Are you planning a visit to Spain but have just over 1 day in Barcelona? Then look no further than this 36 hours Barcelona travel guide!
The vibrant Catalan capital, Barcelona, has been attracting visitors for decades, and it’s easy to see why. With an incredible mix of Catalan culture, cuisine, exquisite architecture, traditional festivals and not to mention the glorious sunny beaches, it’s easy to fall in love with Barcelona.
Perhaps you’re visiting briefly as part of a quick stopover, or perhaps as part of a European cruise stop. With so much to see and explore, it may be overwhelming to plan a visit with such little time.
In this guide I’ll outline exactly how you can make the most of this gorgeous city when spending a little over a day in Barcelona!
- When To Visit Barcelona
- How To Get To And Around Barcelona
- Where To Stay: Guide to Barcelona In 36 Hours
- Day 1: 36 Hours In Barcelona
- Day 2: Half A Day In Barcelona Guide
- What To Do In Barcelona In 36 hours: Top Tours & Activities
Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Spain Travel Essentials:
- Search & Book flights here on Skyscanner
- Book your car rental through AutoEurope
- Search hotels here on Booking.com, or on VRBO for apartment-style stays
- Click here to browse & book bus and train tickets
- Lastly, don’t forget about travel insurance for your trip!
Pssst…Ready to travel, check out our comprehensive packing list for your holiday to Spain, and make sure you’ve packed everything you need for your Spanish move or vacay!
When To Visit Barcelona
The best time to travel to Barcelona is during the shoulder season. This is through springtime from April to June when the temperatures are balmy, and festivals begin to welcome summer. Another magical season to visit is during autumn, from September to November. The weather is pleasant with lower temperatures.
During the shoulder season, prices are reasonable, and it’s a perfect time to enjoy Barcelona without waiting in long lines.
During high season, in summer (May to early September), it can get slightly humid, and the city basically doubles in size with tourists.
How To Get To And Around Barcelona
If you are flying into Barcelona, you will land at the Barcelona-El Prat (BCN) International Airport. It’s easy to get to the city centre from the airport. You can purchase an Aerobus ticket online or at the airport, and it will take you directly to the city centre.
The city metro provides excellent public transportation systems and has both metro and public busses. You can purchase tickets, individual or a multi-day pass on public transportation. It’s a great alternative to reach scenic spots like Park Guell.
Keep in mind, Barcelona is very walkable, too. It’s the perfect walking city, to explore the beautiful architecture and find hidden gems nestled in the streets.
Note: It is worth noting that ridesharing services such as Uber do not operate in Barcelona, although local taxi services do still operate in the city.
Where To Stay: Guide to Barcelona In 36 Hours
Barcelona’s neighbourhoods each have their own unique feel to the city. Some of the best places to base yourself in are El Born, El Raval, Gracia, and the Gothic Quarter. These are all great areas to stay in for a Barcelona weekend and are within close proximity to all points of interest.
I suggest basing yourself near the Gothic Quarter or in Gracia to see the main attractions on the list. Gracia is one of the trendy modern neighbourhoods in the city. And the Gothic Quarter is a popular tourist spot with plenty of restaurants and cafes.
Take a look at some of my top places to stay.
- Best budget accommodation near Las Ramblas – Eco Boutique Hostal Grau
- Best mid-range accommodation in Gothic Quarter – Duquesa De Cardona
- Best accommodation in Gracia – Gaudi Flats
Day 1: 36 Hours In Barcelona
You will find some spectacular things to do and see on the first day of your 36 hours in Barcelona. I suggest starting off with the very best things that will, without a doubt, leave you with unforgettable memories and make the very best of your visit when spending just over one day in Barcelona.
Stop 1: Breakfast at EatMyTrip
Before beginning any day, the first thing is to have breakfast. And what better place than to stop at this divine brunch and bakery spot. They serve some of the best coffee and a delicious, healthy breakfast.
Stop 2: Visit The Famous La Sagrada Familia
After your morning of pastries and coffee, it’s time to head off to your first visit.
You cannot visit Barcelona without visiting one of Antoni Gaudi’s most famous masterpieces in the city – the Sagrada Familia. This unfinished Roman Catholic church was first constructed in 1882 and is yet to be finally completed.
The Sagrada Familia, in particular, is a combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles and the incredible stained-glass interiors is something to behold.
Do make sure to pre-book your Sagrada Familia tickets online and ahead of your visit to secure your spot and to avoid any unnecessary queues and waiting times. Alternatively, you may also opt to book a private Sagrada Familia guided tour to make the best of your limited time in Barcelona.
Stop 3: See The Majestic Park Guell
Another one of Gaudi’s famous works is Park Guell. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several other buildings Gaudi designed. This park provides panoramic views and buildings decorated in colourful and vibrant mosaics. It wasn’t planned to be a park but was actually designed to be a gated community outside of the city.
A long story short, only 2 of the 60 houses from this community project are complete. Later they converted it into a park.
