From its perfect weather, beaches, food, chocolate (chocolate always has its own category) to architecture, art, and culture – Barcelona is the ultimate travel destination to add to your bucket list.
Discover the perfect balance between touristy & less touristy things to do in Barcelona!
I mean, you can’t expect to visit Barcelona and not see Gaudi’s renowned masterpieces including La Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo, Gothic Quarter’s profound medieval architecture, or the busy La Rambla Street. True, these are classified as “tourist” activities and “top landmarks to see” in Barcelona on countless guides all over the internet. However, they are there for a reason! They are indeed truly remarkable and impressive things to do in Barcelona.
At the same time, if you only visit the recommended sites on the “Best of” Barcelona guides, then you will suffocate from the tourist crowds.
During our visit to Barcelona, we found the balance between touristy & less touristy activities and made it work for us by doing the things we like too – like eating chocolate. Okay, that one was for me.
I’ve put together this awesome list of fun things to do in Barcelona, which includes some cool “non-typical” things to do as well as the iconic sites you absolutely must see when you visit.
1. Visit Gaudi’s most famous and iconic works of art
La Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo were two of my favourites of the “must-see” sites and typical things to do in Barcelona lists. Most of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural work looks like they come out of a fairytale!
La Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026 – and I’ll be visiting a few years later to dodge tourists. The Sagrada Familia experience was simply mind-blowing; don’t forgo this striking Gaudi masterpiece!
The backstory of Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s most famous works in Barcelona, is that the artist was hired by the Batllo family in 1904 to redesign their conventional home into a more creative one. It’s also referred to as the “Dragon House” for its dragon-scale roof and “House of Bones” because of its skeleton-like interior and skull-shaped balconies. The house is just as eye-catching on the inside as it is on the outside.
Tip: Book your tickets in advance for both attractions to avoid the long queues. Get the audio guide for La Sagrada Familia – it’s worth every penny!
2. Visit La Boqueria Market
I’m a foodie at heart and I can’t recommend La Boqueria Market enough. All that fruit-emitted energy can jumpstart anyone’s day!
Check out my detailed guide on La Boqueria.
3. Sign up for a traditional Spanish cooking class
Learn how to make one of the most famous Spanish specialties, such as Paella and Sangria, with the help of a professional Spanish chef. A cooking class is a fun activity to do solo, with your partner, or with friends!
Check out Barcelona Cooking, one of the city’s top hotel management schools offering hands-on cooking classes and food tours in Barcelona.
4. Visit Montserrat
Montserrat is a Benedictine monk mountain retreat only 1 hour away from Barcelona by train. A day trip to Montserrat is one of the top things to do in Barcelona if you have more time to spend in the city. It’s not just a religious destination either. If you enjoy hiking, there are many hikes through the mountains which offer breathtaking views and very strange rock formations.
5. Bus Tour with Barcelona Bus Turistic for 1 or 2 days
Barcelona Bus Turistic was a big help in getting us around the most important sites to see in Barcelona. Sightseeing is much easier with this hop on hop off tour bus, especially when you’re short on time. It covers 3 different routes and stops at over 40 sites in the city. An audio guide is offered in 16 different languages. Also, you get free Wi-Fi on the bus AND discounts on many museums, landmarks, and more!
Read more about the ultimate experience with Barcelona Bus Turistic.
6. Get Lost in Gothic Quarter
You’re going to want to save a few hours for this one. Wandering around Gothic Quarter was one of my favourite things to do in Barcelona and probably the most frequent thing we did throughout our 9-day stay. At night though, a different crowd seems to appear – and those narrow gothic streets and alleyways begin to look quite haunted. Try not to get lost!
Tip: Once you’re done getting lost in Gothic Quarter, sign up for a free walking tour in the area and discover things you may have missed the first time.
7. Tapas bar-hopping at night
You can’t visit a new place without experiencing its culture, especially its food. Spain is known for its delicious tapas, directly translated to “fingerfood”, usually served standing in bars. Starting 8pm, move from bar to bar and order what looks good. You should definitely try “Patatas Bravas”, deep-fried potatoes with mayo and spicy tomato sauce, and “Pan con Tomate”, the most typical Catalan tapa, which is simply white bread rubbed with tomato and then drizzled in olive oil and salt.
Tip #1: Look for the most crowded bar and that’s a sure indication that they serve tasty tapas.
