Barcelona is a city that endlessly enchants. From its fairytale architecture to its hidden city squares, it’s hard to not fall under the city’s spell. It’s an ideal city to wander around in and get lost in the tree-lined streets and the spacious local markets. If you only have a day and a half in this seaside city, the trick is to plan well and you see quite a lot. Here’s some activities that you can mix and match to make the most of your 36 house in Barcelona.
Best Time To Go To Barcelona
Barcelona is ideal in the spring or autumn, when there are less crowds and the weather is bearable. It’s no joke that the city doubles in size with tourists during the summer and it’s so much easier to walk around when you don’t feel like you are fighting the crowds in triple digit heat. Plus the prices during the shoulder seasons are also more reasonable.
One of Gaudi’s must sees. If you have limited time, the Sagrada Familia may be on your list, but consider this livelier alternative that boast impressive city views and a spacious park filled with colorful structures. The popular structures (including the pink house where Gaudi lived for awhile) requires a ticket and are best to buy in advance in case they sell out, but there are plenty of the grounds that are free of charge, worth seeing as well.
The park itself has a lot of different sights throughout the grounds, and it’s easy to spend at least a few hours, even without going into the paid area.
El Born Neighborhood
Wander the narrow alleys of this lively and artsy neighborhood, and discover quirky bars, restaurants and boutiques. This neighborhood is located next to the Gothic Quarter, and nearby Las Ramblas, but is noticeably less crowded. It’s a great spot to get lost in and follow your curiosity.
A quiet neighborhood that seems miles away from the noise of Parc Guell (but is actually right next door), with cozy neighborhood bakeries and optimal people-watching opportunities. Gracia is a great place to get lost in for a few hours, explore the spacious city squares and narrow side streets. Catch a glimpse of daily life unfolding from parents walking their children to school to dog owners going on their evening stroll.
Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter)
This is the center of the old parts of the city, and is known for its Gothic architecture. It’s especially beautiful early in the morning with empty streets and when its squares are illuminated at night. Most of the streets are closed to vehicles, making it a great place to wander around on foot. Here are a few noteworthy spots to visit in this neighborhood.
Placa de Sant Jaume-the administrative center of Old City Barcelona, where the City Hall and Palau de la Generalita are right across from one another in this historical city square.
Placa Reial-this popular bustling square square with cafes lining the perimeter next to La Rambla feels like stumbling on a different world. It’s a great place to spend a few hours in the outdoor cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s especially vibrant at night, with all the illuminated palm trees and streetlamps. This square is hidden right off of Carrer de Ferran, right before entering La Rambla.
Cathedral of Barcelona-A Gothic cathedral from the 13th century, that is like most things in the city especially magical when it’s lit up at night. Visit the Cathedral of Barcelona during the day to see the stunning interior.
This is another of Gaudi’s masterpieces worth checking out on the main throughfare of Passeig de Gràcia, which is especially magical starting at dusk when it’s illuminated. A mere 5 minute walk away is Gaudi’s Casa Mila, another example of this whimsical architecture in the form of art nouveau style.
Fira de Barcelona-built in 1929 for the World Expo, this trade fair institution hosts trade shows and exhibitions, and has a beautiful exterior with great views of the Placa d’Espanya below.
Torres Veneciane-these iconic landmarks are modeled after St. Mark’s Basilica’s campanile in Venice.
Las Arenas de Barcelona-a commercial shopping center with a spectacular 360 rooftop view of the city, where you can take an elevator from the street straight up to the top.
Where To Eat In Barcelona
Determined to try a classic Spanish bocadillo? Splurge and pay a few more euros for the jamón bellota (a fancy version of jamón iberico), that literally melts in your mouth. Also while you’re in the shop check out the dizzying array of ham options. There are a few branches around the city.
Known for their delicious focaccia bread, they also serve healthy pastas, salads and desserts. My personal favorite is the lox and crème fresh focaccia bread and I will shamelessly admit I had it twice in the same day. Great value. Several branches around the city. Offers a nice counterbalance to all the Spanish ham.
This is a great spot in Gracia for a quick breakfast or lunch. Highly recommend their chicken empanadas.
I didn’t have chance to go this time round, but I’ve only heard good things from friends about their informative and delicious Barcelona food tours.
Also, check out Jodi of Legal Nomads and her recommendations of where to eat in Barcelona catered for those who are gluten-free.
Where To Stay In Barcelona
Fabrizzio’s Petit–this hostel includes a free breakfast, quiet and lovely facilities, accommodating staff, and a great location that instantly feels like home.
Ayre Hotel Gran Via-located right off of Placa d’Espanya, and the service is excellent. Close to the metro and the airport.
Duquesa de Cardona-this small boutique hotel is walking distance to the beach, Las Ramblas, and the Gothic Quarter. Perks include a roof terrace, and complementary snacks.
What is your favorite way to spend 36 hours in Barcelona?