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Things to Do in Barcelona

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This post covers the best things to do in Barcelona. We include a top 10 list, things to do for free, at night, with kids, and by the season.

 

 


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO

Below is our list of the top 10 things to do in Barcelona, including tours, activities, popular landmarks, and links to other resources.

During the pandemic, you will most likely be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing at most attractions in Barcelona.


1. Go on a Sightseeing Tour

There are interesting sights, attractions, and monuments everywhere you look in Barcelona. Where do you start?

A sightseeing tour is a perfect way to see all the highlights of the city and pick out which spots to come back to for a more in-depth look.

 

 

Of course, we recommend pay-what-you-like walking tours to start with.  

Another popular option is taking a boat tour. Speed boats are fun for the whole family.  

For the adventurous, why not try a bike tour or a Segway tour? Swimmers will enjoy this kayaking excursion to explore Barcelona’s coast.

We also recommend Rick Steves’ free audio tour of the city center – complete with a map.


2. La Sagrada Familia

It might be impossible to go to Barcelona and not hear about or see La Sagrada Familia.

 

 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its breathtaking architecture, as well as the fact that it is still unfinished.

Antoni Gaudi started working on the church in the 1880s and died ten years later.

Construction is planned to be completed in 2026, which will be 144 years after the construction started.

Lines tend to get very long to enter La Sagrada Familia, so we recommend a skip-the-line tour.

NOTE: La Sagrada Familia may be temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Even if it's not closed, we recommend wearing face masks and practicing social distancing to keep yourself and others safe.


3. Park Guell

Park Guell is another one of Gaudi’s famous architectural works.

The park was originally meant to become a housing district, but only two buildings were built. It ended up as a public park - and most of the area is free to enter and explore.

 

 

You’ll find grassy areas, ponds, and interesting architectural elements.

Since so many tourists want to visit the famous mosaic bench at the top of the Dragon steps that overlooks the city, the park has started charging an entry fee for this area.

They call it the “Monumental Zone,” and use the proceeds to help with upkeep.

For more budget-friendly activities, check out our free section.  


4. See the Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is one of the most popular museums in Barcelona. Fans of Pablo Picasso’s art often stand in lines down the street to see the largest available collection of his work.

 

 

Since he spent his formative years in this city, there is plenty of information about his life.

The museum has no entry fee on Thursday evenings after 18:00, though the lines can get quite long during free hours.

Tickets can be sold out before the day is over, so we recommend you purchase your tickets in advance.

If you want to see multiple museums, the Barcelona Card is a great option and includes the Picasso Museum.


5. Take a Bus Tour

There’s only so far you can go with your own two feet in one day. That’s why bus tours are a really popular option with many visitors to Barcelona.

 

 

City Sightseeing Barcelona is one of the more well-known names to operate in the city.

They are a hop-on-hop-off style tour, which means you’ll get some great commentary on the way to popular sites and have the time to check them out on your own.


6. Find Your Barcelona Team Spirit

Barcelona residents are really proud of their home football team, FC Barcelona.

 

 

Football (Soccer)

Basketball

Handball

Taking a tour of the Camp Nou football stadium is a great idea for any football fan, and a hit with the kids! They'll get to see behind the scenes. Admission to this activity is included with some Barcelona tourist passes.

For more fun ideas, check out our family-friendly section


7. Enjoy the Music

From free summer concerts in the park to the Opera, Barcelona is a city full of music. 

 

 

For some big-name artists, take a look at the popular venues Palau Sant Jordi. They have seen acts come through like Mumford & Sons, Michael Buble, and the Backstreet Boys.

From June to August, you could enjoy free, open-air jazz or a classical concert for Musica als parcs.

If you’re looking to participate, you can find open mic nights year-round like Open Mic Wednesdays, on Thursdays at Freedonia, or on Saturdays at Belchica.

Fans of Opera and the theatre can tour the Liceu Opera before an evening show. And if you’re looking to get into the local culture, why not enjoy a Flamenco show?

For more great evening activities, check out our recommendations for things to do at night.


8. Find a Lookout Point for Great Views

There are plenty of great lookout points from which to view the whole city!

 

 

One of the more popular ones is Bunker del Carmel. These former anti-aircraft bunkers from the Spanish Civil War now offer a high vantage point. It is a bit of a strenuous hike to the top.

If you’re looking for views with a little less effort, why not ride a cable car up to Parc de Montjuïc? You’ll get 360-degree views on your quick ride to the top.

