We just finished our 8 days in Georgia skiing trip and decided to spend 24 hours in Barcelona before heading off to the sunshine in Mexico.
Flights from Spain to Mexico are super cheap (we paid £300 for a flight just a couple of weeks before on Skyscanner) so it worked out better for us, let alone we have both wanted to visit Barcelona for ages.
With a bit of last minute research (I’m talking the night before and on the plane over!), this is what we did in 24 hours in Barcelona. I tried to read other blogs about what to do but this is our experience of having just one day in Barcelona to see as much as possible.
Our flight landed at 6:20pm on the Friday (4th January 2019) and we were getting an overnight bus to Madrid airport at 1:00am on the Sunday morning. Here’s everything we managed to do within that time frame.Gaudi’s Casa Batllo
Be warned, we were exhausted by the end of the day and managed to fall asleep as soon as we got on that overnight bus ride but we’re glad we got to see as much as possible.
What to see in Barcelona in one day
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Speaking Spanish and how to get around in Barcelona
Everyone spoke really good English in Barcelona so even though my Spanish is literally non existent, it’s an easy place to get by and also around.
The local transport is incredibly easy to figure out. We were going to go on one of those hop on hop off buses but glad we didn’t as Barcelona is quite small and easy to walk around and easy to get buses or the metro. Just use Google Maps on your phone and you’ll be able to direct the way to get to various tourist sites via walking or using public transport. If you’re coming from England, your phone will work as normal with no extra charges.
Where to stay in Barcelona
We found this centrally located cheap apartment called Happy @ Barcelona
I recommend staying somewhere as central as possible. We found this accommodation on booking.com which was only £40 for two nights. It was so cheap because we visited straight after New Years on the 4th January. We booked two nights even though our bus was at 1am so if we wanted to come back to the room we could. I’m glad we did this because we needed some chill out time before the bus journey.
Because the room was so cheap and there weren’t many reviews, we didn’t expect much. BUT, I’m pleased to say we loved Happy @ Barcelona. We were greeted by a lovely Spanish man who gave us a few insights into the city. Before we knew it, we realised we were basically staying in an apartment with two other rooms filled with couples. There’s a common space with a lounge, bathroom, separate toilet and kitchen to use.
Everyone kept to themselves but the best thing was, we were staying right in the middle of the city in the Gothic Quarter. We were literally just a stones throw from the beach, from the main tourist street of La Rambla and everything else. It was perfect! Just one piece of advice, bring ear plugs with you. Once we put ours in, we didn’t hear a thing.
Amazing local Spanish food at Taller De Tapas, La Rambla, Barcelona
We jumped on the bus at the airport into the city which cost €5 each and took about 30 minutes. We then took the metro and walked to our apartment. We managed to go from door to door within an hour of landing which is amazing really.
As soon as we arrived, we went to check out La Rambla which is the main tourist street full of restaurants and tourist stalls, selling random bits of crap that no one ever buys. We were starving and quickly found Taller De Tapas which had loads of good Google reviews.
We ended up ordering the local dishes and drinks; paella, tapas and sangria. It was the best food we had in ages and it cost us €30. We were surprised as we imagined Barcelona to be crazy expensive like it was in Croatia when we visited over the Summer (we’re talking a very small basic meal of fish and a few potatoes for £50 between us). We were pleasantly surprised how much cheaper it was.
After dinner we got an early night as we knew we would be having a long day ahead.
Thankfully we managed to book two tourist attractions to visit the day before as we didn’t want to waste time lining up to get into them. This included Gaudi’s masterpiece of La Sagrada Familia (the cathedral) and the house he built called Casa Batllo.
La Sagrada Familia: 8am-10:30am (€25)
We paid €25 each to visit Gaudi’s cathedral and booked ourselves in for the first session of the day at 9am. You can choose 15 minute time slots and although we read that the best time to visit is at sunset so you get the light shining through the cathedral, for us it was the most important thing we wanted to see. We knew we had to tick it off first.
If you’re going to Barcelona in high season, you may need to pre-book your tickets well in advance (even up to a couple of months in advance). There are loads of random sites selling tickets but buy them from here which is the official site.
We also worked out that the skip the line tickets basically means buying them online so don’t think you’re getting a good deal. There’s always two lines, one for online pre-paid tickets and one for people who need to buy them there on the door. That’s it!
If you’re spending more than one day in Barcelona, I read that it’s also best to leave this site of all of Gaudi’s til last, and I can see why. Whilst his other works are undeniably incredible, nothing will prepare you for this site. Both of us had never seen anything more beautiful in our lives.
Buy your tickets to this incredible masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia from the official site here.
We wondered what time we’d need to leave our accom to get there, would it be rammed full of people lining up who had already booked online as well, even if it was low season? Our accom host told us to leave at 7:30am as it was a 40 minute walk or 30 minute metro ride to get there. We ended up leaving just after 8am and got the metro which got us there right on time.
When we arrived, there wasn’t actually a line at all and we just walked straight in. We’d read to give yourself 1h30min to look around the site and that’s actually pretty spot on.
