Barcelona is probably near the top of most people’s lists when it comes to visiting cities in Europe. From Gothic architecture to football, and from Gaudi to churros with chocolate sauce, there’s so much to experience in this vibrant city. Here’s what to do if you’re planning to see Barcelona in 24 hours and if you’re travelling to Barcelona with teens.
Can you do Barcelona in One Day?
I’d spent time in Barcelona on several occasions, many years ago – so I knew a bit about what the highlights were. This trip meant seeing Barcelona in 24 hours, as we had only one day there while on our western Mediterranean Royal Caribbean cruise. I knew experiencing Barcelona with teens would be a bit different to my previous visits and we were obviously quite tight on time. However, I definitely think you can still see Barcelona’s main highlights. Read on to find out what I recommend you do if you have 24 hours in Barcelona.
Getting Around Barcelona
Barcelona has a fantastic transport system and it’s easy to get around. These are the best ways of getting around Barcelona:
Barcelona’s metro system is a fast and convenient way to navigate the city. It covers most major areas and attractions. There are eight lines, and trains run frequently. The metro is especially useful for reaching destinations that are a bit further away from the city centre, including the airport. For more information, and to access the metro’s journey planner, head here.
Barcelona has an extensive bus network that covers the entire city. Buses are a good option for getting around neighbourhoods and areas that may not be served by the metro. The TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona) buses operate throughout the city – for more information about the bus network take a look at the map here. Don’t forget there are also hop-on-hop-off tourist buses if you want a more relaxed way of sightseeing. To book your tickets, head to the City Sightseeing Worldwide site.
Barcelona is a bike-friendly city with dedicated bike lanes. Cycling is a great way to explore the city, especially along the beach or through parks like Ciutadella Park. Bike Rental Barcelona is a recommended company to borrow bikes from. I’ve cycled in Barcelona before and I’d definitely recommend cycling as a great way to see Barcelona with teens.
Barcelona is a pedestrian-friendly city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. Walking allows you to explore the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, enjoy the architecture, and discover the city’s hidden gems.
The tram system in Barcelona connects several neighbourhoods and areas, including parts of the city not served by the metro. You’re likely to spot Barcelona’s green and white trams as you walk around the city. If you think you might be making several trips on Barcelona’s metro, bus and tram network then it might be a good idea to purchase an ‘integration ticket’ which allows you to travel on all three. You can purchase these at tram stops, metro stops and in ‘Tabacs’ (Tabacco shops). For more information on Barcelona’s tram routes and timetables, head here.
Funicular and Cable Car
Barcelona has funiculars and cable cars which are experiences in themselves. The Montjuïc Funicular takes you up to Montjuïc Hill, offering some impressive views of the city.
Barcelona in 24 Hours – Morning
Stroll Along La Rambla
If you’re disembarking from a cruise ship, like we were, then you’ll no doubt begin your 24 hours in Barcelona with a short walk up to Placa de Catalunya at the start of La Rambla, the 1.2 kilometre-long pedestrianised street leading into the city centre. La Rambla is the perfect place to start your day, with a stroll past the street performers, restaurants and cafes Barcelona is famous for. There are a couple of places worth looking out for along La Rambla. These include:
Mercat de la Boqueria
Stop by Mercat de la Boqueria, a famous food market just off La Rambla. There are loads of stalls to buy or sample fresh seafood and local specialities. Even if you’re not hungry yet, it’s worth having a walk around to absorb the atmosphere here and appreciate all the colourful produce.
Museu De Cera (Wax Museum)
If you’re interested in wax figures, the Barcelona Wax Museum, Museu De Cera is located near the lower end of La Rambla. It features a collection of historical and celebrity wax figures and it’s a fun activity in Barcelona for teens.
Font de Canaletes
At the top of La Rambla, you’ll find the ornate Font de Canaletes, a famous fountain. According to tradition, drinking from this fountain ensures that you will return to Barcelona. It’s also where FC Barcelona fans come to celebrate team victories!
Cafe De L’Opera
If you need a coffee refuel and a snack, stop at the institution that is Cafe De L’Opera. Open since the 18th century, it’s beautiful inside and a good spot for churros and hot chocolate too.
Tip: if you’re visiting on a Sunday, bear in mind that many cafes and restaurants will be closed. Check before you visit.
Wander Around the Gothic Quarter
Next, venture on to explore the Gothic Quarter. It’ll take you about 10 to 15 minutes to reach from Placa de Catalunya at the start of La Rambla. Wander through the narrow medieval streets where you’ll find lots of little shops and cafes.
Visit Barcelona Cathedral, a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, and Plaça Sant Jaume, home to the City Hall and the Palau de la Generalitat. Plaça Reial is a great spot to eat outdoors and in the summer, there are open-air concerts held here too.
