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Best things to do in Barcelona

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Spain  /  Catalonia  /  Province of Barcelona  /  Barcelona
In a city Antoni Gaudi used as his personal canvas, things to do in Barcelona include visits to some of the famed architect's most distinguished monuments, including Park Guell and Casa Batllo. The unparalleled symbol of Barcelona and Gaudi's most famous work, La Sagrada Familia never fails to astonish with its size and unique ornaments. Art lovers can marvel at the works of another renowned Spanish artist at Picasso Museum. You can also treat yourself to local tastes and aromas and mingle with the talkative locals at La Boqueria, the city's best-known market.

Barcelona is best known for its Architectural Buildings, Parks, and Nightlife.

Top 15 things to do in Barcelona

1. Parc Guell

One of many notable city structures designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudí, Parc Guell is a garden complex built between 1900 and 1914. World Heritage–listed, this complex is noted for being one of the largest architectural structures in this part of Europe. Though it features some of the finest examples of Gaudí’s creativity, for many visitors the highlight is not the exquisite architecture, but the sweeping views. Just inside the main entrance is the interpretive visitor center, featuring an exhibit about Gaudí’s building methods, as well as displays on the history of the park. Wooded and laced with footpaths, the park attracts over 4 million visitors each year. The park can be reached on foot, but if you wish to avoid a vigorous uphill walk, hitch a ride on the public bus.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

The undisputed symbol of the city, Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is a World Heritage Site that astonishes visitors with its sheer height and intricacy of design. This impressive church was designed by one of Spain’s renowned architects, Antoni Gaudí. Though Gaudí produced some of the country’s most inspiring buildings, this church is his most famous work. This masterpiece in the very heart of the city, featuring Gothic and Art Nouveau elements, is 95 m (312 ft) long and 60 m (197 ft) wide, with a seating capacity of 13,000. The central tower rises 170 m (558 ft) above the transept, with 17 other towers of 100 m (328 ft) or more. Visitors have access to the nave, crypt, museum, shop, and two towers. To avoid long lines, book tickets online.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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3. Casa Batllo

Located in the bustling city center and considered one of architect Antoni Gaudí’s signature works, Casa Batllo can perhaps best be described as a combination of Modernist and Art Nouveau architecture. Gaudí’s design goal seems to have been to avoid straight lines—completely. Much of the facade is decorated with mosaics made of broken ceramic tiles, ranging in shades from golden orange to greenish blue. The roof is arched and often described as resembling the back of a dragon or dinosaur, so it’s not surprising that most locals call the building "House of Bones." Originally built for a middle-class urban family, this is one of two Gaudí houses available for touring. Skip the lines by booking your tickets online.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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4. Las Ramblas

The old city meets the modern in Las Ramblas, a series of pedestrian streets lined by outdoor markets, shops, cafes, and restaurants. To stroll through this bustling district is to walk through the history and culture of one of the world’s most exciting urban centers. Celebrated poet Federico García Lorca once described it as "the only street in the world which I wish would never end." Famous for its throbbing urban energy, this colorful avenue and tree-lined walkway are one of the busiest areas in the city, so it’s not surprising that it’s constantly thronged by tourists. To avoid crowds, head down some of the smaller side streets, where you can find inexpensive souvenirs, friendly locals, and live music.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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5. Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic)

Known for its winding streets and hidden squares steeped in history, Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) is ideal for an historic walk followed by a rest at one of the many trendy bars or cafes. A trip through this colorful neighborhood is a trip through time, as this old city center is still largely intact, retaining much of its labyrinthine medieval street plan, with a multitude of small streets opening into bustling squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic, though service vehicles and taxis are allowed to pass through. Many of the landmark buildings located here date from the Middle Ages, with several sites harking back to the Roman times. El Cali, the medieval Jewish quarter, is also located within this area.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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6. Casa Mila - La Pedrera

To see one of architect Antoni Gaudí’s most controversial designs, visit Casa Mila - La Pedrera, known for its undulating stone facade and the wrought-iron decorations on its balconies and windows. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, the building features some of the most innovative elements of its time, including underground parking. Perhaps the most remarkable element of the building is the roof, which features enormous chimneys designed to look like medieval knights. The architect’s elaborate plans for the roof included adding a huge statue of the Virgin, but when the businessman who commissioned the building said no, Gaudí resigned from the project. Today, the roof is frequently the site of music performances. Check online for an accurate schedule of special events and available tours.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Barcelona Cathedral

