So I’ve been to Barcelona a couple of times now, but have only spent a day or two there at a time. That was just enough time to get a feel of the city and I can tell you, I loved the vibe there! In this post, I gather a list of things to do in a day in Barcelona, based on my experiences.
Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonian territory of Spain and is a Mediterranean seaside cosmopolis. There are plenty of architectural delights to drink in here, including the famous works of Antoni Gaudi – la Sagrada Familia being one of the most famous sights in Europe.
The first time I visited Barcelona was actually on our way to Perpignan in southern France, when we stayed at Studio Vert vegan b&b (a trip I highly recommended). The second time around, I spent a full day there before heading to a retreat in Sitges, Spain.
Barcelona El Prat Airport
The Barcelona international airport (BCN) is most likely your arrival/departure point from abroad. It’s located by the seaside, just outside of town. You can get to the city centre within 30-40 minutes using public transport. The airport itself is pretty huge and I remember walking kilometres just to exit it on arrival. I once spent hours in the departure terminals waiting for my flight and decided to explore for vegan options to eat around. Here’s what I found:
A cafeteria located after the duty free area in T1 had Heura (Spanish plant-based brand) empanadas on display, to my delight! There were only 2 left at the time and I wish I got them both – it was a tasty little snack, perfect bite before boarding your flight. Later, I also found a vegan sandwich from a Coffee Republic kiosk. It was pricey and pretty ok – hummus and salad filled. Go Natural café also claims to have vegan options.
Getting around Barcelona
For a day (or two) in Barcelona, I recommend getting a Hola Barcelona travel card. With it, you can basically travel unlimited using bus, metro or local train within the city Zone 1. It also includes a return trip with the airport metro link. It costs €16.40 for 2 days.
If you plan to pack in visits to many attractions or museums during your time here, it’s a good idea to purchase a Barcelona Card – this is different from a travel card but includes public transport as well as entry to many popular sights and museums. Prices are €48 for a 3 day card.
Barcelona Airport Metro L9 metro connects the Airport to the city centre. Board at the T1 or T2 stop at the airport. The tickets for just the airport link cost about €5 one way. There are vending machines at the metro station where you can buy tickets. The TMB public transport buses are another good option from the airport and one way tickets costs about €2.40.
Public transport and walking can take you to all important sights in town! Now that we’ve covered some basic travel info, let’s see what we can do in a day in Barcelona!
Things to do
Stay off at Universitat metro station and walk along admiring the Art Nouveau architecture around. Let’s start the day by grabbing a coffee (or matcha latte, like I did) from Starbucks at Plaça de la Universitat. Spot the historic gothic buildings of The University of Barcelona and from there, walk towards the central square of Barcelona.
Plaça de Catalunya is a central square where people (and pigeons) gather and it’s a meeting point close to many important landmarks. Also spot the several Neoclassical statues that surround the square. From here, you can easily board a metro to Sagrada Familia.
Basílica de la Sagrada Família is the most famous church in Spain and the unfinished masterpiece of Gaudi. Stay off at Monumental or Sagrada Familia metro station. This is the top sight to see and an important landmark in Barcelona. Check the website for info on it’s history and guided tours (that would take around 45 minutes and we chose to skip it): sagradafamilia.org
You can enjoy a walk in the lush gardens Plaça de Gaudí around the church. After this, it’s time for lunch! You can check out the places I recommend to dine at further below in this post.
Next, we must explore the Gothic Quarter, with it’s charming medieval streets, churches and some Roman ruins! You can get here using the L4 metro line and stay off at Jaume I metro station. Walk towards the gothic Cathedral of Barcelona.
Something I very much wanted to see, but was unsuccessful in finding, were the ruins of the Temple of Augustus. The remnant pillars (now restored) are hidden somewhere between the streets in the Gothic Quarter. ‘Muhba Temple d’August’ – this link takes you to it’s location.
Now, perhaps there’s time to visit the museum here: Barcelona History Museum (MUHBA)
If you still have the time and energy after this, it’s worth visiting the Parc Güell gardens, also the plan and design of Gaudi. From there, you will have incredible views over the city. It’s open to the public 9:30-17:30 and the entry costs 10€/person.
Where to eat
Barcelona is a Veganhaven, no doubt! The first time we were there, I actually couldn’t decide where to eat because there were so many options. When we hopped off the airport bus at Universitat, we found that this area has a range of vegan restaurants. In the end, we decided to go to the first one we saw, right near the bus stop.
This place was amazing – a colourful Indian themed restaurant, a menu with so many delicious options it was difficult to settle on something. Prices were very affordable. We ordered a thali, burger and snacks plus coffee. They also have Spanish dishes to choose from – in any case, plenty of choices for everyone!
They have a couple of branches in town and are open around noon – 11PM everyday.
1, Carrer de Manresa, 4, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
This was the highlight of my day, on the second trip to this city. Yes, this junk food experience is a must. VJFB currently has branches in the Netherlands, Germany and the only one in Spain here in Barcelona!
The theme of the restaurant is cool & casual, with graffiti art and hip-hop music. The menu is very satisfying and I went in for the McKroquet burger – an excellent nostalgic taste with crispy chickpea patty. I’m glad that I also ordered the Asian style ‘flamboyant shrimps’ – the taste and texture was simply amazing. I’d say go for it. They are open from noon until midnight everyday!
Carrer de Ferran, 25, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Once you’re done exploring for the day, how about enjoy some exceptional tapas and beverage at this new & fancy restaurant in Barcelona? They are open from around noon until midnight, Wed – Sun. We haven’t been here yet but are not going to miss it on our next time in Barcelona.
A day in Barcelona – map of places
Check out this map of places of interest I’ve mentioned in this post and use it as a guide for your day in Barcelona!
Spending a day in Barcelona
A day barely scratches the surface of seeing what this city has to offer (especially food wise), but that doesn’t mean one can’t have an amazing time! I hope you enjoyed this brief day guide and let me know if you’ve been to Barcelona. What else would you recommended for a day visit? Drop your comments!
Last updated on August 23rd, 2023