Barcelona is one of the liveliest and most creative cities in Spain. There’s so much to see and do in the city but worry not if you only have one day in Barcelona, as this epic guide has everything you need to know to see the best of Barcelona in a day.
As the capital of Spain’s Catalonian region, Barcelona is a city known for its art and architecture, tasty food and liberalism.
Enjoy the simple pleasures of taking in a coffee whilst watching the world go by on La Rambla, learn to speak some Catalan and Spanish and experience the coastal charm that attracts thousands of visitors each year.
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Barcelona in a day – itinerary
Here is my itinerary to help you experience the best of Barcelona in a day.
Take a walking tour of Barcelona
With just a day to see the city, a walking tour is a great way to discover both the sights and the history of Barcelona in a timely manner.
If you’re on a budget, my favourite walking tour is the Sandemans New Europe free walking tour. This tour lasts around 2.5 hours and takes you around many of the cities landmarks.
You’ll see the Gothic quarter, learn about Picasso’s life in the city, discover more about Catalan identity, and learn about Barcelona’s Roman Heritage.
Take the tour that starts daily at 10 am, which starts at the Jaume I metro exit.
For a tour with a difference, why not cycle around Barcelona eating the best tapas the city has to offer?
For lovers of Picasso, there are walking tours leading you in the footsteps of the great artist, including a guided tour of the Picasso museum.
See some Gaudi
During your one day in Barcelona, you definitely need to see some of Gaudi’s most famous sights. In a time effective and simple route you will find below, you can visit two on the way to the Sagrada Familia. Follow my route, starting at Plaça de Catalunya. You will visit both Casa Batlló and Casa Milà before reaching the Sagrada Familia.
Visit the Sagrada Familia
As one of the most famous sights in the city, one day in Barcelona isn’t really complete without seeing the Sagrada Familia.
As you’ll be limited on time, there are two options to consider when seeing the Sagrada Familia.
Firstly, you can walk up to this stunning Gaudi masterpiece and take in the exterior at your own leisure. This option is free and allows you to spend as much or as little time here as possible.
I would say a trip inside the Sagrada Familia will take around an hour, so keep that in mind if you are particularly pushed on time.
Wander at creative Park Güell
Another famous Gaudi marvel in Barcelona is the stunning Park Güell. The best way to view Park Güell if you only have one day in Barcelona is taking a skip-the-queue guided tour, leading you around this modernist masterpiece.
This is one of the best places in the city to take pictures, as everywhere you look, there’s something beautiful.
It will take you around 1 hour to view Park Güell.
Walk down La Rambla
This tree-lined pedestrian street stretches an impressive 1.2 km through the heart of the city. This famous boulevard is a hub of restaurants, hotels, entertainment, shopping and attractions. It’s an enjoyable part of the city to take a relaxed walk or stop for a coffee and people watch.
However, beware that restaurants and cafes here can be a bit of a tourist trap, and you are likely to pay much higher prices than you will in other parts of the city.
Eat your way through La Boqueria market
It is totally possible to eat your way around Barcelona in a day during a visit to La Boqueria. The market is the perfect opportunity to try all the food on your Barcelona bucket list.
Being a foodie, one of my biggest highlights was La Boqueria market. The vibrant market was alive with people savouring the abundance of food on offer. The smells of freshly cooked seafood and crepes with Nutella is enough to make you salivate. The market is a great place to try some different kinds of tapas, as well as grab a bite to eat. I had an Argentinian Empanada chased down with an ice-cold beer.
If you have more time in the city, why not combine a trip to La Boqueria with a traditional Spanish cooking class, learning how to make Paella with a local chef.
Pop into the Picasso Museum
Housing one of the most comprehensive collections of Picasso’s works, a stop at this gallery is a must for any art lover. With over 4,000 of the great painter’s works housed here, you’ll get a great feel for the varied talent of this famed surrealist artist.
Entrance to the Picasso museum starts from 12 euros for an adult ticket.
