Do you only have a day in Barcelona - here's how you should spend it!
How much does a day in Barcelona cost? If that's all you want to know click here!
Sometimes you pick up amazing deals on flights exactly when you want them and sometimes, it’s worth checking a few days before and after for prices. For our dates it was actually cheaper to leave our Air BnB accommodation in Santa Pola a day early (€14 per night), take a train to Barcelona (€23 each), stay in a pension (€46 per night), and spend a day in Barcelona, than take a flight straight to Sicily from any of our nearest airports in Valencia.
Number 1 pro tip.
If you only have a very short time, don’t try and fit it all in, you simply can’t, and you will miss out on the little things. The little things are important. Sure, it’s the dream to see everything, but rather than panic, why not make a short list of your absolute “must do’s” and leave plenty of time for accidentally stumbling on amazing hidden treasures.
Our itinerary changed even after we arrived – and looking back we are so glad it did. There’s nothing worse than spending all your time rushing around, on busy public transport, trying to do everything and missing out on really getting a feel for the atmosphere of the place you’re visiting. I guarantee you the ‘vibe’ of somewhere is an enormous part of what you will remember when you get home. Also, rushing leads to sweatiness, stress, and worse - being too exhausted for dinner and dancing later!
We would recommend Barcelona to anyone without hesitation. We would love to return and explore for longer. But this time we only had one day so we planned hard. Here is our complete guide to a day in Barcelona!
Stop 1 of your day in Barcelona is Sagrada Família*
Gaudi’s art is incredible and there is website on top of website dedicated to visiting Barcelona and seeing his incredible architecture and nothing else. But if you can only see one Gaudi masterpiece make it Sagrada Família. It's easy to find - it has a Metro stop named after it, but as you walk up the steps from the station nothing will prepare you for the sheer size of the construction.
I have no idea why, but we weren’t expecting it to be so much of a building site. It is surrounded by tall metal fences and security gates making it difficult to get to get one of those 'Insta-worthy' shots we’ve all seen. But the more you stand and marvel at the sleek lines, geometry and colours of the structures the more amazed you will be.
Silhouettes lurch out at you as the sun gleams down on the magnificent facades. New elements present themselves as the shadows dance up against the many towers of the Basilica. It’s due to be completed in 2026. Don’t just appreciate the front though, be sure to walk around the entirety of the building to see the older part of the Basilica, built in a completely contrasting, but equally impressive style, as if the stone itself was a forest, alive and full of moving creatures.
If you want to visit the inside of Sagrada Família our advice is to book online and in advance because the queues can be enormous. The windows of the Basilica are designed to shine light of different elements of the artwork inside at different times of the day. If you can time your visit to Barcelona over Easter be sure you head to one of the Sagrada Familia’s light shows – totally, mind bogglingly magical.
Stop 2. Passeig de Gràcia
We took the Metro to look at more of Gaudi’s work, Casa Batllóit is gorgeous, imagine living on a street like this! We were still shell shocked and awed out by the Basilica so we didn’t linger on this street too long, but you take as long as you need, there is plenty to see!
Next on your list is La Rambla which is just at the end of Passeig de Gràcia and was definitely not on our itinerary, owing to it being a complete tourist trap and super expensive for food and drink (the prices for food and drink are never far from our minds). However, there is no doubt that it is an impressive area and well worth a walk through. What completely changed our minds about the area though was La Boquería market, and that is why we’ve added it to your itinerary as…
Stop 3. La Rambla and La Boquería
La Boquería market is an absolute heaven for foodies. Get there before the lunchtime rush as it will get completely rammed. It is home to some of the most delicious looking foods and ingredients you will ever see. Take a seat at one of the many tiny bars serving fresh smoothies, seafood, tapas, vegan delights, Indian cuisine, the list is endless…even freshly shucked oysters and Champagne if you fancy, or take a selection away for a picnic later! We chose to take away giant ice creams and licked them greedily as we marvelled at the action all around us.
The next stop of your Barcelona extravaganza is the beautiful Gothic Quarter. Contrary to its name, most of the most famous buildings in the Gothic Quarter aren’t Gothic at all; the area was ‘re-branded’ in the early 20th century to attract more tourists. It is gorgeous though, and the winding narrow streets full of independent shops, bars, bakeries, boutiques and tattoo parlours are all terribly tempting.
