10 things to do in Barcelona that will make you spend an amazing summer
- Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
- Dominate the city at the Bunkers of Carmel
- Awaken your senses at the Mercat de la boqueria
- Dive into the Spanish gastronomy
- Catch up with some of the most famous museums
- Combinate Art and Nature at the Park Güell
- Explore lovely surrounding cities
- A trip on the mountains at Montserrat
- Watch out for Sagrada Familia and the mysterious crypts
- Embrace Torres Glories’ modernity
This is not a surprise to say that Barcelona is one of the most buzzing cities during summer. In addition to being a mostly well-known city for its easy-going way of life, Barcelona is the ideal destination for architecture-lovers, food enthusiasts and more or less everyone looking to spend a good time.
As there is so much to explore in the inner city and the surrounding areas, it is definitely worth staying at least a week. However, this can backfire easily. Planning a trip to this Catalonian destination can be a source of stress :
- What to do ?
- What are the tourists traps ?
- What are some best kept-hidden secret attractions?
And stress is the last thing you want to have when you’re on vacation.
Thankfully for you, we have collected some things you have to do and try. Whether you’re a classical music lover, travelling with kids or having a tight budget to stick to, we’ve selected attractions that will make you spend an amazing summer.
For History Buffs
#1 Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic in Catalan) is one of the oldest parts of Barcelona. Some historians say that the history of the quarter started 2000 years ago.
Of course, it’s been renovated a few times since.
However, you can still wander through a maze of Roman and Medieval-era streets, find small shops, and a charming plaza.
Ancient times aren’t the only era visible and more-recent events can be spotted during your walk. The easiest one is located in Place Del Rei where bombing scares dating from the Spanish Civil War are clearly noticeable.
Our advice would be to go there during the morning. Due to its close location to the city center, the Gothic Quarter can quickly be animated and bustling. Plan between one and two hours to amble around.
#2 Dominate the city at the Bunkers of Carmel
The Spanish Civil War has shaped the Barcelona Skyline and similar to the Gothic Quarter, ruins and the effects are still apparent.
But it was without counting on the creativity of Barcelona’s youth. When you consider that more than 200 bombs a day hit Barcelona during the 1930’s, you’ll be stunned by Barcelonians resilience and willingness to forget this dark period.
Thanks to amazing local talents, what was once considered as an anti-aircraft system is now what could be the best viewpoint of Barcelona.
And do you want to know the best part ?
Most of the tourist’s guides do not feature this incredible spot.
Our advice? Do not forget your picnic and bottle of wine for what could be your best sunset memory. Indeed when the sun starts to fall below the horizon, the Bunker’s of Carmel transforms itself into a breathtaking sight.
#3 Awaken your senses at the Mercat de la boqueria
The Mercat de la Boqueria is the most famous market in Barcelona. Located along La Rambla, the worldwide-known street, this typical Spanish market has grown and surely developed itself since its creation in 1840.
Europe’s biggest food market is a must-do for everyone travelling in Barcelona. On any given day, small shops, vendors, the delicious smell of the Spanish cuisine and the fantastic atmosphere will make you fall in love with this place. Colourful and lively, the Mercat de la Boqueria is an iconic landmark of the Catalonian city.
Before you go, buy some chorizo, jabugo or some chillies. They are amazing. Protips here: if you want to bring edible souvenirs, ask the vendors for a vacuum-packed container. It will then be accepted on your plane.
Oh, and if you want to go deeper into the Spanish cuisine, why not take a cooking class directly in the market?
#4 Dive into the Spanish gastronomy
If you proclaim yourself a foodie or just really like good food, whether it is from a restaurant or from the street, you’ll find heaven in Barcelona.
Among the many choices you have in this city, there is a thing you should not miss, the tapas-culture. Barcelona’s tapas – a small portion of food, generally lay on bread – could become your new way of life. When it comes to tapas, Barcelonian can be impressively creative : fresh olives, squid, cheese, meat, a wonderland of tastes and colour mixed all together that will make your mouth water.
Tapas are generally eaten with friends around a glass of wine or just before the siesta time. The best ones are found on small, not-so-crowded streets. How to finds these places ? Ditch the map and your mainstream tourists’ guide and get yourself lost in Barcelona.
Even if we could go on and on praising tapas, Barcelona’s cuisine has more treasure waiting to be discovered. Typical and authentic Catalan meals can be found easily in most of the restaurants. The city’s location on the Mediterranean sea will make any seafood lover thrilled about mealtime. Finally, similar to Tapas, certain dishes must not be avoided such as Pan Con Tomate, Paella or Bombas.
#5 Catch up with some of the most famous museums
From Picasso to Gaudi open-air Art, some of the best-known artists have a dedicated museum here in Barcelona.
If you are travelling with your family, some of the museums know how to keep everyone entertained and curious.
Our favourites spots ?
