24 hours in Barcelona: how to make the most of your layover

While Rome wasn’t built in a day, the best of Barcelona can definitely be seen in one! Put your layover to good use and visit the city's most spectacular sights by the time your morning, afternoon, or evening layover is over.

Know what to do when you touch down

There’s only one airport in Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto. If saying that name isn’t a handful, navigating your way out of Spain’s second-biggest airport might be! Whether you’re flying in from abroad or you’re popping by your European neighbor on a quick trip, don’t worry about dragging your luggage around. Head to the ground floor lobby (it’s open 24/7) and store your bags for a small fee. From there, you can make your way to the city by train, bus, taxi, or private transfer.

Travelers with 3 hours or less can...

Experience Gaudí’s otherworldly basilica on this small group tour.

Swing by the Sagrada Familia

If you’re tight on time and want to see one thing in Barcelona, these experiences will give you a taste of the city in record time. Architecture fans can’t miss a 90-minute guided tour of the Sagrada Familia. You won’t just skip the lines with fast-track entry, you’ll also learn about the otherworldly basilica’s history. By the time you’re headed back to the airport, you’ll know all about the king of Catalan Modernism, Antoni Gaudí.

Learn how to cook a traditional Spanish seafood paella.

Whip up some paella

If you’re hungry for culture and only have 2.5 hours, paella is the name of the game. That’s right — this cooking course will have you whipping up the traditional dish with a local chef. Pick up some fresh ingredients at the world-famous Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. Then, watch the chef cook your meal as you sip sangria. Not too shabby for a layover, huh?

Explore Casa Batllo with a virtual reality guide and learn about architecture and design.

Take a tour of Casa Batllo with a virtual guide

If you only have an hour, head to Casa Batllo. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is open daily from 9 AM to 8 PM and showcases some of Gaudí’s best work. Travelers strapped for time won’t feel rushed, as this tour's virtual guide lets you see things at your own pace. Full of with colorful ceramics and glistening light, Casa Batllo is sure to keep adults and kids in awe (and provide you with the perfect Insta post).

Travelers with a free morning can...

Ride the rack railway to the top and visit the Virgin of Montserrat Sanctuary.

Head for the hills at Montserrat

Go on a half-day tour of beautiful Montserrat. This 6-hour excursion to Catalonia's most famous mountain range will clear your mind and fill your lungs before you hop onto a plane again. Once there, you’ll have 3 hours to explore, shop, lunch and take in the silhouette of Montserrat. 

Experience the stunning landscapes of the Costa Brava from a different perspective.

Paddle along Costa Brava

Feeling a little more adventurous? A half-day kayak tour may be the best way to experience the stunning landscapes of Costa Brava. This thrilling 6-hour tour includes snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. A perfect option to really enjoy a hot, sunny day in Spain (and wash the plane smell away). 

Travelers with a free evening can...

Sail along the coast of Barcelona at sunset and enjoy the amazing views aboard an authentic traditional wooden boat.

Cruise along the coast

Leave the land behind and drift gently into the sunset on this sunset cruise. Hop off your plane and aboard a traditional wooden boat to get Barcelona vibes without lifting a finger (really). Between clinking cocktails with your fellow travelers and munching on tapas, you’ll have plenty of time to unwind and — of course — take some gorgeous pics. 

Experience Barcelona's top sights on a Segway.

Zip through the city

If you’d rather pack a little action into your evening layover, try zipping around the city on a nighttime Segway tour. This tour will take you around some of the city’s most iconic spots, starting at Barceloneta Beach.  

Want to stay longer?

Who doesn’t? If 24 hours in Barcelona simply isn’t enough, make sure you get back soon to see the city in 48 hours — or best of all — a whole week.