Barcelona is an enormous city, with places to explore looming around every corner – there is enough going on here to entertain someone for a lifetime. But if you are just traveling for the weekend, here is a guideline of what I would do in my 48 or so hours here.
Grab a croissant, some café, or a bocadillo – maybe even have an Estrella Damm, as the locals do – and get a head start on the city in the earlier hours of the day. If you want to sit down and indulge in a full meal, or a “fork breakfast” as the locals call it, click on this link and you can find suggestions that will fill your dining needs.
If you are in Barcelona, it is essentially a rite of passage to visit this UNSECO World Heritage Site, which first started construction in 1882, under the careful architectural eye of Antoni Gaudí. I would recommend getting to La Sagrada Familia earlier in the day, so you beat the hordes of tourists that flock here.
If you are interested in doing a tour of the inside, book your tickets ahead of time. You can check out prices and times available on this website.
After your dose of tourism, head over to the quaint and authentic neighborhood of Grácia, which is lined with eco-friendly shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. This is a beautiful place to get lost for a bit. If you are in need of an afternoon snack, and can’t wait until most of the restaurants (running on Spanish time) open up around 1:00 pm (or 13:00), head to the fresh food market in the neighborhood of Grácia – Mercat de l’Abaceria. Here you can get fresh, local product at affordable prices. It was built on the grounds of a very important factory from Barcelona’s industrial era, so the place feels very working-class and authentic.
After making your way through the narrow, classically-Barcelonian streets of Grácia, and stopping in for a café or two, I’d recommend hiking to Park Guell (I say hike because if you walk, a steep hill is included in the trip.) But trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the tiled beauty of this quirky park, another Antoni Gaudí creation.
A majority of Park Guell is free to the public, but a portion of it requires a ticket for entry – which is definitely worth it. Make sure you reserve your tickets a few days before you plan on visiting – it’s only 10 euros! You can purchase tickets on this website.
Now, my dear explorer, it’s finally time to eat. If you want to stay in Grácia to indulge, listed below are a few restaurants nearby that I have really enjoyed.
Toma Ya Street Food – There are many Barcelona residents who have immigrated here from South America, so that influence can be felt, and tasted, in the Barcelona food scene. Toma Ya Street food is owned by a couple from Lima, Peru, and they serve up delicious Peruvian ceviche, tostadas and bravas in this casual and quirky restaurant.
Macchina – This is a pasta bar where you have total control – from the type of pasta to the sauce and toppings. Cooked and plated at an open grill, you can see your food being prepared. This is a delicious stop if you have a hankering for some pasta.
Bodega Cal Pep – This is an old school tapas bar and bodega, which has retained a steady flow of regulars since it first opened in 1919. Here you can dine on some classic Spanish tapas, while sipping on vermouth.
Barcelona usually begins to slow down around 4:00 pm (16:00), with things eventually coming back to life around 7:00 pm (19:00) as restaurants begin reopening their doors. Around 4:00 pm would be an ideal time to take a siesta, as embraced by the Spanish people, so you can be reinvigorated for your evening in Barcelona. Siesta then fiesta – that is the mantra.
As the sun beings to sink, walk through the medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter, and take some time to listen to the street performers outside of the astonishingly beautiful Barcelona Cathedral (my favorite Cathedral in Barcelona.) Here you can discover gothic architecture built into ancient Roman ruins. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famous promenade. But be sure to watch your purse, as this is a touristy area – a target for pickpockets.
You can’t leave Barcelona without filling up on tapas – food made for sharing with friends and family, over drinks. You can find some in the Gothic Quarter, if you want to stay in that area. If you’re interested, you can click here to read an article I wrote about the classic tapas you have to try in Barcelona, and where to find them.
El Born is a distinctly cool, bar neighborhood in Barcelona, within walking distance of the Gothic Quarter. Here you can bar hop, and enjoy some cocktails, such as the currently trending Gin & Tonic.
Bars I’d Recommend in El Born –
If you have any energy left after your day of touring, Barcelona is famous for its club scene. After some cocktails in El Born, you can head out for the rest of the night. I would recommend going to clubs that the locals frequent – such as Apollo, which is conveniently located right next to HelloBCN Hostel.
Another great club to check out is JazzSí Club Taller de Músics – a cozy nightclub that features jazz bands and has live flamenco performances – a cultural staple in Barcelona.
Grab a bite to eat, and and enjoy a morning of museum touring. If you’re nursing a hangover from your previous night, have some hair of the dog and drink an Estrella Dam, and you’ll be living like a local.
