Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 1
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Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain! So you’re looking to spend a perfect one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain and you’ve already seen The Picasso Museum and the Parc de la Ciutadella? What to do? What to do?

Well, how about a one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain that sticks to La Sagrada Familia, aka one of the greatest landmarks in the world, in the morning and then moves to some amazing tapas in the evening. Does that sound good to you? Then let’s not waste any more time!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain

#1 TOP PICK

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
TAPAS TOUR
✔️ Tons of delicious food
✔️ Expert local guide

#2 PICK

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 3

MONTSERRAT DAY TRIP
✔️ Experience stunning nature
✔️ Delicious lunch and wine included

#3 PICK

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 4

ALL OTHER BARCELONA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

one day in barcelona itinerary

best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

Morning: Visit La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty of Barcelona, which is to say it is absolutely the one iconic must-see sight in the city. If you only have three hours in Barcelona due to some extremely poor planning on your part, this is the place you must see. DO IT! 

And if you only have a one day with the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain, this should be first on your list. The famous Barcelona architect Gaudi, who was also a devoutly religious Catholic, devoted his final years to the designing and building of La Sagrada Familia.

one day in barcelona itinerary

Sadly, he only lived to see about a quarter of it finished because he died by being hit by a tram and wasn’t treated right away because his clothes were so raggedy that people thought he was a beggar. So this is an important lesson to wear fancy clothes because it might save your life some day!

Fortunately, La Sagrada Familia did not stop construction because of Gaudi’s death. In fact it is due to be completed in 2026, which is only about 140 years after La Sagrada Familia started construction. I think that’s about the same length of time it took us in New York City to build the 2nd Avenue subway line.

But since we plan to spend all morning at La Sagrada Familia, you’re going to need a few guidelines. I’ll help you out with…

Approximately top 5: la sagrada familia

one day in barcelona itinerary
1) Breakfast at Xocoa

Xocoa is a wonder emporium filled with every kind of chocolate treat you can imagine. It’s the perfect place to start our one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

The woman behind the counter was friendly and spoke excellent English, but I honestly don’t think she had to be. The chocolate displays in the window are so beautiful I’m sure the staff could heap abuse on its patrons and still do business.

I happily downed a latte and a chocolate croissant because that is the world’s best breakfast. The pastry was flaky and delicious and the chocolate filling was perfectly on point, but now I am kicking myself for not ordering churros and chocolate instead because that is more authentically Spanish. Learn from my mistakes, Internet Stranger!

one day in barcelona itinerary
2) see the birth facade of la sagrada familia

Of course you should spend most of your time at La Sagrada Familia exploring the amazing architectural details. Begin with the exterior facades. There are three facades to the church: the Birth Facade, the Passion Facade, and the Glory Facade, the last of which was not available for viewing when I was there.

Let’s start appropriately enough with the Birth Facade.

one day in barcelona itinerary

The Birth Facade of La Sagrada Familia, as you can see, has all the messiness and beauty of a fabulous ice cream cake that is just starting to melt. It is covered with intricate floral and faunal motifs, which is appropriate since this facade celebrates the birth of Jesus and the beauty of creation.

There are also many sculptures showing Gaudi’s interpretation of famous scenes from the Bible. Whether or not you are religious, as long as you are biblically literate it is an educational challenge to go around and see if you can identify which story from the Bible is being expressed in each scene.

one day in barcelona itinerary
3) get depressed at the death facade

The Death facade of La Sagrada Familia, which did not begin construction until well after Gaudi’s death, is exactly the opposite of the Birth facade. There is not even one intricate floral motif to be seen. The lines are all severe and the ornamentation is appropriately austere.

one day in barcelona itinerary

It’s fascinating how effective the difference between the two facades of La Sagrada Familia was. I was so excited and exuberant about exploring the details on the Birth facade, but I only felt depressed when staring at the harsh faceless lines of the Death facade.

What on earth will the Glory facade look like? Perhaps gazing upon it will make all our heads explode!

one day in barcelona itinerary
4) check out the stained glass windows

As much as I loved the facades of La Sagrada Familia, the highlight of the church is the interior. Gaudi wanted the columns to look like trees, so the churchgoers would feel like they were worshiping in nature.

He certainly succeeded on these grounds! I felt as soon as I stepped inside that I was wandering into some great glass and marble forest.

one day in barcelona itinerary

You must go in the morning so that you can catch the light coming in through the windows because the effect is breathtaking.

one day in barcelona itinerary

No one photoshopped these colors! The power of glass and sunshine alone made them! It’s like Gaudi was anticipating Instagram when he designed this church.

5) Lunch at Cafe Viena

I recommend walking to La Rambla, which is the giant, gorgeous, unavoidable main drag in Barcelona for lunch. Unfortunately there are a million bad cafes along this route because the area attracts so many tourists. Fortunately, Cafe Viena is a rare exception on this street that will not disappoint.

