Best Barcelona weekend getaway itinerary
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO YOUR WEEKEND BARCELONA TRIP
Barcelona is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway: it’s well communicated by airplane and train, a very interesting cultural and touristic offer, great food, and a size that allows you to cover most sites on foot or with short subway or taxi rides. You can cover a lot if you plan your trip well!
As a professional tour guide, I often get to plan Barcelona weekend breaks for my guests. I organize for them time-efficient itineraries that are complete but not rushed, taking account what’s closed on Sunday, planning meals near the visited areas so no time is wasted unnecessarily… So today I’ll be sharing with you my secret tips for a successful weekend in Barcelona.
Here is your weekend in Barcelona itinerary:
Arriving on Friday evening?
Does your Barcelona weekend trip start on Friday evening? Use it for a first approach to the city, looking for great city views. Maybe dinner at a restaurant with Barcelona views, or plan for some drinks at a hotel rooftop. Or if you are an architecture fan and want to do as many Gaudi sites as possible, plan for an evening tour of Casa Batllo: you'll get architecture, city views and life music all in one. And if you aren't staying on Sunday evening, check out our recommendations for Sunday night for more inspiration.
Saturday morning: Old Town
Arc de Triomf and 1888 World Fair
We want to be time-efficient, so I’m not going to tell you to explore everything in the Park, but do head left to see the monumental waterfall and the small lake.
Retrace your steps back to the entrance, and go left around the corner of the park to find Princesa street: your shortcut to the Born District. Turn left on Flassaders street (it’s more scenic and more off the beaten path than Montcada a bit further away). If you didn’t have breakfast, at the bottom of the alley you’ll find the Hoffman cake shop with delicious croissants. The street ends at the main street of the district: Passeig del Born. Turn right to find yourself at the back of one of the most beautiful churches in Barcelona: Santa Maria del Mar.
Since the entrance is paid and time is short, my suggestion is to skip the inside and walk around it for a good view of the front. From there, your itinerary takes you up the lively Argenteria street, lined up with cute clothing stores, takes you to the heart of the historical area of Barcelona: the Gothic Quarter. But first, make sure to get a coffee to go at one of the oldest coffee roasters in town, Cafes El Magnifico.
Cross over Via Laietana. You’ll have the 100yo cake shop and candy makers La Campana, and to both sides the remains of the old Roman wall. Take Baixada de la Llibreteria, then turn right on c/Veguer. This takes you to the Plaça del Rei, an atmospheric square presided by the medieval Royal Palace and the Chapel of Saint Agata. They are now part of the Museum of History of the City, but the Roman excavations underneath can take more than one hour to visit, so leave them for your next time in Barcelona. To the left of the square opens the gate into the patio of the Palau del Lloctinent, another scenic corner of the Old Town.
Exit it from the other side to find yourself by the apse of the Cathedral of Barcelona. Look up to admire the gargoyles, and head right down Carrer dels Comtes to see its front. If you still have a couple of hours before lunch (and you haven’t seen already too many European churches), you might want to go inside. Go online to get the tickets so you can skip the line. Make sure to take the elevator to the rooftop and check out the geese in the cloister.
At the end of the street you’ll hit Plaça Sant Jaume, flanked by the Barcelona City Hall and the Generalitat Catalan Government. Take C/Call at the other side of the square, the alleys you’ll be passing to the right are the medieval Jewish Section – if you are curious about it you can take a quick detour along Carrer Salomo Ben Adret and C/Marlet. At the end of C/Call take c/Banys Nous to the right (another cool street with many fun little stores), and then left on the narrow alley called Carrer de l’Ave Maria.
You’ll get to Plaça Sant Josep Oriol, that where will be taking place a small art market. Go passed the painting stalls, and go around the Church of Santa Maria del Pi. The street to the left of the front of the church, Cardenal Casañas, takes you to La Rambla, the next part of today’s itinerary.
La Rambla is one of the most famous streets in Barcelona, always lively and busy. From this corner you’ll see the colorful Palau de Bruno Cuadros, decorated with umbrellas and Asian decoration, and over the pavement in the middle of the street, a mosaic by Joan Miro that most people miss, even if they walk on top of it.