Stop 4. Pont del Bisbe ‘Bishop’s Bridge’
Legend has it that when Gaudi’s mate (and impressive architect in his own right) Joan Rubió i Bellver had his plans for redevelopment of the Gothic quarter turned down by the authorities, he secretly added a skull with a dagger inside to the bridge he was building, as a symbol to those he felt had betrayed him. If you look at the skull as you cross the bridge, it will grant you one wish…or curse you, depending on which legend you listen to. Pont del Bisbe in on Carrer del Bisbe as you walk through the Gothic Quarter.
Next, it’s time for a real treat. What we call one of our hidden treasures.
Stop 5. Temple d'August
Did you know that the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona has a Roman temple? Nope, neither did we. But it does, and you can find it behind the Cathedral on Carrer del Paradís. There’s a museum there too, but otherwise it only takes a minute or so to see and take in the enormity of there being genuine, original ROMAN columns, still standing and squashed down a tiny alley just off one of the busiest shopping streets in Europe. Wow.
Stop 6. Museo Picasso
Before you get lost down anther windy alleyway in this fascinating historical quarter, take a visit to Museu Picasso on Carrer Montcada. Picasso fell in love with Barcelona (we can see why) when he was at art school in the city at just 14 years old, and this museum houses over 4,000 of his pieces – the largest collection in the world. If you like a bargain see if you can make it there for either a Thursday afternoon between 6.00pm to 9.30pm or the first Sunday of each month, from 9am to 7pm the museum will be free to enter. You can thank us later.
Stop 7. Barceloneta Beach
As you leave the Gothic Quarter behind, step out into the bright day light of Barcelona’s port. A little further down, past the super yachts, the street sellers and the fancy marina restaurants, you will see your final destination of the day – Barceloneta beach.
There are lots of great beaches near the city, but if you only have 24 hours and this one is juuuust dandy. Marvel at the amazing sandcastle artists on the beach. The detail they put into their work is extraordinary; take some photos and give them some change for their efforts. Then pass the work off as your own when you get home.
So, we would say that is a perfect day in Barcelona. It really is the perfect city. It’s generally warm enough to enjoy the beach between April and October. Lucky Catalans! So, paddle, people watch, have a beer and enjoy your surroundings. Now might be time to finish off that little cone of chorizo and manchego you picked up at La Boquería market? All gone? Yeah, we thought so.
That may be the end of our complete guide to a day in Barcelona. But you still have the night, what will you choose to do? Make the most of the incredible Catalan cuisine and buzzy vibe by heading out for dinner or drinks.
After a day out in Barcelona it’s quite normal not to eat dinner until 9 or even 10 at night and plenty of bars are open until the small hours so get your dancing shoes ready! You can read about our sensational night out at the heavenly El Paradis, officially one of the best bars in the world, here. (Coming Soon)
So how much does a day in Barcelona cost?
- Parc Güell €7.50
- Sagrada Familia €14.00
- Picasso Museum €11.00
- Lunch at market €5.00
- Ice cream €4.00
- Sandwich from bakery €3.00
- Dinner €5.00-€45.00 depending on what you go for!
- Glass of wine €4.00
- Beer €3.00
- Water €1.50
- Single metro ticket €2.20
- T10 (10 journeys to share) €10.20
- Metro from city centre to airport €4.50
- Barca Express card (Attraction discounts and free bus/metro transport including to airport) €19.00
These are average prices, ask and check the menu before you order as they can vary wildly! Our favourite thing to do is pick a place off the beaten track. Better prices and a more authentic experience, this is possible even somewhere as popular as Barcelona! It’s easy to enjoy Barcelona pretty cheaply if you’re happy to walk and eat snacks from the many bakeries and other small shops there. It is also easy to spend a fortune, so stay savvy and have a wonderful visit.
This complete guide to a day in Barcelona, coupled with our Ultimate Spanish Language Cheat Sheet will ensure you make the most of your day out in Barcelona. But is there anywhere you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!
*If you get up nice and early you should absolutely add Park Güell to your plans, a morning visit will mean there are less crowds, although we still recommend you book tickets online in advance just in case. It’s a little out of town but the green line (L3), Lesseps or Vallcarca stations will take you to within a 15 minute walk of the park. Unfortunately, we had to drop it from our itinerary owing to Bryony’s injured foot (a gruesome story for another time, and a strong drink)
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