How to Spend One Day in Barcelona: Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

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Here’s Our Full Itinerary for One Day in Barcelona!

Barcelona, the beautiful Spanish city, has so much to see, do, and eat. There are plenty of places to visit in Barcelona from top museums and attractions (such as the popular Basílica Sagrada Família) to fascinating areas/quarters of the Catalonian city.

We’ve both been to Barcelona multiple times before – and always had a great time. But since it’s been a while, we turned to UK Expat turned Barcelona resident Natalie to share her in-depth knowledge about how to tackle a Barcelona day itinerary. Take it away, Natalie!

Visiting Barcelona and wanting to pack as much into one day as possible? It is totally impossible to explore even half of the best of Barcelona in one day!

However, if you want to see a range of the city’s best bits while indulging in the amazing food culture of the region, this post will give you a great introduction to Catalan architecture, views, food and drink.

Barcelona Tours


If you prefer a tour to help you discover Barcelona, there are plenty of great options. I’d particularly recommend a food tour to really experience the true heart of the city – its food and drink! 

Breakfast at Honest Greens

Navigation Address: Pla de Palau, 11, 08003 Barcelona 

Eating a hearty breakfast isn’t so much a local thing in Barcelona. Dinner is usually very late, so the morning starts later with a small pastry and coffee. However, we have a busy day planned so you need to fuel up! 

While Honest Greens isn’t the most traditional breakfast food, it is a Spanish business. It was started by three travellers who decided to create a restaurant serving fresh, delicious and responsibly-sourced food.

Now there are several Honest Greens in Barcelona as well as in Madrid and Lisbon, Portugal.

It is easy to order at the counter or via their app, then just pick your seat, either on comfortable sofas, long benches or raised tables at the window.

They also have outside seating, which can get busy on sunny days – so leave someone at the table while you go inside to order!

Breakfast options are delicious toasts with a variety of healthy toppings, pancakes or bowls of açaí, yogurt and fruit or warming porridge. My go-to is usually avocado tahini toast, turmeric chai, and orange and ginger juice.

The overnight oats porridge is also really great on colder mornings. Coffee is well brewed and available with plant-based kinds of milk for no additional charge. 

No reservations are needed and the restaurant is pretty big so you are likely to get a table easily enough.

Getting Around Barcelona
Barcelona is a really walkable city, it is on a gradual uphill slope but we won’t be venturing far enough for you to notice the hill. 

Public transport is the metro, trams or buses. The local system is really affordable, easy to navigate, and can be used all on the same Travel Card. There are also bike and scooter rentals readily available.

Morning Activities – Explore the Sights

After breakfast, your morning will take in the sights of Barcelona on a Hop on-Hop off Bus Tour. After leaving Honest Greens head to Ciutadella Park to meet the bus tour.

They arrive every 30 minutes so if you find you have just missed one walk into the park to check out Gaudí’s fountain and the picturesque boating lake. 

Once you have caught your bus (it is the orange route you need) sit back and enjoy the views. The route will take you along the waterfront beside the Gothic quarter. You will pass by The Columbus Monument, which is a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing out to sea.

Continue on the bus through Montjuïc, a mountain to the side of the city. This is also where the stadiums were built for the Summer Olympics in 1992. You will pass these as you wind through the quiet roads and picturesque green surroundings of Montjuïc. 

There are a few options for sights and Barcelona attractions you can explore here so pick your favourite few and time your bus stops accordingly.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

Navigation Address: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona

red gate behind large road roundabout with blue sky above and museum on hill behind.
There’s the Museum in the background… beautiful!

The museum holds the largest collection in Barcelona with over 260,000 pieces including some of the most important pieces of Catalan art and Roman frescos that were rescued from churches during the Spanish Civil War. 

It is worth a visit but due to its size, it is better to take it as a separate day rather than trying to fit it in with other activities.

The building itself is beautiful to walk around from the outside and is surrounded by gardens, elaborate staircases and viewpoints to take in the whole of the city.

