How to Enjoy the Perfect Barcelona Weekend: Your 2-Day Itinerary
If you have been bitten by the wanderlust bug, the Catalonian city of Barcelona could represent an ideal getaway destination.
Located upon the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and known for an agreeable climate throughout the year, over 8 millions of tourists a year flock to this destination in order to experience all that the local culture has to offer.
However, what if you will only be staying here for a weekend? What are some of the most popular attractions and how can you plan your itinerary accordingly?
Let’s take a look at some sure-fire travel recommendations and tourist attractions so that you can make the most out of your journey
Hitting Up the Well-Known Locations
There are several well-known venues that should always be visited during your stay. Perhaps the most common is a large pedestrian promenade known as Las Ramblas.
There are numerous shops and open-air stalls found within this district and the majority of shop owners here speak at least a basic level of English.
However, it is best to arrive rather early in the morning in order to avoid large crowds. We will take a closer look at Las Ramblas within the next section.
In terms of upscale shopping, the retail district around Gracia will offer up a tantalising array of high-end goods and reputable brand names.
Let’s also remember that the architecture here is amazing; particularly those buildings which were created by famed architect Antonio Gaudi. Or, you can simply choose to sit back and relax while sipping a mojito and watching the crowds pass by.
No article describing Barcelona would be complete without mentioning its amazing beaches.
Local tip: It is normally best to travel slightly outside of the city and to the north, as the crowds are noticeably less dense.
Visiting locations such as Ocata and Masnou is an excellent way to enjoy a lazy afternoon while immersing yourself within the warm Mediterranean Sea.
If you instead wish to stay closer to your hotel, here are some of the most popular local beaches:
- Playa de Bogatell
- Mar Bella
- Playa de Sant Miquel
The good news is that all of these locations offer additional on-site amenities such as open-air bars (known as “chiringuitos”), baby changing stations, showers, and bathrooms.
What Does Las Ramblas Have to Offer?
If Barcelona has become famous for a single attraction, there is no doubt that it is summed up in what Las Ramblas has in store.
This large open-air pedestrian promenade begins at Plaza Catalunya and continues down to Porto Olympico (the main shipping port of the city). At a total walking distance of 1.2 kilometers, it is quite easy to view the numerous attractions along the way.
The good news is that levels of policing have been dramatically increased during the past few years, so crimes such as petty theft are not normally concerns, but they still happen times to times as in many other touristic areas (just saying, my phone got stolen in Barcelona old town).
It is wise to devote an entire afternoon to appreciate all that this district has to offer. One of its most well-known attractions is a large food market known as La Boqueria. Whether you are in the mood for a refreshing fruit smoothie, a plate of “tapas” or a taste of traditional Catalan cuisine, this market aims to please.
Of course, it is always possible to frequent one of the many bars found upon either side of this strip.
While many venues cater to an international crowd, it is often better to stray slightly from the beaten path in order to encounter more intimate settings. Keep in mind that the prices associated with these restaurants and cafes also tend to be noticeably lower.
The Musical Side of Barcelona
This city is also home to a handful of world-class musical venues. Whether you are a fan of jazz, house music, rock, or classical, there is no doubt that you will find what you have been looking for.
The Liceu Theater is undoubtedly the most respected and well-known concert hall in Barcelona. Originally established in 1847, this venue has hosted a plethora of talents over the years.
Liceu Theater has been featured in countless films and it continues to attract millions of visitors from all walks of life. However, be sure to book your tickets in advance in order to secure a reservation.
The Palau de Musica (translated to the Palace of Music) is another worthwhile concert hall to frequent. While it is somewhat smaller than Liceu Theater, this has not limited the sheer talent that has been featured here since its inception.
The interior of the Palau de Musica is a striking example of style of architecture known as the “Catalan Rebirth”; somewhat mirroring the Art Deco designs associated with the 1920s.
If you have been looking for a more intimate musical experience, the Palau de Musica should be included within your itinerary. You can easily visit it with a tour that you can book online.
Another excellent way to enjoy a weekend night out on the town is to visit a concert hall known as Luz de Gas (Gaslight). This venue is more eclectic in terms of the artists who choose to play here, so there is indeed something for every taste.
From headlining bands such as U2 to tribute groups and solo jazz talents, you will be amazed with what Luz de Gas can provide. As always, be sure to book tickets in advance of your arrival.
Barcelona Off the Beaten Path
There are likewise many locations found just outside of Barcelona that will offer up some truly unforgettable memories. For example, you can choose to take a day trip to Montserrat.
The relaxing hour-long train ride will provide a perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries or to play your favorite online mobile games before you arrive.
Attractions here include nature trails, restaurants and an ancient monastery.
