Everyone should visit Barcelona at least once. Everyone. No excuses. The Catalan capital is a bustling city that lives up to its reputation, a thriving cultural centre with brilliant museums, magnificent restaurants and a club scene to go all night.

Barcelona is brilliant, bombastic, and bloomin’ marvellous. And what are the best things to do while you’re here? We’re glad you asked, because we’ve done the hard yards and put together the ultimate Barna bucket list. You can’t go wrong with this place. Here are its best things to do right now. 

Best things to do in Barcelona

Buy a book at a beautiful bookshop

Foto: FInestres d’art i còmic

1. Buy a book at a beautiful bookshop

What is it? A tour of the most beautiful bookstores in Barcelona.

Why go? In recent years, new bookstores have joined some of the long-standing ones we already had in the city. And the joy was twofold because, besides being places that championed books, most of them were also beautiful (just look at Ona LlibresLibrería Byron and Finestres).

Don’t miss: The García Márquez Library in Poblenou was chosen as the best public library in the world in 2023. And it’s no wonder: It’s spectacular.

Cool off with a unique ice cream

2. Cool off with a unique ice cream

What is it? Barcelona might not be Florence, so we don’t eat ice cream all year round – but we do have all kinds of amazing ice cream parlors, some of them among the best in Europe.

Why go? It’ll likely be hot when you visit. Need we say more? Besides, you can eat ice cream inside a spaceship at Lucciano’s, create an ice cream from memories at Mamá Heladera, or get a taste of Barcelona at Badiani.

Have a moment of silence at Santa Anna

Xavi Casinos-claustre de Santa Anna

3. Have a moment of silence at Santa Anna

What is it? A Romanesque church associated with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre which was declared a Cultural Heritage of National Interest.

Why go? If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Plaça de Catalunya and the traffic of Carrer d’Aragó, you’ll find tranquility in the cloister of Santa Anna and in that of La Concepción – recovered from the former temple of Santa Maria de les Jonqueres. Time stands still, and the silence invites you to disconnect.

Don’t miss: Also visit the Chapel of the Pardons, which housed a sculptural ensemble of the Holy Burial, and visitors were granted the same pardons as those who went to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Go for tapas at Bodega d'en Rafel

4. Go for tapas at Bodega d’en Rafel

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Tapas bars
  • Sant Antoni
  • price 1 of 4
  • Recommended

What is it? A bar just a stone’s throw away from La Paloma with one of the best tortillas in Barcelona.

Why should you go? El Pollo has that typical melancholic vibe of the Raval bars, but when the dishes arrive, joy bursts forth: the ingredients are fresh, and the menu offers spectacular hearty dishes that could easily be found in a classic Bilbao restaurant. It’s not cheap, but the tapas option is suitable for almost any budget, with spectacular tortillas, top-notch croquettes, and some squid in onion sauce that’s simply divine. Rosalía recommended it, and since then, it’s always packed.

Don’t miss out: Right next door, the same owners have opened La Polla, serving up a great selection of cured meats, pickles, salads and tortillas.

Have a cocktail at Mariposa Negra

5. Have a cocktail at Mariposa Negra

What is it? A cocktail bar dedicated to storytelling

Why go? Mariposa Negra is located in El Born, founded by Luca Corradini, who in 2015 was one of the head bartenders at the American Bar at the Savoy in London, England’s oldest cocktail bar. The bar takes inspiration from the novel ‘Marina’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, which is set in Barcelona during the 1970s.

Don’t miss: Corradini not only prepares spectacular cocktails but also distills his own liqueurs and designs – and manufactures! – the glasses you drink them from.

Do some reflecting at Cementiri de Montjuïc

6. Do some reflecting at Cementiri de Montjuïc

  • Attractions
  • Sants – Montjuïc

What is it? Designed by Leandro Albareda in 1880, this enormous necropolis sits at the side of the motorway, as a daily reminder to commuters of their own mortality.