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is the place to enjoy all types of art – from Medieval to Modern, there is something for everyone (unless you don’t like art, then you’ll be at a loss). Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is right off of Placa España. Right across the street you can stop into the Arenas de Barcelona – which was a bull fighting ring until 1977 when due to declining attendance it was finally closed. It has now been converted into a shopping mall, with 360 degree views of Barcelona at the top.
Another great museum to see is the Picasso Museum – but be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time, as you can’t get them the day of. If you are interested in exploring more museums, check out this website.
Though Barcelona is an extremely urban city, it does have a surprising amount of green space, perfect for picnicking. I would recommend grabbing some snacks at a local market (there is one in every neighborhood of Barcelona) and heading to Parc De La Cuitadella, to relax in the beautiful Barcelona sunshine for a bit.
Another great picnicking spot is the Barceloneta Beach, which was beautifully converted after the 1992 Olympics, making it very accessible to pedestrians. Here you can enjoy a game of volleyball, toss the disk, tan, bike, go for a swim and relax. It is a buzz of activity.
Paella is a classic Barcelona dish that you have to try before leaving. Although this rice dish has its origins in Valencia, a beautiful city about three hours outside of Barcelona, it is extremely popular in Barcelona. Typically served with seafood, rice and seasoning, this is something that many restaurants offer – the key is going to the right place. Keep in mind that this dish is made for sharing.
La Pubilla and Envalira Restaurant are two paella places that have been recommended to me by people who know it best, but you can check out this website for more suggestions: https://one-week-in.com/9-best-paella-barcelona/
If you love fashion and shopping, Barcelona is a great place to do so. You can find big name brands like Zara here, but you can also find more local shops – especially in the Grácia neighborhood. Another great place to shop, though, is the Eixample Neighborhood. Here you can find luxury shops with top brands, boutiques and thrift shops. Click here to discover great shops in l’Eixample.
There are many places that you can get beautiful views of the city, but the best, in my opinion, are the views from Bunkers Del Carmel – which was a bunker where anti-aircraft guns were installed during the Spanish Civil War. Here you can find groups of people enjoying drinks and snacks, sitting on the ruins of the bunker, watching the sun set over Barcelona. It is really magical, and easily accessible by bus.
Just down the street from HelloBCN Hostel, in the Poble-sec area, you can find a host of great places to enjoy dinner. You can head to Carrer de Blai, where you can tapas and pinxtos-hop along this pedestrian street.
One of my favorite places to eat in this area is at a small, usually packed, Mexican restaurant called El Pachuco. Here you can enjoy micheladas for 70 cents, and order from their list of delicious tacos, empanadas and nachos. You may have to wait a bit before finally sitting down, but this place is worth it.
My favorite area to get drinks is in El Raval, a vibrant neighborhood where the drinks are cheap and the vibe is hip.
If the weather is nice, I’d recommend buying a cocktail at Bar Mendizábal, and sitting on their terrace. Here, you can sip your drink next to the Old Hospital de la Santa Creu, a site where building work first began in 1401. You can read more about the hospital here.
Bar Mendizábel is also a great place to grab a sandwich during the day, if you’re hungry.
From here, there are a a variety of bars that you can enjoy. I’d recommend heading over to places a bit closer to the beach, where you can find really cool rock bars and live music. A few are:
If you want a more extensive list, click here.
… And that is the end of your 48 hours in Barcelona. I know this is a list that will keep your traveling heart very busy – but Barcelona is a city that deserves to be fully explored. Keep in mind, there are so many things to do in Barcelona, and I have written more extensively about other activities to do in Barcelona – there is something for everyone in this magical city.
For Nature Lovers: https://hellobcnhostel.com/en/2019/04/09/for-nature-lovers-in-barcelona/
Terraces in Barcelona: https://hellobcnhostel.com/en/2019/03/05/find-your-oasis-hidden-terraces-in-barcelona/
Best Places to View the Sunset Over The City: https://hellobcnhostel.com/en/2019/02/14/best-sunset-spots-in-bcn-part-1/
The best way to get around the city is through its public trasnportation system. Check out my article on how to get around the city, if you are interested: https://hellobcnhostel.com/en/2019/03/13/getting-around-in-barcelona/
Being a responsible and respectful tourist is incredibly important. While this city is a top tourist destination, it is also home to over a million people. Love the city and it will love you back.
With Love + Happy Traveling,