If you are looking for a great place to travel in Europe, Barcelona will definitely be it. I love this city with all its art and culture. There is always a life and a buzz in the city that grabs you with it the moment you arrive. This is also a great place for a stopover on a long haul flight or when embarking on a cruise.
In this post, I will tell you everything you can do to make your stay the best one possible. You will see as much as possible and feel like you have experienced the city.
Barcelona is a great city when it comes to getting around and seeing things. It is located on the north of Spain on the coast and therefore is an important stop for any cruise lines.
The weather is gorgeous most of the year. It is normally sunny and warm all year round. The winter tends to be no colder than 10 degrees Celcius and the summer heat can be oppressive. You can visit this city at any time and will most likely get lucky with the weather.
When it comes to moving around it is very simple. You can buy tickets for the metro at the station at the machine, and for the bus on the bus. If you are coming from the airport, there are many buses to take you to the city. The one I took takes you directly from the airport to the Plaza Cataluna and it runs every ten minutes or so.
One great app to get before coming to Spain is Cabify. It is the local equivalent of Uber and it works really well. The cars are always very clean and nice and the drivers friendly and professional. The prices are completely comparable to the local taxis, so you can always take those, but with Cabify you are just sure of the service you are getting.
Where to stay
Since I usually travel alone, I always opt for hostels, since it is the easiest way to meet people while traveling. If you want to learn how to do that, I have a whole post about it you can read here.
One great option is the Kabul Hostel. This is a great hostel located in the middle of the city, right off La Rambla. Do not stay here if you want a quiet time and relaxation. They are known to be a party hostel with music and noise almost constant. The rooms are quiet and calm though, so you can get a good nights rest if you would like, but joining at least one pub crawl during your stay is almost inevitable.
Another great option is 360 Hostel Arts&Culture. This is a bit more of a quiet option located a bit further from the party area. They still have a great location just off the Arc de Triumph and a few minutes walk from the Gothic Quarter. They also offer the nightly pub crawl, but they also have a lovely calm space to just hang out.
Both these hostels offer a lot more than most hotels I have seen in many others in Europe. The hostels offer free dinner at a specific time every night. It is not something fancy, but a great way to meet others. I have also seen them both offer free walking tours, which are great to get to know and learn about the city. They might have different ones, so it is worth finding out from the reception. Also, the above mentioned pub crawl is a great way to meet the people from your hostel. Normally they take you to two or three bars and then to a club for about 12 to 15 €.
There are great at building community and making you feel right at home. I love staying in hostels in Barcelona and would probably choose them again.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is one of the most important sights in Barcelona. Definitely not one to miss while being here. If you want to visit it from the inside, make sure you get your tickets way in advance. They always sell out especially for timeslots in the morning. Even if you do not want to go inside, it is worth visiting from the outside since it has fabulous architecture. The inside is spectacular as well so definitely not a waste of time to visit, even if you will not spend hours there.
To get here, you can walk from the gothic quarter in about twenty minutes or you can take the metro or a bus. Since it is a central location, it is easy to reach with all forms of transport from every part of the city.
This park is the perfect follow up for La Sagrada Familia since they have been designed by the same artist and have a similar feel. The colors and the figures here are interesting, plus there is a great view over the city. Again, make sure you get tickets in advance since they sell out. This is especially important if you only have one day since time is essential.
To get here from La Sagrada Familia takes about half an hour to forty minutes on foot or you can take a taxi since the climb can be intense. However, there are some nice streets along the way, that could make walking worth.
Bunkers of Carmen
If you still want more beautiful views of the city, you can head over to the Bunkers of Carmen. From there you have a gorgeous view over the city and can enjoy a bit of peace away from most of the tourists. While this is a popular spot, it is not nearly as crowded as most streets and sights in Barcelona. You will not miss much if you skip this spot since aside from the view there is not much to see here.
To get here from Park Grüel, you can walk in maybe twenty minutes. There are many small streets on this walk that will show you the real Barcelona. From here you can get back to the city by taking bus number 22, which will take you back into the center.
