With 72 hours in Barcelona, we knew we had to plan our time wisely to ensure that we’d be able to visit all of the city’s top spots. Our trip to Barcelona marked the first time we’d been to Spain and I couldn’t have been more excited to soak up all of the culture…not to mention, eat amazing Catalonian food!
Staying in the heart of the Eixample neighborhood was a perfect, centralized location for our three days of exploring the city. Steps away from Passeig de Gracia, which features every designer shop you could imagine, a few blocks away from two of Gaudi’s homes, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, and a 20 minute walk to the charming Gothic Quarter, I found this area to be ideal.
To me, Barcelona feels like the perfect blend of New York City, Paris, and Miami. It’s booming with people and commerce like NYC, complemented by stunning architecture reminiscent of Paris and the lively energy of a beachside city like Miami. I would definitely visit again. Additionally, if you’re looking for an easy jumping off point before a seaside retreat to one of the Balearic Islands, this would be an ideal place to begin your Spanish vacation.
Here are my suggestions for a long weekend trip to Barcelona!
The A-Lyst for a Weekend Trip to Barcelona, Spain
Visit All Things Gaudi
Absorbing the work of Antoni Gaudí while in Barcelona won’t be hard to do, as his distinctive architecture style and notable work are spread across the city. A pioneering figure in Catalan modernism, Gaudi’s work is incredibly unique and I found myself captivated by his whimsical use of colors, tiles, plaster, and unexpected shapes.
Gaudi’s most famous project, the renowned Sagrada Familia is truly breathtaking. The level of ornate detail and meaning behind every facet of the basilica was simply mind blowing! Set to be completed in 2026, the Sagrada Familia has been under construction for over 145 years! While inside, I recommend taking a seat in one of the pews to truly embrace the beauty all around you; there’s so much to see and I loved learning about the meaning behind the various architectural details. A visit to the church is a must when visiting Barcelona and tickets should be purchased ahead of time.
Park Güell is another must-see Gaudi attraction. Set on the outskirts of Barcelona, the park is one of the largest green spaces in the city and features gardens, footpaths, structures, and lookout points adorned with colorful mosaics and creative stone work. If you go on a hot day, dress cool and bring lots of water, as there is a decent amount of uphill walking to reach the higher points. One of my favorite spots was the famous Serpentine Bench and terrace in the center of the park; quintessential Gaudi and the perfect backdrop for photos. We bought tickets in advance to visit Park Güell, which allows you to bypass the line.
While we didn’t have time to explore the inside of Gaudi’s houses, it’s very easy to enjoy their exterior architecture from the street. Casa Batlló and Casa Milà are a few blocks from one another and situated right along the city’s main shopping street, Passeig de Gracia. I expected them to be standalone structures and found it interesting how they’re truly integrated into the neighborhood. You could easily walk right past them if it weren’t for the throngs of tourists in front! Like all of Gaudi’s work, the level of detail on these homes is outstanding and certainly worth a visit or walk-by.
Explore the Gothic Quarter
Home to narrow, winding streets, tucked away tapas bars, and little shops, the Gothic Quarter was one of my favorite areas to explore. Must-see spots include the famous Bishop’s Bridge, an elevated pedestrian bridge set between two buildings, and the stunning Cathedral of Barcelona.
During the day, we enjoyed meandering amongst the tiny streets of the area and snapping photos of picturesque alleyways and ancient buildings, and at night, we came back to the area for dinner and rooftop cocktails with a view. The terrace at Hotel Colón serves up delicious drinks (don’t miss the sangria!) paired with a striking view of the Cathedral. Get there early as the outdoor space is small! We started at a table in the back and eventually snagged an awesome table in the front, just in time for sunset.
Eat Tapas, Tapas, and More Tapas
The food scene in Barcelona alone makes it worth a visit! I was in foodie heaven deciding which restaurants I wanted to reserve for the three nights that we were there. I would highly suggest reserving your dinner plans in advance if you have your heart set on specific places. For our first evening, we dined at Tast-Ller, which came recommended to us by friends. Located in a nondescript building (you have to ring the bell to be let in) not far from La Rambla, this twelve table restaurant is set up in the style of an apartment with homey, eclectic decor throughout the sleek space. Chef Mikel Peinador works alone to cook and serve a tasting menu of eight courses, each one more unique than the next. Beyond the delicious cuisine, we were blown away by the price point of 70 EURO, which felt like a steal for the quality of food and intimate experience we enjoyed at Tast-Ller.
Our other stand-out meal was at Brugarol, located down an unassuming street in the Gothic Quarter. This tiny eatery offers two seatings a night and you can choose to partake in either an eight course tasting menu or order from the a la carte selection. We chose the latter and were blown away by the dishes we ordered (the Truffle Flan is a must!).
Other favorites from our time in Barcelona included La Alcoba Azul, a dimly lit tapas restaurant in the Gothic Quarter, Boca Grande, a lively spot that turns into a total scene as the night goes on, and brunches at the instagrammable Brunch & Cake and neighborhood spot, Granja Petitbo. For drinks, I am always looking for the best view and the terrace at Eleven BCN did not disappoint. The cocktails were delicious; not to mention super unique and refreshing! I’d recommend going early to snag a prime spot outside in order to take in the jaw-dropping views of the city. Nearby is the famous La Rambla, filled with countless eateries, most of which, feature great outdoor space! We found that many of these restaurants took walk-ins, so if you’d rather keep your plans open-ended for dinner and not make reservations, I’d suggest heading here. We also enjoyed walking down La Rambla at night on our way back to our hotel.
If we had more time, I would have loved to have spent time at the beach. A short walk from the Gothic Quarter, we strolled by one afternoon and it was packed with people sunbathing! There are also many beachside restaurants, which offer the perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon people watching.
Until next time, Barcelona!
The A-Lyst is a Boston-based lifestyle blog curating the very best of style, beauty, food, and travel.