Think of Barcelona’s museums and attractions like Christmas presents: don’t open them all at once! Firstly, you can (and should) come back to Barcelona again so there’s no hurry to fit everything into one trip. Secondly, you can’t appreciate them when you ‘open them’ too close together. After a couple of hours in an art gallery, your concentration runs out and you might as well be looking at a bare wall. This is why you need to add some Barcelona activities to your itinerary!
With so many incredible activities to do in Barcelona, you need to strike the right balance between fun and learning. It’s a holiday, after all! You’d also be surprised the amount you can learn while you’re having fun. While some of these activities are specifically for Barcelona summer holidays, most of them can be enjoyed all year round! It’s also well worth checking what Barcelona events are on when you arrive. They can add a unique edge to your holiday!
15 Activities To Do In Barcelona
1. Ride a Segway
Segway, segway, segway! It’s one of the latest and greatest ways to explore Barcelona. Most major European cities have this as an option and Barcelona is no exception. As Barcelona is a very cyclist friendly city (lots of bike lanes and not too many hills), it makes it the perfect place to hop on a segway as well. There are lots of segway guided tours. Choose your route: the Gothic Quarter (including Las Ramblas), the beaches, Montjüic, Gràcia and more. Conserve your energy while seeing Barcelona from street-level and, of course, having fun!
2. Hire a Bike
Riding a bike in Barcelona might seem like only something a local should do. You may also see lots of red “Bicing” bicycles (the city bikes for residents) but don't let that put you off! It's just a positive reflection on Barcelona's initiative to encourage cycling in the city. They are continually adding and improving bike lanes. Plus with lots of long boulevards, such as Avenida Diagonal, it has been a bike-friendly city in the waiting!
See the big attractions, join a bike tour or find some romantic spots off the beaten path
. The choice is yours! There are plenty of bike hire shops and prices are generally very reasonable, starting at €5/day (for an ordinary city bike), going up to €15/day (for an electric bike). By contrast, one of the worst Barcelona activities is giving all your money to taxi drivers!
Barcelona E-Bike Tour: Gaudi Highlights
3. Rent a GoCar
If you’ve ever seen the children’s programme, “Noddy”, picture his car but smaller. You might laugh when you first see these little yellow cars queueing at traffic lights, before flying up Passeig de Gracia to see La Pedrera, Casa Batlló or some other site. They look different but their difference is something to relish! These clever little cars are a great way to see the city. Drive around these open-top cars, enjoying great views for up to 9 hours a day. They also do packages for stag and hen dos, as well as a Camp Nou experience for football lovers. Although it’s a small car, it’s still a car and you will therefore need a valid driving license!
4. Hike Up Montserrat
Since their miraculous transformation at the 1992 Summer Olympics, the beaches of Barcelona have literally coloured people’s perception of the city. To see Barcelona summer as a mixture of yellows (the beaches) and blues (the sea) is understandable. The truth is, however, there is a lot of green too.
There are around 70 parks in the city (Park Güell being the most famous) and to the north and west of Barcelona are parks, nature reserves, hills and mountains. Montserrat is a great hike to begin with. It takes a couple of hours to get to Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey (where the famous Black Madonna statue is held) and you can continue up, if you wish, for more stunning views!
Visit of Montserrat with Lunch and Wine-Tasting
5. Drink Wine and Paint (in that order!)
If you’re looking for authentic things to do in Barcelona, what could be more Spanish than going to a painting class? One thing perhaps: going to a Spanish painting class and drinking Spanish wine! There are plenty of creative Barcelona activities but there aren’t that many which encourage you to drink delicious local wine!
As you might imagine, this is a relaxed opportunity to express yourself with paint, without any pressure or expectation! It’s also a great way to meet new people, share your Barcelona stories and tips and generally have fun. There are a few places offering this (and surely more to come) so search out your nearest one. The question is: will the wine help your art?
6. Learn Street Photography
Barcelona is renowned for its graffiti. You can go on graffiti tours: many famous graffiti artists
have ‘left their mark’ in this city. The Barcelona council encourages it! You can even reserve a time and space to add your own graffiti to the city. It’s no surprise then that street photography has become bigger in parallel to this. If photography is ever something that has interested you, you’re in the perfect place to learn. There are some really great street photography classes you can take in Barcelona. Why not take your new skills to haunted and abandoned places in Barcelona
? Your Instagram photos are about to get an upgrade!
7. Escape the Escape Rooms
Escape Room is a worldwide franchise and, in case you didn’t know, Barcelona has some as well. This is a great way to spend a few hours with one or a whole group of friends. Different Escape Rooms in the city offer different experiences. In short, solve codes and clues to escape. There are many ‘escape themes’ you have to choose from: the Gaudi Mission, Sherlock Holmes, Prisoners of Azkaban, Prison Break plus many more. Don’t worry, if you can’t solve it, they’ll let you out eventually - right?
