There’s an expression in Spanish which defines Barcelona perfectly. It goes “Es una ciudad que no te la acabas”, which translates to “It’s a city you’ll never finish” — like a ten thousand-piece puzzle. There’s so much to do, that it is really almost impossible to “finish” the city. Below you’ll find our list of some of our favorite fun things to do in Barcelona.
Visit Camp Nou, the cathedral of football
Beyond its architecture, its nightlife, its food, and its beaches, if there’s one thing Barcelona is known for above all else, that is football. Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Piqué or Busquets are some of the biggest names in the sport, and they are led by the king himself: Lionel Messi. If you’re in Barcelona during the football season (late August to May) there’s no excuse to not go to a game at the Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe, which on a good day gathers up to 98,000 spectators. While you’re at it do the Camp Nou Experience, a guided tour of the club’s museum which includes a walk on the pitch – you can even sit on Barça’s bench and see what the stadium looks like through a player’s eyes. More information and tickets to Camp Nou here.
Tip from Matthias: If you want to go to a game, Español, Athletic de Bilbao and Villarreal are some good opponents that are cheaper to get tickets to than the big teams.
Take in the sights on a bus tour
Barcelona’s Hop on and Hop off buses are a good way to see all the major monuments without tiring yourself out walking miles and miles. Like their name suggests, you can get off the bus at any stop to explore a landmark more in-depth and get back on again later with the same ticket. More information and tickets here.
Ride the cable car and see Montjuic from the air
One of the coolest ways to see Barcelona from above is the Montjuic Cable Car. Reachable by subway (take Line 2 to Paral·lel, then take the funicular), it covers the entire Montjuic hill offering a spectacular view of the city, the port and the Mediterranean Sea. Pack something to eat and enjoy exploring the castle and its grounds and having lunch overlooking Barcelona from its terraced walls. Tickets are 11€ for adults and 8€ for kids.
Go to an outdoor film session + picnic
Looking for something non-touristy to do? something that is truly local? Every summer, from June to August, the Castell de Montjuic becomes a gathering spot for film aficionados with the Cinema a la Fresca sessions; outdoor cinema on a hilltop overlooking the city. Classics, cult films, independent productions, shorts, and live music make up the program. All the films are in VO with subtitles, which means a lot of them are in English. There are a limited number of recliner chairs available for the first to arrive, but you can also bring a blanket and enjoy the pictures picnic-style on the grass. Food and drink are welcome – this is one of the best places to sip a glass of red wine along with some pa amb tomaquet, cheeses, and jamon.
Cruise the streets like a local on your own Vespa scooter
Barcelona’s public transport is great, but sometimes you want the freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want – for those moments, the best way to get around, and the transport of choice for locals, is the scooter. With prices as low as 25€ per day, you can make your way anywhere in the city in minutes and you’ll have no trouble finding places to park. Barcelona is an easy city for drivers because most of it is laid out in a grid – just make sure to always wear your helmet.
Enjoy Montjuic’s magic fountain show
After a day of exploring Montjuïc and visiting some of its many museums you can pause on your way back towards Plaza España in the evening to enjoy a water and lights show that will delight your senses. Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain, built for Barcelona’s 1929 International Exhibition, offers a spectacular display in which hundreds of jets of water combine with music and colored lights to paint beautiful choreographies against the night sky.
Listen to great music at one of Barcelona’s many festivals
Whether you’re a Jazz connoisseur or you prefer to head bang to electronic beats, Barcelona has music festivals to suit all tastes. In late May the festival season kicks off with Primavera Sound, one of the biggest events in the global indie scene. Then, a few weeks later, club beats take over the city for the Sonar festival, which showcases electronic music and cutting edge technology. After that, in July, we have the Cruilla, which is a mixed bag featuring rock, pop, hip hop, electronic music, indie, and Spanish artists. In the fall, Barcelona welcomes internationally renowned artists for the Festival Internacional de Jazz.
Go for a Segway ride
One of the coolest and most unusual ways to tour Barcelona is by Segway. It’s quicker and less tiring than walking and you’ll get to see more of the city in less time than if you were to go on foot. Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a Segway before, it’s much easier than it looks, you can pick it up in just a few minutes.
