Last Updated: September 8, 2022

One Day In Barcelona: The Perfect Itinerary

So you only have one day in Barcelona to see everything this amazing city has to offer, how do you do it? Well, if I am honest, it will take more than one day to get a true sense of this famous city but you can make a very good go at it.

Barcelona is, without a doubt, the most popular destination in Spain for tourists, and for good reason. This city oozes culture from the famous museums, galleries, churches, and architecture to its stunning gardens, great food, and lots more.

It is easy to fill a one-day Barcelona itinerary but since you’re only spending one day in Barcelona, it needs to be filled with the best that the city has to offer. Join me as we run through an awesome one-day itinerary that will have you visiting all the top sights Barcelona is famous for.

Why Visit Barcelona?

Why Visit Barcelona

Why should you go to Barcelona? The question should be why haven’t you visited Barcelona yet.

This city is draped in history from its Gothic Quarter to the cathedral and ancient architecture all the way through to the current culture of street performers, galleries, delicious tapas, and more.

It is a beautiful city with views stretching across the Mediterranean sea to the east, and mountains to the west and as you wander the streets it couldn’t be more charming.

If you love art, amazing cuisine, architecture, the beach, historic buildings, and museums, this is the city for you.

Getting Around Barcelona

Getting Around Barcelona

Since you’re only spending one day in Barcelona, you don’t want to be wasting any time getting from one place to the next, therefore knowing how to get around is very important.

We have tried to make this Barcelona itinerary as connected as possible so you are moving through the city in a logical way from one great sight to another.

This means you can walk from one place to the next in most cases but if you want to use the transport system to make it faster and easier, here are your options.

The Public Transport System Is Great

Between the great bus services and the metro, there isn’t a part of the city you can’t gain access to quite easily. Both the metro and buses are efficient and very affordable.

I would recommend buying a T-dia card for €10.50 from one of the ticket machines at the stations or via the TMB app. The card allows you to use all the bus and metro systems as much as you like for the day.

This means you can hop on and off public transport without any worries or having to buy a ticket.

The Barcelona Turístic Bus

The other option is to use one of the tourist buses in Barcelona that allow you to get on and off and on again at your leisure. These buses take you via some of the best things to see in Barcelona but you will need to pick the right line depending on what you want to see.

The Green Line runs from the Olympic Port to the Fòrum via Poblenou and Parc Diagonal

The Blue Line starts at Plaça de Catalunya and heads to Passeig de Gràcia, Sagrada Família, Gràcia, Park Güell, Tibidabo, Pedralbes, and ends at FC Barcelona’s stadium

The Red Line starts at Plaça de Catalunya and goes to Passeig de Gràcia, Avinguda Diagonal, Sants railway station, Montjuïc, Port Vell, and finishes Ciutadella Park

This is a very convenient way to see Barcelona but it is more expensive than simply using the bus and metro, plus you may not get to do your own day itinerary while visiting Barcelona.

Best Time to Visit Barcelona

Best Time to Visit Barcelona

The best time of year to explore Barcelona is in the months of May and June, or in September and October. The reason for this is due to both weather and crowds.

May, June, September, and October experience amazing weather where it is not overbearingly hot like the months of July and August, but it is not cold like the winter months either. This means you will have balmy sunny weather around the 20-25 degrees celsius mark for your day in Barcelona.

These are also the best months to avoid the crowds of tourists since most of them travel to Barcelona in July and August. This makes the queues shorter, the streets quieter and your 24 hours in Barcelona a little bit more pleasant.

How to Spend Your Day in Barcelona

Stroll Around The Gothic Quarter

I would recommend visiting the Gothic Quarter as a start to your detailed itinerary. The Gothic Quarter is where the true history of Barcelona lies. It is where Pablo Picasso worked and lived in the early 1900s and was home to Joan Miró the famous sculptor.

As you wander down the old cobbled streets you will see old Barcelona in the form of historic buildings and some key sights not to miss is the Santa Maria del Mar a Gothic Basilica, the amazing square of Placa Reial, and keep an eye out for influences of Gaudi’s architecture which can be found all over the city.

Take some time to stop into the many shops, have a coffee in the cultural cafes, and take it all in. The next few spots on the itinerary are found within walking distance of the Gothic Quarter, so you will see a lot of it as you go from one sight to the next.

Walk The La Rambla

La Rambla, also known as Las Ramblas, is a pedestrianized pathway that takes you through the heart of Barcelona. It is a wonderful way to see the city in peace and is only 1.2km long, so it won’t take you very long.

La Rambla, or Las Ramblas, starts just outside the Gothic Quarter and takes you down to the sea where you will find the Christopher Colombus monument.