Poble Espanyol 

Navigation Address: Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 13, 08038 Barcelona, Spain

Poble Espanyol is a small enclosure made to replicate various traditional Spanish architectures. Stroll through an Andalusian neighbourhood, a Catalan Romanesque monastery, and the traditional architecture of Galicia. 

There are also various artisans in open workshops and it is the only place in Barcelona where you can see traditional craftwork made in front of you. Some days it can get busy so pick up a skip-the-line ticket

After Poble Espanyol, you can walk across to Plaça d’Espanya and pick up the bus again by the fountains. 

Camp Nou

Navigation Address: C. d’Arístides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

people in large stadium holding up coloured paper with open sky above.
It’s always a treat to visit Camp Nou!

The home of FC Barcelona has a bus stop point so if you are football/soccer inclined you can get off the stop here and take a stadium tour.

The stadium is the fourth largest football stadium in the world and the second-largest in Europe, with a capacity of around 100,000.

It was constructed in the 1950s as the club support outgrew its previous stadium in Les Corts. The stadium has hosted some of the biggest games in the world and for the 1982 Fifa World Cup hosted over 120,000 supporters.

Casa Batlló

Navigation Address: Pg. de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

To reach Casa Batlló you will need to bus. It will continue down the famous Diagonal, looping onto Passeig de Gràcia and to Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.

With elaborate balconies and a roof made to look like the skin of a dragon, this is considered one of Antonio Gaudí’s masterpieces – and it absolutely lives up to the hype.

The bus has a stop here, so this is where we get off to take photos and stroll the next part of the day. 

After photos walk to Plaça de Catalunya, cross the square, and head directly onto La Rambla. This is a famous street in the city, home to street artists, performers, and flower stalls. 

Make sure to watch your belongings since pickpocketing can be quite common here!

Lunch at Mercat de la Boqueria

Navigation Address: Mercado de La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona

Lunch in Barcelona absolutely has to be taken in the most famous market of them all, the Mercat de la Boqueria. This undercover market is home to stalls filled with colourful fruits, small tapas dishes and delicious cones of jamón and cheese. 

Almost any of the stands are incredible for lunch so pick whatever you fancy. One of the most famous is El Quim which started as a tiny stall with only five stools.

Choose traditional bread with tomato, roasted aubergines, patatas bravas with aioli, and croquettes. Wash it down with a caña (small beer) or a glass of local Catalan wine. Alcohol at lunchtime is perfectly acceptable and pretty much expected!

Afternoon Activities – Basílica Sagrada Família

Navigation Address: C/ de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona

After lunch, it is time to take in more Gaudí at his most famous place of all, the Basílica Sagrada Família. This iconic building – one of Spain’s top attractions – began construction in 1882 and is still not finished.

Many of the architectural techniques required to complete the structure were not even possible when Gaudí made the plans but he knew it would take time and things would be created eventually. 

Parts of the Basílica were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War including Gaudí’s original plans. It took 16 years to piece together his model so construction could continue.

The pandemic delayed construction further and they now anticipate it will be finished in 2026. 

Even walking around the outside of the building is impressive but to truly experience it you must take a guided tour.

There are options to just buy tickets and use an audio guide but I recommend booking a guide to get the true passion and hidden details pointed out to you.

When you are inside the building the sunlight streams through the coloured windows creating the beautiful reflections and light bouncing around the interior, just as Gaudí imagined.

There is also a small museum explaining the construction and showing a small open part of the studio used by the current architects.

Afternoon Break at Xurreria Sagrada Familia

Navigation Address: Plaça Sagrada Família, 26, 08013 Barcelona

After the tour, it is time to take a break with more traditional cuisine, churros! Head around the corner to Xurreria Sagrada Familia to indulge in this doughy goodness dipped in hot chocolate. 

It is also time for another drink. One of the delights of Catalan culture is a few drinks across the day, so have another caña and relax overlooking the Basílica and the parks surrounding it.

You can also take your treats to take away and sit within Plaça Sagrada Família.

