Two days in Barcelona is short but sweet. In June 2019 my girlfriend and I took a short, tightly budgeted, 2-day trip to Barcelona. By planning our stay well and sticking to our budget we really made the most of the Catalonian capital. Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular cities and for me it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re there for a chilled out, laidback week or a quick city break it’s the ideal place to escape reality. With only 2 days in Barcelona, we made sure to fit in some of the main sites including Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia and, of course some beach time, whilst sticking to a budget and having time for a little relaxation.
This is how we spent our 48 hours in Barcelona.
CASA BATLLO AND CASA MILAN & CIUTADELLA PARK
We decided to kick off our Barcelona adventure with a tour of a couple of famous architect Gaudi’s most famous structures. By tour, I mean we followed a walking tour for free, allowing us to find the buildings easier. Casa Batllo was just a 10 minute walk from our Air B&B, while another of Gaudi’s buildings, Casa Mila was a further 10 minutes along. Both of these buildings are clear Gaudi designs, with the classic curved edges style that the architect is famed for. Tourists can pay to enter both buildings, if you have the time and budget it’s worth it. However, if you’re on a tight budget it’s best to save your pennies for a wander around Parc Guell or Sagrada Familia instead.
Arc du Triomph & Ciutadella PARK
The Arc du Triomph in Paris may get more attention, but Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf is surrounded by palm trees, sunny blue skies and 30 degree heat, making it arguably even more beautiful. The arc was built as a gateway to the Universal Exhibition held in Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park in 1888, and since then it’s become one of the city’s iconic landmarks. Following our visit ot the Arc de Triomf, we decided we should have lunch outside in the sun
Ciutadella Park is just at the end of the palm-lined street leading to the Arc de Triomf, and home to one of the city’s most iconic photo spots. The Cascada Monumental is a huge fountain surrounded by shrubbery and topped with a golden sculpture. While we ate, there were a few buskers in the park one playing guitar, the other playing a violin creating a fantastic atmosphere, giving me fantastic holiday vibes.
Parc Guell is an unusual yet an enchanting masterpiece, one of Barcelona’s most jaw-dropping destinations. We walked around the outer area for no admission fee before deciding it would be worth the money to enter. To get the real Parc Guell experience we were advised by a tour guide to book a slot for access to the Monumental Zone. We booked well in advance to avoid missing out on one of the most classic Instagram opportunities in Barcelona. Once inside, we took photos from a curved, tiled bench which allowed us to take in the breath-taking views of Parc Guell.
While I’m abroad I love to get a feel for how the locals live. To do this we wandered aimlessly for 2 hours through the narrow, cobbled streets, looking up at the charming buildings, often colourful and decorated with colourful plants and shrubbery. The Gothic Quarter is overrun with countless quaint little shops, restaurants and cafes that allowed us to take a break from the constant walking a grab a cold drink. It seems impossible if you’ve ever been to Barcelona, but we actually accidentally stumbled across the Barcelona 14th century Gothic Cathedral while walking through this area. This part of Barcelona is full of hidden secrets and low prices making it and one of my favourite areas of the city.
For anyone that wants to get a feel for local living or just loves food, a stop at Mercat de la Boqueria is essential. Serving all things Catalan from colourful fruits and juices to baked goods, meats and fresh seafood, the market is huge and you certainly won’t leave here hungry. We grabbed fresh juice from one of the many stalls for just a euro and picked up a few items for breakfast the next morning. We found a nice, green grassy area to sit at, allowing us to watch and absorb the culture and happenings of the market.
No trip to Barcelona is complete without seeing Gaudi’s main masterpiece and the city’s most famous attraction up close. Work began to build the structure in 1882 and is still uncompleted. The Sagrada Familia is one of the most impressive pieces of architecture that I have ever seen. From the moment you leave the metro station at the Sagrada Familia stop, you see the immense structure emerge from the escalator. We made our way into the little park in front of the church for the best view from between the trees and across a small green lake. To get inside the church we had to book tickets, we booked the tickets before we went on the trip to ensure we got inside.
In the dying hours of the second day we decided that a relaxing few hours on Barceloneta beach was needed. We hopped on the metro which stops about a 10-minute walk down the road to the seafront. Barceloneta is the city’s main beach, and in the height of summer it gets seriously packed but in the evening numbers decrease. Spending our final few hours in the sunlight with a few beers from a local shop was the ideal end to the trip before heading back to dreary, cold home.
Barcelona is an amazing city with a lot more to offer than what I’ve just talked about! Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to do all the activities that we wanted, so we have decided to return soon for a longer stay!
Jamie Doran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram – @jamiedoran96