Boqueria Market & Lunch
Walk up (right) La Rambla, enjoying the flower market. Soon you’ll see to the left the main gate of the Boqueria Market, the oldest marketplace in Barcelona. Walking around it will be one of the highlights of the day, with its colorful stalls and delicious smells. There’s many great tapas bars scattered around the market that can be a fun option for lunch. And there’s plenty of stalls that sell food to go. Or if you prefer a seat-down meal, try Dos Pebrots nearby.
AVERAGE TIME NEEDED: 3 hours
Saturday afternoon: Montjuic Hill
The top of the hill
On top of the Funicular station you’ll find the Teleferic de Montjuic cable car station. It takes you to the top of the Hill, where you can visit the Castle of Montjuic. This is an itinerary with great views over Barcelona and child-friendly. Plan about 1 hour for the round trip on the Cable Car and a light visit of the Castle (if there’s no lines at the cable car). If that’s not your thing, across the street from the station but more to the right there’s the Olympic pools that were used for the diving competitions. The bar there offers also spectacular views over the city.
Next, take the road to the right of the funicular station and in less than 5 minutes you’ll reach the Miro Foundation. If you are an art lover, the collection takes a bit over an hour to be covered. There’s also a cafe, two gift shops and toilets. And left of the Miro Foundation there’s the quiet Laribal gardens, where you might want to take a break and relax surrounded by nature. Otherwise you can continue following the road until you hit the Olympic Stadium. A balcony giving to the inside is usually open free of charge, and there’s toilets and a small cafe inside, too.
The Olympic area
Magic Fountain and Dinner
The MNAC museum takes 2 to 4 hours to visit, and that’ll be probably too much after such a long day walking around. Now it’s time to start climbing down the steps in front of the museum, back to the city. At the bottom of the stairs you’ll find the Magic Fountain, a fountain that offers a free light and music show in the evening. The schedule of the show depends mostly on the sunlight, so it might be still too early by the time you get there.
So while you wait for it to start, you can check out the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion nearby, or visit the art exhibits at Caixaforum. You might even want to go a bit further to explore the Poble Espanyol (an outdoor museum of Spanish architecture from the 1929 World Fair), or head down the avenue to the Las Arenas in Plaça Espanya: a former bullring turned into a modern shopping mall. Or you might even have enough time to go for dinner somewhere in the area before the show starts.
AVERAGE TIME NEEDED: 2 to 4 hours, depending on how many extras you add, plus the time you spend at the Magic Fountain.
Sunday morning: Modernist sites
If you enter Park Guell from Carretera del Carmel, you can go a bit uphill to see the Viaducts (stone bridges) – let’s say a 10 minute detour. Or go straight ahead to the Monumental area, to see the plaza famous for the ceramic bench, then the columns room underneath, the staircase with the fountain of the dragon, and the main entrance with the pavilions that were inspired in Hansel & Gretel gingerbread houses. Plan at least one hour for the Park.
Hospital de Sant Pau
If you have the entire day in Barcelona, exit the Park from the bottom exit (main entrance with the gingerbread house pavilions) and walk down Larrard street. At the end of it, cross Travessera de Dalt avenue and to the left you’ll see a bus stop. Hop on the H6 for 3 stops and get off at Ronda Guinardo – Castillejos. Walk down Cartagena street, and in 5 minutes you’ll reach the main entrance of the modernist Hospital de Sant Pau. This gorgeous facility was designed by Gaudí’s professor and competitor Domenech i Muntaner, and it was an active hospital until recently.
It’s totally worth going inside, and it’ll take you a bit over an hour to explore the pavilions, gardens, tunnels and the administration building – but skip it if you are just planning to take a picture from outside. In that case rather than a bus, take a taxi to your next stop: Sagrada Familia. Sure, you can take the subway but it’s a 30 minutes walk from the Park to the closest subway station, and you’ll have to switch lines – not that worth the trouble!
