* Las Ramblas or La Rambla, a gorgeous tree-lined pedestrian walkway, the busiest and most lively street of the city. Mostly occupied by tourists, expect to pay higher prices for food and drink. Avoid the groups of people supposedly betting on a game played on a cardboard table, they are thieves. Head off into some of the side streets for a cheaper, more local, and authentic experience of Barcelona. Often called Las Ramblas, because it is actually a series of several different streets each called 'Rambla de ____', the sections also have distinct feels. As you get closer to Plaça Catalunya, you find more street performers doing stunts. In the middle, you'll find street performers in costumes. Towards the pier, there are artists who will do pencil drawings, paintings, etc. Beware, you might find it boring.
* La Plaça Catalunya. Connecting all the major streets in the city, the Plaça is known for its fountains and statues, and the central location to everything in the city. A favourite meeting spot for locals.
* El Portal de l'Àngel. Large pedestrian walkway with many new and stylish shops to browse in.
Cruise miles of beachfront boardwalk starting from Barceloneta or get a tan on the beach.
Sit on a wooden bridge to Maremagnum in Ciutat Vella
and cool your toes at the water's edge: with a book, sandwich or just for a short rest.
Wander the Barri Gotic
in Ciutat Vella
, the largely intact medieval center of the city.
Enjoy your Sangria at La Plaça Reial
in Ciutat Vella
, near the La Rambla Street. Great place to sit,relax and drink. While visiting La Placa Reial
Walk in Born
in Ciutat Vella
, a very popular area with great restaurants and places to have a few drinks. If your accommodation is on Rambla, Born is a great place to escape the crowds, enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and meet off-the-beaten track travellers and non-tourist-industry locals—especially in the evenings.
Visit a Flamenco Show
in a real tablao. One of the best is Tablao de Carmen in Sants-Montjuïc
. A cheaper alternative is in the jazzclub Jazz Si
in Ciutat Vella
Ride the Cable Way
to get from the sea front to Montjuïc mountain in Sants-Montjuïc
Sit and sip on a coffee in Plaça dels Àngels
in Ciutat Vella
, while admiring the whiteness of the MACBA and the best street skate tricks in town.
Catch a performance at the beautiful Teatre del Liceu
or the Palau de la Musica Catalana
both in Ciutat Vella
Rent a bike or join a bike tour and get to see the highlights of the city in a different way. Ride from the magic beaches of the Mediterranean, to Gaudí's modernist buildings through the medieval atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter.
Sail 3 hours to see Barcelona from the sea.
Mail boats serve almost all populated in Barcelona, and are among the cheapest way to reach many areas, though far from the fastest or most comfortable. The government has a mailboat schedule of mailboat routes online which may or may not reflect reality.
Festivals and events
Barcelona hosts a number of annual fiestas, many of which are unique to Catalonia and offer an insight into its distinctive culture.
Sónar. A annual three-day music festival. It is described officially as a festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. Music is by far the main aspect of the festival. The festival runs for three days and nights, usually starting on a Thursday in the third week of June.
Monegros Desert FestivalThe most famous and biggest one day/night electronic music festivals in Spain is in desert of Fraga 200 km from Barcelona. More than 40 000 people gather every July to celebrate the electronic music with the best DJs representing styles from house, electro, minimal, techno, to drum&bass, dubstep and hiphop. 20hours nonstop, unique desert experience.
Festes de la Mercè. Barcelona's main annual festival around the 24th of September, encompassing many events such as which group of 'castellers' can form the highest human tower, live music events, firework displays and processions involving wooden giants. All of this is accompanied by a heavy consumption of Cava, the national drink of Catalonia.
Festes de Gràcia. The Festes de Gracia is a Catalonian celebration, held around the 15th of August each year to commemorate the Assumption. During the week of festivities that mark one of Barcelona's most important fiestas, the city of Gracia explodes with fun, excitement, color and fireworks. Many streets are decorated by the neighbours, live music, food in the street, and the parties continue all night.
Festes de Sants. Similar to Gracia's event, but smaller and later on in August. If you can't go to the Gracia's, try to go to this festival instead.
Sant Jordi. 23 April. Considered to be like Valentine's Day. People give roses and books around the streets. Traditionally men give women roses and women give men books. It is one of the most popular and interesting celebrations in Catalonia.
Corpus. Late in May (Corpus Christi day). An egg is put over the fountains (most of them in the churches, and decorated with flowers), and "magically dances" over the water. Most of the churches are in the city center: Cathedral's cloister, Santa Anna, Casa de l'Ardiaca, Museu Frederic Marés, and over 10 more fountains.
Fira de Santa Llúcia. From December 2/3 to December 23, to commemorate Sta. Llúcia (December 13). During this time, in front of the Cathedral, Christmas objects are sold. Some places sell Christmas trees, but most of them sell elements for making the pessebres (Nativity scenes). These include small sculptures, wooden pieces and moss used to simulate grass.
December 13th is the feast day of Santa Llucia, patron saint of fashion designers and blind people, who gather at the Santa Llucia chapel in the cathedral to pay their respects.
Revetlla de Sant Joan. This is the midsummer solstice celebration. It is celebrated on 23 June every year and is signified by the fireworks (note that there are frequent and loud amateur fireworks all night long, which may make it hard to sleep) that are permanently on display during this time.
La Mercè. (few days before Sept 24): Another day that is famous, but not that important. It is a holiday and the city offers a lot of activities to have fun. Enjoy a fountains and fireworks show at the base of the Montjuic hill.
During festivals and especially during mobile world congress which is a major trade show at the Fira, accommodation in Barcelona and especially near the Fira is much more difficult to find and more expensive than usual.