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Top Things to Do in Barcelona: One of the Most Stunning Cities in the World

  • Post last modified:October 27, 2023
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Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, and one of the most popular in the world. There are so many amazing top things to do in Barcelona, and ways to enjoy this stunning city.


There is a popular debate about which is better- Madrid or Barcelona? Well we love both, and have our own opinion, but we'll let you decide!


Check out all that Barcelona has to offer, and also check out our article about Madrid. We're sure you'll love each for different reasons, and it will make you craving to explore more of this beautiful country. So without further ado- let's jump right in to the top things to do in Barcelona, and everything you need to know.

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Where is Barcelona?

Barcelona is a located right on the coast of the region of Catalunya in Spain. It's the second biggest city in the country, and is situated in the north east, just a couple hours from the border of France.

where is Barcelona

Barcelona is located in the north east corner of Spain.


How to Get to Barcelona

Barcelona has one of the biggest international airports in Spain, making it very easy to get to by flight. The city is just 15-20 minutes from the airport, making it super accessible. Another airport that is located just an hour away is the smaller airport of Girona.


We traveled from Madrid, and unfortunately missed our flight. But have no fear! There are plenty of ways to get to Barcelona.


Getting to Barcelona By Train

There are many cities that connect to Barcelona by train, using the Renfe. There are both normal and fast trains that go into the AVE station of Barcelona. Trains are a very comfortable way to travel, but prices can be much higher than flights or buses.


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Getting to Barcelona by Bus

The bus is the longest way to get to Barcelona, however if you book early you can get super cheap rates. We took the overnight bus from Madrid to Barcelona. It was the cheapest option, and also saved us on accommodation. However, it definitely wasn't the most comfortable option.


Popular bus routes to Barcelona:


Popular International Buses to Barcelona:


Planning on going to Madrid before or after Barcelona? Check out our full article below for everything to know for visiting the Spanish capital.

Living in Madrid for two years let me experience so much of the Spanish capital, and let me tell you, it is such a fun city! Often overshadowed by Barcelona, Madrid has plenty to offer despite being far from the coast. Here is a list of what to do when

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Getting to Barcelona by BlaBla Car

This is one of our favorite options for traveling, as it is a popular carpooling system throughout Europe. Blabla Cars are typically one of the cheapest ways to get from point A to point B. You just need to put in your date and cities of travel, and the app will show other people that are planning on doing that trip.


You will see the different options for where people are departing, and what times they are going. It is safe as each person has a verified profile that has reviews and info about the person and the car, even how much they like to talk!


Using Blabla car is comfortable, and allows you to make a friend along the way while saving money, and helping others pay for their gas. Win-win in our book!


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Entry Requirements for Spain

Many travelers can freely travel to Spain. However, here are some things that you need to keep in mind.


Visa Requirements for Spain

There are many citizenships that can enter Spain visa-free. Travelers from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland can enter with no restrictions, while those that don't need a Schengen visa can visit for up to 90 days in a 180 day period.


The 90/180 Rule

It's important to note that the 90 days is valid for all countries in the Schengen area. For example, if you spend 20 days in France (also part of the EU), you will then only be able to spend 70 days total in Spain within the 180 day period.


We use the Schengen visa calculator, which is helpful for those planning on traveling in and out of the EU for a long period of time.


Schengen Visas

For those that are planning on staying longer, or those that are from a country that don't get visa-free access, they will need to in fact apply for a Schengen Visa. Make sure to check the list of countries that need to get a Schengen Visa before traveling.


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Covid Entry Requirements for Spain

Right now (August 2022) the borders are open for Spain. Travelers no longer need a negative Covid test, as long as they are vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated however, you will need either  proof of recovery of Covid-19 within the last 90 days, or a negative PCR test.

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Local Adjustments

Here are a few things to know before traveling to Barcelona, Spain to make your travels smoother.


Language

Despite being in Spain, the official language of Barcelona is Catalan. It is a strange mix of Spanish and French, so can be a bit confusing if you speak Spanish. Although the language is Catalan, you will find that everyone also speak Spanish. The only time you may find yourself struggling with Catalan is while trying to read local signs or menus.


Barcelona is also a very touristic city, so it is common that you will find plenty of people that speak English.


Currency

Just like the rest of Spain, Barcelona uses the euro. Credit cards are widely accepted, but you should carry some cash on you as well.


Outlets

The outlets in Barcelona are the same throughout most of Europe,  which are for plug types C & F. Plug type C has two round pins, and plug type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. Spain operates on a supply voltage of 230V and 50Hz.


