City Guide – 24 hours in Barcelona Spain
Barcelona, a city where culture and partying go hand in hand, where football is on everybody’s mind, and the Catalan pride flows through everything. Spending 24 hours in this city is intense, but you really get the best of all worlds.
If you are traveling there and spending at least 24 hours – here are my Top Picks for a day out on the town…
8.30 – 9 am – Start The Day With Barcelona’s “Favorite”
A good start of the day is visiting the masterpiece of Gaudí, La Sagrada Família. The catholic church has been under construction since 1882, and is currently scheduled to finish in 2026. What’s interesting about the church is the variety of design. So many different architects with completely different thoughts. The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the lost plans as well as on modern adaptations.
Seeing this is something you wouldn’t want to miss, and the best time to see it is in the morning around 8.30, when you will find the morning light giving you the opportunity for the best photos! 😉
10 am – Gaze at Gucci and Gaudí
Admire the amazing architecture along Passeig de Grácia. This is also the major shopping street, so if you can afford some shopping you’ll find some awesome shops. But as a backpacker, you do best in just doing some window shopping 😛 – it’s actually quite nice as the shops are designed really cool with modern designs, ponds and aquariums inside.
On this street you can also see Casa Batlló by Antonio Gaudí, which is my favorite house. Being built over a century ago (1877) it’s still modern and “before” today’s designers. Another building by him is Casa Milá, one of the few buidlings open for the public!
12 pm – Coffee and News Papers
Have a cake and “cafe con leche” at Café d El´Opera, a café with history dating back to the 18:th century. You get that old musky feeling sitting at this café which is a favorite by locals, but lately talked about more in guide books as well – find it in the middle of La Rambla.
1 pm – Rumble down La Rambla
Stroll down La Rambla and watch the human statues and amateur artists. Drop by the mercato La Boqueria on the way and buy some fruits and stuff for a picnic by the harbour later in the day. Here you can find the freshest food, and melt in with the locals who come here to shop their groceries, or enjoy a coffee.
2 pm – Peek on Picasso Paintings
Visit the Picasso museum, the most popular museum in Barcelona, and for a good reason. It is the most extensive collection of Pablo Picasso, and the museum is beautifully put in 5 medieval palaces. You find over 3, 500 works, and it includes all from old school books his “blue period”.
3 pm – Siesta in the Sun
Walk along the harbor with a gelato, sit down by one of the benches or at the beach and have the lunch you bought from the market. If you have brought your swim wear along then you can go for a quick dip – but don’t put your head under the water, you can get bad eye infections from it… trust me I know 🙁
4 pm – Wander around the Old Barrio
Check out Barri Gótic, the old part of town, and do some shopping in the boutiques. Many of the building date back from medieval times and all the way to Roman settlement. Wander along these winding streets and soak up the feeling of old Barcelona.
If you haven’t had enough of churches you can have a look into the Cathedral of Santa Eualia.
6 pm – Bow Tie Bartenders and Cocktail Expertise
Have a cocktail at Barcelona’s oldest bar “Boadas” (since 1933), a hang out place for famous people like Hemingway and Juan Miró. The bar is just off la rambla (Carrer del Tallers 1), but could be quite tricky to find since it’s very discreet with its red little door, showing no sign of being a place where the bartenders wear bow ties…
They don’t have a menu, and don’t expect a website any time soon under this century…
8 pm – Tapas Time
Time for some dinner. Have some tapas at La esquinica, a favourite by the locals with good quality for a good price. Be there before 9pm if you want to avoid standing in a long line waiting for a table.
It’s quite a bit away from La Ramblas, but you can get there with metro, get off at Vilapicina or Virrei Amat. The restaurant is in the middle of Fabra I Puig street.
Price range between 10 – 20 Euro.
10 pm – Get lost in Wonderland
Sip on a sangría when wandering through the rooms in “El Bosc de les Fades“, a pub design from fairy tale. It’s part of the Wax Museum, and inside there are big sleepy hollow trees, caves, waterfalls and fairy figures. I really liked the place since it was pretty special, and the atmosphere is great.
You find it in the south end of La rambla, Passatge de la Banca, 5, next to the Wax Museum.
11 pm – Bar hop in Barri Gotic & El Born
Time to check out some more bars. There are so many bars to choose between in Barcelona, and you will probably end up in a completely different bar than planned, but hanging around in Barri Gotic and El Born areas are probably the best.
02. am – 06.30 am – It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Lady Sings
The bars are lined up one next to the other down by the harbor and beach., and you can party all night long until the morning.
In the shopping center Maremagnum there are quite a few bars and dancing, it doesn’t give you a very authentic feeling but is a lot of fun. Maremagnum is half a shopping center and half a nightclub center, and there is everything form Techno to Salsa dancing in the clubs and pubs lined up next to each other in the mall – other fun clubs are Catwalk and Bajabeachclub.
Catwalk has two floors, R&B upstairs and techno downstairs. The vibes are totally different between the two stories, and so are the people on the floors. Downstairs they have robotic go go dancers and the place looks more hip, while you can find that Latin vibe on the second floor.
Bajabeach club is a fun club for backpackers and single people. The location is awesome, right on the beach, and it’s not very sophisticated with topless bartenders and relaxed dress codes. If you like dancing to the good old hits that everyone sings along with the lyrics, this is the place for you.
Another bar where travelers and backpackers meet up is Travel Bar. This is the meeting point for those who have arranged barhopping, which is a pretty hectic drunken party group wobbelling from pub to pub during the night.
If you have a spare day:
In case you have a spare day, make sure to check out one of the two hills surrounding the city – Tibidabo and Montjuic.
A hill with the best view over Barcelona, with restaurants and a quite special theme park.
The fun park is the oldest in Barcelona, and is a lot of fun since many of the attractions go over the steep hill. Like when sitting in those spinning chair, it goes over the edge! The theme park retains most of the original rides, some of which date to the early 1900’s.
Check out the view when swimming in the Olympic pool. Remember to bring some food and towels along! After a dip in the pool visit the fortress or a café and enjoy some more of the view. However, the most fun is probably the ride up there in the cable car.
(photo credit: 1)