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How to Spend A Day in Barcelona

Barcelona was my first introduction to Spain – and wow – did it live up to expectations.

Dave has been traveling here pretty regularly for work so I kep trying to figure out a time to hitchhike along and get to spend some time in Barcelona. Finally this past November we worked it out and spent part of the week in Barcelona where Dave worked, and then spent the rest of the week exploring Mallorca.

After walking all around Barcelona, I’ve put together this post to help you plan a day in Barcelona. Is a day in Barcelona enough – no way! But sometimes things just work out that way, so if you only have a day in Barcelona, read on for how to make the most of your time.

Check out our guide to Barcelona in November.

A Day in Barcelona: Itinerary Suggestion

Below is a proposed itinerary for a day in Barcelona. In th next section you can find a description of each of the attractions as well as some additional attractions you can substitute. You will want to grab breakfast on the go in the morning so you can get started early!

Quick Look at your Itinerary

  • Sagrada Familia
  • Casa Batlló
  • Wander through the Gothic Center – check out the Barcelona Cathedral or the Picasso Museum
  • La Rambla and Boqueria Market
  • Grab some Tapas or check out a Flamenco Show
A day in Barcelona

Complete 1 day itinerary in Barcelona

This is close to what I did on my first full day in Barcelona with a few adjustments.

Start you morning touring the Sagrada Familia – this impressive building is almost done construction. On the audiotour, you can learn about the history of the structure, the significance of the different components and of course the people behind the building – including Gaudi.

Your visit will take 1-1.5 hours.

Next you can walk or take transportation over to Casa Batllo.

I really enjoyed this house designed by Gaudi and the close ties to nature and the ocean. The tour takes you through the entire building and take about 1 hour to complete.

Next you can wander down into the Gothic Quarter. Depending on the timing, you may need to grab some lunch or if you have time you can visit the Barcelona Cathedral or the Picaso Museum. Both are right in the Gothic Quarter.

There are two other alternatives in the afternoon – you can visit Park Güell or spend the afternoon at the National Art Museum of Catalonia

In the late afternoon make sure you give yourself time to wander along La Rambla and stop in at Mercat de la Boqueria.

Wrap up your day with Tapas in the Gothic Quarter. We had our best meal of our trip at the small but amazing Viana Barcelona and can highly recommend it.

You can also use the evening to take in a Flamenco show. Many of the shows are just 1 hour or so so you can watch as a show and grab dinner.

A day in Barcelona

Highlights of Barcelona

The next stop on our overview of planning your itinerary for Barcelona is to share the highlights of Barcelona. Below you can see the best things to do in Barcelona. Before you get all excited to do everything, with only one day in Barcelona, there is no way you can see everything below!

Sagrada Familia

A masterpiece by architect Antoni Gaudí, this iconic basilica is a must-visit. To visit the Sagrada Familia, you should pre-purchase tickets as there can be a line. Tickets are sold for a specific time and you can reserve them on the official website. You can listen to an audio-tour as part of your ticket price. I loved wandering through this building and learning about the people and process behind the building.

A day in Barcelona: Sagrada Familia

Park Güell

Another Gaudí gem, this park offers stunning views of the city and unique architectural designs. The park itself is a bit far away from many other sites in the city, so if you are planning to visit the park you should make this a priority either in the morning or evening. You will need tickets to enter the park.

La Rambla

A bustling street filled with shops, restaurants, and street performers. This is an easy place to visit as it truly winds it’s way through the city and several of the other sites are directly on or near La Ramba.

Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

Explore narrow medieval streets, historic buildings, and charming squares. This is another must-visit part of Barcelona in my opinion. I loved this part of the town and we visited this area everyday on our visit to Barcelona. Some of our favorite restaurants are in the Gothic Quarter.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Milà

Casa Batllo is a modernist building designed by Gaudí, known for its imaginative and distinctive architecture. Casa Mila has a stone facade the makes this building a marvel of modernist architecture. These houses need to be visited separately but they are relatively close to each other and you will need to purchase tickets.

If you only have time for one house, I enjoyed Casa Batllo a bit more.

Casa Batllo

Barcelona Cathedral

A stunning example of Catalan Gothic architecture, located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. This is a large building nestled right in the center of the maze of streets in the Gothic Center. You can simply take in the building from the outside or pay a small fee to enter.

Barcelona Cathedral

Magic Fountain of Montjuïc

Witness the mesmerizing light and music show at this iconic fountain. The fountain was not operating when I visited but it is a popular stop for many people on their Barcelona itinerary.

Camp Nou

For football enthusiasts, a visit to FC Barcelona’s stadium is a awesome.

