Barcelona is a city with a rich history and culture that can easily keep visitors busy for weeks. But if you only have one weekend to explore, don’t worry – there’s still plenty to see and do! Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your 48 hours in the city. With this itinerary, you’ll be able to see some of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks, sample some delicious food, and enjoy the Mediterranean Sea. Although one weekend may not be enough time to see everything, you will get a good taste of what the city has to offer.
Start your morning with a visit to La Sagrada Familia, the iconic church designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The impressive structure is still under construction and set to be completed in 2026. Marvel at the rainbow-tinted nave, ascend the lift to the rooftop for spectacular views, and brace yourself for the vertiginous spiral staircase that will bring you back down.
For lunch, head to Avinguda Gaudí, where you can enjoy some terrace bars with stunning views of La Sagrada Familia. While it’s a bit touristy, the street is lovely, and if you’re satisfied with a simple meal, it’s worth it. However, if you’re craving seafood, you can head to nearby La Paradeta (Ptge. de Simó, 18), a fish shop that cooks the food to your taste, offers affordable prices, and has a good selection of wines.
A 20-minute walk will take you to Passeig de Gràcia, where you’ll find other Gaudí masterpieces like La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, among other modernist buildings on this magnificent boulevard. Take a stroll through the colorful buildings, admire the mosaics and sculptures, and enjoy the classy boutiques. For a drink, El Nacional (Passeig de Gràcia, 24) is a good option, with an impressive space that also offers early dinner options for those who prefer international cuisine. If you prefer traditional Catalan cuisine, keep reading for more suggestions.
After Passeig de Gracia, take a 15-minute walk to El Palau de la Musica Catalana, (C. Palau de la Música, 4-6,) another must-see landmark in Barcelona, a modernist masterpiece by Domènech i Montaner. The facade is a riot of colorful mosaics, tiled garlands, and sculptures, and the enormous inverted skylight of stained glass in the auditorium is breathtaking.
To finish this immersive modernist route, dine at Els 4 Gats (Carrer de Montsió, 3), one of the most important scenarios of the bohemian life of Barcelona in modernist days. This historic restaurant was founded in 1897 by the artist Pere Romeu and quickly became a meeting place for the city’s artistic circles. The restaurant was designed by the famous Catalan modernist architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and it features a stunning interior with intricate mosaics and stained glass windows.
In its early days, Els 4 Gats hosted some of the most important figures of the Catalan modernist movement, such as Pablo Picasso, Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusinyol, and Joan Miró. In fact, Picasso even designed the menu for the restaurant’s grand reopening in 1978, almost eighty years after he first visited the establishment.
Today, Els 4 Gats continues to attract locals and tourists alike with its traditional Catalan cuisine and historic ambiance. The restaurant offers a wide selection of classic dishes, including escudella (Catalan stew), fideuà (a type of seafood paella), and crema catalana (a traditional Catalan dessert). In addition, the restaurant also hosts regular live music performances, making it an ideal spot for an evening of dinner and entertainment.
You can finish your night at the rooftop terrace at Hotel Yurbban Trafalgar (C. de Trafalgar, 30) a unique and sought-after destination for those seeking stunning, panoramic views of Barcelona. As one of only a few terraces in the city to offer 360-degree views, visitors can take in the breathtaking vistas from above the rooftops of countless houses, while also admiring some of the city’s most iconic landmarks such as the Cathedral, Palau de la Música Catalana, Sagrada Familia, and the Agbar tower.
Start your day at Plaça Catalunya, the bustling central square of Barcelona. From there, take a stroll down La Rambla, the city’s iconic boulevard filled with street performers, shops, and cafes. Make a stop at El Liceu, the city’s famous Opera Hall, and admire its impressive architecture. Continue down La Rambla until you reach Mercat de la Boqueria, one of Barcelona’s most famous markets. Sample some fresh local produce and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere.
Next, head towards Carrer de l’Hospital to enjoy a peaceful break at the hidden gardens of the National Library and the Old City Hospital. The National Library, also known as the Biblioteca de Catalunya, is home to over 3 million books and documents, including some of the most important works in Catalan literature. The library’s gardens are a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, featuring a beautiful fountain, benches, and shaded walkways. Take a moment to relax and soak in the tranquility of the surroundings.
For lunch, cross the garden and exit to Carrer del Carme, where you’ll find Muy Buenas (C. del Carme, 63), a traditional Catalan restaurant. This is a special place where ancient catalan recipes are prepared with great care in an authentic modernist space. Enjoy a delicious meal and take in the ambiance of the restaurant.
In the evening, head in the opposite direction of La Rambla and make your way to La Plaça Reial. This beautiful square is located just off La Rambla and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The square is surrounded by palm trees and lined with outdoor cafes, making it the perfect place to relax and people-watch. Enjoy a drink or a bite to eat while taking in the lively atmosphere, or simply wander around and admire the square’s stunning architecture and vibrant nightlife.
Afterwards explore the Gothic Quarter, the historic center of Barcelona. Wander through the narrow streets, admiring the medieval buildings and visiting the Cathedral of Barcelona. Depending on your interests, you can also visit the Museu Picasso, which houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of the artist’s work, or simply stroll through the picturesque streets that seem frozen in time. Be sure to include Plaça del Pi and Plaça de Sant Felip Neri in your itinerary.
After exploring the Gothic Quarter, cross Via Laietana and step into El Born, where you can admire the beauty of Santa Maria del Mar and the old Montcada street. Get immersed in the medieval atmosphere of this charming neighborhood, a great place to wander and explore you’ll be able to discover many hidden gems tucked away in its narrow alleys and charming squares.
If you’re in the mood for a flamenco show or a drink, be sure to check out Palau Dalmases (C/. de Montcada, 20), a beautiful and historic palace located in the heart of El Born. This palace dates back to the 17th century and features a stunning courtyard. Visitors can enjoy live music performances in an intimate and romantic setting. If you just want a drink sometimes they’ll allow visitors for a while in-between shows.
End the day by heading south to the sea and visiting Port Vell, which borders the Barceloneta neighbourhood. The building of the old harbor warehouse reminds us of the area’s mercantile past. Now known as Palau de Mar, the red-brick building houses one of Barcelona’s most interesting museums, the Museu d’Història de Catalunya. There’s also a fantastic rooftop terrace with breathtaking views where you can enjoy a drink before dinner. You don’t need to pay the museum entrance fee, just take the elevator to the rooftop. The restaurant here is pretty good too.
For dinner, try one of the fantastic seafood restaurants nearby, such as Merendero de la Mari (Pca. de Pau Vila, 1), Cal Pep (Plaça de les Olles, 8), or the historic 7 Portes (Pg. d’Isabel II, 14), one of the oldest restaurants in the city. Enjoy a delicious meal and soak in the Mediterranean atmosphere.