Now that Spain is again almost fully open for tourism – it’s a great moment for unforgettable weekend in Barcelona (or even some more days – why not). This text offers a full guide of best things to do in Barcelona, how much money/time you will need to spend and what to expect there.
Barcelona is one of those places where you can do so many different things – you can relax by the sea, do some city sightseeing, enjoy incredible cuisine, bar tours and go out at night…
To make the most out of your weekend in Barcelona (or extended weekend) we made a list of best things to do and best places to visit while in Catalan capital.
If you are on a weekend trip to Barcelona your schedule will be fully packed if you want to see at least the main points of interests. In case you are staying more days (4, 5 days) you can take it easy and explore the city with more calm.
In this text we will include our selection of Best things to do on your weekend trip to Barcelona, how to get there, what to expect and how much to pay for it.
If you are considering traveling to Barcelona, you are probably aware of the the impressive works of Antoni Gaudi, such as Sagrada Familia for example.
You are probably counting on relaxing on the beach and strolling along the narrow streets in the Old Quarter packed with bars and restaurants trying some delicious tapas and sangria.
Wondering what else there is to see and do?
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Barcelona and you cannot miss them:
GET TO KNOW THE GREAT CATALAN ARCHITECT ANTONI GAUDI THROUGH HIS WORKS:
Antoni Gaudi is considered as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism and the one who led the Art Nouveau movement in Europe. Not only in Catalonia and Spain, but he is also considered as one of the world’s greatest architects of all times.
He spent his entire life in Barcelona creating some of the most incredible architectural masterpieces such as: Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila and many others.
Even though his architectural style is quite recognizable, if you look his main works starting from the earliest ones to the last building he did, you will notice the great diversity in styles and materials and how his works evolved from Modernism and Art Nouveau to such a personal – “Gaudi style” that is rather difficult to classify.
Seven of his works have been made World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and most of them you can see in Barcelona.
If you have limited time (only a weekend for example) make sure to not miss at least Sagrada Familia and Park Guell but, if you have more time do visit all of these:
The Basilica of Sagrada Familia is, without doubt, an exceptional temple due to its revolutionary structure and symbolism.
Gaudi dedicated 43 years of his life, almost his entire career, to his most prestigious and complex project.
His idea was to include all the symbolic elements of Christianity in order to create a perfect temple and place for celebration of liturgical rites.
When he was 73 of age (in 1926) his work on Sagrada Familia stopped due to his sudden death.
Even though, by that age he already gained reputation and fame, as a deeply religious person, he was rather humble in his appearance.
It is said that he used to practice extreme fasting, ate very little and wore shabby, ragged clothing. Due to his unkempt appearance, when the tram hit him just there, on his way to Sagrada Familia, nobody of the witnesses recognized him nor rushed to help.
As they thought it’s just an old homeless man who didn’t seem to have any money, taxi drivers refused to bring him to hospital.
When, finally, somebody brought him to hospital, apparently none of the medical staff had too much interested in saving the old man’s life neither.
Finally, Antoni Gaudi died and his identity was revealed.
After almost 40 years, the work on Sagrada Familia was resumed and until this day it’s still ongoing.
Without even trying to describe Sagrada Familia, it’s exceptional beauty and how special and unique this construction is – I suggest you see it yourself!
If you are in Barcelona you must not miss the opportunity to visit Sagrada Familia – it will be, for sure, one of the most amazing (if not the most amazing) construction you have ever seen.
Cost → 26 eur (App audioguide included) or 27 eur (guided tour in English, Spanish, Catalan or French language)
Location → Sagrada Familia
Time for Visit → 45 – 60 min
Opening Hours → Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 3pm
** Currently (may 2021) tickets can only be bought online.
**The opening hours may vary depending on the current covid-19 situation.
** To check the latest information about opening hours, tickets and any other information related to the visit to Sagrada Familia – refer to the official web page – Opening hours and getting here – Sagrada Família
It’s the most impressive public park in Barcelona located on Carmen Hill from where you can have the most amazing panoramic view of the city.
The main architect of the Park Guell was, again, Antoni Gaudi.
Interesting fact about this park is that it was, initially imagined as a housing development project.
The main idea was to built a closed community with high-quality homes equipped with the latest technologies providing luxury life to its tenants.