The best reason to come here for lunch is to get the ham sandwich. A writer for the New York Times called this porcine marvel “the greatest sandwich in the world”, and you’re not going to argue with the New York Times, are you? Just plop down at the adorable lunch counter, order your thinly sliced ham on your toasty roasty bread and blissfully chow down!

24 Hour Tip

You must buy your ticket to La Sagrada Familia in advance online, especially if you are going during the high season. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t buy your tickets in advance, you’re going to wait on line all the live long day and you are going to be so unhappy. Please listen to the seriousness in my tone of voice and heed my warning.

If you want to save even more time, take this excellent skip the line tour, which will teach you so much about the church.

Check rates and availability right here!

one day in barcelona itinerary

Best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

Afternoon: Explore Historic Barcelona

Now that we are back at La Rambla and have eaten our lunch, it’s time to continue our one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain by exploring all the small hidden gems that Barcelona has to offer.

We will visit some sacred geese, we will see even more Gaudi, and I might get murdered by a fictional ghost. It’s all par for the course when you see…

Approximately Top 5: best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

one day in barcelona itinerary
1) Visit the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona

Did you know that there were tons of Roman ruins in Barcelona? Neither did I! But I felt super psyched to visit them as soon as I learned of their existence because I’ve been obsessed with Roman history ever since I bought a copy of I, Claudius at a flea market for ten cents at the age of thirteen.

The Roman ruins in the museum are all underground of course, so after you buy your entrance ticket and peruse a few Roman artifacts above ground, you will follow a trail downstairs and find yourself flitting about a ruined Roman ghost town.

one day in barcelona itinerary
24 Hour Tip

Be sure to pick up the audio guide because it will help keep you informed about the purpose of each ruin when it was in its unruined state.

For example, you might look at a pile of crushed stones and broken vases and think it’s just Roman junque, but then your audio guide will tell you its the vats where Romans used to keep urine so they could do their laundry. (That’s 100 percent true.)

Then you will follow the path further and further underground until you come to a little chamber where there is almost no light. If you’re anything like me, you will take a picture here even though you know it’s totally pointless.

one day in barcelona itinerary

This looks like a deleted scene from The Blair Witch Project. I was very concerned that the ghost of Inigo Montoya might try to push me down this well, but then I remembered that he would be more likely to attack me with his sword.

one day in barcelona itinerary
2) See the Barcelona Cathedral

The Barcelona Cathedral is of course an example of Catalan Gothic architecture, so you can expect it to have high arched ceilings, stained glass windows, and the like. It’s one of the most famous buildings in Barcelona, so it definitely needs to be part of your one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

The Barcelona Cathedral also contains many beautiful statues of saints, but it’s very hard to see them because they are kept behind bars in various side chapels.. However, I think there’s something evocative about the images you get of peering at the saints’ statues through the bars. This one is my favorite.

one day in barcelona itinerary

Once you are done photographing the statues of saints like they are being imprisoned, of course you should go on the roof! Any church worth its salt in Barcelona has a spectacular roof view!

And I’m sure the Medieval Spaniards would be happy to know that it was all worth building their cathedrals so high so now girls from the New World can come over, take a lifting machine up to the roof, and put photos of the view on Instagram.

one day in barcelona itinerary
24 Hour Treasure

My favorite part of the Barcelona Cathedral is the Cloister which is an enclosed garden inside the church that is home to 13 white geese. 

Apparently the 13 geese are for the age of Saint Eulalia at her martyrdom, according to Lonely Planet. Has no one told the Cathedral that this is an unlucky number? I’m a little concerned.

one day in barcelona itinerary

Don’t try to pet these geese. They look like they might bite.

one day in barcelona itinerary
3) Find the Gothic Bridge

The Gothic Bridge has, sadly, nothing to do with trolls or goats, nor does it go over water. It crosses Carrer del Bisbe as shown above.

one day in barcelona itinerary

 It’s even more beautiful in close up!

one day in barcelona itinerary
4) Ramble around las ramblas

This is the most famous street in Barcelona, so you can’t miss it. Enjoy all the funny little ice cream and candy shops on the way, as well as the many men who sell whistles called pitos that make indescribably weird noises. How is this a lucrative business? Who buys these whistles?

Also, don’t miss the Miro mosaic cleverly hidden under the feet of all the tourists who cross Las Ramblas each day.

one day in barcelona itinerary
5) Visit La Pedrera

La Pedrera is more properly known as Casa Mila because it was designed by Gaudi for the Mila family. However, it is known as La Pedrera, or “the quarry”, because apparently there was such a big mess of stones left on the sidewalk during its construction that the neighbors became frustrated and started saying it looked like a quarry, and the name stuck.

