One Day in Barcelona – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

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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 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 detailed itinerary of all the most important must-see Barcelona attractions, with an interactive map, organized to make the best use of your limited 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.

one day in Barcelona

Are you planning your trip to Barcelona last minute?

Be sure to book your accommodation and tours in Barcelona ahead of time to ensure availability! Here are our top picks!

  • Top Hotels in Barcelona:
  1. Luxury: Hotel El Palace Barcelona (historic and central 5* hotel)
  2. Mid-Range: Casa Bonay (cool boutique hotel which we loved!)
  3. Budget: Musik Boutique Hotel (great value and very stylish)
  4. Hostel: Kabul Party Hostel (top Barca hostel off Las Ramblas)
  • Top Activities & Tours in Barcelona:
  1. For all the best things to see in Barcelona, get the hop-on hop-off bus
  2. Book this Sagrada Familia guided tour to see Barcelona’s top attraction
  3. Take a guided tour of Casas Mila and Batllo to see Gaudi’s incredible architecture
  4. Book this guided walking tour of the Gothic Quarter for medieval history
  5. End your day enjoying a paella cooking class with tapas and sangria!

What to See & Do in Barcelona

Interactive Map

ROUTE: La Sagrada FamÍlia – Casa Milà – Casa Batlló – Casa Amatller – La Rambla – Gothic Quarter – Montjuic – La Barceloneta

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.

Itinerary Notes

  • Is this your first time visiting Spain? Get all the information you need in our Spain Travel Guide, including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!
  • Barcelona is packed full of interest and we have picked the most iconic and important sights that you should see during your Barcelona trip. Our one day Barcelona itinerary is around 11km long and you will be walking for well over two hours – as you only have a short time 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 metro around Barcelona in a day for €10.50. You can buy the ticket from automatic vending machines at bus and metro stations, and the TMB app.
  • Another option is the Barcelona Bus Turístic, the hop-on hop-off bus. Although this does not offer the value for money that the public transport system does, you’ll get to see key attractions too. 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.

Morning

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, the most incredible stained glass windows in vibrant colors, eighteen spires, and, at 172m, will be the world’s tallest church building.

When you’re wandering around the inside of Sagrada Familia, don’t forget to look up. There is often so much going on at ground floor level that it’s easy to forget what’s going on above. If you can, lie on the floor (we weren’t the only people doing this) and spend ten minutes admiring the design of the ceiling some 45 meters above.

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, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site 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, which you can do by booking tickets online in advance.

We recommend this fast-track skip-the-line Sagrada Familia guided tour. 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, plus offer you tips for the rest of your Barcelona visit.

If you’re visiting Barcelona on a budget this Sagrada Familia entry ticket with audio guide makes a good alternative, just make sure to take your own headphones or earbuds.

Sagrada Familia Barcelona lit up at night

Gaudi Architecture

The influence of Antoni Gaudí on the city of Barcelona can be seen everywhere you look. Seven properties built by the architect in or near Barcelona testify to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

These Barcelona monuments represent an eclectic style that was given free rein in the city. The seven buildings are Parque Güell; Palacio Güell; Casa Vicens; Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia; Crypt in Colonia Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà.

Casa Milà and Casa Batlló are within one hundred meters and a minute’s walk of each other on Passeig de Gracia, making them easy to see as you follow your Barcelona itinerary.

Try this highly-rated skip the line guided tour of Casa Mila and Casa Batllo to find out more information about the structures and the architect himself.

Gaudi architecture in Barcelona Spain

Casa Amatller

Right next to Casa Batlló in the block known as mansana de la discòrdia, or block of discord, so-named because it features buildings in sharply contrasting styles, is the Casa Museu Amatller, designed by renowned Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a contemporary of Gaudi.

A building in the Modernisme style the museum offers an immersive experience with virtual reality and digital interactive installations helping you travel to Barcelona of the early 20th century to discover the origins of Catalan Modernism.

Casa Amatller is another popular spot, so make sure to book your priority entrance ticket in advance.

La Rambla

Your next stop to the west of the Gothic Quarter is La Rambla, the 1.2km pedestrian route through the heart of Barcelona from Plaça Catalunya to Plaça Portal de la Pau, home to the Christopher Columbus monument and the seafront.

You may also hear the street being called Las Ramblas, this refers to the five original and distinct streets, which joined together to 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 or Barcelona Opera Theatre, one of the most popular opera houses in Europe.

Busy pedestrianised street lined with trees and historic buildings

Afternoon

Ciutat Vella & the Gothic Quarter

Barcelona has many facets, yet at its core, it stands as a city steeped in rich Roman and Gothic heritage. Referred to as Ciutat Vella, meaning Old Town, this district is the oldest part of Barcelona’s historical tapestry.

Ciutat Vella beckons those searching for Roman relics, vestiges of ancient walls, the Jewish Quarter, the Gothic Cathedral, and Barcelona’s most significant palaces, all nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the district known as Eixample.

Ciutat Vella has four main neighborhoods: La Barceloneta, famous for its beach; Raval, the alternative area of the center; Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera, known as El Born; and El Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter and center of the old town.

