Barcelona is chock-full of things to see, but if you only have one weekend to experience all it has to offer, you have to plan it well. How to take on the Catalonian capital? Fret not, we’re here to help you make the most of every second of your trip from the moment you arrive at your hotel until you leave, ensuring you visit the must-see places and discover the city’s decadent food and buzziest hangouts. Read to the end to find out what to see and do in Barcelona in just one weekend!
Our Barcelona Hotel Picks
You made it, you’re in Barcelona! Time for the check-in… The hotel you choose makes all the difference when it comes to having a memorable weekend. Do you want to avoid any surprises at check-in? Well, take a look at some of our favourite hotels in Barcelona.
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Being on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. Look no further than this six-storey hotel in one of the city’s most sophisticated neighbourhoods. Casa Gracia offers both mixed rooms for up to six people—ideal for those travelling with friends—and rooms that are perfect for a romantic escape, complete with jacuzzi bath and kitchenette with coffee and tea facilities. At night, the dining room puts on flamenco shows, poetry recitals, and movies; while by day you can enjoy the sun on its fantastic terrace.
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Hotel U232 is located near to the intersection of Avinguda Diagonal and Paseo de Gràcia and many of the city’s best tourist spots. The brown hues and luxurious materials give a welcoming feel to areas designed specifically with your relaxation in mind, while the rooms are a mix of classic design and a touch of avant-garde.
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If there’s a place where you can be pampered in every way possible from the moment you arrive, Yurbban Trafalgar is it. Here, you really can unwind and enjoy an A+ stay. This hotel has modern rooms with a balcony, bike rental, and a gym. At the end of the day, you can recharge your batteries in the rooftop pool or in the hammam, which is made from the ancient remains of Barcelona’s water system that supplied Mercat del Born when it was still a functioning market.
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Just a few metres from Plaça de Catalunya, H10 Casanova hotel occupies a perfectly-renovated eighteenth-century building with a sophisticated atmosphere and superior services. Fancy a cocktail? On the eighth floor of this building, you can enjoy a Bloody Mary while admiring the sunset over the city. Prefer a massage? Make the most of the massages and other incredible treatments on offer at the Despacio Spa Centre—you’ll never want to go home.
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Only an eight-minute walk from Sagrada Familia, the Primavera Hostel is ideally placed for getting around the city. It has modern, bright rooms and simple yet welcoming decor. If you’re travelling with a group of friends, it has large, spacious rooms that accommodate up to six people, and smart, functional single rooms with their own balcony. The hostel has a communal kitchen and a lounge area with lots of sofas and a reading corner.
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There are loads of good reasons to choose the Generator Hostel: super-cool interior design, ideal location in the Gràcia area, and friendly, attentive staff who will make you feel at home. This hostel has shared rooms or doubles with private bathroom available. And, like every good traveller should, you can mingle with other guests in the Fiesta Gràcia bar, which is beautifully adorned with 300 coloured lanterns hanging from the roof.
Things to Do in Barcelona: Your Weekend Day-by-Day
8:00 p.m. Your energy levels might not be so high on Friday night, particularly if you’ve just hopped off a long-haul journey. Allow us to suggest the best way to regain your strength and kick off your fantastic weekend. Start in the Gràcia area, one of the most famous neighbourhoods in the city and a favourite among travellers. Previously a village in its own right, it has retained a unique character and traditions to match. Because of this, walking around the neighbourhood is like visiting a city within a city.
This bohemian, modern city quarter is where you’ll get to know the real Barcelona, and it’s the best place to go if you want to revel in all the weekend fun the city has to offer. Its pedestrian streets and squares—like Plaça del Sol, Plaza del Reloj (Plaça Rius i Taulet), and Plaça de la Virreina—are well-known, lively meeting spots. Start your tour of this amazing city in Gràcia, admiring the area’s characteristic art nouveau architecture and toasting to the weekend ahead in one of its bars or cafés.
