One day is not enough!
It really is not possible to experience Barcelona in just one day, but if you are okay with just getting a little taste of the highlights, you can almost do it.
We recently spent two nights and one day in this bursting city, and it was just enough to leave us wishing for more.
This stop was during a EuroTrip my husband and I took with my son and my mother, so chaos was already the name of the game. Why not throw more insanity in the pot?!?
We started our day with an early walk though Park Guell. This beautiful park is free to enter and, in addition to having beautiful artwork by Gaudi throughout the park, has spectacular views of the city. This is a must-see if you are visiting Barcelona, no matter how short your stay.
One of our favorite sights in Park Guell is the “cat and mouse” game played by the illegal street vendors and the local police. The vendors have blankets with jewelry, hats, sunglasses and other wares laid out on the ground. As soon as an officer gets close they all scoop up their blankets and scatter. We found this dance to be quite amusing.
After leaving the park, we stopped to briefly admire the Segrada Familia, and then spent the afternoon wandering around Las Ramblas, the central boulevard in the center of the city. This seems to be the most happening place if you want to do any shopping, bar hopping or tapas tasting. You’ll also find plenty of souvenirs along this area, with artists selling paintings or charicatures, cheap gimicky toys, and all the typical wares you’ll find with the street vendors. Some of the vendors are legal, but many are the typical illegal vendors with goods on a blanket on the ground. These guys seemed to be more clever by holding strings that were tied to all 4 corners of the blankets for a faster getaway.
About halfway down the Ramblas, there is an amazing food market, La Boqueria, for a meal or a snack while wandering around. Some of the food is raw meat and fish for cooking, but there are many booths with fruits and vegetables, as well as tons of booths to grab candy by the pound, sandwiches, smoothies, alcoholic beverages or hot meals.
The Ramblas ends (or begins, depending on how you look at it) at Port Vell, a beautifully redone port with some impressive yachts and a pedestrian bridge (the Rambla de Mar) leading to some tourist attractions. The best tourist attraction is the Barcelona Aquarium, but I only say this from what I’ve read since I didn’t actually go there.
While in Barcelona the food you must have is Paella, and I think you can get this anywhere. I’ve read that you should get this outside of the city center if you want the best bang for your buck, but since we were limited on time we took a chance and enjoyed a nice Spanish meal of Paella and Sangria right in the middle of La Rambla. Even if we paid a little more than it was worth, we were not disappointed. In fact, I think we enjoyed it a little more because of the location, since the “people watching” there really is the best entertainment around. Dinner and a show!
We made the mistake of going to a Flamenco show in Barcelona. Don’t do it. We saw a fantastic Flamenco show when visiting Seville, Spain once and thought this would be fun in Barcelona. It was a much different thing here and definitely not a quality show. It was more of a diner atmosphere with dancers. Trust me, don’t do it. Even the venue smelled like a mix of urine and Pine Sol cleaner. The only other patrons in the place were relatives of the dancers and they didn’t even eat the awful looking food they were served. I should have read reviews before booking this and I would have known that this is not the place for a Flamenco show. Lesson learned!
After the show we went to a few different tapas places. We met a couple from Ohio and another couple from Ireland at the first place, then we went with them to a few other places. Such a fun night! My mom still keeps in touch with the couple from Ohio.
Isn’t it fun to make new friends in exotic places?
We may have only been there for about 36 hours, but we proved that a grand time can be had in such a short visit.