Why go? he cemetery was originally divided into four sections: one for Catholics, one for Protestants, one for non-Christians and a fourth for aborted foetuses. It now stretches over the south-west corner of the mountain, with family tombs stacked five or six storeys high. Many, especially those belonging to the gypsy community, are a riot of colour and flowers. The Fossar de la Pedrera memorial park remembers the fallen of the International Brigades and the Catalan martyrs from the Civil War. There is also a Holocaust memorial and a mausoleum to the former president of the Generalitat, Lluís Companys.

Don’t miss: The cemetery is much visited, particularly on All Saints’ Day, when the roads are clogged with cars. Eventually, it will provide a new home for the city’s collection of funeral carriages.

Discover urban art

Maria Dias

7. Discover urban art

What is it? A route through the places in Barcelona where urban art abounds.

Why go? Barcelona has a ton of great graffiti and mural spots. In Poblenou, you can follow this route: start at the corner of Marroc and Espronceda, continue along Perú and descend via Selva de Mar. On the island formed by Agricultura, Veneçuela, Josep Pla, and Pallars, you’ll find plenty. In Poble-sec, the Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies are a meeting point for spray artists. And in Sant Andreu, Nau Bostik is a curated space for urban art.

Don’t miss: The Besòs River Park aims to become the largest urban art museum in Europe. The 18km river, between the Pont Vell de Santa Coloma and the Pont de Can Peixauet, is being painted with works by international and local artists thanks to the BesArt project.

Ride the port cable car

8. Ride the port cable car

What is it? The cable car that takes you from Montjuïc to Barceloneta (and vice versa).

Why go? Test your fear of heights and hop on the Port Cable Car. The adventure begins with the ascent to the Tower of Sant Sebastià, the iron giant conceived by architect Carles Buïgas for the 1929 Universal Exposition. The most thrilling part is stepping into the red cabin – it holds up to 19 people – to cross the city at 70 meters high. After 10 minutes of swaying, weightlessness sensation and bird’s-eye views, you might want to kiss the ground at Miramar, but if you still have the urge to fly, you can return to Barceloneta in the opposite direction.

Don’t miss: It’s hard to avoid the queues, but the best times to go are around midday or early in the morning.

Find tranquility at the Umbracle

9. Find tranquility at the Umbracle

  • Attractions

What is it? A building of iron architecture declared a Cultural Heritage of Local Interest.

Why go? The project by Josep Fontseré was built at the end of the 19th century following the prevailing style; hence the cast iron pillars, iron beams, and exposed brick. Later, for the Universal Exposition, it was turned into a dance hall; nowadays, it resembles its original appearance: a shadowy and quiet space where plants of all kinds and origins grows. You’ll find hydrangeas, kentias, small ficus trees, Swiss cheese plants, Indian rubber trees, wax palms, winter jasmine and more.

Don’t miss: A first-rate botanical spectacle that only opens on weekdays and in the morning, you can spend your time here discovering (and coveting) plants or sit down to read in peace in this simulation of a tropical jungle.

Marvel at Sant Felip Neri

10. Marvel at Sant Felip Neri

  • Attractions
  • Ciutat Vella

What is it? One of the most beautiful and historically significant squares in the city.

Why go? After strolling through the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, you’ll find Sant Felip Neri on the site of the ancient medieval cemetery of Monjuïc del Bisbe. Within it you’ll find the church and school of the same name, Renaissance houses, and the former guild houses of coppersmiths and shoemakers, the latter being the headquarters of the Shoe Museum. If you look at the facade of the Sant Felip Neri church, you’ll see the remnants of shrapnel from a bomb launched by the Nationalist faction during the Civil War, which caused the deaths of 42 people, most of them children.

Don’t miss: The Hotel Neri has a good restaurant (with a terrace on the square!). It’s romantic.

11. Visit The Camp Nou

A visit to Camp Nou is a must-see.

 It is the largest football stadium in Europe, home of Barcelona Football Club (‘Barça’ as it is known locally).

Its not just the size of this stadium that makes it so impressive, but also the amount of sporting facilities around it. It houses a large museum showing off all of Barcelona FC’s trophies and all the other Barcelona club trophies such as basketball.

Nou Camp Stadium
Nou Camp Stadium


Tours of the stadium take about an hour and include the changing rooms, the tunnel and its chapel, the managers’ dug-outs and the trophy room. Visits for groups of 20 or more should be prebooked.