How to see Barcelona in a day!
First things first. Do not ever try spending just a day in Barcelona.
I have visited this amazing place three times and I am sure that someday I will return for the fourth time. Or even the fifth.
And the reason for this is simple. Barcelona is an amazing city, a city that you will love coming back to. This is a city that you will love even after seeing the main sights.
What I will write today, the route i propose is just a simple start. From it, you can expand and visit the city as you wish.
I highly doubt many people spend just one day in Barcelona but even if you spend a week this could help you.
I spent about 2 weeks in Barcelona in my three trips there and while I see some places each time I go, I always try seeing new things on each trip there.
As cliche as it sounds you cannot go to Barcelona and miss on some things. I mean you could but it would be a shame.
There are some cities in the world that had the luck of having an amazing man in them, a genius that influenced the city forever and Barcelona is one of those cities.
I am sure that you are familiar with almost all of the places I will propose here but I will lay the plan I used last time I visited this city and maybe you will like it and pick things from it.
I will assume you read my article on Barcelona accommodation or at least you rented a flat/hotel room near Rambla.
This is what I did, the last time I visited Barcelona, and in this post, you will find my exact route through the city. A route I think gives you an idea of how beautiful this city really is.
I started my day early in the morning at Mirador de Colom. You can buy your tickets from here and I suggest you go there as soon as it opens. The reasoning for this is simple. The small elevator that takes you up gives you an idea of what is waiting for you upstairs.
The view is amazing, allowing you to see 360 degrees but the space is very small and cramped and due to how tight it is you will not be able to go up until some persons come down.
It is really worth starting here because you will be able to make and idea of where most places are and what distance there is until you reach those places. But the most important thing is the views and you will love them from here.
This is a small stop and you won’t spend more than 10-15 minutes since you climbed the elevator.
Leave the port aside from now and head on La Rambla towards La Boqueria.
This is an amazing place to see if only for how colored it is from all the fruits, vegetables, fresh juices, etc. I am sure you will love your time here and since it is free and it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk through it I strongly suggest you go here next.
Depending on your luck, you will meet more or less customers though I wouldn’t count on ever catching a small number of tourists here.
Here is the first split of itinerary.
If you are a late riser then the option bellow is great for you since it opens its gates for tourists at 12:30.
And no, this is not the famous construction that Barcelona is famous for. However if you walk from La Boqueria for about 600 meters you will reach this beautiful, overlooked construction.
When I say overlooked, do not think that there are just a few tourists here. There are plenty. However, unlike Gaudi’s masterpiece, the crowd is thinner here and that alone is a great reason why to visit. That and the beauty of this place.
If however you are there early skip this step above for now and head over to another place I will list below.
When it comes to Barcelona the name Gaudi is high on that list.
Yes, you have the sea, the beach, an amazing town but Gaudi’s works are what put this city high on everybody’s to see list.
After visiting La Boqueria I walked slowly on La Rambla and passed through Placa de Catalunia before walking on Passeig de Gracia towards Casa Battlo.
Since there was a huge line outside and I had no tickets I opened my phone, bought the tickets online( from here or here), and added an extra option called Gold Offer I think that allowed me to skip the line.
While the sum (10 euro for the Gold offer) might seem big, it is totally worth it.
First, you do not wait in line. Second, you can enter anytime without waiting for a specific time to visit.
You see, when booking a ticket you are assigned a special hour or you request a special time when to visit.
By having the Gold Offer, I managed to skip the waiting time and go in right away.
And trust me. This is time saving if you try to fit as much as you can in a day.
Casa Battlo is amazing. I visited it three times and believe me, I will visit it again when I visit Barcelona again.
However the next time I visit Casa Battlo I will pay a few euros more and select the Be There First! Option.
I hope to get there and have more room for taking my pictures since on the rest of the days this place can really pack a big crowd.
After finishing with Casa Battlo it is time to walk just a few meters, cross the street and reach Casa Mila.
I also visited this place three times and I still can’t decide which house I enjoy more. Battlo or this one.
Casa Mila has an amazing rooftop and I got great pictures from it. Each time I visit Barcelona I take my time and just enjoy that beautiful rooftop. You know of it for sure since it has been featured in millions of pictures around the globe.
My honest opinion is that regardless of the ticket prices, these two houses are worth both the time and the money and you will absolutely love them.
Upon descending from the beautiful rooftop of Casa Mila you can easily reach Sagrada Familia by foot.
There are only 1.4 kilometers between them and I think that by walking you will get the chance to see more of Barcelona.
Now, at this point, you must understand something.
Yes, there may be less people if you are the first to come here at 09:00 in the morning but don’t hold your breath. People swarm Sagrada Familia all day, for as long as it is open and after(you can buy tickets from here).
I think it would serve you better to see the houses first, then move onto his unfinished masterpiece.
Many people and I know quite a few, travel to Barcelona and look at if from outside but really, regardless of how busy it may seem, this is an unique building, one like you will never meet somewhere else.
Do yourself a favor, buy a ticket, and visit it from the inside.
I can’t really describe in words the feeling you have when you admire the beauty of it and many people just stare at it forgetting even to take their cameras out and take pictures.
Get inside, climb and enjoy!
This is all I can really tell you.
Now, your itinerary can split again and this depends only on how early you got up, how fast you moved thru the places and what you want to see from here.
I can think of 3 options that go well to end a busy day in Barcelona.
- Go to Parc Guell. I wrote about it here and all you need to know is to have booked your tickets in advance Depending on your time after see the Magic Fountain. On the link I provided you can see the functioning hours so it will be easier to plan your visit. No matter where you are in the city just take the metro to Plaça d’Espanya and follow the crowds from there.
- After visiting Sagrada go back to the Gothic Quarter, visit the Picasso museum and the Cathedral if you skipped it in the morning. I am pretty sure you can end the day with a visit to the harbor(which is so close to the Cathedral and the museum) or even catch the Magic Fountain.
- Go to the harbor and get on the Montjuic Cable Car. Descend from it, explore Montjuic and end the day with the Magic Fountain.
As you can see, it all really depends on how fast you travel. From my experience I spent about 30-40 minutes in Casa Mila and Casa Battlo(each), about one hour in the Sagrada Familia and 20-30 minutes in the Cathedral.
Others may spend 2 hours just in the Picasso museum so it really depends on what you want to see and what interest you most.
However, I truly think that if I’d have to choose from all the things Barcelona has to offer I would pick La Boqueria, Casa Battlo, Casa Mila, Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral.
It would be a shame not to spend a few days in this amazing city, to walk its small Gothic Quarter streets, to enjoy the beach, to walk slowly and just watch the people.
As you can imagine I tried keeping this post short. There are so many things you can write about Barcelona and it would take me ages to finish.
Instead, all I can say is visit this place. More than once.
You will love it each time.