A Weekend Guide to Barcelona

Travel Itinerary
0 ratings

Laura R. Godoy
Itinerary by: Laura R. Godoy
9 months ago
Travel Writer
Duration: 2 days

Itinerary Introduction

A weekend in Barcelona is a great choice, and here we will offer you the best itinerary so that you don’t miss a thing. Barcelona was the only Spanish city to appear in the top twenty most visited cities in the world in 2018 – the world before the pandemic, if you remember. This is so because it combines all the best qualities of charming Mediterranean cities with the cultural heritage and economic boost of northern capitals. In Barcelona you can enjoy a wonderful time on the beach, because you have four or five months of warm weather. Barcelona also has great nightlife - and you can also see very examples of very important architecture, and a varied cultural offering. Add to this combo delicious food, a gay-friendly environment and your bliss will be complete! Photo credit: Laura Revuelta

Useful information about Barcelona

The history of Barcelona

Barcelona is part of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain that has fought for independence numerous times over the centuries. Most recently, in 2017, an independence referendum held in Catalonia was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court of Spain. Barcelona has been inhabited by many different groups over the centuries. The city was initially founded by the Romans, before being taken over by the Visigoths in the fifth century and the Arabs in the eighth century. Soon after, in 801, it was conquered by Louis the Pious, King of the Franks. In 985, Barcelona was sacked by the army of Muslim-Arab, Almanzor. In 1175, Barcelona was merged with nearby Aragon, and the region was placed under the Spanish monarchy in 1469. After the Spanish Civil War in 1936–1939, the use of the Catalan language was suppressed.

The economy of Barcelona

Spain is the world’s fourteenth-largest economy by nominal GDP. Although Barcelona is one of the most-visited cities in Europe, its economy does not only turn on tourism, and it instead has a diversified economy that spans electrical engineering, publishing, wine and more.

The language in Barcelona

There are two official languages in Barcelona: Spanish and Catalan. Catalan is the language spoken in offices and schools, but most Barcelona residents speak both languages. Don’t worry, as you won’t be snubbed for speaking Spanish. Some useful Catalan words are: “Bon dia” (Hello), “Merci” (Thank you), “De res” (You’re welcome), “Adéu” (Good bye) and “Si us plau” (Please).

Best times to visit Barcelona

One of the first questions you may have when you prepare for your weekend in the Catalan capital is when to come. In fact, every season has its own charm - and also its limitations, but if you can choose, you'll have to consider that in summer (meaning July and August) you will be able to enjoy the beach - but you will also have to stand suffocating heat whenever you are sightseeing, and there will be people everywhere. For this reason, if you want to make use of the beach you can consider travelling in June or September, because the weather is usually warm, and the crowds are also reduced. In fact, September can be quite hot and variable, so it’s best to dress in layers, because early mornings can be quite fresh but at noon temperature rises considerably.

Getting to Barcelona

There are three airports in and around Barcelona: El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto, Reus International Airport and Girona-Costa Brava Airport. You’re most likely to arrive at El Prat airport. From here, the most frequented route by visitors from abroad is to take the Aerobus airport shuttle bus for 35 minutes to the city centre. The cheapest option, however, is to hop on the train, which departs from Terminal 2, to the city centre, a journey of around half an hour. The most expensive but fastest option is to jump into a taxi, which will take around 20 minutes, depending on where you’re staying. Both of the airport’s terminals are also connected to the city’s metro system, a half-hour journey. Finally, Bus #46 will take you from the airport to town, and there are night buses too. If you’re travelling into Barcelona by train, you’ll probably arrive at Sants station. From here, there are bus and metro routes to whizz you to your final destination.

Getting around in Barcelona

Barcelona’s public transport system works efficiently and is a cheap way to get around. Just remember to buy the appropriate card in order to save money in your journeys. For example, if you go as a family or small group or people, the best option is to buy a T-Familiar, where you have 8 journeys for 10 euros. On the other hand, you may prefer the individual card T-Casual, where you have 10 journeys for 11 euros. Another interesting way not to worry about transport fares if you think that you will get around a lot is the Hola Barcelona Travel Card, where you have unlimited travels for each person for 48 or 72 hours. You can buy it online for a 10% discount.

