25 Cool Things to Do in Barcelona that can’t be missed

25 Cool Things to Do in Barcelona that can’t be missed

The best paella, creative tapas, hipster markets, specialty coffee and award-winning cockatils. A local designer reveals 25 cool things to do in Barcelona

Planning a trip and you have no idea of cool things to do in Barcelona? You’re in the right place.

We convinced Mery Garriga, a designer based in Barcelona with thousands of followers on Instagram and Pinterest, to share with us all her Barcelona hidden gems.

Mery Garriga a Barcelona based designer who knows the best things to do in Barcelona

Mery shared with us more than 200 Barcelona hidden gems, however in this article we reveal 25 cool things to do in Barcelona. Get ready to know where locals go when they want to …

However, if you’re eager for more you must take a look to our Barcelona Guide App, featuring all her 200 Barcelona hidden gems. We promise it will not disappoint you!

Barcelona city guide App featuring all the Cool things to do in Barcelona

Get the App now on the App Store.

In this article, we have split all her tips in the cool ones (15), the top ones (6) and the ones to do at night (4). Let’s discover her recommendations.

What are the best 15 cool things to do in Barcelona?

Eager to know the coolest things to do in Barcelona? Those out-of-the-ordinary experiences that locals love and won’t share with tourist? That’s what we’ll share will you right now. Left the expensive tourist traps for someone else and discover with us the authentic Barcelona, for half the price.

1. Taste the best paella in Barcelona – in a modern restaurant with beachfront views!

Pez Vela restaurant, tasting their paella with beachfront views is one of the cool things to do in Barcelona

Pez Vela serves some of the best paella in Barcelona. It’s not really a surprise: like its Tragaluz siblings, it’s beautifully designed and serves high-quality products. Pez Vela, however, is also right on the beach, and you know what that means – it cooks with fresh catch of the day, ensuring that its menu is always just what you’re looking for. Along with the weather, or a sunset over the water…once you sit under the palm trees and try the squid, shrimp, and clam paella, you might not talk about anything else.

There’s no better feeling that being satiated and knowing you don’t have to move. What’s even better is when, on top of it, you’re on a beautiful beach restaurant patio, feeling the warm breeze from the Mediterranean. Pez Vela has become synonymous with an excellent menu: a varied collection of unique but traditional dishes made with consistently fresh and high quality ingredients.

Pez Vela restaurant paella, may be the best paella in Barcelona

What really sets it apart, though, is its unbelievable location. Right off of the water, not only does this provide its patrons with the most relaxing backdrop possible, but it also ensures that the seafood on the menu is amazing. Feel like sitting indoors? The restaurant also showcases an equally beautiful interior, with unique architecture seemingly imagined to make you as comfortable as possible, designed an industrial feel, warm colours and raw wood furniture.

Regardless of where you choose to have a meal, you have to try their Squid Shrimp and Clam Paella, a Spanish delicacy, originally created to be eaten just like this: relaxed, listening to the crashing of the sea, and enjoying life. 

© Pez Vela paella picture credited to @lauraponts

2. Walk through Palo Alto, a hipster market in a beautiful garden full of design stuff, live music and food trucks!

Young girls walking through Palo Alto Market, which is one of the cool things to do in Barcelona

On the first weekend of each month, follow the beach to the Poble Nou neighbourhood (the neighborhood where to stay in Barcelona if you love cool spots) and discover the Palo Alto Market. This sophisticated street market features everything you could think of: a lineup of live music, workshops and exhibitions, and of course, stuff! Lose yourself among the new design objects, vintage treasures, art, books, records, accessories and jewellery of this modern bazaar. But don’t worry – there’s also a cavalry of food trucks to help you recharge your batteries at the end of the day!

Located in an industrial area right off of the Poblenou beach, spacious and right by the sea, the Palo Alto Market maintains a unique atmosphere that’s both sophisticated and innovative. At this modern day and curated bazaar, the focus is design. You can get inspiration, or splurge on objects and even furniture – here, concept stores have their own stalls.

