On our Europe trip this summer, we spent a total of 22 hours in Barcelona (including sleeping). Since our time was very limited, we had tried to plan our day very precisely, so that no time would be lost trying to figure out what to do.
Originally I wanted this post to be “how to see Barcelona in one day” but things didn’t exactly go as planned during our visit, which resulted in quite the disappointment. I thought I’d share some tips, as well as explain what we did, in hopes that this will be useful to some of you.
When we first decided to go to Barcelona, I knew that I really wanted to see the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. I had thought of purchasing tickets in advance but when you purchase tickets online, you also have to select a visit time. I didn’t want to choose times for these, as we were arriving in the morning by plane from Madrid and would lose the tickets if we couldn’t make the chosen time for whatever reason (delayed flight, etc).
Not buying tickets in advance was a huge mistake.
When we arrived to the Sagrada Familia (from a hop on/hop off bus- more on this below), we were truly amazed by the immensity and the intricacy of this church- as well as its wait time. It showed that the next available entrance was 5 hours from then. Since we couldn’t wait that long, we just admired it from the outside and left. We were both really disappointed.
We then decided to head to Parc Guell. Surprise- the tickets that we could buy were for 2 hours from when we arrived. We were even more disappointed by this point- we couldn’t see the two main things we had gone there to see. We ended up checking out the section of the park that was free.
Looking back on it, I definitely would have purchased the tickets for Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell online before, and would have chosen a later time that wouldn’t be compromised if ever our incoming flight was delayed.
Do purchase tickets for the hop on/hop off bus.
In order to get around the city, we chose to buy tickets for the hop on/hop off bus from Bus Turistic. I definitely thought it was a great way to get around the city rather quickly, and we were able to see some of the city at the same time, since we sat on the top deck most of the time.
Visit the area near the port.
After our unsuccessful attempts to enter the main sites, we decided to get off the bus and walk around. We walked down La Rambla all the way to the area near the port. When you reach the end of this street, there is a huge round about with a towering statue of Columbus, called Mirador de Colom. This was my favourite area we saw. It was a lot more open than the rest of the city, there were palm trees, and it felt like we were in a different city than we had just been in minutes before.
One of the stops on the blue line of the hop on/hop off bus was Montjuic and we decided to stop here to get to the top of the mountain. We took the cable car up (which has a small fee) and the views were truly breathtaking. There’s also a castle, which usually has an extra fee but the day we went was free. The view was incredible and I highly recommend going up.
For dinner, go to Rambla de Catalunya Street (not to be confused with La Rambla).
For some reason, it was quite difficult for us to find a good place to eat, and we hadn’t really done any research prior- we just assumed we would choose a place on the fly. It was more difficult than we thought. We initially chose a restaurant that had such poor service that we had to leave. We made our way to Rambla de Catalunya and found a number of restaurants with terraces. Although not far from Placa de Catalunya, it was pretty quiet and the restaurants looked nice and as though they had authentic food.
Overall, I did enjoy Barcelona but I’m not sure that I would go back. This might be due to the fact I couldn’t get in to two of the main things I wanted to see, although it was my fault for not booking tickets in advance. I think that if we had had more time to explore the city my opinion might be different.
We ended the day with this divine dessert (waffle with white chocolate and caramel) from a stand on La Rambla.
Thanks for reading & have a wonderful day!