We recently had the chance to fall in love with Barcelona on a recent extended trip, and were able to spend plenty of time getting to know this incredible city. However, just because your Barcelona itinerary is shorter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this Mediterranean gem. Barcelona in two days is a whirlwind, but a fantastic one.
While there is much more to see and do in Barcelona that can’t be compacted into just 2 days in Barcelona – we’ve created the ultimate guide to Barcelona in 2 days to help you make the most of your trip!
This itinerary is perfect for a Barcelona weekend break, perhaps on the way from another Spanish or European city, or any tighter itinerary that gives you just 48 hours in Barcelona. Keep reading to find out exactly what to do in Barcelona in 2 days for the perfect trip.
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Where to Stay in Barcelona?
Still looking for the perfect place to stay in Barcelona? For a short trip to Barcelona in 2 days, there is no better place to stay than the Gothic Quarter and the neighboring El Born area.
Here you’ll be within walking distance of all of Barcelona’s best sights, restaurants, and what to do in Barcelona for 2 days. These neighborhoods are charming and vibrant and have plenty of accommodation options at all price points.
Affordable yet stylish budget hotel options in the neighborhood include the boutique Hotel El Call ($ – $$), in a can’t-be-beat location in the very heart of the Gothic Quarter or Hotel Oriente Atiram ($ – $$) on the La Rambla Promenade – we loved our stay here and couldn’t recommend it more!
Check out Apartaments Catedral Bas ($$) for an apartment-style stay and a fraction of the price of a comparable Airbnb rental in the area – plus, you can enjoy the rooftop terrace and pool.
I’d recommend Musik Boutique Hotel ($ – $$) in the El Born neighborhood for a stylish boutique hotel that won’t break the bank.
Catalonia Catedral is the best option you’ll find in these historic neighborhoods ($$ – $$$) for a luxury stay that combines history and modern touches – including a rooftop pool and deluxe rooms with private terraces and private pools.
If you’re looking for hostel options in the center of the city, make sure to check out Kabul Party Hostel Barcelona for a more vibrant and social atmosphere. Safestay Barcelona Gothic, which offers options for co-living and coworking spaces for longer stays.
Both are modern, well-equipped, and clean, and offer activities, tours, and social gatherings for guests.
For destinations within the city that are outside of these central neighborhoods, the Gothic Quarter and El Born are also conveniently located to public transportation as well. You’ll be within walking distance to the metro and bus stations, and nearby Plaça de Catalunya is a transportation hub for the whole city.
Read More: Ultimate Guide to Where to Stay in Barcelona
2 Days in Barcelona
Day One in Barcelona
Churros and Chocolate
You may have heard that Spain is famous for its churros, eaten with thick hot chocolate for dunking – and if you haven’t, take note! Madrid is home to this classic Spanish dish, but Barcelona has its fair share of famous destinations to enjoy churros and hot chocolate. Spending 2 days in Barcelona, you’ll want to start at least one with this treat!
Read More: Ultimate Guide to Barcelona’s Best Churros
Spaniards generally eat churros and hot chocolate as a breakfast dish, so start the day at one of the city’s best spots for this classic treat – either Granja Viader or Granja Dulcinea, both near La Rambla in the historic part of the city.
Granja Viader has been in been in business for over 150 years, and Granja Dulcinea has been around since 1941, so you’ll feel the history in either of these cafes.
An order of churros is a good serving size for one person, but splitting a hot chocolate is a good idea – this stuff is thick, more like a bittersweet chocolate pudding than a beverage!
Don’t worry, if your morning can’t start without a coffee, you can find that here as well, plus other treats as well. Try the horchata or the melindros – these sweets also popular for dipping in hot chocolate.
Gaudi in Barcelona
After breakfast, head straight to Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell for a view over the city and to appreciate one of Gaudi’s most beautiful masterpieces.
While the many buildings in the city that bear Gaudí’s name are impressive, Park Güell stood out to me for adding to the natural beauty of the city views with his imaginative designs – it’s definitely worth a visit on any Barcelona itinerary.
You’ll need to get your tickets to Park Güell in advance (learn from our mistake!) to avoid lines and limitations to access points to the park. You can purchase entrance tickets online easily, and show proof of purchase via a code on your phone.
While we’ve recommended splitting up Park Güell and Sagrada Familia visits in Barcelona in 2 days, if you want to combine these visits into one transportation-included tour, this is a great way to skip the lines and visit both Gaudí masterpieces at once with a local guide – check out these affordable tickets available on Get Your Guide.
If you’re heading back towards the city center, stop outside Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló, just two blocks away.
Time and budget permitting, these are great places to explore further (especially the intricate rooftops of Casa Milà – get your advanced ticket here to skip the line) as both have so much inside to see.
If you’re visiting Barcelona in 2 days, seeing Casa Milà and Casa Batlló from the outside (and popping into the museum shops on the bottom floor of each building!) is more than enough to appreciate Gaudí’s genius.