A short walk east from Las Rambla, the charming Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter, has a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings that will whisk 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 elegant 14th century Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, or simply Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic Quarter is home to numerous charming stores, bars, restaurants, 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.  

Our top guided walking tour of the Barri Gòtic, Roman walls and the old town of El Born with a local guide will bring the city’s medieval times to life, and the guide will also share insider tips on other attractions and where to enjoy the best tapas.

Cobbled alley with ornate bridge between historic buildings

Montjuic

Montjuïc is not just one attraction but a district in the southwest of the city offering many possible destinations of interest. Centered around Montjuic Hill, the district also provides visitors with fabulous city views, the sprawling port district, and the Mediterranean Sea. 

The best way to get to Montjuic is to walk up from Placa d’Espanya if you have enough time. Head through the dual towers of Torres Venecianes, past the magic fountain, and onto the Placa de les Cascades. This huge series of waterfalls leads to the grand and ornate Palacio Nacional, the site of the 1929 International Exhibition. From here you can easily walk to all the main attractions of Montjuic.

Alongside the attractions of Montjuic Castle, the botanical gardens, Joan Miro Foundation, the Mies van der Rohe El Pabellón, the fabulous Barcelona Pavilion, and the beautiful magic fountain with its nightly light and music displays, Montjuïc itself could be a 24 hour destination.

For the best views of the city, take the Teleferico del Puerto, or Port Cable Car, from Miramar on Montjuic down to the old port and beaches. Expect to queue in the summer as you cannot pre-book tickets. Once back at sea level, take a late afternoon stroll through the al fresco seafood restaurants and traditional tapas bars of La Barceloneta.

Don’t mistake the port cable car for the Teleferic de Montjuïc which departs from a station higher up the hill and takes you around Montjuic. This Barcelona cable car is also a great way to see views of the city, but doesn’t quite have the drama of the port cable car, or the added bonus of delivering you back to sea level!

red cable car between towers over a body of water

Evening

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. We loved this paella cooking class, where we learned all the secrets and sourced local ingredients from the Boqueria market to create paella whilst enjoying tapas and sangria, another Spanish favorite! 

When the Spanish eat paella, they do so straight from the pan with a spoon, which is preferably wooden. The paella is portioned in the pan by creating ‘walls’ of paella between each portion, with the wall to the right of the diner being their wall, so that no food sharing or even stealing takes place!

Sangria is a deliciously refreshing drink typically made by Spaniards at home, by mixing red wine in a large pitcher with carbonated soda water or lemonade, fruit (any fruit will do, our Spanish friends even use bananas!), and lots of ice.

pan of paella with many cooking untensils in the pan

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.

This popular skip the line guided night tour of La Pedrera is followed by a unique audiovisual light show and a 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 Mila, which you may well have visited anyway, with lots of extras for only a few euros more than a regular ticket – definitely one of the best things to do in Barcelona at night!

Spain Travel Inspiration

Where to Eat in Barcelona

Churrería Laietana

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 thicker and spongier) and freshly fried, then covered with sugar.

Dip them into the seriously gloopy, thick chocolate and you’ll be in breakfast heaven. We think the best place for this quintessential Spanish sweet treat is Churrería Laietana, a three minute walk from Barcelona’s Gothic cathedral.

churros sprinkled with sugar wrapped in newspaper

Mercado de La Boqueria

La Boqueria Market on La Rambla is a vibrant public market filled with colorful fresh produce and a great place for lunch or a quick pit stop. Regularly voted the best market in the world, and for good reason, Mercat de 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 fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, artisan breads, freshly squeezed fruit juices, 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 for delicious food in La Boqueria; 

hanging sausage and meat in a Spanish market

El Chigre 1769

El Born, adjacent to the Gothic Quarter in the center of the city, is one of Barcelona’s most fashionable districts. Home to many of the city’s best restaurants, it’s a good place for a culinary end to your 24 hours in Barcelona.

Head to one, or perhaps a few, of the area’s vibrant bars and charming restaurants. Head to one, or perhaps a few, of the area’s vibrant bars and charming restaurants.

Our particular favorite is El Chigre, a cider and vermouth bar on Carrer dels Sombrerers serving a fine selection of incredible tapas and delicious herby Spanish vermut.

Interior of bar with wooden furnitre and bottles of wine on display

Top Five Barcelona Travel Tips

  1. Don’t buy a Barcelona Pass if you’re planning on seeing Barcelona in one day. The cost of this Barcelona card is €86, much more than you will spend following our Barcelona 1 day itinerary.
  1. 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 True Traveller.
  1. For incredible city skyline views, head for Bunkers del Carmel. It’s the perfect place to get those panoramic images of Barcelona that you see all over Instagram. Take a blanket and enjoy the moment.
  1. Book tickets or tours for everything you want to do well in advance. Barcelona is one of Spain’s top tourist destinations and everyone wants to experience the top sights and attractions.
  1. Don’t spend too long on Las Ramblas – it’s probably the worst representation of Barcelona you can find in the city. 
Skyline view of Barcelona

More Than One Day in Barcelona?

