Plan a trip to Barcelona to take in the art and architecture with the flavour and fiestas of the Spanish north. The capital of Spain’s Catalonia region is one of the most visited European cities and in a city as bustling as Barcelona, it can be overwhelming with how best to spend your time. Here’s a rundown of how you can spend 48 hours.
1 day in Barcelona | The must-do's
Start your day early by heading up to Park Güell. One of the region’s most famous artists Antoni Gaudi created some absolute delights throughout Barcelona and Park Güell is no exception. The perfect spot for pictures is at the mosaic viewing platform with two iconic Gaudi buildings and the Barcelona cityscape in the background. The earlier you get to the park, the less crazy the crowds. Entrance to the park costs around 10 Euros if you pre-book online, otherwise if you enter and leave the park before 8am it’s actually free!
Time to get some brekkie. Either grab some sandwiches from a panaderia (bakery) or sit down and enjoy the flavours and surroundings of one of the many popular brunch spots in Barcelona, like Caravelle. Caravelle draws its inspiration from all over the world, with Mexican huevos rancheros, the North African and Middle Eastern delight shakshouka or even the Full Spanglish breakfast. Keep in mind though, Caravelle and most other brunch menus don’t begin until around 10am.
Next on the agenda is another Gaudi masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi started construction of this basilica in 1882 and it's still not finished. If you want to go inside this magical building, it's definitely wise to pre-book your ticket online at least one week in advance.
Explore the streets of Barcelona by walking up and down the main street, La Rambla. Check out pigeon filled Plaça de Catalunya (the main square of the city), or even more importantly the La Boqueria Market. Both the original and most popular market in Barcelona, indulge yourself with some empanadas, cheese or fresh fruit juices. Open every day except Sunday. Keep your bags close to your side however, as this is a popular pickpocketing spot.
Head off La Rambla onto one of the side streets in the Gothic Quarter. This Quarter is the perfect place to get lost and explore one of the more unique areas of the city. The Gothic Cathedral within the Quarter is certainly a beautiful spot to visit.
Get your walking shoes on and hike up to the Bunkers del Carmen. What used to be bunkers from the Spanish civil war is now one of the best panoramic views in Barcelona. Arguably also the best place to watch the sunset.
Embrace the Spanish food scene and head to a tapas restaurant. Tapas are appetizers or snacks – buy a variety of different ones and enjoy every last morsel. Perhaps one of Barcelona’s finest tapa spots is restaurant Vinitus. Must-have’s include the patatas bravas (potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce), the Spanish potato and onion omelette or the fried camembert. For dessert, indulge yourself with the churros or the Crema Catalana – both costing less than 3 Euros each. Make sure you have some of their to-die for sangria. If Vinitus proves to be too busy, give Taller de Tapas a whirl. Taller de Tapas do excellent bruschetta with Spanish omelette and even better, ham or spinach croquettes.
The Spanish love a good party. To end your first night in Barcelona on a high, party the night away at one of the popular nightclubs, like Sutton or Shoko. If you join in on a hostel pub crawl, often you don’t have to pay entry into the clubs.
If you have more time | Local Experiences
Like nature and want to spend a day out of the city? Head to the rocky mountain range of Montserrat. Take an hour-long train and then cable car up to Montserrat. When you arrive, explore the markets, the monastery or go hiking.
If you fancy somewhere a little closer, why not check out Girona. Less than 45 minutes out of Barcelona city by train, Girona is the perfect place for a wander. Check out the medieval city walls, the cathedrals, canals and Jewish Quarter.
For those who want to keep strolling the streets of Barcelona, make your way to La Barceloneta. This beach is a great place to relax with a pineapple juice and soak up those rays. In the afternoon, jump on one of the direct buses for 3 euros to Tibidabo. Although this amusement park is aimed at kids, it offers insane views of the city and the church at the top is beautiful to look at too. In the evening, check out the magic fountain of Montjuïc. Watch this fountain erupt with light and colour at the start time of either 8 or 9pm depending on the time of year. Check online to see what nights of the week it is on display.