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41 Best things to see & do in Barcelona

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros
  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Exterior view of the Sagrada Familia at sunset

Bucket List Experience

La Sagrada Familia

Gaudí spent his last years obsessing over the Sagrada Família, this ornate, turreted cathedral with its iconic turrets like melting candles.

Although only the Birth Façade and crypt were completed before he died, and nearly all the plans were lost during the Spanish Civil War, the foundation that owns it has decided to carry on building it according to Gaudi’s surviving drawings.

Funded by ticket admissions, it’s already, even critics admit, the most spectacular church of the 21st century. But it’s quite a labour of love – it’s slated to be finished by 2026.

Adult price: £23

Good for age: 8+

Duration: Any

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Inside view of The extraordinary La Palau Musica concert hall

Bucket List Experience

Barcelona’s best architecture

When Barcelona is prosperous, it builds with breathtaking flair. Its superb Gothic buildings are engineering marvels; not for their height, but their width.

During the late 19th century, the city evolved its own Modernista style, related to Art Nouveau but filled with Catalan national symbols (notably dragons).

It also produced one extraordinary genius, Antoni Gaudí, whose inspiration went beyond mere decoration to the forms of nature herself. Today Barcelona is reinventing again; just visit the new 22@ District.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Any

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

External view of the colourful facade

Bucket List Experience

Casa Batllo

There are three Modernista masterpieces in a single block on the Passeig de Gracia, but Gaudi’s Casa Batllo (1906), a shimmering, colour-drenched townhouse designed as an allegory of a dragon, is the most astonishing.

Commissioned by textile industrialist Josep Batllo when Gaudi was at his artistic best, this dazzling widely acclaimed Modernista masterpiece is now a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.

The facade is especially beautiful, and though it’s expensive to tour the interior, it’s even more magical inside: brightly tiled, fluid-looking and full of art.

One highlight is the open-air rooftop, where you can admire the bold, surreal chimney stacks and snap photos of the city.

Adult price: £32

Good for age: 13+

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Close up of the external facade, curvy design with ornate iron balconies

Bucket List Experience

Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

Officially known as Casa Mila, but immediately dubbed La Pedrera, ‘the stone quarry’ by critics, this extraordinary apartment block was Gaudi’s last building before he devoted the rest of his life to the Sagrada Familia.

It’s hard to imagine a more spectacular swan song, with a façade inspired by a sea cliff, complete with fantastical forged iron balconies resembling seaweed. The famous stepped roof features twenty-eight colourful chimneys – known as espanta bruixes (witch-scarers).

It marked the culmination of his experimentation with natural forms, and it’s been called the precursor of Surrealism, Expressionism and Cubism.

One of the original apartments, with no right angles anywhere and where Gaudi designed every single detail down to the doorknobs, is part of the visit.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 13+

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Landscape view of Gaudi's Park Guell

Bucket List Experience

Park Guell

In 1902, Eusebi Guell bought two farms set on a natural balcony and commissioned Gaudi to create an exclusive walled housing estate. It flopped, but Park Guell has never failed to enchant as a city park.

Enjoy the fairytale guardian’s houses, mosaic lizard, sinuous stone viaducts, 86-columned Sala Hipostila – the base for an extraordinary, broken tile-clad serpentine bench by Gaudi’s collaborator, Jujol – and sweeping panoramic views across Barcelona.

Gaudi actually bought one of the three houses in the park and lived there from 1906 to 1925, before moving to a hut by the Sagrada Familia. It’s now a museum.

Although it may seem whimsical, Gaudi and Guell loaded the park with allegories and symbolism, some personal, some Rosicrucian, alchemical and mythological. It is much, much stranger than it looks.

 

Adult price: £6

Good for age: 4+

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Aerial view of the stadium

Bucket List Experience

Barcelona FC’s Camp Nou

Més que un club‘ (more than a club) is the motto of local football team FC Barcelona, majestically headquartered in the legendary 99,354-seat Camp Nou stadium, built in 1957 with funds raised by supporters.

This high-tech, multimedia experience includes a look at the impressive pile of silverware Barca has gathered, plenty of film footage, visits to the changing room, players’ tunnel, press area and pitch, and – thanks to digital trickery – the chance to have your photo taken with some of the club’s most famous players.

One of Barcelona’s most popular museums, and an absolute must-visit for football fans.

Adult price: £22

Good for age: 4+

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Food counter filled with different types of tapas

Bucket List Experience

Barcelona’s best food & drink

Catalan cuisine has traditionally been creative, combining sea and land ingredients, sweet and savoury, and French influences with Mediterranean and Iberian. Seafood, vegetables, wild mushrooms, nuts and fruit, pork and poultry are the main local ingredients.

 

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Any

  • Penedes, Catalonia, Spain

landscape view of a small wine estate surrounded by vineyards

Bucket List Experience

Penedes Wine Region

South of Barcelona lies the interesting wine region of Penedes, set in pretty hills that cascade down towards the Mediterranean.

Although especially known for its sparkling wine (it contains 95% of the world’s cava producers), Penedes also produces light, fruity whites and full-bodied reds.

There are two main wine towns to aim for: Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and Vilafranca del Penedes, both of which have Modernista grace notes. Vilafranca also has a famous Sunday market.

Good for age: 18+

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Interior gallery with a single woman staring at several artwork

Bucket List Experience

Art in Barcelona

Great art is in Barcelona’s blood. Although much was lost in the city’s turbulent past, the Catalan National Art Museum has the world’s greatest collection of Romanesque murals, salvaged from remote Pyrenean chapels; both Picasso and Miro, Barcelona’s 20th-century masters, were inspired by their bold otherworldly figures. The same museum has a treasure trove of elegant, courtly Gothic art from Barcelona’s golden age, notably by the great Jaume Huguet.

The city’s second golden age, beginning in the late 19th century, produced Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusinol avant-garde painters headquartered at the Quatre Gats cafe that cultivated the young Picasso.

Other key figures include theorist and abstract expressionist Antoni Tapies, one of the leading figures of 20th-century art in Europe; the famous conceptual artist Angels Ribe; Agusti Puig, heir of Picasso and Miro; and the jovial street artist El Pez.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Any

  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

View of the monastery set into cliffs, with views beyond

Bucket List Experience

Monastery of Montserrat

Montserrat, the ‘sawn mountain’, is a jagged massif rising from the plain, 40km outside Barcelona, and famous for being the spot where St Peter allegedly hid a black statue of the Virgin, carved by St Luke, in a cave. The Virgin is now enshrined in a honey-coloured Benedictine monastery, set against undulating rock said to have inspired Gaudi – the setting, now a national park, is so extraordinary that it’s a famous honeymoon spot for Spaniards.

Funiculars ascend to the Santa Cova trail, Sant Joan trail, and (most spectacular) Sant Jeroni trail at the summit. Or join the pilgrims in hiking up – it takes three hours if you’re fit, four if not.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 18+