A weekend in Barcelona: planning your first visit
Article updated 14 November, 2018.
Coming to Barcelona for the weekend for the very first time? Our plan will help you to experience the essentials whilst getting a good feel for the charm of the place.
Barcelona is a city of many faces – impossible to get bored! Lively and packed with things to see and do, you’ll find time passing all too quickly, and before you know it, it’ll be time to go home.
That’s where we come in. Here is our guide to “essential” Barcelona to help you spend a truly unforgettable weekend.
Mission nº1: find a hotel in the city centre
Your first weekend in Barcelona is likely to be a busy one, so it’s a good idea to stay somewhere pretty central. We recommend finding a hotel in the old town our near Las Ramblas and Plaça Catalunya. See our 10 tips for booking your hotel at the best price.
Barcelona has plenty of charming, budget-friendly hotels. We’re fans of the Violeta Boutique: an elegant 2 star hotel in a central location with a lovely terrace.
There are some very nice hotels in the heart of the old town. Fan of clean lines and Nordic design? You’ll love the Denit Hotel, which is both minimalist and comfortable.
Prefer something a little more colourful? The Chic and Basic Ramblas, a hotel less ordinary, might be the one for you.
Rooms in some of Barcelona’s most prestigious hotels can be had for around 100 – 150 euros a night in low season. We love the Hotel España, a modernist gem hidden behind Las Ramblas.
Mission nº2: plan ahead
Beware of pickpockets!
Pickpockets are a particular problem in Barcelona. Our article 10 top tips for a pickpocket-proof trip to Barcelona is well worth a read.
Top tips to optimise your visit
A weekend goes by very quickly, so time is of the essence. Take a look at our article Top tips to optimise your stay in Barcelona to help you get the most out of your time in the city.
Mission nº3: discover, visit, taste and enjoy!
Saturday: the Old Town and the seaside
- Saturday is the best day to explore the old town, as many shops are shut on Sundays and there’s not as much going on.
Walk down La Rambla
Start the day by heading down La Rambla from Plaça Catalunya to Plaça Colón. Stop off en route at the Granja Viader, in one of the streets running parallel, for Catalan hot chocolate and homemade churros or melindros.
Lose yourself in the Gòtic and Born quarters
Next, take one of the little side streets in the Gòtic quarter. There’s no need to follow a fixed itinerary here – just follow your instincts and fall under its spell.
Afterwards, cross over the Via Laietana into the born quarter, with its multitude of charming little squares.
Kick back at the beach
Head toward the sea and get a paëlla with views of the Mediterranean at Xiringuito Escribà.
Tapas and cocktails
In the evening, try one of our favourite tapas bars around the Rambla Catalunya to enjoy fresh, local products. Hint: get there early if you want to stand a chance of finding somewhere to sit.
Sunday: discover Catalan Art Nouveau
- Barcelona is a calm, sleepy place on Sundays, but all the major tourist sites are open. It’s the perfect day to discover some of the city’s architectural gems.
Spectacular façades along the Passeig de Gràcia
We recommend starting with a free walking tour of Catalan art nouveau, unless you prefer to take a private visit with a professional guide, it’s a made-to-measure tour! You can contact us to book a visit..
In both cases, your itinerary will start from Plaça Catalunya and end somewhere near the Passeig de Gràcia.
Take the metro to Diagonal or walk to Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudí’s most astounding work of art. The interior of the basilica really is a must-see.
Finally, head to Parc Güell for a well-earned break in incredible surroundings, including more of Gaudì’s work, a good dose of natural beauty and magnificent views across the city. What better way to end a fabulous weekend?
One more tip for the road…
If you want to plan your visit to Barcelona in greater detail, see our article on From two days to two weeks: planning your trip to Barcelona, which has all the information necessary to draw up your perfect itinerary.
Welcome to Barcelona!
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