I would suggest starting at the Christopher Colombus monument and working your way back up to Placa de Catalunya where it ends as it works better for the itinerary.

Along the way, you will see street performers, lots of bars and cafes, and lots of stalls and the general vibe is hard to beat.

Gaze On The Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

Once you have enjoyed the Placa de Catalunya at the end of La Rambla/Las Ramblas, it is time to take a look at the incredible Barcelona Cathedral which is only a 10-minute walk away.

Built in the 14th century as a dedication to Saint Eulalia, the cathedral’s actual name is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. The first thing you will notice is the incredible facade and from there you can explore the inside for free.

It is worth spending 10-20 minutes inside as you will find cloisters with fountains, chapels, the crypt of Saint Eulalia, and numerous chapels that are all immaculately decorated. I would also recommend getting the lift to the top of the cathedral for incredible views across Barcelona.

Once you’re done in the cathedral, it would be a crime to miss the “The World Begins With Every Kiss” mural. A short walk into Placa de Isidre Nonell will have you gazing at the huge mural that is made up of multiple photos that express a moment of freedom that were donated by locals.

Joan Fontcubertat, the artist responsible, then merged the photos to look like a kiss from afar, and up close you can see each individual photo.

See His Early Works At The Picasso Museum

Having seen La Rambla and the cathedral, your next stop in your one day in Barcelona is the Picasso Museum, a 7-minute walk from the cathedral.

The building that houses the Picasso Museum is stunning as it is made up of five old medieval mansions that are joined together and feature a stunning terrace. It is worth going in just to see them, let alone Picasso’s works.

You will find more than 4,000 pieces by Picasso in the museum and it is without question the most comprehensive collection of his art from his formative years. Considering Picasso lived and worked in Barcelona when he was young, this makes a lot of sense.

The museum started out in 1963 with a donation of 574 of Picasso’s pieces from Jaime Sabartes, his secretary. Picasso then donated 800 pieces in 1970 and Jacqueline Roque, his wife donated the famous painting Woman with Bonnet along with 41 ceramic pieces too.

Some of the most famous paintings to see are the reworking of Velazquez’s Las Meninas and Woman with Bonnet. While these aren’t the most famous pieces from Picasso, it is an amazing way to see how he developed into his abstract style later on.

Taste Amazing Food At Mercado de La Boqueria

Once you’re ready to leave the Picasso Museum, it is time to grab some snacks or lunch at the famous Mercado de La Boqueria.

Enjoy the 15-minute walk through the Gothic Quarter to the market and be prepared for the Boqueria Market to tantalize your senses.

Boqueria Market has often been voted one of the best markets in the world and it is a must-visit on your Barcelona one-day tour. It is filled with fresh top quality produce of every color that is sprawled out along the stalls.

You can pick from amazing artisan bread, olives, fruit, veg, cured meats, amazing cheese, seafood, and more. If you want to taste the best of Spain’s local food grab some manchego, chorizo, Jamon Iberico, olives, and bread,

You have two options at this moment, either to gather up everything you need for a picnic at your next destination, Parc de la Ciutadella or to pull into one of the stalls in the market for a longer, more filling lunch.

I personally would vote for a picnic in the park but it is up to you.

Have A Picnic In The Peaceful Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella is a short 15-minute walk from Boqueria Market and it makes for a lovely break from wandering around museums and busy streets. Enjoy the peace of nature and take a load off before getting going on your itinerary again.

Parc de la Ciutadella is no ordinary park and as you might have guessed by now it has been built in true Barcelona style. Every walking path has some beauty in the form of nature and culture to see as you stroll around.

The park is filled with beautiful sculptures, lakes, and old trees and there is a lot of grass to lay out a picnic on, have a rest, and enjoy some peace in the city center. You can take a boat out on the lake and go rowing around, and a stroll to the Arco de Triunfo is also a great thing to do while in the park too.

As you wander the many walking trails you will stumble upon magical fountains and great architecture in the form of the old parliament buildings, a church, landscaped gardens, the Catalan monument, and lots more.

Immerse Yourself In Gaudi Architecture

Once you have re-energized yourself in the park, it is time to get into some of Antoni Gaudi’s architecture, the man who is responsible for a lot of the most beautiful architecture in Barcelona.

From the park, head to Casa Mila and Casa Batllo which are right next to each other and about a 30-minute walk from the park. If 30 minutes is a little too long, you can hop on a bus or the metro to get you there faster.

Casa Mila and Casa Batllo are excellent examples of some of Gaudi’s best works. Both are apartment blocks that are now museums and when you gaze upon them from the outside, they will both blow your mind.

