One Day in Barcelona

by Sarah de Winne
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Barcelona is the vibrant and captivating capital city of Catalonia located in the north-eastern region of Spain, along the picturesque Mediterranean coast.  Renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and a unique blend of modernity and tradition, our one day in Barcelona walking itinerary offers a perfect introduction to this must-visit European city.

Discover the best of this vast city on foot with our one day in Barcelona walking itinerary.  In one day, we explored the landmarks and alleyways of the Old Gothic Quarter, marvelled at the modernist wonders of Gaudí’s architecture and experienced local culture and cuisine in La Boqueria market.

Streets of Barcelona
Streets of Barcelona

Our one day in Barcelona walking itinerary ensures you won’t miss out on the city’s most iconic landmarks and provides a true taste of Barcelona’s culture, architecture, and vibrant street life. So, lace up your walking shoes and get ready to uncover the heart of this magnificent city in just one day!

Tried and Tested One Day in Barcelona Walking Itinerary

The beautiful and enchanting city of Barcelona has a rich architectural legacy and is home to nine impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Our day-long exploration of the city led us on a remarkable 18-kilometer journey through its historic streets, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the authentic tapestry of Barcelona’s cultural and architectural heritage.

Barcelona Rooftops
Barcelona Rooftops

Whilst our steps couldn’t cover every enchanting corner of this captivating city, our one day in Barcelona walking itinerary served as a wonderful introduction to its historic gems and vibrant atmosphere.

1. Barcelona from Cruise Port: Moll Adossat Terminals

Our one day in Barcelona started at the cruise port (Moll Adossat terminals) as Barcelona was the last destination on our MSC World Europa cruise.

To reach Barcelona from the cruise terminal, we chose to walk. It took about 50 minutes to arrive at the Christopher Columbus Monument that is located at the port end of Las Ramblas (one of the main streets in Barcelona).

Barcelona Cruise Terminal
Barcelona Cruise Terminal

For the return journey, we took the blue Cruise Bus Barcelona that connects the Portal de la Pau in front of the World Trade Center Barcelona with the Moll Adossat cruise terminals A, B, C, D & E.  This location is approximately a 7-minute walk from the Christopher Columbus Monument.

Cruise Bus Barcelona
Cruise Bus Barcelona

A one-way ticket on the Cruise Bus Barcelona was 3 Euros (4.50 Euros for a day return ticket) which was much cheaper than the cruise operated transfer coach that picks up and drops off at the same location. 

2. Christopher Columbus Monument, Barcelona (Mirador de Colom)

The Christopher Columbus Monument is a 60-meter-high column that was erected for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair to honour the famous explorer.

This bronze statue is located at the bottom of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas street on the spot where Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the Americas.  We enjoyed looking at the intricate details on the exterior of the Christopher Columbus monument for free.

Christopher Columbus Monument Barcelona
Christopher Columbus Monument Barcelona

However, if you are not afraid of heights the column hides a secret!  At the top of the Christopher Columbus monument is a viewing platform that is accessible by lift.  In addition to learning more about the monument, there are stunning views of Barcelona from the panoramic platform.

To get a unique bird’s eye view of Barcelona, click on the link below for ticketing options:

3. Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy (Basílica de la Mercè) – Gothic Quarter of Barcelona

Located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona on the Plaça de la Mercè, we stumbled upon the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy

Basílica de la Mercè Barcelona
Basílica de la Mercè Barcelona

This Basilica was peaceful and well-preserved with ornate Baroque architecture.  It was also free to visit, and we got the impression that it was relatively overlooked compared to Barcelona’s other more famous churches and cathedrals.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy is dedicated to the patron saint of Barcelona – Our Lady of Mercé (the Virgin Mary).  Inside, we discovered the statue of the Virgin of Mercé, which is carried in a procession during the Mercé festival in September. A few locals were waiting their turn to process past the statue and say a prayer.

Our Lady of Mercé Barcelona
Our Lady of Mercé Barcelona

Thanks to a legend dating back to medieval times, the Basilica became an important place of pilgrimage for the people of Barcelona and beyond.  Apparently, the Virgin Mary appeared to a merchant and asked him to build a church in her honour after the people of Barcelona asked her for protection against the plague and pirates.