The Science Museum and the Wax Museum. The first one is a fun place for the family of all ages. There is also a “kids area” with several games and toys for children to play with. Parents can then explore the “boring” stuff and come back later to pick up their children. However, you must be warned, most of the children don’t want to leave.
The Wax Museum is a collection of Spanish and International people who have shaped either the country or are icons. It is an entertaining way to learn more about the history and the culture. The best part ? The museum is located next to the Rambla, in the city centre. It’s an excellent way to spend an afternoon during a rainy day.
These two museums are just a small sample of the Museum scene in Barcelona. Other museums you shouldn’t miss are the Fundacio Juan Miro, the Picasso Museum or the CCCB – Barcelona Contemporary Cultural Center.
City run museums are free on Sunday afternoons such as the Picasso Museum. Our advice would be to check on individual websites for more details.
By the way, did you know there is also a Museum dedicated to chocolate ?
#6 Combining Art and Nature at the Parc Güell
Some Days you don’t want to spend an afternoon inside, especially if the sun is shining bright – which happens a lot in Barcelona. Thankfully, this Catalonian City has you covered.
The Park Guell is another fantastic Gaudi creation. In addition to a fresh air promenade – Barcelona lacks parks compared to others cities – this park offers a great view over the city. Inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Park Guell will make you dive into the eccentricity of its creator – Antoni Gaudi. From the biggest world bench to beautiful mosaïc, this unique park is a mix of design and nature.
Bring a picnic alongside with a bottle of wine and your Park Guell’s exploration can quickly turn into a romantic getaway.
#7 Explore lovely surrounding cities
While Barcelona will surely let you wander mouth and eyes-wide-open, there are several places around the city that will leave you in awe.
We could write dozen of pages around the beauty of Catalonia’s cities and it’s been hard to choose. However, Tarragona should be on your bucket list. Located only at one hour drive from Barcelona, the city found its charm within its Roman structure built in the late 2nd century. From the Tarragona Amphitheatre to the incredible cuisine, Tarragona has a lot to offer.
Speaking of which, beaches and a lovely harbour can be found between Tarragona and Barcelona. Our advice here would be to take your vacation to the water. And if by any chance you feel like a sailor, you can still rent a boat in Barcelona and sail to Tarragona. This way, you won’t miss a piece of the beautiful coast.
In any case, be sure not to forget about this amazing village on your next trip to Barcelona !
#8 A trip to the mountains at Montserrat
Sure, Barcelona is a perfect spot to enjoy the Mediterranean sea. Still, if you want to change your landscape for a day, Monserrat is here. Just outside this most famous Catalonian destination, Montserrat has become a retreat to people looking for tranquillity away from the city.
All sort of things to do are available in these mountain ranges. While most of the tourists go there for a beautiful hike, some are coming for religious purposes. Indeed, the Santa Maria de Montserrat
Finally, if waking up early does not scare you, then you shouldn’t miss the stunning sunrise from this amazing viewpoint.
For the Architecture-lover
#9 Watch out for Sagrada Familia and the mysterious crypts
As you would expect, Sagrada Familia surely made it to the things to do in Barcelona. No doubt here, Sagrada Familia is what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris; you can’t ignore it. It rises as a symbol, crowning Barcelona by its beauty.
Sagrada Familia is one of the main reasons that Barcelona attracts millions of curious tourists each year.
But I bet there is one thing in the Sagrada Familia that most of the tourists miss.
You didn’t expect Sagrada Familia to have crypts, didn’t you ? And yet, Paris does not have the exclusivity of mysterious crypts.
So what make them so special ? Well, despite being located on a gorgeous location and being declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Crypts of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is where the tomb of Antonio Gaudi lies.
But, fun fact : did you know that the famous architect wasn’t the original constructor of the Crypts ?
Indeed, you’ll notice that most of the Crypt was built in a Neo-Gothic style – which was not Gaudi’s method. The Neo-Gothic approach was very trendy during the late 19th century. Then Gaudi took over the project and applied his worldwide architectural touch.
Two differents architectural styles on a similar historical place : you don’t see that everyday.
Be aware that the crypts are open only for a limited hours. But it will worth the wait as it is one of the coolest things to do in the Sagrada Familia.
#10 Embrace Torres Glories’ modernity
Yes Barcelona has centuries of history and yes, most of the city was build in a medieval, roman and modernism style. However, the city knows how to embrace 21th century modernity.
Formerly known as Torre Agbar, The Torre Glories rises above the city skyline. It marks the entrance of Barcelona’s districts business. The 145 meters high tower was designed by Jean Nouvel, making it the fourth tallest building of the city.
And if being one of the tallest building is not good enough, see what is next.
The Torre Glories is covered with aluminium. Depending on the time of the day and the light, this tower can reflects up to 40 different colors. While in the day the tower is spectacular, wait to see it during night time. More than 4,500 LED devices generate an explosion of colours.
Last but not least, the Torre Glories shape has been and is still a source of controversy. Barcelona’s favorite nickname for it is “The Suppository”. Classy.