This blog post was originally posted on October 14, 2014, and was updated on January 30, 2018.
Welcome to 48 hours in Barcelona!
It’s not always easy packing a two-thousand-year-old city into two days but you can try! Read on for some tips on how to do Barcelona in a jiffy! Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a stop-through during a much longer trip, make sure to enjoy the beautiful city.
7 pm: Gain your bearings, from above
When you’ve just touched down on in a new urban environment, a great place to start is with 360 views of the city! However, don’t forget you need a map in hand. The Barceló Raval Hotel (Rambla de Raval, 17-21) has a circular rooftop terrace boasting fantastic views of all of Barcelona. From the sea to the mountains, from the Sagrada Familia to Montjuic—it’s all there and will most likely take your breath away.
9 pm: Dine like the locals
Whether it’s a late lunch, a late dinner, or all the cañas and coffees in between, you haven’t got much time to get stuck at a tourist trap! After you’ve seen the bird’s eye view, head south on La Rambla de Raval towards the sea. Marvel at the lively street life of this diverse neighborhood. Eventually, end up at Cañete (Carrer de la Unió) for some stellar tapas and one of the most locally-adored restaurants in town. Depending on your mood, go for the blue or the red awning. The blue is reserved for the barra, a 17-meter long bar perfect for casually snacking on tapas in a lively atmosphere. While the red is reserved for mantel, tablecloth, a quieter and more formal area. Full of softer lights, perfectly set tables, and of course, white tablecloths.
12 am: Have a drink or two
Cocktails are generally reserved for after-dinner drinks in Spain. Many people sometimes erroneously believe in their digestive properties. The trendiest drink at the moment would be a gintonic. Whether or not you’re a fan of the stuff, don’t miss out on the incredibly cool Negroni (Joaqin Costa, 46). They are famous for their expertise on the subjects of cocktails. They don’t have a menu but you can tell the mixologist a bit about your tastes, and he will take care of you.
10 am: Breakfast of champions
We’re huge fans of the bubbly breakfasts in Barcelona! For a truly special experience, don’t miss out on Can Paixano (Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7). It’s an age-old bar tucked away on a small pedestrian street between La Barceloneta and the Born. They specialize in two things here: bocadillos and cava, no other than the delicious Spanish sparkling wine. Soak in the lively Barcelona-style brunch.
12 pm: Stroll along Port Vell
Port Vell is the old port of Barcelona. It houses some of the city’s most spectacular marine fare! Think fancy sails to traditional fishing boats, not to mention the always lively scene between the artesian product stands and entertainers. The views are also priceless, and of course, when you arrive at the Barceloneta beach, you will most definitely want a picture of the W Hotel! It’s a modern building that imitates a sail bursting with the wind.
2:30 pm: Finally—paella (or fideua!) time
You’ve strolled up and down La Barceloneta and are starting to work up an appetite. The old fishermen’s neighborhood is packed with awesome spots to enjoy one of Spain’s most delicious treats. Furthermore, a few notable ones would be Maians (Carrer Sant Carles, 28), where not only is the paella incredible but also the arroz negro, squid ink rice that is hugely popular among Spaniards. If you’re looking for a rice with a view, try Can Majó (Carrer Almirall Aixada, 23). Go local with a fideua, a noodle version of paella that will surely knock your socks off!
5 pm: Hit the streets for a bit of Gaudi
We are assuming you’ve gone home for a siesta, because not many people are capable of eating paella without lying down for a bit afterward. And no big deal! Things are pretty quiet during the mid-afternoon anyway. Once you’ve recharged, inspire yourself by visiting some of the works of Barcelona’s most famed architect. Definitely purchase online beforehand to skip the incredibly long lines once there (or join a guided tour!). You cannot visit Barcelona without at least seeing the façade of one of his modernist masterpieces.