4. Bishop’s Bridge (El Pont del Bisbe), Barcelona

After visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy, we continued to wind our way through the streets of the Gothic Quarter towards the Bishop’s Bridge (El Pont del Bisbe).  This beautiful bridge is much photographed and looks much older than it actually is!

Bishop’s Bridge Barcelona
Bishop’s Bridge Barcelona

In fact, the Bishop’s Bridge was built this century in 1928 by Joan Rubió i Bellver and is surrounded by another local legend.

Apparently, the architect was so annoyed that his other building plans were rejected by the city that he cursed the bridge with a skull and dagger.  You can still see this skull and dagger design underneath the bridge. Don’t look up if you want to avoid bad luck!

5. Ardiaca House (La Casa de l’Ardiaca)

Hidden away in the shadows of Barcelona Cathedral, I was intrigued by the sight of a beautiful marble letterbox unusually decorated with a coat of arms, swallows, and a turtle. 

Letterbox La Casa- de l'Ardiaca Barcelona
Letterbox La Casa- de l’Ardiaca Barcelona

The door of the building was open, so we went inside and found ourselves in a beautiful porticoed courtyard with a working fountain and hanging greenery.  Unbeknown to us, we had stumbled upon the Casa de l’Ardiaca quite by chance.

Courtyard La Casa de l'Ardiaca Barcelona
Courtyard La Casa de l’Ardiaca Barcelona

Ardiaca House was once the Archdeacon’s residence but is now home to the city’s historical archives and is free to visit. 

Ardiaca House House Tiled Staircase Barcelona
Ardiaca House House Tiled Staircase Barcelona

The staircase from the courtyard has beautiful tiling and leads to a small terrace giving a different perspective on Barcelona Cathedral.  Ardiaca House was a peaceful place to visit and recover from sightseeing and the crowds.

6. Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral is a stunning Gothic cathedral that was built from the 13th to 15th centuries in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.

Unfortunately, we could only admire the cathedral from the outside on the day we visited as we were unaware that timed tickets needed to be purchased in advance!

Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral

Undoubtedly, Barcelona Cathedral is an imposing building with intricate Gothic details and an almost foreboding feeling.  Just by looking at Barcelona Cathedral, you can tell that it is steeped in history, and we can’t wait to go back and discover the inside of this ancient landmark.

If like us, you want to avoid disappointment, click on the link below to secure your tickets in advance!

7. Catalonia Square (Plaça de Catalunya), Barcelona

After a short 10-minute walk from Barcelona Cathedral we found ourselves in Barcelona’s main square, the Plaça de Catalunya or Catalonia Square.

Plaça de Catalunya Barcelona
Plaça de Catalunya Barcelona

This busy square is the heart of Barcelona and separates the Ciutat Vella and the Eixample.  In addition to being a popular meeting place and a lively shopping area, the Plaça de Catalunya has several well-known sculptures and a fountain.

For us, the Plaça de Catalunya also connected with the Passeig de Gràcia which is home to several of Gaudí’s famous buildings in Barcelona that we wanted to visit.

8. Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona

From the Plaça de Catalunya, we followed the Passeig de Gràcia which is Barcelona’s famous luxury shopping street.

Passeig de Gràcia Barcelona
Passeig de Gràcia Barcelona

In addition to prestigious high-end shops, many iconic buildings are also situated along the Passeig de Gràcia.  These include Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Casa Milà (La Pedrera) which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, plus the Casa Lleó i Morera.

9. Casa Batlló by Gaudí, Barcelona

Gaudí’s Casa Batlló was built between 1904 and 1906 and is located on the Passeig de Gràcia, a 10-minute walk from the Plaça de Catalunya.

The unique façade of Gaudí’s Casa Battló or the House of Bones (Casa dels ossos) is another building that impresses from the outside even if you don’t have time to visit inside.

Casa Battló Barcelona
Casa Battló Barcelona

Casa Battló is a masterpiece that ignites your imagination.  Gaudí never explained the meaning of his work, so it was fun standing across the street and letting our imaginations run riot with our own interpretations.

At first the marine colours appeared to invoke the colours of the sea.  However, on closer inspection perhaps the roof is the scales of a dragon with the hilt of a sword (a cross) plunged into its back?  Also, are the balconies the dragon’s bones or theatrical masks?

If you have time to visit the interior museum of this UNESCO World Heritage site, we highly recommend that you consider booking your tickets in advance using the link below.

