Things to do in Barcelona in 2 Days
Two days in Barcelona may be short, but if you plan your stay well then you will leave having ticked most of the boxes and really made the most of the Catalan capital. Barcelona is one of Europe’s most loved cities and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re there for a laidback week or a fleeting two days, the city of sunshine is the ideal place to break from reality. With 48 hours in Barcelona to fill, we managed to fit in the main sites including Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, La Boqueria market and, of course, some of the best tapas in the city, whilst keeping to a budget and having time for a little relaxation. If you’re looking to do Barcelona in 2 days, be sure to follow our tried and tested itinerary beginning in the heart of the city at our St Christopher’s Inns hostel.
This is how we spent - and how we recommend spending - 48 hours in Barcelona…
Watch this video to check out our ultimate 2-day Barcelona itinerary:
TIPS ON GETTING AROUND:
Buy the Hola Barcelona 48 hour Travel Card for incredibly easy access around the city. For €15.20 you can buy it online, pick it up in any metro station across Barcelona, and it allows unlimited travel on any metro, bus, urban/regional railway and the Montjuic funicular.
Download the Citymapper app to get you from A to B without any stress! It’ll guide you through Barcelona, taking you the quickest route whether it’s by metro, bus, walking or a combination.
Casa Batllo and Casa Mila
Casa Mila | Photography by Ellie Roberts
Kick off your Barcelona trip with a mini tour of a couple of Gaudi’s most famous gems. Casa Batllo is just a 10 minute walk from St Christopher’s, while Casa Mila (or La Pedrera) is 10 minutes further along. Both buildings are clear Gaudi designs, with the classic curved edges and Art Nouveau style that the architect is famed for. You can pay to enter both buildings, and if you have the time and budget then it’s totally worth it. However if you’re not too sure then save your pennies for a wander around Parc Guell or a peek inside the Sagrada Familia instead.
Arc de Triomf
Arc du Triomf | Photography by Ellie Roberts
Paris’ Arc du Triomph may get more attention, but there’s something about Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf (with the palm tree runway and the blue, sunny skies…) that makes it arguably even more beautiful. The arc was built as a gateway to the Universal Exhibition held in Barca’s Ciutadella Park in 1888, and since then it’s become one of the city’s iconic landmarks.
Leave the metro station at the Arc de Triomf stop and you won’t be able to miss it. Make your way through the arc and up the pedestrianised street between the palms, as the further away you get, the more beautiful the view is behind you!
Ciutadella Park | Photography by Ellie Roberts
Ciutadella Park is just at the end of the palm-lined street from the Arc de Triomf, and home to one of the city’s most iconic photo spots. The Cascada Monumental is the park’s hero piece - a grand fountain surrounded by greenery and topped with a golden sculpture, well worth taking a look at. When we were there, there was a man making giant bubbles that drifted in front of the fountain creating one of the most picture perfect moment that we took full advantage of!
Lunch at Mercat de la Boqueria
La Boqueria Market | Photography by Ellie Roberts
From Ciutadella, make your way to La Boqueria by either bus or metro to Placa Catalunya (Citymapper will help with this), and walk down Las Ramblas until you reach the hustle and bustle of La Boqueria Market.
For foodies like us amongst you, a stop at Mercat de la Boqueria is an absolute must. Serving all things Catalan from colourful fruits and juices to cured meats and fresh seafood, the market is HUGE and you certainly won’t leave here hungry. Grab a juice from one of the many stalls for just a euro or so, and do a lap around the market before you settle for the first thing you see. If you’d rather sit down for lunch, there are tapas bars dotted throughout and surrounding the market. However we really recommend getting a few bites to walk around with while you gawp at all the beautiful spices, candied fruits and mountains of gelato that the market is so loved for.
Parc Guell | Photography by Ellie Roberts
A highlight of the Gaudi tour and one of Barcelona’s most jaw-dropping destinations, Parc Guell is an unusual yet enchanting masterpiece. You can walk around the outer area for no admission fee, however to get the real Parc Guell experience we definitely suggest you book a slot for access to the Monumental Zone. Do this well in advance to avoid missing out on one of the most classic Instagram opportunities in Barcelona. Take a photo from the curved, tiled bench and get the iconic Parc Guell view of the entrance and porter’s lodge from the top of the main steps at the front.
Gothic Quarter | Photography by Ellie Roberts
After Parc Guell, we went back to the hostel to freshen up and relax for a bit before heading back out to the Gothic Quarter for some early evening exploring and dinner. Just a 15 minute walk from St Christopher’s you’ll come across the tiny labyrinth-like lanes of the Gothic Quarter, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off it.
Wander aimlessly through the narrow, cobbled streets and look up at the charming buildings, often colourful and decorated with greenery. The Gothic Quarter is steeped in history, but now you’ll find countless quaint little shops, restaurants and cafes dotted throughout. We stumbled across Barcelona Cathedral by accident when the lanes opened up into Placa Nova, unveiling the enormous 14th century Gothic cathedral. This part of Barcelona is full of hidden secrets and one of our favourite areas of the city.
Tapas at El Xampanyet
Tapas at El Xampanyet | Photography by Ellie Roberts
El Xampanyet is tucked away down one of the Gothic Quarter’s little lanes (you’ll definitely need a map to find it!), and we couldn’t recommend it more. From the beautiful, tiled walls to the insanely delicious food, this charming tapas restaurant is heavenly!
