In northeastern Spain, on the shores of the Balearic Sea, is Barcelona; the passionate, vibrant and deeply cultural capital of the Catalonia region is a heady mix of unbelievable architecture, deep-rooted history and tantalising cuisine, not to mention stunning shoreline and impressive nightlife. Barcelona is alive in every sense of the word, and one thing’s for sure; 48 hours will not feel like enough.
If you’re flying into Barcelona, you’ll likely land in Barcelona-El Prat Airport, which is about 13 kilometres from the city. You can book airport transfers from El Prat Airport on Jayride.com that will get you into the city quickly, so you can really maximise your weekend. If you’re looking for inspiration of what to do while in Barcelona, look no further.
First things first, wherever you’re staying in the city, make your first stop of the day Barcelona’s main artery of Las Ramblas and its renowned market; Mercat de la Boquería. Las Ramblas is the city’s central boulevard, lined with bustling restaurants, bars, cafés and shops, and is home to the city’s street performers and entertainers, as well as the lively La Boquería.
Before you lose yourself in the countless aisles of fresh fruit and veg, jamón (ham) and queso (cheese), olives and oils, and just about every Spanish delicacy you can think of, first pull up a pew at one of the market’s small bar countertops and enjoy a morning coffee. Bar Pinotxo is popular with locals and offers a wide array of traditional tapas, but if you have a sweet tooth in the morning then don’t miss a xuxo with your café con leche. The xuxo is a traditional Catalonia pastry filled with crema catalana and covered with crystallised sugar – perfect for your morning sugar hit. Once you’re fuelled up, wander the colourful aisles and pick up a selection of treats for the rest of the day; you’ll want to bring a big shopping bag with you.
Barcelona was home to one of the world’s most renowned and influential architects, Antoni Gaudí, and the city has the largest concentration of his work in the world. His unmistakable creations are dotted throughout the city, and you really won’t be able to miss the inspiring designs. Among some of the most well-known include Casa Batlló, Casa Vicens, La Pedrera and Park Güell.
With your first afternoon in the city, head straight for Gaudi’s most famed and unfinished creation; the Sagrada Familia. Take the metro from the Liceu station, near la Boqueria, to the Sagrada Familia station. On exiting the station, the scale of this iconic and controversial Roman Catholic church will take your breath away. Commencing in 1882, Gaudí took over the project a year later and was heavily influenced by Gothic and Byzantine cathedrals, but died in 1926 when the project was still only halfway completed. Despite being unfinished, the building is one of the most iconic churches in the world. Pre-book your ticket before your visit to avoid the (often huge) lines, and if heights don’t give you a fright, be sure to explore the towers; it’s the best way to experience the verticality and incredible elevation of the building, and the views over Barcelona are breathtaking.
Like the rest of Spain, mealtimes in Barcelona run on a different timetable to many other countries. Lunch is the main meal of the day, usually eaten anytime between 1-4pm, and traditionally can last for a couple of hours. Siestas (afternoon rest or nap) are also still very common, largely due to the heat of summer, and you’ll notice that shops may close in the mid-afternoon, while restaurants close late afternoon and open again in the evening. Added to this is dancing until the wee hours; Barcelona is a 24-hour party city, and locals will stay out until the early hours of the morning, so don’t expect an early night in Barcelona!
In terms of dinner, this is usually a much lighter meal take around 9-10pm during the week, and even later at the weekend – don’t be surprised to see people eating tapas in curbside restaurants at midnight! So do as the locals do and have a late dinner of tapas or seafood followed by an evening of dancing the night away at one of Barcelona’s popular bars. We’ll let you in on a secret; if you love seafood, head to Can Maño in La Barceloneta. This canteen-style restaurant is popular with locals and serves up deliciously fresh seafood at great prices. Expect a queue when you arrive, but it’s worth the wait.
Start day two with a lazy morning brunch; there are loads of top brunch spots in Barcelona, and after a late night, brunch will be just what you need. Try the French Toast at Enkel, the home-brewed kombucha at Itacate, or the Matcha Waffles at Eat My Trip. Once you’ve filled your boots, carry on your Gaudí tour with visits to some of the architect’s most famous works in the city. Between Passeig de Gràcia and Diagonal Metro stations you’ll find La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. La Pedrera (Casa Milá) was the last private residence designed by Gaudí and finished in 1912, and has a Flintstones-like appearance thanks to its undulating stone facade, while Casa Batlló caused controversy when it was built due to its radical design and has a colourful skeletal appearance.
From there head to Casa Vicens, near Fontana Metro station. This was Gaudí’s first important building, a residential house built for a wealthy family who wanted a retreat away from the harsh summer heat of the city. The exterior is clad in colourful ceramics, with domes and turrets on the roof and Moorish and Oriental influences throughout. If you have time, and have well and truly caught the Gaudí bug, don’t miss a visit to Park Güell, an impressive public park designed by the architect full of gingerbread-style houses and colourful mysteries – the views back over the city are fantastic.
Barcelona is home to more than 4 kilometres of clean and safe sandy beaches just a 10-minute walk from the city centre, so there’s no better way to enjoy your second day here than by whiling away the afternoon on the beach. Barceloneta beach is where you’ll see many of the crowds, but it is also full of the best entertainment, from mojito- and sangria-wielding beach salesmen to flamethrowers and poi artists. There are also loads of bars and restaurants dotted along the shore, so it’s a great spot for afternoon refreshment, or if you’re up for some exercise, the boulevard lining the beach is a popular running spot.
After a busy 48 hours of exploring fascinating architecture, soaking up the Catalan city’s electric atmosphere and beautiful weather, a great way to end your trip is with an evening in the lively Gothic Quarter, the old heart and soul of the city. Enjoy a sundowner and people watch from one of the bars on Plaça Reial; this elegant square is a popular spot for evening drinks thanks to its vibrant atmosphere and beautiful setting, lined with palm trees and stunning architecture. From there, explore deeper down the winding alleyways of the Gothic Quarter, stopping at a few hole-in-the-wall bars for a quick sangria along the way. Then end your evening feasting on some tapas in the authentic Bar del Pla. Try the squid ink croquettes or the tasty patatas bravas (cubes of potato in a spicy, tomato sauce).
Jayride.com works with airport transfer companies in Barcelona, so be sure to pre-book your transfer before you fly for a stress-free Spanish adventure.