Barcelona's list of architectural landmarks, heritage attractions and adventure opportunities is long and ever-growing. And that's before you've got to nightlife, food and drink, or the dramatic physical location between the mountains and sea. You can spend a lifetime here and never run out of things to do, so especially if you're going for a week or less, it pays to have your priorities. We're happy to oblige with our definitive guide to the best things to do in Barcelona.
Photo by [Isaac D.](https://unsplash.com/@strider?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText) on Unsplash_
Step Inside the Incredible La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona's signature attraction, La Sagrada Familia, is a sublime work of art inside and out. The multiple spires of Antoni Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece make it instantly identifiable from miles away, and even more spectacular up-close. Don't be put off by the queues outside; you shouldn't miss the opportunity to see the magnificent pillars, windows and roof arches of the cathedral interior.
Explore La Boqueria Market
Food is a big deal in Barcelona. And while the restaurant scene is a whole world to explore, it can help to have a few pointers on where to start. Get your bearings at the city's most famous food market, the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (usually just La Boqueria for short). Just off Las Ramblas, this is an essential stop on any trip to Barcelona. It combines produce and ingredients stalls with a fantastic variety of food vendors serving tapas and a lot more. Spectacular piles of dried fruit, fresh produce and spices sit alongside bars serving simple but outstanding dishes. Come hungry.
Climb Carmel Hill to Parc Güell and Visit Gaudí House Museum
Wander up Carmel Hill's sweeping paths and decorated stairways into Parc Güell, where you'll find the attractive courtyards and observation points are a magnet for street entertainers. Take a deep breath as you look out over Barcelona's skyline to the melodic rhythms or a Spanish guitar. At the Gaudí House Museum, inside the park, you can tap into the genius of the celebrated architect. Another Gaudí masterpiece, Casa Vicens, is just a 10-minute walk down the hill in bohemian Gràcia.
Discover Barcelona's City Origins in the Gothic Quarter
The ancient and medieval worlds collide in Barcelona's historic Gothic Quarter, a tourist-magnet brimming with Catalan heritage landmarks. This is where you'll find the surviving sections of the Roman Fort and ancient city walls, as well as the imposing Cathedral of Barcelona in Pla de la Seu. Navigate the narrow alleys, back-streets and cobbled squares en route to the regal Casa de la Ciutat - Barcelona City Hall.
Visit the Shops, Bars and Restaurants on Port Vell Marina
Stroll along Las Ramblas, past the Columbus Monument and out onto the swanky Port Vell marina via the Rambla de Mar walkway. Barcelona's most modern leisure hub has shops, bars and restaurants overlooking the water, where A-listers moor their yachts. Enjoy a glass of wine and tapas overlooking the marina and discover outdoor art including a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture and a wooden submarine - it won't be the cheapest you'll have in the city, but you're paying for the surroundings here. In the unlikely event of bad weather, there are the back-up options of the aquarium, IMAX theatre and Maritime Museum.
Discover Seaside Barcelona with a Harbour Cruise or Beach Trip
Some of the best views of Barcelona are from out on the Med, which are easily accessed on a Las Golondrinas boat tour from the marina. Cruising around the harbour and then out onto the waves, you'll see the Montserrat mountains rear up behind the cityscape. If you're not too sure of your sea legs, head to the beach instead. The most popular sands are in Barceloneta - the old Fisherman's Quarter - and in neighbouring El Poblenou, where the 600m Bogatell Beach was created for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Take a Ride above the Rooftops on the Port Vell Aerial Tramway
Take a ride on the Transbordador Aeri del Port gondola lift into the mountains for a sight of Barcelona from up to 90m in the sky. The celebrated Port Vell Aerial Tramway operates throughout the year, transporting you on an eight-minute journey from the marina to up to the military hill fortress of Montjuïc Castle. If you don't have a head for heights, the tunnelled Montjuïc Funicular railway offers a less stressful, albeit less rewarding, ride up the mountain.
Count the Landmarks in Leafy Parc de la Ciutadella
Make your way through the twisting medieval streets of La Ribera and out into the expansive Parc de la Ciutadella, central Barcelona's main park. This is where you can visit the zoo, take a boat ride on the lake, or relax in landscaped gardens away from the city rush. The elegant Catalan Parliament and Cascada Monumental fountain sit within the 70-acre grounds, and with the dramatic Arc de Triomf sited at the north-western tip, there's an impressive collection of photogenic landmarks.