14 min read
After sharing with you our top tips on how to spend 48 hours in Budapest, our founder & CEO Greg is taking you to the beautiful city of Barcelona, a place he had the opportunity to visit a few times in the last 12 months. Ready? Vamonos!
If you’re looking for modernist architecture, incredible food and the appealing combination of cityscape and a sea breeze, then it’s time to add Barcelona to your bucket list. If you haven't already done so, simply go to your BRB shortlist.
Barcelona is a major cultural and financial area in southwestern Europe, and not only boasts a world-renowned football club with supporters treating the sport as a religion, but it is also the home to acclaimed artists Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudi; the man that practically designed the whole city.
The 32 million tourists that visit per annum can’t be wrong. This is absolutely a must-see city, and as it’s only half the size of Birmingham, you can make your way around entirely on foot, so pack those blister plasters.
I have been to Barcelona many times and have visited the entire city on foot, so I have just the itinerary for you that will ensure you see all of the major hotspots during your short time here, and yes, there are plenty of opportunities for the perfect Instagram shot; I’ve got your back.
After a two hour flight from London Heathrow, I arrive in Barcelona mid-morning on Friday and take a taxi to get to my hotel as quickly as I can.
Be aware that Uber does not operate in Barcelona, but luckily, there’s lots of alternatives - most notably, Barcelona’s fleet of nearly 10,000 black and yellow taxis. If you want to replicate an Uber-like experience, try FreeNow on iOS, which is just like Uber, but with taxis.
The taxi takes me to H10 Art Gallery Hotel, a 4 star superior hotel in the Eixample district of Barcelona. At BRB, we like sending our guests there as the hotel is incredibly well located to explore Barcelona, but it remains slightly off the beaten track so you're not going to be surrounded by tourists the minute you leave the hotel, which is always a plus in my book.
As the name suggests, the hotel showcases various pieces of art including paintings and sculptures, both in the communal areas and in the bedrooms, which makes for a great environment!
But the piece de resistance remains the terrace with hammocks and swimming pool on the 7th floor. This has to be the best place to relax after a long day walking the city.
And with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, I know it's going to be a great stay!
If you’ve ever seen pictures of Barcelona, then you have most definitely seen the Passeig de Gràcia before. It is here that you will start you trip. This is one of the major avenues in Barcelona and links the historic part of the city to the neighbourhood, Gràcia.
Although it is renowned for its designer shops and collection of cool bars and restaurants, Passeig de Gràcia also has some magnificent sights that you definitely need to check out.
There is the Casa Amatller, a Modernist building that combines Catalan Gothic with Flemish Architecture. It once belonged to the Amatller family who were famous chocolatiers.
Photo Credit: @peredeterrassa
At just one step away from Casa Amatller you can also admire Casa Batlló, a modern architectural gem that Gaudi was commissioned to re-design between 1904 and 1906 and recognised as an UNESCO Heritage Site in 2005.
Photo Credit: @demolition_woman
Be sure to also take in Casa Milà, an eye-catching building with the nickname ‘the quarry’, referencing its rough appearance. It was the last private residence designed by Gaudi, and has become a landmark in its own right, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
Photo Credit: @hello_rooftops
After spending time taking in the sights and indulging in some retail therapy in the various stores that line the avenue, head to Tapas 24 for some brunch and sample some some of the best tapas the city has to offer.
I know that tapas for breakfast isn’t conventional, but I encourage you to get there for brunch. Aiming for any time later in the afternoon will mean it’s impossible for you to get a seat, so for your own sake, get in there quick!
To be in keeping with the theme of visiting the most famous places that definitely come to mind when you think of Barcelona, it is time to visit the Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Família.
Photo Credit: @brb.travel
This church, that wouldn’t look out of place in a Harry Potter film, is the symbol of Barcelona and is breath taking in design. It is actually considered to be unfinished, and construction on the spires continues even now.
Although marvelling at the exterior architecture is an activity in its own right, be sure to buy tickets to see the interior as well to appreciate the stunning stained-glass windows and the intricate architecture that continues from the outside in.
When Gaudi died, he was buried in the Sagrada Família, so whilst exploring the inside, take the time to pay your respects to the brilliant-minded architect at his crypt.
The best time in my opinion to visit this masterpiece is late afternoon, when the sun is slightly lower and hits the stained glass window panels of the church, producing one of the most mesmerizing light show on the planet!
Next, it’s time to explore the Eixample district of Barcelona, where the Sagrada Família is located. Take a step back in time and wander through the narrow streets towards the Gothic Quarter. I recommend going to Gelarto Rosa and grabbing an ice-cream that is shaped like a flower. It’s a must-have treat and the perfect way to cool off in the Mediterranean heat.
Photo Credit: @lifeofspain
Close by in the Eixample district is the Picasso Museum, which houses the most extensive collection of artwork by the painter – 4,251 pieces to be exact.
Photo Credit: @br.giulio
Picasso spent his formative years in Barcelona and was a student at Llotja de Barcelona art academy. The city now plays host to his art and the museum is a hugely popular attraction for art lovers and those who appreciate his genius.
I love going to this museum every time I come here. It reminds me how amazing an artist Picasso truly was and each and every time, I discover something I had not seen in my previous visits!
