Barcelona, Spain is an amazing city to explore. You need at least several days to explore the city and really experience all that makes Barcelona so unique. In fact, it took me 3 different trips and over 15 days to truly get to the heart of the city. But maybe you have less time. Maybe you’re on a cruise stop in Barcelona or on a short weekend break to Barcelona. If you only have 36 hours in Barcelona, then I have 36 amazing things to do!
This post is meant as an inspiration for all the amazing things you can do in Barcelona in a short time. Some things can be combined, only will take a minute, or take a huge chunk of your day. I don’t suggest trying all these 36 things in just one day.
Make sure to leave some things to do for next time!
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36 hours in Barcelona, is it enough?
I can beat around the bush but it’s not. But if 36 hours is all you have, then let’s make the most of it. Below are 36 amazing things to do in Barcelona to get a first feel of the city.
Of course, I don’t know exactly what time you’ll arrive in Barcelona and when you have to leave again. For the purpose of showcasing the best 36 things to do in Barcelona, I base myself on an arrival time of 9 am in the city on day one. That means we have until 9 pm the following day to explore and take in these 36 things to do!
36 Things to Do in Barcelona in 36 Hours
Get ready for a whirlwind tour of Barcelona! Here are my recommendations for 36 hours in the city.
1. Only pay 1 Euro for your transport ticket
From the airport, you need to get to the city. Did you know you can just take the normal bus or train and not pay more than 1 euro for your ticket? You’ll arrive in the center of town by bus or by train for as little as 1 euro. This is my ultimate Barcelona Budget Tip.
2. Walk Passeig de Gracia
One of the main streets in Barcelona that connects many of the highlights of the city. A must-do if you want to see Barcelona in 36 hours. Walk along this broad avenue. Admire the boutique shops and amazing Modernist buildings like Casa Battlo and Casa Mila (or La Pedrera, 2 names for the same building).
3. Keep an eye out for the amazing Doors of Barcelona
A lot of the houses and buildings in Barcelona are spectacular by design. But even the non-extraordinary houses of Barcelona have a great show stopper: the doors. Barcelona is filled with fun, quirky, modernist and extravagant doors. Make sure to keep an eye out for them when you walk through Barcelona!
4. Visit one of the famous Gaudi houses, like Casa Battlo or Casa Mila
If you only have 36 hours in Barcelona, I recommend choosing one of the Gaudi houses to visit. Mainly because they are expensive and do take up at least 2 hours to fully explore.
If money is not a problem, by all means, do visit both as I found them quite different. Each of them shows a different period of Gaudi’s works.
They do have things in common which is fun to recognize but they are both very unique. Because you’re now on the Passeig de Gracia, you’ll find Casa Battlo on one side of the street.
Casa Batllo is the colorful building with the masquerade-style balconies. Inside you’ll feel like you’re entering an underwater world with the main staircase being covered in blue tiles. I recommend taking the audio tour as they explain all kinds of fun facts about the building and the problems Gaudi had to overcome remodeling the house.
Be smart and book your skip-the-line-tickets in advance.
Almost opposite from the Casa Battlo, you’ll find Casa Mila, or la Pedrera. This is a vast building with 2 courtyards and is still being used by residents! Even today. Go through the collection of Modernist furniture and end at the roof. Not only you’ll have spectacular views across Barcelona, but the chimneys make for very fun photographs.
You’ll only have 36 hours in Barcelona, so don’t waste them by waiting in line. Buy your tickets in advance.
5. Hop on and hop off the bus as much as you like
From the Casa Mila, it’s easy to hop on one of the hop-on-hop-off buses of Barcelona. The bus takes you around town and stops at all the major tourist attractions.
It is super convenient when you have little time or are too tired to walk everywhere. Buy a 24h or 48h ticket and you’re good to go for the rest of the day. I wrote an in-depth guide, explaining the prices, routes, and things to see.
6. Explore the Sagrada Familia
Hop off the bus at the Sagrada Familia. A must-see when you visit Barcelona. Walk around it, admire it from the park opposite the church but the best thing is to see it from the inside.
They are making progress on finishing it but the interior is already magnificent. Purchase your skip-the-line Sagrada Familia tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait. In my opinion, you don’t need a tour but an audio guide can be useful.
7. Marvel at the colorful mosaics at Park Güell
Maybe today is a bit of a Gaudi day, but you’ll want to see as much of the highlights of Barcelona in 36 hours as possible. Take the hop on hop off bus and explore the Park Güell. Marvel at all the colorful mosaics at the monumental part, or explore the rest of the park for free.
Read more about the Park Güell and what to see and do there.
