What to See and Do in Barcelona

by  Melissa Klurman | Feb 6, 2020
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona / TomasSereda/iStock

Barcelona is truly unique: it doesn’t look or feel like any other city in the world. Best known for its fantastic architectural masterpieces by Gaudí, there are also fascinating and well-preserved medieval streets — not to mention a vibrant Catalan culture with its own unique language and cuisine. Steps away from all its hustle and bustle, you'll find a string of beaches where sun and fun is the name of the game. All of this makes Barcelona a city you’ll want to explore over and over again. 

Read more: Spain Travel Guide

Las Ramblas 

Stroll along this famous pedestrian promenade to experience Barcelona at its best. The one-mile stretch from the waterfront to Plaça de Catalunya is lined with vendors and cafés. Here, you'll also find street entertainers and a vibrant energy that makes it the place to be both day and night. 

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia 

Antoni Gaudí’s grand Basilica was his life’s work, a soaring tribute to Modernism with all the imaginative signatures of his creative genius within every inch of the landmark Gothic church — think soaring pillars, spectacular stained glass, intricate carvings depicting animals, dragons, and gargoyles decorating every inch of the facade. (Note: You could spend a whole vacation just viewing the incredible architecture of Barcelona. Follow the Ruta del Modernisme de Barcelona, a free self-guided tour for all the highlights.)

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia  / saiko3p/iStock

Museu Picasso 

Picasso himself donated many of the works at this museum, including his entire Las Meninas series of paintings inspired by Velazquez. The museum spans five adjoining townhouses — all devoted to Picasso's work — especially those that were created while he lived in Barcelona. 

Barri Gòtic

The Gothic Quarter features charming medieval streets and centuries-old architecture (including 13th-century-era churches and even the remains of a 12th-century Jewish synagogue). Wandering the narrow streets is like stepping back in time.


Montjuïc Cable Car 

For some of the best views over Barcelona, take this cable car from Barceloneta Beach up Montjuïc, where you can soak up 360-degree vistas from the castle

Take a Bike Tour in Barcelona

Pedaling around Barcelona is a great way to appreciate its ancient streets and fascinating sights. Several companies offer guided tours, including Barcelona by Bike, which offers three-hour tours in English, and Barcelona Ciclo Tour, which offers similar daytime excursions in addition to evening tours. For a little extra boost getting up the hills, consider an electronic bike option with Fat Wheels Tours (they offer fun non-electric options, too) or Barcelona eBikes, which specializes in unique electric bike tours. 

Read more: How to Plan a Trip to Europe

How Many Days to Spend in Barcelona


Barcelona’s art and history stretch across 12 centuries, so you could spend weeks discovering hidden treasures tucked into the city’s ancient corridors and modern streets. However, you’ll be able to experience the best of Barcelona in just three days. And, even if you just have one day (for example, before or after a cruise), you'll be able to hit several highlights due to the city’s compact size.  

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