We didn’t spend a long time photographing it at all and listened to the audio guide, which you 100% must do and had one extra walk around before leaving.The audio guide is a must listen because there’s so much to this cathedral, it’s amazing. It looks as though other architects have taken over Gaudi’s masterpiece to finish it off to co-inside with his 100 year death. Gaudi is actually buried in this cathedral and it’s honestly a cathedral like no other.The tall pillars represent his love of nature to resemble tree trunks in the sky. Everything in this cathedral has a meaning, he even made sure it wasn’t higher than any mountain in Spain, as in his eyes no man made thing should ever be higher than God’s beauty.This cathedral is more like a piece of art and you’d be mad not to visit this jaw dropping site.
Visit the Gaudi Buildings In Barcelona
Casa Mila and Casa Batllo 10:30-12pm (both cost €25)
We couldn’t justify spending another €25 each on both buildings so we choose to spend it on seeing Casa Batllo instead. We choose this one because you get to see inside most of the house rather than just a rooftop and we’d read this one was the better one to spend your money on.Buy your Casa Batllo tickets from the official site here.
When we arrived to Casa Batllo, which sits on the exclusive shopping street of Barcelona (Burberry is opposite), the building was how I imagined it to be; a beautiful, candy-esque house that you just wanted to eat.It reminded us a lot of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and we’re glad we booked this one because there was a line for the people who hadn’t booked and they looked pretty fed up with waiting to get in.
I booked this Casa Batllo for 12pm, not knowing how long we would have been at La Sagrada Familia. When we turned up at 11am, they allowed us to go straight in because they weren’t busy for the time of the year.We then spent about an hour looking through pretty much every room of the house with an audio guide an ipod that gave you an immersive experience of what the house used to look like.The best part of the building was the middle section, all painted in blue tiles with balconies in the middle. It’s quite spectacular and we really enjoyed our time at this house Gaudi built.
When we came out of here, we decided to change a few things and instead of doing a Gothic Quarter walking tour at 3pm, we booked tickets to go to see another of Gaudi’s famous pieces at Park Guell at 4pm. We were going to just rock up, but realised we would need to book so we had a bit of free time. Here’s what we did.
Visit the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona: 1pm – 2pm
So we then walked over to the Gothic Quarter, went to see Catedral De Barcelona but decided not to pay the 7 Euro to go inside. As mentioned, we were supposed to go on a free walking tour at 3pm but we decided to sack it off and head up to Park Guell a bit later instead.If you have time, I’d do a free walking tour as it definitely looked like you’d learn a lot about the history there.
Visit La Boqueria market: 2pm-3pm
We headed over to La Boqueria market in La Rambla which has free entry and could see how amazing all the food looked. By the time we settled on some food, we had to be quick because we needed to get over to Park Guell so we settled for burritos which were surprisingly amazing!
Opposite the market on La Rambla, you’ll see a corner shop with a big sign saying Churros. Don’t go in here, they were gross 🙁
Visit Park Guell: 3pm – 5pm (€8.50)
It took us about half an hour or so to get the metro up to Park Guell from La Rambla. We had to climb a massive hill to get up there but it was so worth it.
The views of the city were beautiful. The park itself is gorgeous and there’s something so lovely about being up there, away from it all. As we walked around the park, we saw the house that Gaudi actually lived in although we didn’t pay to go inside as we’d read it wasn’t actually that interesting.
As we walked over to the big line for the 4pm session, we joined it to enter the other works over Gaudi. To be honest, this was a bit of a waste of money.
Anyway, I’m really glad we made the effort to go to the park but we really didn’t need to waste money getting up close to Gaudi’s work in this park as you can just see it from the gates anyway.
Barcelona beach: 5:30pm-6:30pm
We then took the bus and metro down to the beach afterwards. We were truly exhausted by the point but glad we were able to see the sunset there followed by a nice glass of sangria!
The beach actually looked really nice and it definitely made sense as to why Barcelona is so popular. To have access to an amazing city with the beach is quite special.
Barcelona One Day Itinerary
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3 Kings Day parade: 6:30-7:00
On our way back from the beach, we stumbled across the 3 Kings Day parade which takes place every year on 5 January. It was brilliant to see the city come together for this festival. If we had more energy we would have stayed out and joined in more but we knew we had a long few days ahead with getting to Mexico.
We then went back to our accom and chilled out before getting a €30 bus ride over to Madrid airport, which took 8 hours.
A recap on how to spend one day in Barcelona
⇒ 8am – Head over to La Sagrada Familia
⇒ 9am – 10:30am – Spend time gawping at the magnificent La Sagrada Familia
⇒ 10:30am – 12pm – Walk over to Casa Mila and do a tour of Casa Batllo
⇒ 12pm – 1:30pm – Walk over to Gothic Quarter and take in the history
⇒ 2pm – 3pm – Walk over to La Rambla and go to La Boqueria market for lunch
⇒ 3pm – 4pm – Take time to get over to Park Guell on the metro
⇒ 4pm – 5:00pm – Walk around Park Guell
⇒ 5:30pm – 7pm – Sunset drinks and dinner at the beach
We realised how amazing Barcelona really is to have such a vibrant city and beautiful beach together. No wonder people say Barcelona is their favourite city in the world, we’d come back in a heartbeat, specifically to try more of the amazing food and check out some of the great bars and art galleries next time.
Have you read my other travel blogs yet?