Trip planning? Here’s what to do in Barcelona.
what to do in barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a modern European powerhouse, the second largest city in Spain, the capital of Catalonia, and host to over 7 million visitors per year… And it’s easy to see why, with over 300 sunny days per year, gothic neighborhoods with Roman walls and winding corridors filled with shops and restaurants, an international culinary reputation difficult to match. Throw in the beaches, the Gaudi masterpieces, the parks, markets and day trips to Montserrat. Well, you might just need help deciding what to do in Barcelona…
What To Do in Barcelona:
what to do in barcelona

With so many options, it can be difficult deciding what to do in Barcelona. We spent 30 days in this wonderful city and still didn’t see everything we would have liked. Here are our suggestions for things that definitely should not be missed.

What to do in Barcelona? Catch Some Rays at the Beach

what to do in Barcelona

With 10 different beaches in Barcelona, including some nudist beaches, you can’t go wrong. Our favorite is Barceloneta Beach. Some call it crowed and touristy, but we call it entertaining. Don’t bother packing a cooler for the day, there are plenty of salesmen walking the beach, offering “water, mojito, sexy beer”!

What to do in Barcelona? Stroll in the Parks

what to do in barcelona

Barcelona offers many choices when it comes to parks and gardens, but we narrowed down our top four:

what to do in barcelona

Overlooking the harbor, Montjuic is located Southwest of the city and is the home of the grand Palau Nacional (National Palace), Estadi Olímpic (Olympic Stadium), and Font Màgica (Magic Fountain of Montjuïc). Montjuic also hosts many concerts, art, and film festivals throughout the summer.

Tibidabo Amusement Park
what to do in barcelona

Northwest of the city, perched atop the tallest mountain near Barcelona, you will find Tibidabo amusement park and Sagrat Cor church. Tibidabo offers gorgeous panoramic city and Mediterranean views. Open since 1868, this old park will bring you back in time.

Parc de la Ciutadella
what to do in barcelona

Parc de la Ciutadella has much to offer… With the Arc de Triomf on one end and the Zoo on the other, the 70 acres historical park is also home to Parliament of Catalonia and the breathtaking Cascada Monumental (waterfall).

Park Güell
what to do in barcelona

This Gaudi-designed UNESCO park is an absolute must-see in Barcelona. Located northwest of the city center, Park Güell should not be missed.

What to do in Barcelona? OH, The Delicious Markets!

what to do in barcelona

Fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, spices.. Yes please! You’ll find outdoor food markets in every neighborhood across Barcelona. Here are two of our favorites:

La Boqueria
what to do in barcelona

Located in the center of Barcelona on La Rambla, La Boqueria is a city landmark dating back to 1217. This market is a sensory overload of bright colors, delicious aromas, and some of the best people watching in Barcelona.

Santa Catarina
what to do in barcelona

You’ll know you’ve found Santa Catarina when you spot the waves of color on the roof of this market. Probably our favorite market in Barcelona, you’ll find all the goods of La Boqueria without all the people.

What to do in Barcelona? Admire the Incredible Churches

what to do in barcelona

One thing Barcelona is not lacking is a plethora of churches and cathedrals. All are stunningly beautiful and most are incredibly old.. These are our top picks:

what to do in barcelona

If you’re in the mood for a day trip, take the delightful train ride an hour northwest of Barcelona to Montserrat, a mountain-top monastery. The beautiful buildings of the monastery are surrounded by needle shaped monolithic rocks, a sight to see on their own.

Barcelona Cathedral
what to do in barcelona

This gargoyle-covered gothic cathedral is located just southeast of the city center. With a long history and powerful presence, this church is one of our favorites in all of Europe.

Sagrada Familia
what to do in barcelona

This yet to be finished UNESCO basilica (said to be completed in 2032) is a must see when visiting Barcelona. The Gaudi-designed mammoth started construction over 130 years ago! Easily the most recognizable building in Barcelona, you will be awestruck by its uniqueness.

What to do in Barcelona? Book a Tour!