Singer with a guitar at Palo Alto market gardens during a concert

Or, on second thought, maybe the centre of it all is the music, seeing as there’s always a diverse lineup of new and hip bands, singer-songwriters, and DJs. Maybe, the idea is about art and handmade items, since there are so many prints, accessories, jewellery, and clothes, exhibited by the very people who created them.

It could be antiques: you might think so, thanks to the treasure trove of objects just waiting to be found, from vintage furniture, to books, to records. And let’s not forget the food: food trucks from all over the city gather here to feed hungry shoppers and travellers. There’s such a diverse and complete selection that many come just of the good eats. 

One thing is for sure: the Palo Alto Market is a cultivated variety, featuring so many different elements, and doing it so well, that it provides an unforgettable and distinct experience to each person that wanders through it. 

3. Sip specialty coffee served from a vintage van, inside an amazing loft (and shot there your best Instagram picture in Barcelona)

People sipping specialty coffee from a vintage van at Skye Coffee Co, one of the cool things to do in Barcelona

Skye Coffee Co.’s is Barcelona’s best-kept secret. Hidden away in the blossoming Poble Nou neighbourhood, Skye Coffee Co. serves coffee and pastries out of a quaint Citroën van, parked under the vaulted ceilings of a sweeping loft. Named after its founder, a renowned interior and product designer, the whole experience is designed with aesthetics, quality, and taste in mind. On the weekends, the Skye Coffee Co. truck can be spotted at all the trendiest outdoor events in Barcelona. But be careful: their flat white coffee is said to be addictive.

4. Take a break at Chök, the Barcelona chocolate temple, and indulge yourself with their amazing pastries

Choke store picture, tasting their pastries is one of the unique things to do in Barcelona

Love chocolate and doughnuts? Chök knows what you need; it specialises in over 30 types of doughnuts that are made ​​with less sugar, less fat and less frying time. A mix of the modernist details retained from the chocolate factory it once was, and the minimalistic design of the chocolate kitchen it became, make sure to try one of their amazing pastries.

Calling itself a ‘chocolate kitchen,’ Chök upholds the longstanding love affair between Barcelona and cacao, but it specialises in pastries. Most well-known are the ‘chöks’ themselves. Feeling adventurous? You can try anything from the classically delicious truffle to potato chips with chocolate drizzle. Even still, you could indulge in a once in a lifetime experience, Chök’s original inventions such as piruchöks (cake pops) or a croissant variation, or a  ‘krönut.’ It’s no coincidence that the menu is so imaginative: Chök is one of many manifestations of Barcelona’s innovative cuisine and food culture.

Chök chocolate and fruit pastries

This space is both a quaint doughnut shop and an open, experimental kitchen. Here, they truly believe in chocolate as a flavour element, rather than just a sweet. They even hold workshops and classes, inviting you to push the limits of this delicious ingredient. Feel free to just relax and take it all in, though: the mixture of pleasant nordic and modernist design (the building was once a chocolate factory), and, of course, the wonderful smell of chocolate. 

5. Indulge yourself with the best tapas in Barcelona at the quintessential family restaurant

Bar cañete chef showing one of their tapas, eating there is one of the best things to do in Barcelona

Round the corner past Liceu Opera House and you’ll stumble upon the quintessential family restaurant. Evolving from a long lineage of waiters and cooks, Bar Cañete has a strong history but even stronger culinary execution. They’re famous for their tapas and platillos (small plates) with a specialty in Ibérico products. It doesn’t get more classic Barcelona than this—chorizo, tuna tartare, burrata with tomatoes, you name it—all amid a crowded and buzzing atmosphere.

6. Taste Michelin-star cuisine by a former El Bulli chef in his new restaurant – without breaking the bank!

Dos Palillos chef in his restaurant where eating is one of the best things to do in Barcelona

Albert Raurich used to work at the best restaurant in the world, and opening Dos Palillos was his dream. Inspired by El Bulli and created with Ferran Adriá’s help, it serves melt-in-your-mouth food from the Far East. The Michelin star locale hosts both a friendly tapas bar and a sophisticated restaurant, the latter furnished with succulent dark wood and warm red accents. Situated inside Casa Camper Hotel, don’t miss out trying Dos Palillos while it’s still a secret!

