 km from Barcelona in his hometown of Figueres. It’s a can’t miss for fans of the man and insanity in general.
Opening times: March, Jun, Oct 9:30 am to 6 pm. Jul, Sept 9 am to 8 pm. Nov, Feb 10:30 am to 6 pm.
Click the link for more Dali Museum information.
Any Square in Gracia
Area: Gracia | Metro: Fontana (green L3)
One of Barcelona’s best neighbourhoods is full of cool décor bars, quirky shops, and street musicians. The bohemian atmosphere makes it the perfect place for a coffee or beer in squares like Plaça del Sol, Plaça Vila de Gracia, Plaça de la Virreina and Plaça de la Revoluciò.
This is exactly what to do in Barcelona if you want to feel like a local.
Area: Montjuic | Carretera de Montjuïc 66 | Metro: Paral-lel (green L3 to cable car)
This old military fortress that dates all the way back to 1640 finds itself 173 metres above the city. The views of the city from up here are stunning. Change for the cable car at metro Paral-lel.
Opening times: Nov-Mar 10 am to 6 pm, Apr-Oct 10 am to 8 pm.
Prices: €5.00 adults, €3.00 students/65+, under 16 free
Parc De Laberint d’Horta
Area: Guinardo| Passeig dels Castanyers 1 | Metro: Mundet (green L3)
Lose yourself in the labyrinth/maze made famous in the NC-17 cult classic Bizarre. These well manicured classic Barcelona gardens date back to 1802 and offer some incredible photo opportunities.
Opening times: Nov-Mar 10 am to 7 pm, Apr-Oct 10 am to 8 pm.
Prices: 29 Feb – 30 Jun free, 1 Jul – 28 Feb €2.23 adults and €1.42 students.
Area: Montserrat | Train: Ferrocarril line L5
You’ll find a great escape from the urban hustle and bustle here in some of the most breathtaking jagged mountains around. Some highlights are the Benedictine monastery and the Sant Jeroni lookout.
Prices: vary depending on trip.
Area: Tibidabo | 26 Carrer d’Isaac Newton | Train: Av. Tibidabo (brown line L7)
Science lovers looking for things to do in Barcelona would do well to check out the Barcelona Science Museum, a great place to take kids and let them explore. The interactive exhibitions and planetarium here are not only educational but great fun whether you’re young or old.
Opening times: Tues to Sun 10 am to 8 pm.
Prices: €4.00 adults, under 16 free.
Recinte Modernist De Sant Pau
Area: Guinardò | 89 Carrer Sant Quintí | Metro: San Pau/Dos de Maig (blue line L5)
Those who have exhausted their list of what to see in Barcelona can’t go wrong visiting another in Barcelona’s long list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Famous for its modern architecture, this hospital has been the center of various discussions on whether or not to turn it into a museum.
Opening times: it’s a hospital, go when you feel like it!
Area: Raval | Nou de la Rambla 3-5 | Metro: Liceu (green line L3)
Even it’s not well known among tourists this is still one of the best places to go: one of Gaudi’s first masterpieces was the original residence of the wealthy industrialist Eusebi Guell.
Opening times: Apr-Oct 10 am to 6 pm, Nov-Mar 10 am to 5:30 pm
Tickets: adults €12.00, students/65+ €9.00, kids 10-17 €5.00.
Area: Gotico | Plaça Reial | Metro: Liceu (green line L3)
Those not sure what to do in Barcelona but looking for a good time should start here. By night this picturesque, restaurant-filled square transforms into a meet-up place for young people and is home to many nightclubs: and it’s all lit up by Gaudi-designed lanterns.
Sant Felip Neri Square
Area: Gotico | Plaça Sant Felip Neri | Metro: Jaume 1 (yellow L4)
Of all things to see in Barcelona that are reminders that fascism existed here not long ago this may be the best. This small yet fascinating square formed the background of many dramatic protests during the Franco years.
It is most famous though for a bombing during the Civil War that killed many school children and today is as haunting as it is beautiful.
Fernando Botero’s Cat
Area: Raval | Rambla del Raval | Metro: Liceu (green line L3)
This giant emblematic cat made by the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero has been at different points in the city since 1987. This is another great photo opportunity and of all the things to do in Barcelona after a few pints, climbing it might be at the top!
Get at Me in the Comments Below
If my list of things to see in Barcelona just wasn’t enough then tell me – what exactly are you looking for? 😉
Any questions about your Barcelona holiday will be answered in the comments – in the meantime let me know what worked for you and what didn’t so we can get this list as fine-tuned as possible.