If you have just 48 hours to spend in Barcelona and have no idea what to do…this will surely help you.
A lot has been said and written about Barcelona. But no amount of reading ever prepares you for this beautiful, cosmopolitan European city. A true melting pot of history, art, culture, gastronomy and all things modern, Barcelona is buzzing with tourists all year round. During my recent trip to Barcelona I realised that if planned meticulously you can see the best of it in a weeks time. However, if you are not that fortunate and in Barcelona for just 48 hours, here is how you can make full use of your every hour spent in this splendid city.
Barcelona offers a wide range of options when it comes to accommodation. Luxury hotels, budget hotels, hostels, apartments, depending on your pocket the choices are plenty. It would be ideal if you stay in areas like La Rambla or Gothic Quarter. As time is the essence, staying in these places will help to get easy access to all transport connections like buses, metro and train. There are a number of luxury and boutique hotels that you can look for if you want to enjoy fine living in the city. A luxury five star property like Majestic Hotel & Spa GL boasts of modern facilities and is located on the renowned Passeig de Gràcia.
Another option could be the fashionable boutique Hotel Pulitzer. The hotel located right in the center of Barcelona is few meters from Placa Catalunya. Each of Pulitzer’s guestrooms provide all the comforts for a memorable experience. 987 Barcelona hotel is a great option if you like comfort, convenience and want to stay right in the middle of all action.
The best way to discover Barcelona in a limited and stipulated amount of time is by taking the hop-on hop-off bus service. The blue, green and red lines let you explore the whole city in a go. While the red line takes you on a journey to explore the famous works of the great Antoni Gaudi, like Sagrada Familia, La Padrera, Casa Batllo etc, the blue line also covers the Olympic village, FC Barcelona stadium, Picasso Museum and the Park Guell. And the green line is dedicated to Barcelona’s happening beaches and shopping areas. Depending on your areas of interest you could choose one line or more. Many of these places are covered by all three lines, so you could easily hop-off and hop-on to any line that you wish to travel on. These bus services cost 27 euros for a day pass.
If you are in a mood to have a bird’s eye view of the city, then take a helicopter ride starting from 50 euros from Cathelicopters. Or take a cable car ride to the famous Montjuic mountain for a panoramic view of the city.
In a mood to indulge in some dance and music, Barcelona has plenty of options. The Flamenco performances in almost every corner of the city are worth spending some time on. Some of the top places to watch Flamenco are Tablao Cordobés, located at the end of La Rambla near the port. The ticket also offers a dinner and show or a drink and show options. The newly opened Palacio del Flamenco is located near Passeig de Gràcia. The most reasonable one and situated in the heart of La Rambla’s Plaça Reial is Tarantos. The place offers 30 minutes of music and dance. The tickets for Flamenco shows in the city range from 10 euros to 150 euros.
To eat and drink
Barcelona is a gastronomer’s paradise. The food and drinks go beyond just tapas, paella and sangria, wine or craft beers. From roadside tapas bars to fine dining terrace bars, the city has it all. One of the ways to experience the fine dining in Barcelona is to take up the Barcelona Gourmet Bus Tour. This offers a good combination of gourmet food and sightseeing. Dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef served on a glass-roofed luxury tour bus while learning every bit about the city from your individual iPad – that’s an interesting way to spend a few hours! While you are on it, you can also do some sightseeing of the gorgeous side of Barcelona that includes Casa Batlló, la Pedrera, Sagrada Familia, Torre Agbar, Arc de Triomf, Port Olimpic, Plaça d’Espanya and Montjuic Mountain. If you really want to explore the authentic Catalan food, then the Gothic Quarters is the place and not La Rambla. However, a visit to the fruit market at La Rambla is a must.
Barcelona is famous for its terrace bars. With a merger of old and new Barcelona, the city has a number of towers and open terraces that have converted into beautiful fine dining places.
Windsor is located in a beautiful modern Catalan building and provides the most special setting to enjoy the modern Catalan cuisine of young chef Carlos Alconchel. There’s a great terrace as well as private dining rooms. The tasting menu ranges from €49.50 to €99 with wine pairing.
Tram-Tram is situated in an old house and spread out over two floors and most famous for its desserts prepared by chefs like Oriol Madern, Annick Janin and Reyes Lizan, besides its famous artichokes, foie gras and farm egg boiled with truffle sauce. The cost per meal ranges from €36 to €70, plus drinks.
Another well known place is El Xalet. With a beautiful location on the top of the Montjuic mountain, El Xalet is a spectacular restaurant that offers the best views over Barcelona from its dining rooms and wonderful panoramic terraces. The place serves signature Mediterranean and Catalan cuisine.
If you are in for a little adventure, pay a visit to the Speakeasy bar in Carrer d’ Aribau between París and Còrsega. For a fine gastronomic experience visit this place and try out some prohibition era cocktails which were popular in the American society in the 1920s Chicago and New York. Speakeasy also has a great list of wine, cava and a champagne cellar. The menu ranges from €80 to €140.
No holiday is complete without splurging on some shopping. From shopping for gifts or food items (read saffron, dairy and meat produce) to designer labels like Gucci, Armani or Prada, Barcelona has it all.
The city dedicates one bus line to only the shopping districts. And if you have the time and patience to spend some hours inside the malls, do visit the following: Diagonal Mar, with over 150 stores; the Passeig de Gràcia, a shopping boulevard buzzing with couture collections; and Portal de l’Àngel with shoe shops stocking local labels. Many vintage shops as well as modern up-and-coming designers also adorn the city. The Maremagnum shopping mall at the port area is open 365 days but remember that rest other shops and malls are closed on Sundays.
48 hours is never enough to explore a city so vibrant, colourful, mystique and lively as Barcelona. However getting to spend even few hours in the city has the potential to create a splendid memory of a lifetime.
(This article has originally appeared in A Luxury Travel Blog)