Is one day enough for Barcelona?
As a local and one of the city’s greatest advocates I’m going to have to say a stern ‘no’.
I’m sure though that you have a perfectly good reason for having to see Barcelona in one day, and I’m sorry it has to be that way, but there’s still a one day itinerary you can do to get the broad strokes in.
Whether it’s a layover, cruise-ship stop, or just plain bad planning here’s your guide!
Barcelona in One Day
The clock is ticking so if you’re at the airport take a 20 minute taxi for about €30.00. Other airport transport options include the airport train in Terminal 2 (€2.20, 25 minutes but limited departures) or the Aerobus (€5.90, 35 minutes, departing every 5 minutes).
If you’re at the cruise-ship terminal grab the Autobus Azul shuttle to the famous La Rambla and get on the green line of the metro at Drassanes, change at Diagonal (blue line L5) and head to La Sagrada Familia church.
Arriving by train? From Sants Estacio grab the blue line of the metro to Sagrada Familia.
Remember: the best way to see Barcelona in one day is using the metro so grab the map.
Stop #1 – the Sagrada Familia (2 hours)
Yeah yeah, every city in Europe has an enormous Roman Catholic church.
But trust me when I say nothing comes close to this Art Nouveau behemoth. This spiky UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by wonder-architect Antoni Gaudi is by far Barcelona’s most visited tourist destination. It’s so detailed that has been under construction for over 130 years.
With over three million annual visitors the lines will stretch into the hours especially during summer. You’ve only got one day in Barcelona! Skip them buying your tickets in advance.
Stop #2 – Passeig de Gracia (1.5 hours)
Take the metro back to Diagonal (blue line, L5) and exit at Passeig de Gracia – Barcelona’s most stylish street known for shopping and architecture.
Walk towards the sea, you’ll know because there’s a slight downward slope. Stop in and visit any of the world’s top brands but remember, if you visit Barcelona in one day time is better spent visiting Barcelona’s world-renowned architectural masterpieces.
Stop #3 – Lunch at El Nacional (1 hour)
Barcelona’s newest sensation! Where else can you find a cocktail bar, a beer bar, a wine bar, and an oyster bar under one roof? There’s also multiple restaurants each specializing in meat, fish, and tapas respectively.
Each cooks using only traditional recipes from the Iberian Peninsula and I’m telling you eating top quality Spanish cuisine is easily one of the top things to do in Barcelona in one day.
You’ll find it at 24 Passeig de Gracia.
Stop #4 – Placa Catalunya (30 minutes)
At the bottom of Passeig de Gracia you’ll find Barcelona’s biggest square and a can’t miss on any one day tour. It’s the city’s true centre and a border of sorts between the old city and the new.
Spend a few minutes dodging the pigeons and contemplating life’s most intricate mysteries, or if you’ve still got the shopping bug duck into the city’s largest department store: El Corte Ingles.
Stop #5 – La Rambla (1 hour)
Just south of Placa Catalunya you’ll find the famous Rambla.
Ignore the street salesmen, fast food restaurants, and overpriced souvenir shops and soon La Boqueria Market will appear on your right hand side. Sample some great Serrano ham and get yourself a fresh 1 euro fruit shake. You’ll need the vitamins for the rest of the walk.
At the bottom of La Rambla take a left at the Columbus Statue and follow Passeig de Colom for 10-15 minutes.
Stop #6 – Fresh Air and a Drink in Barceloneta (2 hours)
Feel the sea breeze in Barcelona’s beach neighbourhood – now you’re officially on holiday! It may not be the best beach but if you’re doing Barcelona in one day you can’t wander far. The people watching here is amazing and it’s another classic place for photographs.
If you’re looking for a drink head to La Xampanyeria (Carrer de la Reina Cristina 7) for cheap bottles of rose wine or Bar Leo (34 Carrer Sant Carles) on a weekend afternoon – you’ll likely get a Spanish guitar performance.
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Was my Barcelona in one day advice a little too flat for your tastes? Drop me a line below and I’ll help you plan it out more thoroughly with some custom advice.
And there it is! An eight hour shift in one of Europe’s best cities. Do book another ticket back now.