This blog post was originally posted on April 21, 2016 and was updated on January 25, 2018.
Barcelona is one of the most unique and inspiring cities in the world. There are so many wonderful things to see and do. Delve into our ultimate travel guide to Barcelona so you don’t miss out!
It’s no wonder why over 7 million people visited last year alone! From the laid-back Mediterranean vibes to the spectacular architecture, Barcelona is a city that has something for everyone.
Furthermore, there’s no bad time of year to visit! Hot summers cooled by sea breezes, cool winters warmed by strong rays of Spanish sun, and street festivals galore all year round. It’s a place people return to again and again.
Whether it’s a first visit or a fifth, you won’t have problems making it a memorable one! Read on for the ultimate travel guide to Barcelona!
Top Things to do in Barcelona
There are a lot of churches in Barcelona, but none can compare with Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece of famous modernist architect Antonio Gaudi. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to his jaw-dropping, unfinished church in the Eixample district.
Tour Gaudi’s masterpieces: Complete Gaudí Tour: Casa Batlló, Park Guell & Extended Sagrada Família
Did you know that Picasso came to Barcelona to study at the ripe age of 14? Check out the largest collection of his early work at the Picasso museum. Find it housed in several medieval palaces on the famous Montcada street of the Born.
Barcelona’s central city park, the Ciutadela, is a gorgeous oasis of green space. It is full of modernist buildings and a constant buzz, right in the Ciutat Vella, the old city center. From bohemian musicians to picnicking families, the scene is the perfect example of Ciutat Vella’s eclectic community.
Montjuic, the large hill jutting out over Barcelona’s industrial port, is filled with all sorts of wonders. The short walk up is the perfect urban hike. Visit museums like the Joan Miró Foundation, or Barcelona’s Olympic swimming pool, dotted along your walk.
Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral, or the Santa Eulalia Cathedral, dates back to the 13th century and is a gorgeous sight to see. Be sure to check out the cloisters, a beautiful oasis, and home to 13 geese. The Gothic Quarter is filled with incredible history. So much so, that we visit it on many of our tours!
Non-Touristy Things to do in Barcelona
We love getting off the beaten path in Barcelona, and you will, too. Feel like a local by checking out some of these non-touristy things to do in Barcelona. No travel guide to Barcelona would be complete without including some of these awesome places.
Explore the Vila de Gracia neighborhood
One of Barcelona’s most charming neighborhoods, La Vila de Gracia, can be found just north of the Eixample district. Gracia was once a village and still oozes small village vibes in its tranquil streets and leafy squares. Come explore it with us on our Gracia Neighborhood Food & Market Tour!
Fer el vermut
Nothing says local in Barcelona like enjoying a light aperitif before lunch. Fer el vermut translates loosely to having an aperitif. We love this sweet Spanish drink, and we love nothing more than enjoying it in some of our favorite bodegas. Have a look at the video below to find out how to enjoy it like a local.
Hop around Parlament Street
Parlament Street is one of the hippest corners of the city lately. Anything from hole-in-the-wall bodegas to funky interior design shops can be found here. Finally, this place is perfect for bar-hopping in the evenings or simply strolling around during the day.
Want to really feel like a local?
Foodie Things to do in Barcelona
Barcelona is famous for its wonderful gastronomy, so make sure to make every taste a special one! Keep reading for our ultimate foodie travel guide to Barcelona.
Visit a market
Barcelona has 43 different municipal markets—practically one for every neighborhood! These markets are much more than places to shop, too. They are also community centers that neighbors use to socialize, eat, celebrate festivals and more.
Sip on a glass of cava
Cava, the sparkling wine of Spain, was born in Catalonia, not far from Barcelona itself. And locals drink it all the time! What’s great about cava is that most bars, restaurants, and bodegas will sell it by the glass, and cheap too!
Take a tapas tour
Barcelona is famous for its tapas, and no visit to the city would be complete without sampling some delicious bites over great wine and company! Combine over 2,000 years of history with three quintessential Barcelona tapas bars for a memorable evening out on our famous Tapas, Taverns & History Tour.
What to Eat in Barcelona
Not an easy question! There are dozens of incredible pastries, tapas, and traditional Catalan dishes to try when in Barcelona. Here are the musts!
Pan con tomate
There’s nothing quite as simple or delicious as the Catalan pa amb tomaquet or pan con tomate. This tomato-rubbed bread is a breakfast staple, and will almost always accompany tapas for dinner.
Who said Spain is hard on vegetarians? One of the most popular Catalan dishes, escalivada, is 100% vegetarian-friendly. This colorful array of roasted vegetables can include tomatoes, onions, eggplant and peppers.
Pork sausages are everywhere throughout Spain, and Catalonia is no exception. Botifarra, the peppery regional sausage, is a staple of Catalan cuisine. Furthermore, find it popping up in different dishes and tapas around the city.
Sure, you’ve heard of paella, but what about its noodle cousin, fideua? Small, vermicelli-type noodles replace the rice, and the dish is usually served with a healthy dollop of alioli. There are plenty of wonderful paella and fideua restaurants around town. However, there’s none quite like Mama Carmen’s on our Tastes, Tapas and Traditions of Barcelona food tour!
The oldest custard dessert in Europe finds its home in Catalonia. It’s crema catalana, a burned custard made with lemon rind and cinnamon.
Read more about food in Barcelona
Where to Eat in Barcelona
Choosing where to eat in Barcelona can be complicated! Every neighborhood of the city is teeming with bars, restaurants, bodegas and more! Let us make it easy for you!
Traditional Tapas Bars and Bodegas in Barcelona
Looking for something rustic and traditional? Check out these suggestions for timeless spots around the city.
