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How To Spend One Day in Barcelona, Spain

Going to Barcelona soon but are pressed for time? This city has the X factor and deserves at least a few days, but if you’re in a rush, follow this guide to spend a day in Barcelona.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Barcelona so alluring. Its lively atmosphere, quaint neighborhoods, and world-class architecture are just the beginning. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend there, there’s always more to discover and be amazed at.

Barcelona is easily one of the most sought-after destinations in Spain as well as in Europe. This cosmopolitan capital of the Catalonia region is a haven for art and architecture enthusiasts. From the works of Antoni Gaudi to some of Picasso’s masterpieces, the city unravels itself before your very eyes. 

You could easily spend a week exploring Barcelona, there’s always something new to see or do (definitely check out these things to do in Barcelona off the beaten path if you have time).

But if you only have a day, maybe as part of a longer road trip in Spain, you will be just as enchanted with the city’s infinite culture, world-class dining scene, fabled architecture, scenic gardens, and old castles. 

If you only have one day in Barcelona, it would be a good idea to plan ahead and get tickets for the attractions you want to see. To this end, I recommend using the company Tiqets (don’t worry, I’ll leave you links for each attraction), a reputable site that I trust and that I chose specifically because, given the current situation with Covid, they offer free cancellation up to the end of the day before your visit.

Similarly, I recommend booking tours with GetYourGuide, the company I personally use and trust. They provide full refunds if a tour is canceled up to 24 hours before the tour. Booking a one-day tour in Barcelona would be smart if you have limited time to spare. That way, everything will be organized for you and you’ll only need to focus on enjoying the best of the city.

👉 I’ve written a whole post about the best Barcelona tours for first timers, so check it out!

How to Get Around Barcelona

There are tons of things to do in Barcelona in a day, so it’s important to know how you can get around the city. Thankfully, there are many transportation options, although probably nothing more efficient than the city’s metro system.

➤ The metro system in Barcelona is a dream. It’s very efficient, easy to use, and cheap. It’s also the quickest way to get from one destination to another in the city. The metro’s schedule runs from 5AM to 12AM on weekdays or up to 2AM on Fridays.

There is a Barcelona one-day pass for the metro that you can get for €10.50. The Barcelona metro one day pass is called T-dia and it includes an unlimited number of journeys, on all modes of transport. You can also get the T-10 pass, which will allow you to hop on the train for 1 Euro per ride which is excellent if you want to see as much of Barcelona as possible and save in the process.

➤ The city bus system in Barcelona is another great option. While not as fast as the metro, you can get the bonus of enjoying the street views of Barcelona.

➤ If you prefer the convenience of taxis, they are also available in Barcelona… but why would you, when the public system is so good? Taxis are not as expensive in Barcelona as in other cities in Europe but they’re still more costly when compared to the metro and bus systems.

However, when the metro stops working at night, you might want to take a taxi. Although there’s no Uber in Barcelona, it’s easy to find taxi stands all over the city. When you ride the taxi, make sure to carry small change with you.

➤ Of course, you can also explore Barcelona on foot. The city center, in particular, is a great area to explore on foot and you can also find many pedestrian-friendly streets all over the city. 

Barcelona in a Day Itinerary

There are so many things to see in Barcelona in one day that you will feel like a kid at an amusement park, wanting to go on all the rides, not knowing what to pick first. The city is a favorite for Spaniards and foreigners alike, who flock here to enjoy the art, culture, weather, and lively atmosphere.

With artsy buildings, modern architecture, historic quarters, hilltop viewpoints, and long stretches of Mediterranean beaches, picking what to see in Barcelona in one day can be, well, tricky. It’s also a big city and moving around using public transport can be time-consuming. Trust me, I’ve been there.

That’s why, if you only have a single day to visit, a great option is to hop on an organized tour, so you get to see as much of the city as possible in the company of a guide, which, in a city so culturally rich as this, makes a world of difference.

➤ This Barcelona One-Day Tour will take you to see the best of Barcelona in one day: La Sagrada Familia (with priority entrance) and other Gaudí landmarks; you’ll get to roam the streets of the Gothic and the Jewish Quarter, enjoy spectacular views from Montjuïc (site of the 1992 Olympic Games), visit the Catalunya National Art Museum, explore Park Güell, and so much more. Yes, it’s packed but also very much worth it. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Choosing what to do in Barcelona in one day can be a bit overwhelming at first, but don’t worry, I got your back. If you’d rather put together your own itinerary, here are some suggestions to spend 24 hours in Barcelona.

