Say ‘hola’ to Barcelona – a vibrant city that packs a punch for travellers from around the world. According to Euromonitor International, Barcelona was the ninth most visited city in 2022 making it a powerhouse destination. There is so much to explore so here are some tips on how to spend a weekend in Barcelona, Spain.
Let’s start off your weekend in Barcelona with a gorgeous sunset and one of the very best views at the Bunkers del Carmel. We will preface this by saying it does require an uphill walk, however we promise that it’s worth every step! Depending on your fitness and energy levels, you can take a metro or bus to the foot of, or part way up, Turó de la Rovira. You’ll then walk to the top to former anti-aircraft bunkers for 360-degree views of Barcelona. Hot tip: pack some snacks and drinks for a cute picnic and aim to arrive at least half an hour before sunset to get a good spot.
This morning, wander down Avenue Diagonal to find some breakfast. This road will give you your first taste of some of the city’s best architecture with its grand buildings.
Make your way to La Rambla via Plaça de Catalunya, considered to be the lively centre of the city. The earlier you get to the tree lined La Rambla, the better, to avoid the increasing number of pedestrians as the day goes by. Barcelona’s most famous market, Mercado de La Boqueria, is found halfway down La Rambla. Take the time to explore its many stalls that sell fresh fruit, seafood, cured meats and hot food.
Your next step is the Gothic Quarter which is easy to find from La Rambla – you can take practically any road that is to the east of it, and you’ll be in the historical centre of Barcelona. We liked taking the route along Carrer de Ferran, as it had a couple of charming courtyards and narrow alleyways off it to explore. It also takes you to Plaça de Sant Jaume (one of Barcelona’s oldest squares and the home of the City Hall) and the Cathedral of Barcelona. This magnificent cathedral is well worth paying the entrance fee to see its high ceilings and stained-glass windows.
After spending time exploring the Gothic Quarter’s incredible streets, it’s time to find a late lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants.
Depending on your energy levels and interests, there are two options for you this afternoon:
The first is to walk down to the old fishermen district, La Barceloneta, and then on to the main beach. This beach is very popular with locals and tourists alike so makes for great people watching from a beachside café or as you take a leisurely stroll along the promenade. You might even like to have a swim if you’re visiting in summer!
The second option is to visit the Barcelona Aquarium. If you’re a marine life fan, this will give you the chance to learn more about what lies beneath the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Highlights include the 80-metre long Oceanarium, a huge glass tunnel that features all kinds of animals.
Next, take to the skies on the Port Cable Car, known as the Transbordador aeri del port. Travel from Barceloneta beach to the hillside neighbourhood of Montjuïc for 1.3 kilometres and reaching an altitude of 70 metres. The views of the harbour are simply breath taking! Once you reach Montjuïc, there are several places for you to visit – Castell de Montjuïc, Miramar Gardens, and several museums like the National Catalan art museum.
Take your pick of where you’d like to dine tonight but remember that most restaurants may not open until 8pm in typical Spanish fashion! Stay in Montjuïc as dusk falls or take the cable car back down to the waterfront to eat by the sea.
It wouldn’t be a weekend in Barcelona without having a day of seeing Antoni Gaudí’s impressive works dotted around the city. His unique architecture style has become a symbol of Barcelona, incorporating his passions of architecture, nature and religion. When he passed away, it was one of the biggest outpourings of remembrance that Barcelona had ever seen, and he is buried in the crypt of one of his most iconic works, the Sagrada Familia.
Begin your day on Passeig de Gràcia where Casa Battló and Casa Milà are found, both UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity buildings. It’s easy to find them with their curved exteriors and myriad of colours (on Casa Battló). We recommend choosing one or the other to visit, and to book in advance.
From here, Sagrada Familia is no more than a 25-minute walk away. Again, book in advance and allow at least 1.5 hours here. You can also add one of the towers to your ticket where you will be taken by elevator to the top of either the Passion or Nativity Tower, before descending on foot. The views of the city and the chance to see the detailing up close and personal are well worth it! Be warned, the descent is a spiral staircase which can get a little dizzying. There is a free audio guide with each ticket, available by downloading the Sagrada Familia app. This is a wonderful way to find out more about Gaudí’s inspiration and work, from the columns designed to look like trees to the breath taking stained-glass window features.
Before heading to Parc Guell, it’s time for lunch in the Gràcia neighbourhood. It’s quieter and less touristy than the Gothic Quarter, with plenty of Catalonian charm. It’s also a handy place to have a break as it is very close to Parc Guell.
Not only is Parc Guell one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona, but it also adds another dimension to the creativity of Gaudí. From its viaducts to sweeping amphitheatre area to the colourful mosaics everywhere, it’s a feast for the eyes and a wonderful way to wind down your weekend in Barcelona.