A city made for sightseeing on foot or by bicycle, Barcelona also features an extensive and reliable public transportation system, which makes even places relatively far from the historic section easily accessible. For a brief but rewarding visit to this city, consider using the following schedule to create your own 48-hour Barcelona itinerary.
10:00 AM-12:00 PM: El Barri Gotic
Featuring a network of winding streets, El Barri Gotic remains an ideal place for a walk through one of the most history-soaked parts of the city. Seemingly impervious to the ravages of time, this neighborhood retains much of its medieval street plan, with many side alleys opening into busy squares lined by lively bars and cafes. Barcelona’s Jewish quarter, El Cali, also sits within this central area.
1:30 PM-2:30 PM: Guell Palace
A major Barcelona tourist attraction, the World Heritage-listed Guell Palace represents the first major building architect Antoni Gaudi designed in this city. Built in the 1880s for a wealthy industrialist, the palace features a blend of Gothic, Islamic, and Art Nouveau architectural elements. In the middle of the 20th century, police used the building basement to torture political prisoners. To learn the fascinating story behind the renovated palace walls, pick up an audio guide at the entrance.
3:00 PM-4:00 PM: Casa Mila
Yet another Antoni Gaudi creation, Casa Mila features an undulating stone facade and wrought-iron decorations on its balconies and windows. A World Heritage Site, the buildings also boasts an underground parking, considered one of the most innovative elements of early-20th century architecture. The building’s roof features giant chimneys made to resemble medieval knights. Try to time your visit for one of the building’s rooftop music performances, or join a guided tour to learn more about Gaudi and his controversial designs.
4:30 PM-6:00 PM: Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
The symbol of Barcelona, the imposing Basilica of the Sagrada Familia astonishes tourists with its height and intricate design. The ubiquitous Antoni Gaudi worked on this structure as well, creating an architectural masterpiece known for its Gothic and Art Nouveau elements. The building’s central tower rises 170 m (558 ft) above the transept, with 17 other towers reaching a height of 100 m (330 ft). Visit the nave, crypt, and on-site museum.
10:00 AM-11:00 AM: Barcelona Cathedral
Erected in the 13th century, Barcelona Cathedral features a grand hall vaulted over five aisles. Once inside it, pay special attention to the high ceilings and ornate altar decor. Also, be sure to explore the main cloister, where 13 white geese live as part of the cathedral’s centuries-long tradition.
11:30 AM-2:00 PM: Barceloneta Beach
If you need a break from the city’s historical sites, remember that the sandy Barceloneta Beach remains a favorite hangout for both tourists and locals. Known for its fiesta atmosphere, the beach offers a wide strip of sand ideal for building sandcastles or playing volleyball. When you get tired of swimming the blue Mediterranean, recharge your batteries with a hearty meal at one of the restaurants located along the busy beach boardwalk.
2:30 PM-4:30 PM: Picasso Museum
When looking for places to visit in Barcelona, remember that no trip to this city can end without a stop at Picasso Museum. Housed inside five medieval palaces, the museum contains over 3,500 works of arguably the finest visual artist Spain ever produced. Pick up an audio guide at the entrance and observe Picasso’s artistic evolution by comparing some of his childhood drawings to his mature well-known works.
5:00 PM-5:30 PM: St. Mary of the Sea Cathedral (Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar)
An outstanding example of Catalan Gothic architecture, St. Mary of the Sea Cathedral took nearly 55 years to complete. Made up of three naves, this imposing church remains known for its unity of style, rare in other large buildings constructed in the 14th century. Though it includes very few interior decoration usually found in Gothic churches, this building does feature rose and stained glass windows.
Spain’s Historic Two-Day Getaway
Filled with historic sites and architectural gems, Barcelona serves as an ideal two-day getaway, easily explored on foot or by public transportation. If you’re looking for a short but memorable holiday, create a 48-hour Barcelona itinerary and spend two days exploring the city’s churches, museums, and palaces.