At the same time, they imagined a community promoting Catalan traditions and Christian values which was reflected in the architecture full of symbolism. Gaudi was hired to turn all those ideas into reality.
However, with the outbreak of the First World War, it was decided to abandon the project and, some years later, Barcelona City Council acquired the site and turned it into a public park.
Now, as a visitor, you can enjoy a nice day in the park, explore it’s paths and see some more of impressive Gaudi’s work.
Also, there is a Gaudi House Museum inside the park so, if you are interested about his life, you can check it out.
Don’t miss The Dragon Stairway – it’s a large stairway with a water fountain in the center and a big dragon sculpture decorated with tile mosaic. The dragon is one of the most recognizable images of the Park Guell and one of unofficial symbols of Barcelona as well.
Cost → 10 eur (self-organized tour with app audio guide from your phone); guided tour – 22 eur; private guided tour – 50 eur
Location →Park Guell
Time for Visit → 1 – 1.30hrs
Opening Hours → 9:30 AM – 7:30 PM
** If you are buying tickets online keep in mind that you have 30 min after the time showed on your ticket to enter the site.
** To buy tickets online and consult opening hours, refer to the official page – Park Güell prices and times | Web oficial Park Güell
This UNESCO World Heritage site is another of Gaudi`s masterpieces located in very city center in one of the busiest avenues – Passeig de Gracia.
It is one of the major city landmarks and definitely so worth of a visit.
From the outside, the house stands out thanks to its façade decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles combined with glass, mostly in blue color with some pink details.
Due to the color and the tile and glass textures and their reflections under the sun, some say that it gives an impression of a lake surface with water lilies.
Pillars on the bottom part of the house resemble bones so, the house is, also, unofficially, called the House of Bones.
Casa Batllo is also characteristic by its curvy structure (the whole house almost doesn’t have straight lines), and by its reptile-like roof terrace.
The whole house is a treasury of hidden meanings and metaphors (mostly related to nature – plants and animals) – like any of Gaudi’s works.
Rooftop terrace is a great place to take a small break and maybe take a coffee or some refreshment while enjoying the views.
During the summer, sometimes they organize so called “music nights” on the rooftop terrace so if you are interested to spend some more time enjoying beautiful views, drinks and music on a rooftop of the one of the most spectacular buildings in Barcelona, check out the official website for the current events.
Also, if you want to read more about the Casa Batllo and what there is inside – check out our text about Casa Batllo.
Cost → due to the covid situation opening hours and ticket prices vary so please check the official web page Online tickets Casa Batllo
Location →Casa Batllo
Time for Visit → 45 min – 1 hour
Opening Hours → Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11AM to 6PM.
Casa Vicens is the very first important project done by Gaudi.
Multicolored decoration with the tilework as important part of the design in combination with stone and brick as essential elements, is what makes this work unique for the epoch.
It looks like a real oriental oasis with its multi-colored decoration, palm trees, lots of blue, golden and yellow details.
You can explore the interior with all it’s rooms but you can also enjoy the beautiful garden where there is a small bar where you can have some drink or snacks.
Another highlight of the house tour is the rooftop.
Here you can enjoy an incredible view of the streets of Barcelona and also admire the roof work with its brick structures done in multi-colored ceramic tiles.
Cost → 16 eur – general ticket
Location →Casa Vicens
Time for Visit → 45 min – 1 hour
Opening Hours → Thursdays from 3PM to 8PM; Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM to 8PM
**For more information about prices opening hours check the official web – Buy tickets – Casa Vicens
CASA MILA (LA PEDRERA)
Casa Mila (commonly known as La Pedrera) is a modernist building and the last civil work done by Antoni Gaudi.
It is located in Barcelona city center nearby to two other important Gaudi’s works – Casa Batllo and Casa Vicens.
Due to it’s outstanding universal value it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as the Monument of National Historical and Artistic Interest.
As all of the works done by the famous architect, this one is quite special and unique too.
It’s unofficial name – La Pedrera = the stone quarry, explains how it was perceived back in the day due to it’s unconventional appearance.
Rocky façade, abstract design, functional and aesthetic liberty led by creativity at it’s best, made Casa Mila one of the most critiqued works of the famous architect in the moment of it’s construction.
