I don’t know if Barcelona will continue to be part of Spain or not (neutral on the topic), but what I know is that Barcelona is a great city that you should visit at least one. If you have already been there, don’t worry, you can always revisit the city, especially when La Sagrada Família will be completed. Nevertheless, here I present you a 1-week long itinerary in Barcelona. It is based on my 2012 summer holidays, and it includes a bit of everything.
Length: 7 days
Time of the year: Summer – July
Suitable for: Families with teenagers
Difficulty: 1 | 1,5 | 2 | 2,5 | 3
Highlights: Montjuïc, Fundació Joan Miró, Font Màgica de Montjuïc, Museu Picasso, Museu de la Xocolata, CosmoCaixa, La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Camp Nou, Port Aventura, Casa Milà – La Pedrera, Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo, Plaça de Catalunya, La Rambla, La Boqueria
What to book in advance?
- Theme park tickets and some museum tickets. Advanced tickets are usually cheaper than on the door tickets and allow you to skip the queues.
- Train tickets, again to take advantage of the advance prices and other deals that there are online.
- Transportation to and from Barcelona (last minutes deals are also an option).
- Accommodation – especially in high season.
Arrive at your own pace. Relax at your hotel/hostel/apartment/etc. Sort everything out (transportation, visas, etc.) and … Let’s begin! Just for the records, we stayed at the Hotel Evenia Rosselló, and we went to the city centre either on foot or using the metro.
Find your ideal hotel at Booking.com
Waiting for an hour under the heat to get into the cable car that would take you to the Montjuïc Hill may not be the best way to start a trip. But that’s what we did then. But you shouldn’t worry too much. Bring a hat and relax. When you reach the top, the view will be worth it!
How to get there?
There are different ways to get there.
- Cable Car from the Barcelona Port (described above): Get off at Pg Joan de Borbó – Pl del Mar, on the bus route V15.
- Telefèric de Montjuïc: You can reach the entrance at Avenida Miramar 30 using the metro lines L2 and L3 stopping at Paral·lel and then continue via the funicular. If you prefer the bus, use the Av Miramar-Estació del Funicular stop on route 55 or 150.
Find out more about Montjuïc here.
17:30 Fundació Joan Miró
There are many things to do once you are there. We visited the Fundació Joan Miró, a contemporary art museum about Joan Miró. If you see that you are running late, you may want to choose a different activity, as the museum closes at 8 pm during summer.
Alternative: The most popular attraction of the Montjuïc Hill is the Castell de Montjuïc. This is where the Telefèric de Montjuïc drops you and where you can also have great views over the city. In the summer the Castle closes at 7.30 pm.
How to get there (from Montjuïc)?
It’s a 15-minute walk from the Telefèric de Montjuïc. Alternatively get the bus 155 from Castell to Fundació Joan Miró – Pl Neptú.
21:00 Font Màgica de Montjuïc
Font Màgica de Montjuïc is a magnificent light/water show accompanied by music. It lasts 1 hour and starts between 8 pm and 9.30 pm depending on the season. You shouldn’t leave Barcelona without seeing this! Make sure to arrive between half an hour or even an hour earlier to get a spot. It can be very crowded in summer months.
How to get there (from Fundació Joan Miró)?
It’s a 15-minute walk from there. It doesn’t worth taking the bus, as you need to get off after one stop and then continue on foot for another 10 minutes. In general, you can also reach the fountain via metro lines L1 or L3 (Espanya station), or via buses 13, 23, 37, 150, D20, H12 or H16.
Find out more about Font Màgica here.
10:00 Museu Picasso de Barcelona
The Museu Picasso de Barcelona is one of the biggest museums dedicated to Picasso. There you can find a significant amount of his work. So if you’re an art lover, this is a museum you shouldn’t miss and the best way to start your day.
How to get there?
The closest bus stations are Princesa – Montcada and Pl Pons Clerch on route 120. Jaume I metro station is a 5-minute walk away.
Find out more about the Museu Picasso here.
13:30 Museu de la Xocolata
Chocoholic? Then grab your dark chocolate ticket and immerse yourself in the world of chocolate. There you can learn about the history of chocolate creation and admire many chocolate sculptures. The local culture inspires the exhibition, and therefore you should expect to find miniatures of famous monuments made of chocolate.
How to get there (from Museu Picasso)?
You just walk. The two museums are only 300m away. You exit to the Carrer de la Princesa, and then you turn left on to the Carrer del Comerç.
Find out more about the Museu de la Xocolata here.
Next stop of the day is on the other side of the city. It’s a science museum, and since we like science, we decided to give it a go. However, this was the only time that could fit into the plan. Nevertheless the distance that we had to travel (we ended up taking a taxi at the end), it was fun with enjoyable activities.
How to get there (from Museu de la Xocolata)?
The quickest way to reach the museum from Museu de la Xocolata is to get bus 55 or the urban rail line R4 from Pg Lluís Companys – Arc de Triomf until Pl Catalunya – Pg de Gràcia and then get the metro line L7 until Av. Tibidabo. From there you need to walk 10-15 minutes. The easiest way to get there is the bus V15 from the stop Via Laietana – Pl Ramon Berenguer that is 10 minutes from the museum to the Pl Alfonso Comín – Av. República Argentina. From there, you need another 10 minutes. The whole journey using the last option may take up to one hour. Or just take a taxi!
