In the northeast corner of Spain along the Catalan coast, Barcelona is a historic city as well as the capital of Catalonia. People from all over the world come to Barcelona, which has a rich history with ruins of early settlements all over the city including homes and tombs from 5,000 BC.
If you only have one weekend to spend in this city on the Mediterranean Sea, you will want to make the most of it with a planned itinerary. There is a lot of beach space to be explored while you are here, so you can take advantage of the warm weather too. Leave your luggage with one of the Bounce locations in Barcelona first.
Day One: Friday Night
Arriving in Barcelona on Friday night, you will want to head straight to your hotel and unpack before heading out to a nice meal. Getting around is easy with several public transportation options.
The Metro Rail has 12 lines and 187 stations around the city from the middle of Barcelona to the Sant Andreu district in Catalonia. The Metro Bus has 200 stops in and around Barcelona, so you will have no problem hopping on one of them to get to where you want to go.
The city also has two tram systems, cable cars, and a funicular car system. If you need a car right away, try the metered taxi service. They have over 10,000 cars, and you can catch one on the street or give them a call.
The traditional food in Barcelona includes both Catalan and Spanish cuisine. Catalan stew is a dish served with a broth as well as various solid foods like pasta, veggies, and meats of all kinds. Black rice paella is also popular, which uses squid ink to dye the rice. Check out one of our favorite choices below.
For a cozy and intimate dinner, Bodega Biarritz on Noe de San Francesc is a tiny place with big flavors. The delicious tapas come in 35 different choices made fresh every day. They are also known for a variety of wines that will astound even the pickiest drinker.
Teoric Taverna Gastronomica
Teoric Taverna Gastronomica is a formal affair on Carrer Bailen with reasonable prices. Enjoy some of the best Catalan and Spanish dishes served with flair. Try the grilled octopus or prawns with croquettes and one of their amazing salads. Grab some cheesecake or lemon ice cream for dessert.
This place on Carrer d’Aribau is the best for a nice casual dinner. The food at Micu Maku is top-notch, and they have a wide variety of pasta dishes, five different kinds of burgers, and even chicken nuggets. If you want seafood, they offer squid, prawns, and clams, to name a few. Desserts include ice cream, cake, and Catalan cream.
Day Two: Saturday
Get up early so you can see as much as possible since you only have two days. Grab some breakfast at the hotel or a nearby eatery before heading out.
Take a Tour
One thing you may enjoy is the hop-on hop-off bus tour, where you can learn about the city while you visit all the major spots. They have three different tour choices, with over 40 planned stops along the way. But you can stop and hop off anywhere and hop back on when you are ready. You can spend an hour or all day doing this. One of these stops can be for lunch.
The Gothic Quarter
In the middle of the old city of Barcelona, the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) you'll see some of the oldest buildings in the city. The Barcelona City History Museum, built in the 1500s, is a must-see for your itinerary. You can also visit the Aguilar Palace, the remains of the Roman Temple, and what is left of the Barcelona Cathedral. Get some dinner here before heading to your next stop.
This whimsical park has more than 40 acres of buildings that look like they jumped out of a Dr. Suess book. Have a seat on the long meandering serpentine bench decorated with mosaics. You’ll love the ocean view. What originally started as a housing tenement in the early 1900s is now a public park with a municipal garden, the Gaudi House Museum, and a huge forested area where you can take a hike.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Also known as the Sagrada Familia, it was started in 1882 and is still not completed. But the Gothic and Art Nouveau style of the structure is stunning. You can take a self-guided audio tour or have a tour guide show you around, whichever you like. See the nativity steeples, museum, crypt, and nave. Don’t forget to grab some souvenirs before you leave.
Day Three: Sunday
It is your last day in Barcelona, so make it count. You will want to hit the beach at least once before you leave town. Do some shopping, see Picasso’s art, and visit the zoo as well.
Have a Beach Day
Barceloneta Beach is one of the most popular beaches to enjoy. Bogatell Beach and Mar Bella Beach are both wonderful as well. Or you can visit Nova Icaria Beach by the Olympic Marina, where you can also get some breakfast. If you stay long enough, grab some lunch too.
If you are not into the beach scene or the weather is not cooperating, visit some of the art museums in Barcelona. They even have some of Picasso’s works of art at the Picasso Museum on Carrer Montcada. And the Barcelona Museum of Art on Placa dels Angels has a stunning variety of exhibits from ancient artworks to more recent works of local artisans.
Take the time to do some shopping while you are in Barcelona so you can get some cool souvenirs for the folks back home. The Botiga Canuda Gift Shop on Carrer de la Canuda is a small but interesting shop for unique items. Or go to Souvenirs 78 or Tara’s Souvenirs, which are both on the same block of La Rambla.
If you like animals, the Barcelona Zoo should be one of your stops before leaving town. They have been on Parc de la Ciutadella since 1892 and feature 300 different species with a total of over 2,000 animals. From the African elephant to the zebra, you will definitely need a camera to remember it all.
*Post contributed by Gillian Whitman, a peer travel writer and lover of the Med.*