Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the top Spanish cities to relax for a few days with family or friends. With plenty of incredible activities to do and beautiful places to visit, do you know how to make the most of your time in Barcelona? Read our post so you don’t miss anything.
Like in every city, in the Catalan capital, there are a handful of places that either you must visit before you can say you’ve been to Barcelona or that are worth a second, calmer stop if you’ve already seen them on previous trips.
Gaudí’s unfinished expiatory temple is a classic of Barcelona’s skyline. Admire the differences between the original building and the modernist construction. Step inside to enjoy the lights and shapes with which the Catalan architect wanted to represent the Christian faith. Then go up its towers to gaze at the city from an ideal lookout spot.
Strolling along its streets, while enjoying the architecture, the atmosphere, and the unique stores, is an unrivaled plan for a morning or afternoon in Barcelona. What do we suggest? Be sure to visit the cathedral, take the mandatory picture under the Bishop’s Bridge, and don’t forget to have a suizo (chocolate with cream and the traditional churros) at La Pallaresa.
Along with La Pedrera and the Sagrada Familia, this building makes up the Gaudí triangle in Barcelona, though the city is home to many more of the architect’s designs. Originally the home of the industrialist Josep Batllò, the building was the peak of modernity in its day and many scholars agree that it was ahead of the architectural avant-garde of the nineteenth century.
It is the only concert hall in the world declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. A headquarter of the Orfeó Català, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the Palau is an outstanding example of the purest modernism. This building is well worth a guided visit, whether or not you plan to enjoy any of the shows on its billboard.
The Casa Milà was commissioned to Gaudí by the couple Pere Milà and Roser Segimon to live on the main floor and rent the rest of the houses on the property. The building aroused all kinds of rumors in its time and was even the subject of satire in the specialized press. Today, it is one of the bastions of the city. During its ongoing display, it allows visitors to have an insight into the homes of the early twentieth century, as well as hosting interesting temporary exhibitions.
The Boquería Market
The Ramblas market or Boqueria market is an ode to the enjoyment of the senses: sight, smell, touch, and, above all, taste. You will enjoy this profusion of delicatessen stalls and tasting areas, which allow you to savor exquisite bites right there.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuic
Built for the Universal Exposition of 1929 and designed by Carles Büigas, the Magic Fountain of Montjuic welcomes millions of visitors every year, who come to enjoy the show of water, light, and sound. With a volume of 2,600 liters of circulating water, the fountain is capable of performing up to 7,000 million possible combinations. We recommend that you consult the schedules of the many choreographies before attending this free, open-to-anyone show.
Other Places to Visit
If you have already been to Barcelona before, you may have already visited all the places we have recommended so far: do not worry, in Barcelona you will never be short of plans to enjoy each visit as if it were the first.
If you like history, you cannot miss out on visiting the Carmel bunkers which, despite their name, were neither a fort nor a shelter, but they housed an anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War. They are located at the top of the Turó de la Rovira in Carmel and, reaching a height of 262 meters, they provide an outstanding viewpoint over the city of Barcelona.
Horta Labyrinth Park
In addition to the labyrinth that gives it its name, the Horta Labyrinth Park is home to a magnificent green area. Designed as a neoclassical garden and then finished as a romantic one, the park is home to an impressive display of local biodiversity, including species such as lime trees, Himalayan cedars, holm oaks, agapanthus, laurels, and ferns. It is like walking through nature, but without leaving the Catalan capital.
Street Art Route
If you like street art, Barcelona is one of the best cities to enjoy it. Here you can admire murals and graffiti made by some of the most recognized urban artists. Also, you can organize your own tour, to only see the pieces that catch your attention, or choose a route that has been pre-organized by some of the companies that are specialized in this field.
Modernity, art, music, avant-garde… you will feel all this when you walk through the neighborhood of Gràcia with your eyes and mind open. Although it is currently part of the center of Barcelona, Gràcia was, in its origin, an independent village. Today, in this neighborhood, bohemian and artistic urban groups coexist peacefully with the old, lifelong residents of the neighborhood. Don’t miss out on it!
Want to visit a mosque, an Andalusian courtyard, and a Romanesque church without leaving the center of Barcelona? It is possible to do all of that in Poble Espanyol: this outdoor architectural museum, created on the occasion of the 1929 International Exposition to emulate an «authentic Spanish village» hosts exhibitions, workshops, and cultural activities nearly every day.
Sun and Beach Tourism
The influence of the Mediterranean is present in every corner of Barcelona: the light, the atmosphere… everything evokes the sea that bathes the city in its 9 urban beaches. Would you like to enjoy a sun and beach getaway during your stay in Barcelona? Read on!
If what you want is to relax on a stunning beach, with refreshing swims in a calm sea and good temperature, and enjoy unique cuisine in beautiful coastal towns, you definitely cannot miss out on the Costa Brava. This is the name given to the stretch of coastline of just over 200 kilometers that runs through the province of Girona between Blanes, a town located within an hour’s drive from Barcelona, and the border with France.
A Bit of Culture…
Any holiday worth its salt must include time for rest and relaxation, but also for culture: in Barcelona, you’ll find museums, theaters, and galleries to fill your mind and heart with wonderful memories.
Whether you like contemporary art or classical painting, whether you are looking for a cultural activity or a more relaxed museum where you can have a good time broadening your mind, Barcelona has the best options for you:
- Museu Nacional d’Arte de Catalunya: with a permanent exhibition ranging from medieval Romanesque to modern art and a multitude of high-quality temporary exhibitions, the MNAC is a must-see in Barcelona.
- CosmoCaixa: if you are interested in science, you should visit this museum, which also has a variety of interesting workshops for all ages alike.
- Museu de l’Erotica: in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, you’ll find this museum, the first one dedicated to erotic art, with more than 800 pieces from different historical periods.
- Museu Picasso: its permanent collection is made up of 4,251 works of art that provide a perfect overview of the formative years of the Malaga-born genius.
- Joan Miró Foundation: created by the artist himself in 1975, the Foundation is the most important place for the study of Miró’s work in the world, which is combined with temporary exhibitions of other contemporary artists of great renown.
In addition to the quantity and quality of its museums, Barcelona is a city of art galleries, as evidenced by the annual Barcelona Gallery Weekend event, which organizes visits, meetings, and discussions between gallery owners, renowned artists, and the general public. Here is our selection of the art galleries you must visit in Barcelona.
- Joan Gaspar Gallery
- L&B Gallery
- ADN Gallery
- Joan Prats Gallery
- 2 Punts Gallery
It’s almost a sin to be in Barcelona and not enjoy its extensive theater program, which provides high-quality classics, modern plays and musicals. If you’re traveling with children, that’s okay! Family and children’s shows also have their place in the city’s theaters. This is just a small sample of what you can see in Barcelona during your trip:
- La Jaula de las Locas
- El mago Pop: nada es imposible
- Golfus de Roma, el Musical
- Som-Hi Dansa: El Trencanous (espectáculo infantil)
- El monstre de colors (espectáculo infantil)
Are you wondering about the flamenco shows in Barcelona? Believe it or not, Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world to enjoy an authentic flamenco show. Emigration from Andalusia in the 1960s led to large colonies of Andalusians settling in the Catalan city, who brought with them their culture and customs, including flamenco.
Nowadays, you can attend a multitude of flamenco shows in theaters and stages, known as tablaos, all over Barcelona, although if you want to enjoy the best flamenco company in a unique setting, we recommend that you book your tickets now for one of the Gran Gala Flamenco shows at the Palau de la Música Catalana: a unique show in an indescribable setting. You’ll love it!