And if you go into the nearby castle, you can scale the parapets and be at the highest point in the city.

These are great activities to do with the kids!


9. Discover the Food Scene

If you’re looking for a good overview of the types of tapas available, we recommend a tapas walking tour.

 

 

The tour will take you to four different restaurants to try a paired Catalonian wine with each plate of tapas.

Some bars still follow the tradition of offering a free tapa with each drink order in the evenings.

  • At Raspall, a draught beer, wine, or vermouth comes with one free tapa.
  • La Xula Taperia accompanies each drink you purchase with a free bite.

If you're looking for a food tour that will cover even more great dishes, consider taking a Secret Food Tour. These outings include several different meals including Catalonian pastry, paella, tapas and more!

This company also offers a Secret Wine Tour for anyone in search of a good Monsant, and these outings also include great food to pair with the wine.

Of course, you can find an even wider variety of food to try at the Santa Caterina Market.

The oldest market in Barcelona is lively and housed in a renovated building with a mosaic roof.


10. See More with a City Pass

There are multiple major attraction passes that can help you get the most out of your time in beautiful Barcelona.

 

 

If you go for an all-inclusive pass, you’ll get free entry into multiple attractions in addition to discounts on more activities and tours. Other passes are designed to let you pick a specified number of attractions and get up to 40% savings on entry to those. 

Attractions Available for Discount Include:

  • Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
  • Barcelona Bike Tour
  • Camp Nou Tour
  • Barcelona Zoo
  • L’Aquarium Barcelona
  • Picasso Museum
  • Park Guell’s Monumental Zone
  • Montserrat Morning Tour
  • Hard Rock Cafe

If you’re really looking to maximize the time you have in Barcelona, using a tourist pass is the best way to do that.

See our Barcelona Tourist Pass comparison here.


11. Haunted Barcelona Self-Guided Game

This is an interesting alternative to traditional walking tours which allows you to explore the city at your own pace as you learn about the haunted history of Barcelona.

Torre Salbana

You can expect to learn about true crime stories, reportedly haunted buildings, and even spells/curses placed on people or locations throughout the city.

Get more information or download this game.


FREE THINGS TO DO

Barcelona doesn’t have to break your bank - there are plenty of free or cheap things to do in this beautiful city.

Of course, we must highlight the pay-what-you-wish walking tours in town.

 

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Here’s a list of our top 10 free things to do.

Depending on what the activity entails, you may be required to practice social distancing and wear a mask to protect yourself and others during the pandemic.

Our Free Things to Do in Barcelona post has even more detail about this top 10 list, and more free activities.


12. Find free music in cafes across the city

Some of the bars and cafes in Barcelona will host a variety of musical talent every week, and it's usually free to enter and enjoy this music.

That said, if you enjoy the experience, you might want to consider offering a tip or buying a drink while you're there.


13. Check out the free museums on Sunday afternoons

If you're interested in experiencing more of the culture of Barcelona, there are multiple free museums you can visit throughout the city.

Some of the most notable examples include the Picasso Museum, the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona, the Natural Science Museum, the Maritime Museum, and more.

the Museu d'Historia

NOTE: Museum hours and/or free days might be altered as a result of the pandemic, and chances are you'll need to wear a mask and practice social distancing.


14. Explore each of Barcelona’s diverse neighborhoods

While most people will stick to the historic centre of Barcelona, the only way to experience the full culture of this city is to explore its multiple neighborhoods.

 

Free Gothic Quarter Tour

 

There are several interesting sites to see all over the city, including the Gothic Quarter, Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia and more.


15. Get free tapas when you order a drink at happy hour

Some bars and restaurants offer specials during happy hour, and one of the most popular offerings is free tapas with any drink order.

If you're looking for a snack and you don't really want to grab dinner yet, this is an excellent option that will allow you to save some money.


16. Play in one or more of Barcelona’s many parks

There are many different public parks you can visit in Barcelona.

 

Park Güell

 

Whether you just want to go for a walk, or you're looking for a playground that your kids will enjoy, there's plenty to see and do at the parks in this city.


17. Explore the city’s authentic Santa Caterina Market

If you're looking for the best fresh food in Barcelona, chances are you'll find everything you need at the Santa Caterina Market.'

Santa Caterina Market

This marketplace has dozens of shops which sell a variety of goods including fruits & vegetables, fresh fish, poultry, eggs, meat, and more.


18. Admire Barcelona’s graffiti and street art

Barcelona has a fairly vibrant culture of street art and graffiti, with excellent examples to be found in multiple neighborhoods throughout the city.

