All you need to know: 18 things to do in Barcelona, Spain
Updated: Jan 16, 2019
Barcelona's the capital of Catalonia and is the second largest city in Spain! With its amazing warm-er weather plus its great location close to the beaches in an urban city it is THE city to visit, especially in winter..
There's really so much to do in Barcelona that even throughout my three trips there, I don't think I've managed to cover them. But here are some must-sees in Barcelona, Spain and you can include them into your travel itinerary.
Before you get to what you can do in this beautiful city, we'll first cover everything you need to know...
All you need to know about Barcelona, Spain
Getting into Barcelona / Spain
International flights to Spain usually head to either Barcelona or Madrid. Since we're on the Barcelona thread, you'll be flying into the Barcelona El-Prat Airport.
Airport to City Centre - Aerobus
The airport is located about an hour away from the city and the easiest way to get from the airport to the city is via the airport aerobus. It costs 5.90 euros one-way and 10.20 euros for a return trip. We went via the aerobus on both trips as it requires no transfers. Great also if you stay close to any of the stops: Plaza de Espana or Plaza de Catalunya.
Airport to City Centre - Renfe Trains
Alternatively, the renfe trains are slightly faster and takes you into the city in 30 minutes. To take the train, you'll have to first take a shuttle from Terminal 1 to the train station. The renfe train gets you to Passeig de Gracia or Barcelona Sants where you can transfer to the metro. Get a T10 ticket that allows you to ride Barcelona's public transportation, otherwise, get the Hola Barcelona Card that allows you unlimited rides on public transportation.
Trains are a convenient way to travel through Europe and Barcelona can be reached by high-speed train from Paris (about 6 hours). You'll usually enter through Barcelona Sants. Barcelona is also well-connected to other Spanish cities like Madrid, Valencia and Seville.
Spain's train provider is Renfe and you can book the tickets online on the website beforehand. Although Renfe's system is kind of tricky and annoying to use, we always like to book through the actual website to ensure our transfers don't go wrong.
As a trick, use Google Chrome to book your tickets as it has the auto-translate function. Sometimes, not everything gets translated but hey, that's better than nothing! We've also done up a step-by-step guide on how to book Spain's Renfe train tickets!
Getting around Barcelona
There are trams, metro, trains, and buses that you can take to get around Barcelona. These public transportation are generally quite reliable and efficient within the city. Also, it has great connectivity with google maps so you can generally GPS your way around the city. But when it comes to public transport, what kind of tickets should you get?
Single Tickets are the best if you are only gonna take one trip or occasional trips. These tickets costs 2.20 euros and you can get them at the ticket station or at any vending machine. But if you are visiting Barcelona, you usually will need more than just one ticket as you can't exactly walk your way to all the sights in Barcelona. Do note that this ticket does not allow you to travel from the airport to the city and vice versa. Those tickets costs more. Also, the various public transportation have different tickets so you can't use bus tickets for metro tickets, et cetera.
The next best would be the T-10 ticket. This basically works like a single ticket that allows you 10 trips on any of the public transportation in Barcelona. It costs 10.20 euros, so you'll get a discount when purchasing 10 tickets at a go. This can also be used to share between or among your travel buddies. We tried this and it was easy to validate the tickets and use them. You can get them at the ticket station or at the vending machine.
But the best one would be the 48,72,96 hours Hola Barcelona Travel Card. This grants you unlimited travel on the public transport including to the airport. We found this to be useful as we didn't have to fumble for change or worry if our T-10 card was running out. Also, we've counted... A T-10 ticket is just sufficient for two people for a day in Barcelona, and the Hola Barcelona Card is only slightly more expensive per day so it does make sense to remove that added stress when travelling.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Buses are great for first-time travellers or those who #travelwithchildren Since these buses are for tourists, you're kind of a little bit more "protected" and in that tourist bubble. We actually did this for our very first trip to Barcelona as it was a last minute trip and we didn't have time to do any prior planning. It was quite enjoyable and we could also tour the sights even if we didn't alight and head to those attractions. It also brought us quickly to the various attractions without the fuss of looking for transport and transferring.
