Travel Diary: 48 Hours in Barcelona
3 countries, 4 stops, two weeks - it seems like forever ago we were in Barcelona but it was just a few weeks ago. As I was about to hit publish on this we received the news about the attacks in Barcelona and surrounding areas. We were walking the same street (Las Ramblas) 1.5 weeks ago. We left the city with SO much love... a kick-off to forever 💕 It breaks my heart that the people of Catalonia are experiencing this, that locals and tourists lost their lives... that today's events have become commonplace in so many cities around world. One thing I've learned from traveling over that last month and meeting people from different walks of life is that we all have similar concerns about the current global situation. But the most amazing part is that there is a strong desire for love and acceptance AND a powerful unity against hate and violence. We can't be afraid. Keep traveling... make friends around the world, and be a thoughtful ambassador for your country!
Although we spent more than 48 hours in Barcelona some of it was taken up by our engagement (eek!) and the celebration of that, so I decided to condense this into the 48 hours that made up our adventure time. It seems like a lot of you are planning trips to Barca soon; my hope is that this guide can be super helpful. Where to stay? Get the deets on Generator Barcelona from last week's hotel diary. Below, you’ll find our two-day itinerary below PLUS at least 25 restaurant + bar recommendations that you guys gave me on IG (some of which we hit and they were DELISH).
Breakfast at Brunch + Cake: a food experience I’ve never had before. The menu consists of healthy dishes that are extremely unique, delicious, and insanely beautiful. This spot came as a suggestion from a few of you on IG and it did not disappoint. Note: Cup + Cake, Brunch + Cake, and Travel + Cake are all part of the same family and there are a few locations around Barcelona.
Stop at Dali Museum + Flaix Experience: after breakfast we stumbled into the Dali Museum off Passeig de la Gracia which gives you a quick taste of Dali’s life and can be done in less than 45 minutes, plus it’s free! Connected to this exhibit was a really cool FLAIX (BC radio station) history of Spain’s greatest hits – not surprisingly, many are the same as the US.
Explore Park Guell: a MUST do when in Barcelona. You’ve probably read and or been told that you have to hit the Gaudi spots on your visit and I 100% agree. There’s A LOT of them but the main ones are Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia. BUY TICKETS ahead of time because they will sell out. Tickets are purchased with a specific arrival time, so it’s important to plan accordingly. The park has beautiful mosaics and architectures, plus killer views of Barcelona. IF you aren’t able to get tickets, there’s a free portion at the top of the park that you can also hit and you’ll still get the gorgeous view just not experience the intricate details of Gaudi’s work in the park. You can do the park in under 1.5 hours.
Visit La Sagrada Familia: probably the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen. Initially I wasn’t super into going inside but since our friends were in town we all decided to get tickets and go in – THANK GOODNESS! The details inside are absolutely stunning works of arts especially how the stained glass reflects throughout. It’s pretty crowded but if you buy tickets ahead of time, there’s a specific time slot you can visit which makes the line pretty bearable. I highly suggest buying the tickets with the audio guide portion because it’s very informative and helpful when walking through.
Lunch at Cerveceria Catalana: delicious Tapas spot located off Passeig de la Gracia- definitely get the Patatas Bravas and Tomato Toast with Iberian Ham. Don’t forget the Sangria!
Siesta: muy importante after a busy day exploring!
Walk through Park de la Ciutadella: take a sunset walk at this BEAUTIFUL expansive park that has the Arc de Triomf (of Barcelona), performers, fountains, row boats, and a zoo. It’s absolutely a must-do!
Dinner at Eldiset: Hands down my favorite meal in Barcelona. It’s a wine + tapas bar that I would describe as a more of “farm to table” experience; their tapas were just elevated in every way. Get a bottle of their house Rose; it’s yum and a total steal!
Grab Gelato at the corner spot (there's literally a spot at every turn): never met a European gelato I didn’t like. For anyone with a picky palate (my bf), the stracciatella flavor is very similar to chocolate chip ice cream in the states.
Eat breakfast at hotel: most European hotels provide breakfast with accommodations which is nice bonus and great way to start the day efficiently! We stayed at Generator Barcelona and loved it – see my hotel diary here.