Walk the 500-year-old halls of the impressive Barcelona Cathedral. Constructed in the 13th century, the Gothic cathedral features a main hall vaulted over five aisles, with dozens of high columns. Saunter the grand hall to admire the high ceilings and ornate altar decor, or wander out to the main cloister where 13 white geese are kept as part of the cathedral’s tradition. Try to spot the famous gargoyles that line the cathedral’s roof and main facade.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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8. La Boqueria

Take in the local culture by meandering through the throngs of people going about their daily business at La Boqueria, arguably the country’s best-known market. Noted for selling a wide range of local products, including fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit, the market has been open since 1836. It’s worth a visit just for the colors, smells, and sights of the fresh foodstuffs displayed and sold here. Friendly vendors can tell you exactly where and how their goods were grown, raised, or harvested. Avoid driving and arrive as early as possible to miss the crowds. If you can allow time, take a seat at one of the cafes and spend a few moments observing other travelers as they search for a little bit of something Spanish to take home with them.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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9. The Magic Fountain

No ordinary water fountain, The Magic Fountain is an unusual combination of light shows and music performances repeated several times throughout the evening. Like most of the surrounding structures, the fountain was designed for the 1929 World Exposition. The massive building project employed over 3,000 workers. Severely damaged during the Spanish Civil War, the fountain did not operate again until 1955, when it was finally repaired and reopened. Today, the fountain is one of the more emblematic structures in this part of the city, mesmerizing long-time residents and visiting tourists with its 15-minute evening spectacles and frequent fireworks displays. Check the website below for show times.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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10. Museu Picasso

Admire fine 20th century works by one of Spain’s most beloved artists at Museu Picasso. The museum is housed in five medieval palaces and contains over 3,500 pieces of Picasso’s work. Observe Picasso’s evolution as an artist by seeing some of his childhood drawings as well as many of his later works. Pick up an audio guide at the entrance to hear background information on the pieces and the life of the artist.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. PortAventura, Salou

Easily accessible from Barcelona by train, bus, or car, PortAventura includes a theme park, water park, and four hotels. Not only one of Spain’s most popular amusement parks, but also Europe’s largest, it offers a multitude of activities designed to thrill visitors of all ages. Choose from a myriad of adrenaline-pumping rides, including one that claims to provide visitors with the fastest acceleration of any ride anywhere in the world. The aquatic park’s water slides vary from fast and furious to slow and easy, designed to be enjoyed by families with small kids. The resort also offers a wide range of restaurants and shops. Design your ideal vacation package online, and skip the lines by booking your tickets well in advance.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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12. Wine Tours & Tastings

Plunge into the colors, aromas, and tastes of Catalonia's countryside on a wine-tasting tour from Barcelona. You'll soak up scenic vistas of verdant vineyards set against the backdrop of dramatic mountain ridges as you listen to your guide's passionate commentary on Catalonian gastronomy. You'll also be able to stop at several boutique wineries to sample cavas (Catalonia's sparkling wine) and regional wines paired with traditional meat cuts. Depending on the tour, you can visit the monastery of Montserrat, paddle though the picturesque Penedes wine region, or roam the atmospheric streets and quarters of Barcelona. These tours are flexible and can last from 90 minutes to 11 hours.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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13. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - MNAC

Discover Catalan and European art at Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - MNAC, especially notable for its outstanding collection of Romanesque church paintings. The museum is housed in a huge building, crowned by a great dome inspired by Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The art on display spans the early Middle Ages to the 20th century, with works from Fra Angelico, Veronese, Titian, Canaletto, Rubens, and Goya, to name just a few. The museum also includes massive collections of coins, photographs, medals, paper money, prints, posters, and engravings. Plan your visit well in advance by exploring the museum’s official website, where you can browse through the calendar of upcoming special events and purchase advance tickets.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Palau Guell

To see the first major building celebrated architect Antoni Gaudí designed in this city, visit World Heritage–listed Palau Guell. The house was built in the late 1880s for a wealthy local industrialist, Eusebi Güell. Like many other works by Gaudí, this palace features an unusual combination of materials, blending elements from Gothic, Islamic, and Art Nouveau architecture. During the middle of the 20th century, police tortured political prisoners in the basement of the house, and later the building stood abandoned for decades, slowly falling into disrepair. After a massive renovation project that took nearly 20 years to complete, the house reopened in its full splendor in 2010. To learn the full story behind this fascinating building, pick up the audio guide at the entrance.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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