Visit La Sagrada Familia

First on the list of places to visit in Barcelona in one day (or two, or five) should be this: La Sagrada Familia. This is a one-of-a-kind piece of architecture noted for its origins, purpose, and foundation. It’s the fruit of the creative genius of Antoni Gaudi, which has progressed over five generations. The construction of this church has taken over 135 years since the cornerstone was laid and remains in progress until today. 

As this is one of the main attractions in Barcelona, you should expect long queues when you get there. And it’s worth mentioning that with a basic ticket, you won’t be allowed entry in the morning, it’s only for the afternoon or evening.

➤ You can book skip-the-line tickets online to enter the attraction faster so you won’t have to wait for up to 2 hours when you visit. 

➤ There’s so much history and so many details that you will miss if you go by yourself. So, if you would like to learn about the amazing history of this masterpiece and have access to hidden corners, this comprehensive Sagrada Familia Guided Tour will provide. It includes skip-the-line tickets! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

To get to La Sagrada Familia, you can take the Blue Line, L5 or Purple Line, L2. You can also take any of the following bus routes: 19, 33, 34, 50, 51, and H10 and get down at the Mallorca / Marina bus stop.

Head to Casa Batllo

Another equally popular tourist attraction that should be in your Barcelona one-day itinerary is Casa Batllo. This is yet another attraction in the city that has ties to Antoni Gaudi. The façade of this building makes it appear as though it’s made out of bones and skulls. It’s easy to notice how the skulls act as the balconies and the bones mark the supporting pillars.

Apparently, Gaudi was inspired by the marine life in deciding the colors and forms of the details on this building, especially since he used natural coral as the main color theme for the building’s façade.

It was named Casa Batllo because it was designed by Gaudi for Josep Batllo, who was a wealthy aristocrat. If you visit this building, you can get an audio tour guide that provides a fascinating insight into Gaudi’s influences in designing this house.

➤ There are different types of tickets you can get for Casa Batllo, some including audio guides, or even an augmented reality experience! Check them out and take your pick. ➥ BUY TICKETS

To get to Casa Batllo, you can take the L2 train and take the Passeig de Gràcia / Gran Via exit. The building is only a minute away from the train station exit.

OPENING TIMES: Casa Battlò is open daily from 9 AM to 8 PM.

Be Impressed by the Palau de la Musica Catalana

Palau de la Musica Catalana is a fully-functioning music hall that is one of the biggest attractions for tourists in Barcelona today. The music hall is renowned for its opulent interior style. From the outside, the building already looks impressive.

Lluis Domenech I Montaner was the architect who designed the whole thing. The construction of the music hall took from 1905 to 1908. It’s the largest concert hall in Barcelona and can seat up to 2049 people. It also features an embellished glass roof and has beautiful stained glass windows. 

➤ For a self-guided visit to this gorgeous building, you can get tickets in advanceBUY TICKETS

➤ If you want to learn more about this icon of Modernist architecture, this Palau de la Música Guided Tour will give access to areas normally off-limits to the public, in the company of a knowledgeable guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Palau de la Musica Catalana, you can take the train to the Red Line, Line 1 or Yellow Line, L4. Get off at the Urquinaona metro stop.

OPENING TIMES AND PRICE: It’s open daily from 10 AM to 3:30 PM.The cost of a ticket is €20, which includes a guided tour of the interior of this concert hall.

Check Out Plaça Catalunya

If you want to enjoy shopping in Barcelona, Plaça Catalunya is the place for you. This is the lively square that serves as the heart of the city and it beats strongly. It’s also a common meeting point as it’s where two separate districts meet: Eixample and Ciutat Vella. This area is also full of history.

The plaza was opened in 1927 and spans a total land area of 5 hectares. You will see how this huge space is home to many department stores and large shopping centers which keep it vibrant and full of life. 