Local cuisine in Barcelona

While in Barcelona, you’ll not want to miss the chance to try typical Spanish and Catalan food. Enjoy tapas (sharing dishes) at restaurants across the city, or go for pinchos, small pieces of bread with various tasty toppings – they’re a great snack paired with an afternoon drink. Also look out for crema catalana (similar to creme brulée), patatas bravas (fried potato with spicy tomato or aioli sauce) and bombas (fried potato balls filled with meat).

Tipping in Barcelona

While it’s not standard to tip in Barcelona, it's common to round up your bill, or tip around 5–10% for good service.

Local customs in Barcelona

If you come to Barcelona in Christmas time, you will see two strange (and even disturbing) objects displayed in street markets everywhere. One is a sort of log with a cap called “Cagatió” (literally, shitting log), and this is due to a Christmas Catalan tradition which says that this magical log will poo presents for the children on Christmas Eve. The other one, also related to pooing, is a ceramic figurine representing a defecating shepherd, which is placed on the Nativity scene during Christmas. These figures are often represented with the face of famous people, so you will see Dalí as a “caganer” (that’s the name of this figurine) or presidents, singers and many other celebrities who would probably dislike this honour. Crazy, right?

Discount card for Barcelona

Various outlets offer discount cards in Barcelona. There’s the Barcelona City Pass, which offers “skip the queue” at the Sagrada Familia and Park Guëll, access to a hop-on, hop-off bus, and 10% off many other attractions. Alternatively, the Barcelona Card includes unlimited travel, free entry to numerous Barcelona museums, and “skip the queue” and discounts to other attractions.

Beaches in Barcelona

One of the best things about Barcelona is its inviting mix of bustling city and sandy Mediterranean beaches. Barceloneta is the most popular city beach, but that means that it can be busy, particularly in summer. You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas at Barceloneta, as well as at the Llevant, which is a little quieter than Barceloneta but still close to restaurants and bars. Platja de la Nova Icària is a good option for families. But with soft sand and amenities nearby, any of the beaches along the front are likely to suit.

Barcelona - Travel Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Barcelona

The Catalan capital has more than 2000 years of history, therefore, its historic heritage has many layers and offers several options for sightseeing. The best-known characteristic of Barcelona, however, is the Modernist architecture, with Gaudi’s works as the most emblematic representations of this artistic current. The best starting point is certainly the heart of the city so, starting from Catalunya Square, we can walk all Passeig de Gracia street and we will arrive in ten or fifteen minutes to La Pedrera, one of Gaudi’s most admired creations. It’s true that everybody has heard about the Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral imagined by the Catalan genius, but the long time you have to wait and the high price you have to pay make it a bad idea if you are spending a weekend in the city.
10:00 - 12:00

La Pedrera

Pg. de Gràcia, 92, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
The first thing you will admire in La Pedrera is the incredible façade, which makes you feel as if you are looking at sea rocks in the middle of the city. Once inside you will be able to appreciate the ingenious architectural solutions imagined by Gaudí, as you visit an apartment and the dream-like rooftop. Photo credit: Mônica Volpin - pixabay.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy
Price covers: Entry
Prices for La Pedrera
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 24.00 EUR
Students 18.50 EUR
Kids 12.00 EUR Under 12
Seniors 18.50 EUR

Notes

On the opposite sidewalk of Passeig de Gràcia, Casa Batlló will also be offering its fantastic façade, as if both buildings were competing

12:00 - 14:00

El Nacional

Pg. de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
The El Nacional restaurant is worth visiting because the space is really beautiful and the food offered is high quality. You can either enjoy traditional tapas or have a full meal, it will depend on your budget, of course. You also have the option of the oyster bar, but don’t miss the typical and delicious bravas, fries with spicy tomato sauce that really taste heavenly and which are addictive! Photo credit: Marloes Hikckmann. unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

You will probably be tired from the visit to La Pedrera and the stroll along Passeig de Gràcia, so it’s the best moment to have a delicious menu of tapas at El Nacional.