Early Evening Activity – Catamaran Tour

Navigation Address: Moll de Drassanes, Portal de la Pau, s/n, 08039, Barcelona

many white boats docked in port with walkway and palm trees on shore in foreground.
Barcelona’s waterfront area is worth a visit!

When you feel refreshed it is time to head back to the water’s edge for a catamaran tour. This is a great way to see the city from another angle and catch the early evening sun.

It is difficult to get a good sunset in Barcelona as the sun drops behind the surrounding mountains so the water is the perfect spot to close out the daytime hours. 

Catch the boat from Drassanes at the bottom of La Rambla and cruise out into the Mediterranean. Now is also the perfect time to try another specialty, vermouth.

This bittersweet drink is enjoyed over ice with a slice of orange and olive and is usually eaten with a dish of olives and salty snacks.

The catamaran has an onboard bar so get a glass, lay back and enjoy the view while musicians play smooth jazz.  

Dinner

After the cruise, you will be ready to eat again so you have a few options. You could stay along the water’s edge and pick a restaurant at Museu d’Història de Catalunya.

This is a large building at Port Vell and has a range of great restaurants to choose from. They can be a little pricey and on the touristy side but are also popular with locals. 

La Gavina and Merendero de la Mari are great for local seafood and paella dishes. Try black rice paella and calamari dishes. 

Alternatively, head to Passeig del Born for pintxos or tapas. My favourites are pintxos at Euskal Etxea Taberna. This is an informal way to eat where you choose various options of anchovies, cheeses, and meats served on small slices of bread. 

Waiters will bring hot options around the bar on boards and you grab whichever you like the look of. At the end, they count your cocktail sticks to charge your bill. It is a wonderful way to eat and incredibly sociable.

A more formal – but no less delicious and traditional – option is tapas at Bodega La Puntual. This restaurant looks like nothing from the front but opens into an inviting restaurant with delicious food, friendly staff, and a lovely ambiance. 

Evening Activities – Flamenco Show or Drinks

If you opted for pintxos or tapas you are well-located for the evening’s activities. Depending on your energy levels you have options:

Flamenco Show at Palau Dalmases

Navigation Address: Carrer de Montcada, 20, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

No trip to Spain is complete without seeing a flamenco show. One of the best places to see a show is at the Palau Dalmases.

This 17th-century building has elements of Gothic and Baroque architecture due to its additions and uses over the centuries.

The building is quite hidden away. You could pass it without realizing it. Once inside, however, in the Catalan courtyard, you feel like you have stepped into a hidden gem.

The Palau has a capacity for just 50 people so you avoid the larger scale flamenco shows and experience something much more intimate. More tapas and drinks are also available if you still have space for grazing!

Go for Drinks & Nibbles

If you prefer something less energetic the best place to pass the evening is enjoying the best of local wines and cava. A favourite spot is La Vinya del Senyor in front of the La Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar.

This tiny wine bar has stools inside or tables outside on the terrace. You can also sit upstairs in the windows overlooking the Basílica.

The staff are incredibly knowledgeable about wine and cava and are happy to suggest something to your taste.

I also recommend getting catànies which are caramelized almonds covered in dark chocolate and praline, the perfect accompaniment to your evening drinks. 

Related Articles

If you’re travelling to Spain and need more tips, check out these other helpful articles:

And this concludes your one day in Barcelona! Of course, you can mix this up and even spread it out to see attractions on other days. However, this should give you a taste of the best things to see in this incredible Catalan city.

As always, Happy Waddling,

-Natalie

Booking Your Trip Soon? This Is How We Do It:
  • Compare flights on Skyscanner
  • Check for Hotel Deals or Book A Hostel
  • Get A Rental Car (depending on the destination)
  • Look Into Travel Insurance
  • Research plug types and possibly get a travel adapter
  • Go over our packing list
  • About Natalie

    After leaving England in 2017, Natalie lived in a surfer town in Morocco for a few years before settling in Barcelona with her foundling street dog Zina. She is a writer and affiliate manager, and co-manages a surf brand in the UK. Her travel style is slow travel, exploring cute European towns and quiet beaches, and indulging in the culture of local food and wine.