This park is the idyllic place to spend the morning (or an afternoon) and explore the Gaudi museum and other whimsical structures and is one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids (be sure to snap a selfie at the colourful mosaiced chameleon, a highlight for the kids!).
Visiting the famous buildings inside the park requires a ticket and it’s best to buy one in advance. I suggest joining a walking tour which you can book before you arrive. Otherwise, if you want to visit the park at your own pace, general admission tickets are available.
Note: Don’t miss your booked time slot. Entrance to the paid part of the park is strictly controlled by the times of entry as per your ticket. If you arrive too late you may not be allowed in.
Stop 4: Have Lunch at La Boqueria
After a morning spent exploring, next up is lunch at one of Barcelona’s popular food markets in the city centre. La Boqueria is one of Barcelona’s most famous markets and it’s right up the road from Las Ramblas. It is full of history and has been around since 1217.
At the market, you will find plenty of delicious foods and incredible treats to try. Take a stroll through and enjoy the mix of Catalan flavours and aromas as you sample some of these delights.
Stop 5: Explore Las Ramblas
Since you are so near Las Ramblas, this is a great time to explore one of Barcelona’s most main tourist shopping strips.
The tree-lined bustling street stretches from Plaça de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument. You can walk along this street on your own and soak up the vibrant atmosphere.
Although I would recommend a leisurely stroll through Las Ramblas, I would definitely not recommend that you eat here. For this and many other Barcelona tips & advice, be sure to check out my Barcelona first-timers guide.
Stop 6: Visit Columbus Monument
Right at the end of Las Ramblas, en route to the Gothic Quarter, lies the Christopher Columbus Monument. The 60-meter-tall cast-iron column stands overlooking the sea and provides a spectacular 360-degree view of Barcelona.
The monument was first built in 1888 to honour Christopher Columbus when he disembarked from Barcelona.
Take an elevator to the top of this colossal museum to enjoy splendid views of the city. There is an entrance fee of €5.60 per adult that you can purchase at the door. Otherwise, if you have more time before exploring the Gothic Quarter, I suggest buying a ticket online and opt for an additional wine tasting.
Stop 7: Spend The Evening At Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
One of the top things to do in Barcelona at night is to end the day at Barri Gotic. It’s famously known for its Gothic architecture and history-steeped backstreets. And it’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the Catalonian capital.
The Gothic Quarter is the perfect place to wander around and explore, filled with artsy bars and cafes. There are many places to visit, such as the Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona. The cathedral was constructed from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century and is a spectacular sighting. Keep in mind the visiting hours in the evening are from 5:45 pm to 7:30 pm.
Another must-see place in the Gothic Quarter is Placa Reial. It’s a popular tourist attraction, especially in the evenings. Visitors come to enjoy the summer concerts and vibrant outdoor cafes.
Day 2: Half A Day In Barcelona Guide
On day 2 of your 36 hours in Barcelona, we’ll take a trip to another two of Gaudi’s famous places. They are both full of history and conveniently close to one another. But before heading off to your next destination, I highly recommend visiting one of Barcelona’s man-made beaches.
Stop 1: Have Breakfast At Granja Viader
What better way to start your day with coffee and some delicious pastry from cafe Granja Viader. They offer a traditional menu and a splendid Spanish coffee.
Stop 2: Get A Picture Next To Casa Batllo
The first site to see on your final day is Casa Batllo – another one of Antoni Gaudi designs, located on Passeig de Gràcia in the trendy Eixample neighbourhood.
Many say the building looks like it’s constructed of bone. Although the building has had several refurbishments, it still oozes charm and is something to marvel at.
I recommend booking your admission skip the line tickets in advance as the lines can get long.
Stop 3: Visit Casa Mila
Casa Batllo and Casa Mila are a mere 5- to 10-minute walk apart.
Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, was the last private residence that architect Gaudi built. I suggest you buy a skip the line ticket in advance to beat the crowds and get a home tour of this incredible private residence.
Casa Mila is considered the second most popular building Gaudi had designed. The most fascinating place is the rooftop where you will discover whimsical chimneys and several sculptures dominating the area.
Stop 4: Stroll On La Barceloneta Beach
For your final stop, before your 36 hours are up, you should certainly stop to see the La Barceloneta beach. Visit this beautiful man-made beach, and spend time walking along the coastline or swim in the emerald blue sea before heading back.
There are plenty of seafood restaurants and cafes to stop at if you have time. Otherwise, grab a gelato and stroll along the waterfront.
On your way out, head over to Port Olimpic, where the 1991 Olympics were held. It’s now part of a modern port and offers restaurants, shopping, and gorgeous views of the marina.
What To Do In Barcelona In 36 hours: Top Tours & Activities
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things Barcelona has to offer, why not consider a group tour of the city?
There are amazing tours and activities that will fill your time in Barcelona and keep you wanting more. Take a look at tours and activities available and book your tickets here for a magical time in Barcelona Spain.