Casa Batllo has a very colorful facade, full of curves, dragon-Esq balconies, and more. Casa Mila is also curved and features incredible architecture. Both have to be seen from the outside and if you have time you can go on a tour inside one or both of them to see more of Gaudi’s amazing style.

See Gaudi’s Masterpiece La Sagrada Familia

After seeing some of Gaudi’s best works, it is time to see his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia is around a 20-minute walk from Casa Mila and Casa Batllo and you should brace yourself as it is absolutely stunning.

La Sagrada Familia is a yet-to-be-completed church and this is due to how complex Gaudi’s design is/was. Building began in 1882 and it is still going on today with a planned completion date of 2026.

You can see why it is Gaudi’s masterpiece as the structure is so unique with its amazing structural design. Once the building is finished you will be able to gaze upon 18 spires, and 3 facades, and it will be the tallest church building on the planet at 172 meters.

You can visit the inside of La Sagrada Familia but considering it is the most visited place in Barcelona, the queues can take more than 3 hours to get through, not ideal when you are spending one day in Barcelona.

The only way around this is to book a guided tour in advance which means you don’t have to queue and you get a local tour guide to show you around.

Park Guell – A Stroll Through Gaudi’s Garden

Park Guell

Next up on your itinerary is Park Guell which was designed and created by, you guessed it, Gaudi. You can walk to the park from La Sagrada Familia in just 30 minutes or take the bus which isn’t any faster but more relaxing.

Park Guell used to be free to enter and had no queues but nowadays both are required. Being one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, the queues are long and it is again best to book tickets in advance so you can skip them.

Park Guell looks down over Barcelona so the views across the city and into the Mediterranean are sublime, especially in the evening light you’ll be experiencing it in if the itinerary has gone to plan.

The first thing you will notice is the stunning gates that take you into the park after which you will stumble upon Gaudi’s magical white staircase. The staircase features a multi-colored lizard and leads to a magical terrace with some of the best views of the city.

Find one of the many benches and simply drink it all in as you are standing in one of the most beautiful spots in Barcelona.

Wine, Snacks, and the Best Views at Bunkers del Carmel

After enjoying the park, walk about 20 minutes to Bunkers del Carmel where you will find the best view of Barcelona. Hopefully, you will be sitting there in the evening hours and you should take some wine and snacks to enjoy along with a blanket.

Sit on your blanket, awaken your senses with delicious drinks and food, and simply gaze over Barcelona and into the Mediterranean. The views are spectacular and better since you won’t have many crowds to deal with compared to the views you have seen in Park Guell.

Finish In Style With A Flamenco Show

To really send off your one day in Barcelona in true style, head to a flamenco show which also comes with dinner. After the day you have had, your senses might be quite overloaded so a few drinks, some amazing dancing, and some great Spanish food will be a delight.

There are lots of fantastic concert venues (tablaos) across Barcelona such as Palacio del Flamenco which comes with a delicious paella. They have three shows a night so you can choose which time suits you best.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

With one night in Barcelona, you should choose to stay in a central part of the city so you are not wasting any time getting from your hotel to the many attractions.

Luckily, Barcelona is filled with hotels that match everyone’s budget from hostels to 5-star experiences.

I would recommend staying close to Plaça de Catalunya as the Gothic Quarter and all its sights along with the sea are only a 15-20 minute walk away and places like Bunkers del Carmel and Parc Guell are 30 minutes away.

By staying in this area you will be able to walk to every part of the itinerary laid out above and will only need transport to and from your next or previous destination.

Tips for Exploring Barcelona in One Day

Tips for Exploring Barcelona

  • Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Barcelona is home to pickpockets. Leave your passport in your hotel safe and carry your bag in front of you.
  • Be aware of your belongings as you walk in busy areas and generally make it hard for pickpockets to swipe your phone or wallet
  • You will need to keep moving on your itinerary to complete it so don’t get caught up at one of the sights for too long
  • Stop for little bites of tapas and snacks whenever you feel like it, the food is amazing
  • Bring a refillable water bottle with you, this avoids spending money and wasting plastic. Ask any cafe to fill it up and they will do so happily
  • Enjoy each walk from one site to another as the streets are filled with wonderful architecture and great things to see
  • Have a morning coffee with ​​Churros y chocolate. They are served in all the cafes, are pretty much long doughnuts filled with chocolate, and are delicious. It is a great way to start your morning, especially with a good coffee
  • Don’t spend too much time on La Rambla. It is a lovely way to connect the sea to the city and see a very alive part of town but it doesn’t compare to everything else. You can walk it in 20-30minutes with ease
  • Take lots of pictures as Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in the world

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: