Unique things to do in Barcelona
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Travel like a local
While there’s plenty of reasons to celebrate the art and architecture of Barcelona’s city center, head to neighborhood plazas and open-air markets for more laid-back activities outside of the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) to get a more local perspective on things to do in Barcelona. What you might find is Gaudi’s influence (and art) is everywhere. Head out to see more of the city with local-led walking tours, cooking classes, and more on Airbnb Experiences.
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Your guide to Barcelona
What do locals do in Barcelona?
Hang out in El Born
The Picasso Museum, boutiques, tapas bars, and modern art galleries make up a large part of this design-centric neighborhood that sits just across a thoroughfare from the Gothic Quarter. The difference is that you get to see more of a mix of locals and visitors strolling its medieval cobblestone streets.
Roam La Boqueria Market
Near La Rambla and the Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house, La Boqueria is a public market that draws locals and out-of-towners alike. Seasonal produce, cured meats, fresh seafood, and more fill the stalls in this market. When you’re done shopping you can step out onto the intricately patterned sidewalks for an al fresco meal or drink at one of the adjacent restaurants and cafes. Alternatively, join a small group to pick up fresh ingredients and take part in a paella cooking class.
Football (or soccer as some of us know it) is huge all over Europe, and Barcelona is no exception. FC Barcelona, or Barça as you might hear someone say, can fill entire plazas with celebratory fans after a big win. For those who have not seen where they play, consider Barcelona stadium tours with ultra fans as your guides.
Seek art and food in El Raval
Whether it’s a lunch date over Moroccan dishes, or a night out to see a flamenco performance, La Raval is a favorite barrio for many Barcelona residents. It’s also where you can admire Palau Güell, one of Gaudi’s earliest commissioned works, and a great example of modernism.
What are the best Gaudi sights to see?
If you haven’t experienced Basilica of the Sagrada Familia or Park Güell, be sure to book your tickets and tours in advance. Early mornings and skip-the-line tours are ideal for dodging (some) of the crowds. For those who wanted to go deeper into Gaudi’s legacy in Barcelona, here are some of the public works not to miss.
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
Designers stores, leafy sidewalks, and this Gaudi original can be found in the shopping district of Barcelona, along Passeig de Gràcia. Originally called “the stone quarry” you can’t miss this modernist building built between 1906 and 1912. Today, it is still in use as its original purpose: an apartment building. Night tours on the rooftop, among other historical exhibits, are on display to the public on guided tours.
This mansion, commissioned by Eusebi Güell, was built between 1886-1889. It’s still revered as an architectural pioneer in the Art Nouveau movement. It’s also where you can see some of Gaudi’s most expressive details, ones he would later develop and hone in his work on other notable constructions around the city.
Much like La Pedrera, this was commissioned in the same area, where many 19th-century wealthy Catalan families settled — and hired some of the best architects to show off their wealth. One big difference in this Gaudi work was that he had complete creative freedom which not only led to a masterful design, but Gaudi also advocated that the building was not torn down, instead retrofitted.
Where are the best day trips from Barcelona?
Go sailing on the Mediterranean
Raise a glass of cava to start your relaxing voyage aboard a private yacht, or learn to sail from professionals.
Hike at Montserrat
Just 30 miles out of Barcelona, this mountain range and its monastery are extremely special to the people of Catalonia, many of whom make an overnight pilgrimage to its peak at one point in their lives. Most hikes are about 2.5 miles, but the reward awaits at the top when you arrive at the 11th-century monastery for 360-degree views of Barcelona, the Montserrat mountains, and the Catalan countryside.
Salvador Dali and Costa Brava
Escape to the relaxing villages outside of Barcelona on this day trip where you can see Figueres, where the famous surrealist once lived, as well as the museum dedicated to his art and antics. Along the way expect to see other small villages including Calella de Palafrugell.