Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, offers a plethora of bucket list experiences that are a must-see and do. With its beautiful beaches, Mediterranean climate, and relaxed lifestyle, Barcelona is a truly enchanting destination. However, it is the city’s rich culture, unique architecture, and exceptional Catalan cuisine that truly captivate visitors and make Barcelona an easy city to fall in love with. Whether you’re a couple looking for romantic activities or simply seeking unforgettable experiences, here are our top 10 recommendations for things to do in Barcelona.
1. Parc de la Ciutadella
The fabulous Gaudí-designed Parc Guell might be the most famous park in the city, but don’t miss what is probably the greenest: Parc de la Ciutadella. Enjoy a picnic in the charming gardens; head out on the lake on a rented rowboat (stopping for a loved-up selfie in front of the ornate fountain); and talk to the animals – the park is also home to the Barcelona Zoo.
Location: Passeig de Picasso, 21
2. La Boqueria Market
Whether or not you need to go food shopping while you’re in Barcelona, Mercat de la Boqueria is a must. The famous indoor market hall is packed with stalls selling Masterchef-worthy fresh produce, and be sure to fight for space at the famed tapas bars that ring the market.
Location: Mercat de la Boqueria, La Rambla.
Related article: How to see the best of Spain by train – a journey through six Spanish cities.
3. Els Encants Flea Market
Who could resist the charms of a market described by The Guardian as “… the bastard love child of an antiques shop in London and a car boot sale in Kabul”? One of the oldest markets in Europe, Els Encants is an intriguing mix of trash and treasure, with a decent vintage clothing collection. Get there early for a good rummage and the best items – and be prepared to bargain!
Location: Dos de Maig, 177-187, Eixample.
Open hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am-8pm.
4. Font Màgica
Built for Barcelona’s 1929 World Exposition and then restored for the 1992 Olympics, the Montjuïc Magic Fountain is a spectacle of water, light and music. Great location, terrific views and multicoloured water in sync with cheesy pop music: what’s not to love?
Location: Pl. Carles Buïgas, 1 (at the end of the Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina just below the Palau Nacional).
5. Rid a Scooter
To visit Barcelona’s famous hotspots in total fun and freedom, rent a scooter. As long as you’ve held a (car) driving licence for more than three years you should be good to head out on a 125cc scooter; there are few other ways to see the sights so easily. It’s not just the iconic landmarks you’ll get to see (such as Gaudí’s mind-blowing magnum opus, La Sagrada Família) – you’ll also discover beautiful side streets, boulevards and plazas that tourist buses just can’t reach.
Location: Cooltra; Vía Laietana, 6.
6. Barcelona’s beaches
Previously an area for industries only, the beaches of Barcelona underwent a makeover in the lead-up to the 1992 Olympic Games. Today, the transformation is complete, and there are 4.2 kilometres of golden sandy beaches just 10 minutes from the city centre, including tranquil Caldetes, nudist Mar Bella and bustling Barceloneta, the most famous beach in the city. National Geographic voted Barcelona the “best beach city” in the world, while the Discovery Channel rates Barceloneta as the best urban beach in the world, and the third best beach in the world.
7. Horta Labyrinth Park
Built in 1791, the Parc del Laberint d’Horta is the oldest – and surely the most beautiful – garden in Barcelona. The picturesque royal estate features fountains, waterfalls, streams, ponds, Moorish arches and grottos replete with Greek gods. More than nine hectares are separated into a romantic, classical garden and an older, neoclassical part that’s home to the eponymous labyrinth. This elaborate two-metre-high hedge maze extends for 750 metres, with a statue of Eros, the god of love, in the centre.
Location: Passeig dels Castanyers 1.
8. Sightseeing Dinner
For a cultural and culinary experience, hop on Gourmet Bus Barcelona. This is a sightseeing tour with a difference: you’ll see all the famous landmarks from a luxurious, glass-roofed double-decker coach, and then enjoy a gourmet dinner designed by Michelin-starred Spanish chef, Carles Gaig. The three-hour excursion takes in all the top spots, and your choice of a three-course meal or six gourmet tapas plates. Meals on wheels, indeed.
9. Las Ramblas
Don’t be fooled: the most famous ‘street’ in the city, La Rambla, is actually made up of five boulevards (or ramblas). They join to make the two-kilometre-long promenade commonly known (in plural) as Las Ramblas. Day and night it’s bursting with life, performing street artists and thousands of people. Strolling down Las Ramblas is one of the most quintessential Barcelona experiences.
10. La Pedrera at night
Casa Milà – the former apartment complex also known as “La Pedrera” – is one of Antonio Gaudí’s most interesting works, and a ‘don’t miss’ Barcelona cultural attraction. But there’s an even better way to see this fascinating modernist building with its iconic undulating façade: with an intimate, guided tour at night. “The Secret Pedrera” is strictly for small groups only, so you’ll not only avoid the tourist crowds, but also enjoy a stylish end to the tour, heading to the rooftop to gaze out across the Barcelona skyline and sip on a glass of cava.
Read more about a holiday or honeymoon in Barcelona: ¡Hola Barcelona! An All-Season City for Romance