The best way to spend one day in Barcelona is to try to see a little bit of everything that makes the city so special — the beautiful beaches, the cool architecture, and the amazing food. While it may be tempting to head to the famous Sagrada Familia, and you should if it is on your bucket list, you can waste an entire day in line — not the best way to spend a mere 24 hours in beautiful Barcelona. This one-day itinerary will take you to other iconic places like Mar Bella Beach and Montjuic but also lesser-known spots only locals know about, so grab a T-10 metro card, charge your camera, and come hungry.
Begin your day at Cafe Alsur in the El Born neighborhood. Order a typical cafe con leche to wake up like a local. Pair that with a butter croissant or a ham and cheese sandwich. From there, walk towards the beach.
Steer away from the super touristy Barceloneta beach and hit low-key Mar Bella — the water is way clearer, and the crowds are thinner there. Swim, sunbathe, or play volleyball until your tan has been perfected. The water in Barcelona is warm enough for swimming from March to November.
From Mar Bella, walk towards the W Hotel — an iconic Barcelona landmark known for its elegant parties and fancy guests. The building and its beautiful surroundings (it’s as waterfront as it gets) make it a great place to snap an “I was-there photo” or stop in for a drink.
Go for a paella at Restaurant Salamanca. While paella isn’t a traditional Catalan dish, locals claim that this place has the most authentic paella outside of Valencia, so don’t pass it up. One order feeds two people and should be paired up with cava in the summer and vino tinto in the cold months.
Next, head up towards Montjuïc Castle. You can take the easy way up by hopping in the cable car directly at Barceloneta Beach, but if you’re able to, we recommend making your way there on foot by walking from the Drassanes metro station. The hike is only 45 minutes, but we recommend you take a break to check out the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera on your way up. The garden is full of cactus in all shapes and sizes, as well as fragrant flowers. Admission is free. Once at the top of the hill, walk around the grounds of Montjuïc Castle and take in the view of the city and the famous Sagrada Familia. Stay in for the sunset — you won’t regret it.
Walk down the hill from the castle or take a cab to the Poble Sec neighborhood. This is the best place for a tapas tour.
Hit Carrer del Blai and go pay a visit to La Tasqueta, Restaurante Carmesí, and Malamen Bendita to fill up on delicious and cheap pintxos (they go from one to three euros each). The rule is that you eat as many as you like and pay based on the toothpicks you’ve collected.
If you’re in the mood to party, go to Sala Apolo. This two-story club plays electronic music downstairs and commercial hits upstairs. There’s a different theme every night, and the dress code is always casual. You can party here till dawn.
If you’re looking for something more mellow, head over to El Born neighborhood for a nightcap. The best way is to get a cab, which won’t cost you more than 10 euros. Porteño, Hemingway (a speakeasy), and Mint are great options. Mint and Hemingway are known for their gin cocktails while Porteño specializes in mojitos.