Water Potability

The water is 100% safe to drink in Barcelona. However, if you go to a restaurant, the chances you'll be offered tap water to drink are slim to none. If you ask for some you may get lucky, but it's definitely not common.


Tipping Culture

The tipping culture in Spain is almost inexistent. However, if you do feel that the server did a great job, you could simply leave a euro or two on the table as a little extra.

If you use your credit card and they ask which currency you want to pay in, always say euro as it gives you a better rate with your bank.


Top Things to Do in Barcelona

With a unique mix of beach, city, and mountains, you could spend weeks exploring in and around Barcelona! Here are some of our favorites top things to do and see in Barcelona.


What to See in Barcelona

As Spain's second largest city, there are so many amazing places to see. Here are spots to check out while in the area.


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Sagrada Familia

This is the ultimate icon of the city of Barcelona. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is still being constructed, and was started all the way back in 1882 by the famous artist Gaudi, who is also responsible for much of the stunning architecture throughout the city.


The cathedral is gorgeous both inside and out. Make sure to get a ticket in advance and arrive early, as the line to get in can take very long.

Sagrada Famila, things to do in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia is the number one thing to see in Barcelona.

Casa Batllo

This is another one of Gaudi's masterpieces, and has a gorgeous and unique front. You can also visit inside, from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm Mondays to Thursdays, and 9 am to 8 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are 35 euros for adults, 32 for kids from 7-18, and free for kids 6 and under.

Casa Batllo, things to do in Barcelona

Casa Batllo is one of Gaudi's famous masterpieces.

Casa Mila

Walk just a few blocks further down the same road as Casa Batllo, and you will yet again find a beautiful piece of architecture done by Gaudi, Casa Mila. The outside has a beautiful design, and the top has great views of Sagrada Familia. Casa Mila is open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, and then again from 7 pm to 10 pm. Tickets cost 28 euros, and the best time to go is around sunset.

Casa Mila, Barcelona

Casa Mila is one of Gaudi's masterpieces.

Casa Vicens

This is another stunning place created by Gaudi. Finding a pattern here? This was Gaudi's first house, and really deserves a visit on the inside. The house is several stories, and has vibrant and colorful designs throughout it. Casa Vicens is open from 10 am to 3 pm, and was 16 euros when we visited (February 2022). Book online to save a euro or two.

Casa Vicens, top things to do in Barcelona

Casa Vicens has beautiful design inside and out.

Palau de la Musica

Palau de la Musica is simply one of the most stunning concert halls you will ever see. The ticket to enter inside in 18 euros, and there are also guided tours offered as well. Hours are from 10 am to 2 pm and 4:30 to 8:30 pm from Monday to Saturday, and 10 am to 1 pm on Sundays and festivals .

Palau de la musica Catalana
Palau de la musica Catalana in Barcelona


Park Guell

Park Guell is the biggest and most maginificent park in Barcelona, and an area with beautiful mosaic creations from Antoni Gaudi. There are architectural pieces, gardens, and viewpoints inside the park as well. 


The hours can be tricky, as there are different opening hours for tourists and residents. From 7 am to 9 am residents can enter, and then at 9 tourists can enter with tickets booked.

Park Guell, top things to do in Barcelona

Park Guell is one of the top things to do in Barcelona.

You can buy tickets for 10 euros on site until 6 pm, and then the park is open until 10 pm. Each ticket is for a one time entrance, and can't be used multiple times in one day. 

Parque de la Ciutadella

This is another beautiful park worth checking out in Barcelona. The entrance has the beautiful arc de triumph, and there is an extravagant fountain that is popular for visitors. The park also is the greenest area in the city, and was the Central Park for decades, free to enter for all to enjoy.

Parque la Ciutadella in Barcelona

Parque La Ciutadella is the largest green space in Barcelona.

Top Things to Do in Barcelona

Now you know the best things to see in Barcelona, we also have a great list of fun activities to enjoy! Here are some of the best things to do in Barcelona, Spain.


Go to the Beach

One of the best parts of visiting Barcelona is enjoying both the city and the beach all in one. La Barceloneta is full each day with both locals and tourists alike. It is free of charge, and has plenty of amenities such as umbrellas and chairs for rent, and a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops lined up.


La Barceloneta is also a great place to enjoy the sunrise before all of the crowds start during in.

La Barceloneta at sunrise

La Barceloneta îs a great place to watch the sunrise.

Stroll Through Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas is the a large avenue that runs through the touristic area of Barcelona. Full of stunning architecture, restaurants, bars, and shops, we promise you won't get bored here. This is a great area just to stroll around and soak up the vibes of Barcelona.