Before we got there, we knew that seating was limited and that this place gets busy, so we arrived at 6:45pm (15 minutes before opening) and managed to get a table before the rush of people behind us got a look in! The tapas at El Xampanyet was better than any other tapas I’d ever eaten - we recommend the chorizo tortilla, octopus, cheese filled sweet peppers and razor clams. Oh and be sure to order a bottle of their homemade cava - it’s only €10, HUGE and absolutely delicious.
Drinks at Belushi’s
Mojitos at Belushi's Barcelona | Photography by Ellie Roberts
What’s better than having a few drinks when you know your bed is just upstairs? Belushi’s is the hostel bar below St Christopher’s, and it’s buzzing every night with backpackers drinking, socialising and playing beer pong. We came back from the restaurant for a couple of mojitos while we debriefed our day, before going up to bed for some rest before tomorrow.
Free breakfast at St Christopher's Barcelona | Photography by Ellie Roberts
When you book direct at St Christopher’s you can wake up, head downstairs and enjoy their free continental breakfast every morning of your stay. Fuel up with some cereal or a ham and cheese roll with a cup of coffee so you won’t have you spend your pennies on food until lunch time.
Sagrada Familia | Photography by Ellie Roberts
No trip to Barcelona is complete without seeing Gaudi’s main masterpiece and the city’s shining star up close. The Sagrada Familia is even more impressive than photos make out. As you leave the metro station at the Sagrada Familia stop, from the moment you see the towering structure emerge from the escalator, your jaw will drop! Make your way into the little park in front for the best view of the church between the trees and across the small green lake. Can you believe that it’s been under construction since 1882, and is still a long way off being finished?!
If you’d like to have a peek inside the Sagrada Familia, you’ll need to book your tickets in advance to secure a spot.
Barceloneta Beach | Photography by Ellie Roberts
Hop back on the metro to get to your next stop Barceloneta beach, and from there it’s about a 10 minute walk straight down the road to the seafront. Barceloneta is the city’s main beach, and in the height of summer it gets seriously packed. We just went for the stroll and to breathe in some fresh sea air for a while before heading back to the Big Smoke tomorrow!
Coffee at Satan’s Coffee Corner
Satan's Coffee Corner | Photography by Ellie Roberts
There are plenty of cafes and bars lining the beach where you could stop for a drink if you wanted, however we’d heard the coffee at Satan’s Coffee Corner was some of the best. The cafe was back in the Gothic Quarter which isn’t far from the beach, so we hopped on another bus and wandered back through the tiny passages for a delicious iced coffee and sit down.
Lunch at Bodega Vasconia
Bodega Vasconia tapas | Photography by Ellie Roberts
For lunch we tried another well-known tapas spot in the Gothic Quarter, and it did not disappoint. Bodega Vasconia only opens at 2pm, so we waited around for a few minutes before the owner called us in and we indulged in some more delicious Catalan cuisine. Here, we opted for a glass of sangria with our patatas bravas, cheesy croquettes and the owner’s very own recommendation, their special oxtail stew - the most tender, perfectly rich meat which literally fell off the bone. Again, inside was traditionally Catalan. With tiled walls, wooden beams on the ceiling and shelves stocked full of alcohol behind the bar.
Placa Reial | Photography by Ellie Roberts
On our way to Las Ramblas to catch our next metro, we stopped at Placa Reial to take some photos. The square is full of character, with the yellow buildings lining the square, tall palm trees and the charming water fountain right in the middle to make capturing the perfect photo as easy as anything.
Bunkers del Carmel
Bunkers del Carmel | Photography by Ellie Roberts
Before going down to the metro, we stopped by a corner shop to pick up a couple of beers for our final - and one of our most exciting - destinations. The Bunkers del Carmel is one of the most underrated spots in Barcelona, where locals hang out and the views are the best in the city. The Carmel Bunkers were actually never used as bunkers. They were built during the Spanish Civil War back in 1937 to keep guns and defend against aircrafts. Now, they’re one of the best places to sit back and relax with a beer at sunset, with incredible panoramic views over Barcelona and the ocean.
To get there, take the metro to Vallcarca followed by the number 22 bus all the way up to El Carmel (the final stop). From there you simply walk upwards and keep going up until you reach the abandoned-looking concrete slabs that make up the bunkers. You won’t regret the trip!
Bobby's Free | Photography by Ellie Roberts
For a cocktail bar in the city centre that’s cool, quirky and fun, Bobby’s Free is the perfect place to top off 48 hours in Barcelona. Don’t be fooled by the barber shop exterior and the man in the trilby hat, as what you’ll find behind the secret door (and after giving the secret password) is a 20’s style bar with the music to match. The cocktails come in at around €10 each, but they don’t go stingy and they really are super tasty.
If you’re on a budget, stay for one drink, soak in the atmosphere and head back to Belushi’s for 2 for 1 drinks for being a guest at St Christopher’s.
Staying at St Christopher’s Barcelona
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation in Barcelona that’s also in the perfect location, our St Christopher’s hostel hits the spot. Right by Placa Catalunya and Las Ramblas, here you’ll be staying in the heart of Barcelona where a good restaurant, bar or store is never far away. There are plenty of dorm rooms, but we stayed in a private ensuite room which even had its own terrace for a little extra sunshine! By booking direct, guests get a free breakfast every morning plus awesome drinks deals and 25% off food at Belushi’s downstairs. Making the most of Barcelona with just two days in the city couldn’t be easier.
Article by Darcy King
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