Pack your bags, we’re off to Barcelona!
Hola, amigos! I’ve just returned from a highly anticipated trip to Spain, which I kicked off in Barcelona! I spent two and a half days there which was the perfect amount of time to get an overview of the city. If you’re in need of a vacation destination across the pond, you should bump Barcelona to the top of your list. And to make it easy, here’s a guide for what to do with 72 hours in Barcelona!
How to get around
Getting from the airport to Barcelona is incredibly easy with the €5.90 (about $7) A1 Aerobus, which runs about every 5 minutes, from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. It has AC, WIFI, and an area to store your luggage. Plus it beats a €40 (about $46) cab ride. Learn more and buy tickets aquí. While many of the main sites in Barcelona are spread out, it’s still a fairly walkable city, and it’s really easy to navigate by either foot or subway. New Yorkers, this should be fairly manageable for you. Keep in mind that Uber isn’t a thing in Barcelona, and hailing a cab can be pretty tricky at night, so plan accordingly.
What to see
You may have seen pictures of both of these unique homes, which are two of world-renowned architect, Antonin Gaudí’s staple buildings in Barcelona. It would be a sin to leave Barcelona without seeing these. Viewing the buildings from the street was a site itself – the intricate detail on the exterior of the homes is seriously impressive. I didn’t actually go inside either one, but I recommend doing so on your 72 hour trip to Barcelona – apparently, the Casa Milà rooftop is awesome! Both buildings are on Passeig de Gracia and are about a 10 minute walk from each other, so these should be seen on the same day.
The Plaça de Catalunya deserves a spot on your list because it’s a major hub in Barcelona, and it’s where the old city and the Eixample neighborhood meet. Tons of people. Tons of stores. Tons of pigeons. Anyway, there’s an Apple Store, a Sephora, and a Zara all right there (sold!) and being that it’s on the way up to Passeig de Graci (aka Barcelona’s most glamorous avenue), you’ll definitely walk through it at some point. Head straight north on La Rambla to get there.
The pictures of Park Güell just don’t do it justice. The intricate details and colorful ceramic tiles are hard to capture. Take the subway to Vallcarca and head up to Park Güell from there via the escalator. Don’t walk there from say, the Sagrada Familia. Just don’t do it. It’s a very steep uphill climb and your glutes will burn, baby, burn. Entrance to the park is on a 15-minute basis, and I would strongly suggest buying your ticket online ahead of time. Get ready to battle every other tourist in the park for that iconic pic!
What to do
Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is the heart of Barcelona’s Old City. The winding old stone roads and buildings are reminiscent of Florence. There are tons of major shops (think: Mango, Vans, etc), but I really loved wandering through the old streets and alleyways off the main tourist road. It’s just a great place to go off the grid and take in some of the city’s history.
Tour La Sagrada Familia
You may have seen a lot of elaborate Catholic churches around Europe, but you probably haven’t seen one quite as interesting as La Sagrada Familia. This unfinished church is another of Antonin Gaudí’s signature Catalan architectural works, but he died in 1926 before it was finished, and it’s literally still under construction – so crazy! I did the guided tour, which I now recommend skipping to make room for other activities (like drinking) in your 72 hours in Barcelona. Just walk around the main floor to take it all in! Entrance and tours are held at specific times, so buy your tickets online in advance. You can save €2 when you choose the under 30 entrance option. And HEADS UP, ladies: while there isn’t a dress code, you will likely be asked to cover up if you’re in anything deemed a little too revealing. I covered up my shoulders and low cut neckline with a shawl which they sell there if you need it.
Indulge at La Boqueria
Meat, cheese, and seafood, OH MY! This world-famous market (no joke: CNN named it the world’s best market back in April) boasts an impressively huge selection of authentic Spanish food, herbs & spices, candy, and my personal favorite: JUICE. Cheap juice. You are literally going for the juices, which cost around €1.50 and are the freshest fruit juices I’ve ever tried. Bounce around and try different flavors from various stands. The market is located right off La Rambla, and you’ll need to get cash out beforehand.
Walk La Rambla
I’ve been told by various people to avoid eating and drinking on La Rambla because it’s touristy and expensive. Still, you should totally walk the strip and check it out. I walked up, down, and across La Rambla various times over the weekend. It’s definitely touristy, and I would advise staying off La Rambla late at night, as you’ll find tons of promoters trying to persuade you to go to whatever bar or club they’re pushing. People will also try to sell you things. It’s all harmless, but I just found it annoying. Get out of my personal space, plz.
Where to eat
Worth the wait. It rhymes for a reason. Super funky dishes that are both healthy, delicious and pleasing to the eye (and your Insta). Be sure to try the yogurt and granola bowls!
Even the Spanish like a trendy Mexican joint. This spot is great for doing as the locals do with cheap drinks, good food and a funky atmosphere! If you plan to show up at Barcelona dinner time (10pm or so), expect a wait, but you can pass the time with a margarita, mojito or Mexican beer.
You didn’t think I would leave you without a couple tapas spots, did you? These are both great tapas options depending on the ambiance you are going for. Ciudad Condal is a huge restaurant where you can get a lot of tapas and Sangria. La Alcoba Azul is a romantic, intimate spot with a great outdoor area in the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter.
What to drink
The nicest “dive bar” I’ve ever seen! I stopped by the Gothic Quarter’s Sugar Bar one night for some post dinner drinks. Great atmosphere – really dark, and felt both trendy and cozy! Sugar Bar is known for having cheap drinks and amazing happy hour deals.
360 Degrees at the Barceló Raval
There’s a reason why this bar is called 360 Degrees. It’s a circular hotel that features a rooftop with 360 degree views of Barcelona! Envision it: city and ocean views, Barca sunshine, and a glass of rosé in hand. It’s the perfect pit stop for sipping on an afternoon drink or for watching the sun set behind the mountains in the distance.
If you’re in the mood for Sangria, you’re undoubtedly headed to Bar Lobo in El Raval. We split a pitcher of cava and it was perfection! Bar Lobo is a really sleek, open space with tons of natural light. There’s also outdoor seating! Hungry for something small? Try the hummus!
No joke: nearly anywhere. The first beers we bought in Barcelona were SO cheap. Literally, €2.50 a pint! There are tons of little bars and restaurants with outdoor seating, so go nuts!
Just for s’s & g’s
As someone who prefers to indulge like the locals, I would definitely say this bar is an American tourist hot spot. I figured it was worth putting on this list for the banter. You may have heard of Dow Jones Bar, and being New Yorkers, we obviously had to check it out. All of the drinks, including beers, shots and cocktails, have fluctuating prices that mimic rising and falling stock prices on the New York Stock Exchange. They’re super cheap to begin with!
Dana is the New York City based lifestyle blogger behind The Dana Diaries. Her tag line is ‘travels, thoughts and things’, and that’s exactly what you’ll find on her blog. Aside from working in broadcast journalism full time, she’s a fitness junkie, a fashion fiend, and a major foodie that likes to travel globally and explore locally.