10 Things to do in Barcelona this Summer

Barcelona is an exciting and remarkably unique city! As the capital of Catalonia, a distinct region of Spain with its own language, culture, and traditions, Barcelona is a vibrant and dynamic cultural hub. This spirited, fast-paced metropolis is one of the best places to visit when you’re young and up for anything!

Barcelona has beautiful warm weather all year round but the summer is particularly special – the perfect mix of the sea and the city, relaxing and reveling. Here (in no particular order) are some of the 10 best, most fun, most fantastic things that you can do during your summer in beautiful Barcelona!

1. Dancing

Barcelona is a city with a beat! Day or night, you can find some sort of music to get excited about. In the summer there are almost always breakdancing groups on the Passeig de Lluís Companys under the Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona. This spectacular promenade is close to the beach and leads to the gorgeous Ciutadella Park. If you want to learn more about the Catalan culture and participate in the dancing yourself you can join locals in front of the La Seu Cathedral every Sunday, from 11:15 to 1:00, for sardanas dancing! This fun and easy traditional folk dance is also done throughout the city during festivals, and is usually accompanied by a live woodwind band.

2. Buskers in the Gothic Quarter 

Since there’s so much dancing in the city, it’s no surprise that there’s also lots of music! The Gothic Quarter, the Barri Gotic, is one of the most beautiful areas of Barcelona and worth visiting for its own sake, but it’s also where you can find some of the most remarkable live music in Europe. Most of the buildings in this area are from the medieval period which gives the Old City an intense atmosphere. The Picasso museum is located in one of the squares where you can always find talented buskers. These artists and musicians are special however, because they must be approved by the government. The city is so concerned with maintaining the atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter that they only allow the best of best to perform!

3. La Barcelona - The Beach 

The best part of living in city on the beach is, unsurprisingly, the beach! There are just over 4 kilometres of white-sand coastline right in the city. It’s a bit of a surreal experience to relax in the sun and see mountains and skyscrapers in one direction, and the peaceful deep blue Mediterranean Sea in the other. There are always lots of people to meet, places to eat and drink, and activities on the beach. You can go tubing or book a boat tour if you’re feeling adventurous, play volleyball or beach tennis, or simply swim and relax in the sun! No matter how many days you spend at La Barcelona you will never get bored.

4. Las Ramblas Boulevard 

This beautiful promenade cuts through the heart of the city. There are no cars on this street which makes exploring on foot really enjoyable. If you’re careful, this can also be a great place to ride your bike. Exploring by bicycle is one of the best ways to explore Barcelona (even if means struggling up a few very steep hills). The buildings on this street are constructed in an eclectic variety of architectural styles and there are plenty of shops, small museums, galleries, and places to eat! Stop at a Café and enjoy the carefree Catalan lifestyle as you sit on a patio and try some of the local tapas style foods.

5. Food, Food, Food

There’s no better way to experience a place than by eating the local food. No matter what your preferences, Barcelona has something delicious for you! Because it’s a city by the sea it’s not surprising that one of the dishes Barcelona is most famous for is paella. There are many varieties of this traditional dish – from mild and savoury to wildly spicy – but the basic ingredients are the same – rice, spice, and assorted seafood (usually shrimp, clams, mussels, fish, and sometimes meat as well). La Boqueria is a diverse indoor market where you will find paella and many other amazing foods to try, traditional and otherwise. However, you don’t have to go to the market to experience Catalonian flavour. Barcelona is known for some of the best street-foods, including churros, paper cones full of bacon and smoked meat, and ice cream! Ice cream in Barcelona isn’t what you’re used to, it’s better!

6. Park Guell 

Park Güell, originally designed as a housing complex, is one of the most vibrantly ornate, exceptionally whimsical, perpetually fascinating, examples of art and architecture in the world! Architect and artist Antoni Gaudi designed this enchanting series of houses on a hill in a style that has become known as Catalan Modernism (essentially Gaudi-ism). The colorful structures inlaid with thousands of colourful tiles and ceramic fragments have organic, flowing lines, and exist in harmony with the nature around them. The influence of life’s passions in this turn-of-the-century park is self-evident. Once inside, you will have a remarkable view of the city and the countryside, but don’t worry about having to climb a big hill to get there, you can take an outdoor escalator to the top! In the summer you can even go to concerts in this park – Summer Nights at La Pedrera. Touring this park is a truly magical experience and a must-see during your Barcelonan experience.

7. Picasso's Path 

In the history of art, there are very few names as evocative and recognizable as Pablo Picasso. Even though Picasso was born in Malaga he always believed that Barcelona was his home. When asked about Barcelona, Picasso is known to have said “There is where it all began… There is where I understood how far I could go.” The Museu Picasso is one of Barcelona’s best. It is the only museum of Picasso’s works established during his lifetime (few artists get to experience such an honour!) and it reveals the relationship between Picasso’s art and the city itself. The museum is located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter (remember the fantastic buskers!) and includes five adjoining medieval palaces.  Many of Picasso’s paintings are of places in Barcelona, so you can explore his relationship with the city while forming your own. You can see Picasso’s interpretation and the real thing during your trip. In this way, you will have a glimpse into the artist’s perspective as well as what the city looked like almost a century ago. During your summer abroad, travel Picasso’s path in the city he loved so much!

8. Tibidabo Amusement Park & Church 

You don’t usually think of amusement parks and churches together but this is exactly what you will experience if you step just a bit outside Barcelona’s urban center. From downtown Barcelona, anywhere in Barcelona really, you can identify Tibidabo by the giant Jesus sculpture on top of the Sagrat Cor Cathedral. It takes about a half hour by public transit to get to these sites which are, quite literally, on top of a mountain. There’s a charming blue tram that takes you all the way to the top. Take some time to explore the church and enjoy the amazing view from its summit before having fun at the amusement park. There are lots of places to get food and plenty of rides. The park is built right out to the edge of the cliff which makes even the small rides more exciting! The colourful buildings and scenic views also make this one of the best places for taking photos. 

9. Take a Walking Tour 

Free walking tours are a great way to get to know a city. They are offered in most major cities in Europe and Barcelona is no exception. Informative and helpful guides who live in the city/are familiar with it take you to the locations they believe to be the most significant. You can leave at any time and at the end of the tour you pay your guide as much as you think is fair. If you hated your tour (I have never heard of anyone who didn’t love their walking tour!) you don’t have to pay anything. This is a great thing to do at the beginning of your trip because it helps you get your bearings and when you have seen a bit of everything it’s easier to decide what you want to see more of! Sandeman’s gives exceptional tours of most European cities, including Barcelona!

10. Parc de la Ciutadella 

There’s lots to do in the lush, mid-19th century park located in the heart of Barcelona! You can visit the zoo and the zoology museum, play ping pong in the park, relax by a lake, and (most interestingly!) take pictures in front of the spectacular Cascada. This fountain was erected by Josep Fontsére and a young Antoni Gaudí. It is meant to capture the same tone at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. This spectacular fountain is one of the most iconic monuments of Barcelona and a must see during your trip!

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