After 4 days in Barcelona I already had my top 5 summer activities for this city. I have seen many posts of top Barcelona activities that are transcribed out of Lonely Planet and therefore are swarming with all those typical tourists that I try to avoid. This list of my top 5 can help you experience Barcelona more like a local, rather than a textbook tourist.
La Sagrada Familia
Immediately I am listing my number one activity as La Sagrada Familia, also likely Lonely Planet’s top activity. But, it truly is one of the most incredible architectural feats of man-kind. The image of what it will be like in 2026 when it is projected to be finished is incredible. Although a top tourist spot, here are three tips to beat the crowds;
Book your ticket online at least 2-3 weeks prior to visiting especially, it sells out quickly in high season
Buy a ticket for the earliest entry possible i.e 8am, to beat the heat and the crowds
Buy a ticket that includes the audio-guide and a trip up the Nativity Towers to learn everything you can about Gaudi and this incredible building.
Barcelona is dotted with buildings that Gaudi designed or contributed to. Most are distinctive like Casa Mila or Casa Batillo with the long lines of tourists outside. However, to visit all of Gaudi’s masterpieces really adds up. After the Sagrada Familia, I would recommend picking one other (two at a push) places to visit. In order to decide on which one, a Gaudi walking tour can give you an overview of each spot and show you where each one is. Then, once you decide which one, pre-book your ticket online for early morning, or early evening to avoid the heat and the crowds.
Bunkers el Camel
Bunkers el Camel is the name for the observation deck within MUHBA Turo de la Rovira. To make this a free activity and to work off all that Cava and Tapas, I recommend walking up to the bunkers. This can be done for sunrise, as mentioned in this great post (hyperlink to check in-check out), sunset with a bottle of wine in hand, or whenever you find the time. I left my accommodation on Career da Girona around 10am on a bluebird day. Needless to say it was hot, hot, hot. But that did not deter me, or the very impressive elderly runners on their Sunday morning jog. The walk up took about 1 hour and is pretty much uphill the whole way.
When you reach the top, take in the view, then head down into one of the bunkers to start learning. MUHBA is a museum with some excellent displays and video content about the Spanish Civil War. If you are lucky there might be a small fan around to help you cool down.
There is no better way to learn about the Spanish (or should I correctly say, Catalan) culture without learning about how they eat and the stories behind their food. Also, there is no better way to understand the benefits of the mediterranean diet and way of life than being immersed in a cooking workshop. There are many great companies running small cooking workshops in Barcelona. Have a read about one in particular that I experienced, Cook & Taste Barcelona.
Get your walking shoes on and hit the streets
There are so many interesting suburbs scattered around Barcelona and the more you stay away from Las Ramblas the better (apart from when buying some groceries at La Boqueria). Top neighbourhoods to visit include Gracia, El Raval and El Born. These areas are dotted with some amazing restaurants, cafes and bars.
What are your favourite things to do in Barcelona?