As one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the seaside city of Barcelona is the city you’re definitely going to fall in love with easily. Spending only one day in Barcelona, especially if visiting for the first time, surely won’t be enough to experience everything this pearl of the Mediterranean has to offer. On the other hand, if you maximize your time, even if spending just one day in Barcelona city, you can explore much, pick up on the vibe of the place and try some of the world’s best cuisines. And yes, you will definitely want to come back again.
What’s the best time to visit Barcelona?
Anytime. There are events and activities to do and sights to see all year round. Still, due to the nice Mediterranean climate, it’s recommended to visit the city during off-peak season (March-May or September-November) so that you can avoid huge crowds and still enjoy some nice weather.
What’s good to know about Barcelona?
The capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain was founded as a Roman city. Today, this mesmerizing Mediterranean seaside city is bursting with culture, mind blowing cuisine and magnificent architecture that includes the unique and distinctive work of Antoni Gaudí.
One Day in Barcelona Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Barcelona.
Spend a morning with Gaudí
Start your day as early as possible and visit one of the most impressive, yet unfinished, architectural masterpieces – Sagrada Familia. It’s a work of Antoni Gaudí that has been undergoing extensive construction for more than a hundred years. If you want to visit the towers and the interior, book the tickets online to skip the huge lines.
Casa Milà and Casa Batlló
Your next stop is Passeig de Gràcia avenue. It’s known as one of the most important shopping and business areas, but most of all – it’s the avenue where both of the most famous Gaudí residential projects are located – Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.
Both of them are really impressive, even when just looking at the facade from the outside. If you’re really into visiting the interior of one of the houses – book your ticket online, otherwise you’re going to spend half of the day waiting in the line (and you don’t want that).
Walk Plaça de Catalunya and La Rambla
Just 10 minutes’ walking distance away from the last two sights are Plaça de Catalunya and La Rambla street. La Rambla street, lined with cafes and souvenir stalls, is a bustling touristic place, but with the atmosphere you just don’t want to miss. If you’re into buying souvenirs – this street has it all.
Breakfast at Mercat de la Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria is the most famous Barcelona food market and the ultimate place for all food lovers. It has everything – from fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and smoked ham, pastries, sweets, and even some very delicious street food meals. You should ask for the prices before paying to avoid any kind of misunderstanding. Keep in mind it’s closed on Sundays.
Grab a coffee at Plaça Reial
The coffee price would definitely go high at this place, but it’s one of the most beautiful Mediterranean squares due to the impressive architecture and loads of tall palm trees. It’s a great place to relax after a morning walk.
Barri Gotic and the Cathedral
Barri Gotic or the Gothic Quarter know as the Old City dates back to Roman times, but most of the buildings date from Medieval times. The area is filled with tiny narrow streets and lovely squares and plazas. It’s a perfect place to wander and get lost, to check out some unique shops and art galleries and museums, as well as some cozy bars and restaurants. Check out the Cathedral for some impressive Gothic architecture (the entrance to the Cathedral is free at some hours).
The afternoon on the beach
You surely don’t want to spend the whole day on the beach, especially if you have just one day in Barcelona, but still, a trip to Barcelona is incomplete without a visit to Barceloneta, a famous beach and the waterfront promenade. It’s also a great place to grab some snacks or to have some cocktails on the beach. If you decide to take a swim, don’t leave your belongings unattended.
Take a harbor Cable Car ride to the Montjuïc hill
The 1450-meter long cable car ride connects the Barceloneta beach and the Montjuïc hill. The ride starts near the beach and gives you a great panoramic view of the city and the hill from 78 meters up. The hill itself has a load of sights, museums and activities that can be seen and done, but even just a nice walk through the gardens down to the Plaça d’Espanya is a great thing to do if you want to move away from the crowds and noise and fill up your lungs with some fresh air.
