Heading to heart of Catalonia with only a little time to spare? We’ve got you covered. This sample itinerary will help you experience the sights, sounds and tastes of bustling Barcelona in just 24 short hours.
The best way to start any Barcelona day is with a strong Spanish coffee. Head to the Ciutat Vella to grab a creamy café con leche or steaming cortado, and then spend a little time wandering through the Barri Gotic’s medieval streets or strolling by Barceloneta seafront.
No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a walk along the famous La Rambla. Though this tree-lined walkway is heavily populated with tourists, you’ll see plenty of locals browsing the vibrant flower stalls and snacking on sugary churros. Just make sure to peek your head into La Boqueria while you’re there; this iconic market is home to some of Barcelona’s best produce, and its lively atmosphere is seriously irresistible.
Want to escape the tourist center? Grab a quick lunch in the city’s Gràcia neighborhood. Situated just north of L’Eixample — and easily accessible by metro — this area sparkles with the vibrant local spirit of Catalonia. Our advice? No matter which restaurant you choose, order the menú del día; you’ll get three courses for only a few euros, and it’s an authentic Spanish experience.
After lunch, head back to L’Eixample to do a bit of shopping. This neighborhood is known for its upscale shops, and you can browse an eclectic mix of Spanish designers, high-fashion brands and expertly curated boutiques. Plus, when you use American Express Platinum Travel, you’ll be able to rack up points on your purchases — and maybe even earn a bonus reward worth two free return flights to Barcelona. It’s a great way to plan another trip to the city without breaking your budget.
Ready to see the architectural sights? Book a guided tour through Antoni Gaudí’s iconic buildings to get the full breadth of his work in the span of one afternoon. Start in L’Eixample at the Paseo de Gràcia, make your way to the famous — and famously unfinished — La Sagrada Família, and then spend a little time relaxing in the colorful Parc Guell. You’ll also get the chance to explore the towering Cathedral Santa Maria del Mar, Catalonia’s only completed Gothic cathedral.
Once you’ve gotten to know Gaudí and grabbed a cava cocktail at your hotel’s bar, head back to the Ciutat Vella for a classic tapas crawl. Though the La Rambla area is filled with more tourist-centric spots, we recommend wandering through El Born for its unbeatable cuisine and local-friendly atmosphere. Stop at La Champañería for an authentic bocadillo, grab some Basque specialties at Restaurante Txirimiri, and then enjoy a local wine at Va De Vi.
If you still have some energy to burn, end your day in Barcelona with a visit to one of its grandiose dance clubs. Locals love Moog for its party-all-night vibe, and Razzmatazz features several rooms pulsing with either upbeat techno or famous live bands. Just be sure to bring your credit card; you’ll want to indulge in a few farewell cocktails.