While you’re in the Eixample neighborhood checking out Gaudí highlights, head over to a stellar example of Barcelona tapas you just can’t miss while visiting. Season Tapas has a great mix of classic Spanish tapas like bombas, croquetas, grilled meats, and octopus, as well as inventive dishes, all with super fresh ingredients. They even have delicious vegan and vegetarian choices, and great desserts.
Lunch is the perfect time to visit – their prix-fixe lunch specials are an incredible value, easily one of the best in the city for such gourmet food.
Of course, this is also a fantastic spot for tapas in the evening, though getting a table is easier in the afternoon. If you visit for lunch, you’ll know that this spot is absolutely worth revisiting later in the day!
Make a reservation online whenever you plan your visit – they have an easy-to-use reservation system, and you can check out the menu ahead of time.
Head a few blocks south from Casa Batlló and Casa Milà and through the Plaça de Catalunya to the start of La Rambla. This beautiful, tree-lined promenade through the city is a famous thoroughfare and an excellent place for a stroll.
The street is lined with classic architecture on each side worth appreciating, and if you continue all the way down La Rambla you’ll find the port and the statue of Christopher Colombus.
There are plenty of shaded tables on the promenade for adjacent restaurants, but try to avoid the restaurants on La Rambla if you’re looking for anything more than an espresso, as they tend to be overpriced.
La Boqueria Market
Located on La Rambla, consider La Boquería Market your lunch destination for the day, the perfect spot to sample delicious local foods. This market is not only beautiful and vibrant, but it’s like a masterclass in Spanish cuisine – you’ll find fresh fruits, prepared foods, the famous jamón ibérico sold in paper-thin slices, and much more.
You’ll also find sit-down options of prepared dishes at restaurant stalls throughout the market. I highly recommend taking a market walking and tasting tour with a local chef to learn more about the food here – food tours are one of my favorite activities when traveling!
These are fantastic ways to make any Barcelona itinerary even more memorable.
Cheap Eats Tip: The bars around the outside of the market, under columns near the entrance, are lower priced compared to the bars within the market – they became a go-to place for us to grab a cheap coffee and croissant in the morning, alongside some of the market workers.
Something that we WISH we did in Barcelona was taking a cooking class so we could repeat some of our favorite dishes (especially paella!) once we got home – friends recommended this walking tour of La Boquería and cooking class with a local chef for our next visit – definitely an unforgettable experience.
For a bit more of an off-the-beaten-path and local choice, head to Santa Caterina Market near Barcelona’s Cathedral in the El Born neighborhood – while La Boquería may be more well known, I felt Santa Caterina had much more to offer, and a truly local feel.
From La Boquería, head across La Rambla and into the Gothic Quarter – this enchanting neighborhood oozes history and is a perfect place to wander.
Strolling and getting lost in this neighborhood is itself an attraction. However, make sure to explore and wander around some of the main sights of the area: the Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça de Sant Jaume, Plaça Reial, Plaça de Santa Maria del Mar, and Plaça del Pi.
Tracing out a self-guided walking tour to these places will lead you to the best of the neighborhood, but make sure to get a little lost in the process.
Even with just 2 days in Barcelona, exploring this neighborhood is a worthy highlight.
If you’re looking for a more formal tour of the neighborhood with proper explanations of the city’s history and insight into all the hidden gems, check out this inexpensive walking tour with a local guide!
Don’t miss the frequent live music in the evenings in the Plaça Reial and the street performers in front of the Cathedral. Spending a Barcelona weekend break here, you might have the best luck of coinciding with live music in the plaza, though it’s worth looking into for any 48 hours in Barcelona.
Another hidden gem and (free!) favorite includes a visit to La Casa de l’Ardiaca next to the Cathedral – you’ll see sections of the old Roman walls and aqueduct, plus visiting the terrace gives a great view of the Cathedral.
Bar del Pi
As dinner time approaches, sample some of the most traditionally Spanish and Catalan tapas at Bar del Pi – this small Gothic Quarter tapas spot is in the shadow of the gorgeous Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi.
I highly recommend trying their “bomba,” a Barcelona traditional tapa consisting of fried mashed potatoes filled with meat – it was the best we had in the city.
Plus, make sure to sample their jamón ibérico, patatas bravas, pan con tomate, and pimientos de padrón – all are classics, and a must try on any Barcelona itinerary. Prices are relatively inexpensive here.
We recommend some great tapas spots in this Barcelona itinerary, but if you’re looking for even more, you won’t want to skip this excellent walking tapas and drinks tour of the Gothic Quarter and nearby El Born neighborhood.
This tapas tour (click here for reservations) is hands down the number one activity to do in Barcelona, and a total steal for the amount of food and drinks that are included in the ticket price!
La Alcolba Azul
End the night at another tapas spot, one of our favorites, La Alcolba Azul. This spot is a bit more hidden, with an off-the-beaten-path feel and chefs are more inventive with their dishes. We loved the “tostas” flatbreads, and hummus and sangria are to die for.
Indoor dining is in their cozy dining room or at the bar, and you’ll find a few outdoor tables in the tiny plaza out front.
Day Two in Barcelona
Start off your second day in Barcelona with a visit to the Sagrada Familia, the city’s biggest attraction. The Sagrada Familia is a must-visit destination in Barcelona, and truly one of Europe’s most famous landmarks.
