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Top 10 things to do in Barcelona

Boasting stunning architecture and great city beaches, Barcelona really has it all. And if you dig a little bit deeper you’ll uncover the strong Catalan culture all across the city. Here's our insider tips on the best things to see and do in Barcelona.

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1. Explore Gaudi’s Works

The influence of architect Antoni Gaudi on Barcelona is apparent as soon as you step into the city. There are seven sites you should visit in Barcelona, either at your own pace or on one of the city’s many guided tours: Palau Guell, Casa Mila, La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Vicen, Casa Batllo and the Colonia Guell church crypt.

One of the most popular things to do in Barcelona is to visit Gaudi’s signature work, the Sagrada Familia basilica. It has become the symbol of Barcelona and is recognized around the world. Marvel at the atmospheric temples and rippling columns which were designed to draw in and make the best of the natural light. Then head to the towers which provide some great views of the city. Work continues on the intriguing structure throughout 2019, the Sagrada Familia will not be completed until 2026. 

Entry: €15 (Dh62) for general entry, €29 (Dh120) for general entry plus access to the towers.

2. Relax on a Barcelona beach

If you’re looking for a fantastic city-beach destination, Barcelona is it! It has 32km of Blue Flag beach running right alongside the city center so if you get tired of the crowds on the streets, you can sneak off for a bit of peace and quiet (depending on which beach you choose). Barceloneta Beach is nearest to the city and can get busy quickly. If you head further along the coast to Bogatell (about a 15-minute walk from Barceloneta) and Nova Mar Bella (get the tram or metro to Selva de Mar), you’ll find stretches of sand that are more popular with the locals. These offer chair and parasol hire, volleyball courts and ping pong tables. If you prefer, hire a bike and follow the cycle path from the city to Nova Mar Bella and find even more things to do in Barcelona along the way.

There are lots of Barcelona beaches to choose from

3. Visit Camp Nou

Camp Nou has been the home of FC Barcelona club since 1957 so if you love your soccer, consider a tour of this famous ground. The Tour Camp Nou Experience is among the best things to do in Barcelona. The tour includes a visit to the Barca Museum, FC Barcelona trophy room, history and the Messi space. Oh, and you’ll also get to sit on the first team’s bench!

Tickets: Tour tickets cost €25 (Dh104) for adults, €20 (Dh83) for children aged 6 to 13 and seniors. Children under five go free. You can buy tickets online here.

Take a tour of Camp Nou home of FC Barcelona
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4. Picasso Museum Barcelona

The Picasso Museum is on most lists of the best things to do in Barcelona but it is well deserving of its place. It delves into the story of a young Picasso’s development and is the only Picasso collection that was opened during the artist’s lifetime. It now contains more than 4,000 pieces, making it one of the most comprehensive Picasso collections anywhere. The museum has temporary exhibitions which explore Picasso’s life, interests and his passion for Barcelona, as well as the permanent collection featuring some of his best-known works.

Entry: Tickets for the permanent and temporary exhibitions cost €14 (Dh58).

5. Font Magica

The Font Magica (Magic Fountain of Montjuïc) is easily one of Barcelona’s best attractions. It was built for the 1929 International Exposition (better known now as World Expo) in the grounds of the Palace of Montjuïc. The Magic Fountain shows are similar in style to the Dubai Fountain at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, and songs range from classic pieces to the soundtrack from Star Wars! The 30-minute shows happen every weekend (and Thursdays in the summer) and is among the best family-friendly things to do in Barcelona.

The Font Magica show is on every weekend

6. CaixaForum

A former textile factory, the CaixaForum is a world away from Barcelona’s traditional arts. It’s now home to a cinema, children’s art workshops, contemporary artists, exhibitions and events. The constantly changing temporary exhibition schedule means there’s usually something for everyone; collections include Dali, Freud and Fragonard. When you’re finished with the exhibitions, check out the views of Barcelona from the terrace.

Tickets: Entry is free, although you’ll need tickets for certain exhibitions.

7. Relax in the Parc de la Ciutadella

You probably couldn’t visit all of the parks in Barcelona on one vacation if you tried – there’s an impressive 68 throughout the city! But one of the biggest, best and most popular is the Parc de la Ciutadella. You can hire a rowing boat on the lake, or admire the medieval Castell dels Tres Dragons and fountains, or head to the Barcelona Zoo. If you’re craving some peace and quiet as you plan things to do in Barcelona, we recommend visiting the nearby Santa Caterina’s Market to fill your picnic basket and then finding a shady spot for lunch under the trees.

Grab a picnic and relax in the Parc de la Ciutadella

8. Take a Catalan cooking class

If you’re looking for things to do in Barcelona with a strong local flavor, why not take an authentic Catalan cooking workshop? Barcelona Cooking in Las Ramblas holds daily classes which usually include a trip to La Boqueira Mercat to buy the ingredients for the workshop. Back in the classroom, you’ll be shown how to serve up an appetizer, soup, paella and a sweet.

Price: Starts at around €78 (Dh322).

9. Visit El Born

While lots of people head to La Rambla for the shopping and the Gothic Quarter for its historic architecture, there are a few other Barcelona neighborhoods that are not to be missed. The El Born district is full of local charm and home to the Picasso Museum Barcelona, the Museu de al Xocolata (a chocolate Museum, who can resist?!) and the MUTT Bookshop & Art Gallery. The main street is Carrer dels Flassaders and is lined with boutique shops, vintage stores, medieval buildings and very cute little watering holes like El Born Bar (Passeig del Born). If you have an interest in photography, this should be on your top things to see in Barcelona list; there’s lots of photography tours and workshops, as well as the Impossible Project Barcelona gallery.

10. Barcelona City History Museum – Museu d’Historia de Barcelona

This museum makes the list of the best things to do in Barcelona because it’s a little different to most typical history museums! Split across three levels, the most popular attraction is underground. Here you’ll find excavations from the Roman era, when Barcelona was known as Barcino. The 4,000sqm excavation area includes a laundry workshop, factory and a church.
Tickets: Tickets costs €7 (Dh29) and will give you entry to Museu Casa Verdaguer, CCCB, Espai Santa Caterina and Refugi 307.

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*Updated January 2019. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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