One of the beautiful things about living in London is that it’s a great starting point for all kinds of travel. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next European city break, look no further: we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide to visiting Barcelona from London. We’ve picked out some of the coolest things to do in Barcelona, along with ideas for places to eat for a truly authentic experience. With our comprehensive guide to Barcelona, you can keep planning to a minimum and concentrate on having a brilliant time.
How to get to Barcelona
Modern-day travel networks make getting to Barcelona super easy and not expensive. The best way to travel, especially for a short, affordable break, is to fly from London to Barcelona. This route will give you the most flexibility, as there are several London airports to choose from and a substantial number of airlines flying the route – 13 to be exact! You may find flights are cheaper from London airports than the smaller, regional ones. Once you arrive, the airport is well connected either via the city’s Aerobús or taxi if you’re in a rush or prefer the tranquillity.
Day 1: Explore the historic heart of Barcelona
La Rambla is probably the most famous street in the whole of Barcelona, so it’s the perfect place to begin exploring. There are loads of local cafes lining the boulevard, ideal for grabbing some breakfast and a coffee and doing a bit of people-watching while you settle in and get your bearings.
La Rambla is also home to Mercat de la Boqueria, a bustling food market where you can try a host of traditional Spanish foods and soak up the local atmosphere. The market has been at the heart of Barcelona since 1836 and there are over 200 stalls to explore. Some people go as far as to call it the best market in the world.
From the market, stroll through Barcelona’s gothic quarter admiring the architecture and historic landmarks like Barcelona Cathedral and Plaça Sant Jaume. If you’re feeling peckish, take a break at one of the many local tapas restaurants in the area. (Top tip: Barcelona has a lot of very tall buildings and it’s hard to appreciate their beauty and scale from the ground. If you have time, an open-top bus tour is a great way to get closer to the details and gain a new perspective on the city.)
In the afternoon, head to the Parc de la Ciutadella and take a walk to balance out all those market treats and the tapas lunch. Don’t miss the iconic Cascada fountain. From there, head to the Picasso Museum – open Tuesday – Sunday from 9am to 8pm. Then it’s time for dinner! We recommend a wander around the El Born district for local Catalan cuisine.
Day 2: Modernist marvels and beach time
By now you should be well immersed in the local culture, so it’s time to indulge in some classic Barcelona in the form of Gaudí. Gaudí’s bright and bold architecture is synonymous with Spain and no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a tour of some of his most iconic designs.
Start off at the Sagrada Familia basilica, getting there as early as you can to beat the crowds as it can get very busy. You can purchase your tickets online in advance, and they include an online audioguide, which you can download to your phone via the Sagrada Familia app before you go. Head from there to Casa Batllo, another Gaudí masterpiece.
For lunch we recommend somewhere along the Passeig de Gràcia, well known for a good range of restaurants, then it’s time to dive right back into Gaudí with a post-lunch stroll around Park Güell, another Gaudí creation. Marvel at the colourful mosaics, whimsical architecture and panoramic views of the city, and enjoy a siesta in the shade if the fancy takes you.
If all this exploring has left you feeling a little hot and bothered, head to Barceloneta Beach for some relaxation in the afternoon. Rent sunbeds and don’t forget to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Stay in Barceloneta for dinner to take advantage of the amazing beachfront restaurants and the fresh local seafood options. Paella is a classic Spanish dish, or you could choose some fresh grilled fish and a crisp white wine to enjoy with the sea views.
Day 3: Montjuïc and local flavours
It’s your final day in Barcelona, so our itinerary today makes the most of the time you have left. Start early in Montjuïc Park, where you can soak up local art and history by stopping off at the National Art Museum of Catalonia. Next take the cable car on a spectacular trip up to the top of Montjuïc Hill, where you’ll be rewarded with views across the whole city. You’ll also be able to explore Montjuïc Castle, which sits proudly on the top of the hill, the ideal defensive spot. Grab yourself some lunch either in the castle or at one of the nearby cafes and recharge ready for the afternoon.
Once you’re rested, it’s time to explore the local gardens. There are plenty to choose from, including the Botanical Garden, the Joan Brossa Gardens and the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Gardens. While you’re in Montjuïc you’ll also want to pay a visit to Poble Espanyol, an outdoor architectural museum built for the 1929 Universal Exposition. It’s an incredible site – replicas of 117 full-sized buildings characteristic of various parts of Spain. It’s so realistic that it’s been used as a film set! We recommend getting the audio guide to learn more about each of the buildings.
By this point, we imagine you’ll be ready for one final farewell dinner to celebrate the last night of your trip and enjoy the local flavours of Barcelona for one last time. This is your chance to splash out on something a bit special, and you’ve got the whole city to choose from! For a last night meal, we always suggest choosing somewhere that’s close to your accommodation so that you can enjoy some drinks and a late night and not have to worry about travelling too far to get back.
And then all that’s left is to pack your suitcase and head home, full of arts and culture, history and paella!