Updated: Jun 1, 2022
Visiting Barcelona is an item found on many people’s bucket list, and rightfully so. Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain and is a fascinating city - rich with history, outstanding food, close proximity to the Mediterranean, fabulous museums - I could go on and on! So how you spend your time in Barcelona truly depends on your interests as Barcelona absolutely has something for everyone. I plan Spain trips and I help those that want to visit Barcelona for a short stop or really want to explore Barcelona to the fullest. So how do you decide on what to do in Barcelona? Here are some recommendations.
LEARN ABOUT BARCELONA’S UNIQUE HISTORY.
Barcelona has an amazing history - with such facts as being founded by the Romans in the 1st Century BC to having some of the most iconic architecture in the world to hosting the summer Olympics in 1992. I highly recommend kicking off your visit to Barcelona with a guided walking tour - it will give you the perfect foundation to get more insight on the various aspects that have shaped the city. Barcelona has been influenced by so many cultures and spending a bit of time learning about its past is definitely worth it!
GET TO KNOW THE BEST BARCELONA ARTISTS AND ARCHITECTURE.
Barcelona is where many famous artists and architects such as Antoni Gaudi, Pablo Piccaso, Joan Miro and Lluis Domènech i Montaner were born (or made the city their home) and their influence is seen throughout the city. Get to know Barcelona’s most famous son, Gaudi and his most iconic work - the Sagrada Familia, as well as his lesser known but equally fabulous Casa Vicens and Casa Batlló. More must-sees for your list are the Picasso Museum in the La Ribera neighborhood, the Hospital de Santa Creu i de Sant Pau in El Guinardó and the Joan Miró Foundation and MNAC (National Museum of Art in Catalunya) in Montjuïc Park.
TAKE IN THE BEST VIEWS IN BARCELONA.
Barcelona boasts some jaw-dropping views and while some viewpoints charge a fee to experience, many are absolutely free! Walk through Gaudi’s Park Güell and see the spectacular views of the city and Mediterranean below, hike up to the Carmel bunkers and enjoy a spectacular sunrise or sunset, explore the oldest amusement park in Spain and the entire skyline of Barcelona from Tibidabo or grab a glass of wine and a bit to eat while checking out the sights of the city from the top of Las Arenas - a former bullring that was converted into a new shopping center.
SAVOR THE BEST FOOD IN BARCELONA.
Barcelona is a foodie’s paradise and no matter what your tastes are, you won’t be hard pressed to find incredible culinary choices! Visit the Mercado de La Boqueria in the morning (except for Sunday) and be absolutely blown-away with the seemingly endless sea of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, cured meats and sweets all under one roof! Take a private or small group food tour to get acquainted with the typical dishes Barcelona has to offer and get tips that you can use on the rest of your vacation. If you’re overwhelmed at the food options and not sure where to find the best paella or tapas, you can always use The Fork (El Tenedor) app to help you make a great pick. Barcelona is also a great place to take a cooking class!
DISCOVER THE BEST OF BARCELONA SHOPPING.
Visit the iconic Passeig de Gracia - Barcelona’s equivalent to NYC’s Fifth Avenue or LA’s Rodeo Drive. Visit the Gracia neighborhood with its plethora of local small boutiques to find cool jewelry, clothing, perfume and leather products - especially on Carrer Verdi and Carrer Asturias. Visit El Born and Barrio Gótico to shop for unique souvenirs made by Barcelona artists and artisans. If antique furniture and collectibles are more your speed, join us for our monthly Barcelona Vintage Market Tour.
SOAK UP THE BEST BARCELONA MUSIC AND THEATRE.
If opera is your cup of tea, then you won’t want to miss catching a performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu on La Rambla where ticket prices start at only 15 euros! Another incredible venue whose architecture is as impressive as the performances is the Palau de la Música. Along with year-round concerts performed by various in-house choirs, there are a variety of frequent performances by local guitarists, pianists and other musicians that are absolutely phenomenal. Although Flamenco is native to the south of Spain, Barcelona offers a wide variety of venues available to catch this mesmerizing art form. Our favorite, Palau Dalmases, is located in the Born district in the incomparable setting of a baroque palace!
EXPLORE THE BEST SITES OUTSIDE OF BARCELONA.
After a few days in busy Barcelona, it’s nice to get out of the city for a day. Great day trips include:
The city of Girona, less than an hour away by train - enjoy walking along the river, explore the 13th century Jewish Quarter and see where many of the scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed
The city of Sitges, less than an hour away by train - spend the day exploring this adorable seaside town’s great shopping, walk or bike along the Mediterranean or enjoy a fantastic meal in one of their many beachfront restaurants
A day trip to the Penedes wine region (less than an hour away from Barcelona) on our Castles, Cava & Cuisine tour
A day trip to Costa Brava, about one and a half hours from Barcelona, for hiking, kayaking and a picnic on the beach
A day trip to various medieval villages such as Besalú, Pals and Peratallada
GETTING TO BARCELONA
If you’re flying to Barcelona, we highly recommend NOT renting a car to use while staying in Barcelona as it’s very expensive to park, and with the many scooters, cars and pedestrians (along with the narrow streets), it can make for an incredibly nerve racking driving experience. We suggest that once you arrive at the Barcelona Prat Airport, take a taxi to the center which will cost approximately 25 euros for up to 4 passengers. If you’re budget-conscious, you can get tickets on the AeroBus which stops at various points within the center and costs 5,90 one way or 10,20 roundtrip. Once you arrive at your accommodations, walk everywhere. Or, you can take the subway, buses or taxis that are very well priced, clean, safe and easy!
PLANNING A TRIP TO BARCELONA
If all of this seems overwhelming or you’d like to mix the ideas above with other areas to see the Best of Barcelona and the Best of Spain, call me! Email me! Fill out my contact form. I’d love to help.