Top 5 Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain

Let’s be honest – if you’re just looking for the top 5 things to do in Barcelona, you aren’t spending enough time in this beautiful city. I see too many people who miss out on the beauty of Barcelona by not planning their trip.  Planning a trip to Barcelona requires more research because of the size of the city. That being said, if you only have a short stay in Barcelona, there are a few things you absolutely have to do and these are a few of my favorites.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you.  You can read my full disclosure policy here.

☑ Tour of La Sagrada Familia

Chances are, you know Barcelona is known for Gaudi’s masterpiece. The showpiece cathedral is beautiful and daunting. Not only will you want to book a skip the line ticket for La Sagrada Famila, but you will also want to couple it with a tour. Why? Because it’s impossible to comprehend the genius behind the art and architecture. Taking a tour allowed me to see things on the exterior that I would have never noticed. It provided me with a timeline to put the architecture in the context of history. And, it helped me better understand the mind behind the man, Antonio Gaudi.

I know a lot of people who skip entering the cathedral because the line is too long. Sometimes they think the outside is the masterpiece.  There is nothing that compares to the ethereal spirit that exists inside La Sagrada Familia.  You must experience how the light hits the glass and bounces off the interior. 

☑ Book a tour of La Sagrada Familia

Tour Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
It’s impossible to capture Gaudi’s masterpiece in one frame.
Journey of Doing - 5 Things to Do in Barcelona
Sagrada Familia stained glass in Barcelona
Journey of Doing - Sagrada Familia in the morning
Don’t miss the inside. It’s even more beautiful than it shows in pictures.

☑ Take a Tapas Tour

If you’re new to Spanish food and wine, I recommend taking a tapas tour on your first evening in Barcelona. This Barcelona food tour will give you a delicious opportunity to learn more about the different types of tapas, how to navigate around a tapas bar, and how to get the most out of a tasty trip to Barcelona. Doing this on your first night will allow you to skip any future bad meals. What I love about this particular tour is the guides are willing to tailor it to your specific foodie interests.  (You can read more about our favorite tapas in Barcelona on the blog.)  

☑ Take a Tapas Tour in Barcelona

Journey of Doing - Tapas Tour in Barcelona
A tapas tour is the best way to start exploring the culinary traditions of Barcelona.

☑ Tour the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona

Before we arrived in Barcelona, I didn’t understand the allure of the Barri Gotic in Barcelona. None of the videos showed the beauty of it. But, a walking tour on our first full day in a new city is part of our plan for exploration. We chose a neighborhood and booked a tour. This tour of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter will provide you the opportunity to learn more about the history of Barcelona, wander into courtyards that you might miss if you DIY a tour, and help you better understand what is happening in Barcelona and Catalunya today.

Don’t forget to always ask your guide for some of their favorite places to visit to earn a local’s perspective on what you shouldn’t miss.

For future trips, there are so many different neighborhoods to explore in Barcelona. Pick up the Top 10 Guide to Barcelona, read about a few and choose a tour based on your interests.

☑ Explore a neighborhood in depth: Barri Gotic Quarter Tour in Barcelona

Until Departure - While there is much to do, here are the top 5 things to do in Barcelona for a great introduction to the city and make the most of your time!
Journey of Doing - Barcelona's Gothic Quarter Walking Tour
You never know what you’ll find and where without a guide
Journey of Doing - Barcelona's Gothic Quarter Walking Tour
Roman Ruins behind modern walls if you know where to look

☑ Get Outside at the Parc Guell

One of my best cures for jet lag is to get outside. Barcelona has a myriad of places where you can do that, but one place that you cannot miss is the Parc Guell. This area, originally designed to be a master planned community, was never meant to be a green space for the city. Gaudi’s vision for the park was for it to be guided and designed by nature. This is evident in how Gaudi’s art is built into the natural landscape of the park.

On a clear day, the park offers a beautiful view of Barcelona, which is best enjoyed from Gaudi’s ergonomically designed chairs. I recommend taking a tour of the Parc Guell to learn more about Gaudi’s vision, experience different corners of the park, and make sure you don’t miss any of the details. You can stay as long as you like at the end of the tour.

☑ Enjoy some sunshine and take a tour of Gaudi’s Parc Guell

Journey of Doing - Guided Tour of Parc Guell
Journey of Doing - Guided Tour of Parc Guell
Parc Guell is built into the beautiful landscape of Barcelona, leaving it a natural habitat to the flowers and animals who lived there first.

☑ Enjoy Fresh, Piping Hot Churros

Of all of the top 5 things to do in Barcelona, this is both the easiest and the hardest. It’s the easiest because it is the most delicious dessert that you can enjoy as street food. It’s the hardest because you have to time your visit just right. Churros are not churros. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way.) My best advice that won’t significantly change your travel plans? Head over to Xurreria Dels Banys Nous in the heart of the Gothic Quarter and be willing to wait in line for a fresh cone. I recommend sticking to the originals. (There is better chocolate for dipping elsewhere).

In a surprise to no one, the churros didn’t make it into a photo.  That’s how tasty they are when they are fresh.

☑ Take your fresh churros to go from Xurreria dels Banys Nous

There are So Many More Things to Do in Barcelona

Barcelona is a large complex city with numerous neighborhoods to explore, a vibrant art and architecture scene, and plenty of outdoor activities to appeal to everyone. The wide range of tapas (and tapas bars) means that you can visit for years and always have a fresh take on a new meal.

To fully appreciate Barcelona, you have to know what interests you and build a trip around those interests. On first arrival, it can feel like another big city, but as you dig into the details, you can find so much to explore.  We can create a customized itinerary based on your interests and the must-see sights of Barcelona.

Any favorite tapas, places, or things to do in Barcelona? Drop them below!

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