What/Why: Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain and is most famous for its abundance of art and architecture. Without a doubt, the city is one of the most visited in Europe. However, as with most city breaks, it can often be overwhelming attempting to narrow down all the supposed “must-see’s” into what is usually just a weekend or a few short days. After living in the city and growing really very fond of all things “Barcelona”, here is my take on a curated guide of my top picks for what to do, see and eat in the city in just 24 hours.
Where: Since I was living in my own apartment in Barcelona, I cannot recommend a hotel in which to stay, but I would definitely suggest renting an apartment instead! Websites and apps such as AirBnB.com are revolutionising the tourist market: no longer is it necessary to be forced to pay high prices for decent accommodation often only with limited space and a lack of homeliness. Renting an apartment gives you the freedom to design your stay as you wish with the option to self-cater, greater flexibility of location and generally to get a lot more for your money compared to staying in a regular hotel.
8.30am: Prior to starting your day of exploring, it is, of course, imperative to find a filling and delicious breakfast to prepare you properly. One of my most visited spots for breakfast with friends was the lovely Granja Petitbo: Passeig de Sant Joan, 82, 08009 Barcelona. It’s located in the district of Eixample which is in the centre of the city meaning, wherever you stay, you can get to it easily, especially on the metro. The menu is extensive, yet not so big it compromises on quality, and their morning juices are well known throughout the city.
9.30am: Feeling full, hop on the metro Line 4 from Girona to Alfons X and walk the short distance to Gaudi’s Park Guell in La Salut in the Gràcia district. The public park is unlike any other and in 1984 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site under “Works of Antoni Gaudi”. It really cannot be missed on a trip to Barcelona. Remember to book tickets online though as I made this mistake numerous times and was left peering in from outside the gates!
11.30am: From one Gaudi masterpiece to the next: once you have finished at the Park, follow your footsteps to the metro you took inbound and visit the world famous on the way back into the centre. This building is one of the most iconic in the architecture world and welcomes 3 million visitors every year. The on-going masterpiece is one of a kind and must be seen from outside, inside and underneath. I would recommend booking in advance for this too as queues are often lengthy.
1.00pm: Head into the city centre now and wander into the Gothic Quarter, paying special attention to arguably the most beautiful square in all of Barcelona – Plaza Reial (I may be a little biased as I lived just off here). Then, down to the famous and bustling La Rambla and take a couple of photos. Then, cross to the vast food market La Boqueria: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona. Grab some authentic seafood tapas for lunch and don’t forget a tropical fresh juice on your way out!
3.00pm: One of my favourite things to do with visitors was to hire some bikes and take a cycle. I used Green Bike Hire for the cheapest prices and started round the Gothic’s winding streets, passed Barcelona Cathedral and ended at Barceloneta and the seafront.
5.00pm: Head back to accommodation and take a breather or even a short siesta.
7.00pm: There’s nothing quite like a panoramic view of a city at nighttime and the rooftop bar at Hotel Duquesa de Cardona: Passeig de Colom, 12, 08002 Barcelona provides the perfect backdrop. Drinks are reasonably priced and the view second-to-none: spend an hour or two here taking photos, chatting about your day and taking in the Spanish evening.
9.00pm: Finish your day eating at multi-space restaurant El Nacional on the iconic Passeig de Gracia. This establishment is a converted car park in the middle of town and houses 4 different restaurants all under one roof. The energy and atmosphere of the place is really unlike any other place I’ve been in the world and you are guaranteed not only a great meal and cocktail here but a truly memorable evening and way to round off your stay in beautiful Barcelona. I took every single one of my visitors in Barcelona here and they all loved it and still talk about it to this day!