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.
So 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.
Things to Do in Barcelona
Stand in Awe of Sagrada Familia
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 Catalan wonder architect Antoni Gaudi‘s architectural empire and one of the most spectacular basilicas in the world. This is a can’t miss of the can’t misses.
For those tired of traditional churches you’ll be positively refreshed. The church’s arches are modeled after tree branches and the stained glass here creates a rainbow effect you won’t soon forget.
Opening times: Oct-Mar from 9 am to 7 pm, Apr-Sept from 9 am to 8 pm.
Tickets: €15.00 to €39.00 depending on the kind of ticket you choose.
Get Some Fresh Air at Park Guell
Area: Gracia | Carrer Olot 5 | Metro: Lesseps or Vallcarca (green L3)
A dreamy urban park floating above the city. The park was once a utopian vision of rich industrialist Eusebi Guell in the early 20th century. Who was the man put in charge of its construction? Antoni Gaudi.
It was originally intended to be 60 luxury homes on the city’s most prime piece of land, far away from the smoke stacks of the city. Only three were built. Today the entrance and its ginger-bread house-like porter’s lodge and emblematic mosaic lizard are a highlight.
Tourists sit on the mosaic benches (remember Vicky Cristina Barcelona?) and take in amazing views.
Opening times: variable, check the link above.
Tickets: €7.50, children 7-12 and 65+ €5.25.
Admire Casa Batllo
Area: Centre | Passeig de Gracia 43 | Metro: Passeig de Gracia (purple L2, green L3, yellow L4)
A colourful mosaic mansion whose every last detail down to the doorknobs was designed by Antoni Gaudi. Visiting Barcelona without at least passing by this modernist landmark is criminal.
Here you’ll find a constant ode to nature from the jaw bone balconies to the mushroom shaped smoke vents to its tropical fish based radiators. The ceramic tile shards on the facade (a style known as trencadis) create a unique colour play. They were taken from broken cups at local factories.
Opening times: 365 days/year from 9 am to 9 pm (last entrance 8 pm).
Tickets: €24.50 with children up to 7 entering free.
Check Out La Pedrera
Area: Centre | Carrer Provença 261 | Metro: Passeig de Gracia (purple L2, green L3, yellow L4)
It’s also possibly the most spectacular roof terrace you’ll ever see with its guardian warrior chimney stacks – maybe you can ask if they’ve got an apartment for rent?
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.
Kick Around Camp Nou
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 a Mecca-like experience for football fans.
Among the highlights of taking a tour are walking onto the field via the players tunnel, seeing 4 Champions League trophies, sitting in the visitor’s dressing room, and Messi’s Ballon d’Ors.
Opening times: vary depending on matches, check the link above.
Tickets: adults €25.00, children/65+/students €20.00.
Walk Las Ramblas
While this is in fact tourist trap central you can cut to the chase by finding Gaudi’s lanterns in the picturesque square Plaça Reial. In Pla de l’Os you’ll find a brilliant pavement mosaic by Joan Miro – the site of the city’s old gate.
Just don’t stop to eat.
Chow Down at La Boqueria Market
Area: Raval | La Rambla 91 | Metro: Liceu (green L3)
Easily Barcelona’s best market. 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 €1.00 smoothies.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8:30 pm.
See a Magic Fountain Show
Area: Plaça Espanya | Plaça Carles Buigas | Metro: Espanya (red L1, green L3)
The show is set to beautifully choreographed music ranging from classic to swing to modern hits. Just make sure you gauge the wind before picking your spot – you might get soaked!
Opening times: Nov to Mar (Thurs-Sun from 8 pm to 9 pm), Apr-May-Oct (Thurs to Sat from 9 pm to 10 pm), Jun to Sept 30 (Thurs to Sun from 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm), closed Jan 7 – Feb 28 2018 (maintenance).
Peep 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 looking to fill up an afternoon you can start with over 4000 permanent pieces of his art. Here it mostly showcases the early years of the world-renown artist when he was based in Barcelona.
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.
Discover Spain at Poble Espanyol
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 above.
Tickets: €11.90 adults, kids 4-12 €5.95, kids under 4 free.
Gear Down in Ciutadella Park
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.
Marvel at MACBA
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 7:30 pm, Sat 10 am to 8 pm, Sun 10 am to 3 pm.
Tickets: €9.50 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 great sight 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.
Make sure to see the cloister that is home a small garden with orange and almond trees, a pond, and 13 geese – one for each year of life lived by Eulalia.
Opening times: vary depending on type of visit, more info here.
Tickets: free general entrance during certain hours, €3.00 for choir and rooftop visits.
Rides With a View at Tibidabo
Area: Collserola | Plaça del Tibidabo, 3-4 | Metro: n/a (see link for transport info)
Of all the fun things to do in Barcelona this is the only at the top of a mountain. Tibidabo 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.
Take in a Concert at 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.
If you’re interested in seeing a show check out the calendar of events.
Opening times: vary depending on the day and attraction.
Tickets: tours start at €18.00.
Get Elevated at 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 a great option for budget conscious nature lovers.
You’ll need walk 10 minutes up hill from the bus stop.
Opening times (museum): Mon-Fri 10 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm.
Take a Trip to 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.
Two favourites here are the Spectre of Sex Appeal (1932) and The Basket of Bread (1945).
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.
Sit in 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.
A great outdoor spot with homemade tapas is Sol Soler.
This is exactly what to do in Barcelona if you want to feel like a local.
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.
Make sure to check out my article dedicated to Montserrat for more visiting info.
Prices: vary depending on trip.
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.
Also don’t be afraid to join the Barcelona attractions discussion in my new Facebook group called I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, chat with fellow travelers, and more – anything goes!