© Dos Palillos images credited to Guía Repsol

7. Find hidden gems in Brutus the Gaper warehouse, the vintage furniture paradise!

Brutus the Gaper vintage furniture warehouse, finding hidden gems there is one of the unique things to do in Barcelona

This vintage interior shop in the district of Sant Martí is so breathtaking and alluring that it almost hurts. It is situated in an old industry warehouse packed with rare and obscure furniture, lighting, decor and other accessories from countries like Holland, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia. All state of the art designs still in a fantastic condition. You ought to check this store out. Play around with the textures of your house with their products to add more character to it.

8. Discover all the best gastronomy Barcelona has to offer in one place

People attending All Those food market, which is one of the cool things to do in Barcelona

The All Those Food Market is a foodie fantasy come true: all of the best gastronomy a city has to offer in one place. This food fest preaches a manifesto of passion for food, interest in nutrition, and building a bridge between you and the local community of artisans, farmers, and entrepreneurs by providing a meeting space for some of the most notable names and products in the city. Bon profit!

© All Those images credited to Iris Humm and Salva López

9. Feel inside the HBO show Foodie Love, and discover in its first chapter location indie magazines, specialty coffee and plants

Espai Joliu wall with indie magazines and plants

Tucked away in Poblenou , Barcelona’s artistic up-and-coming seaside neighborhood, concept store Espai Joliu displays artfully grown and expertly arranged plants alongside pottery and prints on captivating industrial walls. Ever versatile, this space invites you to come in and rest; breathe in the curated atmosphere while thumbing through the newest issue of Kinfolk magazine or getting some work done. Keep an eye on this gem of a shop: along with wifi and specialty Nømad coffee, they also offer recurring pop up events and workshops.

Espai Joliu image, visiting it to discover indie magazines and tasting specialty coffee is one of the cool things to do in Barcelona

This unique hideaway, both a café and a plant concept store, welcomes you into a relaxing oasis of design. Espai Joliu features all of your favourite things, from pottery, to prints, to design magazines, and, of course, all that is green. Decorated with living, breathing, beautiful design, Espai Joliu’s plants are all grown with love and displayed as art.

But first things first: this café serves Nømad coffee, a name that has redefined the city’s specialty coffee and latte art community, alongside a selection of delectable pastries. Sit and savour a hot drink, use their wifi, and take in the beautiful flora and illustrations hanging from the concrete walls.

Well-loved by locals, furnished and decorated with objects antique, recycled, modern and design-focused, this space regularly hosts pop-up events and workshops. The most heart-rending part of this experience is the fact that you can’t take everything home with you.

10. Re-charge your batteries brunching at Granja Petit Bo after visiting the Sagrada Familia

Granja Petit Bo restaurant, a great place to recharge your batteries after visiting the Sagrada Familia

Under the high ceiling of Granja Petitbo, lit by sunlight and vintage lightbulbs, comfort is paramount. This locale proves that brunch can be relaxing: cozy, rejuvenating, filling and honest, Granja Petitbo is perfectly situated near the Sagrada Familia, welcoming you and your friends when you need to re-charge your batteries after visiting the best of Barcelona.

11. Enjoy a selection of the best movies of all times, with concerts, picnics and short films in an open-air cinema at the Montjuïc Castle.

People sitting on the grass at Montjuïc Castle open-air cinema at evening

What more perfect way to enjoy a warm Barcelona summer night than an open air cinema in a historic Catalan fortress? Located in the beautiful hills by the Montjuïc Castle, Cinema A La Fresca shows classics like Casablanca, Thelma and Louise, and Silence of the Lambs alongside award-winners such as Interstellar, Pride, and Whiplash, all in original language. Enjoy an ice cream and a beer during the pre-showing concert. Chairs can be rented for three euros, just don’t forget to bring a light sweater – you’re going to want to stay a while.