 

Many of the best spots are in the Gothic Quarter, but you can also find great works of art in Three Chimneys Urban Park, La Carbonería, Carrer de la Selva de Mar and more.


19. Climb to a lookout point to admire the city

There are a lot of great places to enjoy the view of Barcelona. Here are a few locations you may want to consider:

Tibidabo Peak

  • Park Güell
  • Bunkers of Carmel
  • Tibidabo Peak
  • La Sagrada Familia
  • National Museum of Art of Catalonia
  • And more!

20. Watch the Magic Fountain of Montjuic Castle

This is one of the most popular fountains in all of Barcelona, and visitors come from around the world to see the fantastic fountain shows they offer here at Montjuic Castle.

Magic Fountain of Montjuic Castle

Due to the pandemic, the hours of operation have changed a bit, but they still perform fountain shows on Tuesday - Saturday from 11 am - 1 pm and 4 pm - 6 pm.

They also have Sunday shows from 11 am - 3 pm.


21. Take a pay-what-you-like walking tour

While it is customary to provide a tip to your tour guide, these walking tours are technically free to enjoy, and at the very least you can rest assured they won't cost much.

This is a great way to become acclimated to Barcelona and learn about the history of the city without worrying about your budget.

For more inspiration, check out our Free Things to Do post.

 


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

Spend the night enjoying culture, food, and history! Having trouble narrowing it down? Here is our top 10 list.

 

 

Some of these activities may require you to wear a mask and practice social distancing to protect yourself and others while the pandemic is still a major concern.

For more things to do after dark in Barcelona, take a look at our Things to Do at Night post.


22. Learn about Barcelona’s dark history

If you're interested in learning about some of the legends, myths, and true crime stories that have their origins in this city, we recommend taking a ghost tour.

These outings typically discuss both the supernatural and real creepy or disturbing events from throughout the history of Barcelona.


23. See an FC Barcelona football match

Depending on when you visit, there may or may not be a football match to attend.

Fans of the sport should definitely consider seeing a live game just to experience the atmosphere of the crowds in this city.

FC Barcelona football match

Due to the pandemic, games could be rescheduled or canceled, and if they sell tickets to the public, chances are you'll need to wear a mask and observe social distancing rules.


24. Go to an open-late museum

There are usually a lot of museums in Barcelona which stay open until after dark. Even better, some of these locations are entirely free to visit!

  • L’Aquarium Barcelona
  • CosmoCaixa Science Museum
  • Museum of the History of Barcelona
  • Museu de la Musica
  • And more!

CosmoCaixa Science Museum

Many museums have either shortened or made significant changes to their hours of operation during the pandemic, and you'll most likely need to wear masks and observe social distancing regulations.


25. Enjoy Barcelona’s music scene at a jazz club or classical venue

There are a lot of venues in Barcelona which host musical performances throughout the week, including major concerts, classical locations and even jazz clubs.

Whether you're looking for a small, quiet, secluded place to enjoy some jazz, or you'd rather experience more of a party atmosphere, there are many different options to choose from.


26. Have tapas with a Flamenco show

Flamenco is one of the great examples of culture and performance art in Spain and Barcelona in particular, and there are typically several great shows to attend each night.

Flamenco show

If you're planning to see a Flamenco show, we recommend ordering tapas to enjoy a nice snack while watching the performers pull off incredible moves!


27. Stroll Las Ramblas for street performers and people watching

This street is one of the main thoroughfares in Barcelona, leading from Plaça de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument and the water behind it.

As you walk along Las Ramblas, you'll probably find several street performers in the area, and this is also an excellent place to enjoy some people watching.


28. Enjoy a dinner show at a medieval castle

If you're looking for a unique and special night out on the town, the Requesens Palace offers a special dinner and medieval show on Saturday nights.

At around 3 ½ hours long, this excellent show includes a meal, drinks, and a guided tour through the palace.


29. Take a sunset cruise and admire the skyline

This is another fun and romantic experience which allows you to experience Barcelona from a different perspective.

Watch the outline of the city change in both color and mood as the sun begins to set and building lights start to turn on.

NOTE: Some tourist passes include admission to Barcelona cruises.


30. See Gaudi’s La Pedrera lit up at night

Located at Casa Milà, La Pedrera is one of the finest works Gaudi ever created, and it takes on a whole new life after dark thanks to the light show and audio/visual display provided on the rooftop at night.

