Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

How to spend 48 hours in Barcelona, Spain

With sunny beaches, breathtaking architecture, lush parks, historic gems, and delicious cuisine, Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the greatest cities in the world. There are endless treasures to explore, but if you’re short on time and still want to see the best of Barcelona, look no further. From the iconic attractions you can’t miss, to the greatest local gems and the tastiest eats, here is how to spend an unforgettable 48 hours in Barcelona, Spain

GET INSPIRED BY: Highlights of France and Barcelona

DAY 1

Explore Park Güell

Kickstart your 48 hours in Barcelona with a morning trip to Park Güell. There you can admire a spectacular view over the city and appreciate Antoni Gaudí’s stunning architectural masterpieces. The park is a UNESCO Word Heritage Spot and if you walk to the top of the hill to the highest point (marked with a cross) you’ll get a view that spans across the city and all the way to the Balearic Sea. You may also like to stop by the Gaudí House Museum, set inside the hillside park, to see where the legendary architect lived. 

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Marvel at La Sagrada Familia

Head back towards the city to see Barcelona’s most famous landmark – La Sagrada Familia. Designed by the genius Antoni Gaudí, this famously unfinished cathedral is absolutely extraordinary to see. First started in 1882, this massive masterpiece is unlike any church you’ve ever seen, with breathtaking stained glass panels and incredibly intricate architecture. You can also visit the crypt underneath the cathedral to see where Gaudí himself is buried.

La Sagrada Familia draws millions of tourists each year so be sure to book tickets ahead to avoid waiting in long queues. Or, when you travel to Barcelona with Trafalgar, you can skip the lines and spend your morning soaking up the beauty of La Sagrada Familia.

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Visit Casa Milà and Casa Batlló

Can’t get enough of Gaudí? Take a ten-minute drive, or a 20-minute walk, down two blocks and you’ll discover the magnificent Casa Batlló and Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera). Both designed by Gaudí, these buildings are stunning to see from the outside, or you can head inside to explore all the treasures – like the spectacular rooftops of Casa Milà. It’s a legendary landmark, so be sure to get your tickets ahead of time to avoid the long lines. 

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Get lunch at La Boqueria Market

Worked up an appetite after seeing the brilliance of Gaudí? There’s no better place to fill up than La Boquería Market. Located on La Rambla, the market is the perfect place to taste some mouthwatering local foods like the famous jamón ibérico. You’ll find everything from fresh fruits and delicious pastries to sit-down restaurants, like El Quim, once a favourite of Anthony Bourdain.

Grab a coffee or a glass of local wine, and dig into all the croquettes you can eat. And be sure to see the Palau de la Musica Catalana on the way out. It’s a beautiful old concert hall that’s now a UNESCO-listed gem. 

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Stroll through La Rambla

Once you’re satisfied, it’s time to start exploring Barcelona’s gorgeous neighbourhoods! Start in the famous La Rambla, where you can stroll down tree-lined promenades with exquisite architecture and boutique stores at every turn. Join us on our Barcelona tours, and we’ll join a Local Specialist to explore La Rambla and see the highlights like Plaça de Catalunya.

Wander around the Gothic Quarter

Next, head to the nearby Gothic Quarter, the enchanting old town of Barcelona. You’ll find everything here from charming boutiques to art markets and historic buildings. Be sure to explore the spectacular Parc de la Ciutadella, a green oasis in the heart of Barcelona. It’s home to sights like the elaborate fountain Cascada del Parc de la Ciutadella, the Parliament of Catalonia, and a small lake where you can rent a pedal boat. 

You also can’t miss the remarkable Barcelona Cathedral or “The World Begins With Every Kiss” mosaic. In the evenings, you can also catch street performers in the Plaça Reial and street performers in front of the Cathedral. Packed full of gems, the Gothic Quarter is the perfect place to get lost for the afternoon. 

When you travel to Barcelona with Trafalgar, we’ll give you the option to take a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter with a Local Specialist, stopping by the marina of Port Olympic where you can indulge in Mediterranean food from one of the best local eateries. 

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Local gem: La Casa de l’Ardiaca

Set next to the Cathedral, La Casa de l’Ardiaca is an amazing site where you can see sections of the old Roman walls and aqueduct. Head to the terrace and you’ll get a lovely view of the Cathedral. 

