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Need Barcelona advice for only day and 1/2 visit

We are going to be in Barcelona for the first time early December, but only there for one and half days before head to another city. What would you recommend seeing and doing? Half day is Saturday and full day Sunday. We have an 18 year old son who will also be traveling with us. La boqueria market is only open Saturday. Would that be worth doing and maybe using Rick Steve’s Ramblas walking tour ?
Definitely want to get tickets for sagrada familia for Sunday. Was thinking Parc guell also for Sunday, but recent reviews says so much construction and is it even worth it?

Anyone have thoughts on what to see during our short stay? Probably have some jet lag. Thank you

Posted by
19509 posts

Do not waste your time making a special effort to see the Ramblas. You may find yourself on it anyway, but it's just a street with crowded sidewalks and more than its share of pickpockets. The Barri Gotic is a much more interesting neighborhood, though also very touristy.

You need to get hold of a guidebook that covers the city to see what sounds most interesting to you. We don't know whether you're interested in the modernista architecture, art museums, or other types of sights.

For the top modernista sights you'll need to buy (usually time-specific) tickets in advance.

Posted by
1245 posts

I agree with Acraven that I wouldn't make a beeline for the Rambla, you might cross it anyway and, if not, don't worry - it's a ridiculously overrated "attraction", with some parts of interest but much of which is tourist tat, dull and/or sleazy. Basically, it's Barcelona's even worse equivalent of going to London and only seeing Oxford Street.

With such limited time, better, I think, to concentrate on Barcelona's more unique sights. Especially the modernisme buildings. As well as the church, I'd include at least one of the"casa" such as Batilo or Mila. For contrast, I'd also have a walk around the gothic quarter and get to the coast. Presumably your son will be interested in football, so perhaps visit Camp Nou, even if a match isn't on.

Posted by
2996 posts

I join in on acraven & nick's recommendations. Definately recommend quality guidebooks. Choose several sights that interest you. "Less is more." Although we don't usually recommend HOHO bus, we did take this mode of transportation our first day. It was a good way to deal with jet lag & get a lay of the city. Another idea is a walking tour. We took the recommended free Runner Bean Tour. One of the tours highlighted several Gaudi sights. The guide was knowledgeable & engaging. Yes, I recommend La Familia Sagrada! We also enjoyed La Boqueria very much.

Posted by
2340 posts

Using Rick Steves' "Barcelona in 2 days" itinerary as a foundation, I edited it so to drop a few things I would pass on and add stuff I think are more interesting:

Day 1/2 Saturday — Old City (assuming Jetlag)

  1. Follow my "Barri Gòtic Walk" (a self-guided walk you can find in my guidebooks) and tour the Cathedral.

  2. Explore Santa Llúcia Christmas Market in front of the Cathedral

  3. Tour the Maritime Museum or stroll along the Barceloneta beach towards El Born

  4. For an early dinner, sample tapas at several bars in El Born

  5. Collapse in Bed

Day 2 Sunday — Modernisme

  1. Check out the Eixample (you can take the self-guided walk in my Barcelona guidebook — or in my Pocket Barcelona guide), touring La Pedrera and/or one of the Block of Discord houses — Casa Batlló or Casa Amatller (by guided tour only).

  2. Tour the Sagrada Família.

  3. Eat lunch (menu del dia) close to Hospital San Pau Modernista Site

  4. Tour Hospital San Pau Modernista Site (only 10 min walk from Sagrada Família)

  5. Choose among these options:
    -Taxi or bus to Gracia neighborhood to explore and see Gaudí's Casa Vicens
    -Or take the bus to Montjuïc Fortress to enjoy the city view and your pick of sights (I recommend Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya).
    -Or explore the harborfront La Rambla de Mar and Old Port (unless you already did this on Day 1)

  6. Evening dinner along harbor front or in one of the hip restaurants in el Poble-sec

Posted by
19509 posts

Now that Carlos (and Rick) have done the heavy lifting: I would put Casa Amatller well down the priority list. The interior is interesting but I'd call it more pseudo-castle than modernista. On a short visit to Barcelona it would fall way off the bottom of my list. But that is a lovely block; you should strive to see the exteriors even if you choose not to go inside Casa Batllo or Casa Amatller.

Posted by
9 posts

Definitely don't miss the Sagrada Familia. Make sure to get tickets in advance though as they sell out fast. Parc Guell was interesting, but not a favorite of mine. Although art is not a main passion, I really enjoyed the Picasso Museum as I thought it was well curated and very engaging/informative.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you so much for all your ideas. I have the best of Spain book, but did not have the eixample self tour so I just ordered the Barcelona pocket size book.
You recommend stroll along the Barceloneta, is that the same as the Rambla walkway?
We are staying in a hotel in Eixample

Posted by
2340 posts

They are different, Las Ramblas Walk starts at the Plaça de Catalunya and ends at the Colom Statute (do not recommend). The Barceloneta Walk, Rick mentions, goes around the harborfront, I think starting at the Colom Statute and snaking around the harbor and La Barceloneta, you could go as far as the Port Olimpic (Golden Fish Statue).

Posted by
2996 posts

In addition to Carlos' helpful suggestion I found another tour guidebook I had filed away. It's National Geographic, "Walking Barcelona, The Best of the City." It has maps of all the neighborhoods, and features "Whirlwind Tours." Probably similar to RS walks mentioned up thread.

BTW one of our favorite sights is Palau de la Musica Catalana. If Catalan Modernist interests you and you have time the guided tour is magnificent.

Posted by
111 posts

Definitely recommended the Barri Gotic walk over the Ramblas. Maybe do the walk then go to the La Boqueria Market after for refreshments, that was enough of the Rambles for me- very crowded. Sagrada Familia is a must, the interior took my breath away. I would also try to get in at least one other Gaudi sight- I was able to see both Park Guell (had a beautiful morning there, blue skies) and La Pedrera on my recent two-day stop. I preferred the view towards the water from Park Guell than Moutjuic. La Pedrera does evening visit/roof top light show which may be an option but you don’t get to see the apartments. I liked seeing the apartments. The block of discord is close by so easy to walk by before or after La Pedrera. Maybe consider dinner on the harbor front one night (paella) to kill two birds with one stone.