EXPLORE BARCELONA IN 2 DAYS – DAY 1
You live somewhere in Europe so flying to Barcelona isn´t the problem. The problem is that you are either working or studying, which means you really only have the weekends to explore. Many people are however under the impression that there are so many things to do and see in Barcelona that it´s not worth going for only 2 days. This is especially true for those who intend moving to Barcelona and really want to get a good feel for the different neighborhoods and what living in Barcelona could be like.
The truth is it is possible to see the city in 2 days if you plan carefully and make the best use of time. Most European airports fly to Barcelona directly. Getting from the airport to the city (see this page) is extremely easy and fast. You could easily catch a flight after work on a Friday afternoon and be in your hotel by 22h00, just in time for Spanish dinner. As far as accommodation is concerned, avoid anything near Las Ramblas since it will be over-priced and very noisy. We recommend staying somewhere in Gracia or Eixample, especially if you want to get a feeling of what it´s like to live as a resident of Barcelona.
If you enjoy nightlife there are of course a multitude of options for you to go clubbing, bar-hopping or just strolling around the city and enjoying the atmosphere. However we suggest you keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum since you´ll need to get up early for your exploration.
For your first day we recommend having breakfast as soon as your hotel makes it available. Try to be out of the hotel by 08h00, even if it means you prefer to have breakfast somewhere else. A good place to start would be Plaza Catalunya – the center of the city, where you can see many famous buildings including the department store El Corte Ingles. You could then walk down to La Rambla and its famous La Boqueria market. The market opens at 08h00 and this early in the morning it is still relatively quiet. The market offers a sensory overload and gives you a taste of what Catalan cuisine is all about. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, cheese and seafood are all locally sourced and sold. Be warned that it will be more expensive to shop here than at other markets.
After visiting the market, walk down towards the sea until you reach the famous statue of Christopher Columbus. To your right you will see Montjuic hill where the Olympic complex was built for the 1992 games. To your left you will see Port Vell with its many yachts and sailboats. Behind Port Vell you can find Barceloneta, which used to be a quaint fishing village and has one of the most popular beaches of Barcelona. You could either visit this area or walk over to Parc Ciutadella (which we suggest) for a peaceful walk through this park that used to be a citadel.
From Barceloneta or Ciutadella/Vila Olimpica Metro station, take the metro in direction Trinitat Nova and get off at “Guinardo Hospital Sant Pau. This beautiful building was used as a hospital until 2009 and has been undergoing restoration for use a museum and cultural center. From here, the famous Sagrada Familia is less than 10 minutes’ walk down the beautiful Avenida Gaudi with its many small bars and street cafes. Sagrada Famila is definitely a site worth seeing, however if you want to see it from the inside be prepared to wait in line for some time. You can purchase tickets in advance online and usually they work out a little bit cheaper too.
It should be around lunch time at this point. Be warned that the majority of restaurants around Sagrada Familia will be tourist traps. It´s best to venture a block or two away, where you will find many types of restaurants or even markets where you can buy food. Five minutes’ walk from here you can find Monumental – the old bullfighting ring that is now a monument.
From Monumental we suggest you make your way to the Gracia neighborhood. (About 25 minutes’ walk or 5 minutes by taxi). Known for its Bohemian atmosphere, Gracia boasts some of the best boutique clothing shops in Barcelona. It is also where the Gracia Festival takes place every year in August. Gracia considerably cheaper to dine and drink in this part of the city, most probably since it is not that well known among tourists. You will find many small squares across this neighborhood where locals sit and enjoy each other´s company as well as the general atmosphere of the area. The main Metro station in Gracia is called Fontana. From here you can catch the metro down to Liceu Metro stop. Walk down Carrer de Ferran towards Plaza Sant Jaume where you will see the beautiful Catalan government building.
A few minutes walk from here up Carrer del Bisbe you will see the beautiful stonework and archway that forms part of Catedral. This is one of the most photographed locations in Barcelona and you are more than likely to see a few photographers snapping some pictures of this incredible creation with it´s intricate detail and gargoyles. Continue down this path and you will find yourself in front of Catedral in all its glory and splendor. Be careful with your belongings, especially in the evening since there are scrupulous characters hanging about.
Now we head over to the Old Town called “El Born”. Walking down Via Laietana next to Catedral, turn left on Carrer de la Princesa. Follow the signs to the Picasso museum which will lead you to small winding cobblestone streets and a plethora of tiny bars and restaurants with incredible atmosphere and character. Another beautiful building to see is the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, located in a small square behind Passeig del Born where you will find even more options for enjoying a drink or having dinner.
Barcelona is one of the safest cities in Europe but remember to still be vigilant and to keep your belongings close, especially at this time of night.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we bring you “Day 2 of your adventure in Barcelona”