Jan 14, 2014

24 Hours in Barcelona: What to See & Where to Eat


With only 24 hours to explore and dive into all the cultural wonders Barcelona had to offer, we dropped off our bags at our El Born apartment and hit the ground running! Our first stop of the day was at one of Barcelona's most famous Gaudi landmarks, Park Güell! Wouldn't you know it...the day we arrived to Barcelona was the exact same day that Park Güell started taking entrance fees into their park? We had NO idea until we outlined the fun we stuff we had planned with our curious hotel concierge. Thankfully, the concierge warned us of the new fees and happily booked two tickets for us online so we wouldn't have to waste our precious time standing in line. Once we had those tickets in hand, we hopped the metro and made our way to the top of Park Güell first. If I remember correctly, we got off the metro at the Vallcarca stop and we entered via the Passatge de Sant Josep de la Muntanya which takes you up a handful of steep open-air escalators to reach the upper portion of the park. The upper portion of the park does not require an entrance fee, so take advantage of walking around its green space and taking in the spectacular views of the Barcelona skyline. 

--Park Güell--
Tickets prices: 7€ per person if pre-purchased online. 8€ at the gate.
You pick a scheduled time to visit the park.


Our next stop of the day was at one of Barcelona's most popular and prominent attractions, La Sagrada Familia. Building of this massive church began in 1882, but it wasn't until a year later that Gaudí was commission to oversee its completion. As many of you know, the church was never completed (Gaudí worked on it until his death in 1926), but various architects continue the work after his original idea. When we arrived there, we were disappointed to see that every spire was covered in scaffolding and cranes alluded every photo I took. We didn't have tickets to explore the inside of La Sagrada Familia (because once you've seen one church interior, you've basically seen them all), so we marveled quietly for a few moments outside its walls and moseyed on. While impressive (it strangely reminded me of those drip sand castles we always used to make on the beach), some of its charm was lost on me because of all the construction.

--La Sagrada Familia--
Ticket prices: 14.80€ for just the basilica. 19.80€ for basilica & towers.
Pre-book online to save yourself from waiting in LONG lines!



After sweating to death exploring Park Güell and staring at La Sagrada Familila, we decided to head back to our hotel to freshen up and meet up with the other half of our travel party. Once we were rested and reunited, we made our way back out into Barcelona for more sight-seeing! Next stop, Barcelona's iconic 1.2km vibrant street promenade, Las Ramblas! Along the promenade, we found droves of street vendors selling Barcelona souvenirs, street performers, and adorable flower shops. While a bit crowded, we enjoyed strolling up and down the tree-lined street.

Street starts from the Barcelona waterfront at the Monument a Colom (Christopher Columbus monument) and ends a Plaça Catalunya. If you stand with your back to the Columbus monument, the Barri Gotic Quarter is to your right and the Raval neighborhood to your left.


One of the gems found along Las Ramblas is the Mercat la Boqueria...and bustling fresh food market filled with fresh squeezed juices, homemade pastries, and more olives than you'd ever want to eat. This market is the kind of market you'd pry yourself out of bed every Saturday morning just to have breakfast there. We really got a good feel for how important community, fresh produce, meats, and seafood are to the people in Spain. A breath of fresh air compared to the processed, pre-fab foods of America. I could have stayed there for HOURS!

Open: Monday-Saturday 8am-8:30pm
All local, homegrown treats there for the purchasing.
Try one of the many fresh squeeze juices for €1 a cup--might I suggest the pineapple, lime & strawberry? YUM.



Another beautiful area just off Las Ramblas is the Plaça Reial. We kind of just stumbled upon it while walking to breakfast the morning our cruise set sail and decided it was too beautiful not to spend time in. There were lots of restaurants with al fresco dining and a few hotels housed in its alleyways. Seemed like a pretty snazzy area to enjoy the spoils of Spanish life.

Located in the Barri Gotic Quarter, just off Las Ramblas.
Touted as a great place to experience Barcelona nightlife because of the numerous clubs and bars within the plaza.


Just off Las Ramblas tucked into a small alleyway in the Barri Gotic Quarter was where we experienced our first taste of Spanish tapas. The outside of the Acoma Café & Tapas Bar isn't anything spectacular, but the little secret courtyard in the far back of the restaurant was a nice reprieve from the heat and crowded Barcelona streets. Like true tourists, we ordered WAY more tapas than our tummies could take, but we had to try everything! We dined on pan con tomate (bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes, garlic & olive oil), patatas bravas w/garlic aoli (potatoes), pimientos de padrón (fried peppers w/sea salt), manchego cheese, pinchos con pollo (chicken kebabs), and some really tasty albóndigas (Spanish meatballs). And of course we washed it all down with hearty glasses of sangria. HOLY YUM, Spain does snacking right!