12. Find that perfect souvenir in a store with unique design products created and manufactured in Barcelona.

Nu#02 store full of design products created in Barcelona

Born from an alliance of three famous Barcelona designers, the NU#02 shop and line displays the best elements created by Josep Abril, Miriam Ponsa and Txell Miras. This flagship store comes after the success of the group’s first venture, Projecte#01 in the Marais district in Paris. Selling avant-garde menswear and womenswear designed and made in Barcelona, and located in a former electrical equipment warehouse, NU#02 also sells select shoes, furniture, and industrial design objects. Here, everything is about aesthetics, down to the very hangers displaying their unique pieces.

13. Support local creatives with revolutionary ideas, and discover the next generation of art work

Miscelánea store, where you can support Barcelona creatives with revolutionary ideas

The new, the undiscovered, and the unusual can all be found here. Miscelánea is home to next generation artwork, supporting local creatives with revolutionary ideas. This is a multidisciplinary space, hosting music and audiovisual events, courses and workshops alongside its galleries. Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy 10 to 15 shows in the exhibition space as well as 3-week rotating variety shows for more independent artists. The adjoining café, Kalso Bar, provides a space for discussion over coffee or (to really get the creativity flowing) alcohol.

14. Evoke the childhood love for ice cream, and enjoy the creations of a 3-Michelin Star awarded restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca.

Rocamboles picture with Jordi Roca, tasting his ice cream is one of the unique things to do in Barcelona

Evoking a childhood love for ice cream, Rocambolesc Gelateria is the brainchild of Jordi Roca (of the 3-Michelin Star awarded restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca) and his wife Ale. Set to the backdrop of a fantasy workshop; Rocambolesc is the realization of a lifelong pursuit of creating perfect artisan ice cream. Featuring just four flavors in their lineup; a team of passionate chefs combines select ingredients, pastries, and toppings to give their patrons an unforgettable icy treat. Tough luck for tourists clamoring for more though; you can only get this avant-garde gelato in Girona, Spain.

© Rocambolesc images credited to Alicanteplaza

What are the 6 top things to do in Barcelona?

If you’re visiting Barcelona there are some things you must do. There you’ll find Gaudi architecture, Picasso works and cool museums. Let’s discover now what are for us the top things to do in Barcelona.

15. Get fascinated with Casa Batlló, Gaudi’s masterpiece, and attend a rooftop concert with city views

Casa Battló interiors, visiting it is a must thing to do in Barcelona

All it takes is a drive by Casa Batlló to understand the fascination with Gaudi’s famous masterpiece. The original house was redesigned in 1904 and left behind few traces of its traditional origins. Gaudi’s design is a magical feast for the eyes; irregular oval windows, flowing sculpted stone work, and a façade decorated with colorful mosaic have turned the home into a museum of Gaudi’s finest work. Visit after 8pm for a rooftop concert with city views (in summer only).

16. Admire the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s architectural marvel, art icon, and one of the world’s most infamous cathedrals

Sagrada familia facade, the Gaudi architectural marvel and a top thing to do in Barcelona

Not only is the Sagrada Familia an integral part of Barcelona’s history, but it’s a true architectural marvel and art icon. Designed by Gaudi and constructed from 1882, the design is based on the traditions of both Gothic and Byzantine cathedrals. Visitors can see how Gaudi used structure and form, played with light and color, and took inspiration from nature to design one of the world’s most infamous cathedrals. Pictures will never do it justice—this is truly a marvel to see in person.

17. Enjoy the stunning view of Barcelona from Park Güell highest point, and discover one of Gaudi’s most famous ventures

Views from Park Güell, a must visit place in Barcelona

One of Gaudi’s most famous artistic ventures was Park Guell, a vast green park integrated with modernist art. Originally intended to be a gated housing development for 60 private villas, the homes were never completed and the land eventually became an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk along the various paths, visit the Gaudi Museum, and enjoy a stunning view of Barcelona from the park’s highest point.

18. Walk around the Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion, an endless source of inspiration for design lovers

Mies Van der Rohe Pavillon exterior, a must visit for design lovers in Barcelona

The Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion is an endless source of inspiration for design lovers. Created for the 1929 International Exposition, it’s a juxtaposition of simple design and extravagant materials. Within these grounds are items like the iconic Barcelona Chair and the Alba sculpture, built for and perfectly integrated into the spatial design of their surroundings. Focusing on modern European identity, the Mies Van Der Rohe foundation also awards prizes to young architects and hosts performances and exhibitions, featuring such names as Andrés Jaque and Ai Wei Wei.

