Ash
Written by Ash

Barcelona in One Day: Local Advice and No Regrets

| 62 comments

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

Getting Central

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.

If you need left luggage you’ll find options central or at both airport terminals.

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.

Go for the English guided tour for the full experience.

SAGRADA FAMILIA
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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.

The Casa Batllo and Casa Mila are both truly original art nouveau mansions that at the very least need to be appreciated from the outside. Look up and stand in awe.

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.

I have an entire article dedicated to this street that never sleeps. There are tons of tourist traps to avoid here but you have to see it and at least you’ll get one of Barcelona’s best markets.

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.

Finish the night in the neighbourhood with a Spanish classic: paella. You can’t miss going to 7 Portes if it’s quality you’re after, and my favourite seafood restaurant in the area is Somorrostro.

Get More Information by Writing Me

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.

62 comments
  • July 16, 2019 at 2:17 pm
    Martina
    Hi, we are a dance group of 20 teenagers and adults. I really like your itinerary. We will visit Barcelona in October, we need advice on what to see in just one day. Maybe better ti skip the lines, museums. Just explore Barcelona from outside :) We would love to see Park Guell and Sagrada Familia, how much time do we need for that? Thank you very much :)
    • July 17, 2019 at 11:11 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Martina, Thanks for the kind words :) Well... if you're looking to visit things from the outside it's certainly advisable for some of the 'lesser' attractions like the Gaudi mansions etc. That said, I strongly recommend visiting Park Guell and Sagrada from the inside. I would book tickets for both of these attractions over a span of about 4 hours. You would need about 1 hour to travel between the two comfortably with no rush, accounting for hiccups and coffee etc. If you have a better idea of the times involved please let me know and I'll suggest something more specific. Cheers, Ash
  • July 6, 2019 at 8:39 pm
    Jodi
    I am coming to Barcelona a day before my family. I am looking for ideas on what to do or tour(s) to take for the afternoon. My family will want to see La Sagrada. I am a 54 year old lady. Thanks!
    • July 7, 2019 at 11:25 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jodi, I would first turn your attention to my list of top things to do in Barcelona as I couldn't have worded it any better than there. Depending on your taste you may want to do 1, 2, or 17 of them ;) As for tours I would totally recommend taking one of the walking tours done by Runner Bean or one of the food tours like the Devour tapas tour or any of the ones with Wanderbeak. They're a great way to have fun and learn and maybe even eat :) Cheers,
  • June 23, 2019 at 5:09 pm
    Kp
    Hi. We are thinking of Camp Nou tour for family of four. My boys (15 and 11 years old) want to do the plus tour (VR) while my husband and I would just like the ordinary tour. Is it possible to purchase different tickets for family and the boys can do the VR by themselves? Thanks!
    • June 24, 2019 at 2:28 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Kp, You're certainly free to get an ordinary tour and then get the VR headset for only one or more members of the group, not to worry! :) Ash
  • June 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm
    Sai Sabarish
    Hey, thanks for the well written article. Im arriving at Barcelona at 0050h in July. I have to reach Eixample for my hotel. Kindly guide on how to reach there at this hour. I might miss the Aerobus as it ends at 0100.
  • May 7, 2019 at 12:40 pm
    PRAHLADA RAMARAO
    Myself and my wife would like to see the "not-to-miss in Barcelona " tourist spots on 22 and 23 June .. We prefer a sight seeing guided bus tours for each of the days . Can you suggest the most appropriate packages available. We would also be happy to have purchased online the tickets in advance in India iteslf not to lose precious time in Barcelona.
    • May 7, 2019 at 1:13 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Prahlada, As far as can't miss spots I would have to say they are Sagarada Familia and Park Guell as well as the Gaudi mansions (Casa Batllo and Casa Mila). The most convenient way to get these done in a package would be to buy the Barcelona City Pass which includes airport transport plus the sightseeing bus as well as the major attractions Sagrada and Park Guell. It also gives you a 20% discount on pretty much anything else you can buy. It also allows you to book everything in advance which is a huge convenience. Please take a look at the pass here: https://www.barcelonahacks.com/barcelona-city-pass/ If you're looking for more ideas please consult my article on the top things to do in Barcelona. Please let me know if you have any more questions :) Ash
