2 Days in Barcelona, Spain

2 Days in Barcelona Gaudi La Sagrada Famili

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We visited Barcelona as part of a 12-day Mediterranean Rivieras Cruise aboard Holland America. We had 2 full days in Barcelona with an overnight stay.  We returned to the ship to shower and change for dinner on the first evening and to sleep but otherwise spent our time enjoying all that Barcelona has to offer. 

From near Park Guell overlooking Barcelona

For us, after just this one visit of 2 days, Barcelona ranks in the top favorite cities to visit across the world.  While only had a couple of days, it is definitely on our list of cities to revisit and perhaps enjoy an extended stay.  You’ve often hear us comment on the podcast about our struggles with places that close down their kitchens early.  We just aren’t early birds when it comes to dinner as we are usually going strong during the day enjoying all of the sights and culture of the places we are visiting.  By the time we get ready for dinner, the pubs are open, but the kitchen has already closed.  And if you’ve been paying attention, we get hangry.  But not in Barcelona!  But that isn’t the only reason that we enjoy Barcelona so much.  Here's a few things we enjoyed.

La Sagrada Familia

We loved immersing ourselves in the architectural wonders of Antonio Gaudi.  He famously known for the church in Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia, which was started in 1882, but is still under construction over 140 years later  Guadi’s vision was to create a church that would reflect the beauty of nature and the glory of God.  While the church is not yet finished, the goal is to complete the construction by the year 2026 which would be the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 1926 of a traffic accident.

 La Sagrada Familia from the outside

We were in awe at  the tall pillars and ceilings inside the cathedral and that it was so difficult to try and take pictures of with a cell phone because of the tremendous scale of the building both inside and out. 

 Here are some notable points about the La Sagrada Familia worth mentioning:

  • The stonework on the outside was absolutely amazing all the way from the spires, to the carvings and arches  There is no singular style that you could reference other than Gaudi which were inspired by nature
  • The columns are shaped like trees, the roof is like a forest, and the facades are like mountain
  • The three facades represent the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Christ
  • The 18 towers represent the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ
  • On the inside, Gaudi was a master of using natural light with the extensive use of stained glass windows and skylights so certainly don't miss going inside of Sagrada Familia  

Inside La Sagrada Familia in the late afternoon light 

We highly recommend that you book these tickets online ahead of time for a certain entry time.  This will help you avoid disappointment and long lines.  We did a tour later in the afternoon and the light was gorgeous. If we went again I would book a tour with the tickets to learn more about everything we were seeing but don't just don't skip going inside!

One of the mosaic sign at Park Guell

Park Guell

Sagrada Familia is not the only work of Gaudi in Barcelona.  We also enjoyed an afternoon visit to Park Guell.  

Park Guell designed by Antonio Gaudi

Park Guell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a public park system composed of gardens and architectural elements built between 1900 and 1914.  It was originally intended to be a luxury residential development, but the project was never completed (sound familiar?). There are colorful mosaics, whimsical structures, and stunning views of the city as you can see in our pictures.  This part of Gaudi’s work reminds us of Dr Seuss.  The most famous features of the park are the Hypostyle Room, the Dragon Staircase, and the Gaudi House Museum, which was the original model home. 

Park Guell 

We also booked our entry time ahead of time for a timed entry to the park, which we highly recommend to avoid disappointment.  Here's a link for tickets. Plan to spend at least 2 hours here. 

Park Guell

Park Guell

Other Notable Gaudi Sites to See in Barcelona

  • Casa Batlló is located in the heart of the city on Passeig de Gràcia, this building is known for its skeletal quality, with balconies resembling skulls and bone-like pillars.

Casa Batllo

  • Casa Vicens was Gaudí's first major work in Barcelona.

  • Palau Güell is located near La Rambla and is a mansion designed for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell. 

  • Casa Calvet

Hop On Hop Off Bus

While we don't always use these, it is a great way to see a large city when you have a limited amount of time and want to get a overview. They often have great narration for the sites and the history. We did take advantage of it in Barcelona, both to see more of the Gaudi architecture and the city and as transportation. 

We purchased the 2 day pass, which offered a discount, since we had 2 full days there.  We were able to meet it near where we got off the ship near Port Olympic and could take any of the buses as they came around.  It gave us a good overview of the city and then we could get off as needed to see the sights we had planned. 


Be sure to spend some time strolling La Rambla

La Rambla

After a trip to Park Guell, make your way back into town and visit La Rambla.  A pedestrian street known for its lively atmosphere, street performers and shops.  

We stopped in for tapas at one of the many shops along the Ramblas - and had Sangria for a nice refreshing iced drink to cool you down.  We love Sangria and love making it at home but there is something about enjoying it in Spain. 

La Fonda

After all of the walking and beach time, we were definitely ready for a great dinner before heading back to the ship.  Our friend Ash from the UK recommended that we eat at La Fonda in Marina Bay.  He even called ahead and got reservations for us and the guy he knew was also our waiter. La Fonda is know for its fresh fish and seafood and we enjoyed Paella, Octopus, and lots of Sangria. It is worth mentioning again that we loved Barcelona because dinner didn't start until around 9pm so we had plenty of time for our tapas and then also for dinner later. 

La Fonda at Port Olimpic

Santa Caterina Market  

Another great place to stop for a bite to eat or glass of sangria is at the Santa Caterina Market where you can find a variety of food stalls for a quick lunch. 

Santa Caterina Market

Santa Caterina Market

Mercado de la Boqueria 

Located along La Rambla, during our second morning in town we walked to the Mercado de la Boqueria from the ship and enjoyed looking at the food stalls selling meat, produce, cheese and more and getting a small bite to eat. Just take a look at the Jamon (and be sure to have some while in Barcelona).

Mercado de la Boqueria

Barcelona Packing List

You'll definitely be doing some walking in Barcelona so be sure to pack:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Light weight moisture wicking clothing for the day - if visiting Sagrada Familia, remember to wear appropriate clothing to cover shoulders and knees 
  •  Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses
  •  Bathing suit, sandals, towel, and a small tote for the beach
  •  Camera, consider wide angle lens if you have one

We really can’t believe that in 2 days we got to see so much of Barcelona and still relax at the beach. I think their late night culture and our overnight stop helped us to be able to enjoy so much of the city but I do want to go back. On our next trip we would add a day trip to Montserrat as well. To read more about our Summer Trip to Europe this cruise and our 2 days in Barcelona was a part of, click here


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Hi! We're Scott and Melissa

The Sunshine Travelers


We are a couple of travel obsessed explorers sharing our travel experiences and stories to inspire you to travel more and better. We are so happy to have you here.

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