Address: Calle Boqueria 21, 08002 Barcelona


After stuffing our faces with Spain's finest tapa collection...we rolled ourselves onto the Metro and rode up a few stops to see Casa Milà, a UNESCO World Heritage site and another one of Gaudí's unusual architectural wonders. Today, it houses many art exhibitions and tours for the creatives. We opted not to pay €16 euros and just viewed it from the outside.

--Casa Milà--
Address: Provença, 261 - 265, 08008 Barcelona
Metro stop: Diagonal
Entrance Fee: €16.50 adults | Open Monday-Sunday 9am to 8pm
Purchase tickets online to avoid lines!


We'd seen enough land for one day, so we decided to head down to Barcelona's waterfront to take in the salty sea air and stroll amongst the palm trees. Along the waterfront, there are TONS of things to see and do...the Barcelona Aquarium, Catalonian History Museum, the beach (duh), Port Olympic and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao...since the museums were closed (and we're not huge fans of museums), we opted just wander around snapping photos as the sun began to set. I'm positive you could spend a whole day touring around the waterfront.

--Barcelona Waterfront--
The Port Vell/Rambla de Mar section houses the aquarium, shopping mall, & and an IMAX theater. Plus lots of outdoor restaurants.



Strolling along the waterfront kind of got us hungry again. So we stopped for another (more modest) round of tapas at TapaTapa. They weren't quite as tasty as the ones we tried at Acoma a few hours earlier, but I did finally dig into a small plate of paella that I'd been dying to try. And of course, the sangria was great. Didn't take long for us to blast through another pitcher. When in Spain, right? :)

--Tapa Tapa Restaurant--
Location we tried: on the pier at the Maremagnum shopping center in the Barceloneta neighborhood
Address: Moll d'Espanya 5 Barcelona | Open daily 11am to midnight



Before heading back to our apartment, we made one last pit stop at a bar/beer store for a goodbye pint. We'd be waking up early to board the cruise ship, so one last drink was in order to cheers our quick, yet fun-filled Barcelona visit. La Cerveteca had a small selection of beers from around Europe (we think they're just now getting established as a beer bar), but we opted to try a brew local to this region of Spain. Turns out, Spaniards aren't that great at brewing beer. Stick to the cava and sangria, y'all. But if you're looking to drink with the locals, La Cerveteca is your place.

--La Cerveteca--
Address: Gignàs, 25, 08002 Barcelona--Barri Gotic Quarter
Has limited seating, so it can get a bit crowded.
Has a few tapas on the menu if you need to nosh will you drink.



Well, folks...that's all she wrote for our 24 hours in Barcelona! Next up, I'll be sharing the beautiful Norwegian Spirit cruise ship...our home for 9 days sailing around Spain, Morocco, and Portugal!

51 comments:

  1. What a busy day you had but looks like you got to see some beautiful places! I love the mosaic art so pretty and I always enjoy exploring food markets in different cities.

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    1. Definitely busy...but fun-filled! And that market was pretty amazing...Spain is a food-lovers dream!

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  2. Wow, these are beautiful photos! Barcelona has never been on my radar of places to travel, but it sure is now! Thanks for sharing these tips!

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  3. Love your photos (and your anthro shirt ;)) I can't wait to visit Barcelona!

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  4. Parc Guell was free when I went last year, so that seems crazy to me! But still so worth the money! Even though I went in December it was the most fun I had with any of the Gaudi architectural sites. x

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  5. I cannot believe you saw all of this in 24hours! Looks like an amazing city to visit.

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  6. Love the photos! My roommate went to Barcelona a couple years ago and loved it as well. Would like to go someday

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    1. Thank you!!! I hope you get a trip in there someday! :)

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  7. oh man you did fit in a lot! I can't believe they are charging for the park now, and 7 euro!

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  8. My sister would love this as whenever she travels, she likes to know about places to eat. She loves to try local dishes and be quite adventurous in that respect.

    Great post!

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  9. Oh, Barcelona! Such a beautiful city! When I was there in 2006, Sagrada Familia was covered in scaffolding as well and I think it probably will be until it's finished. I loved Parc Guell! and Tapas!

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  10. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world. Great list!

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    1. Thanks, Shelby! It's grown to be one of our favorites as well...even with only spending a short time there!

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  11. Holy cow! Spain looks beautiful! I love your photos! It made me want to visit there ASAP!

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  12. Stunning! Your photos are always so inspirational :)

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    1. Aww thank you so much, Kayli!! That brought a BIG smile to my face today. What a compliment! :)

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  13. I'm pretty sure we just booked the same cruise for March! These were great pointers about Barcelona and I'll be eagerly awaiting your next posts to get a preview of our trip. Thanks!

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    1. No way!! You'll have so much fun!!

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  14. Ah this makes me want to go back to Spain! I was in Madrid for two months this summer but didn't get to travel anywhere else. I've always thought the exact same thing about La Sagrada Familia looking like a sand castle. And that first picture of the waterfront? Holy smokes it's gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah!! Madrid sounds like a dream...we've always wanted to visit. We'll have to save it for another trip back to Europe, though!

