One Day in BarcelonaExtras — By Mary on November 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm
My first time in Barcelona, I was only there for one and a half days and in that time I spent several hours finding a place to sleep I could actually afford (it was Easter weekend and I showed up with no reservations and hostels were completely full), was urinated on by a dog (I was sitting on a curb and it just walked right up to me and did its business), watched my ankle balloon overnight to 3 times its normal size (that’s a whole other story), and cried in front of a bunch of locals all through Easter mass (part of the ankle story).
Despite all that, I had an incredible experience in Barcelona and fell in love with the city. Though I didn’t have much time, I was also able to see a lot of the city, even a Barcelona FC football game.
When short on time in Barcelona, whether because you’re on a cruise and only have a day in port, you have a long layover, or you’re simply determined to fit the city in at the end of another Europe trip because you just have to see it before heading back to reality, it’s important to prioritize your day and hit the stops that will give you the best taste of Barcelona. Plus, check out these LG approved, cheap hotels right in the heart of the city.
My plan for spending just a day in Barcelona can be summed up in three words: Rambling, Gaudi, and Eating.
By rambling, I mean two things:
The street Las Ramblas and literally rambling through the streets of Barcelona – more specifically the aforementioned Las Ramblas and Plaza Real square.
Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s most famous street due to its pretty, tree-lined framing and multitude of shops. It’s great for “rambling” down. (See, now you won’t ever forget the name of the street!) My favorite part of Las Ramblas is a little piece of urban paradise just off its path called Plaza Real. It’s a charming square with plenty of cafes and outdoor seating. It’s a great place for a drink and to soak up the Barcelona sunshine.
Now for Gaudi. Antoni Gaudi, to be exact. Mr. Gaudi was an architect at the turn of the 19th century and designed a host of works seen all over the city, from apartment buildings, to parks, to churches. The latter of which is the one Gaudi sight you cannot miss during your time in Barcelona – the inspiring and head-spinning cathedral, the Sagrada Familia. It is breathtaking in its gothic and elaborate unfinished splendor. Yes, unfinished. Sadly, Gaudi died before the cathedral was completed and it was in limbo for many years. It is now scheduled to be completed in 2026. Considering how amazingly cool the cathedral is right now, I think everyone’s eyes are going to explode out of their head when the whole thing is finished. I’m not even going to tell you how intricate the doorway is or how abstract the sculptures are or how mesmerizing the columns leading up to the light-playing sunbursts are – you really need to go see it yourself. And you can bet where I’ll be in 2026!
If you need more of a fill of Gaudi, there are several free walking tours of Gaudi’s work offered around the city. Also, the Parc du Guell is Gaudi’s marvelous landscaping accomplishment and the huge park also provides gorgeous views of the city.
Barcelona is known for its tapas. Hit up a bar with some friends and order a dozen of some mouthwatering small plates of food and be prepared to try a multitude of different flavors and textures of Spanish cuisine. As for the drinking, wash it down with some fruity sangria. For more of an entree type of meal, try some Spanish paella. Pick a restaurant where the seafood is fresh and get ready for some food nirvana.
The most important part of your day in Barcelona is to enjoy it. Don’t feel like you have to see everything, because you won’t. Instead, focus on the things that are going to help you get a true sense of Barcelona and if you fall as in love with the city as I did, get ready to start planning your next trip as soon as you leave.