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Barcelona is one of the most magnificent and beautiful cities in all of Europe. From amazing churros and other local delicacies to exploring Gaudi’s architectural marvels, it’s completely possible to spend just 24 hours in Barcelona to see some of Spain’s highlights.
With the right amount of planning, you can easily see the landmarks that Barcelona is so well known for. Plus, with Barcelona’s great transportation, you’d be surprised at how much you can pack in one day.
Below, learn how to spend 24 hours in Barcelona!
How to get to Barcelona
Luckily, there are actually quite a few ways to travel to Barcelona because it’s a bigger city in Spain! I personally got there by train, but I thought I’d go through all the options to best help you out when you’re planning your trip.
The first option is to get to Barcelona by bus. Barcelona’s main bus station is Barcelona Nord, and there are quite a few bus companies that can get you here from surrounding countries. Some of the more popular bus companies in Europe are Flixbus, Eurolines, and Megabus.
I personally have taken Flixbus quite a few times. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you can normally purchase bus tickets fairly cheaply. Traveling by bus is usually the most budget-friendly option for travel in Europe, but it can definitely be the most time-consuming.
The next option is to travel by train. I personally traveled to Barcelona from Paris and took the train. It’s a very nice mode of travel because you get to see a lot of the lovely countryside, and if you’re flexible with travel times, you can normally snag a fairly okay price for train travel.
The two more popular stations are Barcelona Sants Station and França Station. I arrived at Barcelona Sants Station, and there were luckily a lot of ways to easily get downtown via the metro or bus from there!
You could also get to Barcelona by plane, which is probably the most popular option. You’d most likely fly into Barcelona’s El Prat Airport, as this is the closest airport to the city center. Definitely try to fly here if you can, because the next closest airport is 96 km outside of the city center!
Another option is actually by boat! This is definitely more doable if you’re planning on partaking in a cruise, or even a ferry into the Port de Barcelona. Check out their website to see your different options!
Lastly, you could get to Barcelona by car. If you live in Europe, you could drive there, or if you’re a visitor, you could easily rent a car and drive there. Renting a car allows a lot more freedoms as a tourist than any of these other options wouldn’t give. With a car, you could even go on one of these road trips in Spain with your extra time after exploring Barcelona!
How to Get Around With 24 Hours in Barcelona
The most common forms of transportation in Barcelona are the bus and the metro. I personally rarely used the metro and only used the bus to get to and from my hotel!
The bus will connect you to a lot of the surrounding areas of Barcelona, which is good if you’re staying slightly outside of the city. The nice thing about the bus is that you can use one single ticket for up to 75 minutes, and can even switch modes of transportation, but make sure that you’re traveling in the same direction.
One ticket costs €2.40, so it is a bit pricier than other bus systems in European countries.
Taking the metro is also a good option and costs exactly the same as the bus: €2.40. I only found myself taking the metro once when I was traveling from the train station to the city center since it was so late at night. It’s definitely a quicker mode of transportation than the bus.
You can also walk! I found it super easy to walk everywhere I wanted in Barcelona because the weather was so nice in mid-March when I visited in the spring of 2019. Just make sure you have good walking shoes on!
For more information about transportation, check out this post on how to get around Barcelona.
Where to stay in Barcelona
I’ve shared below just a few options that I found in Barcelona, but if none of these suit your fancy, there are so many more options!
The first option is slightly out of the city: ibis Barcelona Mataró Hotel! This is where I stayed. It is in Mataró, which is just north of Barcelona. I loved staying here because it’s basically right on the beach and the room was absolutely huge. Plus, there was a restaurant right on-site, and air conditioning!
There’s a coach bus that will take you from a nearby bus stop right to downtown Barcelona, which is how I often got to the city center. Keep in mind that this ride takes about an hour, depending on traffic. The view is pretty great the whole time though!
If you’re looking to save money, you could say at the city’s top-rated hostel: Generator Barcelona. The 7th floor of this hostel offers a great view of the city! It’s also a short 5-minute walk from two metro stations, so you can easily travel around the city from this location.
There are private and dorm options, whatever works best for you! If you want to stay in a hostel, you should also check out this article about the 3 best hostels in Barcelona!
If none of these seem like a good fit for you, here are more options on where to stay in Barcelona!
What to See in Barcelona
With just 24 hours in Barcelona, you have to be picky with what you see. There are, of course, many more great places to see, and the architecture of Barcelona is unlike anywhere else.
If you’re still looking for more things to see, consider checking out this post on the top things to do in Barcelona or this ultimate Spain bucket list! Visiting the Bunkers del Carmel is also a great way to spend the day.