Enjoy Spanish Nightlife

Spain has some of the best nightlife in the world, and Barcelona is certainly no exception. There are tons of different neighborhoods where you can hop from bar to another, or you can check out some of the famous clubs where you can party til the sun comes up. Our two personal favorites for those that want an epic party are Pacha and Opium.


Take a Day Trip to Montserrat

Not only does Barcelona sit right next to the beach, but it is just a stone's throw from some stunning mountains. Montserrat is a popular day trip from Barcelona, as it is known as the most mysterious and impressive mountain range in Catalunya.


There is a small town that is actually built right into the mountain. You can actually take the train straight from Barcelona, making it super accessible to anyone wanting to visit.

Montserrat, Day trips from Barcelona

Montserrat is one of the top things to do in Barcelona as a day trip.


Watch the Sunset from Bunkers El Carmel

Bunkers El Carmel is located just outside of Park Guell, and boasts some stunning views of the city. Grab a six pack and head here for sunset to chill and enjoy the beautiful views as the city starts to light up below. Bunkers El Carmel is open 24/7 and is free of charge to enter.

Bunkers el Carmel, top things to do in Barcelona

Bunkers el Carmel is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Barcelona.

Take in the Views from Tibidabo

Want another stunning view of the city? Further up lies Tibidabo, the highest mountain of the Sierra Collserola. We wanted to come here for sunrise, as it is apparently magical (just like the nickname of Tibidabo- The Magic Mountain). However, we missed our opportunity. Additionally, Tibidabo is known for its big amusement park at the top, making it perfect for all ages.


Go to a Football Match

One of the biggest football (soccer in the US) teams in the world is Barcelona, so if the team happens to be playing a home game, then you should definitely have this incredible experience. 

If there aren't any games though, you can still tour the stadium Camp Nou, which is one of the most popular things to do in Barcelona.


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Up Your Instagram Game

Barcelona is such an Instagrammable city! There are tons of photo opportunities scattered around the city such as beautiful murals or colorful buildings. 

Instagrammable spots in Barcelona

The kissing mural is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Barcelona.

Want to know all of the best Instagrammable spots throughout the city? Well, we've actually compiled a whole list for you. Make sure to read our article below!

Barcelona is a truly stunning city. Looking for that perfect Instagram shot? Well, when it comes to Instagrammable spots in Barcelona, we've got you covered.With stunning architecture, beautiful parks, and colorful cafes, we've compiled a list of the most photogenic spots throughout this Spanish city. Here are 16 of the

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Food & Drink in Barcelona

Spanish cuisine is full of delicious meats, cheeses, and of course, the famous tapas. There are so many great things to eat, and unique restaurants in Barcelona as well, that we could write an entire guide on the food scene in this Spanish city. Here are some of the highlights.


Things to Eat in Barcelona

Spain has an incredible Mediterranean cuisine. There are so many great things to eat, but we will give you just a few of our favorites to try. Here are some of the best foods to try in Barcelona.


Paella

Paella is a Spanish classic. This large rice dish is best known in the Valencia region, but you can also find paella very easily throughout the city of Barcelona. Being that Barcelona is a beach city, there is great seafood, so we suggest you trying a "paella de mariscos" (seafood paella).

paella

Paella is the number one dish to try in Spain.

Jamon

Jamon is cured ham, and very similar to Italian prosciutto (but better!). You can find jamon served as an appetizer in restaurants, in sandwiches, and in many different dishes.


Tortilla

Tortilla is one of our favorites! Translated to a "potato omelet" it really is much different. You can find large tortillas sold in almost any cafe, and order a "pincho" (small piece) or full tortilla as a meal. We personally think it's perfect to start the day with a piece of tortilla, and a cafe con leche (espresso with milk).


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Tapas

Tapas are more than just a food, but a full experience. They are small plates of food, that are either served as a small starter (for free) or you can go to a market or restaurant for tapas to have with family and friends. Tapas are great because they allow you try many different foods, get food quickly, and to spend just a few euros.


Calcots 

This is actually a Catalunyan specialty, so a must while in Barcelona! Calcots are a type of long green onion that are burnt on the outside, and then dipped into a garlic sauce. This is typical to find only in winter, so a great reason to travel to Barcelona in the colder months!


Sangria

One of our favorite Spanish specialties is Sangria. The classic is made with red wine and fresh fruit, although many places also offer a white version as well.



Places to Eat & Drink in Barcelona

There are a ton of cool restaurants in Barcelona, with plenty of different options for different cuisines and food allergies. Here are a few of our favorites:


Eixampeling Cafe

This is the ultimate brunch spot in Barcelona. Eixampeling Cafe is covered in floral decor, neon signs, and fun photo opps. Their menu is full of extravagant dishes with playful names. 