9:00 p.m. It’s a fact that travelling makes you hungry. An excellent dinner spot you can hit without having to leave Gràcia is La llavor dels Origens (Ramon i Cajal, 12), where you can sample some authentic Catalan dishes. Try the delicious seasonal cannelloni or the typical “coca catalana,” a sort of tartine topped with vegetables or partridge egg—not to be missed!
A night at the theatre
What is there to do in Barcelona after nightfall? Sit back and be amazed by a very different show to your standard theatre performance. The Antic Teatre (Verdaguer i Callís, 12) lies within the Born area. Today, this extraordinary eighteenth-century building is a space dedicated to performing arts, and every night the magic of the theatre plays out in its courtyard garden, while the audience sips delectable drinks. After this, there’s nothing better than listening to some great live music at Mediterráneo (Balmes, 129) or at the eclectic El Pipiolo (Balmes, 113), where you can swing to some excellent rumba or immerse yourself in a jam session.
Saturday morning is a truly special point in the weekend: You’re at the top of your game, well-rested, and still have a full weekend ahead. There’s no time to waste! Your morning will be spent among some of the city’s most iconic sites. What do you need? Comfortable shoes, sunglasses, and your best smile. Let’s go!
Paseo de Gràcia
10:00 a.m. Your walk begins on one of the city’s main streets, Paseo de Gràcia, unique for its modern architecture and its many shops. This neighbourhood is connected to the heart of the city by Plaça de Catalunya, which is also an essential stop on your itinerary. Along this road you can admire some architectural masterpieces, such as La Pedrera and the iconic Casa Batlló, both exceptional creations by Gaudi. Another remarkably charming building in this area is the Casa Amatller, by architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. You can only see the inside of this building by guided tour in small groups. If you’re a shopaholic, you’ll find all the name brand stores here, and not far from here is the Palau de la Música Catalana, whose modernista-style facade will leave you speechless!
The Gothic Quarter
Las Ramblas is the starting point for exploring the labyrinth of lanes that make up the Gothic Quarter. Get lost in its many squares with churches, palaces, and institutional buildings like Ajuntament (Plaça Sant Jaume), and don’t miss Santa María del Mar, the Gothic basilica that inspired the novel Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones. But the real architectural jewel of this quarter is the stunning Gothic Cathedral that stands in the historic centre.
Another great way to spend your morning is visiting the museums. If you’re a fan of Pablo Picasso, the Picasso Museum comprises five thirteenth- and fourteenth-century buildings and hosts one of the most extensive permanent collections of work by the Malaga-born painter. This area is also home to the Barcelona City History Museum, which will provide you with a deeper insight into all the sites you have taken in so far. Entry to this museum also offers you the chance to walk among the city foundations from the Roman era and visit a second-century dyeing factory.
A walk to savour
To discover the city’s real soul, don’t miss one of Europe’s best markets, the Mercado de la Boqueria (La Rambla, 91). Here, a world of colours and flavours converge in one place. You can find any kind of food, from fish to fruit, and of course the traditional specialities like embutidos (Catalan cured meats). This market has been running since the eighteenth century and is still a city landmark today.
After all this walking, it’s time to find a quiet place to take a load off. The restaurant in the Filmoteca de Catalunya film archive, La Monroe (Plaça Salvador Dalí, 1), boasts a varied international menu in modern surroundings. If you’re looking for some top-notch eats instead, head to Els 4 gats (Montsió, 3). When it opened back in 1897, it was a meeting place for artists and intellectuals such as Picasso, Albéniz, and Gaudì—true history at its finest! If time permits, head to Ocaña (Plaça Reial, 13-15) where you can eat on the outdoor patio. Dishes here are inspired by Catalan cuisine with Asian and Moroccan influences.