  • May 6, 2019 at 5:03 pm
    Lisa Moore
    Wow, great information. We have a group of 8 arriving from a cruise at 8am oct. 28, 2019. Our flight back to the states will be late in the afternoon. Can you suggest a place to leave luggage and the most awesome places we need to see in our quick venture in Barcelona. I saw that there were places at the airport, but that seems like a waste of our precious time. I would appreciate ant advise.
    • May 7, 2019 at 11:37 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hola Lisa, For this type of situation I'd prefer you use a service like Nannybag because it's flexible and you can book by the hour, number of bags, and there are just a ton of options near the cruise port. Just look on the map and select. For people with a day or less showing up from the cruise port I always recommend the Bus Turistic as well as maybe taking in a sight or two from the inside (preferably Sagrada Familia or Park Guell)... the whole bus trajectory takes about two hours, gives you great education with the audio guide, and will cover the most ground possible given your limited time. In my Bus Turistic article I even have an itinerary for cruise ship passengers which you should take a look at. Please let me know if you have any more questions :) Cheers, Ash
  • April 27, 2019 at 9:08 pm
    Jessica
    Hello there! First of all, I have never enjoyed a travel website as much as I enjoy yours. Really well done. My husband and I along with our two teenage sons will be flying to Barcelona in June to stay with old friends in Valencia. We will have about 48 hours in Barcelona. We will take the Aerobús to Plaza Cataluña around midday, and our hotel is nearby. We expect to be sleep deprived that first day, but we would still like to see a few things. We hope to have a full day the next day, and pick up our rental car the day after, around 11am. Here's what we really want to do/see: Sagrada Familia (I'll get skip the line tickets on line before we go), Las Ramblas, la Boqueria, see the beach, see Gaudí buildings but not go in, lots of tapas, exploring Gótico (I'm a little obsessed lately with Carlos Ruiz Zafon books), Magic Fountain, and Barcelona Cathedral. Can you help me make sense of it all? I know your one day in Barcelona is a great start, but I need a bit of help with the rest. GRACIAS
    • April 28, 2019 at 10:29 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jessica, Thanks so much for the kind words :) I am trying to make sense of it all too! I mean, you’ve got a very doable itinerary here, it’s just a matter of not overloading day 1 and keeping the attractions in vicinity to one another. Since your schedule is a bit different from the typical 1 day itinerary (in fact it’s much more and includes a ‘late arrival’ in that the morning is a write off) I would go light on day one and schedule the Sagrada visits and the Magic Mountain (provided this is between Thursday and Sunday) only... and then one the second day group the Gaudi Mansions, Boqueria, Gothic Quarter (with Cathedral)the next morning... then spend a sunny afternoon at the beach afterward. You can mix lots of tapas in ;) Please let me know if you have any more specific questions, always here to help! Ash
  • April 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm
    Jerry Rex
    It wouldn't be our first choice to only have 1 day in a few of these cities, ESPECIALLY Barcelona, but it is a stop on a cruise. We (my wife and I) would like to make the most of it and have total flexibility EXCEPT for the schedule. Into port at 8 a.m. and out at 5 p.m. Celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary with this cruise, we will be there July 2nd and will have just come from Cadiz and Palma de Mallorca the previous two days. Suggestions?
    • April 22, 2019 at 9:05 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jerry, For one day I always recommend going to the main sites but not getting carried away. I'm not sure what I can say outside of what is posted above except that if you have any very specific requests or desires, I can tweak it a bit to be more to your liking. One thing I’d ask you to consider, which works well on limited time, is the Bus Turistic… it’ll show you around town quickly, take you to any places to may want to visit from the inside, and give you a ton of information with the audioguides. I’ve actually got a line on a pretty handy pass that includes the Bus Turistic, Park Guell, and Sagrada (the two can't-miss attractions) in my Port Day Pass article. This is something to consider. If you're short on time you could skip the Gaudi mansions (Casa Batllo and Casa Mila) and plug in a tapas meal at a place like El Nacional or Ciudad Condal which are striking distance to get back to the port. Ash