Where to stay in Barcelona?
The best area to stay in Barcelona in my opinion is somewhere close to Plaza de Catalunya as it is where all the action is. This time, we stayed at Chic and Basic Lemon Boutique Hotel. You may think the name sounds a bit crazy, but it was truly a comfortable stay in the middle of the bustling city centre! You'll also get free drinking water daily! Read more about our stay here!
Chic and Basic Lemon Boutique Hotel
Book your stay here
Carrer de Pelai, 6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: Universitat
How to get Wifi in Barcelona?
In today's digital age, Wifi is a must! You need it for GPS, to figure out what to eat and what to do, and also to update your numerous social media platforms. So how can you get wifi in Barcelona and the rest of Spain and Europe?
For Singaporeans, you can get it online for self-collection at the airport before you take off. It starts as low as $9 per day and you can share the data among your travel buddies.
Now that you're all prep, here's what you can do when visiting Barcelona, Spain!
1. Marvel at the Uncompleted Sagrada Familia
Since Barcelona's best known for the towering Sagrada Familia, this would likely be the top of your list. Definitely for the first-timers, you will need to head inside. The interior of the Sagrada is equally amazing if not more amazing than its exterior. Be sure to climb up (or take the lifts) to the top for an amazing view of Barcelona!
As this is the a must-go for many other travellers to Barcelona, you might just want to get the tickets online to avoid the extremely long queue, especially if you are in Barcelona in summer! Should you want a guided tour that narrates more about what you're actually seeing, get these tickets here!
Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Opening hours: Check online
Nearest metro: Sagrada Familia
2. Soak in some sun at Parc Guell
If Sagrada's number one, then Parc Guell will likely be the second on your list. Parc Guell is an extensive garden complex that was built between 1900 and 1914. Besides the front portion where you'll find the "kimodo dragon" where it is crowded with people, look closely at the iron grilles and the trencadis surfaces that are characteristic of Gaudi's work.
Besides the monumental area (where most of Guadi's iconic works reside), the rest of the park is open to all. As part of the preservation efforts, only a number of people are allowed inside the monumental area. This leads to visitors who are allocated timeslots where they can head inside the area and long long queues. Should you wish to avoid the crowds, Head there early and you may just want to get guided tour tickets beforehand as they have a separate entrance. Although this still doesn't solve the fact that you are with a group of tourists, but better than nothing right?
You may also be interested to find out how to get to Parc Guell as I wrote about them here, alongside with other Gaudi's architecture such as Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, and Palau Guell that you may want to visit when in Barcelona.
08024 Barcelona, Spain
The park is opened 24/7 but the monumental core opens from 8.30am to 6.15pm / later in summer months. You can check the exact dates and opening hours online.
3. Eat your way through La Boqueria Market
The La Boqueria market offers an insane assortment of fruits, vegetables, jamon, and quite a number of popular Tapas bar. When you are here, grab a fruit juice or smoothie before you head deeper in to discover better deals. A #travelhack for visiting the market is that the prices go down when you head deeper into the market.
Read more travel hacks for La Boqueria Market here!
We also tried the Pinotxo Bar when we were there and were served by Juanito Bayern!
Pinotxo Bar, Mercat de la Boqueria, 466-470
Barcelona · Catalunya
Opening Hours: 6.30am - 4.00pm
Nearest metro: Liceu
4. Stroll down La Rambla and head to Rambla De Mar
From the Boqueria Market, take a stroll down La Rambla, enjoying the shops on your way. The Rambla de Mar is basically a bridge or walkway that stretches over the water and you'll get to the Maremagnum mall! Take some time to admire how close the waters are to the bustling city of Barcelona!
Rambla de Mar, s/n, Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: Drassanes