10. Casa Milà (La Pedrera) by Gaudí, Barcelona

Less than 10 minutes further along the Passeig de Gràcia, we also stopped to admire Gaudí’s Casa Milà that was designed by Gaudí in his professional prime.

The Casa Milà is also known as La Pedrera (The Stone Quarry) as the façade of this corner street building resembles an open quarry.  Looking at the Casa Milà is a bit like looking at a jagged face of a quarry or stony cliff, but the stone and ironwork has also been transformed into graceful, twisted forms.

Casa Milà Barcelona
Casa Milà Barcelona

Sadly, we only had time to admire the façade of the Casa Milà but intend to return to Barcelona to explore what’s inside at another time.  If you have time to visit Casa Milà’s sunning interior during your trip, don’t miss out by booking in advance using the link below.

11. Sagrada Família by Gaudí, Barcelona

To finish our tour of the exterior of Gaudí’s architectural wonders in Barcelona, we enjoyed the 20-minute walk through the streets of Barcelona to the Sagrada Família.

Even though it is still unfinished, the outside of the Sagrada Família simply takes your breath away.  Everywhere you look, there are unfathomable intricate details.  This sprawling Basilica with towers reaching to the heavens is unlike any other in the world.

Sagrada Familia Barcelona
Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Amazingly, Gaudí started work on the Sagrada Família in 1883 and the Basilica is still under construction today.

Unfortunately, we did not realise that you need to book tickets in advance to go inside the magnificent Sagrada Família, so we missed out!  To avoid disappointment on your visit to Barcelona, book your tickets in advance by clicking on the link below.

12. Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Las Ramblas is one of the most well-known streets in Barcelona and is lined with restaurants, shops, and markets. We decided to head back to Las Ramblas so that we were within reach of the port at the end of our day in Barcelona.

Metro Sagrada Familia Barcelona
Metro Sagrada Familia Barcelona

To reach Las Ramblas from the Sagrada Família, we decided to save our feet and take the Metro.  To do this, we took the blue Line 5 from Sagrada Família to Diagonal and then changed onto the green Line 3 to Liceu.

13. La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Close to the Liceu Metro station in Las Ramblas, we stumbled upon the La Boqueria Market

La Boqueria Market Barcelona
La Boqueria Market Barcelona

La Boqueria is Barcelona’s most famous market and is popular with locals and visitors to Barcelona.  Interestingly, La Boqueria is also very old as records suggest that buying and selling food has taken place on this site since the 1200s.

Local Specialties La Boqueria Market Barcelona
Local Specialties La Boqueria Market Barcelona

We loved walking around the lively La Boqueria.  It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere and to discover and taste local specialties! It was also a great way to end our one day in Barcelona.

Final Thoughts on Our One Day in Barcelona

Exploring Barcelona in a single day is like embarking on a whirlwind journey through a treasure trove of history, culture, and architectural marvels. From wandering the enchanting alleys of the Gothic Quarter to marvelling at Gaudí’s whimsical creations, this city never ceases to amaze.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Barcelona
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Barcelona

While a day is just a glimpse into what Barcelona has to offer, the memories we forged during this short adventure will stay with us, inspiring future visits to delve deeper into its rich tapestry of experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions About One Day in Barcelona

One Day in Barcelona from Cruise Port

One day in Barcelona from cruise port is possible by transfer bus, taxi, or on foot.  Transfer bus options include cruise liner operated coaches, or the cheaper Cruise Bus Barcelona.  Both serve cruise terminals A, B, C, D & E and drop off in front of the World Trade Center.  The walk is 40 minutes.

Cruise Bus Barcelona
Cruise Bus Barcelona

Is Barcelona Easy to Walk Around?

Barcelona is easy to walk around but be aware that the city centre is not compact.  The city’s landmarks are spread out over a wide area, so walking around Barcelona will take time and energy.  If you are only visiting Barcelona for one day, you will see and experience more by public transport.

Public Transport Barcelona
Public Transport Barcelona

Can You Do Barcelona in 1 Day?

You can do Barcelona in 1 day, but you will not be able to enjoy everything that the city has to offer.  One day in Barcelona will give you a sense of the city and enable you to appreciate some of the landmarks.  To really experience what Barcelona has to offer, a longer stay is more advisable.

Park Güell Barcelona
Park Güell Barcelona

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