After all this walking, lunch is in order. There are many great places to eat. I would suggest you head back to the center and find something you like here. The most typical things to eat would be tapas or fish since it is close to the coast.
If you are looking for something not typical, my suggestion would be a restaurant called Tropical. They are a cute brunch place that serves for many tastes so you are sure to find something you like. You can have pancakes or eggs, which are delicious. On the other hand, you can also have Indian or Mexican food if that is what you are looking for. They also have some of the typical Spanish tapas, but a bigger focus on foods from other parts of the world. The restaurant also has a cute atmosphere and definitely Instagram worthy.
If the weather is nice, heading to the beach for the afternoon sounds like a great plan. To get there, I suggest more walking. (Are you seeing the trend yet?) If you are eating somewhere in the Gothic Quarter it is simple to get there. It will give you a first impression of this part of the city which we will visit later for dinner
Barceloneta is the best place to relax for a bit. You can hang out on the beach and enjoy the sunshine, or sit in a bar and drink a beer or sangria and enjoy the day. If you are looking for good afternoon bars, head to the W and check out the ones at the base close to the sea. They have a gorgeous view and are a great place to just enjoy.
This is of course even nicer in the summer since you can go swimming and escape the heat for a bit.
If the beach is not your thing, you can also move the plans for the morning to the evening and join one of the free walking tours from your hostels that normally take place in the morning.
Dinner is an important meal since you will be probably drinking during the evening, so eat something proper. If you are still in Barceloneta you can eat something at one of the cute restaurants along the beach.
Or you can head back to the gothic quarter. This is the time you can spend walking around and enjoying this gorgeous place before it gets dark and everything closes. There are so many small shops and restaurants here that you will for sure find something you would like to eat. Also it just a great neighborhood to spend some time in and soak up the energy of it.
This is the fun part about staying in Barcelona. There is so much to do in the events. Regardless if you are more of a club or a bar person, you are sure to find something that you like.
If you are staying in a hostel, I would suggest you join their pub crawl mentioned above. If you would rather head out alone, here are some suggestions on where you can go and enjoy your night. Be aware that lines can be quite long, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.
There are so many bars in Barcelona there is almost no way to list the ones that are worth visiting. Unfortunately, I do not remember the names of the ones I visited, since we just walked into ones we liked. My suggestion here is to pick your quarter.
There are many cute ones in the Gothic Quarter which tend to be more chill with maybe some music, but intended for hanging out and chatting mainly.
The ones close to Barcelonetta are the dance bars that play a lot of Latin pop and reggaeton. Those tend to be emptier if you are going early, so a great choice with a group of friends. Whichever bar you end up deciding for you will have fun.
If you are looking for more detailed suggestions, ask your reception. They are always very helpful when it comes to bars.
This is one of the most popular clubs in the city located on the beach. It has a gorgeous location and design. The music they play is mostly RnB, Hip Hop, and EDM. If that is your scene you should definitely check it out. It does get quite crowded, but it is otherwise very nice. The normal entrance costs 19€ with one drink included, but you can also get in for free before 1am if your name is on the guest list.
This is one of the downtown clubs you can go to any day and there will be something happening. This is smaller than Shoko and has a little more of a familiar feeling. Also if you are staying in the downtown area, you can just walk here from your accommodation. This club is mainly for dancing with popular Hip Hop music playing mostly. Check out their specific offers, since they do change depending on the day of the week.
There are many other amazing clubs in Barcelona, but unfortunately, these are the only two I got a chance to visit and get a feel for myself. However, do check out the lists you will find if this is not your type of music.
That is my Barcelona Itinerary for one day that will get you to see as much of the city's highlights as possible. It is a city that is almost impossible to explore in one day, but you can definitely get a taste that will make you want to come back over and over and over again. If you are looking for even more suggestions on what to do, check out my guide on the best things to do in Barcelona here.
As always if you have suggestions or tips that I did not include, feel free to share them below or on social media.