Quimet i Quimet – One of the most famous tapas bars in Barcelona doesn’t even have a kitchen. Experience the traditional bodega or wine shop, and taste some of their gourmet, conserved delicacies. Poeta Cabanyes, 25
Bar La Plata – Serving the same four tapas since 1945, La Plata is one of our favorite little tapas bars in the city, and the perfect example of simple, delicious Spanish cuisine. Mercè, 28
Bodega Maestrazgo – There are plenty of wine bars around Barcelona, but perhaps none so great as Bodega Maestrazgo! The fact that this place has been here since 1952 is a testament to just how incredible it is! It’s not only a wine shop but also a wine bar, selling wines by the glass and from the barrel. Also not to mention, a delicious selection of tapas to nibble on while you enjoy the bustle! Sant Pere Mes Baix, 90
Casa Pages – Run by the neighborhood’s surrogate grandparents, Casa Pages is a lovely little tapas restaurant in Gracia that immediately feels like home. Try their famous tortilla, or one of their many delicious sandwiches, named after philosophers. Llibertat, 19
Modern Tapas Bars in Barcelona
There is a fantastic modern tapas scene in Barcelona, boasting a long list of Michelin-starred restaurants and hubs of creative Catalan cuisine.
Succulent – Just as the name implies, this gastronomic space in the Raval takes dining to a new level, reinventing classic Catalan and Spanish dishes with plentiful attention to detail. Rambla de Raval, 43
Bar del Pla – One of the most acclaimed tapas bars in the old city, Bar del Pla is a favorite amongst locals for their modern take on traditional dishes. Montcada, 2
Betlem – On a busy corner in the Eixample, find Betlem, a tiny little tapas bar with a hugely impressive and delectable menu! Girona, 70
Best Restaurants in Barcelona
There may be a lot of tapas bars in Barcelona, but there are even more wonderful restaurants to choose from! Read on to discover some of our favorites.
La Pubilla – A local favorite, La Pubilla serves up one of the best menus del dia, or set lunch menus, in the city. Plaça de la Llibertat, 23
Bacaro – It doesn’t all have to be Spanish, especially in Barcelona! The city boasts a huge Italian population, so it’s no wonder we have such incredible Italian fare. This hidden gem behind the Boqueria Market is like stepping into Venice itself. Jerusalem, 6
La Paradeta – For seafood lovers, there’s nothing better than La Paradeta, which is more like a fishmonger than a restaurant! As if you were at the market, get in line and make your choice. They will cook it on the spot and call your name when it’s ready. Comercial, 7
Breakfast in Barcelona
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and though ours are generally on the lighter side in Spain, it’s still a moment to discover wonderful aspects of Barcelona’s cuisine!
Granja Viader – Granjas, or farms, are Catalan-style diners. Furthermore, they are the perfect stop for a sweet or savory breakfast. If you can stomach it, the star is a suisso. It’s a thick Spanish hot chocolate with a healthy dollop of homemade whipped cream! Xuclà, 4-6
Pastisseria Hofmann – Best croissant in Barcelona? We think so! Sample their most famous croissant of all, if you dare. A delicious marcsarpone stuffed croissant. Say no more! Flassaders, 44
Bar Pinotxo – If you’re looking for something more substantial, head to the famous Bar Pinotxo inside the Boqueria Marke. They serve up hearty breakfasts known as esmorzars de forquilla Monday to Saturday mornings. La Rambla, 89
Dining by neighborhood
Staying in one of these neighborhoods? Check out our personal suggestions of where to eat in each one!
- The Born Neighborhood
- Gothic Quarter
- Poble Sec Neighborhood
- Poblenou Neighborhood
- Sant Antoni Neighborhood
- Gracia Neighborhood
Accommodation in Barcelona
Making the decision on where to stay in Barcelona is an important one in our travel guide to Barcelona! Whether the perfect hotel with a rooftop swimming pool or the right neighborhood that fits your personality there are so many to choose from! Furthermore, here are a few tools to help you make the right choice!
- Boutique Hotels in Barcelona
- Hotels in Barcelona for the Ultimate Foodie
- Our Barcelona Neighborhood Guide
Shopping in Barcelona
From the perfect souvenir to your well-deserved, made-in-Barcelona purchase, check out our recommendations for where to shop! Shopping is one of our favorite suggestions for our travel guide to Barcelona.
- Barcelona Shopping Tips
- Edible Souvenirs from Barcelona
- Typical Souvenirs from Barcelona (and where to find them!)
Day Trips from Barcelona
Barcelona is surrounded by beautiful coastline, mountains, villages, vineyards and more, so make sure to allow for at least one day exploring outside of the city!
Often referred to as a miniature Barcelona, the gorgeous medieval city of Girona is a breath of fresh air, as it tends to be a bit less crowded than Barcelona itself! However, with all the same charm! Furthermore, read about another 8 Gorgeous Medieval Villages Worth Visiting in Catalonia.
Sant Sadurni d’Anoia
Want to see where cava is made? This town may not seem super impressive above ground, but it’s what’s underground that counts! Below this small town about 45 minutes south of Barcelona lies an intricate system of caves or cellars where the sparkling wine is stored.
Sitges, a beautiful coastal town just a short train ride away, is one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona. Long sandy beaches and a lively restaurant and bar scene, perfect for a sunny day out.
For art and surrealism fans, visit Salvador Dali’s hometown, where he literally built himself a museum in the town’s old theater. Furthermore, if you have time, continue north to visit his home in Port Lligat on the Costa Brava, near the gorgeous fishing town of Cadaques.
Read more: Popular Day Trips from Barcelona