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Half A Day Layover In Barcelona? Here’s How To Enjoy The City To The Maximum

Layover in BCN? It’s time to put the landmarks on pause. This post will sort you out when you’ve ‘only’ got half a day in Barcelona.

Barcelona is the type of place you never get tired of exploring, even if it’s for half a day. There’s something about the city which manages to pull us all into a friendly chokehold every single time. Voluntarily.

The problem, however, is that the majority of guides online are tailored around seeing popular landmarks. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding suggestions for things to do which simply aren’t practical for a short timescale. So what’s the best way to maximise half a day in Barcelona with suggestions that aren’t overly tourist-centric?

Well, I’ve got the lowdown on dribble-worthy breakfast suggestions, an intriguing location to get postcard-like pictures, a spot where you can scoff unlimited tacos, and rooftop views which will make you tear up when it’s time to leave. To put the spotlight on a few.

Barcelona is a place I’ve spent a whole lot of time in. For this very reason, I’m confident you’ll find gems which will make it to the top of your list. I’ve also got your back on the logistics! There’s no confusion over here. We can be certain of that…

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Little Pointers Worth Considering To Make Life Easier

  1. There’s something airlines are particularly cheeky about, and that’s labelling Girona and Reus under ‘Barcelona’ when booking flights. Girona is actually about 50 minutes away via train, and Reus even further. Please keep this in mind when planning a layover or short trip, as it’s going to suck if your hours are cut short due to unfamiliar territory.
  2. Purchasing a ten-journey day pass, also know as the ‘T-casual’, is going to be your best bet for roaming around the streets of Barcelona. You’ll even be able to use any remaining journeys to get back to the airport, but more on this local travel hack further down.
  3. The below suggestions are only one example template, so feel free to mix and match. If you want to substitute any recommendations, a good starting point could be a recent post on unique things to do in Barcelona, if we’re sticking with the non-overly tourist label.
  4. Gluten-Free? Me too. Head over to my post on being gluten-free in Barcelona for a list of food spots to visit!

So You’re At The Airport, Now What?

Undeniably, Barcelona make airports connections easy. As in, a taxi is far from your only option. Unlike other cities, nod to Podgorica. What’s a short 25 minute bus ride when you can save more than half your coins? We’re talking a mere 7 euros if grabbing the Aerobus – an express shuttle service taking you into the likes of Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça de Catalunya. The sweetest part though? These legends operate on a 24 hour basis, every 10-15 minutes.

To pre-purchase or not? Truthfully, there’s no need. You can buy tickets on the bus or with the self-serve machines directly at the stops.

You’ve got other options though. The train line ‘L9’ will take you from both airport terminals to the city, every 7 minutes. It’s worth noting, however, that if you have a T-Casual you won’t be able to use it for airport journeys. The good news, though, is that you can use up a T-Casual on ‘Bus 46’ from Plaça d’Espany, but the downside is the 45 minute journey. Not a route you’ll want to take if you’re racing against the clock.

Seeking Out Breakfast In Barcelona

Arrived in the early hours of the morning? Let’s get your stomach filled up.

I think you’ll like ‘B de Brunch’, a cosy spot close to ‘Plaça de Catalunya’. Yes, B de Brunch somewhat goes into the ‘IG content creator’ target market, but there is actually substance here. Think thick fluffy pancakes with lashings of sauce, freshly SEASONED avocado toast, and hot drinks even the highest of coffee connoisseurs would be pleased with. Finally, a place which doesn’t sacrifice flavoursome grub for camera-worthy interiors and presentation. The balance is just right.

B de Brunch Address: C/ d’Aribau, 186, 08036 Barcelona.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to mention breakfast without a suggestion for my gluten-free readers. Usually, my go-to is ‘Jansana’, but I’ve recently discovered a new, and potentially better, location – Cøliaki. You’ll find this bakery about half an hour from Catalunya, but it’s reachable in 10 minutes by metro if you get off at the Gràcia stop. Cøliaki is a dedicated gluten-free space, so eat in complete peace with the knowledge that your half a day in Barcelona isn’t over before it starts. The word for one of everything is ‘uno de todo’, or ‘un de tot’ by the way…

Cøliaki Address: C/ de Balmes, 217, 08006 Barcelona.

An Unmissable Area To Explore During Half A Day In Barcelona

From the above locations, regardless of whichever you’ve decided to pursue, you won’t be too far from the non-spooky ‘Gothic Quarter’. Despite the medieval neighbourhood’s close proximity to key tourist zones, it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll be able to escape the crowds through questionably narrow streets in ‘Barri Gòtic’. Prepare to forget you’re actually in one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities. It’s that level of enchanting here. The real prize though? The chillingly impressive scenes at ‘Carrer del Paradís’. It would be in your best interests to look up until your neck aches, once you reach the plaza.