  • April 20, 2019 at 4:17 am
    Ray
    Hi Ash, Thank you for the great info. My wife, 7 year-old, and 2 year-old will be sailing into Barcelona for just one day, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. We're trying to decide if we should take a pre-planned excursion or go out on our own. We know we want to go to the Sagrada Familia, and possibly the Park Güell. We're not really sure what else we should try to squeeze in to see with kids. Any suggestions? Thank you!
    • April 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Ray, With only one day you're on the right track... hitting the major sites but not going crazy since I imagine that would be tough to do with young ones. I'm more of the 'wander around without help' type while on holiday and think that some of these tour guides can really take cruisers for a ride with ridiculous prices. One thing I'd ask you to consider, which works well with kids, is the Bus Turistic... it'll show you around town quickly, take you to any places to may want to visit from the inside, and give you a ton of information with the audioguides. I've actually got a line on a pretty handy pass that includes the Bus Turistic, Park Guell, and Sagrada in the Port Day Pass article. This is something to consider. I would also make sure I see the big Gaudi mansions from the outside. Casa Batllo and Casa Mila are really close to one another so it's quite easy. Also, if you've got any spare time you may wanna look at my things to do with kids article for some more inspiration :) Many of the things are along the route of the Bus Turistic. Ash
      • April 20, 2019 at 10:45 pm
        Ray
        Thank you, Ash. This is perfect. I just read the "things to do with kids" article, and I'm looking at the Port Day Pass you recommended. On more question, is it worth taking the kids to the restricted part of Park Güell, or are we ok to just visit the open part?
        • April 21, 2019 at 10:43 am
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Hi Ray, No problem and I am glad to help! Honestly the kids will be happy just to be up in the hills with the fresh air and open spaces... but that said, the mosaics, the lizard, the gingerbread-like porter's house and some of the maze-like columns add so much to the visit. For both you and the kids I think it's better seeing this up close... since it's only about €8.00 a ticket there's not much risk anyway ;) Ash
  • April 14, 2019 at 2:38 pm
    Yogita
    Hello I'm traveling to barcelona with my husband n 5 year old girl.we are arriving on 29th of aug at 1415 and staying at Ramblas hotel we have 30th n 31st in Barcelona n 1st sept flying out.After reading yur 3 day itenary this is wht I have planned If we reach the hotel by 1600 we walk to placa de catalunya n from there to th colombus statue to the marina area take a boat tour then see the aquarium then do dinner 30th Sagrada n park guell 31st Casa batllo n casa Mila I have read bout walking tours maybe in th evening do one in th gothic area I wanted to ask will the barcelona city pass be advisable to purchase or shud I buy th tickets online for these 4 On the 2nd n 3rd day is there anytg else I can add Thankyou Yogita
    • April 14, 2019 at 6:31 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Yogita, You've done a great job planning out the attractions in the least stressful way possible. I wouldn't change the itinerary at all... the only question here is the City Pass. If you're interested in doing the Bus Turistic it's a great option, but only if you want to because otherwise it'll take away about €30.00 of the value. If not there is no shame in simply reserving the tickets individually... just make sure you do it in advance online or you'll run the risk of not finding your times, or even finding an entire day sold out. For adding stuff I would make sure I see the Magic Fountain at night, and it runs on the second day so this is good. Since you're in the area of La Rambla you should also make sure you see Boqueria Market. You may also want to add the Picasso Museum to either day, depending on your tastes. Hope this helps! Ash
      • April 14, 2019 at 7:17 pm
        Yogita
        Thankyou for your reply Also I want to know magic fountain is closer from which attraction should I do it the day vr doin casa batllo n casa Mila or the nxt day whn vr doin Sagrada familla n the park Will I get veg food in Barcelona Are there any free walking tours you would recommend Thankyou Yogita
        • April 15, 2019 at 1:39 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Hi Yogita, The Magic Fountain would be closer to Casa Batllo/Casa Mila than the other two. I have a post on the best vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona so this will help greatly. The answer is yes :) I would do the Runner Bean tours of the Gothic Quarter as they are educational and fun. Ash
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