A Day (and Night) in Barcelona
Any tour of Spain should include Barcelona. Even if you’re simply passing through – boarding a cruise from the port, or stopping briefly en route to another city – you won’t want to waste a moment of your time there. From amazing historic sites to the hottest nightlife, this spectacular Spanish city offers just about everything any tourist could want.
Ideally, you’ll visit Barcelona some day with plenty of time to explore all it has to offer. But just to help you maximize your time there if you are only passing through, here are some of the absolute top priorities for a day and night.
Visit Some Gaudí Buildings
Antoni Gaudí is one of the most famous architects in the world, and designed many of Barcelona’s most impressive buildings (some of which are now World Heritage Sites). You can see La Sagrada Familia (a towering basilica) and Casa Milà in Barcelona – both unique in style, striking in appearance, and available for tours. The basilica is Gaudí’s burial site, and is actually still unfinished, though it’s projected to be mostly completed by the 100th anniversary of the architect’s death, in 2026. No visit to Barcelona is complete without visiting these masterpieces. Though if architecture is something you’re interested in, or you’re intrigued by Gaudí specifically, you may also want to get a look at the nearby Casa Batlló, a house that resembles an artistic masterpiece more than a home, as well as Park Güell, a sort of neighborhood of colorful, sculpture-like buildings commonly featured in Barcelona travel guides.
La Rambla boulevard in the middle of Barcelona is one of the best places in Europe to shop. It’s a cultural hot spot to say the least, in large part because of the presence of the Mercado de la Boqueria, a sprawling public market. With trees lining the streets and providing shade as you wander, you’ll find local cuisine and souvenirs to take home, along with fresh flowers. Suffice it to say, it’s the place to go for a bit if mid-trip retail therapy. Incidentally, it’s not a bad place to be when you’re hungry, either. There are numerous little cafés in the area, as well as the terrific restaurant Ultramarinos Santa Mònica, which opens for lunch at noon. It’s the perfect place for a midday meal and a nice cocktail.
Visit Liceu Theater
In the evening, you can catch a show at the city’s opera house. In addition to operas, you’ll find many types of events on the schedule, including dance performances, concerts, and other popular shows. Any one of them can make for a great way to start your night out, and will also expose you to a bit more local culture. The theater is particularly impressive if you happen to be visit during the holiday season, given that there are usually some spectacular Christmas and New Year’s shows going on. But rest assured, the Liceu is always worth it!
Wrap It Up At The Casino
It’s basically a given that you’ll have bar and club options to wrap up your night with; Barcelona is famous for its all-night club scene. To give you a somewhat less obvious idea though, we’d also suggest you stop by one of the city’s casinos for a bit of entertainment between dinner (or the theater) and going out. The online casinos in Ireland and Britain have done quite a lot to change the very nature of casino gaming around Europe, and made some land-based casinos obsolete. But the ones that remain in big cities like Barcelona are worth your time. Casino Barcelona is open 24 hours and is a blast for card players, whereas Enracha Don Pelayo has more passive games like bingo and slots available most of the night. Again, the club scene is famously excellent, so if you like to stay out late, you’ll have other options. But the casinos in town shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Barcelona really does have about anything you could possibly want in a travel destination. But if you’re visiting with limited time, these suggestions should help you get off to a good start exploring the city.