We got the Quack Efron (duck, poached eggs, truffle hollandaise, and orange marmalade on a black waffle) and the Crustina Egg-uleira (jamon Serrano, poached eggs, and hollandaise on toast). Both were insanely good, as were the marshmallow lattes that we ordered.

Eixampeling Cafe in Barcelona

Eixempeling Cafe is Super Instagrammable, and has amazing food.


Brunch & Cake

After having brunch at Eixampeling, we didn't know if we would be able to find a brunch spot quite as good. However, Brunch and Cake was exceptional. The food and service were incredible, and the prices were very reasonable. We definitely recommend this spot for a great brunch in Barcelona.

Brunch and Cake in Barcelona

Brunch and Cake serves some of the best brunch options in Barcelona.


The Fat Schmuck

The Fat Schmuck is another fun restaurant in Barcelona that serves both delicious brunch and lunch options. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, games to play, and are pet friendly.


Ayre Hotel Rosellon

Looking for a drink and some great views? Well Ayre Hotel Rosellon sits just a block away from Sagrada familia and has an epic rooftop. In addition, the sangria is great, and only 9 euros a jug! Make sure to reserve in advance, as they are usually full several days out.

Ayre Hotel Rosellon Rooftop

Ayre Hotel has one of the best rooftop bars in Barcelona.


Taverna La Parra

This was our absolute favorite restaurant in Barcelona, and where our local friends took us! Taverna La Parra is known for their incredible ribs, which you actually have to reserve the meat in advance so that they can save you some. The place is super cozy, the service is great, and the food indescribable.


Moving Around Barcelona

Barcelona is such an easy city to move around! There is so much to enjoy, and much of it can easily be walked. We suggest walking as much as possible, since you can really appreciate the beautiful architecture throughout the city, and stop many times along the way.


If you want to go across the city, or visit the outskirts of Barcelona, there is a metro system, as well as public buses.


Taking the Metro in Barcelona

Barcelona has a few different lines that run throughout the city. You can either purchase a single ride, 10 pack, or daily packages. A one way ticket costs 2.40 euros, while a 10-trip ticket costs 11.35. Keep in mind the ten trips can only be used one at a time, so it cannot be shared.


There are also 72, 96, and 120 hour tickets. For 3 days it is 23.80, for 4 days 31 euros, and it is 38.20 for 5 days of unlimited transportation.


Private Transportation

Uber is not available in Barcelona, only taxis. You can either flag one down on the street, or order one by downloading the app Cabify.


Where to Stay in Barcelona

There are so many cool things to do in Barcelona, and it's such a big city, that it can be overwhelming to choose exactly where to stay. We personally think that the two best areas are the Gothic quarter (this is centrally located and has a ton of great restaurants and bars nearby) or by La Barceloneta, which is near the beach.


Book a place to stay in the Gothic Quarter:

Booking.com


Book a place to stay in La Barceloneta:

Booking.com

Is Barcelona Safe?

Barcelona is comparable in safety to many other large European cities. It is overall a safe place to be. However, you should always be extra careful with your belongings, as there are plenty of pickpockets. We suggest not walking down dark alleys alone at night. Other than that there is not too much to worry about.


Other Things to Know About Visiting Barcelona

Here are a few other things to note while visiting the city of  Barcelona.


The Best Time to Visit Barcelona

Barcelona is a great city that can be enjoyed year round! While it has a beach, it does make for a very popular summer destination. We personally think it is more beautiful to visit in spring or fall, as temperatures are more moderate, and crowds are a little smaller.  You can still have a beach day, and also enjoy walking around without extreme heat and humidity.

Palau de la Musica, top things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that can be enjoyed year round.

Weather & Packing

The weather in Barcelona is super nice compared to many other European destinations in the winter months. We visited in February, and found that we barely even needed a light jacket during the day, and only needed a jacket at night.


The sun was shining bright all day every day, so we suggest bringing sunscreen, and definitely a bathing suit for the beach if you visit spring, summer, or fall.


As the city is super walkable, we suggest bringing a good pair of shoes that won't hurt your feet, and a refillable water bottle for the free fountains throughout the city.


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We hope this guide has helped you to make the most of your trip to Barcelona! We know that you will absolutely love the variety of activities, great weather, and delicious food scene that this city has to offer.


Planning on visiting Madrid? Well Danni lived there for two years and has plenty of great recommendations to check out in our full guide of the best things to do in Madrid


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Want to see other destinations in Spain? We also have a guide of fun things to do in Costa Blanca, and tons of other guides about the Canary Islands. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter so that you can get updates about our new articles for travel inspo and tips!


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