The best part is, the museum has late opening hours most days of the week, making it the perfect evening activity if you only have one day in Barcelona.
The museum is open Monday’s from 10 am to 5 pm, but on Tuesday to Sundays, the hours are much later, from 9 am to 8.30 pm.
Thursday has the latest closing time, with the museum open from 9 am to 9.30 pm.
Get lost in the Gothic Quarter and find Churros con Chocolate
Visiting the Gothic Quater of Barcelona should definitely be on your itinerary during your one day in Barcelona. I’m fortunate to have a friend in Barcelona who lives in this area of the city, and we walked around exploring bars and little shops together. I love getting lost in these little back streets. While in the area, it’s worth heading to La Pallaresa Xocolateria Xurreria for Churros and Chocolate.
Explore Barcelona’s best bars
As you can imagine, Barcelona has great nightlife and plenty of fantastic bars to choose from. Le Cyrano on Carrer d’Aribau is one of my favourite bars in Barcelona. Here you pay just 4 Euro per drink but things work a little differently.
Instead of pouring measures, the bartender hands you the bottle and you can pour as much into your glass as you desire. All I can say is that it’s a good thing there’s free popcorn on every table.
This is a great bar full of locals who are so friendly and chatty. Not only that but the owner Teresa who I am pictured with below was honestly the loveliest and she gets great joy from welcoming guests into Le Cyrano.
My other favourite haunt is located in the Gothic Quater. A quirky, nerdy, film-themed bar Polaroid holds free film screenings every Sunday. They have drinks named after characters from cult classics and put on a great food deal during the Sunday film shows, where you can get a beer and either nachos and guacamole or a hot dog for just 5 euros.
Both these bars are where Barcelona locals go. How do I know this? That’s who took me to them.
An America student who has been living in Barcelona for a long time introduced me to Le Cyrano and my good friend Maria who is a Barcelona native took me to a film showing of the Gruffalo at Polaroid.
Where to stay in Barcelona
There are plenty of fantastic options for accommodation in Barcelona, all depending on your budget.
For budget travellers, I recommend Sant Jordi Rock Palace hostel for its quirky music theme, amazing social activities and central location.
For mid-range options try these hotels:
Lastly, If you desire a taste of luxury, these are the best hotels:
What to eat in Barcelona
Want some foodie inspiration for your trip? Well, here are some of the top foods you must try in Barcelona.
Probably one of Spains most famous dishes. It consists of rice, meat and seafood and is simmered over low heat to help it pack a punch with flavour.
A tasty catalonian take on crème brûlée.
Pa amb tomàquet
Bread and tomato may sound simple, but this dish is fresh and delicious.
Calçots and romesco sauce
A seasonal treat of sweet green onions in a nutty romesco sauce.
A tasty round potato croquette served with garlic aioli and a spicy sauce.
Barcelona Travel Resources
Here are some helpful resources to help you plan your trip to Barcelona:
Things you can book in advance
I stayed at Sant Jordi Rock Palace Hostel, book directly here.
Next, you can book fast-track tickets to visit the Sagrada Familia here. Make sure to book in advance as this is a popular attraction.
Book onto the Sandemans free walking tour of Barcelona here.
Reserve tickets to visit Park Guell here.
Get tickets for the Barcelona FC Museum here.
If you want attractions and transport included in one, saving you some money at the same time, purchase a Barcelona Card here.
See an authentic live flamenco show while in Barcelona, book tickets here.
Check out these books before your trip to Barcelona:
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Check out my Favourite travel resources:
For amazing cheap flight deals, I love Jack’s Flight Club.
To get great train passes across Europe, Interrail is the place to go.
Check out this site for awesome last minute travel deals.
To book onto a fabulous group tour, check out Contiki.
You may want a guide book for your travels if so I love Lonely Planet.
Never leave for a trip without travel insurance! You’ll never know when you may need it.
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See you on the road,