barcelona from park guell

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park guell and city views

5 must visits for your weekend getaway to Barcelona

Coming to the city for a weekend? If you’ve been wondering what are the top sites you need to see no matter what, in the short time you’ll be here… We get you covered! We are professional tour guides and show the city to hundreds of visitors every year. We know what are their favorite sites, what are the best times to visit, and lots of ideas to take the most out of them. Let us share with you the 5 visits you can’t miss in Barcelona, that you can do in a short 2-day trip! 

1

Sagrada Familia

sagrada familia

Started in 1882 and not finished yet, this was the masterpiece of the architect Antoni Gaudi. If there's one single site you'll be paying for: that needs to be Sagrada Familia. No: it's not just one more European church. And the inside is already finished, even if there's towers still under construction. If the outside is spectacular, the outside is out of this world. It's not the most visited monument in Spain for no reason! So make sure to buy tickets in advance, they sell out days in advance even during the low season.

Sagrada Familia opens every day, but on Sunday it opens a bit later because there’s mass at 9AM. The area doesn’t have many great restaurants, so our suggestion is to plan your meals around other sites, instead. The basic ticket gets you access to the façades, the inside naves, the cloister galleries and the museum in the basement. There’s a different ticket that also allows you to take the elevator to the towers of your favorite façade. But beware: the elevator only spares you the climb up: going down is always by stairs – and being some 400 steps in a narrow and steep staircase, this adventure isn’t for everyone.

2

Park Guell

Park Guell is another Gaudi site, built between 1900 and 1914 for Gaudi's patron and best friend, the count Eusebi Guell. Meant to be a residential area for the wealthy families of Barcelona, the location was too far out and the project was a failure. While the park isn't free of charge anymore, the admission is quite cheap compared to most other sites in the city.

You can see there the famous plaza with an undulating mosaic bench around it, a handsome columns room with mosaics on the ceiling, a famous fountain shaped like a dragon, and the famous pavilions that were inspired in Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread houses. This park is open every day, and the tickets sell out most weekends and every day during the high season: so buy tickets in advance, as well. Also, taxi is the best way to get there: since the closest subway station is more then 20 minutes walk… uphill!

3

Passeig de Gracia

Passeig de Gracia is the main street of Barcelona. After the medieval walls of the city were turned down in 1854, the old road connecting the city with the village of Gracia became a fancy boulevard inspired in the Parisian Champs Elysees. Here moved the wealthiest families, who erected gorgeous modernist apartment buildings that were at the same time their residence, an investment and a way to show off.

Here you’ll see Gaudi’s Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera), and Casa Batllo located in the “Block of Disagreement”, where Gaudi built almost next door to his two top competitors: Puig i Cadafalch with this Casa Amatller, and Domenech i Muntaner with his Casa Lleo Morera. Going inside one of the Gaudi houses will take you a bit over one hour, and it’s highly recommended to get tickets in advance, as well. But they are expensive, so you might want to leave them for another time.

While the area is mostly offices and hotels nowadays, it continues to be a fancy street where all the high end fashion brands are present. The shops will be closed on Sunday, but most of them have glass windows and it’s still nice to walk when the shops are closed. But if your goals for the weekend include some shopping, don’t stay just on Passeig de Gracia: the smaller stores in the side streets and on the paral·lel street Rambla Catalunya are lots of fun, too, and are more affordable than Chanel and Gucci.

4

Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is the neighborhood around the Barcelona Cathedral (not Sagrada Familia, but a more classical church). It's the oldest part of the city, where you can see Roman ruins from 2000 years ago, scenic plazas and quaint medieval courtyards. The Cathedral is not available for visits during mass - so if you are planning to visit make sure to go on Saturday morning or early afternoon.

The entrance fee allows you go visit the inside, the cloister where 13 geese live, and to take the elevator to the rooftop for some cool views over the city. The whole thing will take you some 30 minutes if there aren’t lines to go in (or you can buy tickets online ahead of time). Other than the Cathedral, the top spots in the Gothic Quarter are Plaça del Rei, Plaça Sant Jaume, Carrer del Bisbe and Plaça de Sant Felip Neri. From there you’ll also be within walking distance from the Born district (for more medieval quarters) and La Rambla (see below)

5

La Rambla and the Boqueria Market

La Rambla is maybe the most famous street of Barcelona... but also one of the most touristy... Most local shops have become cheesy souvenir shops, and most restaurants are either fast food or tourist traps. But if you can time your visit for an early time of the day (before 11AM), you'll be able to enjoy a walk down a lovely boulevard lined up with old trees and important architecture without the crowds.

Kind of half way down the street you’ll find the Boqueria Market, the oldest marketplace in Spain. While some stalls are now evidently catering only to tourists, with their food to go offer, if you pay attention you’ll also see unique stalls selling interesting products that you can’t find in other places. The market is also a fun place to eat lunch: its tapas bars serve mouth-watering specialties, although they aren’t cheap. The market is closed on Sunday, and on Saturday it closes around 7PM, and the bars are not open for dinner.

A visit of the market will take you about 30 minutes without counting stopping to eat. Please be mindful of local shoppers: don’t block their way or interrupt them when they are speaking to the vendors. La Rambla is about half a mile long. On normal conditions it should take some 20 minutes to walk from end to end, but since you’ll be stopping here and there for pictures, it’ll probably take you about 1 hour, plus the time at the market.

6

BONUS: Where should you stay?

Our pick is the Ilunion Auditori by Ilunion Hotels because we like its location in a local neighborhood where “real people” live, but it’s well connected with the top city sites as there’s several subway stops within walking distance. You’ll be super close to Passeig de Sant Joan, a street that in 2021 was voted second best street to live in the world, just behind Smith Street in Melbourne. There you’ll find lovely cafes and restaurants, interesting shops, a mason library, an Arch of Triomf and the entrance to the Ciutadella park – the largest garden in town.

Enjoy your time in Barcelona!

Marta

Author Marta Laurent Veciana

AUTHOR BIO

Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.

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