How to Spend One Awesome Day in Barcelona
Is there any other city throughout the whole of Europe that offers visitors a more diverse range of things to do than Barcelona? Barcelona city boasts a rich cultural heritage, a 4km long sandy beach, fabled UNESCO architectural gems, a culinary scene the envy of the world, and all the attractions of a modern global city alongside historic districts such as the Gothic quarter.
In our Barcelona travel guide, you’ll find a complete itinerary of all the most important must see Barcelona attractions, with an interactive map, organised to make the best use of your time. We also share recommendations for central places to stay, ideas about where to eat local food, and tips about how to make the most of your 24 hours in Barcelona.
When to Visit Barcelona
Barcelona is blessed with a Mediterranean climate consisting of mild winters and warm to hot summers. With average daily temperatures between 20˚c and 30˚c, the most pleasant time of year for a Barcelona one day tour is from the beginning of May to the end of July.
Visit earlier in late March or April, or later in September and into winter for better deals on car hire, tours and hotel deals, plus quieter attractions and fewer queues.
During the traditional holiday season of August, Barcelona sees temperatures in the mid 30˚s and long periods of increased humidity. Such conditions will inevitably make your 1 day in Barcelona less comfortable, especially with all the other people who throng there in the height of summer!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
For Road Trippers
Our first pick is the H10 Metropolitan Hotel with it’s 10 out of 10 location overlooking Placa Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona.
Add to that a very cool roof terrace complete with bar and pool, efficient staff and a relaxed vibe, and you’ll kickstart and end your day in Barcelona in the best possible way.
Just a ten minute walk from Placa Catalunya is Casa Bonay. In the trendy district of Eixample, this Barcelona hotel is just around the corner from Passeig de Sant Joan, with its chic lunch joints and cosy bars.
Casa Bonay’s rooms and public spaces welcome and intrigue with simple but effective design and the laid-back vibe and informal service make this is a great choice for one night in Barcelona.
What to See & Do in Barcelona
Getting Around Barcelona
Barcelona is packed full of interest and we have picked the most iconic and important sights that you should see during your Barcelona trip.
This one day Barcelona itinerary is around 11km long and you will be walking for well over two hours – you may prefer to speed things up a little by using transport between attractions.
Public transport in Barcelona is a great way to get around. A T-dia card allows you to make unlimited journeys by bus and metroaround Barcelona in a day for €10.50.
You can by the ticket from automatic vending machines at bus and metro stations, and the TMB app.
Barcelona Bus Turístic
Another option is the Barcelona hop-on hop-off bus, although this is does not offer the value for money that the public transport system does. If you do decide to use the bus, make sure you pick the route that works best for your plans.
Blue Line – From Plaça de Catalunya to FC Barcelona’s stadium Camp Nou via Passeig de Gràcia, Sagrada Família, Gràcia, Park Güell, Tibidabo and Pedralbes.
Red Line – From Plaça de Catalunya to Ciutadella Park via Passeig de Gràcia, Avinguda Diagonal, Sants railway station, Montjuïc and Port Vell.
Green Line – From the Olympic Port to the Fòrum via Poblenou and Parc Diagonal.
Interactive Map of Your Barcelona Itinerary
How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.
La Sagrada FamÍlia
The first attraction to see during a day in Barcelona must be the Sagrada Familia church, the yet to be completed architectural masterpiece of Barcelona’s own Antoni Gaudi.
You do not need to be an architecture buff to appreciate his unique and distinctive style, heavily influenced by nature and its widely agreed that Gaudi carried the Art Nouveau style far beyond its usual application as a form of decoration, into the structural design of the building itself.
Gaudi’s design is so complex that whilst the foundation stone was laid as far back as 1882, Sagrada Familia is not expected to be completed until 2026, some 100 years after his death.
Once complete, the imposing building will boast three facades, eighteen spires and, at 172m, will be the world’s tallest church building.
In case you’re wondering, La Sagrada Familia is no longer a cathedral. When construction first began, it was understood to be a simple Roman Catholic church. Later on, it was designated as a cathedral, and then in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI declared it a basilica.