Shop on Passeig de la Gracia: from what I gathered, this is one of the main streets in Barcelona – it’s lined with shops (Zara, Sephora, Cartier, Starbucks, etc.) and is a hub for tourist bus pick ups and drop offs. Btw, there are Zaras EVERYWHERE in Barcelona and it’s amazing!
Explore Barcelona via a Hop on hop off Bus OR rent bikes: with only two days it’s hard to see everything and taxis can be expensive, so I suggest doing the hop on hop off bus (keep the weather in mind because it gets SO hot at the top) or rent bikes (they have public ones all around). We opted for the hop on hop off bus which is a great bang for your buck because you can take advantage of it ALL day but I kind of wished we did bikes.
Lunch at Bo da B: a small Mediterranean sandwich shop by that water which was a nice change from the Spanish Tapas scene. Their patatas bravas are also PERFECTO!
Siesta: when in Spain!
Explore local squares: there’s tons of squares in different neighborhoods that have something to offer – live music, places to picnic, etc. – they’re so cute! Grab some wine from a local market and enjoy a little pre-dinner drink and people watching.
Dinner at El Nacional: This place is nothing like I've ever seen before - it features 4 culinary "areas" and 4 bars. Andy said it reminded him of Eatily in NY (I've never been). We dined at the tapas portion which was absolutely delicious and a super fun dining experience - waiter calls out fresh tapas as they come out from the kitchen and any table can claim them. It's also the only place I've found in Europe that does CLEAN shrimp (no heads or veins) which was a super win for me because I LOVE shrimp.
PS: Keep in mind that you will be walking almost 100% of the time and that will allows you to see SO much between each stop!
We tried to hit as many spots as possible in our 72 hours in Barcelona, many of which were recommendations from you. I've rounded up all the recs (see them all starred on my shared google map):
- Arts Hotel Rooftop for Drinks
- August Gastropub
- Bo de B
- Boca Grande
- Bodega 1900
- Bosc de les Fades Bar
- Cerveceria Catalana: - share pitcher of sangria for wait
- Chill Bar
- Ciudad Condal
- Cup + Cake/ Brunch + Cake / Travel + Cake
- El Nacional
- El Xampanyet
- Federal Cafe
- Paco Meralgo
- Paradiso Speakeasy
- Patron Bar
- Petite Comite
- Quimet Quimet
- Restaurant BarBas
- Tickets / Dessert Room
Just a reminder, most places in Europe include tax and tip in overall charg e and there's no need to tip, BUT many have become accustomed to Americans providing tips like they do in the US... SO I would suggest tipping 10% if you feel like you had exceptional service. Also, unlike the states water is an additional charge - don't get TOO excited when bottle of Evian arrives at your table - you're paying for it!
TO PLAY + STAY
Barcelona Photo Diary
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Language Barrier: between myself (high school Spanish) and Andy (who grew up in Miami) we felt that it was pretty easy to communicate. Most people spoke broken English if not 100% English and overall the sentiment from locals was extremely hospitable. Keep in mind in Barcelona most people speak Catalan and some people speak Spanish – they are super similar but some signs and words are totally hard to understand.
Weather: in the summer it is HOT. I’m talking 90 degrees + humidity, so it feels like Miami or Dallas in the dead of summer. The most important thing is staying hydrated. You are going to sweat a lot and there’s nothing to really prevent that so just keep drinking water. In Europe in general they do not use AC like we do in the states. Stores, cabs, restaurants sometimes a) don’t have any AC or b) if they do it’s not set to freezing like we would do! Set your expectations of just being gross and sweaty so you’re not pissed the whole time.
Safety: I personally never felt unsafe, even walking through empty streets late at night. Like many places in Europe, always keep an eye for pick pocketers but I don’t think you need a special inside shirt wallet or whatever those things are. Just bring your purse towards the front of you when you’re in crowded situations.
Other great guides: whenever plan a trip I like to peruse Pinterest for other guides and suggestions (see my Vacay board here). I referred to the Every Girl's Guide to Barcelona as well as this Barcelona Bucket List post when planning.
What to pack? If you’re going in the summer it would be amazing to wear your birthday suit (haha) because it’s that damn hot. I suggest: easy breezy dresses, shorts, or skirts. Only bring one pair of pants just in case and a rain jacket/windbreaker for stormy days. Comfortable walking shoes and a hat are a must and don’t forget sunscreen. See my Barcelona packing list below.