Sagrada Familia and lunch
If you have the afternoon available for more sightseeing, my recommendation is to stop now for lunch and do the church later: the colors inside will be better (but don’t go too late either – make sure to get in at least a couple of hours before sunset). Sure, everyone will tell you that there’s no good food around the church and that everything are tourist traps. Well, this post gets you covered!
And by all means, don’t see the church just from outside. It’s not one more church: it’s something out of this world! If the outside is impressive, the inside is more than breathtaking – nothing like you would be expecting to see. The inside was finished in 2010 (before it was just a construction site), and since then more and more stained glasses have been added. So if you’ve already been there some years ago, still don’t miss going back inside! Plan some 1.5 hours inside – it might sound long, but time flies when you are there!
AVERAGE TIME NEEDED: 4 to 6 hours, depending on the number of stops
Sunday afternoon: Eixample & Waterfront
Passeig de Gracia & Rambla Catalunya
While I love the inside and the views from its rooftop, you’ve already seen enough Gaudi sites today and your weekend in Barcelona is coming to an end soon, so my recommendation will be to see it from outside. Or maybe stop over at their cafe on the mezzanine for a lovely coffee break with views over the street and the quirky ceilings designed by Gaudi. When you are ready, continue walking down the street alonside the (closed on Sunday) exclusive fashion stores that line up the street.
In three blocks you’ll reach the Block of Disagreement, where Gaudi, Domenech i Muntaner and their third competitor, Puig i Cadafalch, built one next door to the other 3 unique apartment buildings pretty much at the same time. Again here I’ll tell you to leave the inside for another trip – it would take you at least one hour to go inside Casa Batllo by Gaudi, for instance (and the lines are long). But if you didn’t stop at the Cafe de la Pedrera, at the bottom of the street level of the building next door, Casa Amatller, you’ll find another cafe where the kitchen of the house used to be. The Amatller were chocolate makers, and the brand continues to exist – so make sure to stop here for a cup of hot chocolate!
Continue on Aragon street: from a delivery parking opening you can see the backside of Casa Batllo… for free! And just across the street, the Fundacio Tapies museum, topped with a funky sculpture that represents a cloud and a chair. The next corner will be the crossing with Rambla de Catalunya. Take it down to the left, enjoying the more relaxed feel and the gorgeous architecture.
AVERAGE TIME NEEDED: 1 hour.
Depending on your energy levels and how late it is, you might want to stop over in Ciutadella/Vila Olimpica (longer itinerary) or in Barceloneta, if you are ready to eat. If you decide on the longer walk, you’ll start walking from the two tall sky scrappers (Mapfre office building and Ritz-Carlton hotel), and along the beach towards the W hotel that looks like a sail. It can take you a good 20 minutes to get from there to Plaça del Mar.
From there you’ll need to decide if you want to continue along the beach to the W Hotel for dinner at one of the restaurants at its foot, and then end the night at their Eclipse nightclub. Or if you prefer to go on the opposite direction, now bordering the Barceloneta district and the Port Vell marina down Passeig de Joan de Borbo avenue, near the Barceloneta subway station (shorter walk).
This area is great for a lovely paella or tapas dinner by the water. Walking to the end of the avenue, where Palau de Mar brick building stands is another 10-15 minutes. And from there you can continue along the Moll de la Fusta (10 minutes more) to the end of La Rambla, where stands the statue of Christopher Columbus. You haven’t been to this part of La Rambla yet. Consider going up to Plaça Reial to find more restaurants and bars. There’s also two flamenco shows in the area: Tablao Cordobes and Los Tarantos, in case you are curious (but make sure to book them in advance).
AVERAGE TIME NEEDED: A bit over 1 hour to get there and for the longer walk, plus the stops you make in bars and restaurants.
Planning a long weekend getaway?
But do plan your itinerary carefully: if you are here on a Monday, most museums are closed – you might want to do the museum on Saturday or Sunday morning, and move something to Monday in exchange. Just beware that if your long weekend is due to a holiday, shops might be closed, sites might change their schedule… You’ll need to do some research to make sure your trip is a success.
Ideas for a a romantic Barcelona weekend for two
Enjoy your weekend in Barcelona!
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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