Find out more about CosmoCaixa here (Spanish link).
10:00 Sagrada Família
The most popular of all is this Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished yet structure gets all the spotlight. To experience it fully you need to go there. Unfortunately, it’s on everyone’s diary’s, and this means that it will be crowded. The church has been building for the last 135 years, and it is estimated to finish in 2026, 100 years after Gaudí’s death.
How to get there?
Today we decided that we shouldn’t bother with public transport to move around, so we took a hop-on hop-off bus tour. We had a 24-hour ticket that we used to get on and off, plus it gave us many discounts in attractions, shops and restaurants in Barcelona. We took the bus from its starting point at Plaça Catalunya (for directions there see day 6), and we got off at the Sagrada Familía stop. Why go on a hop-on hop-off bus tour? Check out this post.
Find out more about La Sagrada Família here.
13:00 Park Güell
Our Guidí inspired tour continues at Park Güell, where you can admire some of Guidí’s best artworks. This park features a lot of architectural elements as well as some famous views of the city (for the best views over Barcelona wait until day 5).
How to get there (from La Sagrada Família)?
Use your hop-on hop-off bus ticket to take you there. On the way, you can listen to an informative audio guide in your preferred language.
Find out more about Park Güell here.
16:00 Camp Nou
Finish your day with a visit to the most famous and largest football stadium in Europe. Whether a football fan or not, you should visit the place just to see how huge it is. With a capacity of almost 100 000 people, it housed some of the best football matches. For FC Barcelona fans, a small museum with the history of the team awaits you as part of the stadium tour.
How to get there (from Park Güell)?
The same as above, continue using your hop-on hop-off bus ticket to take you there.
Find out more about Camp Nou here.
10:00 Port Aventura
Spend the day at Port Aventura, the largest amusement park in Spain. Explore the numerous rides it has, featuring different worldwide civilisations. Thrill-seekers won’t be disappointed as the few rides they have in this category are record breakers! Expect (super) long queues (> 1 hour).
Alternative: Amusement parks are not for you? No problem! You may want to visit Montserrat, just off the coastal area of Barcelona. The most famous place in this mountainous range is Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine Abbey, dating from the 10th century AC.
How to get there?
Take the train from Barcelona-Sants station and get off 1 hour and 15 minutes later (approximately) at Port Aventura. The park is a short walk away.
For more day trips and excursions check Viator.
10:00 Casa Milà – La Pedrera
Another architectural design by Antoni Gaudí. This formerly private residence with the unusual facade is more than 100 years old. As of 2013 is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Alternative: If Casa Milà wasn’t enough, then head to the neighbouring Casa Batlló, another private residence designed by Gaudí. Quick trivia: The locals know it as Casa dels ossos, i.e. House of bones, due to the shape of the outside balconies!
How to get there?
The closest metro station is Diagonal. Many buses take you there. Bus 39 stops at Pau Claris – Rosselló; buses 22 and 24 stop at Pg de Grácia – Rosselló; buses V17 and 7 stop at Pg de Grácia – Diagonal and buses 6, 33, 34, H8 and V17 stop at Diagonal – Pau Claris.
Buy your Casa Batlló tickets from AttractionTix to skip the line.
15:00 Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo
One of the oldest parks of its kind in the world, located in the Mount Tibidabo. From all the rides you can enjoy some of the best views of Barcelona. Inside the park, there is the Museu dels Autòmats del Tibidabo, a museum of automata. In July, the park usually opens at 11 am and stays open until 9 pm (weekdays), 11 pm (Saturdays) or 10 pm (Sundays), so if you prefer you can go later in the evening.
Alternative: Next to the park is the 20th century church Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
How to get there (from La Pedrera)?
You’ll need some time to get from La Pedrera to Tibidabo, but the route is enjoyable and uses different means of transport. Take the FGC line L7 from the Diagonal station and get off at Av. Tibidabo, then take the historic Tramvia Blau. Finally, take the Funicular del Tibidabo.
Find out more about Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo here.
Buy your Tibidabo + Funicular tickets from 365Tickets.
10:00 Plaça de Catalunya
Take some time off for shopping at La Rambla. Starting from Plaça de Catalunya continue south-east, towards Columbus Monument. On your way, don’t forget to enter La Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous market. There you can find everything, from meat and fish to delicious fruit and juices.
How to get there?
Metro lines L1 and L3 stop at Catalunya. Buses 22, 24, 41, 47, 55, 62, 66, 67, H16 and V15 stop at various stations named Pl de Catalunya.
Depending on your departure time, you may want to go to a couple of more place in the city. I suggest visiting L’Aquarium de Barcelona, Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona Zoo, Poble Espanyol, L’Estadi Olímpic, or spend some time at the beach at La Barceloneta.
P.S. That was not my first time in Barcelona. I was there the previous year for a few hours. If you want to find out how I spend my short time there, scroll down until you find the Barcelona section in the travel diary 1 Week in Western Mediterranean.