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  15. Wow you got a lot fit into one day! While I know I haven't traveled as much as you, I spent a couple of months studying abroad in Spain and traveling in Europe for a couple weeks and I must say, Sagrada Familia is unlike any other church I saw. The inside is absolutely beautiful in a much more modern way, and it's well worth the extra couple of euros to take the elevators and explore. If you ever go back to Barcelona, I highly suggest you go inside Sagrada Familia!

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    1. We did! Part of me wishes we could have just peeked inside the church...but those lines!! No way would would have been able to see anything else in our short time there if we had to wait. Next time, I'll book in advance for sure!

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  16. Gosh, Barcelona is such a unique city. I had a similar rushed experience in my 36 hour trip a few years ago :) amazingly unforgettable.

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    1. Totally agree...absolutely unforgettable! :)

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  17. we just got back from a quick trip in Barcelona and you aren't kidding about the booking in advance in this city! it looks like you got way more done in your day than we were able to, so many lines, so much racing to the next line! beautiful photos!

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    1. Yep..those lines get long! Thankfully we never really waited in any of them. Didn't have time to spare! :)

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  18. I'd love to know how you deal with the language barriers in all of these countries you travel too! I'm going to assume that you aren't fluent in most of them.

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  19. Oh man, this makes me want to board a plane to Spain, ASAP! Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, mostly because of all the Gaudi architecture. And the beach. And the food. And the...okay, I just want to move there! I love how much you were able to cram into 24 hours. Reminds me that sometimes a whirlwind day is the best way to see a new place!

    Amy | Club Narwhal

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    1. Do it, do it! When you've only got so much time in a city, you've got to make the best of it! :)

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  20. We were in Barcelona in April, and saw almost the exact same sites. Thankfully, we spread our visit over multiple days. I loved that city! We also spent a day doing a bike tour of vineyards and wineries in the Penedes region outside of the city, which was far and away the highlight of my trip.

    Not trying to be obnoxious, but as a frequent traveller, shouldn't you know to avoid any restaurant with a picture menu? Especially out on the pier, I am not surprised that it wasn't that great. The tapas choices are overwhelming, aren't they? Oh, I loved the food in Spain!

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  21. Everything about Barcelona makes me want to get there a.s.a.p! I can't wait. We compromised on Germany/Switzerland this year, but next time we go to Europe and it has to be Spain! :)

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    1. I definitely don't think Germany is a compromise at all! Sounds like a winning trip to me. I'm quite fond of that country for some strange reason! ;) ;)

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  22. Can you tell me where you got your blouse? I love it!

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  23. Hi Casey! Just discovered your blog through Laura (Inspiration.Sparks) and I love it! I'm a Polish/Canadian living in Switzerland (been here for 10 years now) and it's always great to find people who love to travel :) I'll be looking forward to your travel tips! xx Michelle
    www.lipsticksandchocolates.blogspot.com

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    1. YAY! Thanks so much, Michelle! And WELCOME! :) Switzerland is beautiful...a lovely country to be living in for sure!

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  24. Sounds like a blast. I LOVE manchego cheese so I'm particularly jealous of that.

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  25. I've heard such wonderful things from everyone I know who has been to Barcelona, but your gorgeous photos just pushed me over the edge. ABSOLUTELY have to visit Barcelona as soon as possible!

    Thanks as always for sharing. :)

    -Elle
    https://itsaromanthing.wordpress.com/

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    1. Aww thank you!!! You must visit! It's such a fascinating (and gorgeous) city!! You'd love it!

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  26. What a beautiful blog post! I can't believe how much you managed to fit into a day. I am looking for somewhere like this to bring my mum and after reading this it seems perfect! :)

    www.hikinginheels.co.uk

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    1. Thank you, Lauren! We did sneak in a lot…but we had to! Such limited time there had us panicked to see all the things we could. :) A mom and daughter trip would be wonderful there!

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  27. I love the photos sweet girl but I must admit as much as I did I could have done without seeing those brain & head photos of a dead animal.. I think I threw up in the process lol... Glad you enjoyed the time with the hubby!

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  28. I know your blog is about travel but your pictures are so great, I would love to see a tutorial from you about how you take your pictures. I am a photographer as well but I just love how you take yours. Or have you done a tutorial like this but I just missed it?!

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  29. I got nice travel information from here thanks and the pics you have clicked are really good. Check rates on website they are offering a nice deal to visit Barcelona.. Hope it costs me economical.

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  30. This is a great summary of Barcelona. I think you had enough time to see "la casa Batlló". If I remember correctly, it´s close to "la casa Milá" and I think it´s more spectacular. The topping of the "casa Batlló" seems like dragon spines. It´s wonderful to see it. Anyway, I think you did a good job because you only had one day. I´m Spanish, so I´m glad you enjoyed! :)

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  31. I will be spending a weekend in Barcelona at the end of March. This is going to be helpful. Thank You.

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