And the critics were, in many cases, strongly negative. Nowadays, I think we all have a different perception of it.
Despite this initial lack of comprehension, Casa Mila (La Pedrera) became one of the most recognizable and appreciated landmarks in the city.
If you decide to visit it, you can see inside:
The Butterfly Courtyard – patio with walls perforated with almost 200 windows to bring down enough lights.
The circular silhouette of this interior patio is one of the most recognizable pictures of Casa Mila as it never fails to fascinate visitors.
You can explore interior rooms some of which have authentic furniture and housing items. There is also a space that hosts temporary exhibitions so, that’s also something interesting to see.
The main attraction (if we should call it attraction at all) is the Rooftop Terrace known also as the Warrior Rooftop.
This terrace is the highlight of the house and, also, one of the recognizable landmarks of Barcelona even from the street level.
It’s famous chimneys, ventilation towers and stairwells go far beyond their initial purpose and all have aesthetic and symbolic value.
Chimneys on the terrace (sculptured in a form of warriors) are among Gaudi’s most admired designs.
The rooftop terrace is also known by it’s name “the garden of warriors” because of the chimneys that resemble warriors and their symbolic guardian role that they carry.
If you are curious to read more about Casa Mila, it’s construction and what you can see inside – check out our guide dedicated to it and all the information that you need for your visit – Casa Mila (La Pedrera), Barcelona – Full Guide
Cost → 24 eur – general ticket (for more options check the official web – Rates | Casa Mila
Location →Casa Mila
Time for Visit → 45 min – 1 hour
Opening Hours → From Friday to Sunday: 9AM – 6:30PM; Night tour: 08:40PM – 10PM
This is, definitely, not all from Gaudi in Barcelona, but, at least you have a starter pack of it’s most famous works in Barcelona that you should not miss visiting.
In case the time or money don’t allow you to visit all of these buildings from inside, pick some that attracts you the most, and the rest you can see it from outside.
All of them have impressive exterior appearance so, even a glimpse from the street will be fascinating enough.
GET TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CATALAN MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND VISIT THE MOST COLORFUL CONCERT HALL:
PALAU DE LA MUSICA CATALANA
Palau de la Musica Catalana is a concert hall more than hundred years old, designed in the Catalan modernist style (not by Gaudi).
The building was inaugurated in 1908 and up to nowadays it serves to it’s original purpose – music.
Some of the most remarkable Catalan and international artists performed in it’s concert hall.
As a visitor you can make a day tour of the building and see it’s impressive interior or you can visit some of the concerts and have a full experience. Maybe, an interesting idea for your night in Barcelona (before you turn yourself into the bars).
The balcony of the Palau de la Musica is also known as one of the popular places among instagramers due to its colorful columns and much seen photos on social networks.
If that’s your thing – don’t forget to bring your camera and put on some cool outfit.
Cost → 10 eur – general ticket
Location →Palau de la Musica Catalana
Time for Visit → 30 min – 1 hour (longer if you are attending some concert)
Opening Hours → 10 am – 3.30 pm
** For concerts and performances – check the official web page – Single tickets | Palau de la Música Catalana
If you want to get the full visit guide on Palau de la Musica with detailed information – check out our text – Palau De La Musica Catalana – (Barcelona) – Tour Guide & Tips For Visiting
Like it was actually possible to visit all of the abovementioned places in one day and wake up early, rested and energized, here is how we suggest you spend your Day 2 in Barcelona:
Start by exploring the narrow streets of the Gotico (The Gothic Quarter) which is the historic centre of the old town of Barcelona.
Gotico is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Barcelona, one of the busiest places and the one with most bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and all kind of shops actually.
Here you can just stroll up and down, exploring it’s corners and streets, stop for some delicious tapas and some refreshment in any of many bars and restaurants all around.
La Rambla is said to be the most beautiful street in Barcelona, always full of people, surrounded with bars and all kinds of shops so you can even make some shopping if that’s something you like to do while traveling.
If you are into food markets, you should not miss stopping by Boqueria – a real gourmet paradise.
Some call it “the best market in the world” (actually, that’s written on the official website of Boqueria market).
We don’t have that much of experience on the food markets topic to be able to say if it’s the best in the world but, we have seen quite a few around the world and Boqueria is, definitely, on the top of our list.