Join a cooking class and get to know local cuisine
If you’re a foodie, the best souvenir you can take home from a trip is knowing how to cook the awesome foods you tasted. There are many cooking schools in Barcelona offering a wide range of courses, whether it be a menu of Spanish classics like Gazpacho, Tortilla, and Paella, or more off the beaten path options like avantgarde tapas using molecular gastronomy techniques. Many courses also include a market tour with the chef, who will guide you through La Boqueria, teach you about local ingredients, and show you how to choose the best produce. Check out BCN Kitchen and Born to Cook for two very different but equally interesting styles of cooking courses.
Enjoy a night of Flamenco
There are few things that more quintessentially Spanish than Flamenco. Although not traditionally of Barcelona, Flamenco music and dance arrived in the Catalan capital together with hundreds of thousands of Andalusian migrants that moved here in the 50’s and 60’s looking for work. Today, there are numerous Tablaos in Barcelona, with live shows put on weekly. The Tablao Cordobés, on la Rambla, has been around since 1970, and regularly features some of the best performers in the world.
Explore the city by bike
While not comparable to cycling cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, Barcelona has made remarkable progress in recent years towards becoming more cyclist-friendly. With over 100 km of cycling paths already lining its streets, and 200 km more scheduled to be added to the network by 2018, a cycling tour can be a great way to explore the city. Try El Ciclo, which offers private, guided tours on bamboo bicycles. They include all the important landmarks, but also interesting and less-known spots that you’d have a hard time finding by yourself.
Take in Barcelona’s landscape from the top of Tibidabo
Tibidabo is the tallest of the hills that encircle the city, and it has numerous attractions and places worth visiting. Chief among them is the Tibidabo amusement park, one of the oldest in the world, which has been in operation for over a century. It features rollercoasters, a Ferris wheel, and many other rides. Also worth seeing is the Torre de Comunicació de Collserola, a communications tower designed by prestigious architect Sir Norman Foster and inaugurated for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The tower’s viewing deck on the 10th floor is the highest point you can visit in the entire Barcelona area. Rarely, on very clear days, it’s even possible to make out the silhouette of Mallorca in the distance on the Mediterranean.
Rent a Go Car and go for a ride
If large groups and guided tours aren’t your thing, there’s another, more adventurous, way to explore the Barcelona – by Go Car. Go Cars are little quad-like vehicles that seat two which you can drive yourself. Each one comes with a GPS and audio guide, so you’ll get to take in all the major sights while you cruise the city’s streets at up to 50 kilometers per hour. Barcelona traffic is fairly mild compared to other large cities, just make sure to avoid commuter hours around 9 in the morning and 6 o’clock in the afternoon.
Get lost in Barcelona’s Labyrinth Park
The Parc del Laberint d’Horta – the Labyrinth Park of Horta– is Barcelona’s oldest urban park. It is an example of neoclassical architecture and artistic gardening dating from the late 18th century. As its name suggests, its main highlight is the sculpted shrubbery labyrinth at its center, which you can explore (and get lost in!). The Parc del Laberint is not as well-known as Barcelona’s other major parks, which makes it a good place to visit as it’s usually less crowded.
Go for a swim at Montjuic’s Olympic pool
Everyone visiting the Catalan capital hits up its famous beaches, but if you want to swim and sunbathe in a much more unique environment there’s an alternative you’ll love that most tourists ignore. Built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the Piscines de Montjuic hosted the diving events and the waterpolo qualifying rounds. Now they’re open to the public in the summer, and are a great place to go for a refreshing dip away from the crowds that gather on Barcelona’s beaches. If you’re brave, you can even try the high dive platform – it’s a massive 10 meters tall; definitely not a height from which you want to belly flop. You may recognize it from Kylie Minogue’s video Slow.
Rent a SUP board and go for a paddle
The Mediterranean is a very tame sea. During the warm months of the year, when you want to be in the water, it’s mostly flat. It’s not a great place for surfing, but it’s very good for paddle boarding. Barcelona has 4.2 kilometers of beaches you can paddle by, and many spots to rent equipment. If you’ve never tried it before, Barcelona is the place to give it a shot.
Take a helicopter tour over Barcelona
Barcelona from the ground is beautiful, but Barcelona from the air is spectacular. A bit pricier than more conventional tour options (different packages range from 50€ to 300€ per person), nevertheless, if you want an unforgettable experience –and some incredible pictures to take home with you– a helicopter ride is the way to go. The Montserrat massif, with its striking rounded rock peaks, as if they were made from the liquid wax of a lava lamp, sits 50 kilometers north of Barcelona and can be reached in mere minutes by helicopter.