If you have another half a day in Barcelona or have a little extra time, check out these top attractions;

Discover Parc Guell

If you enjoyed the Gaudi villas, take a day trip to the unique Park Guell for full-on Gaudi immersion in this fascinating park.

Named after Eusebi Güell, known today for his patronage of Gaudí, the park is a magical park with fantastical buildings, sculptures, and tile work designed by Gaudí, on Carmel Hill, making it a good spot for panoramic views of the city.

Book your Parc Guell skip the line tickets well in advance as lines can be long, especially in the summer months.

fantastical buildings, lavender and trees

Explore Parc de la Ciutadella

Head for a stroll in Parc de la Ciutadella, a tranquil and green public park with ancient trees and interesting sculptures in the center 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.

ornate fountain and arch with palm trees and a pond

Hang Out at Barcelona 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 beautiful beaches frequented by locals.

aerial view of Barcelona beach and coast

Montserrat Tour with Optional Wine Tasting & Lunch

If you take one day trip from Barcelona, take this highly rated and well organized trip from Barcelona to stunning Montserrat mountain range.

Explore Catalonia’s beautiful and sacred mountain range by cogwheel train, visit the historic Benedictine Abbey monastery, and admire the dramatic St. Jerome’s Peak.

With a professional guide to offer insights, an organized tour is the perfect opportunity to see more of Spain in less time!

mountain with monastery building

Barcelona Practicalities

When to Visit Barcelona

The Spanish is blessed with a Mediterranean climate consisting of mild winters and warm to hot summers. With average daily temperatures between 20 and 30˚Celsius, 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-30s 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!

Large sandy beach busy with people and a glass oval hotel at one end

Getting to Barcelona

Barcelona International Airport El Prat de Llobregat is located 13km south of the city. You can also fly into Girona or Reus Airports, however, they are over 100km away, and whilst they will have cheaper flights, it will cost a bit more and your travel time will be extended getting to Barcelona city centre.

Train

From Barcelona Airport, the easiest and cheapest way to get to the city is by train. The train station is located in Terminal 2, and if you happen to arrive in Terminal 1 you can take an airport shuttle bus to Terminal 2. The Renfe R2 Nord Line trains run every 30 minutes to Barcelona Sants train station and take about 17 minutes. You can purchase tickets at the ticket machines at the airport train station.

Metro

The Barcelona Metro is also another good option. You can take the L9 south line directly from the airport Metro stop at both terminals that leave every 7 minutes. You will need to change to either Metro lines 1, 3, or 5 depending on where you want to go in the city. Check out the Barcelona metro map to help you plan the journey, which takes around 30 minutes.

Bus

There is an Aerobus stop outside each of the terminals. Buses run 24/7 365 days a year, and leave every 5-10 minutes for the 30 minute journey into central Barcelona. Buses from both terminals go to Placa Catalunya, which is at the top of La Rambla and not far from the Gothic Quarter.

From Girona Airport

If you do decide to fly into Girona, there is a bus directly from the airport to Barcelona Estacio del Nord, close to the Arc de Triomf. Buses leave every 20 to 25 minutes after each Ryan Air flight arrival and take 75 minutes to get into Barcelona. You can also travel by train, but you will either need to take a bus or taxi to Girona train station.

From Rues Airport

From Rues Airport you can also take a direct bus to Barcelona Sants station, they leave after every arrival and take around 90 minutes. You can buy tickets at the ticket machines at the bus station at the airport. You can also travel by train, but you will either need to take a bus or taxi to the train station in Rues.

Private Transfer

For a great way to start your Barcelona trip book a private transfer from the airport with Intui directly to your accommodation in the city center – it’s more cost-effective than you think and is a great option if you don’t have much time. Intui works with a large range of local operators to bring the best options and prices for your transfer.

Are you visiting Barcelona as part of a longer trip? A Spanish road trip is the best way see this gorgeous country, and our guide to road tripping in Spain has all you need, including maps, routes, highlights and tips, to help you plan the perfect trip.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Luxury: Hotel El Palace Barcelona – Booking.com | Agoda

The most famous five-star hotel in Barcelona is set in a central location, close to Las Ramblas, and in the most prestigious shopping area, it is surrounded by boulevards, theatres, and main banks. With classic style, supremely comfortable rooms, and its own spa, this is the perfect stop for a celebration or special occasion holiday.

Mid-Range: Casa Bonay – Booking.com | Agoda

Casa Bonay is an independent hotel in the center of Barcelona, with restaurants, cafeterias, and bars in a restored building dating from 1856. The decor is 19th century grandeur with modern and elegant design, which helped to make this our favorite Barca hotel.

Budget: Musik Boutique Hotel Booking.com | Agoda

In the heart of Eixample and close to the Gothic Quarter, this uber-modern hotel enjoys a crisp and clean decor and a delicious breakfast!

Hostel: Kabul Party Hostel – Booking.com | Agoda

Situated just off Las Ramblas in Plaça Reial Square, the Kabul Party Hostel offers a lively atmosphere with daily parties and has spacious and light air-conditioned dormitories where linen is provided.

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Spain. We recommend True Traveller for their excellent TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

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