15 Things to do in Barcelona

Tags: Barcelona,2018,intern,alumni,Sagrada Familia

By Dani Thompson

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There is something purely magical about Barcelona. It’s a city with an eclectic style; some parts feeling Spanish and some parts uniquely it’s own. It’s no wonder why so many people fall in love with this city time after time again. The food, beach, culture, and architecture combine to form an incredible masterpiece, one with character and charm. Barcelona is a city that offers endless things to do and that’s why it’s a great travel destination for just about anyone. This city has a reputation for a reason, and that’s because it offers a little something for everyone. If you are looking for your next European travel destination, why not pack your bags and head on over to this remarkable city. To make your life easier, I have created a list of a few of my favorite things to do in Barcelona. (Check out our Barcelona trip here!) Below I have listed 15 activities you just have to do while visiting this Catalan capital. After reading this list, you will be ready to go book your flight to this Mediterranean gem! 

1. Bask in the Mediterranean Sun on Barceloneta Beach:

What makes Barcelona such a unique city? Well, there are many reasons, but one of the key selling points is the fact that it’s situated right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Not only does this mean that Barcelona has beautiful weather year-round, but it also provides a relaxing slice of paradise right outside the main city center. Spend an afternoon free from sightseeing and take a relaxing siesta on la playa.


2. Get Lost Through the Gothic Quarter:

One of my favorite neighborhoods in all of Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter. Not only is it bursting with history, but it is also home to some of the most authentic restaurants and shops in the entire city. The Gothic quarter is exactly how you would imagine Barcelona to be; aged and rustic facades, weathered cobblestone pathways that wander endlessly in every direction, while having a unique personality that may take several visits to fully understand. There is something beautifully mysterious about this part of town. My suggestion: go and get lost. You never know what you might discover.


3. Marvel at Gaudi’s Creations:

This Catalan Capital would be nothing it is today without the significant influence of one specific man. Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish modernism architect who decorated Barcelona in his incredible masterpieces. His work can be seen throughout the entire city, and should definitely not be overlooked. Some of his most popular designs around the city include Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Parc Guell, and the notorious Sagrada Familia.


4. Be Amazed By the Sagrada Familia:

Europe is known for having breathtaking cathedrals and church’s in almost every city. These temples of worship are all beautifully crafted, resembling pieces of art rather than religious sanctuaries. Now there are some incredible churches in other cities without a doubt, however, the Sagrada Familia is just incomparable on so many levels. Antoni Gaudi designed this masterpiece, inspired by god’s simplest foundation: nature. The facade is ornately decorated with organic shapes, religious symbols, and intricate wildlife that creates a one of a kind structure all on its own. Want more stunning cathedrals in your life? Italy has a ton as well!


5. Take the Iconic Photo at Parc Guell:

I bet when you think of Barcelona one specific image comes to mind. Vibrant mosaic benches overlooking the Barcelona skyline. This is what you find at Parc Guell. Another one of Antoni Gaudi’s creative works, meant to be a housing complex back in the day for the wealthy Catalans. Nowadays, this tourist attraction lets you get a glimpse inside of Gaudi’s creative mind while witnessing some spectacular views.


6. Stroll Down Las Ramblas:

Las Ramblas is like the spine of Barcelona; the main passageway that connects the bustling city center to the charming and inviting sea. While touristy and crowded at times, it is still a must-see street. Watch street performers, fellow travelers, and interesting characters enjoy a shaded stroll down this lively promenade.


7. Eat to Your Heart’s Content at the Boqueria:

Foodie or not, the Boqueria is a stop that cannot be missed. Walking into this bustling market for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, but I say this in the best way possible. From the cornucopia of fresh produce beautifully arranged, to the fish vendors that sell creatures you’ve never even seen before; there is just so much to see, taste, and experience. Meander through this labyrinth of delicacies and every one of your senses will be stimulated. This is the perfect stop for an afternoon snack of jamon and picos or a refreshing tropical smoothie.


8. Become a Futbol Fan at Camp Nou:

Barcelona’s futbol (soccer) team is known around the world for being one if not the best teams in the sport. Whether you’re into sports or not, seeing these guys play in person will convert anyone into a die-hard barce fan. This sporting event goes beyond the field for Spaniards, it represents their culture, signifying the hard working, and determined individuals that make up the country.


9. Party Till the Sun Comes Up:

Whether you are a college student spending a semester abroad or you’re a retired tourist enjoying the finer side of Europe, every person at any age should experience the infamous nightlife of Barcelona. From old-school dingy bars to outrageous nightclubs, Barcelona has a scene for everyone. Go ahead, order one too many gin and tonics and wander on home as the new day rises.


10. Watch the Sunset at Bunkers Del Carmel:

Ah Bunkers, one of my all-time favorite spots in all of Barcelona. It holds some of my most favorite memories from my time abroad. These stunning hilltop ruins give a panoramic view of the entire city and sea in one direction, and endless spacious mountains in the other. Grab a cheap bottle of wine, a few friends, and enjoy life how it’s truly meant to be.


11. Take in Spectacular Views at Tibidabo:

Heading up to Tibidabo mountain is a great day trip when visiting Barcelona. Soaring at 1,680 feet, this mountain is the highest point in the Serra de Collserola. Spend an afternoon enjoying incredible views of the capital of Catalunya. Once you’ve reached the summit, check out Sagrat Cor church and the Tibidabo amusement park.


12. Funicular Up to the Montjuic Fortress:

What’s better than more city views? But this time, why not in a medieval fortress. Towering right above the Barcelona harbor, Montjuic offers many things to see and check out. For just 5 euros, you can tour the fortress and get a glimpse of Barcelona’s historic past time first hand. There are several ways to get up here, but most people go by cable car or funicular. To work off all those tapas you’ll be eating, you can also hike your way to the top for some extra exercise.


13. Bike Through Parc De La Ciutadella:

Looking for some peace and quiet? Bike or walk through the lovely Parc de la Ciutadella. Situated near the city center, this park is a relaxing escape from the crowds and chaos. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, this spot is filled with families and lovebirds enjoying picnics and games. Right outside of the park be sure to check out Barcelona’s very own Arc de Triomf.


14. Stumble Upon Barcelona Cathedral:

Taking a more traditional approach to European architecture, the Barcelona Cathedral is a stunning spectacle right in the heart of the gothic quarter. From this point, you can explore deep into the rustic cobblestone streets that make up the old city.

15. People Watch in Placa de Catalunya:


The most central point in Barcelona; Placa de Catalunya is the beating heart of the city. From this spot, you can shop till you’re broke on Passeig de Gracia or walk down Las Ramblas. This square is where the old and new (Eixample) parts of the city cohesively merge. Placa de Catalunya is always crowded with locals and tourists alike, making it a great spot to take a break from sightseeing.

Check out more great articles on Dani's blog HERE


Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame

Happy Backpackers

The most fun, exciting, educational, and craziest weekend I had during my semester abroad. You definitely get the maximum bang for your buck with WSA. WSA provided me with an unbelieveable weekend in Budapest. After hearing from my friends about their amazing experiences on WSA trips, I had to see what all the hype was about. I chose to take part in a WSA weekend in Budapest, and I loved every minute of it. The guide, Bogi, was the best! WSA is the perfect blend of an educational/tourist expereince while also allowing for sites off the beaten path as well as kickass nightlife. You won't regret a trip with WSA.

Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame ~ University of Notre Dame, London, Spring 2015

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