Family holidays can be fun. It’s great to share new places and experiences with young children and teenagers too. But sometimes…whether you’re planning a friends’ weekend away, a romantic city break, a solo sojourn, or a group holiday… sometimes we all just need a little… grown-up time. Foodies, fun-seekers, hipsters or history buffs need look no further for the best things to do in Barcelona, as we bring you adult activities where you can kick back, knowing, on this trip at least, there’s no kids allowed!
Best beer in Barcelona?
Let’s raise a glass to the best adult activities in Barcelona and begin our adventures at the Estrella Damm brewery tour. Learn about the origins of Spain’s oldest brewery where beer is still brewed to the original 1876 recipe. Visit the Kettle Room, the Power Generating Room and the Historical Archive and, best of all, sample four refreshing Mediterranean beers. Cheers! (or Salud! - as they say in Spain.)
Get a taste for tapas
Keep on tickling your tastebuds with some delicious traditional treats as you hunt for the best tapas in Barcelona. One of the most popular is a Bomba, a fried potato croquette with meat filling, served with salsa brava (spicy tomato sauce) or alioli (garlic sauce). And you can’t go wrong with patatas bravas or salty Padron peppers.
It’s more usual in Barcelona however to snack on pintxos (or pinchos), originating in the Basque country but equally popular in Catalonia. What’s the difference between pintxos and tapas? Whilst tapas is usually a small portion of a main dish, served on a plate to be shared and eaten with cutlery, pinchos tend to be a small snack speared onto a piece of bread with a cocktail stick. The word pincho comes from the verb ‘pinchar’, which means ‘to pierce’.
These tiny delicious snacks are intended to be enjoyed with a beer or wine whilst you socialise and chat with friends. Spanish waiters keep track of what you owe from the number of cocktail sticks left on your plate.
Why not take a tour of the Gothic Quarter with pintxos tasting to enjoy sight-seeing and snacks too? Explore the narrow streets and peaceful squares of this ancient district that, by night, transforms into one of Barcelona’s funkiest hang-outs. See Roman ruins, learn about important figures in the city’s history (including the intriguingly named Wilfredo the Hairy) and, at the end, a local guide will lead you to a cosy bar for your pintxos and a well-earned drink.
Discover Barcelona architecture
Time to sober up and get serious? Though, in fact, whilst looking at buildings sounds a seriously grown-up pursuit, it’s really pretty fun in Barcelona! From grand Gothic to colourful avant-garde, few other cities blend the old and the new quite so successfully. A Barcelona architecture tour can take you from the largest Art Nouveau building in the world (former hospital Sant Pau Recinte Modernista) to the best Gaudi buildings, including the awe-inspiring Sagrada familia. Drink in the detail of its famous facades, then wend your way to Paseo de Gracia (Passeig de Gràcia in Catalan) to admire the modernist madness of Casa Battló and Casa Mila (otherwise known as La Pedrera).
Best shopping in Barcelona
As well as Gaudi architecture, this famous Barcelona shopping street is also home to designer stores and high street names. Happily it’s only one of many places across the city where you can shop, shop, shop, unencumbered by kids. Hit Avenida Diagonal for international luxury brands or Portal del Angel for European fashion chains. And whether you’re looking for for bijou boutiques or big name brands, bookshops or boho independents, you can lose yourself for hours in the winding streets of El Born and the Barrio Gòtic.
For designer bargains, hopping aboard the bus to La Roca Village, just outside the city, can see you enjoying savings of up to 60% off usual prices on luxury brands like Desigual, Loewe and Balenciaga and international names including Prada, Burberry, Gucci and Jimmy Choo. Ker-ching!
Bike to the beach
With no children to slow you down or worry about, grab a helmet and jump on your bike to get a whole new view of the city, as fast or slow as you fancy. Barcelona boasts over 150km of cycle paths and if you join an experienced guide for a Barcelona bike tour you’ll get to see all the best bits. Whizz through the old town and the Raval neighborhood, pedal your way to another picture of the Sagrada Familia, wheel through the Olympic Village and cruise down to the vibrant harbour at Port Vell. Then park your bike and take a break on Barceloneta beach, looking over the sparkling Mediterranean.
Swish around on a Segway
An even more exciting way to travel on two wheels is to sign up for a Barcelona Segway Tour in the picturesque Parc de la Ciutadella. After a briefing on how to operate your new chariot, any initial apprehension is soon overcome and you’ll soon be swooping left and right through more than 40 acres of green space, past the pretty Cascada fountain, the boating lake, Barcelona’s own Arc de Triomf and the 2,000 animal inhabitants of Barcelona zoo.
All aboard for a boat party
Whilst we’re down near the waterfront why not see what’s all at sea? There are lots of ways for over-18s to make the most of the marvellous Med, from catamaran rental and daytime barbecue boat trips, to a relaxing sunset sail-boat cruise.
Or ramp up the fun at a famous Barcelona boat party. Party boats sail from Port Olimpic every Thursday and Saturday in the summer months, with an onboard bar, DJ and dancefloor. Dance or drink aboard the double-deck boats, where beer, sangria or soft drinks are included in your ticket price. Boat party tickets often also include discounts on entrance and VIP packages at some of the best clubs in Barcelona, including Pacha, Opium and Catwalk.
Best clubs in Barcelona
Grown-ups don’t need to worry about bedtime and those beachside clubs that stay open until 6am are among the very best Barcelona nightlife. After you’ve played all day here’s our run-down of where to party all night.
Pacha needs no introduction, bringing the Ibiza experience to Barna (as the inhabitants call the city). Its sleek white interior and stunning beach view, but particularly its famous name, attract the very best international DJs. Meanwhile, EDM empire Opium has a huge beach terrace and capacity for 3,000 and is still always packed with beautiful people from around the world.
On the far side of town Otto Zutz has the same classy upmarket feel as the beach clubs but without the tourists and is where the stylish locals go for hip hop, R&B, commercial and house hits.
In edgy El Raval, depending on your tastes, check out techno temple Moog, or Sala Apolo which has a different vibe every night of the week, through indie, urban, pop and electronic.
Sala Razzmatazz, in the industrial area of Poblenou, is Barcelona’s biggest and best known nightclub. Five rooms, featuring every type of music, play host to international DJs and acts who frequently go on to become world famous.