Barcelona is Spain’s second most populated city and the capital city of the Catalonia community. The Catalan culture is strong throughout the city as locals take great pride in the history and language and make an effort to keep it alive. We loved seeing the Catalonia independence flag flying from balconies and after only a few hours walking the streets, we knew our time in the city would be special.
We lucked out and found a house sit near the gothic quarter, which allowed us to spend a couple weeks exploring the city. We did a few touristy things, but tried to live like a local as well.
We know most people only have a few days in the city so we compiled a list of top activities to do in Barcelona. If you plan your time well, you can do all five in a long weekend!
Here are Five Can’t Miss Activities when visiting Barcelona!
#1 Take a Guided Tour
Taking a guided tour of a city is something we generally go back and forth on. First, we don’t like spending extra money if we can see the same stuff on our own and for free. Second, you are stuck to a schedule and can’t take extra time to do as you please. However, the benefits and information provided by your tour operator can be worth the price and they will almost certainly know more than you.
Barcelona offers a ton of different guided tours, including food tours, bicycle tours, segway tours, and even sidecar tours. We ended up going with an eBike tour and loved it! Read more about our time with Barcelona eBikes HERE!
#2 Visit the El Born District
The El Born district is a great location to base yourself when visiting Barcelona. You will find plenty of places for food and drink, local food markets and shops. Historically, El Born was the artistic area of Barcelona and today you will still find many shops run by local artists. These shops have a wonderful selection of handmade items. Perfect for souvenirs and gifts!
Being outside and in the open is part of the culture here and throughout Barcelona. We loved walking from our flat each evening for tapas and drinks and finding the locals sipping on cava or wine and simply enjoying each others company. It doesn’t hurt that the weather is just about perfect all year round.
#3 View Gaudí Architecture
Antoni Gaudí is a Spanish architect and is responsible for many of the beautiful buildings across Barcelona. Gaudí was inspired by two things: God and nature, and this is evident throughout his creations.
Catalans are proud of Gaudí and his works, so visiting some of these is an absolute must! We’ve listed a few of his most famous creations below.
La Sagrada Família
Chances are La Sagrada Família will look something like the photo above during your visit. This church has been under construction since 1882 and the earliest anticipated completion date is sometime in 2026! Don’t let the construction stop you from visiting though, it is stunning.
This was Gaudí’s final project, which he was working on right up to his death in 1926. The church is meant to bring people into the faith through the beauty of the outside and then keep them there once they arrive inside.
Casa Milà: AKA La Pedrera
Casa Milà was designed and built for a prominent Barcelona family in the early 20th century. It has been preserved and turned into a museum, so visitors can now tour and see the inside of this beautiful building. The highlight is the roof top terrace which provides a beautiful view anytime of day.
Casa Batlló is another building designed and built for a prominent Barcelona family in the early 20th century. This is just down the street from Casa Milà, but the design is even more beautiful in our opinion. It has also been turned into a museum and we thoroughly enjoyed our time inside the house. Your ticket includes both audio and video guides. The video guide combines augmented reality with virtual elements allowing you to see how Casa Batlló looked when the Batlló family lived there.
Park Güell is another of Gaudí’s grand designs, located near the outskirts of Barcelona. At the time this was a distance from the city center, but over the years the city grew and now it sits very near residential areas and businesses. The park includes wonderful architecture, known as the Monumental Zone, and plenty of green space and nature. A perfect Gaudí mix!
*** You can purchase tickets online for the above attractions in advance of your arrival and we highly recommend you do so. Your ticket will be for a predetermined time which will allow you to skip the lines and avoid arriving after an attraction has sold out for the day.***
#4 Enjoy an EatWith Experience
We signed up for an EatWith dinner and this may have been the most fun we had in Barcelona. The food we enjoyed was delicious and the company was even better! We spent a few hours sampling local drinks and dishes and getting to know new people. We dined with fellow Americans, Aussies and of course our Spanish hosts. It was a great night and something we can’t recommend enough.
EatWith has a huge selection of experiences in Barcelona and all over the globe.
#5 Barcelona Tour Bus
And finally, the hop-on/hop-off tour bus. A staple of many big cities which get a lot of tourists coming to visit.
We don’t do these very often, but Barcelona is a perfect city for taking advantage of this option. The city is large and spread out and the bus makes stops at many of the places you will want to see anyway. Paying for this option is an excellent way to get to the sites and will save you some headaches in terms of figuring out the local transportation system. And it will surely save you money if you generally consider taking a taxi!
Plus, there is free WiFI aboard the Barcelona Bus Turístic, so you can immediately upload your instagrams and snaps! Your ticket includes an audio guide, so you will know what you are looking at as you cruise the city.
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