Earlier this summer, I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Barcelona, sandwiched in between several days in Paris and a few days in the south of France.
It was my first time in Barcelona but it certainly won’t be my last, seeing as how I only got a small taste of the city. My first impressions of Barcelona: beautiful architecture (the inside of La Sagrada Familia alone...see below for proof) and crowded with tourists. Granted, I was in a number of touristy areas, hence the tourists, but it felt even more crowded with tourists than Paris (though I know that's not actually the case).
Anyway, since I had very limited time in Barcelona, my mom, sister and I had to hit the ground running. I’m using some (not all) of what we did to share my suggestions on how to spend 48 hours in Barcelona:
- Start your day at La Esquina, which is a casual coffee shop with both healthy and non-healthy options (whatever you’re in the mood for).
- After breakfast, head to the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) where you can roam the narrow streets for a few hours, and dip in and out of the shops while you're at it.
- While wandering around the Gothic Quarter, check out a few of the main attractions, like the Catedral de Barcelona and Plaça Reial.
- A great museum to check out in the area is the Picasso Museum, which displays the famous artist’s formative years.
- Next, swing by La Boqueria, Barcelona’s premier food market that has everything from fruit and nuts, to ham and cheese, to tapas stands and so much more, all nicely displayed for the many tourists passing through. It’s a good spot for a quick lunch or snack, so grab food here while you can.
- Next up: siesta! It’s been a packed first half of the day, so take a break or a nap so that you’re ready to go the rest of the day.
- After your siesta, take an afternoon tour of Camp Nou, the home to FC Barcelona. Even if you're not a futbol fan, I think it's worth doing (note: I did not do this during my 48 hours in Barcelona because there's no way I could have gone there without FC Barcelona's #1 fan, my dad (who could not join this trip). We're saving that for the father/daughter trip).
- Once the evening arrives, enjoy some Spanish entertainment in the form of a flamenco show. I saw a show at Palau Dalmases and loved it! It was so full of passion and music – I highly recommend!
- After the show, head to El Xampanyet, where you can eat all the tapas (and I really do mean all the tapas). This place is small and crazy crowded but so worth it. Get the house cava, check out what others are eating, ask what's good and then go for it. You won’t regret it.
- Start your day with a small breakfast at Milk Bar & Bistro (save your appetite for lunch!).
- Next, it wouldn’t be a trip to Barcelona without checking out the Mediterranean as well. Head to one of Barcelona's beaches for a relaxing morning soaking up the sun and the sea.
- For lunch, make your way to Xiringuito Escribà, a beachfront restaurant that serves up some of the best (and most delicious looking) paella. In addition to the paella, I indulged in the red wine sangria, sea bass ceviche, codfish fritters and apple cinnamon cake. I regret nothing.
- Post-lunch, you can take your siesta or skip ahead to the next stop: La Sagrada Familia, the most famous testament to the genius work of Antoni Gaudí.
- Once you get to La Sagrada Familia, take a guided tour (buy your tickets in advance!). You’re not required to take a tour, but I highly recommend it.
- After La Sagrada Familia, continue your afternoon of Gaudí with a trip to Park Güell, a beautiful public park that was originally designed to be a residential space with homes designed by Gaudi. Again, I recommend taking a tour for your first visit. You get so much more background and understanding with a tour. After the first time, it’s a good place to just relax and look out at Barcelona.
- In the evening, if you’re looking to do drinks (perhaps pre-dinner drinks) with a view, there are plenty of places to choose from. I enjoyed my drink with a view at Bar Eleven BCN by World Class.
- For dinner, a great option is Quimet y Quimet, another well-known, tiny and crowded tapas spot once visited by Anthony Bourdain. Again, ask what's good and eat until you can't eat anymore.
And that’s it! There’s so much more to do in Barcelona, but with only 48 hours to spare, you’ll have to save the rest for your next visit.
Have you ever been to Barcelona?