Barcelona things to do

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CosmoCaixa

Price guide: Budget
#11/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

A vast science museum, with especially good children’s sections.

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Fundació Joan Miró

Price guide: Mid-range
#2/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.8 (out of 5)

Bold design and striking colours make this an art gallery that anyone can enjoy.

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MNAC

Price guide: Mid-range
#5/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Best for Culture -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

An outstanding collection of Catalan art, from the Romanesque to Modernisme.

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#13/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Best for History -
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Artefacts from all historical periods, with extensive subterranean Roman remains.

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MACBA

Price guide: Mid-range
#14/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

A modern art gallery in a dazzling white edifice.

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#1/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.9 (out of 5)

Wildly extravagant architecture from one of the masters of Modernisme.

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La Boqueria

Price guide: Free
#9/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

The biggest food market in Europe, and a sight in itself.

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Museu Picasso

Price guide: Mid-range
#15/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

An overview of Picasso’s years spent in Barcelona.

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Camp Nou

Price guide: Expensive
#17/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

The stadium of champions and its accompanying museum.

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Aquarium

Price guide: Expensive
#18/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

A wander through a multitude of aquatic lifeforms in the Port Vell.

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Sagrada Família

Price guide: Mid-range
#10/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

Gaudí’s cathedral might be unfinished, but is still iconic.

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Zoo

Price guide: Expensive
#19/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Best for Families -
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

Family fun in the Parc de la Ciutadella.

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Museu Blau

Price guide: Mid-range
#22/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
No image
Expert overall rating:3.6 (out of 5)

The Natural History Museum, in a spiffy new home.

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Park Güell

Price guide: Free
#8/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

There are fairytale elements and wonderful views to the sea from this surreal park.

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#7/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

Catalan Gothic architecture at its most elegant and imposing.

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Magic Fountain

Price guide: Free
#12/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Best for Fun -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

A deliriously kitsch fantasy of sound and light.

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La Rambla

Price guide: Free
#21/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

One of Europe’s most celebrated boulevards.

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#6/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Best for Chilling out -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

A verdant oasis for strolling, reading and generally relaxing in the Old City.

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Cathedral

Price guide: Free
#20/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

An elaborate Gothic edifice, centuries in the construction.

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#3/22
expert-rated things to do in Barcelona
Expert overall rating:4.8 (out of 5)

A tourist-free gem of Modernisme just a short walk from the Sagrada Família.

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Showing 1-20 of 22 results
Set focus

I won't be popular for saying this, but Barcelona doesn't really have any 'must-see' attractions - its charms are much more organic. If I only had a weekend here, I'd spend it wandering around, taking in medieval and modern architecture, stumbling across street art and sculpture in the most unlikely places. I'd maybe take the funicular up Montjuïc and eat lunch looking out over the city. I'd almost certainly stroll up the Passeig de Gràcia and check out the Modernista creations of Gaudí and his contemporaries. Hey, I might even go to the beach.

If you have a little longer, however, or you have kids in tow, there's plenty to keep you occupied.

Things to bear in mind:

• Most museums (and restaurants, come to that) are closed on Mondays. One notable exception is the MACBA.

• Municipal museums are now free on Sunday afternoons, and open later (until 8pm). Most museums are also free on 12 February (Saint Eulàlia's Day); 22 April (Earth Day); 23 April (St George's Day); 18 May (International Museum Day); 24 September (La Mercè).

• Museums with lengthy queues, such as the Picasso, are often best visited last thing in the evening. You might only have an hour, but the time you'll save queuing and jostling for a good view can more than compensate.

• There are discount cards available, such as the Barcelona Card (www.barcelonacard.com), but they tend not to be great value unless you're planning on a sightseeing blitz. The Articket (www.articketbcn.org/en) is good value at €22, however, and comprises free entrance to seven of the city's best art museums.

How I’ve picked my things to do: 

I've tried to go for a mix of the big guns and small offbeat places, but inevitably had to omit some from either category. One of my favourite museums, for example, is the quirky little Frederic Marès museum (www.museumares.bcn.es), a magnificently random selection of collections. I didn't have space to include all of Gaudí's creations either and La Pedrera (www.caixacatalunya.cat/obrasocial) was nudged out. Just.

Know, too, that about a quarter of this selection was included with families in mind, and might not figure on a Top 20 for anyone without children (although I defy anyone to resist the wonderfully kitsch charms of the Magic Fountain).

Set focus

I've tried to go for a mix of the big guns and small offbeat places, but inevitably had to omit some from either category. One of my favourite museums, for example, is the quirky little Frederic Marès museum (www.museumares.bcn.es), a magnificently random selection of collections. I didn't have space to include all of Gaudí's creations either and La Pedrera (www.caixacatalunya.cat/obrasocial) was nudged out. Just.

Know, too, that about a quarter of this selection was included with families in mind, and might not figure on a Top 20 for anyone without children (although I defy anyone to resist the wonderfully kitsch charms of the Magic Fountain).