First started in the 1880s, this towering Gaudí masterpiece church is famously still incomplete, projected to be finished in 2026.
Our number one visiting tip? You MUST get tickets online before you visit – ticket lines notoriously snake on for HOURS outside, which will really eat into the rest of your day here.
The inside of this incredible cathedral is highly ornate, and unlike any church you’ve ever seen before. Cross your fingers for a sunny day – the reflection of the sun through countless stained glass panels is breathtaking.
Take plenty of time to explore the inside and outside, and take in the building from as many angles as you can. This intricate marvel of engineering is also definitely a place worth scheduling a guided tour – you’ll learn so much more about what you’re seeing (and skip the lines as well).
Advice for a short itinerary of 2 days in Barcelona:
Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are the Gaudí masterpieces that are MOST worth your time! Don’t feel like you have to see every Gaudí site in the entire city. If you’re squeezed for time or want the insight of a guide, check out this tour with transportation and line-jumping passes that combines both!
Skip the Lines in Barcelona
Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance for Barcelona’s favorite must-see attractions in order to skip the lines!
Paella at La Mar Salada
The seaside Barceloneta neighborhood is the place to go in Barcelona for the absolute best paella in town. If you love seafood, you can’t skip a proper paella lunch.
If you’re a see-it-all kind of traveler and the thought of a leisurely lunch seems like it will take too much time during just 2 days in Barcelona, don’t worry. This is absolutely a Barcelona highlight.
We chose La Mar Salada, one of the best paella spots in town and located next to the port, to take advantage of their large outdoor seating area and enjoy the warm, breezy day.
Paella generally takes at the very least 25-30 minutes to cook from the time you order. It also is priced per serving, with a minimum of two servings ordered. Good paella generally costs at least 20 Euros per person, but with all that seafood it’s more than worth it!
Walk off your lunch by exploring the rest of the Barceloneta neighborhood – this relaxed area of the city will remind you that Barcelona is also a beach town!
Here the streets are close together, with neighbors drying their clothes and bathing suits outside their windows. You’ll overhear conversations and smell cooking through open windows.
Walking along the beach promenade and people-watching is its own activity here – and take a dip in the ocean if you’ve come prepared. Despite being in the heart of the city, the ocean is beautiful here.
There are several bathroom stalls and showers along the beach for changing.
You can also find a few surf shops that will get you set up with paddleboards, surfboards, or kayaks, as well as offering lessons and the group paddleboarding excursions that are so very popular, and offered for all skill sets. Check out SEAYOU Barcelona if you’re interested.
Explore El Born
Adjacent to Barceloneta, head towards the El Born neighborhood next to explore another part of this endless city. El Born is a hip and historic neighborhood with all the charm and history of the Gothic Quarter and just a fraction of the tourists and gimmicks.
It’s like the Gothic Quarter’s cooler cousin. Here you’ll find trendy and unique bakeries, shops, and so much worth exploring, even during a short 48 hours in Barcelona.
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Make sure to check out:
- The Wall Gallery and OMG BCN. Both are art and design shops selling jewelry, prints, the perfect quirky souvenirs, and much more, all from local designers.
- La Colmena bakery and chocolate shop – this is the perfect place to try typical Barcelona sweets like crema catalana or an ensaimada, located on the border with the Gothic Quarter.
Santa Caterina Market – while La Boqueria can get a bit more touristy, Santa Caterina is a true locals market. It has a fantastic selection and great food stalls and bars serving tapas, drinks, and more.
- Humana – these vintage clothing stores adjacent to Santa Caterina Market have inexpensive and adorable clothes – check out both locations, on opposite corners from the main entrance to the market.
A highlight in the El Born neighborhood is the Picasso Museum. If you have time to fit this into your Barcelona 2 day itinerary, it’s truly impressive – the collection is quite extensive and the rotating exhibits are fantastic. It’s the largest Picasso collection in the world.
If you’re interested in visiting at least two art museums in Barcelona, it’s worth purchasing the Barcelona ARTicket, which offers free line-skipping admission for ticket holders, plus access to tons of other cultural events.
Close out the evening in Barcelona by sampling tapas across the El Born neighborhood, home to some of the city’s best tapas spots. When visiting Barcelona in 2 days, you’ll want to make sure to set aside some time to taste the tapas.
Start at La Plata, a super simple and historic spot with just six basic dishes on the menu, but loads of charm. We tried everything – definitely get the anchoas (anchovies…they weren’t at all salty!) and the butifarra sausage, plus the pescaditos.
Next head to El Xampanyet, another El Born tapas classic. Directly across the street from El Xampanyet, also check out Tapeo, a more upscale and modern take on tapas by one of the city’s best chefs. This place is always booming, so cozy up to the bar or grab some seats outside.
Looking to hit more local tapas spots in El Born and the Gothic Quarter? Sign up for a real tapas tour with a local who will take you to the best spots and have you try the best dishes.
This tapas tour (click here for reservations) is a steal considering the amount of food and drinks that are included in the ticket price! When considering what to do in Barcelona for 2 days, this is one of my top recommendations!
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.