To conclude your day of culture, head to Els 4 Gats for dinner, which is also located in the Old Town. This is the perfect send off to your culture filled first day in Barcelona as the restaurant famously became a popular meeting place for many famous artists in Catalonia during the Modernist period.
Photo Credit: @restaurant4gats
If this restaurant was good enough for the likes of Gaudi and Picasso to grab a bite to eat and drink world-class wine, then it’s definitely good enough for your 48 hour trip.
With your stomach full of great food, take advantage of the city/beach hybrid that is Barcelona, and go for a peaceful, moonlit stroll along the beach. There are bars and restaurants that line the beaches, so kick your feet up and have a couple of final cocktails to bring day one to a close. I recommend the Carpe Diem Lounge Club, a classy restaurant and bar that serves killer cocktails.
Photo Credit: @cdlcbarcelona
You thought you’d seen all the culture that Barcelona has to offer. But no, there are still beautiful buildings left to discover. First on the list for day two in Barcelona is a trip to see the Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall designed by Lluís Domènec i Montaner.
Photo Credit: @alfacinhastories
The architecture of Barcelona does not stop impressing, and this concert hall is no different. It is Catalan Modernism in design and has seen many art performances since its construction.
You can book a guided tour to see the whole thing, which is definitely worth doing. If you don’t feel like you have the time to spare, then get yourself a coffee downstairs in the café to try and glimpse a peak at the lobby.
Whilst trying to wrap your head around the beauty of the Palau de la Música Catalana, take a walk to the Christopher Columbus monument. It is 60m tall and marks Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas.
Photo Credit: @visitbarcelona
A little fun fact about this monument is that Columbus, who is posed pointing towards the Americas, is actually pointing in the wrong direction. Oops!
Now it wouldn’t be a trip to Barcelona without acknowledging the city’s football prowess. Barcelona FC is the fourth-most valuable sports team in the world, and is home to footballing legend, Lionel Messi.
At the team’s stadium is the FC Barcelona Museum, dedicated to the teams achievements throughout the years. It includes a collection of photos and displays proudly trophies that detail the club’s history. Video montages also play, and there is a private art collection that exhibits the work of local artists.
Photo Credit: @prejolamandossi
A slightly less serious part of the museum that anyone can enjoy is the photo studio, where visitors can pose in front of a green screen to have a fictional photo created of you posing with Messi himself. If that’s not a great souvenir, then I don’t know what it.
Make sure to head outside onto a viewing terrace for incredible look at the stadium itself and take in how colossal the place really is.
It’s time for another evening at the beach, this time at Barcelonetta beach, the most well-known beach in the city.
“But how do I get there” I hear you ask. Well, the answer is slightly more unconventional than what you may be expecting. You can arrive at the beach by a cable car, that doubles up as an amazing, unique way to get extensive views of the city.
Whilst on the beach, take advantage of all of the activities that are on offer, from swimming, to boat trips, to jet skiing, to beach volleyball, and even paddle boarding which is my favourite thing to do at sunset.
Photo Credit: @iemespaidemar
When your trip has been full of activities in the city, it would be rude not to let loose and enjoy all the Barcelona beaches have to offer.
For your final evening, there is no better way to spend it than at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. It is a magnificent display of colours, light, motion and music, and is a water show that should not be missed. It is hugely popular among tourists and shouldn’t be missed on your fleeting trip.
Photo Credit: @barcelona_barcelona
Your last drink of the trip is not for the faint hearted. Get down to La Marsella, known as a place that Ernest Hemingway liked to frequent, and learn to drink absinthe without regretting it in the morning. If there’s one place to be schooled on the logistics of drinking absinthe, then it’s definitely in Barcelona.
If you have a little more than 48 hours in Barcelona or if some of the above recommendations weren't to your personal taste, here are a few more ideas I have assembled for you as I have been to Barcelona many times.
Interactive Paella Cooking Class
During one of my last visits to Barcelona, I got to learn how to cook a traditional Catalan paella from a local chef. The cooking class started with a tour of La Boqueria food market to get our main ingredients. This alone was an absolutely amazing experience. The cooking class was great as it was about 12 of us and the whole experience was very hands-on. After cooking the paella, we also learnt how to make a proper Spanish Sangria which was an added bonus!
Photo Credit: @brb.travel
I loved every minute of this experience as I got to know other people on the course and afterwards went out to a local bar for a few drinks with them and our chef.
Tapas, Tapas and more Tapas
If you want to try great tapas, head over to El Drac De Sant Jordi. I came across this tapas restaurant completely by chance as I was looking for the meeting point for my Paella cooking class. As I had half an hour to spare, I sat at the terrace and ordered a few tapas and a beer. All I have to say is that these were some of the best tapas I've ever had!
Photo Credit: @brb.travel
Face Your Fears with Red Force
If you have a car and feel like getting out of the city to do somethig different, why not head off to Ferrari land. I was challenged to go there by my team as I scared of height and the park as the tallest rollercoaster in Europe, so it was the perfect combo! Check out the below footage to see how crazy this ride is!
Photo Credit: @nacho4797
Whilst it's quite a drive, the route is very scenic and you spend the first hour overlooking the sea which is pretty awesome if you like a little bit of a road trip.
Photo Credit: @brb.travel
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Barcelona and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Greg (Founder of BeRightBack)
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