What to do in Barcelona? Celebrate at a Festival!

what to do in barcelona

Barcelona is known for it’s wide range of festivals throughout the year, but we recommend visiting at the end of September to experience La Mercè, the week-long festival honoring the patron saint of Barcelona. Along with free concerts, castellers (human towers), and street parades, you can also take part in the correfoc (fire-run). Check out our video from the festivities.

What to do in Barcelona? Soak in the Sounds

what to do in barcelona

If you enjoy incredible music and are in Barcelona on a Monday night, you must head over to Jamboree Jazz club. Located south of the city center on the famous Plaça Reial, Jamboree hosts a weekly jam session called ‘WTF!’ where jazz musicians mix with hip-hop artists and electronic music. Have a listen.

What to do in Barcelona? Bonus!

Super Bonus! We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Barcelona travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.

iTunes App Store
or Google Play

Getting to Barcelona:

what to do in Barcelona


If planned in advance, affordable direct flights are available from many major cities in Europe. From Paris for $22, Berlin for $29, Lisbon for $40, London for $51, and even Istanbul for $40 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.

Barcelona Flight Deals

visit barcelona


Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. This said, bus travel is generally the least expensive.. The trip from Paris is only $35 but does take nearly 15 hours.


Trains throughout Europe are a great option. You’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and the trains are typically very comfortable. If you’re coming from any other city in Spain we highly recommend traveling by train. However, if you’re traveling from another European country, we still recommend flying due to overall cost and journey time. For example, the train route from Paris is 6 hours, and at $200, a flight saves time and money. Fares & Schedules

Airport to Barcelona City Center
what to do in barcelona

Fly into El Prat Airport and head towards Barcelona’s City Centre, about 13 miles away. How will you get there?

From El Prat Airport


Their are two Metro stations at El Prat Airport, one on Floor 0 of Terminal 1, and the other just outside of Terminal 2. The (L9) will have you Centric Station in about 36 minutes for about $5.


There are three bus options from El Prat to the City Center:

  • Aerobus Express Bus Service**Recommended** – Look for the light and dark blue A1 or A2 bus with the giant “Aerobus” logo just outside of the arrivals area at Terminals 1 and 2. Purchase tickets to the city centre from the driver or from nearby vending machines for just over $6. Depending on traffic and your drop-off point, the ride should take about 25-35 minutes to the city center.
  • TMB Barcelona – With more stops in-between, this Barcelona city bus takes a bit longer, but is also less expensive, and can by used in connection with the Barcelona Card, unlike the Aerobus. Purchase tickets for Bus #46 at any airport tobacco shop or outside the airport RENFE station for about $2.50, and expect the ride time to range 30-55 minutes depending on the terminal and traffic. Note: Expect limited luggage space.
  • Airport Night Bus – If arriving late at El Prat Airport(9:55pm-4:45am), look for eitherNitbus N17 or N16 instead of the regular TMB Barcelona bus.

what to do in barcelona

RENFE Airport Train

The RENFE runs from Terminal 2 to three station in the city centre: Barcelona Sants, Clot, and Passeig de Gràcia. If arriving at Terminal 1, look for the free shuttle to Terminal 2, outside of arrivals. The RENFE will have you to the city centre in about 25 minutes, and tickets can be purchased from station vending machines for about $5.


Find taxi stands just outside of the arrivals area of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and expect to play a flat fare of 30euros for Terminal 1 and 35euros for Terminal 2(About $33 and $39, respectively) for the 20-30 minute ride to Barcelona city centre. UBER is not currently available in Barcelona.

Getting around in Barcelona
what to do in barcelona


The extensive metro system is clean, efficient, and is widely used by both locals and tourists visiting Barcelona. Purchase single journey tickets from vending machines located within each station. Tickets cost 2.15euro(about $2.40usd). The vending machine will ask how many “zones” you will be traveling, but unless you’re traveling outside the city, or using the RENFE, just choose Zone 1. To make things easy, you might consider purchasing a Hola BCN! card. Starting at $16 for 48 hours, the Hola BCN! card gives you unlimited public transportation(excluding Aerobus and taxis), and can be purchased at any Metro vending machine or online for a 10% discount.

