Barcelona is a city with an incredible vibe, capable of surprising even the most seasoned of travellers. There is always something to see, something to do, something to taste. If you’re planning a short city break, look no further, Barcelona has it all. Here are some expert tips to help you pack as much as possible into 48 hours in the city.
MUST SEE: Sights and Attractions
Start with one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, Park Güell is a public park with quirky architectural elements designed by Antoni Gaudí, and situated on the hill of El Carmel, in the Gràcia district. The park has 2 different areas: the Monumental Zone, which requires the purchase of a ticket, and the free access area which is open to all visitors at no charge. To witness the most iconic parts of the park, however, you’re better off pre-booking your tickets online to avoid queues and guarantee access.
Admission: €7 for adults and €4.90 for over 65s or children from 7 to 12. Children under 7 go free.
Opening time: Varies from 8 am to 9 pm in the Spring and Summer, to 8:30 am to 6 pm rest of the year.
Head on south towards the Eixample district, where you’ll find another of Antoni Gaudí’s famous works, and Barcelona’s number 1 attraction. The Sagrada Família is a giant and unfinished Basilica combining Gothic and Art Noveau forms, which has been under construction since 1882. If you want to visit inside it’s advisable to pre-book your entrance tickets, as long queues of up to 2 hours or more are a usual sight outside, especially during the peak season from April to September.
Admission: From €14.80. Children of up to 10 go free.
Opening time: Varies from 9 am to 8 pm from April to September, to 9 am to 6 pm from October to March.
Passeig de Gràcia
Only a short walk from the Sagrada Família is the Passeig de Gràcia, one of the major avenues in Barcelona and one of its most important shopping and business areas. Here you’ll find yet more notable examples of Gaudi’s work, in the shape of two iconic buildings.
Casa Milà or La Pedrera, meaning the stone quarry for its façade’s resemblance to an open quarry, was constructed between 1906 and 1912. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since the eighties, this is a unique building of great artistic value and a prime example of Modernisme. Today La Pedrera houses a cultural centre.
Admission: Ticket prices cost €16.50 for adults, or €8.25 for children from 7 to 12. Children up to six go free.
Opening time: Varies from 9 am to 8 pm during Spring and Summer, and 9 am to 6:30 pm during rest of the year.
Further down the avenue you’ll find Casa Batlló, or Casa dels ossos (House of Bones) as the locals call it for its visceral and skeleton-like organic quality. Originally designed for a middle-class family, the Batlló family, this is an exquisite piece of Modernisme architecture with irregular oval windows and, like everything Gaudí designed, very few straight lines. Much of the façade is decorated with colourful mosaics made from broken ceramic tiles, and the roof of the house is arched and scale-like, much like the back of a dragon.
Admission: Tickets cost €21.50 for adults and €18.50 for over 65’s or children up to 18. Children under 7 go free.
Opening time: 9 am to 9 pm. Open all year.
El Barri Gòtic or Gothic Quarter
When you had enough of Gaudí’s Modernisme, make your way to the Gothic Quarter, on the centre of the old city of Barcelona, in the Ciutat Vella district. Here you’ll find many buildings dating from medieval times and some as far back as from Roman times. Much of the quarter is traffic free and consists of a quirky labyrinth of many small streets some opening out into vibrant squares. Boasting a curious mix of old and new, the quarter is a lively neighbourhood packed with shops, cafés, restaurants and performing artists.
While visiting El Barri Gòtic, if there is one place you should aim to go to, that place is the Plaza del Pi. One of the most beautiful squares you will find in the city, the Plaza del Pi is home to Santa Maria del Pi, a church with a wonderful rosette, which happens to be one of the biggest in the world. The night life here is particularly lively, thanks to its many bars and restaurants open all year long.
MUST TRY: Food and Drink
Food shopping at La Boqueria
An absolute must on any foodie’s list, La Boqueria is Barcelona’s most iconic market, located on the Ciutat Vella. A true gastronomic temple, here you’ll find not only the best of local and regional ingredients but also products from the four corners of the world. At La Boqueria people eat, shop and gossip together doing what the Catalan excel at: living life to its fullest and enjoying a sense of community. Click here for more information on Gastronomic Catalonia.
Opening time: Monday to Saturday, from 8 am to 8.30 pm.
Go for Tapas – what else?
Do as the locals and try out some of the best Spanish tapas at one of the city’s many tapas bars and bodegas. From iberic ham to patatas bravas (potato squares fried in oil and served warm with a sauce such as a spicy tomato sauce or an aioli) or montaditos (carefully sculpted tapas served on bread), tapas in Barcelona are an authentic culinary Holy Grail. Wash it down with some local wine or draught beer.
Where to Stay
Generator Barcelona is both a “Posh Hostel” and Hotel, but you can choose between a simple en-suite double or a deluxe room with a private terrace. There is even a Penthouse Suite on the top floor, offering 270 degree breathtaking views of the city! Centrally located in the Gràcia district, with a funky vibe and artsy décor, Generator is one of Barcelona’s coolest hotels. From €106.
Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona is ideally located in the city centre, in the Gothic Quarter, only a few metres away from the Picasso Museum and other Barcelona attractions. The hotel has a small outdoor rooftop pool, offers air-conditioned and soundproofed rooms with free Wi-Fi and Flat screen TVs. From €79.
For more Barcelona Hotels click here.
Feature Image of Parc Güell – Image by Tim Rawle via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Parc Güell Lizard – Image by alkainel via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sagrada Familia – Image by Stéphane D via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Casa Milà – Image by Ian Gampon via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Casa Batló (detail) – Image by valkyrieangie via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Gothic Quarter – Image by Davidlohr Bueso via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Mercat de La Boqueria – Image by mookiefl via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Tapas bar – Image by Adam Wyles via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)