19. Listen to the heartbeat of the undercurrents, trends, and ideas running through Barcelona at CCCB

A screen in an exhibition at CCCB, where you can discover new trends in Barcelona

The CCCB insitute is leading the discussion on the future of Barcelona culture and art. Centrally located in the Raval district, practically adjacent to the MACBA, this young and socially conscious space features exhibitions about anything from architecture and sexuality, war and utopia, literature, feminism, photography, conflict, and history, all of which are meticulously curated and clearly organised. Come here to listen to the heartbeat of the undercurrents, trends, and ideas running through this city.

Breaking new ground on cultural movements, its voice a braided combination of the most creative and innovative minds of today. The multidisciplinary institution is host to many of Europe’s most notable and cutting-edge exhibitions and conferences throughout Europe, such as the artistic and scientific speculative exhibition on the future of our species (HUMANS+).

20. Get captivated through minimalist architecture and provoking art at MACBA

Portraits exhibition at Macba, a great thing to visit in Barcelona for architecture lovers

The MACBA museum stands tall as one of the main referents for contemporary art in Europe. In the historic Raval district, it towers in the middle of a dynamic square; once inside, it captivates you through minimalist architecture and thought provoking art. As you wander through its diverse yet well-laid-out exhibitions, make sure to keep an eye out for the social and political commentary which runs so deep in the Barcelona creative conscious.

Its minimal design and alluring architecture are the perfect balance to its varied and alternating pieces, expressed through an ever-growing collection of mediums: sophisticated, complex yet simple, the exhibitions often comment on the current state of the world and society.

21. Understand the formative years of the genius Pablo Picasso and his deep relationship with Barcelona at Museu Picasso

A film projection at Pablo Picasso Museum, with Barcelona tourists

One cannot comprehensively understand the history of Barcelona without studying Picasso, and equally so, one cannot understand Picasso without knowing his deep relationship with Barcelona. Therefore, a trip to Museu Picasso is necessary. The museum houses 4,251 works in the permanent collection, with a heavy emphasis on the formative years of Picasso’s youth, as well as work from 1917, the 1957 series Las Meninas, and a large print collection.

What are the 4 cool things to do in Barcelona at night?

There is no better way to finish your days in Barcelona than discovering some of its amazing nightlife. Let’s us show you now what are the things to do in Barcelona at night.

22. Taste cocktails created by the best bartender in Spain – in a secret speakeasy behind a restaurant fridge door

Paradiso cocktail bar image, tasting their cocktails is one of the best things to do in Barcelona at night

If going to a speakeasy is on your bucket list, then listen carefully, but tell no-one: inside Pastrami Bar, behind a seemingly innocuous fridge door, lies the clandestine cocktail lounge called Paradiso. A hideaway of impeccable art nouveau design and amazing libations, Paradiso is led by Giacomo Giannotti, named Best Bartender in Spain. Anything goes in this sophisticated sanctuary, and there are even rumours of a second speakeasy hidden even deeper inside, open to just a select few…think you can find it?

23. Listen the best DJs in town overlooking the sea on the 26th floor of an iconic and luxurious hotel

Eclipse Bar views, from the 26th floor of the W Hotel in Barcelona

Sipping a fine cocktail looking out the window at Eclipse, you will be on top of the world. On the 26th floor of the iconic and luxurious W hotel, overlooking the sea, this cocktail lounge features specialty libations, an innovative sushi menu, and grooves by the best DJs in town. Exuding an international vibe but in a spectacular Mediterranean setting, this high-rise mecca is playground to Barcelona’s finest.

24. Sip a cocktail in a bar with the quirkiest bathroom you’ll ever see – perfect for a selfie that will amaze your IG followers

Boca Chica bathroom picture, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Barcelona at night

Step into Boca Chica and go back in time to Hemingway’s Barcelona. This surrealist cocktail room serves signature and classic libations, surrounding you with decorative quirks like an array of mirrors, animal prints, asian decor and modernist accents. But don’t let their refined atmosphere and extravagant cocktails throw you off: la Boca Chica is informal at heart, and will welcome you like family.