Pedrera at Night

This experience is only offered on weekends, and it's only offered at night due to the fact that it takes place on the roof of Casa Milà. 

It's also important to note that while the pandemic is still impacting the international community, you will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing protocols.

TIP: Tickets to La Pedrera are included with some Barcelona tourist passes.


31. Party the night away with a Barcelona Night Card

This discount card provides free admission to some of the best nightclubs in the city, including popular locations like Nick Havanna, Club Catwalk and Arena.

If you're planning to do some bar or club hopping while visiting Barcelona, this is an excellent way to save some time and money.

Check out our full post to see everything there is to do at night.


FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO

Barcelona is the perfect place for a family vacation. Of course, we must highlight the pay-what-you-wish walking tours in town because they are tours for every budget.

Here is our top 10 list for things to do with kids.

Some of the following activities will require you and your family to wear masks and practice social distancing in order to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

For a more detailed version of this family-friendly top 10 list and even more ideas, check out our full things to do with kids post.


32. Explore all the free parks

As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of great public parks to visit in Barcelona, and many of them have playgrounds that your children will love.

In addition to that, Ciutadella Park is also home to the Barcelona Zoo, which is another great place to take your kids!

Tickets to the Barcelona Zoo are included with some tourist passes.


33. See the educational and entertaining museums

There are several museums in Barcelona which are perfect for children and their families. Here are a few great examples you might want to consider:

Aquarium of Barcelona

  • CosmoCaixa
  • L'Aquarium Barcelona
  • Natural Science Museum
  • Barcelona Was Museum
  • Maritime Museum
  • And more!

As a result of the pandemic, you might be required to wear masks and/or practice social distancing in these museums.


34. Make your own mosaic art

What better way to learn about the cultural history of Barcelona than by creating your own Gaudi inspired mosaic artwork?

Families and their children will love the opportunity to use their imaginations and create a wonderful memento of the time they spent in this beautiful and culturally rich city!


35. Go to a football or basketball game

Depending on the time of year and whether or not the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the works, families visiting Barcelona will likely have several opportunities to see a sporting event.

Football is one of the most popular sports in this city, but Barcelona also has its own basketball team, so fans of either sport will probably enjoy the opportunity to see a live match or game.


36. Rent a boat at Parc de la Ciutadella

In addition to the zoo and other attractions, this park is also home to a small lake where you can rent a row boat and get off your feet for a little while.

Parc de la Ciutadella

If you're looking for a tranquil spot where you can relax for a bit before heading to the next activity, this is an excellent option that children and their families will enjoy.


37. See a Flamenco show

Discover this historic and culturally significant performance art which is hosted at many different venues every night in Barcelona.

This is an easy and fun way to introduce your children to one of the most interesting dances in the world, and there are several different locations to choose from.


38. Go to the Miniature Catalonia amusement park

After taking your family to some of the most notable sites in Barcelona, you may want to consider a stop at this interesting amusement park.

Miniature Catalonia amusement park

This location houses an exhibition with 1:25 models of important and historical attractions that you'll find throughout Catalonia. 

This park also includes a playground, so there's plenty for your kids to see and do while they're here!


39. Ride a cable car

If you're looking for a fun and easy way to get around the city and to some of the highest points in Barcelona, it's difficult to beat the cable cars. 

Visitors planning to visit the Montjuic Castle or spend some time at Tibidabo Peak should definitely consider using this form of transportation to enjoy excellent views of the city.


40. Take a ghost tour of Barcelona

Parents visiting Barcelona with teens or young adults may want to consider taking them on a haunted tour of the city.

These outings typically include details about various myths, legends, supernatural events, and true crime stories.

While it might not be appropriate for younger children, older kids will probably love this kind of tour!


41. Take a tour of Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s football stadium

Even if you can't make it to a game, there are usually multiple opportunities to take a tour of this football stadium throughout the week, and in fact, the tour is included with some tourist passes!

Fans of the sport will more than likely jump at the opportunity to take a tour of one of the most beloved stadiums in all of Football.

Camp Nou

It's also worth noting that this activity is included with some Barcelona tourist passes!

Just keep in mind that with the pandemic changing things all over the world, there's a good chance that even if you can enjoy this tour, you might still have to practice social distancing and wear a mask.

Find even more things to do with your kids in Barcelona on our full family-friendly post.


THINGS TO DO IN BARCELONA BY MONTH

We have also created guides based on the time of year. Click on the links below for the corresponding time that you plan on being in Barcelona.

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: October 13th, 2021

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