Bus (TMB)

The TMB bus system in Barcelona well-connected and cheap, with single tickets costing 2.15euros. Download the free TMB App, which is loaded with route maps for planning your trip, bus and metro schedules, as well as up to the minute route delays.

Bus (TMB)

The TMB bus system in Barcelona well-connected and cheap, with single tickets costing 2.15euros. Download the free TMB App, which is loaded with route maps for planning your trip, bus and metro schedules, as well as up to the minute route delays.

what to do in barcelona


All licensed taxis in Barcelona are painted black and yellow. They are all metered, but rates can vary depending on weekdays, weekends, evenings, or holidays. In our experience, taxi drivers in Barcelona are generally honest, but best bet is to ask how much before hopping in. Hail taxis with their green vacancy light on, or find one of 300 taxi stands around the city. Expect to pay about $2.50 for the first km, and $1.50 for each additional km.

Walk gives El Gotic in the heart of downtown a score of 99, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”. We also found this to be true and highly recommended exploring El Gotic by foot.

Where To Stay in Barcelona:

what to do in barcelona

Where To Stay in Barcelona: HOTELS

As one of Europe’s commercial capitals, Barcelona offers a vast range of hotels to choose from. Options span from high-end hotels like the Hotel Arts Barcelona or Mandarin Oriental Barcelona for $400 a night to mid-range hotels like Ilunion Bel Art Hotel or Catalonia Park Guell Hotel for $80 a night. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Barcelona.

Barcelona Hotel Deals

Where To Stay in Barcelona: HOSTELS

With over 200 hostels in Barcelona, you’re sure to find one that fits all of your needs. Prices generally range from $25-$35 a night for a dorm room, while a private room will cost quite a bit more at around $100-$130 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Barcelona.

Barcelona Hostel Deals

Where To Stay in Barcelona: AIRBNB

We love Airbnb! From private rooms to entire homes, there are plenty of choices when visiting Barcelona. If you’re a first-timer with Airbnb, use this coupon and enjoy $35 off of your stay.

Where To Stay in Barcelona: NEIGHBORHOODS

what to do in barcelona

Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip-planning that should not be overlooked! Here are some neighborhoods worth considering when deciding where to stay in Barcelona.

El Gotic

The heart of downtown and Barcelona’s oldest neighborhood. This Gothic Quarter is home to the famous tree lined street of La Rambla, medieval alleyways, and government buildings.

what to do in barcelona


Home to the iconic Sagrada Familia, this well-to-do neighborhood is where you’ll get your high-end shopping fix. Gucci, Chanel, Tiffany’s, you get the picture!

El Born

Dubbed Barcelona’s most trendy neighborhood, you’ll find a plethora of cafes, tapas bars, and boutique shops.

what to do in barcelona

La Barceloneta

If you’re a beach-lover, this is the neighborhood for you! Very popular with tourists and densely populated, the laid back vibes of Barceloneta is where you’ll enter the Mediterranean Sea. You can also find some of the city’s best seafood restaurants here, as well as Europe’s largest aquarium.

Sant Pere

Named after the 10th-century Monastery Sant Pere de les Puelles, this is our favorite neighborhood in all of Barcelona. We love the laid-back bohemian vibe, history, and local shops. Check out our in-depth review of Sant Pere here.

Barcelona Travel Tips:

what to do in barcelona

Barcelona travel tips: Tipping

Tipping: While tipping at bars in Barcelona is not expected, you should leave a 10% tip at restaurants. It is best to leave tips in cash as opposed to credit card to ensure the server receives it. Tipping a tour guide is not expected unless the tour is private. If so, give 20 Euros. Taxi drivers typically get 10% tips in Spain.

Barcelona travel tips: Money

Spain’s national currency is the Euro, and is currently exchanging at $0.89EUR to $1USD. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM machines are readily available.

Barcelona travel tips: Insurance

Traveling through Barcelona is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.

If you’ll be visiting Barcelona, you might want to check out our Barcelona resource page.

Wanderlust Duo inspiration and advice for over 50 destinations!

Follow Wanderlust Duo on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Leave a Reply