The Sagrada Familia is probably the most well-known sight in all of Barcelona, and for good reason. It’s a Roman Catholic church that has been under construction for over a century now. It’s been designed by Antoni Gaudí, and you’re bound to see many of his magnificent creations throughout the city.
To go inside, tickets start at €18 if you’re a student, and go up from there. I personally didn’t pay to go inside since I was there for such a short time, but it was still really gorgeous from the outside. I even saw a couple get engaged right in front of it!
Park Güell is another of the more popular spots in Barcelona and was also created by Gaudí. It’s one of the can’t miss sites with 24 hours in Barcelona. You may recognize this sight from the Cheetah Girls 2! Just remember that you do have to purchase a ticket to visit the monumental zone, which is the area in the pictures in this post.
Definitely purchase your tickets ahead of time as well. I didn’t and they were sold out the day that I visited! Tickets start at €10.
If you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule, then visit this area at night, after the monumental zone closes, or very early in the morning, before the monumental zone opens. Then you can visit the area for free.
Casa Batlló is another sight created by Gaudí. Catching my drift yet? This beautiful sight is inspired by sea life underwater. The outside’s facade is unreal and I’ve heard that the inside is even better. Unfortunately, the site was under construction when I visited. Next time I go to Barcelona, I’m definitely paying to see the inside!
Tickets start at €22 with a student ID and go up from there.
Casa Milà is yet another sight created by Gaudí. The outside really is quite marvelous. You can go to the top for €18.50 with a student ID and prices go up from there. Supposedly it offers one of the best views of Barcelona. I didn’t pay to see the top but quite enjoyed seeing it from the outside!
Cathedral of Barcelona
The Cathedral of Barcelona is a sight that I actually stumbled upon while walking around the city. The surrounding area is really a lot of fun and there’s even a lot of street performers usually! This church, unlike the Sagrada Familia, is actually finished. It costs €7 to go inside unless it’s during worship hours.
This is one of the underrated places to visit with 24 hours in Barcelona.
Citadel Park is a whole lot of fun, especially since it’s a free sight! A prison was in this spot originally, though soon it was transformed into a public park for the city of Barcelona, with the help of none other than Gaudí.
He helped to design the waterfall area. I highly suggest bringing a picnic and sitting out here! There’s also normally a whole bunch of cute ducks in the pond. Just be careful because a lot of people will try to sell you stuff in this area, which can be a bit annoying.
La Boqueria is another free sight on this list. It’s a huge market, and there are so many great foods and drinks to buy! I personally bought some chocolate-covered strawberries, but I almost had to buy some fresh juice and candy too. Everything is fairly reasonably priced too! It’s a great stop to grab a quick lunch with 24 hours in Barcelona.
Considering spending more than 24 hours in Barcelona? There are loads of great day trips from Barcelona. You could visit Girona, Montserrat, Perpignan, and more. One of the most notable day trips is to France and Andorra from Barcelona!
What to Eat in Barcelona
Barcelona is filled with so much great food and has a multitude of great restaurants. There are even great vegan and gluten-free restaurants in Barcelona!
Below, find some of the must-try dishes you have to try at least once during your trip.
Churros con Chocolate
This has to be my favorite food that I had in Barcelona. It’s basically just a really thick hot chocolate (almost as thick as pudding!) with churros. Take the churros and dip them right into the chocolate, and you’re in for a treat! They’re so amazing. Plus, this dish is fairly cheap.
There are many great locations across the city that sell this. We tried it at both Xurreria Rosita and Xurreria Sagrada Familia. Both places were delicious!
Paella is another dish that can’t be missed, and it’s even considered one of the best street foods in Europe! It’s a traditional Spanish dish with rice, veggies, and some type of meat, usually seafood. I’m not a seafood eater myself, so I actually tried it with chicken.
My friend and I split one dish of it which was a perfect serving for each of us. We ordered ours at Guell Tapas Restaurant and enjoyed it out in their lovely outdoor seating area!
Sangria is so amazing, especially in Barcelona. It’s fairly cheap too! I got the huge glass in the above photo with paella for only a few euros. It’s red wine mixed with fruits! There are many places across the city that sell this. I had my sangria at Guell Tapas Restaurant and I recommend it!
Though probably not seen as a traditional Spanish dish, I can’t recommend enough that you try a smoothie bowl while in Barcelona. It really is so refreshing and delicious, plus it’s so much cheaper than any smoothie bowl I’ve ever had in the United States! I tried mine at FitBar and it was so good. It’s said to be one of the best restaurants in Barcelona! The best smoothie bowl I’ve ever had!
Not a fan of reading? Check out my vlog from Barcelona!
There are so many great things to do in Spain! Check out more of our Spain posts below.