Barcelona is one of the brightest, most colorful, beautiful and happening cities in Europe – if not the world. You really need several days to soak up and get the most of this vibrant city, which is a unique blend of Modern and Gothic. It is a melting pot of cultures and is both relaxed and sophisticated.
As you are in the awful position of having only two days in which to explore Barcelona’s many charms here are some things you could do to make the best use of your time.
Since lack of time is your enemy it would be perfect if you could stay in La Rambla or the Gothic Quarter. These locations are central to your tour. From these two places the transport connections, such as the Metro and bus services, are superb thus saving you plenty of travel time.
The best, cheapest and most convenient way to get around Barcelona, given your tight schedule, is the hop-on hop-off buses in Barcelona. There are three lines – blue, green and red. Depending on your areas of interest you could choose one line or all three. Many of the attractions, we suggest you see, are covered by a combination of the three lines, so you could easily hop-off and hop-on to any line. The green line is dedicated to Barcelona’s beautiful and exciting beaches. Get yourself a day pass.
Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family): This fabulous church was designed and begun by the modernist architect, Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s most famous son. Started in 1882 it is still being constructed with reports that it could be finished (finally!) by 2026. It is immense and can be seen all over the city. A trip up to the tower will give you a panoramic view of Barcelona. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an icon of Barcelona.
Casa Batlló: This apartment block was restored by the Antoni Gaudí. Locally known as the “House of Bones,” the shape of the roof and other built-in features are supposed to represent Saint George stabbing a dragon. The roof tiles are of varying colours representing the dragon’s scales, including blue, greeny-blue, violet, orange, red and pink. You can go inside for a look at more of the master’s work – for a fee.
The Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter): This is the heart of old Barcelona with buildings from Roman and medieval times. The beauty of the buildings and the maze of narrow, winding picturesque streets are worth wandering through. Some of the highlights are the remains of the squared Roman Wall near Tapineria, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west, Carrer de la Palla to the south and El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter.
Barcelona Pavilion: The Pavilion as it stands today is a faithful recreation of Mies van der Rohe’s original creation for the 1929 International Exposition. van der Rohe pioneered a whole new modern architectural style and is possibly the father of the minimalist movement. It is he who said “Less is more.” and “God is in the details.” One of the highlights of the pavilion is the ‘Barcelona Chair.’
Park Güell: Yet another fantastic creation from the mind of Antoni Gaudí. It too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The garden complex is a collection of out-of-this-world dragons, stone pillars, brilliantly-coloured mosaic walls and snake-shaped seating areas. The adjectives run out when trying to describe this place. The best thing to do is to get in there, let your jaw drop and wear out your camera-clicking finger.
Barcelona Beaches: Just 10 minutes from Barcelona’s city centre are seven beautiful sandy beaches. The four most popular and major ones are Barceloneta Beach, Icària Beach, Mar Bella Beach (Marbella Beach – unofficially a nudist beach) and Sitges Beaches. The last one is a bit farther away – about a half hour train ride from the city. You could windsurf, kite-surf or just lie in the sun and get drinks and great food from the many beach huts.
La Rambla: Is one the most famous streets in all of Europe. In actuality it is five boulevards, which is why it is commonly referred to in the plural, ‘Las Ramblas.’ Shopping, people watching, restaurants, artists and street performers of all kinds are the major attractions. It is a great place to spend the evening and night hours. This pedestrian only avenue is packed with buskers, living statues, mimes, artists and salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewellery. There plenty of bars and restaurants.
Shopping: When it comes to shopping Barcelona offers a wide spectrum of choices – from luxury to bargain. Els Encants is one of Europe’s best flea markets with stores selling everything from antiques to junk. At the other end of the scale is Passeig de Gràcia and its luxury boutiques. Other notable shopping places are the Diagonal Mar, Portal de l’Àngel, the Maremagnum and Las Ramblas.
Eating and Drinking: Barcelona is a paradise for the avid (and not so) foodie. The tapas, paella, cava, wines and beers are simply divine. The number of establishments of every size and budget is incredible. The vast choice of menus and food varieties, especially tapas, can be overwhelming for a first-time visitor or even a frequent one. From roadside tapas bars to fine dining terrace bars, the city has it all. However if you want authentic Catalan food then the Gothic Quarter is where you should head to.
The Evening and Night in Barcelona: When your day of sightseeing is done the evening and night beckons. Barcelona has plenty to fill those hours. There is entertainment and leisure to suit all tastes and budgets. You can have dinner while taking in a Flamenco show at one of several notable tablaos. Cordobes Tablao is probably the most famous place to get your Flamenco fix and have an excellent dinner at the same time. Barcelona is absolutely crammed with a variety of pretty and traditional tapas bars where you can treat your palette and sip on some excellent wine or beer. A tapas meal is a must-do experience.
We do hope we are of help in advising and what you should do in this wonderful Mediterranean city and our suggestions made your 48 hours fulfilling.