You will find your way to Boqueria by just walking on La Rambla in the direction of Liceu metro stop.
Once you enter, you will see stalls packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly squeezed juices of all flavors, sweets and chocolates and so many other things.
Both locals and tourists visit this market so you can see a lot of products packed to be eaten on the spot (such as small portions of fruits, fresh juices to go, small portions of Spanish ham (jamon)…)
Also, many sellers pack their products to be compatible with flying regulations so you can, easily, bring home some top quality ham (jamon) or sausage (fuet), sweets and chocolates, drinks such as sangria or local liquors.
The prices are on the higher side but so it is the quality of the products.
In the market you can also find some food stalls that works as kind of bars – they have few tables and chairs and they serve freshly made tapas (small portions of food) including typical dishes and also a great variety of top quality sea food.
La Boqueria is a great place to boost your energy, fuel your body with some delicious Spanish food and drinks and maybe buy something to bring home.
Cost → entrance is free
Location →La Boqueria Market
Time for Visit → 15 min – 1 hour (depending on how foodie you are)
Opening Hours → Monday to Saturday: 8AM – 8:30PM
From La Boqueria, you can walk all the way down to the beach.
BARCELONETA & BOGATELL BEACHES
Barceloneta is the main beach in Barcelona, long and wide with all the necessary facilities around such as toilets, changing rooms, supermarkets, kiosks, fast food stalls, bars and restaurants.
If you happen to be coming to Barcelona anywhere between May and October, the weather should be favorable for swimming.
If you are coming in winter or late autumn, you can still spend some time at the beach, take a walk along the coastline or enjoy sunset at some of the beach bars.
During the summer season, Barceloneta Beach is usually crowded with people so it can be difficult to find a nice spot for yourself.
In any case, if you prefer calmer beaches, you can walk approx. 2 km to Bogatell Beach that is much calmer, with less people around as most of the tourists chose Barceloneta beach.
On Bogatell beach you can find the same facilities (showers, bathrooms, changing rooms, bars and restaurants). Also, Bogatell Beach is much more convenient for people with disabilities – it has all the necessary facilities adapted accordingly.
In this part of the coastline, there are normally, fancier and more expensive bars and restaurants but also of a higher quality than in Barceloneta Beach.
Some of the restaurants in Bogatell beach is a great place to try Spanish Paella or Fideua – especially the seafood ones.
Also, good side of Bogatell beach in comparison with Barceloneta beach is that Bogatell is, usually much safer when it comes to pickpocketing.
Pickpocketing can be a real problem in Barceloneta beach during summer months due to the big concentration of people (mostly tourists) at one place.
Bogatell beach is mostly visited by locals so, if you prefer calmer environment, do check this beach as well.
Still got some time & energy?
If that is the case, we recommend visiting beautiful park Ciutadella. It is located some 2km more less from Barceloneta Beach so you can easily reach it on foot.
Ciutadella park is a real green oasis within the city. Inside the park you can find the city zoo, the Palau del Parlament de Catalunya (Palace of the Parliament of Catalonia), a small lake, Museum of Natural Sciences , and a large fountain.
Here, you can have a casual stroll and enjoy the green environment. You can see a lot of people around exercising or doing yoga, just chilling under some tree, people with kids and dogs…
It may be a good idea to finish your sightseeing tour in Barcelona with a half-hour boat ride on the lake in Ciutadella park and enjoy the sunset.
Cost → entrance is free
Location →Ciutadella Park
Time for Visit → 15 min – 1 hour (depending on how foodie you are)
Opening Hours → 10AM–10:30PM
This is just a part of what Barcelona has to offer and maybe, what we could call a Barcelona starter pack.
For sure, there is much more that you can see in Barcelona but, these places would be our favorites and we recommend them to anyone.
Depending on your interests and the time you have in Barcelona, here are few other places worth of visit:
If you are a football fan (we are, definitely, not) – you might be interesting in visiting Camp Nou. Since non of us is really a fan, it’s not one of our favorite places in Barcelona but, seeing a football mach et Camp Nou is, for sure a fun thing to do. Especially if you are into the whole footbal thing.
We didn’t do a tour but we did visit one footbal match and I must say, it was spectacular.