Stroll Over To Mercat De Santa Caterina For Supreme Browsing

Did you know that there’s another food market which rivals ‘La Boqueria’? You do now. ‘Santa Caterina’ market is only a few minutes from ‘Carrer del Paradís’, so it would make perfect sense to get lost browsing endless food stands after you’ve done the rounds at ‘The Gothic Quarter’. Whilst both ‘La Boqueria’ and ‘Santa Caterina’ are much-loved, the latter feels more authentic. Oh, and the sampling sessions are unmatched. It’s no wonder food tours thrive within the market.

You’re About To Get In The Clouds With Unlimited Barcelona Mirador

Well, almost. If you consider the 20th floor of a building as being sky high. ‘Unlimited Barcelona Mirador’ is going to offer you pinch-me 360 viewpoints, right from the middle of the city. How does a 10-minute walk from Santa Caterina sound?

Whilst this observation deck is a ticketed affair, the 12 euros fee truthfully feels overly affordable when factoring the insane visuals you’ll witness. In the best way imaginable. Even the bathrooms look like something straight out of a Pinterest board.

Unlimited Barcelona Address: Pl. d’Urquinaona, 6, Planta 20, 08010 Barcelona.

Ready To Eat Your Way Through Bottomless Tacos?

There’s a no-nonsense restaurant in Barcelona with unlimited tacos 7 days a week. Yup. At ‘La Fábrica del Taco’, you’re exposed to taco galore for less than 20 euros. Visiting between Monday to Thursday? Prices are fixed at a cheaper rate. Are these going to be your best tacos? No. However, there’s definitely a novelty in seeing how many tacos you can get down you. The surroundings and drinks also help to make this lunch stop a memorable one. A must-visit for backpacker-friendly Mexican food at a fair price/ratio point.

La Fábrica del Taco Poblenou Address: C/ de Sardenya, 88, 08018 Barcelona.

Let’s Give Our Eyes A Feast At MOCO Museum

Given the large-scale success of the Amsterdam branch, ‘MOCO museum’ has permanently opened doors in Barcelona. I’d describe MOCO as a place where you’ll be shouting ‘oh that’s cool’, every few seconds, given the highly-interactive exhibitions. There’s even features from artists to the levels of Banksy, which helps to understand the vibe of this museum. Whilst guidelines suggest reserving two hours of your day to check out the displays, don’t let this put you off if strapped for time. You can comfortably loop around the venue in an hour*

*Travelling with luggage? You’ll be pleased to know there are luggage storing facilities here.

MOCO Museum Barcelona Address: C/ de Montcada, 25, 08003 Barcelona.

Drinks In A Setting Where You Can Live Your Best Life

Got some time spare before you head back to the airport? Let’s clutch in a quick visit to grab you an alcoholic-or-non-alcholic cocktail. I’ve got two options for you in different locations, so pick your fighter…

First up, we’ve got ‘Eleven BCN‘. This rooftop simply oozes classy. It’s the perfect location to soak up panoramic sights from the 11th floor of NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón. The minimalistic interior and talents of a booming DJ boost scores too.

Eleven BCN Address: Rambla de Catalunya, 26, 08007 Barcelona.

Option two. If you want to sip drinks directly in front of Barcelona’s most iconic landmark, you’ll prefer the rooftop at ‘Hotel Colón Barcelona’. Needless to say, the views are one for the books.

Hotel Colón Barcelona Address: Av. de la Catedral, 7, 08002 Barcelona.

Rounding Off Barcelona In Half A Day

Just like that, you’re jetting off to your next connecting flight or heading back home.

But wait a minute. Down to rebel and extend your time in the city? You might like a free printable pdf on 22 cool things to do in Barcelona. Spontaneous souls I’m talking to you…

Want More Relevant Barcelona Information?

You’re definitely in the right place. If you liked this post, have a browse at the below to help with planning your next trip to Barcelona.

Free Barcelona E-Book. It’s the perfect introduction to all things BCN.

Best Instagram Photography Spots In Barcelona. Pretty backdrop ideas will see you here.

Barcelona On A Budget. An investigation into navigating 2 days in Barcelona with under 150 euros, hotel included. Yes really.

10 Of The Best Places For Food. This guide will take you 5 seconds to read, so you’ve got nothing to lose but potentially a lot to gain!

If you’re after more visuals, I think you’ll like my vibe-y inspo videos on Instagram. I’ll catch you over there. Unless you want to browse a weekend in Milan over here…

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