With only a few hours to spare in Barcelona, it's a challenge fitting in the "must-sees," as well as the off-the-beaten-path nooks and crannies that allow you to truly experience all that the city has to offer. This guide will help you make the most of your short stay in Barcelona, as you explore the old and the new parts of this Spanish city.
Barcelona by day — Photo courtesy of Mariah Quesada
If you only have half a day in Barcelona, then start in Ciutat Vella, where the city's history begins. Specifically, head to the Gothic Quarter. The Gothic Quarter is what the city used to be before it expanded, so if you're into history and architecture and local culture, this is the perfect area to spend your time. If you're not one for walking tours, be sure to get a map, as it can be hard to navigate through the windy alleyways and cobblestone streets.
Look for Plaza Sant Felip Neri, where you'll be able to see remnants in the stone walls from bombs that were dropped during World War II. Then, grab a drink or a coffee on the small terrace of the Neri Hotel, which is situated in the Plaza, or head up to their rooftop patio, which is an excellent place to relax.
Other parts of the Gothic Quarter worth checking out include the Cathedral La Seu - a gorgeous, Gothic-style church and, if you want to see a smaller yet equally as breathtaking sight, Plaza Del Pi. Walk inside Santa Marta Del Pi Church.
Once you're ready to change neighborhoods, hop over to the Born or the Raval for a local tapas lunch (time permitting), either on Paseeig Del Born or Rambla Del Raval. Then take a quick taxi or metro ride to the "newer" areas of Barcelona and check out Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera and Park Guell, depending on time.
There are so many Gaudi highlights that it'll be hard to see them all in such a short period, but keep in mind that you don't have to go inside each building. The outsides are breathtaking. If you choose to go into just one, enter the Sagrada Familia, but be sure to buy tickets in advance online in order to avoid the long lines.
Park Guell is also a fun place to walk around, and if you have kids, the Gaudi Experience is a really fun and quick way to learn about the famous architect in an interactive and exciting setting.
It's hard to see everything in Barcelona in just a half-day visit, but if you start with the old and make your way into the new, it's a nice way to see the city's transition and evolution throughout the years.