Camp Nou is the legendary home stadium of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most successful football clubs. With a seating capacity exceeding 99,000, it stands as Europe’s largest stadium. You can see more and find out if the team is in town during your visit on the FC Barcelona website.

Picasso Museum

Housing one of the most extensive collections of artworks by Pablo Picasso. This museum is in the heart of the Gothic Quarter and is a beautiful building. If you are a fan of Picasso – make sure this is on your list.

Barceloneta Beach

Relax by the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy the vibrant beach atmosphere. The waterfront of Barcelona is a combination of beaches and marinas. Whether you want to spend time relaxing in the sand or just want a stroll, the beaches are a great place to wander. We enjoying taking a morning walk each day along the water, but since we visted in November, we didn’t do any swimming!

The waterfront in Barcelona

Montserrat

Take a day trip to the Montserrat mountain range for breathtaking views and the famous Montserrat Abbey. This won’t fit on your one day itinerary, but it makes a great day trip if you have a few days in Barcelona. Montserrat is about a 1.5 hour trip outside the city and you can spend the day exploring the Monestary or hiking in the hills.

Montserrat Monestary, Spain

Mercat de la Boqueria

A bustling market where you can explore a variety of fresh produce, meats, and local delicacies. This is in a great location and you can enjoy some food and local goods. We stopped here for some snacks on our way to dinner and had some oysters and purchased some cheese for our next day.

Dave getting some oysters in the Market

Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la Música Catalana is a stunning concert hall in Barcelona, celebrated for its intricate modernist architecture designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The venue hosts a diverse range of musical performances and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering visitors a mesmerizing blend of artistic elegance and cultural significance.

Tibidabo Amusement Park

Enjoy panoramic views of the city while having fun at this historic amusement park. This is located as bit outside the main part of the city and is best reached by public transportation or a very long walk. If you plan to visit the park on your one day in Barcelona this will be the bulk of your day.

National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)

Explore a vast collection of Catalan visual art from the Romanesque period to the present day. This is a gorgeous building that showcases this part of the country.

National Art Museum of Catalonia

See a Flamenco Show

Experiencing a flamenco show in Barcelona is a great way to see a glimpse of Spanish culture, where passionate dancers, soulful guitarists, and emotive singers come together. There are several places in the city that offer Flamenco shows. We stopped at a small venue in the Gothic Quarter for the evening to catch a show.

Things to Know about Barcelona

How to Get Around Barcelona

Like many European cities – Barcelona is a big city and you will walk a lot on your visit. On my first day in Barcelona, I walked over 16 miles.

Walking is one of the best ways to get around the city, but you can also take the metro – which is actually really easy to navigate. You can purchase a pass right in the station.

Taxis are also available to get around town – but are a bit more expensive. After walking 16 miles on my first day, I was happy to take a taxi back to the hotel at the end of the night.

Weather

Barcelona generally experiences a Mediterranean climate.

Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 25-30°C (77-86°F). Winters are mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C (50°F). Spring and autumn offer pleasant temperatures around 15-20°C (59-68°F). Rainfall is moderate, with occasional showers in autumn and spring.

We got a lucky break when we visit in November and had temperatures in the 70s.

Language

In general people speak Spanish and Catalan. We found the most people also spoke English in the touristy areas.

A day in Barcelona

Currency and Tipping

The official currency in Barcelona and throughout Spain is the Euro (€). When it comes to tipping, it’s customary to leave a tip, but the practice is not as extensive as in some other countries. We usually left a small tip – often just rounding up the amount to the next whole number. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Restaurants: It is common to leave a tip, usually around 5-10% of the total bill. Some locals may simply round up the bill. In more upscale restaurants, especially if service is not included, a slightly higher tip might be appropriate.
  2. Bars and Cafés: Tipping in bars and cafés is less formalized. Locals often round up the bill or leave small change on the bar.
  3. Taxi Drivers: Tipping taxi drivers is not mandatory, but it’s customary to round up the fare.
  4. Hotel Staff: Tipping hotel staff, such as bellhops and housekeeping, is appreciated. A small tip per bag for the bellhop and a daily tip for housekeeping are common practices.
  5. Tour Guides and Drivers: If you’re on a guided tour or have a private driver, tipping is generally expected. The amount may vary, but it’s common to tip around 5-10% of the tour cost.

Safety

In general Barceclona is considered a safe city. I felt completely fine walking around the city on my own. As always – use caution and keep yourself aware of your surroundings. See some of the top tips on safety in Barcelona.

We hope you enjoy your day in the Barcelona as much as we did!

a day in Barcelona
A day in Barcelona

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