Sometimes, you want to take a trip, but you only have a couple of days to do it. Barcelona is ideal for those situations because it’s easily accessible by air, land, or sea. There are a plethora of things to see and do, so you’ll never run out of options.
I recently took a trip to Barcelona with my mom, aunt, and girlfriend. We only had two days in town, but we made the most of them.
Barcelona has so much to do that it’s practically impossible to experience everything there within two days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a meaningful and enjoyable experience.
Here’s a list of things you can do with your forty-eight hours in Barcelona.
When you arrive at Castillo Montjuic, you have the option of walking to the top or taking a trip on the Teleferic de Montjuic (cable cars). Take my advice and buy a ticket for the cable cars (12 euros). Your eyes and legs will thank you later.
Aside from saving yourself a tortuous trip up the never-ending stairs, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the city when you ride the Teleferic. You can see the coastline to one side and the totality of the city to the other. You’ll also see the mountain of stairs beneath you and breathe a sigh of relief.
The castle provides an excellent backdrop for photos and gazing. You can look at the cannons stationed around the castle and watch a short video on the history of Castillo Montjuic before walking to the top. The view is worth it.
Montjuic translates to Jewish mountain. It was once home to Barcelona’s Jewish community.
The Magic Fountain
From Castillo Montjuic, you can take a walk to the Magic Fountain. It’s about a twenty-minute walk.
The Magic Fountain is a fun experience that you must make time for during your stay in Barcelona. I have to emphasize that the fountain is FREE. Do not buy a ticket to see the Magic Fountain! There are websites that market the Magic Fountain show as a singular tour or as the crowning jewel of their tour package, but there is no reason to pay for it.
If you get there early enough, you can find a seat on the stairs of the National Museum de Catalunya, but the Magic Fountain show is a standing-room-only event. You also might get to see some street performers in action before the water show. The fountain stays true to its name as it takes on different forms and colors while moving to the accompanying music.
The showtimes can change depending on the month, so consult Barcelona’s tourism site.
Placa de Catalunya
The Placa de Catalunya is Barcelona’s Ayuntamiento. When we visited in September, they were setting up for a festival. Regardless of when you visit, you should take a stroll through the plaza.
It’s a popular place for the locals to feed pigeons, and if you go to the center of the plaza, you could be surrounded by them. You’ll enjoy the experience if the prospect of dozens of fearless pigeons roaming extremely close to your body does not bother you.
You can also purchase tickets for the hop on-hop off bus tour in the plaza.
Hop On-Hop Off Tour
I take a bus tour in almost every city I visit. It helps you get a feel for the area and make a plan for the remainder of your visit. You also save a lot of time for other activities.
Barcelona has two main bus tours. There’s a private tour and a public tour. The private tour operates on two routes, and the pubic tour operates on three.
They’re both pretty costly in comparison to tours in other major Spanish cities, but that applies to most things in Barcelona. The tickets cost 30 euros (25 euros for senior citizens), and you can buy them upon arrival or preorder them online.
Go early if you plan on riding each bus route. The bus tour lasts about three hours if you ride each route without getting off the bus.
Barcelona’s converted bull ring is a must-see. As one of the first places in Spain to outlaw bullfighting, Barcelona repurposed its enormous Plaza de Toros. Today, it serves as a shopping mall that provides a 360-degree view of the city from the rooftop.
There’s an elevator on the outside of the mall that you can take directly to the rooftop for 1 euro, or you can go inside and head to the roof the old-fashioned way.
The rooftop offers an assortment of restaurants that allow you to eat as you enjoy a magnificent view of Barcelona. I ate at La Lola, and the food was delicious, but there are plenty of other options throughout the mall.
The interior of the mall is massive, and you’d need two or three days to go shopping and hit every store.
The Gothic Quarter should be one of your first stops after sundown in Barcelona.
The lighting of the Gothic Quarter perfectly highlights the buildings throughout the neighborhood. You can almost feel the history as you walk through the streets and peruse the sights.
You also can access a few of the rooftops to get a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area. It’s great for taking pictures, and you’ll feel like you just stepped into a storybook.
Make sure you stroll through the Plaza Real which is essentially the main square of the Gothic Quarter. There’s often music in the air, and you can stop to enjoy a meal underneath the palm trees at one of the local restaurants.
La Rambla is a great walking street, and it has all types of bars, restaurants, and shops.
I went to the NBA Café, and I have to say that it’s impressive. You can play the latest version of NBA 2K or see how your physical attributes stack against some of your favorite NBA stars. I learned that I’m about the same height as Chris Paul, and my hands are the same size as Steph Curry’s.
The hostess was friendly and gave us a quick rundown of the history of the NBA Café. The Barcelona branch was the first one in Europe.
The NBA even had the Larry O’Brien trophy on display there for a while. It was moved the week before we arrived in Barcelona. It’s worth a visit if you’re a basketball fan.
If you happen to be in the vicinity, I recommend eating at Chickster. In particular, I suggest you try the chicken Cesar salad. The food is delicious and moderately priced when you compare it to other restaurants in Barcelona.
We had a long trip to Barcelona, so we took some time to relax and enjoy our accommodations before taking on the city.
We stayed at an Airbnb because it was the only thing that could accommodate our group and keep the price relatively low. There was a festival in town around the time of our stay, so prices were up across the board. We ended up sleeping in the flat with the landlord and a young couple, and it felt a bit awkward at times. Overall, it could have been worse, but next time, I’ll definitely spring for the hotel room.
When you know, you know. I stepped off the AVE train in Barcelona and instantly fell in love. You have mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. That’s a recipe for success in my book.
Barcelona is one of the more expensive regions in Spain, but it has a lot to offer. You can easily spend a month there and still not see everything.
I plan on going back this year, and I hope you add it to your to-do list as well.
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