8. Learn about Gaudi with the interactive Gaudi experience
You’ve seen a lot of Gaudi today and he definitely left his mark on Barcelona. But who was he? And why was he so important as a modernist architect? Learn all about Gaudi at the interactive 4D experience near the Park Güell.
9. Explore lesser-known Gaudi at Torre Bellesguard
The Torre Bellesguard is located next to the Park Güell. It’s one of Gaudi’s lesser-known works but you can take an audio guide (or go on a guided tour but they run once a week). This Gaudi house was used as a test case for all the problems Gaudi had to overcome with the Sagrada Familia. You’ll see straight lines in this Gaudi Building!
10. Get lost in the Barrio Gothic
Head back to the old town and dive head first into the Barrio Gothic. Explore the narrow streets and just get lost. Walk past small boutiques, try slices of cured ham and shop for souvenirs. Or just take in the vibe of the city.
11. Stumble upon a farmer’s market in Barcelona
If you walk around in Barcelona, keep your eyes open for small gatherings of stalls and people. On several occasions, I bumped into farmer’s markets or flea markets in Barcelona. Great for shopping or getting some snacks.
For a couple of euros, try a glass of cava or a cone filled with several kinds of cheese. I found these impromptu experiences one of the best I had in Barcelona.
12. Eat Churros
The best place to eat churros in Barcelona is a small hole in the wall in the Gothic Quarter.
But there are numerous other places that serve this delicious sweet doughy treat. Dip it in melted chocolate or just eat with a pinch of extra sugar. Mmmhhh divine.
13. See Barcelona Cathedral
If you do get lost, just follow the signs for the Cathedral of Barcelona. The square is a good orientation point for you. But now we’re here, why not pop your head in and explore the main cathedral of Barcelona.
The garden is a nice quiet retreat from the busy streets and of course, you have to walk around it for amazing views.
14. Write a postcard home from Barcelona
Near Palau the Musica, you’ll find a bunch of the cutest book stores you’ll ever see. They have the standard postcards but also some unique finds. Pick a few postcards and write one home. As an avid post crosser, I always send postcards when I can. So even if you only have 36 hours in Barcelona, write one!
15. Explore the Picasso Museum
If you’re into art, a visit to the Picasso Museum is on your list for your time in Barcelona. Given you only have 36 hours, you might want to see the highlights and not spend the whole afternoon there, but the top pieces of the collection are worth it.
16. Eat tapas
Are you hungry yet? Yes, it is time to get some food. But where to start? I strongly recommend joining a food tour in any Spanish (or Catalan) city you’ll visit.
Preferable on your first day or evening. This way, you’ll have great company, delicious food and you’ll learn the insider tricks for the rest of your stay.
17. Drink delicious Spanish wine
On the food tour, you’ll not only eat. Of course, there is plenty to drink too. Taste the wines, explore sangria, cava or opt for a glass of tinto de verano.
18. Go to a flamenco show
The night is still young in Barcelona! I experienced an evening of Flamenco dance at the Palau de la Musica and found it a truly unique experience.
The music, the dance, but mostly the fire and passion of the performers. Check the schedule and find a flamenco experience
19. Dance the night away at one of Barcelona’s nightlife hang-outs
Now it’s time for you to dance. Or just sit back and relax and order some nice cocktails. The night is still young and in Barcelona, you’ll have all night to go club hopping or bar crawling.
20. Pop a bottle of Cava
While you’re out and about in Barcelona’s nightlife, why not order a bottle of Cava? This fizzy wine is delicious for those warm Barcelona nights. Mmmhhh cava!
Make your hours in Barcelona count and enjoy Barcelona nightlife, but we still have a busy day tomorrow.
21. Enjoy breakfast with pan con tomato
After your first day in Barcelona, it’s time for some much-needed sleep! I can recommend the Eco Boutique Hostal Grau. Just a few streets from Las Ramblas, I found this boutique hotel great value for money, and the staff was super friendly. Added bonus: its convenient location!
In the morning, head out to get some breakfast. A Spanish favorite is pan (or tostado) con tomato. Basically a toasted piece of bread, with some tomato spread. Drizzle with some olive oil and a pinch of salt or pepper and dig in! Enjoy!
22. Walk around Olympic History at Montjuïc
Early morning for your 2nd and final day in Barcelona. Head out to Montjuïc and explore the hill. Walk in the shade, explore the botanic gardens and see the sights of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The old Olympic track is partly open to visit and the sight of the Olympic flame gives great photo opts.
23. Admire the view of Montjuïc
From Montjuïc, you’ll have amazing views of the city of Barcelona. See where you’ve been so far and where you still want to go. The views down from the National Museum of Catalan Art towards the Plaza d’Espayna are particularly spectacular!