7 pm: Roam around the Born
The Born is arguably one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the city. It’s narrow streets, rich history and artsy clothing make for the perfect neighborhood! It’s perfect to explore, shop and people-watch. no 48 hours in Barcelona would be complete without a visit here. The 14th century Santa Maria Basilica is one of the area’s most impressive buildings. Even more so as it was built in just 30 years by the very neighbors themselves. To name just a few, the streets of Flassaders and Rec are perfect places to start if you’re in the mood to shop.
Another place worth stopping by is the recently reformed Born Cultural Center, a stunning modernist structure that once housed Barcelona’s wholesale market and now displays an incredible collection of 18th-century ruins. Open to the public and sometimes hosting different cultural events, it’s a must if you’re in the area.
9 pm: Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
Crossing Via Laitana, you will find yourself thrown into a winding labyrinth of medieval passageways and mysterious plazas that make up Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. Make your way towards Bodega La Palma (Carrer de la Palma de Sant Just, 7), a very de-toda-la-vida bodega that serves chilled Priorat by the pitcher and some very traditional Catalan tapas. This place is no-frills but all the same is quite charming with its barrels of wine and it’s minuscule attic dining room.
We love bodegas so much that we even visit La Palma and some others on our Tapas, Taverns & History Tour!
12 am: And enjoy its incredible nightlife!
After you’ve had dinner, you certainly cannot miss out on Plaça Reial, one of the most emblematic squares of the city center. Enormous and filled with palm trees and restaurant terraces, the scene here is always a lively one. Check out Antonio Gaudi’s very first project, two lampposts for the City Hall, in the center of the plaza. If you’re into live music head to Jamborree Jazz Club (Plaça Reial, 17) or Sidecar (Plaça Reial, 7) to see what’s on. Alternatively, Ocaña (Plaça Reial, 13-15) is one of the city’s newest and arguably coolest restaurant-meets-bar-meets-club spots. This place has it all, from dessert on their terrace, to drink at the bar, to dancing in their underground nightclub until the wee hours of the morning.
11 am: Rise and shine, it’s croissant time
The Eixample district is Barcelona’s wide boulevard, beautiful architecture, on-the-posher-side area that surrounds the city center. It was built between the 19th and 20th centuries and was, in fact, a very innovative city expansion project for the time. It’s home to some of Barcelona’s best eats—just check out Enric Grandos street to see why. But for breakfast, we recommend trying the melt-in-your-mouth almond croissant at Baluard Bakery, housed in the design Praktik Hotel (Carrer de Provença, 279). These people are some of the leaders in the artisan baking world, and the enormous wood-burning stove is impressive, to say the least.
12 pm: Hike up to the Village of Gràcia
Gracia is one of our favorite neighborhoods of Barcelona. It’s where traditional meets modern, small village meets big city, and then, of course, it’s home to our original Gracia neighborhood food tour. Though it’s been a part of Barcelona since 1897, it still does well in maintaining a small village vibe with people playing cards on the street and children congregating in the squares. We’ve made a list of fun things to do in the neighborhood, so don’t miss out. 48 hours in Barcelona gives you lots of time to explore!
2:30 pm: Chow down on a menú del día
One of the best ways to get a good value on great food is to order a menú del día, a set menu at lunch time that usually includes two courses plus a drink and coffee or dessert. Restaurants all over the city offer varying menus, but if you’re already up in Gracia you cannot miss out on La Pubilla (Plaça de la Llibertat, 23). For €14, enjoy one of the best-fixed menus in town, surrounded by locals to boot. This is something that you must do during your 48 hours in Barcelona!
5 pm: Wrap things up with the musts
Okay, okay, Las Ramblas is touristy and you couldn’t quite call Plaça Catalunya exciting. All the same, you cannot visit Barcelona without visiting the immense pigeon-filled square, then walk down Las Ramblas and make sure no one pick-pockets you. La Boqueria (La Rambla, 91) is Barcelona’s most famed market and most definitely photo worthy! Furthermore, if you can make it through the initial crowds, actually lies a very authentic and special place! And of course, a perfect way to end 48 hours in Barcelona.