Be warned though, with over three million annual visitors, Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s most visited attraction.
Queues to enter one of the world’s most famous and unmissable landmarks may take anything up to three hours, unless you beat the crowds and book in advance one of these highly rated skip the line tours. As well as not having to queue, you’ll have a local guide who can help you understand the history and intricacies of this fascinating building.
Gaudí’s influence on the city of Barcelona can be seen all around you. Significant examples and attractions you may want to include within your Barcelona itinerary are Casa Batlló and Casa Mila.
Both within one hundred metres and a minutes walk of each other on Passeig de Gracia. Try this skip the line guided tour of Casa Mila and Casa Batllo to find out more information about the structures and the architect himself.
To the west of the Gothic Quarter lies La Rambla, the 1.2km pedestrian route through the heart of the city from Placa de Catalunya to the seafront and the Christopher Colombus monument to the south.
You may also hear the street being called Las Ramblas, this refers to the five original and distinct streets, which joined together form Las Ramblas.
Joining the throngs ambling along La Rambla you will come across countless stalls, street performers, bars and restaurants as well as the splendid Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona Opera Theatre), one of the most popular opera houses in Europe.
The Gothic Quarter
Walking through the charming Gothic Quarter with its labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings, you’ll be whisked you away from the modernity of the surrounding city to its medieval period.
As well as the site for more stunning architecture such as the Catalan Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, and the elegent 14th century The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, or simply Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic Quarter is home to numerous charming stores and grand squares such as Placa Reial.
Here you can see more of Gaudi’s influence with his fine street lamp design. Unsurprisingly, given its mysterious corners and sometimes eerie atmosphere, the Gothic quarter plays a central part in Barcelona’s cultural heritage.
Picasso lived and worked here at the beginning of the 20th century and the area was also home to the sculptor and ceramicist, Joan Miró.
A walking tour of the Barri Gotic with a local guide will bring this ancient part of the city to life, and the guide will also share insider tips on other attractions and where to enjoy the best tapas.
Montjuïc is not just one attraction but a district in the south west of the city offering many possible destinations of interest. Centred around Montjuic Hill this district also provides visitors with fabulous views over the city below, sprawling port district and the Mediterranean.
The best way to get to Montjuic is to walk up from Placa d’Espanya. Head through the dual towers of Torres Venecianes, past the magic fountain and onto the Placa de les Cascades, a huge series of waterfalls, to the grand and ornate Palacio Nacional, site of the 1929 International Exhibition. From here you can easily walk to all the main attractions of Montjuic.
For the best views of the city, take the Teleferico del Puerto (Port Cable Car) from Miramar on Montjuic down to the old port and beaches. Expect to queue in summer, you cannot pre-book tickets.
Don’t mistake the port cable car for the Teleferic de Montjuïc (Barcelona Cable Car) which departs from a station higher up the hill and takes you around Montjuic. This is also a great way to see views of Barcelona, but doesn’t quite have the drama of the port cable car, or the added bonus of delivering you back to sea level!
Alongside the attractions of Montjuic Castle, the botanical gardens, Joan Miro Foundation, the Mies van der Rohe El Pabellón (The Barcelona Pavilion) and the beautiful magic fountain with its nightly light and music displays, Montjuïc itself could be a 24 hour destination.
Learn How to Cook Paella & Make Tapas
Paella is the national dish of Spain and learning to cook this dish, with market-fresh ingredients and a local Spanish chef is a great way to spend an evening in Barcelona. Learn all the secrets and source local ingredients from Boqueria market to create paella whilst enjoying tapas and sangria, another Spanish favourite!
Did you know that Sangria is a drink typically made by Spaniards at home, by mixing red wine in a large pitcher with carbonated lemonade or soda water, fruit (any fruit will do, our Spanish friends even use bananas!) and lots of ice?
Sangria is not a drink any self-respecting Spanish person would order in a bar or restaurant, but something to be enjoyed on a hot afternoon or evening at home – but you’re on holiday so that doesn’t matter!
La Pedrera Night Experience
Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera) is one of the best examples in Barcelona of Gaudi’s famous architecture and visiting at night is the perfect way to experience the intriguing interior and roof-terrace at it’s best.
