There are many reasons why Barcelona is one of Spain’s most visited cities. With its incredible selection of art and architecture, it’s safe to say that this city is the beating heart of culture in Catalonia. Bridging the gap between the sea and mountains, the avant-garde town has a bit of pretty much everything. Discover ancient settlements, modernist landmarks and one of the most uniquely different religious temples the world has ever seen. Spend the weekend somewhere new and explore with this 48 hour Barcelona travel guide.
The centre piece of the city, the Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudi and to this day, has never been completed. Unlike any other religious structure you’ve ever seen, the Roman Catholic church is a combination of architectural styles including Spanish late-Gothic, Art Nouveau and Catalan Modernism. Scheduled to be finished by 2026, 135 years after construction began, the structure is shaping up to be the tallest church building in the world. A crown jewel amongst Barcelona’s architecture, this is a must see attraction that most definitely can’t be missed!
Start your day exploring Las Ramblas, the pedestrianised main street of the city. Running from Placa de Catalunya down to the Columbus Monument at the waterfront, the most famous street in the city is the perfect area to get your bearings your first day. The vibrant boulevard lined with trees is a bustling hub of activity and is home to many shops, restaurants, bars, market stalls and street vendors. Whilst it is known as a more touristy destination, it’s a great place to get a taste for Barcelona’s culture and to find out what the Catalonian city is about to offer you.
Ever since medieval times there’s been a Boqueria market in Barcelona. Selling everything from fruit, veg, meats, cheeses and olive products, the urban food market is set up in a grid like system centring around the fishmongers stall in the middle. With its distinctive elegant iron and glass roof, the market featuring over 200 stalls is located in the central Ciudad Vieja district and has been up and running since 1836. Spend the afternoon marvelling at the rows of local and international gastronomic produce and grab a beer and some tapas at one of the surrounding market bars.
A truly unique experience nestled on the hilltops of the city, Park Guell is an architectural paradise featuring the works of the late Antoni Gaudi. Set on top of Carmel Hill, head up to the park’s main terrace for the best panoramic views over Barcelona. Weave your way through the mosaic-finished serpentine benches and wander around numerous colonnades, sculptures and fountain, all designed to suit the distinctive Gaudi style. Named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the gardens also feature a playground, bar, bookstore, skating rink and Gaudi’s life museum. Open all year round, the park is a lovely place to come to relax and learn a little more about the city’s architectural roots. Not to mention it’s a photographer’s dream, so the ideal location for selfies!
Not only does Barcelona offer you the ultimate city break, but there’s also sand and sea for those that fancy a beach getaway. Boasting a beach-front boardwalk that stretches for miles along the coast, access to golden sand is never too far away. To the west, join the masses as they enjoy the beach at La Barceloneta. Usually pretty crowded, this spot is a favourite due to its entertainment and restaurant choices. If you’re after something a bit quieter, Nova Icaria beach just up from Olympic park is a great place to come and relax by the ocean. Even if a beach day isn’t on the cards, the walk along the boardwalk is very enjoyable and a great way to explore the city’s shoreline.
Get up close and personal with some of Barcelona’s oldest parts at the history museum. Preserving Roman sites across the Gothic Quarter , Placa de la Vila de Madrid and Place de Rei, the historical display is well worth a visit. Take the lift underground and see the remains of industrial Barcelona and the iconic walls of Barcino. The site spans across 4,000 square metres and is designed on a series of elevated walkways, showcasing ancient mosaics, wall paintings, excavated remains, documents and graves.
1. Placa de Catalunya
As the city’s most bustling square, this is the perfect central location to access all of Barcelona’s sights. The heart of the action, the area is full of large shopping centres and connects the old town to Eixample.
Where to stay? H10 Metropolitan – Rambla de Catalunya 7
2. Las Ramblas
The main street in the city’s centre, this is another great location to put down root for the weekend. Minutes away from everything you could want, the abundance of hotel options makes it easy to find somewhere suitable for your holiday needs.
Where to stay? Hotel Bagues – Calle La Rambla 105
3. Gothic Quarter
Walk out on to narrow medieval streets and discover Catalan restaurants to beat the band when you stay in the old town. Dating back over 2,000 years you won’t find a better location for nightlife and historical sites in the city.
Where to stay? The Serras – Passeig de Colom 9
4. The Beach
For those of you that like to wake up to views over the ocean, a hotel at La Barceloneta is the way to go. For direct access to the beach and great restaurants and entertainment, plan a 2 for 1 beach break/city getaway and stay here.
Where to stay? W Barcelona – Placa Rosa dels Vents 1
Making your way through Barcelona couldn’t be easier. They’ve got an integrated transport system meaning the tickets work across all modes of transport from the metro to the buses. If public transport isn’t your thing you’re in luck as taxis are plentiful and not too expensive. Incredibly walkable, really the best way to explore is on your own two feet meaning you won’t miss out on anything!
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Flights to Barcelona
- Lucy Norris