48 hours in Barcelona

17 Apr 2016

The ultra-cool capital of Catalonia is a perennial favourite for short breaks – and with good reason. Just two hours’ flying time from the UK, Barcelona packs in beaches, art, nightlife and culture, not to mention endless tapas, from the heights of Mount Tibidabo down to the seafront district of Barceloneta.

Here’s how we’d spend a 2-day hotel break in Barcelona.

Day One

Arrival
Barcelona El-Prat Airport has several links directly to the city centre. The Aerobus costs 10.20€, return, and takes 35 minutes, departing every 10 minutes. The train is the cheapest option at 2.15€ and gets you to Plaça de Catalunya (in the centre of the city) in 25 minutes.

10am
Flax and Kale
(below) is a favourite brunch spot with locals thanks to its focus on sustainability and healthy options for less than 10€. The restaurant is a short walk from Plaça de Catalunya and the famous La Rambla boulevard, so you can build up an appetite (or work off your breakfast afterwards).

 

A photo posted by Flax & Kale (@flaxandkale) on

2pm
No Barcelona trip would be complete without visiting at least one of Gaudí’s creations. Casa Milà (below, also known as La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló are two of the quirkiest, with the winding stairways and unique architecture synonymous with the artist’s name. Both are on Passeig de Gràcia, which runs northwest from Plaça de Catalunya – you can’t miss them!

6pm
For an authentic Barcelona evening, stay in the Gracia neighbourhood and head to Plaça del Sol. This famous city square, surrounded by charming buildings, is a favourite hangout for locals.

There are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from here, but Café del Sol has great cocktails and is the perfect place for people watching.

9pm
First night in Barcelona – it has to be tapas. We recommend you head a few blocks south to Cerveceria Catalana (below) on Carrer de Mallorca. Remember though, the Spanish do dinner a little later, so don’t be surprised if you get there at 7pm and find it empty. For more of a buzz, dine around 9pm – make sure you order the crispy camembert and huevos cabreados.

 

A photo posted by AXD (@artsxdesign) on

Afterwards take a short taxi ride to Gatsby, an art deco-themed cocktail bar where you can take in a cabaret performance.

Day Two

10am
For a different view of the city, head down to the port and hop on the Transbordador – one of the city’s two cable cars that transports visitors from Barceloneta across the sea to the Torre de Miramar on Montjuïc. It only takes seven minutes but it’s worth it for the spectacular views of the city. Tickets are 11€.

 

A photo posted by @something_funny2002 on

Once at the top, spend the morning discovering the mountain’s Miró Foundation, Montjuïc Castle and botanical gardens.

2pm
Back at the beach, in the Barceloneta area, make the most of the seafood restaurants serving up calamari and gambas. La Mar Salada is the place to get paella here. A family-run restaurant, it serves the full range of seafood delights, including confit cod, monkfish stew and arroz negro at around €15.

After filling up on seafood, take a wander along the Barceloneta beachfront and admire the outdoor artwork as you go – the Homenatge a la Barceloneta (below) and Frank Gehry's Peix (fish) structure stand out.

 

A photo posted by chen (@ccrinn) on

4pm
The Sagrada Família is an absolute must in Barcelona. Construction has been ongoing for over 100 years, yet the epic cathedral is still a work in progress. Explore inside and out and you’ll see why it’s taking so long.

When you’re finished, head a few hundred metres east to the Mercat del Encants on Calle Castillejos. This huge flea market is the place to find antique goods and vintage treasures, many of which are sold in the afternoon auctions. It attracts over 500 vendors with a neverending supply of magical items.

 

A photo posted by @alvashilin on

6pm
For a quick bite before you return to the airport, head to El Nacional. Located near Plaça de Catalunya, it’s a grand room with a variety of different food sections, from cured meats to oysters and cocktails. It’s one of the most divine dining experiences in Barcelona, and a great place to finish your trip.


5 Hotels We Love in Barcelona

The Mirror Barcelona
Where:
In the heart of the Gothic district  
Why we love it:
An intimate design hotel, 15 minute' walk from Gaudi’s Casa Batlló on the Passeig de Gracia. Making Condé Nast Traveller's Hot List in 2012, the hotel has won praise for its service, sleek bar and fresh seafood. Bonus: small rooftop infinity pool.
Click here for prices and availability (rates include exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

ABaC Restaurant & Hotel
Where:
In the upmarket Sarria-sant Gervasi area 
Why we love it:
The ABaC is renowned for its 2-Michelin-star restaurant, not to mention futuristic rooms. The on-site spa is free for guests (treatments are extra). Gaudi’s Parc Güel is a 15-minute walk and Plaza Catalunya is 10 minutes by taxi.
Click here for prices and availability (rates include exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

Vincci Bit 
Where:
Northeast Barcelona, 5 minutes from El Maresme Forum Metro station
Why we love it: Stylish 4-star hotel with a quirky design - each floor is decorated with graffiti murals by Spanish and international designers (see if you can spot the 80s robots on the bookshelves). The beach is a 15-minute walk away.
Click here for prices and availability (rates include exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

Ohla Hotel
Where:
In the Gothic quarter, close to Eixample district
Why we love it: So many reasons. It’s located in a former palace, it has a Michelin-star restaurant and a well-priced tapas bar, plus the Boutique Bar, which was named one of the bets on earth by The Sunday Times. Oh, and a rooftop deck with glass-sided pool.
Click here for prices and availability (rates include exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

Vincci Gala
Where:
Eixample district, near La Rambla
Why we love it: The location for starters, which makes it ultra-convenient for so many of the city’s central sights. Named after the wife and muse of Salvador Dalí, the Vincci Gala has nods to the modernist painter throughout. Most rooms have a terrace.
Click here for prices and availability (rates include exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)


Want more? See all our latest Barcelona hotel deals - many of which come with free extras for Travelzoo members 


This post was written by guest blogger Vicky Philpott, the travel writer behind VickyFlipFlopTravels

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