Tip #2: I highly recommend Quimet e Quimet in Poble Sec and Euskal Etxea Taberna in El Born.
8. Go on a Food Tour!
The easiest way to experience a new culture’s cuisine is by going on a food tour. Discover some of the best Spanish foods in Barcelona by going on a group food tour offered by Secret Food Tours Barcelona. The tours are usually 3 to 4 hours and involve lots of eating so make sure you come hungry!
9. Take a stroll on the marina then go to the beach
Start at Port Vell and walk via Barcelona’s marina and coastline to the beach. You can also take a ride in an electric car that will take you across for a small fee. Once you’re done swimming and sunbathing (ladies, you can sunbathe topless like most of the locals), have some cocktails and traditional Spanish paella at one of the restaurants on the bay.
Tip: During summer months, it’s best to arrive to the beach early or a little later in the day to avoid the huge crowds. Alternatively, you can move further along the coast for the quieter beaches.
10. Go on a Day excursion snorkeling in Costa Brava
Another of the more interesting things to do in Barcelona is going on a kayaking and snorkeling adventure for a day in the crystal clear blue waters of Costa Brava.
Excursions Barcelona offers a kayaking and snorkeling day tour to the picturesque beach of Costa Brava including professional guides and transport for only 70 euros per person. You can explore the Costa Brava ́s coves, sea caves, aquatic life and much more!
11. Watch the sunrise (or sunset) from Bunker del Carmel
The abandoned old concrete firing platforms (once part of anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War) at the top of Turó de la Rovira hill are one the most scenic viewpoints in all of Barcelona. Bunker del Carmel gives you a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of Barcelona. Watching the sunrise here was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
Tip: You have to walk up the hill for 25-30 minutes. Alternatively, you can hire a scooter.
12. Experience Barcelona’s legendary nightlife
Barcelona knows how to party. After a day exploring the city, head out to one of the bars or clubs. There’s no shortage of nightlife in Barcelona. The party doesn’t start until at least 2am and from there you drink and dance until dawn. There are many great bars and clubs where you can spend an unforgettable night. Check out Barcelona Parties for the latest and trendiest Barcelona nightlife events.
Tip: Entrance is usually free before a specified time, and it’s better to go earlier to avoid long queues.
13. Spend a luxury 1-night stay at the W Hotel Barcelona
Enjoy a night at one of the most iconic hotels in the city, the W Hotel Barcelona. The W Hotel is situated directly on Barceloneta Beach offering its guests magnificent views of the coastline. The hotel also hosts events at their bar for you to party all night long and then retreat to your cozy room to watch the sunrise.
14. Have a Picnic in Parc Ciutadella
Get a croissant filled with mascarpone from Hofmann Pastisseria on Carrer dels Flassaders, grab a coffee from any neighbouring shop, and then walk to Parc Ciutadella (5 minutes away) for a picnic. Enjoy your breakfast on the grass or on one of the benches, and then continue exploring. You can even head over to the zoo adjacent to the park like we did!
15. Explore Montjuic Castle at night followed by a concert and movie in their open air cinema
“But we didn’t travel to go to the movies!” Yes, I know you’re busy exploring and all. But trust me, this is the perfect chill date night you have to experience in a new city. Check out the movie schedule and pick a date. Once you’re done exploring Montjuic Castle at night, you can enjoy a movie outdoors in their open air cinema!
16. Eat in the dark
There is a huge range of restaurants and cafes in Barcelona serving a good variety of different cuisines with delicious dishes.
Let’s make it more interesting: Introducing Barcelona’s Dans le Noir. This restaurant allows you to experience dining in a pitch black room! It’s an extraordinary sensory and culinary dinner experience in the dark, making it one of the most memorable things to do in Barcleona!
How to get around in Barcelona:
Walking is the best way to get from one place to the next since you get to see everything and discover places you wouldn’t otherwise.
Barcelona is also bike-friendly and you can rent bikes from various locations in the city at affordable prices.
Public transport is very simple to use in Barcelona – all you have to do is purchase a transport pass online or at the metro station. I would recommend the T-10 if you’re not going to use transport too much. It entitles you to 10 one-way trips (incl. bus, metro, and renfe train) in Zone 1 areas. It’s also transferable between people; multiple people can use the same T-10 card at the same time.
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Let me know what you think of my top 16 fun things to do in Barcelona!
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