14:00 - 17:00

Parc Güell

Park Güell, 08024 Barcelona, Spain
Apart from enjoying being outdoors if the weather is pleasant, we will feel like children again when discovering the treasures of this incredible place. The dragon that has become a symbol of the city welcomes you, but one of the most beautiful spots in the park is, no doubt, the Sala Hipòstilla or column-supported roof Hall designed by Antoni Gaudí. Photo credit: TRAVELKR. pixabay.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Parc Güell
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 10.00 - 24.00 EUR
Kids 7.00 EUR Under 12
Seniors 7.00 EUR

Getting there

To continue exploring Gaudí’s must-go creations, our next stop will be the magical Parc Güell. We will get there by metro, because we have the stop just next to La Pedrera and Casa Batlló (Passeig de Gràcia). In fifteen minutes, we will go down at Vallcarca and walk for 12 minutes to the entrance of Parc Güell

17:00 - 18:00

Magic fountain of Montjuic

Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, Pl. de Carles Buïgas, 1, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
Built in 1929 on occasion of the Universal Exhibition, this monument is best-known for its light and music shows, which are suspended for now, because of covid-19 restrictions. However, the reopening is awaiting the permission by the City Council and even if the show is not working, the fountain is worth the visit, especially after sunset. It works from 11 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 6 pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays. On Sundays it operates from 11 am to 3 pm. Photo credit: Blanche Peulot. unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

Where to go from here? Well, if you aren’t very tired, the best is to take the metro again and go to Espanya Square, another central part of the city. It will be twenty minutes and you will be facing the Font Màgica or magic fountain

18:00 - 20:00

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

08038 Barcelona, Spain
This Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya's collection is divided into centuries and it contains some of the jewels of Spanish and Catalan art, especially from Baroque and Modernist ages. You can pay a quick visit, even if art is not your main interest, and you will not regret it. You still have a lot of free time to enjoy Barcelona, but with some idea of its cultural heritage. Winter opening times: October to April, Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sundays and public holidays, 10am to 3pm. Summer opening times: May to September, Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 8pm; Sundays and public holidays, 10am to 3pm. Mondays closed, except public holidays. Monday public holidays 2017: April 2nd, May 21st and September 24th. Photo credit: Isi Parente . unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 12.00 EUR
Group 8.40 EUR
Students 8.40 EUR

Getting there

After you have seen the fountain, you can enjoy art by visiting the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya or MNAC.

20:00 - 21:00

Las Arenas shopping centre

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373-385, 08015 Barcelona, Spain
This old bull ring was transformed into an original shopping centre in 2011, as a result of Catalonia’s ban of bull-fighting, which is in marked contrast to some of the regions of Spain, where this tradition continues and is even cherished. Apart from the lovely views, you will find different kinds of cuisine at Las Arenas roof-top. You can certainly enjoy some of the must-tastes of Catalan and Spanish gastronomy: from pa amb tomaquet (toasted bread slices with tomato and olive oil) to delicious croquetas (croquettes), maybe one of the most delicate bites you can taste. Besides, you can go shopping if you need to! Photo credit: Gianni Crestani. pixabay.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

It’s time to grab a bite, and also to rest a little. Since you are in the area of Espanya Square or Plaça d’Espanya, you can go to Las Arenas Shopping Mall and there you will find a varied offer of restaurants with a wonderful view of the city.

21:00 - 23:00

Xixbar

C. de Rocafort, 19, 08015 Barcelona, Spain
Xixbar was the first bar to specialize in gin and tonics in Barcelona and they also offer take away for their cocktails. Photo credit: Laure Noverraz. unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

If you are not too tired and want to sample Barcelona’s nightlife, there are endless options, especially now that Covid-19 restrictions have been reduced and many clubs have been finally allowed to reopen. If you want to stay close to Espanya Square, however, and if you are a cocktail-lover, you have an interesting option very close. If you feel like walking you can go to Xixbar along Paral.lel street for around 15 minutes.

