For many Barcelona is the holy grail of cities to visit in Spain. Like our recent trip to Palma, we only spent a day there, however, we did use our time wisely. Here’s our quick guide on how we spent a day in Barcelona. Of course, we only covered a tiny part of the vast city in the time we were there, so keep this in mind when planning a trip.
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Did you know that Barcelona has a total of 20 Michelin stars? Making it the 10th top-rated city for food in the world. Beaten only by Brussels, Chicago and Berlin. However, Japan has more Michelin stars than the whole of the top 10 put together!
If food isn’t your forte then you might be looking for historic culture. In Barcelona, there’s an incredible choice of beautiful buildings and events to match to keep you entertained.
Surprisingly, there are also plenty of urban beaches to take a trip along the coast of the city. There’s also a world-class nightlife scene and an abundance of incredible shopping in the city that you simply won’t know where to begin!
Where to stay: Grums Hotel & Spa by the Port
New city? Hop on Hop off
When arriving in a new city our go-to is the hop on hop off tour buses around the place so that we can become familiar with the layout and discover as much history as we can in a short period of time. Palma was great for this and our week ticket in New York became invaluable!
There are three routes (two in the Winter) on the tour which take you to different parts of the city.
Red Line – travels to the 1992 Olympic Village on Montjuïc Hill. This route will also take you passed the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. A gallery renowned as the home of the world’s best collection of Romanesque art. The tour will also take you through the Medieval Gothic Quarter. If you’re on this route you should also visit the Plaça de Rei. This is where legend has it, Columbus met King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella after he returned from the New World.
Blue Line – Learn more about some of Antoni Gaudí’s most famous work. As you approach the Sagrada Familia get your camera ready and really do take a look at its intricate design. Continue along the Blue Line to enjoy a double dose of Gauidí’s brilliant and colourful architectural style when you explore Park Güell.
We’ve found the cheapest bus tickets in Barcelona here.
Stand at the foot of La Sagrada Familia
Many of Barcelona’s architectural feats are controversial and La Sagrada Família is no exception.
For many years there has been a huge debate between scholars whether engineers have strayed too far from the original concept by architect Antoni Gaudí’s. He died when just a quarter of the project had been built. Many of Barcelona’s citizens deem La Sagrada Família as the greatest achievement of all of the Catalan buildings, others view the structure as a glaring, expensive parody of it. You really should visit the Basilica to make your own judgement here.
The intricate detailing of the building fuses Catalan Modernism, Spanish Late-Gothic and Art Nouveau styles as well as using nature as a central inspiration. This epitomising Gaudi’s belief that nature and the divine were inextricably linked. With use of bold colours and unconventional animal representations.
Due to be completed in 2026, La Sagrada Família will be the tallest church building in the world. It will also hardly resemble any religious structure known to man.
Tour Tip: Purchase queue jump tickets fo La Sagrada Família in advance to save you time and skip the long line.
More of Gaudi’s work: Casa Batlló
If you want to see more of Gaudi’s work after experiencing the La Sagrada Família then you’ll want to see the Casa Batlló. This is one of the most featured postcard images of Barcelona. The apartment block wasn’t created from scratch however it was remodelled at the turn of the 20th century.
As with all of his work, Casa Batlló features a pays incredible attention to detail both inside and out with a sinuous. Apparently the mushroom-shaped fireplaces create cosy grottos, which were specifically designed for couples to warm up together in the winter.
Visit Las Ramblas
You can’t visit Barcelona and not head to Las Ramblas. Shunned by the locals, it is, however, a tourist favourite. The boulevard boasts a wide, shaded birth with bird-sellers and flower stands. There are also street performances and great places to people watch. There is never a dull moment along Las Ramblas.
If you’re looking to get a bird’s-eye view of all the action, head to the 18th-story mirador at Columbus Monument for panoramic views of the city and sea. Once you get to the bottom of Las Ramblas carry on down along the boards to visit the Maremagnum mall or Barcelona’s Aquarium.
Touist Tip: Keep all of your bags, wallets and valuables safeguared at all time as it is pickpocket central here.
Cultural visit: Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya
With a large library of Baroque and Renaissance masterpieces on display at the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalan Art), you’ll want to visit. One of Diego Velázquez’s most famous portraits, San Pablo is housed in the museum.
The scope of its Romanesque collection sets this museum apart from the others in the city. The Museu Nacional D’Art is home to one of the most exhaustive collections in the world. It chronicles the pre-Gothic beginnings of religious art in Catalonia. While you’re there make sure you don’t miss out on the biblical fresco titled Apse of Sant Climent de Taüll. This has been claimed as the crown jewel of the collection.
Enjoy Barcelona’s Beaches
It was surprising how close the beaches lie to the city and the beachfront boardwalk stretches for miles in Barcelona. With a lively atmosphere and plenty of beachfront cafes, restaurants and bars you’re certainly in for great food, cocktails and entertainment.
It’ll take an hour to get from Barceloneta to Diagonal Mar on foot however it will help you really get to grips with the city. The westernmost beaches such as Sant Sebastià are very typically touristy. They are backed by quirky stores and bars with terraces and outdoor seating so you can enjoy the atmosphere.
The beaches by the Olympic Port are where you’ll find more of the locals relaxing and of course, these are less hectic. Just a short walk along the beachfront up from Platja de Llevant is Diagonal Mar mall. This large shopping mall has revitalised a former industrial part of the city.
Beach Dining: Xiroi (1m from the Zoo)
Every football fan’s dream: Camp Nou
For any football fan, you can’t visit Barcelona and not visit Camp Nou. Thousands of people from around the globe come to cheer on Barcelona at their home ground. Camp Nou boasts the highest capacity stadium in Europe seating just shy of 100,000 spectators.
On days Barcelona aren’t playing at home the stadium offers a guided tour. It’s worthwhile keeping this in mind when planning a visit. The tour brings the game-day rush to life as you head down the players’ tunnel. Have your photograph taken with the replica trophy and browse memorabilia from the greatest players to wear the Barca strip. It really is an experience that every football fan should enjoy!
There’s so much to see and do in this city from exploring the Olympic Village to enjoying the architecture at Park Güell. Enjoy great food and shopping as well as exploring the rich architecture and art culture in the city. We really only scratched the surface on our day in Barcelona. Have you visited Barcelona? I’d love to know where you visited and what you got up to. Let me know below.