Stroll Down Las Ramblas

Speaking of must-see landmarks and attractions in Barcelona, you need to visit Las Ramblas. People say it’s the first landmark that tourists recognize from the city. This is a large boulevard that runs through the city center of about 1.2 kilometers long. There are many attractions along Las Ramblas that make this a lively space – from live performances to artists who draw caricatures or human portraits and human statue art!

If you’re struggling to decide what to do in one day in Barcelona, this is a good place to start, because there are also other must-see attractions here, such as the Modernist Boqueria Market (more about that below!), Christopher Columbus Monument, and the Erotica Museum.

This area is mostly pedestrian although there is only narrow one-way traffic on the roads on either side of the boulevard. As you can imagine, it’s just ideal for tourists to walk around. Don’t forget to check out the Miro mosaic circle on La Rambla! You can spot this circular tile mosaic near the Liceu Theatre. 

⚠️ Please pay attention to your belongings here and at La Boqueria Market, this area is unfortunately known for being frequented by pickpocketers.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to La Rambla, you can take the Green Line, L3 and get off at the Drassanes or Liceu metro stops.

Wander around the Boqueria Market

The Boqueria Market is the most famous market in Barcelona, and it’s a must-visit when you only have a day to spend in the city. Plus, it’s one of the oldest markets in Europe – it was established in 1217! Once you make your way through the grand iron entrance of Boqueria, you will experience a feast for the senses.

In here, you will find tons of food stalls selling all kinds of dishes for lunch or snacks. El Pinotxo is one of the most famous bars here. You can check out specialist stalls such as those that sell cheeses, seafood, olives, dried hams, and meat. 

If you want to get the most out of your experience, it’s best to visit the market in the morning, preferably before 2 PM.

➤ To add some flavor to your visit and make the foodie in you even happier, check out this Boqueria Market Tour with Paella Cooking Experience. A chef will take you for a walk around the old town and the market to get the ingredients, teach you how to prepare sangría, and let you in on a few secrets to make the best paella. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

OPENING TIMES: The market is open from Monday to Saturday from 8AM to 8:30PM.

Enter the Barcelona Cathedral

Built within the Gothic Quarter of the city is the Barcelona Cathedral. It’s yet another example of a magnificent architectural display in the city, standing out for its gargoyle sculptures at the top of the towers. It boasts of Gothic Revival architectural style and was constructed during the 13th century (although it was actually completed in the 15th century). This cathedral is also currently the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Barcelona Cathedral, you can take the Green Line, L3 and get off at the Liceu station, or the Yellow Line, L4 and get off at Jaume I station.

OPENING TIMES AND PRICE: The entrance to the cathedral is free. The Cathedral is open from 8 AM to 12:45 PM,  1 PM to 5:30 PM and 5:45 PM to 7:30 PM on weekdays (or up to 8PM on weekends).

If you are looking for a delicious coffee for your afternoon snack, you can head to Satan’s Coffee Co. It’s near the Barcelona Cathedral and serves up a wide array of options including chia pudding, sandwiches, muesli, homemade donuts, and other pastries. Plus, of course, some great quality coffee – I love their flat whites!

Stroll through the Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is a beautiful old neighborhood characterized by its narrow and winding streets that form a labyrinth. You’ll also find peaceful squares where you can relax. The Barcelona Cathedral is at the heart of this quarter but you can also find a huge range of restaurants and bars.

Shopping is another favorite activity among those who visit the Gothic Quarter. The commercial area is concentrated at Calle Portal de L’Angelo, but you can also find smaller boutique shops at Calle Avinyo. It’s difficult not to fall in love with the Roman architecture of this former Roman village. 

➤ This Barcelona E-bike Tour will take you cycling around some of the main sights on an electric bike. You will learn the history of the Gothic Quarter and other landmarks, such as the cathedral and the city hall. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

How To Spend One Night in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that truly comes alive at night. People love to go out and stay out until late, and when I lived there, there was no weekend night where I would be in bed before 2 AM. Because of the abundance of things you could do, I couldn’t really choose one single option for you, so here are a few ideas you can insert into your itinerary.

Go for a Tapas Bar Crawl in Carrer Blai

A perfect day in Barcelona has to include a stop at one of the many tapa bars in the city. This Spanish city is known for its world-class cuisine and tapas are a must-try traditional food in the Catalonia region. Carrer Blai is one of the best parts of the city to go to if you’re looking for a tapas tour as this area is filled with plenty of tapas bars to choose from.