22:00 - 23:00

Dry Martini

Carrer d'Aribau, 162, 166, 08036 Barcelona, Spain
A real icon in the cocktail world, this bar opened 30 years ago and, in the beginning, it only offered Dry Martini. Later, other cocktails followed and at present Dry Martini has been listed among the World's 50 Best Bars for seven years in a row. It opens from 8 pm to 12 pm and it's closed on Sundays. Photo credit: Aline Ponce. pixabay.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

The best known cocktail bar in the city is Dry Martini. If taking a cab is a good option for you, you may want to enjoy its classy ambiance in Aribau street, and finish the day in style.

Day 2

Las Ramblas & More!

The second day begins after a good night sleep – we hope so! – and a solid, nutritious breakfast at the hotel. Let’s begin at the same starting point, Barcelona’s core: Catalunya Square or Plaça de Catalunya. There, after taking the traditional picture with the pigeons (yes, it’s a sort of strange tradition: having a picture taken while feeding the pigeons of the square is a must, and it goes back a long time. Pigeons know about this and are expecting you to do it), you can begin your stroll along one of the most famous streets in the country and maybe in Europe: Las Ramblas, o les Rambles in Catalan
10:00 - 12:00

Las Ramblas

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain
Strolling down this boulevard you quickly see why it is special: it has a lively and colourful charm that seduces all the visitors. Pay attention not to fall into the temptation of taking a beer or having something to eat in the outdoor bars that you can find all along the Rambles, because the prices are probably the highest in the city, and the quality of the food served doesn’t justify the expense. You will find the same beer and the same paella in many other bars around, but you will pay much less for them! Photo credit: Hoelli. pixabay.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Notes

Spain is considered to be one of the safest countries where women can travel alone, and Barcelona is no exception to that. On the other hand, as in any other important capital in Europe and in the world, you have to be aware of pickpockets because, as a tourist, you are their main target. Observing some simple safety measures can be quite useful and can prevent you from having an unpleasant experience. When you are walking around touristy places such as Ramblas, Plaça Catalunya, or la Catedral, as well as on the beach, pay attention to your belongings at all times, don’t wear flashy, expensive watches or put the backpack with your money and smartphone where you can see the zipper and therefore react if someone tries to steal it. Pickpockets are super-fast and they just need some seconds to spoil your travel.

12:00 - 14:00

Bar Pinotxo

La Rambla, 91, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Inside the Boqueria market, the colourful display of fruit and vegetables is really a delight to see, and there you will find a famous place to eat: the Bar Pinotxo. It’s not a glamorous place, of course, since you can find it inside the market, but there you will enjoy some of the tastiest dishes of Catalan and Spanish cuisine, such as cap i pota (a stew of morsels of head and hoof of pork), or even snails (cargols) which are really appreciated in Catalonia, although some people can’t really find the courage to taste them. Don’t worry because there are also more “normal” dishes and tapas such as gazpacho or tomato soup, fish or mushrooms, and all of them are cooked with the best ingredients coming from the market itself, and with long-tradition recipes. Not in vain, this bar has been at La Boqueria since 1952, with the same owner, Juanito, running it. Everybody knows Juanito, so meeting him is really a tradition in Barcelona! Photo credit: EzPzPic. pixabay.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

There is a stop you have to do in the Rambles, especially if you are already hungry, and it’s the famous market of La Boqueria. The colourful display of fruit and vegetables is really a delight to see, and there you will find a famous place to eat: the Bar Pinotxo.

