Chock-full of culture, history, food and architecture, Barcelona is nothing short of amazing. Trying to fit any city, let alone one as action-packed as Barcelona into 24 hours is not an easy feat. Follow our comprehensive one-day guide to Barcelona to ensure that you make the most of your time here. While you won’t be able to see everything the city has to offer since your time is short, this guide hits many of the must-see attractions.
1. Breakfast at Pastelería Escribà
Start your day off at Pastelería Escribà, a renowned pastry shop specializing in extraordinary cake creations. They claim that the only boundary is your imagination—that any dream you have can be made into a cake! The Escribà family have various stores around the city, but their talented bakers have been making the magic happen everyday for the past 100 years at their shop at La Rambla, 83. Escribà is organized into two sections, each with a different focus—the confectionery section sells breads and cakes, and the sampling section is where you can enjoy a coffee and try some of their delicious treats. Energize yourself by tasting a variety of their yummy sweet snacks to kick start your day in Barcelona.
2. La Rambla and Plaça Catalunya
It’s a tourist trap, but it’s also one of the most iconic places in Barcelona. La Rambla runs straight from the port to Plaça Catalunya, the heart of the city. It’s full to the brim with restaurants, human statues and, in the warmer months, ice-cream stalls. As you stroll along, check out the Boqueria market to grab something colourful and tasty for later, perhaps a smoothie, a bag of candy, or a fresh fruit cup.
Once you’ve sufficiently explored Las Rambla, check out Plaça Catalunya, one of the most famous and central plazas in Barcelona. This is also the place to start the next activity on your guide… a Barcelona hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
3. Hop-on, hop-off tour
What better way to ensure that you see all the top sights then to take a bus tour around the city? And the best part? You can get on and off as you please, giving you the freedom to choose your favorite sites and explore even deeper. Whether it’s the Arc de Triomf or FC Barca’s Camp Nou that interests you, this tour hits it all. Be sure to keep an eye out for Gaudí’s stunning Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera—a few of the city’s most famous modernist buildings. Check out the Barcelona Bus Turístic website for more information.
4. Picnic in Ciutadella Park
Make your last stop on the bus the Arc de Triomf and head over the Ciutadella Park, Barcelona’s largest green space. Here you can relax by the lake, rent a rowboat, or simply enjoy a nice bocadillo on the grass while you take 5 and watch the world go by. Don’t forget your snack you picked up earlier at the Boqueria market!
5. Gothic Quarter or El Born
Unfortunately, there’s just not time to do both… So the choice is yours: either head to the Gothic Quarter where you’ll find the likes of the Barcelona Cathedral, the Roman ruins and some quirky boutiques on Carrer d’Avinyó, or instead, get yourself to El Born, home to the Santa María del Mar church (otherwise known as Ildefonso Falcones’s Cathedral of the Sea), the Picasso museum and the grand concert hall, the Palau de la Música Catalana, in the nearby Sant Pere area.
If you opt for the Gothic Quarter, on your way through the narrow, labyrinthine streets to the Barcelona Cathedral, make sure to look out for the Plaça de Sant Felip Neri. This is a tiny square with a charming fountain in the middle, which marks the entrance to the Jewish Quarter. Here you’ll also find the baroque church of Sant Felip Neri and as you look around, you’ll see the marks left by the shrapnel of a bomb dropped on the square during the Spanish Civil War, claiming the lives of 42 people.
If you decide you’d rather check out trendy El Born, take a walk around the historic Passeig del Born, an old medieval promenade. We challenge you to try to imagine this avenue back in the days when it held the city’s festivals, fairs and jousting matches.
6. Dinner at Cervecería Catalana
In a city known for its exquisite cuisine it wouldn’t make much sense to leave without indulging in some traditional tapas. With a menu full of all the most delicious options—from fried artichoke to Catalan escalivada—all crafted from top quality ingredients, Cervecería Catalana at Carrer de Mallorca 236 is without a doubt one of the best tapas restaurants in Barcelona. A hit with locals and visitors alike, be sure to get there early as there is nearly always a queue. But don’t worry, it’s worth the wait!
7. Montjuïc Magic Fountain Show
Top off your day with this magnificent dancing fountain performance. The colorful jets (over 50 shades and hues!) will mesmerize you as they sway in perfect time to the music. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser for adults and children alike, this show is not something you’ll want to miss. Catch it at Montjuïc, near Plaça Espanya. Check out the website for times.
Tip: once you’re done at the fountain, head over to the Arenas de Barcelona at Plaça Espanya, a shopping centre and former bullfighting ring, and go all the way to the top floor. From here you can catch some amazing 360º views of the city.
Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona.