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The Best 2-Day Barcelona Itinerary – Perfect for First-Timers

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If you’re planning a trip to Spain and need a 2-Day Barcelona Itinerary, I got you!

Barcelona is a big city with lots to see and do, but you can see most of the major sites in a couple of days. That being said, let’s jump into it!

How to Spend 2 Days in Barcelona Itinerary

2-Day Barcelona Itinerary PIN

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Best Time to Visit Barcelona

If you’re looking to beat the crowds, the best time to visit Barcelona is in the shoulder and low seasons. Shoulder season in Barcelona is March to April and September to October, and the low season runs November to early March. 

We visited Barcelona in December as part of our 10 day trip through Spain and Portugal. The weather was comfortable during the day and got a little chilly at night. For me, it was the ideal weather for a winter trip because it wasn’t too cold to enjoy sightseeing. 

Also, we were able to see the city decorated for the holidays and had the chance to check out a Christmas market. 

I’ve also visited Barcelona in April and found it just as pleasant. 

view from sagrada familia

Where to Stay for 2 Days in Barcelona

We flew into Barcelona and then headed to Madrid, Seville and Lisbon before returning to Barcelona for our flight home so we stayed in two different hotels. 

The two hotels we stayed at are Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella and Catalonia Born. They are both located near Parc de la Ciutadella and the Arc de Triomf. 

If I had to pick one hotel to stay at though it would be Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella

Catalonia Born is a nice hotel but it’s not in the best area. During the day it was perfectly fine, but our taxi drivers warned us to be careful in the area at night. Even with the warning, taxis wouldn’t drop us off in front of the hotel because it wasn’t on the most convenient street for them.

The Arc de Triomf essentially sits in the middle of these hotels but for whatever reason the Motel One side seems a little less sketchy at night. That being said, I’d recommend Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella or somewhere near Passeig de Gracia, a big shopping street in Barcelona. The area around Passeig de Gracia was definitely more polished and well trafficked because of all the different stores and restaurants. 

Barcelona Itinerary – Where to Eat and Drink

Where to eat in Barcelona Pin

Paradiso Bar

Carrer de Rera Palau, 4, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Hidden behind a refrigerator door, Paradiso is an amazing craft cocktail bar in Barcelona. The drinks here are so good that Paradiso was actually ranked the best bar in the world in 2022. I tried my first negroni at Paradiso and I fear no other negroni will stand up. I also tried their version of a margarita which included mushrooms and a bunch of other ingredients I wouldn’t think to put in a margarita, but it was delicious! 

We got there around 8 and stayed for a couple of hours. When we left out there was a very long line out the doors. So my suggestion is to get there earlier in the evening. 

Elsa y Fred

Carrer del Rec Comtal, 11, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

The receptionist at our first hotel in Barcelona recommended this place and it turned out to be pretty good. The ambience of Elsa y Fred is amazing. It’s somewhere I could see myself going for after work drinks and tapas if I lived in Barcelona. They have a great wine list and offer a standard selection of tapas as well as some seasonal options. 

Picnic 

C/ del Comerç, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

A good place to grab breakfast or brunch in Barcelona is Picnic. My short braised beef tacos were really good, and so was Brooke’s chicken sandwich. We went closer to lunch so we skipped the avocado toast and pancakes, but they sounded great!

Nomad Coffee – Lab & Shop

Passatge Sert, 12, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Let me start off by saying, if you’re a Starbucks coffee drinker and like lots of sugars and syrups in your coffee, Nomad Cafe is not the coffee shop for you. However, if you enjoy black coffee or non-sugary lattes made with quality coffee, you’ll love Nomad. 

Nomad Coffee - Lab & Shop

El Nacional

Pg. de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

El Nacional is a large venue with multiple different restaurants. We popped into La Braseria for a glass of wine and some papas bravas for a little pre-dinner snack. If you go during December like we did, then you’ll get to see this place decked out in holiday decor. So even if you don’t eat there it’s worth popping in to see. 

El Nacional in Barcelona

Nakashita Born

Carrer del Rec Comtal, 15, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Located next door to Elsa y Fred is Nakashita Born. We wanted sushi for dinner and this place happened to be across the street from our hotel. I tried the gyozas and special bluefin futomaki, both of which I enjoyed.

Note: If you like eel sauce on your sushi, it doesn’t taste like what we have in the states. It’s more barbequey in taste. 

Brunch and Cake

Plaça Sagrada Família, 21, 08013 Barcelona, Spain

Brunch and Cake is the ultimate brunch spot in Barcelona. The food is not only pretty, but delicious. I tried the supersanwhich which has shredded chicken tossed in a chipotle sauce with a syringe of avocado and a side of tortilla chips. Brooke got the avocado toast that’s made with an olive sourdough which added something a little different to the dish. 

There’s now multiple locations around Barcelona, but we went to the one near La Sagrada Familia. 

The Hardware Société Barcelona

C/ de València, 193, 08011 Barcelona, Spain

Hardware Société is based out of Melbourne but also has locations in Paris and Barcelona. I didn’t get a chance to check out the one in Paris, so I made it a point to visit the one in Barcelona. 

I won’t lie, I mainly came here for the decor, but they also serve food and drinks. We stopped in after doing a little shopping for a midday pickup. I got their iced mocha which comes with ice cream. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too sweet, which I liked. 

The Hardware Société Barcelona

La Gavina

Pca. de Pau Vila, 1, 08039 Palau De Mar, Barcelona, Spain

For our last night in Barcelona, we originally had reservations at a place called La Selva. However, when we realized we were a short walk from the water we decided to find dinner around there instead. After looking at a few menus, we decided to go with La Gavina

I tried the salted cod and Brooke went with the salmon. The cod was okay, but I wish I had gone with a paella or something else. Nonetheless, the restaurant is by the water which was a nice setting for the last day of our trip. 

la gavina

Barcelona Itinerary – Things to do

things to do in barcelona pin

Park Guell

08024 Barcelona, Spain

Most of the main attractions in Barcelona are centered around the famed artist Antoni Gaudi. Park Guell is one of his many projects and probably the second most popular thing to do in Barcelona. 

The park has a bunch of unique structures and mosaic covered buildings. You can also get some nice views from the famous mosaic terrace. Just note, you can’t sit up on the bench. I’ll tell you so you don’t have to get shouted at by one of the guards.

Buy Park Guell Tickets

Arc de Triomf

Passeig de Lluís Companys, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Yes, there’s an Arc de Triomf in Barcelona! In 1888 Barcelona hosted the World Fair, so the arc was constructed to be the entrance to grounds. If you choose to stay at Motel One or Catalonia Born, you’ll be within a 5 minute walk of the arch. Stop by and snap a few pictures and then make your way to Parc de la Ciutadella if you have time. 

arc de triomf in barcelona

Shopping

Whether you’re looking for high street staples like H&M and Bershka, or luxury brands like Chanel, Passeig de Gracia has it all.  

Brooke actually got some great deals at Burberry because she was able to get a VAT refund at the airport. VAT is tax and on goods (typically over €100) you can get a special receipt that will allow you to get that money back. 

If you’re hopping around to different countries within Europe, you’ll handle ALL your VAT refunds at the airport you are departing Europe from. For example, if you’re traveling through France and Italy, and then flying home from Spain, you’ll handle the refunds from all 3 countries at the airport in Spain. Just make sure to get to the airport early to give yourself time to get it done. 

la sagrada familia

La Sagrada Familia

C/ de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain

Easily the most popular thing to do in Barcelona is visiting La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada is another work from Antoni Gaudi. Construction of the church began in 1882 and is still ongoing. 

Why is it taking so long to finish? The church is incredibly detailed. From the doorways to the roofs there are so many intricate bits. It’s truly something you can’t miss while in Barcelona.

One thing I learned while there was that there will be 18 towers in total. 12 to represent the apostles, 4 for the Evangelist, one for the Virgin Mary, and the final and tallest tower representing Jesus. 

Buy Tickets for La Sagrada Familia

48 hours in barcelona
barcelona picture spots

Barcelona Cathedral

Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

While La Sagrada Familia overshadows every other church in Barcelona, Barcelona Cathedral is still a beautiful place to check out. The best part of the cathedral in my opinion, is the views from the rooftop. After checking out the nave, make your way to the elevator to head to the roof. From there you’ll have some wonderful views of the city. 

If you’d rather get a drink with views of the cathedral, check out the rooftop bar at Hotel Colon. 

Buy Tickets for Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral roof views
Barcelona Cathedral exterior

Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. I’m only mentioning 3 of his works on this list but there are many more. I highly recommend Casa Batlló if you’re interested in learning more about Gaudi and his design process. We booked the gold package which included a virtual reality tablet that brings the architecture to life. This will make more sense when you see it for yourself. But Casa Batlló certainly deserves a spot on everyone’s Barcelona itinerary. 

Buy Tickets for Casa Batlló

view from Casa Batlló roof

2-Day Barcelona Itinerary

Day 1

  • Grab a coffee
  • Park Guell
  • Brunch at Picnic
  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • NoMad cafe
  • Gothic quarter
  • Arc de Triomf
  • Dinner at Elsa y Fred or Nakashita Born

Day 2

  • La Sagrada Familia
  • Breakfast at Brunch + Cake
  • Casa Batlló
  • Shopping along Passeig de Gracia
  • Grab a coffee at Hardware Société
  • Dinner at La Gavina
  • Drinks at Paradiso

I hope you found this 2-day Barcelona itinerary helpful! If you did pin it to reference later!

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