An afternoon at the museum
In the heart of the rejuvenated Raval area is the Plaça dels Àngels, an internationally renowned attraction for skateboarders. This square is in front of the MACBA building, which hosts a rich collection of art dating back to the second half of the twentieth century. Another museum not to be missed for those wishing to find out more about the urban history of Barcelona is the CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona), while movie lovers can check out the program at Filmoteca de Catalunya (Plaça Salvador Seguí, 1), which has an excellent selection at affordable prices. Want to bring back gifts but not sure what to get? You can’t go wrong with a good book. The ancient Chapel of Mercy, built in the mid-eighteenth century, today houses the Central del Raval bookshop (Elisabets, 6), where you can buy all the latest international book releases.
If you enjoy a spot of tropical cooking, don’t miss La Rosa del Raval (Àngels, 6), one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city and the perfect place to try delicious quesadillas and tacos. The flavours are so good they’ll bring tears to your eyes—and no, it won’t be because of the chili! For something a bit fancier, try the very central Les Quinze Nits (Plaça Reial, 6) for a menu loaded with Mediterranean dishes. To really get the night going, there’s nothing better than a drink in the courtyard of El Bosc de les Fades (Passatge Banca, 7), a bar with a distinctive atmosphere… and filled with fairies! Music lovers should not miss the live concerts organized by Sala Apolo (Nou de Rambla, 113) or Razzmatazz (Pamplona, 88).
Don’t let a Sunday get you down. True, the weekend is almost over and you’ll be heading onwards in a few hours, but this just means you have to make the most of your final hours in Barcelona.
A modernist day
10:00 a.m. Start the day with the great classics of Antoni Gaudi, whose artistic imprint has been left around all corners of the city. Parc Güell (Vallcarca metro stop) opens at 8:00 a.m. and is where you’ll see just how much nature influenced Gaudi’s work. The imposing Sagrada Familia is an essential stop (open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.). Despite still being unfinished, this masterpiece will render anyone who comes by utterly speechless.
12:00 p.m. Today’s itinerary continues with a visit to another of modernism’s great architectural works: Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau in the Guinardó neighbourhood. This building is now home to organizations that work on cultural sustainability and education and has become a must-visit place thanks to its incredible exterior and intricately decorated facades. It is Europe’s largest structure in modernist style and it doesn’t disappoint.
1:00 p.m. Back at sea level, the Parc de la Ciutadella, situated within the military citadel built at the beginning of the eighteenth century, is a relaxing pit stop after the tiring climbs of the morning. You should definitely go down to the river bank to see the fountains and take a photo of the Arco de Trionfo—the former entrance to the International Expo held here in 1888. Once you’re here, you’re so close to La Barceloneta that it would be crazy not take some time to walk around this waterfront area or take a refreshing dip in the sea.
A break along the way
2:00 p.m. It’s time for that essential aperitif! The typical Can Paixano (Reina Cristina, 7) is worth a visit. While you’re here, you should sample their famous embutidos and one of their special cavas on offer. For an unforgettable flavour experience, try Tasca i Vins (Industria, 118), where you’ll be blown away by their strictly seasonal products. Don’t forget to stop by Sirvent (Parlament, 56) to taste their nougat and delectable homemade almond syrup.
5:00 p.m. Finish your tour of Barcelona in style by taking the cable car to Montjuic Castle, where you can take in a superb panoramic view of the city from above. Up here you’ll find the MNAC (National Museum of Art of Catalonia), which requires a few hours to visit, or the Pueblo Español, a unique open-air museum where typical buildings from all around Spain have been reconstructed from original examples, which can still be found throughout the Iberian Peninsula.
A magical farewell
8:30 p.m. It’s time to say goodbye, but no need to settle for anything less than extraordinary even at this juncture: Enjoy the spectacular water and light show of the Magic Fountain with the Palau Nacional as a backdrop. You absolutely cannot miss this amazing spectacle of music, light, and colour! It’s open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday to Saturday in winter, and from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursday to Sunday in the summer.
This article was originally published on trivago magazine Italy.