Visit the house during the evening, for a semi-guided night tour of the casa, followed by a unique audiovisual light show and glass of cava on the mansion’s famous roof terrace, an experience about as surreal as Antoni GaudÍ himself.
This is a really cool way to see the casa, which you may well have visited anyway, with lots of extras for only a few euros more than a regular ticket.
Other Spanish City Itineraries
Where to Eat in Barcelona
Mercado de La Boqueria
The Boqueria Market on La Rambla is a vibrant public market filled with colourful fresh produce and the ideal destination for lunch or a quick pit stop. Regularly voted the best market in the world, La Boqueria is a central part of daily life in Barcelona.
The grand iron entrance leads to a celebration of fresh quality produce and heaven for any foodie. Here you’ll find everything from delicious fruit and vegetables, olives, artisan breads, dried and smoked meats such as jamon Iberico and chorizo, seafood and amazing cheeses, including the typical Spanish manchego.
La Boqueria is ideal for a quick snack to re-energise you during your day in Barcelona, or a longer lunch at one of the many small and friendly stalls. Just find a stool and tuck in.
These are our top picks of places to eat in La Boqueria;
- Bar Remblero is known for its seafood selection.
- El Quim de La Boqueria does the best huevos rotos (broken or scrambled eggs) in town.
- Pinotxo Bar for Juanito, the owner who has been cooking here for over 50 years!
El Chigre 1769
El Born, adjacent the Gothic quarter in the centre of the city, is one of Barcelona’s most fashionable districts. For a more lively and culinary end to your 24 hours in Barcelona, head to one or perhaps a few of the area’s vibrant bars and charming restaurants.
Our own particular favourite is El Chigre, a cider and vermouth bar on Carrer dels Sombrerers serving a fine selection of incredible tapas and delicious herby Spanish vermut.
Top Five Barcelona Travel Tips
- Don’t buy a Barcelona Pass if you’re planning in seeing Barcelona in one day. The cost of €80 is much more than you will spend following our Barcelona 1 day itinerary.
- Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain and sadly attracts thieves and pickpockets. Keep your belongings close, don’t leave your phone hanging out of your back pocket and carry your bag on your front. Leave your passport and any other valuables in the hotel safe and make sure you have good travel insurance – we recommend World Nomads.
- For incredible city skyline views, head for Bunkers del Carmel. It’s one of the best places to get those panoramic images of Barcelona that you see all over Instagram. Take a blanket and enjoy the moment.
- Churros y chocolate are a staple breakfast in northern Spain. You’ll find them served in cafes and on street corners around the city. The churros are long doughnuts (you may also see porros which are bigger) and freshly fried, then covered with sugar. Dip them into the seriously gloopy, thick chocolate and you’ll be in breakfast heaven.
- Don’t spend too long on Las Ramblas – it’s probably the worst representation of Barcelona you can find in the city.
More Than One Day in Barcelona?
If you have another half a day in Barcelona or are looking for a Barcelona 2 day itinerary, check out these attractions;
- If you enjoyed the Gaudi villas, take a day trip to the unique Park Guell for full-on Gaudi immersion in this fascinating park with amazing views.
- Head for a stroll in Parc de la Ciutadella, a tranquil green space with ancient trees and interesting sculptures in the centre of Barcelona. Enjoy a row on the lake and see the Arco de Triunfo, built as the main entrance to the Universal Exhibition held here in 1888. At the weekends, there are quite often street food trucks lining the route into the park.
- Hit the beach! Barcelona’s beachfront boardwalk stretches for miles and it will take at least an hour to walk north from La Barceloneta to Diagonal Mar. Sant Sebastia beach is busy but is backed by Barceloneta’s tangle of cool shops and bars, making this a great destination. If you prefer a more peaceful setting, head north of Port Olimpic for beaches frequented by locals.
- There are many day trips from Barcelona, but if you can only do one, head out to Montserrat. Catalonia’s sacred mountain range is just 38km from Barcelona. Highlights are the Benedictine Abbey which houses the Black Virgin and the dramatic St. Jerome’s peak.