8. Go to a Nudist Beach
For those who are less self-conscious, you can enjoy the liberating feeling of being naked on one of Barcelona’s best beaches: Mar Bella beach. There’s usually a higher proportion of men here (it is also a well-known gay beach) and if you’re looking for eye candy, you’re unlikely to find it. Being older and perhaps less attractive seems to have a strong correlation with caring less about what people think.
This is not Ipanema beach in Rio De Janeiro! This is a place to feel accepted, not judged; liberated, not objectified. Have a real beach break
! Sometimes the best Barcelona activities involve inactivity. Don’t forget to explore the rest of Barcelona’s beaches and waterfront
(with clothes on)!
9. Swim in an Olympic Pool
Barcelona really took advantage of hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics. The Olympic swimming pool in Montjüic has become a popular outdoor activity in Barcelona. The pool, “Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc”, is, as its name suggests, on Montjuïc hill. Montjuïc is easy to get to, on the southwest side of the city, near Poble Sec and Plaça Españya metro stations (on L3, the green line).
There are two swimming pools, one for diving and one for swimming. They’re outdoor pools so summer is the best time to go. There’s a small entry fee but it’s much lower than most swimming pools in the city. How can one of the best pools be one of the cheapest? It’s unbelievable value for money!
10. Kayak in the Costa Brava
There are some excellent ways to take advantage of the Mediterranean sea while you’re in Barcelona. You can go sailing, jet skiing, windsurfing, power boating, doughnutting, banana boating, you name it! It’s a personal choice so go for whatever feels right. Here’s another option which people don’t always think of: kayaking! Not just jumping in at Barceloneta beach and dodging families of red-faced tourists (although why not!) but heading northeast of Barcelona to the Costa Brava (literally, the brave coast). There are plenty of watersports companies which can offer you this experience.
11. Visit Poble Espanyol
Poble Espanyol means “Spanish Town”. It is a model Spanish town and museum built in 1929 and includes 117 full-size buildings. Think of it like a ghost town (no one lives in the houses) but it is very popular to visit. The architects and critics who built it went to over 600,000 places in Spain to create a town which represented the whole country.
Poble Espanyol is a short walk up the hill of Montjuïc (near Plaza de España and Caixa Forum). There are often Barcelona events happening at Poble Espanyol, such as the Calçotada (a spring onion, sausage and meat festival). See if you can time your visit with some other Barcelona activities and events happening here. If not, enjoy the extra space, as you experience the whole of Spain in one place!
Montjuic and Panoramic Tour
12. Cable Car to the Castle
When I first came to Barcelona, I heard of Montjuïc Castle and its incredible views, clicked into google maps and started walking! Even if you’re feeling up to a long, steep walk, you need to get proper directions. Cut to a scene of me scrambling through trees and over fences! There is a much easier and more enjoyable way of getting there: cable car. You can hop on near the bottom of the hill, next to Montjuïc Park and it will take you the whole way up to the castle. This castle is both one of the best viewpoints and landmarks in the city. Two for the price of one!
13. Learn Spanish
To some, this will seem painfully obvious and, to others, it will seem obviously painful. To those of you who are planning on an extended visit to Barcelona, however, this might be something worth considering. You don’t need to become a fluent speaker to reap the benefits of learning Spanish. Put simply, the more you learn, the better time you will have here.
Apart from understanding the street signs and knowing how to order your food, you will be able to enjoy a far greater and more immersive experience. If you think gesturing is a good enough way to communicate, you might spend three months without truly connecting with anybody. Don’t be scared of ‘going back to school’. It’s genuinely fun, especially now you want to learn! With hundreds of language schools to choose from, you’ll easily be able to find the right group for you.
14. Helicopter Ride
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a helicopter tour of Barcelona! There are two overwhelming reasons to go on a helicopter tour. First, you get a great view of the city: no need for a map! Second, it’s a huge amount of fun. If you’ve never been in a helicopter (like most people), then what better time to start than seeing Barcelona from above and its surroundings. Spot the Sagrada Familia
and Torre Glòries
. See Mount Tibidabo
, el Guinardó
, the beaches running down to Castelldefels
and up to Badalona
and beyond. This isn’t a cheap option but why should it be?
15. Hot Air Balloon
It might sound like a lot of ‘hot air’ but you really can get a hot air balloon ride. Barcelona activities don’t get much better than this! Since its invention, hot air balloons have captured the imaginations of just about everyone. You don’t fly, you float like a cloud above Barcelona and its endlessly beautiful coastline and countryside. If you’re looking into day trips from Barcelona, you only need to look up! If you get hooked on hot air ballooning, there are plenty of other places you can do it. How does crossing the snowcapped Pyrenees sound?