We are leaving you the link to their official web page in case you want to find more information about the tours and footbal matches – Camp Nou | FC Barcelona Official Channel.
Also, if you are into aquariums – Barcelona is home to the Europe’s largest one. Here, you will find over 11,000 marine animals from 450 species and an 80-metres-long underwater tunnel.
For more information about the Aquarium of Barcelona – visit the official web page – L’Aquarium Barcelona (aquariumbcn.com)
FOOD & DRINKS IN BARCELONA
In this section, we will try to draw your attention to some of delicious Spanish and Catalan dishes you must try while on your weekend trip to Barcelona.
First things first – jamon (Spanish ham) – you can find it literally in any bar, restaurant, supermarket… and it’s something you cannot leave Barcelona without trying (unless you are vegetarian or don’t eat pork meat).
Don’t miss a typical Catalan breakfast – Pa amb tomàquet (Pan con tomate = Bread with tomato) – it’s basically a toast with shredded (or rubbed) tomato and some olive oil and salt on top. Sounds simple but it’s absolutely delicious.
Most of the bakeries and bars do sandwiches with shredded tomato and Spanish ham – also a great option for breakfast.
You must have heard of the concept of Tapas in Spain – tapas are, basically, small portions of traditional food served as starter or even eaten as a main dish (combined several tapas).
In the “tapas” section of almost any menu in almost any local bar or restaurants you may find:
- Croquets of different tastes – it can be with ham and cheese, chicken, cheese and spinach, cod, mushroom …
- Patatas Bravas – bite-size potato chunks deep fried in olive oil and with some spicy sauce on top. Mostly, the sauce is not too spicy but the level of spiciness can vary between the places.
- Fried calamari
- Tortilla – classic Spanish omelette made with potatoes, eggs, onion and some vegetables
- Gazpacho – cold soup made of raw, blended vegetables
- Salmorejo – cold soup or purée consisting of tomato, bread, garlic and olive oil and typically eaten with some chopped Spanish ham and boiled egg (check our recipe for it – it’s delicious!)
As for the main dishes, you should definitely try at least these:
- Paella – is the most popular Spanish dish (originating from Valencia) cooked in a special wide and flat frying pan. It’s a rice dish and can be done with ,vegetables, chicken, rabbit, or seafood.
- Fideua – it’s similar to paella (prepared in a same flat frying pan) but with noodles instead of rice and it is normally done with seafood.
As for the drinks – you, obviously, shouldn’t miss trying:
- Sangria – red wine with chopped fruits
- White wine sangria -white wine with citrus fruits
- Tinto de verano – red wine and lemon or lime soda
- Cava – sparkling wine or so called Catalan champagne (much cheaper than real champagne)
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN BARCELONA?
Best tapas bars in Barcelona can be found in these neighborhoods:
- El Poblenou
- Eixample – Carrer de Pelai (Pelai street)
Besides these neighborhoods, you will see soon enough that there are bars and restaurants at almost each corner anywhere in Barcelona.
We always recommend trying typical, local, food and, I am sure that, independently on your eating habits and preferences, you will just love Spanish/Catalan cuisine.
If you are interested to read more about bars, restaurants and food in Barcelona, check out our text – Best 6 Tapas Bars in Barcelona – Self Guided Tour and organize your own tapas bar tour.
In case you decide to extend your weekend trip to Barcelona for some more days (you definitely need more than just a weekend in Barcelona), here are some of the ideas for spending time around Barcelona.
- Want to see Barcelona from the nearby hill, have a cable-car ride and see the castle overlooking Barcelona? – you may want to visit Monjuic – check out our guide – Discover Barcelona – Montjuic Castle Visit & Cable Car
- Want to get out of Barcelona (but not so far) and enjoy some more beaches? You may want to visit Sitges – one of the prettiest coastal towns close to Barcelona. Check out our Sitges guides – Best Things To Do In SITGES, Spain & Best Restaurants in Sitges – Foodie Guide
- Interested in mountains? Take a day trip to Montserrat – check out our guide – Montserrat – Day Trip From Barcelona – Full Guide
We could continue like this for who knows how long. Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain, in general, have so much to offer that it makes it difficult to choose only some places to visit.
That’s why, you should, definitely, come back to Spain for more.
- WHAT IS YOUR NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION?
- LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
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