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Visiting Barcelona for the First Time? Here's What to See and Do


Visiting Barcelona for the First Time? Here's What to See and Do
Hi, I'm Lydia!

Lydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

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From churches and architectural masterpieces to Catalan cuisine and a buzzy nightlife, Barcelona has a lot to offer first-time visitors—so much so that it can be a challenge to fit it all in. Here are our recommendations for what to see and do on your first trip to the Catalonian capital.


Take a skip-the-line tour

Make the most of your time.

Barcelona’s popularity means top attractions often have a line, but you can maximize your time by booking skip-the-line entry ahead of time. See the stained glass of the Sagrada Familia, admire Gaudí’s tile work in Park Güell, or learn more about the modernista movement at the art nouveau Palace of Catalan Music (Palau de la Música Catalana).

Skip the line in Barcelona
The interior of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
The Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona's most popular attractions. Photo: Eustacio Humphrey / Viator

Tour the neighborhoods

See the diversity of the city.

Each of Barcelona’s neighborhoods has its own distinct personality, so getting an overview during your stay takes some effort. Get a feel for the city by riding the open-air hop-on hop-off bus, or zip around the historic city by Segway, bike, or e-bike.

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Tuck into tapas

Barcelona is a foodie haven

No trip to Barcelona would be complete without treating your tastebuds to the local cuisine. Since it’s your first visit, ensure you find the best options when you join a local for a tasting tour through the old city, or learn to make some typical dishes for yourself during a cooking class.

Related: Top Tips for Finding Authentic Spanish Tapas in Barcelona

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People enjoy food at a table in Barcelona
Tapas tours are a great first-time activity in Barcelona. Photo: Annapurna Mellor / Viator

Cruise the Mediterranean

Make the most of Barcelona's beachy location.

Admire the Catalan capital from the waters of the Mediterranean on a cruise from Port Vell. Set sail on your own private yacht, or opt for a romantic sunset cruise. No matter which you choose, it’s a great way to take in the city’s skyline from a different perspective.

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Visit the Costa Brava

Take a day trip.

Barcelona serves as a gateway to the beautiful Costa Brava, an area rich with day-trip opportunities. Walk the medieval streets of Girona, visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, or spend a day beach hopping along the coast.

Take a day trip

More ways to explore Barcelona

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Hi, I'm Lydia!

Lydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Keep exploring
See all Barcelona tours
1,806 tours & tickets
Things to do in Barcelona
See all things to do in Barcelona
How to Choose a Sagrada Familia Tour
How to Choose a Sagrada Familia Tour