If you prefer to become immersed within nature, the flora and fauna found within nearby Collserola Natural Park aim to please. Found just inland from the city center, these mountains will provide an excellent view of the entire metropolitan area.
You can likewise partake in many hiking trails or enjoy a picnic with the family. This park can also be the ideal solution on extremely hot days, as it is noticeably cooler thanks to a slightly higher altitude.
When arriving with younger children, make it a point to check out its theme park as well as a restaurant that provides panoramic vistas of the city below.
Another great place to enjoy the view of Barcelona without going outside of the city is Bunkers del Carmel. Some tourists know about it but in most times, even during the sunset you can come there without many people around and enjoy your picnic or a romantic date.
Natural Beauty Within Urban Confines
While it is always possible to travel slightly outside of the city center in order to soak up a bit of nature, it is also important to mention that Barcelona is one of the greenest metropolitan destinations in Europe. In other words, you will not have to stray far from your hotel to enjoy all that this location has to offer.
Perhaps the most well-known park is Parc Ciutadella. Located in the Cuitat Vella (Old Town) district of Barcelona, this is the largest park within the city and certainly a popular attraction.
As it was created in the middle of the 19th century, you can enjoy many ornate sculptures as well as a large fountain said to have been partially designed by Antoni Guadi.
A sizeable lake can also be found here and it is possible to rent a rowboat in order to get away from the crowds that often dominate the surrounding grassy fields. This park is open throughout the year and it is absolutely free to enter.
Another interesting option is a location known as Turo Park. This park is located within the upscale Sarria district of Barcelona and it is known for its sense of privacy.
There is plenty of shade here, so it could represent the ideal solution if you happen to be visiting during the warmer months of the year. Other attractions include a handful of duck ponds, short hiking trails, immaculate landscaping, and a cafe that is open every day of the week.
Parc Guell is an additional must-see attraction if you are a fan of Antoni Gaudi or simply if you wish to enjoy truly stunning surroundings. Not only is the architecture to be found here a directly result of his genius, but this park is elevated above the city center.
Therefore, it tends to be cooler than areas near the port. This is also a tourist-friendly park and daily tours are available in English. Be sure to bring a camera, as you do not want to miss all such an amazing destination has in store.
Nearby Towns to Visit
If you plan on spending a weekend in Barcelona, it is always a good idea to devote at least a few hours in order to appreciate what nearby towns and villages have to offer. This is also an excellent way to gain a better appreciation of Catalan culture as a whole.
The town of Esplugues de Llobregat is a popular option due to the fact that it can be reached from the city center in no more than 20 minutes by train, tram or bus.
While this region is decidedly quiet when compared to the confines of the city itself, there are also some interesting attractions that should never be missed.
A large observation tower known as Sant Pere Martir will provide excellent panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea as well as northern locations such as Montserrat.
An open-air park locally known as the Parc de la Solitaritat is another wise option if you wish to soak up the sun during your stay.
Palleja is a lesser-known gem to explore if you have the chance. Found less than 30 minutes from the city center via train (the FGC line), Palleja can actually trace its roots back to Roman times.
This small municipality is ideal if you wish to experience open-air dining alongside a decidedly welcoming hospitality. Furthermore, it is always possible to take an excursion to the nearby mountains.
Plenty of small rivers and a handful of waterfalls provide the ideal setting for a day outside of the city.
Colonia Guell is a third option to consider. Found no more than 15 minutes from Plaça d’Espanya (the main railway station), this tiny gem of a town is actually home to the crypt of Antoni Gaudi.
A local visitor center can provide tours, although it is wise to check its opening hours. Another amazing sight to behold within the confines of Colonia Guell is a castle known as Torre Salvada. Dating as far back as the 10th century, this structure provides a unique glimpse into the past.
Get to Know the Public Transportation System
If you are not entirely familiar with this city, it is a good idea to become at least slightly accustomed to your transportation options. Here are some of the main choices at your disposal:
- A local bus service controlled by TMB (Transports Metropolitans Barcelona).
- The Barcelona metro network.
- Nearby trains offered by the FCG (the local Catalan train company).
- RENFE regional railways (if you wish to travel to the north, south or interior of Catalonia for a day trip).
The good news is that there are plenty of online resources to utilize in order to get a better understanding of the routes, the prices and the timetables. You can view the Barcelona metro schedule here and the citywide bus itinerary at this portal. Please note that both sites offer information in English.
As we can see, there are numerous attractions to enjoy if you are planning a weekend in Barcelona.
Whether you arrive here during the height of the summer or in the winter, the astounding number of options at your disposal is nearly unrivalled in terms of sheer entertainment alone.
Of course, you can always perform additional research based around your personal tastes as well as the associated time frame.
Nonetheless, feel free to incorporate the suggestions mentioned throughout this article into your current Barcelona itinerary.