Trust me, it is tough to choose what to see in Barcelona in one day. This city is full of places to visit, and even one week is not enough. I have been to Barcelona a couple of times, and below is my idea on how to spend a perfect day there if your time is limited.
But before we start read my post on travel tips for Barcelona, or just pay attention to the things I mention below:
– Carry a bottle of water with you always. Temperatures can be really high, and you will need to hydrate.
– Have sunscreen on yourself always: I doubt you want to be red-faced after a day outside 😊
– You will be using local transport and depending on your needs buy a T10 card (10 single tickets on one card for 10,20 EUR) or a couple of single tickets (1 single ticket is 2,20 EUR) in advance. Info on tickets is here.
Barcelona in one day: Morning
1. Placa de Catalunya
Start your day at Placa de Catalunya: it is one of the most famous squares in Barcelona. It is a perfect place to sit down and contemplate the fancy buildings around, a huge fountain and pigeons. Like many-many pigeons 🙂
If you need any help or have questions about Barcelona, go to the nearby tourist information center: it is right on the square.
And something else: buses from the airport of Barcelona arrive here and depart to the airport from here.
El Corte Ingles, a huge department store is on the square as well, so have a look 🙂
2. Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas or La Rambla, the most famous street in Barcelona, is pedestrian in the center and starts at Placa de Catalunya. It is wide, with shops and restaurants on both sides.
I don’t mean to be mean, but, frankly, when I look back at it, there is nothing special about this street: you can see streets like Las Ramblas in every city. La Rambla is extremely crowded, the restaurants are, naturally, overpriced. But still, you have to take the walk 🙂
What you should definitely do on La Rambla is going to Boqeria Market. It is expensive, but a feast for eyes nevertheless: mouthwatering colourful fruit and veggies, fish and seafood, meat and jamon just wait to be eaten.
And do another touristy thing: take pictures with all those fancy costumed people. I remember that I saw the Alien there once 🙂
If you are hungry, pay a visit to Romesco Restaurant. It is a very small place not far from Liceu Station. A local advised me to go there: waiters do not speak English, the food is simple but delicious, and prices are very reasonable. We loved their lamb: I am still not sure whether it was that delicious or we were too hungry 🙂
3. Beach and Aeri del porto to Montjuic
After walking along La Rambla you will get to the famous column with the statue of Christopher Columbus on top. From here you can see the sea and go to the beach. What you will do there depends on you, and after that go to Aeri del Porto. It is an old cable car that will take you from the beach to Montjuic Hill. You must take it! The view from above is SPECTACULAR! While the ride is not cheap and queues can be unimaginably long, especially in high season, it is worth it. Just make sure you get a place at the window, otherwise you will see nothing.
Where to take it from: the tower at Passeig de Joan de Borbo 88.
Cost: 11 EUR.
Barcelona in one day: Afternoon
4. The Montjuic castle
After getting off the cable car go to the Montjuic Castle. The castle started first as a lookout, and then a proper fortress was constructed there. And the reason to do so is understandable: the place offers 360° view of Barcelona, the port and the sea from above.
There is not much to see in the castle itself, but they hold exhibitions from time to time.
How to get: you can get there either on foot (about 18 minutes) or by bus 150 from Avenida Miramar.
Entrance fee: 5 EUR
5. Teleferico and Funicular till Paral-lel
After visiting the castle go to Teleferico: this is another cable car that will take you down from the hill to the city. Well, not straight away to the city, but to a train called funicular. When you get off the cable car go to the train (you will not miss it, don’t worry, it is next to the cable car exit). It is just one stop till Paral-lel metro station.
If you are hungry by this time, consider going to Restaurante Escairon. It is very close to the station, reasonably priced and food is yummy. I did not go to this restaurant myself, it is just my recommendation based on TripAdvisor reviews.
NB: Funicular is a part of the local transportation system, so you can use here your T10 card or one of the single tickets you have bought.
Barcelona in one day: Evening
6. Former corrida arena and Placa d’Espanya
From here go to Placa d’Espanya either on foot or take metro L3 and get off at Espanya station.
Placa d’Espanya is a magnificent place with fancy buildings. Visit Joao Miro Park and climb the former bullfighting arena building to get a view of it from above.
They converted the arena into a shopping mall so have a look around and grab a snack 🙂 In general, have some rest and get ready for the big show!
7. The magic fountain
Now we arrived to the true highlight of the day: a light and music show on Placa d’Espanya. Depending on the season the show starts either at 8 PM, 9 PM or 9:30 PM.
It is a spectacular sight best enjoyed when it is dark. They have several shows in the evening, so if you come there when it is still light outside, wait till the next one.
NB: the square gets crowded quickly, people begin arriving long before the show starts to occupy the best places. We came more than 30 minutes before the first show and had to fight for places 🙂