Barcelona in 24 Hours – Afternoon:
Explore Park Guell
The best way to reach Park Guell from Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is to take the metro to Lesseps or Vallcarca station (on the Green line, L3). It’s a bit of a walk from the metro, and some of it is uphill, so grabbing a taxi is a good alternative if you feel you may struggle with that.
Park Guell was designed by Antoni Gaudí, Catalonia’s most famous architect. It was originally commissioned as a residential project, however following a lack of interest from buyers, was turned into a public park. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most visited attractions in Spain.
Park Guell is particularly famous for its beautiful ceramic mosaic tiles. The dragon staircase and fountain (at the main entrance to the park) are highlights. Head up the stairs and follow the paths to sit and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
In high season, securing a ticket on the day can be tricky. The park limits the number of visitors each day. You’re better off booking in advance if you can, via the Park Guell website. You’ll be able to book a specific time slot for the day you want to visit.
Take in La Sagrada Família
From Park Guell, head to the iconic Sagrada Família next, another masterpiece by Gaudí. It’s a 25 minute walk or 5 to 10 minute taxi ride away.
Even if you don’t have time to go inside, the exterior is impressive and definitely should be seen. La Sagrada Familia is Spain’s number one tourist attraction and looks much more impressive in real life than in any photos!
La Sagrada Familia began construction in 1882 and unbelievably, it’s not finished yet! Five of its towers are now finished and when the sixth is done (which is likely to be in 2026) it will finally be complete.
Again, book ahead for tickets to go inside La Sagrada Familia via the La Sagrada Familia website. It’s worth booking a guided tour and if you’re particularly interested in seeing the towers, you can book a different ticket which includes those as well.
Head for Churros Nearby
If you’re in Barcelona with teens, you definitely have to sample some churros with hot chocolate sauce. In fact, this will should probably feature pretty near the top of your list when considering Barcelona for teens! Right around the corner from La Sagrada Familia is Xurreria Sagrada Familia. It offers both eat-in and take away and you can choose from ready-made jumbo churros with a range of toppings and fillings and freshly cooked traditional churros with hot chocolate sauce. Yum!
Barcelona in 24 Hours – Evening:
If you have the evening free to enjoy Barcelona, it’s definitely worth staying to enjoy the city at night. Here’s what I’d recommend for the perfect evening in Barcelona:
Try Tapas or Paella for Dinner – or Book a Paella Cookery Class
You can’t go to Barcelona and not order some tapas or a paella. La Boqueria market (see above) is a great place to head for tapas. The Spanish eat dinner late (usually after 8 pm) and as most tapas bars won’t accept reservations, you may find a table more easily if you go slightly earlier in the evening. The El Born District and the Gothic Quarter are also good places to find good tapas bars. For authentic paella and traditional Catalan cuisine, try 7 Portes restaurant. It’s popular so book ahead to secure your table
If you’re keen on a more interactive and hands-on experience, you could book a Spanish cookery class. Paella and tapas cookery classes are the most popular and are sure to be a hit if you’re thinking about things to do in Barcelona for teenagers. Take a look at available classes here.
Visit the Magic Fountain Show in Montjuic:
Wrap up your day by visiting the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. The fountain hosts a spectacular light and music show in the evening. It’s been going for almost 100 years now, which is pretty impressive! Check the schedule in advance though, as in 2023 it was closed due to the drought protocol in Barcelona. Head here for updates. To get there on the Metro, jump onto the Green Line (L3) or the Red Line (L1) and get off at Placa Espana.
Go for a Drink at Bosc De Les Fades
I’d been to this brilliant bar/ restaurant several times before and it’s so much fun. It’s on La Rambla, not far from the Port, so if you’re heading back that way in the evening it makes a great place to stop. Bosc De Les Fades (meaning the forest of the fairies) is exactly that: an enchanting fairytale and woodland themed cafe which everyone from tweens to adults will love. It’s next to the Wax Museum, so great to combine with a visit there. In fact, the exit from the wax museum will take you straight to Bosc De Les Fades.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
If you have only 24 hours in Barcelona and you’re thinking about staying for one night, then I’d recommend booking somewhere central. There are lots of hotel options along La Rambla, in different price ranges and this is a great area to base yourself. In the mid-range, there’s Hotel Continental Barcelona. At a lower price point, is Hostal Boqueria – which is in a fantastic location. You’ll be able to roll straight back there after your evening tapas at La Boqueria Market!
I hope this Barcelona in 24 hours itinerary has helped you plan your short stay in this amazing city. For other short European city breaks with teens, check out the following posts: