Top 11 Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain.
Ready to GTFO and stamp your passport? Want to book a flight somewhere beautiful for a much-needed vacay? Barcelona, Spain should be at the top of your trip list. Barcelona is Spain’s most visited city for good reason. This seaside city has endless charm and culture! Whether you’re looking to try every type of tapa or take in the sites at Park Guell, there is something for everyone in Barcelona. There are tons of gorgeous places to explore and dozens of activities to keep you busy in Barcelona. There’s something for your girl who lives for getting the perfect ‘gram, your foodie friend who wants to try sixteen different types of bleu cheese, and your uncle who will inevitably talk your ear off about how ground-breaking the architecture is.
I visited the coastal city earlier this year and it left such a big impression on me that I’m already dreaming of booking another flight. With a great mix of beautiful architecture, palatable culture, and crazy amazing city life, Barcelona is a great getaway option in Europe. Get your travel bags ready!
Here are 11 things you must do when you’re in Barcelona:
1. Get your steps in while sight-seeing.
First, let me just say that vacation calories don’t count. Second, Barcelona is a walking city so even if the aforementioned calories did count, you’d definitely be going over the recommended 10,000 steps a day. To savor the beauty of Barcelona, I’d recommend taking a walking tour (self-guided if you’re a little more adventurous or guided if you’re someone who lives for a little more structure). If you don’t like walking, you can always go for sightseeing tours by bus or bikes. For me, there’s no better way to see a city than by foot though!
One of the first things I do when I’m planning a trip to somewhere new is research all of the places I want to visit and bookmark them on Google Maps. A mix of Instagram creeping and Trip Advisor stalking are always helpful for molding what you want the trip to look like. While I don’t believe in having a strict hour-by-hour itinerary, the Virgo in me (your girl has the same birthday as Beyonce, in case you were wondering) loves having a basic idea of the sights and attractions I would be bummed if I missed. Doing your research beforehand will help you to feel more at ease later on, as long as you leave a little room for magic. Getting lost in a new city can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of travel!
2. Get your ‘gram on in front of all the landmarks.
If you travel somewhere new and don’t take a photo, did you really even go? There’s so much to see in Barcelona from towering cathedrals and the Gothic Quarter to magnificent works of architecture. You could spend a whole day going from the Arc de Triomf and Palau de la Musica Catalana to the El Born and Cathedral of Barcelona.
The modernista architectural movement got its footing in Spain and was led by Gaudi and Lluis Domenech i Montaner so there are dozens of beautiful buildings to see. The UNESCO buildings created by Gaudi include the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Palau Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and Casa Vicens. Make sure to snap a great photo and then put your phone away to really enjoy the moment.
3. Indulge your inner history buff with Barcelona’s museums.
The city is a melding pot of both the new and the old, which makes Barcelona’s world-class museums really stand out from the crowd. Barcelona has all sorts of museums including the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Museu d'Historia de Catalunya, and the Museum of Modernism. The arts museums even have works by Picasso, Dali and many others all within a few short steps of one another. I have an insanely short attention span so museums are a tough sell for me normally, but I really loved visiting the museums in Barcelona.
4. Take a breather outside.
Love being outdoors? You’re not alone. One of the best parts about Barcelona is just how many lush parks there are to take a load off in. It’s definitely a walking city so it’s easy to wear yourself out while exploring. The key to catching your second wind is to plan breaks at the Parc de l'Estaciodel Nord or the beautiful Jardins Joan Maragall. Stop into a nearby grocery store beforehand and pick up a fresh baguette, salami, olives, and cheese for a quick charcuterie board that will have you feeling back to 100% in no time.
5. Take a day trip to somewhere beautiful.
If you’re hiking or camping type of gal, you’ll fall head-over-heels for the Montserrat mountains. You can also get an awesome view of this place by riding a hot-air balloon!
6. Make all of your friends both jealous/happy by learning to cook Spanish delicacies.
Surprise your friends when you get back by learning how to cook tapas or Spanish dishes like paella. Enjoy the interactive hands-on lesson with a chef and you’ll be able to bring a little of Spain back with you.
7. Get out on the water for a sunset sail.
Barcelona is right off the Mediterranean Sea, making it the perfect place to spend time out by the water. That being said, one of the only activities I made sure to book before hopping on the plane was a sunset sail with Excursions Barcelona. It was easily the highlight of my entire trip and I would hands-down recommend it to everyone I know. The company is run by expats who whole-heartedly love what they do. It made all of the difference in my sailing experience and was beyond magical. There’s nothing quite like seeing the city from the water.
There are also tons of excursion companies that will take you jet skiing, snorkeling, or parasailing.
8. Dive face-first into a plate of paella and drink entirely too much wine.
No Barcelona trip would be complete without indulging (sometimes a little too much) in the local food and drinks. Include a visit (or two or three) to the famous La Boqueria food market and prepare to eat…and eat…and eat. The seafood is out of this world! I also loved the chocolate-covered strawberries (the fresh produce is life-changing) and fresh tapas, and would totally go back just for the food. Don’t forget to complement the dishes with vino from boutiques like the Vila Viniteca!
9. Experience the excitement that is Barcelona’s festivals and events.
Check your calendars for music festivals like the Sónar to film festivals such as Gandules, There are so many things to do in Barcelona!
10. Raise a glass to the nightlife.
Barcelona y Flamenco, Palau Dalmases, Maestros de la Guitarra - there’s so much to see in Barcelona. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the city’s culture-infused performances or enjoy a glass of wine while watching the Magic Fountain. After a day of adventure, it’s always nice to also enjoy a nice drink in the many bars and clubs located in this city. Domino Bar, La Burnessa, Dr. Stravinsky are a good choice.
11. Shop ‘till you drop. And then get up and shop more.
I travel almost exclusively with a carry-on, so I rarely buy souvenirs. However, I love coming home with a special piece to remember my travels by. One of my favorite places to get a little sightseeing and shopping done in Barcelona is Port Vell, an ancient port that’s turned into a boardwalk, shopping center, and museum. I would also recommend a stroll down La Ramblas, a pedestrian-only boulevard in the center of Barcelona with lots of fun restaurants, street performers and shopping.
Have you been to Barcelona before? What would you recommend doing? Anything that I missed?