25. Attend a concert at Sala Apolo, the place to head for the latest sounds and most cutting edge styles

Concert at Sala Apolo, known among Barcelona's young as one of the places to head for the latest songs

Known among Barcelona’s young and hip as one of the places to head for the latest sounds and most cutting edge styles. Some of their midweek nights are frequented by fashionable kids who come to flaunt it and have their photos taken while a slightly older crowd takes over the weekends. The venue has three rooms for you to choose from depending on the DJ who is spinning on the decks. The choice of music or vibe is totally up to you but just remember to have fun!

Do you must see Barcelona in a day? Follow our day plan with 8 cool things to do in Barcelona

Start your day surrounded by beauty and enjoying an amazing coffee at one of the hidden gems of the Poblenou neighbourhood: Espai Joliu. 

Wondering what else Barcelona might be hiding? Welcome to the Palo Alto market, a mecca for art and life lovers in the city. 

By now you might be longing for a view of the sea, to hear the waves, and especially, for some paella. Follow us to the Pez Vela restaurant, known by locals as being some of the best in all of Barcelona.

The Barceloneta beach is so soothing that it’s hard to believe that, inland, there are artistic and cultural movements shaking the city: come witness some of Europe’s best art at the MACBA and CCCB museums. 

Minimalistic, well-designed, and the core centres to new ideas, cultural debates, and artistic movements, the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) stand side by side. In the heart of the historically magnetic Raval neighbourhood, they are a must-see for visitors and a staple for residents. The two institutions both opened their doors at the same time in the mid-nineties, and often act in harmony with each other; yet, they are quite distinct. The MACBA towers over a dynamic square and is a referent for contemporary art in Barcelona and, indeed, in Europe.

As an added bonus, on the way from one centre to the other, make sure to see Keith Haring’s outdoor iconic mural: originally painted in 1989 as a pro-bono effort to combat the AIDS epidemic, what was initially thought as an ephemeral piece has been restored and is now in its rightful place, at the heart of the art movement of Barcelona. 

Now, back to one of life’s simple pleasures: chocolate. After such a whirlwind of stimulation, get your blood sugar up and indulge that sweet tooth at Chök, Barcelona’s chocolate kitchen. 

Getting hungry? This next stop not only features star-worthy food from quality ingredients, but also some of the best tapas in town and a central location: welcome to Bar Cañete. 

Barcelona by night is the stuff of poetry. Find out why at a beautiful bar with award-winning cocktails, and end your day at Paradiso.

What are the coolest Things to do in Barcelona this weekend?

Check the free agenda of our Barcelona App to discover all the coolest events (concerts, hipster markets, exhibitions, etc) happening in Barcelona this weekend (it’s always updated).

You can get our App here.

Hooray, you already know the coolest things to do in Barcelona. Let’s begin enjoying them right now!

With eyes closed, try to imagine Barcelona. The sea and the city glitter under the sun, with Gaudí mosaics, multicoloured houses, and Art Nouveau accents. Loud, colourful, gregarious, it’s emblematically Mediterranean, a patchwork of everyone’s ideal summer holiday, right? Actually…that’s just the beginning. 

There’s an electrifyingly innovative creativity pulsing through the the city, barely contained by its modest size. Scratch the surface, and you discover gold: a multinational community, unique reimagining on Nordic design, cool new ideas, a fixation on healthy and delicious food, and a wicked hedonistic streak. Indeed, for design-lovers it can be a bit overwhelming; so many hotspots, never enough time. 

To celebrate the release of our Barcelona Guide in the app store, we have imagined your absolutely perfect Barcelona day. This curated list was recommended by a local cool hunter, and tried and tested as some of the best and most secret spots in the city.


Francisco Pujals

Coolmapp’s founder 

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Hey I’m Francisco Pujals, Coolmapp’s founder. I decided to create Coolmapp, as a way to share the coolest things in any city with like-minded travelers. If you want to connect just drop me a line to [email protected]

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