24. Watch the fountain at Montjuïc
The best thing is to see the fountain of Montjuïc at night. During most part of the year, they put up a show when it gets dark of light, music and amazing fountain effects. But if you don’t happen to be around it at night, then it’s still a pretty cool spot to hang around, watch the children play or take photos around the fountains.
25. Take the cable car to the harbor
From Montjuïc you can take the funicular down to the harbor. Even more spectacular views and a great way to transport yourself!
Book your Cable Car Ticket in advance.
26. Bike along the beaches of La Barceloneta
Barcelona is actually quite bicycle friendly. The beach of Barceloneta is perfect to explore by bike. Either choose a regular bike or e-bike, just go! You can rent a bike and follow your own path, or join a guided bike tour of the area.
27. Go shopping in Barcelona!
I’m throwing this in here but you can do it any time you want! Either on Passeig de Gracia, in the Gothic Quarter, or around the harbor. In small streets, big avenues or souvenir shops. Barcelona is stocked aplenty with nice stuff, gadgets, and trinkets. Go shopping!
28. Buy your lunch at La Boqueria food market
Is it time for food again? Yes, please! Go to the famous Boqueria food market and indulge your senses with all the smells and noises of a food market. Sit down and order food or shop for the best hams, olives, and cheese for your lunch.
29. No habla Español! Habla Catalán
Don’t speak Spanish, speak Catalan. Whenever you walk around in Barcelona, you’ll pick up on some Spanish. But is it really Spanish? The people of Barcelona speak Catalan. Try to pick some up and try to say hello (also Hola) or thank you (gràcies) in Catalan. A little goes a long way.
30. Enjoy the Parc de la Ciutadella
Take your picnic lunch and enjoy the Parc de la Ciutadella. Or just stroll through it without your lunch. Massive water parties, lush green patches to escape the afternoon heat and that famous Arch of Triumph that looks so iconic. Make sure to snap a picture for Instagram here!
31. Toast on 36 hours in Barcelona high above in the Columbus Monument
Back at the harbor, you can head up the Columbus Monument and take in the views of most of Barcelona. A visit is included in the Gaudi Pass. Read all about the pass here. A glass of wine is included in the ticket so you can toast on your 36 hours in Barcelona.
32. Walk along Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is famous and notorious in Barcelona. You must see this broad pedestrian avenue during your 36 hours in Barcelona. Be aware of pickpockets and don’t sit down for lunch or dinner, it is too expensive. Do look around at the buildings, the people and the lively atmosphere.
33. Marvel at the street performers of Las Ramblas
Take some spare coins with you and admire the street performers at Las Ramblas. Most of them are true entertainers and go through a lot of trouble. Don’t snap any pictures of them without paying.
34. Get hungry at the chocolate museum
Mmmhhh chocolate! Yes, Barcelona has a chocolate museum! Housed in a former convent, the Museu de la Xocolata is a delicious museum where you learn all about cacao and chocolate and how it came to Europe. They also offer workshops if you have more time.
35. Tour the Barcelona Opera at Liceu Theater or Palau de la Musica
Just off the Ramblas, you’ll find the Opera of Barcelona. Completely burned down and rebuilt, you can now tour this amazing Opera house of Barcelona. Marvel at the grand entry hall and the amazing ceiling. I found the tour quite interesting as the tour guide is really good and offers all these little facts and details.
Another great place to visit is the Palau de la Musica. I saw a flamenco show in Palau, but if you’re not that lucky, you can also see Palau theatre on a guided tour. Stained glass, amazing acoustics, and an impressive history! A must-see for all cultural lovers
36. Count sticks of Pintxos
Are you hungry again? Before you’re 36 hours in Barcelona are over, get some bites to eat. Sit down at one of the tapas or pintxos bars and order some delicious treats! At the end of the evening, you’ll gather your sticks, and that’s how much you need to pay.
Pintxos are lavishly decorated pieces of bread and they come in all kinds of options (meat, fish, vegan). I’d like to go with the chef’s special as they are little mouthfuls of culinary treats!
Read my tips on solo dining in Barcelona without feeling super awkward.
Things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona
Wow, did we really do 36 things in 36 hours? How is that even possible? The above suggestions are possible in 36 hours but you might feel a bit rushed. You might notice that time in Barcelona is an elastic concept.
Tapas lunch can last for over 3 hours. Walking and taking in the city can take all day. The above things to do in Barcelona are just suggestions for your 36 hours in the city. Give it a try but make sure to leave some things to do in Barcelona to come back!
Have more time in Barcelona? Consider a day trip to Montserrat by train.
How much time do you have to explore Barcelona? What is on the top of your must-see list? Share your experiences in the comment section below.