14:00 - 15:00

Cathedral of Barcelona

Pla de la Seu, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
This beautiful example of Gothic cathedral was built on the foundation of the old paleo-Christian Basilica and also where the Romanesque church once stood. The construction lasted for 150 years, but some parts of it were actually finished at the beginning of the twentieth century. In any case, the temple is impressive and really worth visiting. Besides, the ambiance in the square is always pleasant and you can take profit to sit down and listen to some of the musicians that are usually entertaining tourists there. All the architecture around the cathedral is really interesting, and many visitors enjoy simply strolling around the narrow little streets, full of history but also with old shops and, why not, places to buy an ice-cream cone and add some flavour to the walk. Visiting hours: On week days 10:30 am to 6:30 pm Saturdays 10:30 am to 5 pm Photo credit: Laura Revuelta
Article By: Laura R. Godoy
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Cathedral of Barcelona
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 12.00 - 15.00 EUR

Getting there

The itinerary continues down the Rambles, with a stop at the Cathedral of Barcelona. It’s located on the left side of the Rambles, and you can go there waking along Portaferrissa street for 7 minutes more or less.

15:00 - 16:00

Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar

Plaça de Santa Maria, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (it's not a cathedral although everybody calls it the cathedral of the sea) dates back to the fourteenth century. It became for visitors thanks to a novel by the same name. It's quite unique because it was built with the effort of the inhabitants of the Ribera quarter. In the square in front of the church there are several outdoor bars where you can sit and take a break contemplating the magnificent Catalan Gothic façade. Visiting hours: Monday to Saturday: 9 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 8:30 pm Sundays: 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm Photo credit: Derek Story. unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 10.00 EUR
Students 8.00 EUR
Kids 0.00 EUR Under 8
Seniors 8.00 EUR

Getting there

From one Cathedral to another, because the Catedral del Mar (or "Cathedral of the Sea") is also at a seven-minute walk along Argenteria street, and you will certainly enjoy the lovely little square next to the church.

Travel time
0 hours 7 minutes
16:00 - 20:00

El rey de la gamba

Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 53, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
The El rey de la Gamba restaurant is one of the best - as regards value for money - in the quarter of La Barceloneta. The menu has a reasonable price (around 20 euros) and it offers really tasty fish and seafood dishes, as well as the expected paella. A good local white wine and a sinful desert such as crema catalana (custard with caramelised topping) will be the perfect finishing touches for the meal and will leave you most probably longing for the hotel bed. The place is not usually crowded if you go early, and it has a large outdoor area (Spaniards have their meals much later than almost everybody else). Photo credit: Armando Brenlha. unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Notes

The Barceloneta is not only the name of the beach but also of the neighbourhood, otherwise known as La Ribera. It’s the fishermen district of the city, one of the oldest and most picturesque of all. The street Passeig Joan de Borbó will take you directly to the beach, where you will find the iconic Hotel Vela, which looks like a big boat sail. If it’s summer and you are carrying your swimming equipment with you, it’s the right time to lie down on the Barceloneta beach, get suntanned and have a swim. Alternatively, all the chiringuitos or beach bars along the promenade are a perfect place to chill while looking at the Mediterranean Sea.

Getting there

It’s time to go back to the Rambles and go down to the beach, of course. It’s a twenty-minute walk but, if you are tired, or if you want to go faster, you can take the metro at the stop called Jaume I and get down at the Barceloneta stop. By this time of day, you will probably be starving. Don’t worry, your solution is right there in the same street Joan de Borbó which you took to come to the beach. You will find many restaurants there, offering tourists their menus, and one of them is called El Rey de la Gamba

20:00 - 22:00

Mariposa negra

Plaça de les Olles, 4, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
The name of this artisan cocktail bar is inspired on the novel "Marina" by the famous Catalan writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Their home-made cocktails are delicious and original, they even make their own glasses and offer an elegant atmosphere, where you will be able to say goodbye to the Catalan capital in the best way. Photo credit: Andrea Riezzo. unsplash.com
Article By: Laura R. Godoy

Getting there

However, if you are full of energy and still want to take profit of the night, you can walk for around 15 minutes along Passeig Joan de Borbó, reach Pla de Palau and then turn to Plaça de les Olles, where you will find a cocktail bar called La mariposa Negra

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About the author

I love languages and writing about the places I love - so that visitors can enjoy them as much as I do. I have been a freelance translator and content writer for some years now, and I hope to have helped many travellers with my tips!

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