La Pedrera is not nearly as crowded as the Picasso Museum or La Sagrada Familia, but I still suggest buying tickets in advance, so that you don’t lose out on the entry time you want. We don’t have any time to waste on our one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain for standing on line! Just make sure to check what time the last admission is.

During the tour, you get to explore five floors of the house. This is magical because you are allowed to see all the whimsical touches that Gaudi added to the building, from the view of the sky from the lobby….

one day in barcelona itinerary

to this fabulous umbrella stand.

one day in barcelona itinerary
24 Hour Treasure

As with the Palau Guell, the most exciting part of La Pedrera is the roof. Gaudi covered the rust red roof of Casa Mila with his signature “phallic thingimabobs”. The ones at the Palau Guell resemble Christmas trees, but these ones call to mind the heads of knights that have been stuck on pikes.

These were my favorites because they were made with crushed champagne bottles, and I simply love champagne, darling.

one day in barcelona itinerary

Just be careful not to stay on the roof too long because you might start to hear the heads talking to you, and that is Cause for Concern.

best tourist attractions barcelona spain

best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

Evening: Tapas Lover Tour

The Tapas Lover Tour is the perfect way to finish our one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain. It seems pricey, but it really ends up being an excellent value because all the food, water, and alcohol is included.

Josh, our guide, was a friendly young Spaniard bursting with enthusiasm about the local cuisine. You have to reserve in advance, but it’s easy to do.

Just click this link to check rates and availability!

There are three stops along the tour. The first was at a trendy bar where local Barcelonians might come for snacks and drinks after work. We ate some delectable sliced cured meat, fluffy tortilla de patatas, that omnipresent bread with tomato, and croquetas.

Croquetas are fried balls of ham and batter, and I I approve because the only thing better than ham is fried ham. I am sorry that I didn’t take pictures for you because at this point in the evening I felt too embarrassed to take pictures of my food in front of strangers. But eventually cava would melt my worries away.

one day in barcelona itinerary
24 Hour Treat

Our next stop was a more traditional Barcelona seafood tapas restaurant, the kind that has soccer on the television and checkered red and white tablecloths.

Here we ate tender octopus with potatoes, two kinds of clams: regular and razor clams, and fat, juicy prawns with their heads on. (I like to look my food in the eye before I bite into it.) It goes without saying that there was bread with tomato and wine too.

Our final stop was the sit-down dinner at a more upscale restaurant. We started with a couple of traditional tapas like patatas bravas and croquetas. But then came out something unusual: bone stuffed with a kind of rich, meaty, bone-infused concoction.

And it was exactly in the midst of eating this bone dish that I became drunk enough to take pictures of my food.

one day in barcelona itinerary

Next came the main course, which was a steak that literally came sizzling to the table. Don’t touch! It’s still hot!

one day in barcelona itinerary

Finally there were two desserts. The first was a light, “fluffy as a cloud shaped like a lamb” cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel. Yum!

one day in barcelona itinerary
24 Hour Treat: A Mystery Dessert

The second dessert was the more unusual, though. Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you think this is?

one day in barcelona itinerary

Whatever you guessed, I’m sure you’re wrong. It’s a chocolate omelette with Pop Rocks on top. I knew as soon as I bit it that Pop Rocks were involved, but it didn’t taste like Pop Rocks at all.

It just seemed like a very rich chocolate crepe with a fizzy surprise on top. This was my favorite dish of the meal just because I’ve never had anything like it. It was a perfect end to the one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain.

There! I hope I’ve convinced you that the Tapas Lover Tour is worth the price with all the food you get.

You can book it easily by clicking here.

And on my next one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain, I will take pictures of all the food without needing a drink.

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 5

Best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

Where to Stay?

Barcelona can be a brutal city for a traveler on a budget, especially with all the amazing fine dining restaurants. Because I wanted to enjoy wonderful activities like the Sagrada Familia and the Tapas Lovers tour, I decided to save money by saying at Pension Portugal.

Pension Portugal was ideal for someone who wanted to spend as little money as possible on lodging. The room was cool, even in the Catalunian summer, the location was crazy convenient right near Las Ramblas, and I even had my own bathroom and wifi in the room.

If you want to save money on this hotel, just click here.

And to find thousands of other excellent hotels in Barcelona, click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your day of wonderful adventures in Barcelona. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

That’s the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

What would you do on a one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Barcelona? And how drunk do you need to be to start taking pictures of your food? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain

#1 TOP PICK

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
TAPAS TOUR
✔️ Tons of delicious food
✔️ Expert local guide

#2 PICK

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 3

MONTSERRAT DAY TRIP
✔️ Experience stunning nature
✔️ Delicious lunch and wine included

#3 PICK

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 4

ALL OTHER BARCELONA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day of the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain

You can add another 24 hours in Barcelona. Or add another day of what to do in Barcelona Spain.

Best Tourist Attractions Barcelona Spain 9

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