First off on the list of tapas bars to try is La Tasqueta de Blai. The main reason it’s highly recommended is that they serve cheap tapas that are really, really good. There are also up to 60 varieties of pintxos to try so you have plenty of options for when you’re really hungry and expect to pay €5 per person. They are open daily from 12:30 PM to 1:30 AM, or to 2:30 AM on Fridays.

Another must-try in Barcelona is Blai 9. This tapas bar is famous for offering very creative pintxos. They are also celebrated for their great prices, excellent taste, and good quality food that tastes great. This is a warm and cozy place ideal for an early dinner. Expect to pay €12-15 per person.

Other must-try tapa bars include Pincho J, Quimet & Quimet, and Tabernai Blai Tonight. 

➤ Personally, walking around the Gothic Quarter and Born neighborhoods and making small stops to try different foods and wines is one of my favorite pastimes in Barcelona. If touring the old town while snacking on tapas and trying delicious local wine along the way sounds good to you, then this Tapas and Wine Walking Tour will soothe your appetite! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ If you want to go deep into Spanish mode and enjoy some culture with your tapas, this Tapas and Flamenco Experience in the heart of the Gothic Quarter is the way to go. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Enjoy the Sunset at Bunkers del Carmel

The next stop is perhaps not a must in your list of things to do in Barcelona in one day, but if you are in search of the best viewpoint, Bunkers del Carmel offers a great spot for sunset viewing.

Whether you want a romantic sunset view or a spot for quiet contemplation away from the chaos of the city, this is it. Located 843 feet high, Bunkers del Carmel is an anti-aircraft battery. From this viewpoint, you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of the city particularly the Montjuic Hill and Sagrada Familia. 

This unspoiled, natural setting is easy to get to as you have multiple transportation options from Barcelona. And the best part – access to this viewpoint is free!

Dinner and Drinks at Vila de Gracia 

If you are looking for an alternative experience in Barcelona, there is one neighborhood you need to check out – Vila de Gracia. Known as the coolest suburb in Barcelona, Vila de Gracia is filled with hipster restaurants and bars. Historically, this area has consistently had an active political and social life. The main streets are a hive of tourist activity but the square is where you can enjoy a unique atmosphere. 

There are plenty of dining options in this neighborhood, as well as places to enjoy late-night drinks. You can head to Placa del Sol where you can soak up the neighborhood’s vibrant nightlife and savor some good food at great tapas bars like Sol Soler. If you prefer dancing the night away, Mirasol is the perfect place. 

Magic Fountain Show

The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc is one of the go-to options available for tourists spending a day in Barcelona. Make the most of your night with this magical display of lights and fountain waters. This fountain is in the Montjuïc neighborhood of Barcelona, specifically in Avinguda Maria Cristina. This fountain was built in 1929 and is known for its Art Deco style. 

Make sure you check the schedule of the fountain show prior to your arrival. The show times vary with each day (from 9 PM to 9:30 PM, or 9:30 PM to 10 PM). Each show lasts 30 minutes.

I hope this list of things to do in Barcelona in one day was useful! But bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. This city really deserves some of your time, so I highly recommend staying a bit longer. If you can’t, however, seeing Barcelona on a one-day tour is a good idea. It will allow you to make the most of your precious time there.

One Day in Barcelona Itinerary FAQ

Is 1 day in Barcelona enough?

It is possible to see the main attractions in Barcelona in 24 hours, but keep in mind that you will probably be running from one place to another, and you’ll need to plan the day ahead to make the most of it. I highly recommend you give it a few days.

What is the best time to visit Barcelona?

For a one-day trip to Barcelona, the shoulder season is the best time. April through June, and September-October are good times to visit, with mild weather and fewer crowds. In the summer, the beaches are very nice, but hard to fit on a one-day trip!

How many days are recommended to see Barcelona?

I would say at least 3 days to enjoy the best of the city without being in a rush. Barcelona is a city to enjoy at your leisure while taking in the atmosphere.

What are the top things to see in Barcelona in 1 day?

This is very subjective, but definitely La Sagrada Familia! Other must-sees could be Casa Batllo, Montjuïc, and a visit to the Gothic Quarter. Don’t forget to stop for tapas!

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

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