First Timer’s Guide: Top Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain

First Timer's Guide to 12 places to see in Barcelona

I will soon start my big Spanish adventure: I plan to visit 7 cities during my next vacation, and, sadly, Barcelona is not one of them. I have visited it a couple of times before, so now I am taking the road to other places, but Barcelona will always be my favorite. Sunny, friendly, delicious and spectacular, it has so much to offer to locals and travelers alike, so, if you don’t want to get lost sightseeing the city, here is my list of 12 top things to do in Barcelona, Spain.

Some of the links below may be affiliate links, meaning that I will get a small commission (it won’t cost you anything!) if you click and book tours or accommodation.

1. Park Guell

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Park Guell
The must-see place in Barcelona, this is by far the most famous creation of Antoni Gaudi: a beautiful park with palm trees and fancy architecture that includes gingerbread houses at the entrance and some curious porticoes. It was originally designed to be a residential area, but the project failed, and now we have the possibility to visit it.

The park is split into two parts: the park itself, which is free to enter, and the area with the gingerbread houses and famous lizard fountain, which is ticketed. The entrance to the ticketed area is strictly according to the hour on the ticket, you can choose timing when you buy the ticket. The tickets are sold online, so better buy them before you go to Barcelona.

Another tip: if it is going to be hot, when you visit Barcelona, go to the ticketed area in the morning and then to the park. The reason is simple: the ticketed area is an open space without shade.

2. Ciutadella Park

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Ciutadella Park
While Park Guell is truly unique, my heart goes to the Ciutadella Park. It is not far from the Barceloneta beach, and I fell in love with its majestic fountains like Cascada Monumental, but my absolutely favorite place is a small lake with trees growing right from the water!

It is a perfect place to spend the afternoon, when the sun is burning everything around. And don’t forget to peek into the greenhouses for some really lush tropical greenery!

3. Barceloneta beach

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Barceloneta beach
Barcelona is not only architecture, it has beaches as well, and Barceloneta is the most famous one. It is very close to the main sights, it is free and its waters are blue! Well, I am obsessed with blue waters, since we have the Black Sea nearby 🙂 If you come in the season, definitely spend some time there, and take a walk along the beach: I loved the rows of palm-trees.

4. Plaça de Catalunya

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Placa de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya is one of the most famous squares in Barcelona: it is the place where buses from the airport arrive 🙂 One of the tourist information points of Barcelona is situated on this square, and you will definitely end here after strolling along La Rambla.

I love it for its pigeons, buildings with amazing architecture and a huge fountain. There are some benches, so you can rest your weary legs there in the shade 🙂

5. Passeig de Gracia

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Passeig de Gracia
I think strolling along Passeig de Gracia is one of the top things to do in Barcelona. It starts at Plaça de Catalunya and runs till Plaça de Joan Carles I. Why I think so? Here are my reasons: this is the street to see the famous La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller, and some other fancy buildings like Casa Lleó Morera. And when you are at the Plaça de Joan Carles I, turn to your right on Avinguida Diagonal and you will see La Casa Comalat and Palau del Baró de Quadras.

In addition, this street is just perfect for shopping in Barcelona with many brands as Mango, Desigual, Zara, Gucci and many-many others.

6. Plaça de Espanya

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Placa de Espanya
Plaça de Espanya is another one of the top places to visit in Barcelona. It is the starting point if you want to explore the National Museum of Arts and see the shows of the Magic Fountain. To get a better view of the square, climb the former bullring building known as Arenas de Barcelona (for more info go here). While you are there, take a stroll in the park of Joan Miró.

7. Magic fountain

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Magic Fountain
I strongly advise you not to miss it: it is really one of the top things to do in Barcelona. The show is an enchanting spectacle of music and color, and is very popular among locals and tourists alike, so you will need to come earlier to get yourself a nice spot. Especially in the high season, there are hundreds of people occupying every centimeter of the square, so check here for additional advice.

8. Poble Espanyol

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Poble Espanyol
Poble Espanyol is a museum not far from the Magic Fountain. It was built in the 1920-es for the Barcelona International Exposition to showcase the diversity of Spain’s regions. Strolling along its streets, you will be able to see the architecture of different parts of Spain: now there are 117 buildings, which represent 15 communities of Spain. There are several restaurants inside, but no shops, so make sure you have water with you.

9. Barri Gotic

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Barri Gotic
Narrow streets, old buildings, cool restaurants, interesting squares… This place is definitely worth a stroll around, and it is just in the city center. I guarantee you a travel back in time when you are there!

10. Barcelona Cathedral

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Barcelona Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia – this is how it is officially called – is the main building in Barri Gotic and is more than 600 years old. To understand its grandeur, it is not necessary even to go inside: the imposing cathedral with its ornaments and gargoyles draws attention anyway. Probably, its most famous part is the pond with geese in the garden. In addition, there is an elevator to the roof for some spectacular views of Barcelona.

11. L’Aquarium de Barcelona

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Aquarium of Barcelona
This might not be the biggest aquarium in the world, but I love it anyway 🙂 It has colorful fish, several angry-looking sharks (well, smaller ones, but it does not matter 🙂 ), octopuses and some really strange creatures. My favorite part is the pool with rays: it has glass walls so you can sit around and just watch them. I do not know about you, but I think they are always smiling 🙂

12. Sagrada Familia

First Timer's Guide: 12 places to see in Barcelona | Sagrada Familia
This is the most famous building in Barcelona, and quite often I think it is so well-known not for its striking architecture, but for the fact that its construction lasts for more than 100 years. Started in 1882 by Francisco Paula de Villar, overtaken by Antoni Gaudi, the works are promised to be completed in 2026. Well, let’s hope so 🙂 But, I think, the architects and builders deserve great credit for the amazing work done: just have a look at the statues and small details on the building’s façade.

These are just a small part of places you must visit in Barcelona. And to fully prepare yourself for a trip to the city, take a look at my travel tips for Barcelona and the guide on places to stay.

Well, in any city you travel, you have to stay somewhere 🙂 When I search for accommodation, I always use two options: it is either AirBnB (click here for a discount on your first booking with AirBnB) or


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