Enjoy tapas for dinner

If you’re wondering what to do for dinner with 48 hours in Barcelona, you’ve got to spend at least one night filling up on traditional Spanish and Catalan tapas. There are fantastic spots all over the city from the Gothic Quarter to the El Born Neighbourhood. You can sample everything from bomba (fried mashed potatoes filled with meat) to pimientos de padrón, patatas bravas, jamón ibérico, and pan con tomate… And be sure to wash it all down with a glass of local cava. 

Hit the town in Barcelona

Things don’t really start heating up until midnight in Barcelona, so if you’re ready to party with the locals, head to the El Born neighbourhood. You’ll find everything from smooth jazz bars to pumping nightclubs, with cocktails and wine lists galore. 

On your way, stop by the famous Magic Fountain. This dazzling spectacle was built for the 1929 World’s Fair, with 20 skylights and 4,760 light bulbs, making it a marvel of modern engineering. 

You also can’t miss the chance to see an iconic flamenco show. When you travel with Trafalgar, we’ll give you the chance to experience one of Spain’s most famous traditions at a thrilling flamenco evening – with dinner and drinks of course! 

GET INSPIRED BY: Spanish Wonder

DAY 2

Indulge in churros and hot chocolate for breakfast

If you want to start Day 2 of your weekend in Barcelona the best way possible, start with churros and hot chocolate. It’s usually eaten as a breakfast dish, so make like the locals and sniff out these sweet treats in the morning. Some of the best spots include Granja Viader or Granja Dulcinea, both near La Rambla. They’ve both been in business for over 150 years and 80 years respectively, so you know you’re getting the best of Barcelona’s churros here. The churros are crispy and sugary, perfect for dipping in the Spanish hot chocolate, which is more like a thick pudding!

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Explore El Born

Once you’ve had breakfast, head to El Born. It’s a trendy and historic neighbourhood filled with boutiques, cafes, galleries, museums and more. There are endless things to explore here, like the impressive Picasso Museum, home to the largest Picasso collection in the world. You can also visit gems like the El Born Cultural Centre, Chandel, the Wall Gallery, OMG BCN, and Humana, where you’ll find gorgeous vintage clothing. 

Local gem: Santa Caterina Market

When in El Born, head to the Santa Caterina Market. It’s less crowded than the famous La Boquería Market and it’s a great place to have lunch with food stalls serving tapas and other traditional food. Be sure to visit a bakery to try classic Barcelona treats like Crema Catalana. So yum!

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Check out the beaches

Walk just ten minutes down the road and you’ll stumble onto the Barceloneta neighbourhood, famed for its golden beaches. It’s a chilled-out area, where you can feel the sand between your toes and the salty breeze in your hair. Take a walk along the promenade, go people-watching, or even take a dip in the water. Stop for seaside cocktails along the way or grab an ice cream and soak up Barcelona’s beachy vibes. 

Marvel at the views from Montjuïc

If you want to see the best history and architecture during your 48 hours in Barcelona, head to Montjuïc, or the “Jewish Mountain”. You can take a cable car to the top, admiring the panoramic views of the city. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be amazed by the stunning gardens, museums, and the ornate Montjuïc Castle.

It’s free to enter on Sundays – or you can get to Montjuïc when you travel to Barcelona on Trafalgar’s Spain tours. Be sure to explore the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which has two floors of works by Baroque and European Renaissance artists like Velázquez and Tiziano. 

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Other things to do in 2 days in Barcelona

With just an evening left in your 48 hours in Barcelona, you can choose to spend it your way. You might like to go shopping since Barcelona is Spain’s shopping capital. You can go from the Passeig de Gràcia, with high-end designer stores, to El Raval, a local market with vintage treasures. 

If museum-hopping is more your speed (and you’ve already explored the Picasso Museum), you might like to visit the Moco Museum and the European Museum of Modern Art.

Trafalgar travel tip: If you plan to visit at least two art museums in Barcelona, buy the Articket BCN. This gets you free line-skipping admission and access to other cultural events.

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Enjoy paella for dinner

If you love seafood and traditional Spanish food, you can’t miss out on a proper paella. Head to the port or the beachside neighbourhoods, pick a cosy restaurant and dig into a delicious paella. Authentic paella takes at least 30 minutes to cook from the time you order, so prepare for a leisurely meal. Sit back, take in the atmosphere around you, and toast to an incredible 48 hours in Barcelona!

What are your favourite things to do in 48 hours in Barcelona? Let us know in the comments below…

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