Magic Fountain Show and Plaça d’Espanya
A Magic Fountain show is held few times a week at night, down the Montjuïc hill, very close to Plaça d’Espanya. Find your seat at the grand staircase down the hill and enjoy this impressive light, sound and water show in the magical atmosphere.
Tapas dinner at the Gràcia quarter
You’re probably super hungry by now and the best way to end up your one day in Barcelona is to try some traditional cuisine. Luckily, the Spanish cuisine is all about serving a food in small portions, called tapas, so you can enjoy many different dishes and tastes at once. Choose some of the many nice Tapas bars in the Gràcia quarter, around Plaça de la Virreina. It’s also a nice place to enjoy some drinks (try sangria!) at night.
Where to stay in Barcelona?
Ayre Hotel Rosellón
Rosselló, 390, Eixample, 08025 Barcelona
Ayre Hotel Rosellón is a modern and stylish hotel very close to Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia. This designer hotel offers a rooftop terrace with a bar with panoramic views of Gaudí’s masterpiece and other incredible city views.
Petit Palace Boqueria Garden
Boquería, 10, Ciutat Vella, 08002 Barcelona
The Petit Palace Boqueria Garden is a small 19th-century palace with a private courtyard and a garden with centenary trees – all listed as architectural heritage of Barcelona. It’s located in the Gothic Quarter, next to the famous La Rambla street and La Boqueria Market. It doesn’t get more central than that.
Nou de la Rambla, 174, Sants-Montjuïc, 08004 Barcelona
Hotel Brummell is a Mediterranean boutique hotel located just next to the lush parks of the Montjuic hill. The hotel offers free yoga classes and features an outdoor pool and a sauna. The rooms boast modern furniture and artwork in the Nordic style.
DAY TRIPS FROM BARCELONA
Want to get out of the city a bit? There are plenty of excellent choice when it comes to day trips from Barcelona, especially if you’re staying more than a day here. This part of Europe is truly breathtaking and provides a wide variety of ways to have fun, so choose wisely. Here’s what tourists enjoy the most.
A picturesque mountain only about 60 kilometers from Barcelona, Montserrat has plenty of things for you to do. Explore the abbey there which was built in the 11th century, taste phenomenal wine and enjoy the incredible scenery of the mountain. With only an hour’s ride by train, a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat is a great use of your time here.
Three countries in one day
Thanks to its unique position, Barcelona allows you to visit three countries in a single day – Spain, France and the tiny nation of Andorra. Head through the Pyrenees to discover this enchanting little country of less than 80,000 people. Then hop on over to France on the other side of the mountains for a genuine croissant and be back in Spain in time for dinner. Mont-Luis is the palace to go for that, but if you don’t mind a longer drive Perpignan can also be reached. Sounds like a great day, doesn’t it?
Girona & Costa Brava
Looking for a way to escape the large crowds of tourists in the city and really relax and enjoy? Then a trip to Girona or any other place on Costa Brava is in order! This colorful little town is full of history and culture, but it also boasts some great beaches. However, there is a hidden gem for foodies here because El Celler de Can Roca, one of the very best restaurants in the world is in Girona. You will have to reserve a table in advance, though. Way in advance. As you can see, this is vacation in its truest sense.
The quaint little town of Figueres has a lot to offer. Not only does it contain some beautiful architecture, but it is also the home to the Dali Theatre. Yes, Salvador Dali – because this is his hometown. The great artist worked on turning this building into a museum himself, and the results are spectacular. Apart from that, loads of cafes, bars and restaurant make this place the perfect destination for a day trip from Barcelona if you want some real R&R.
EXTRA TIPS FOR VISITING Barcelona
– Careful where you put you wallet! Pickpocketing is an issue, particularly when it comes to the most popular and crowded places. Make sure your valuables are safe and sound.
– Book all the tickets for the attractions you want to visit online. It’s the only way you can be time efficient and enjoy your day to the fullest.
Pin for later!
If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Barcelona Itinerary, feel free to share it in the comments below!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).