You could be forgiven for not being the biggest fan of layovers. For most they’re a necessary evil, involving hours of boredom, leg cramps and less than appetizing food choices.
But for others, they’re a chance to explore—a micro-trip to an undiscovered place. Yes, we admit they can be tiring sometimes, but with our layover guide to Barcelona, rest assured that a great experience awaits you.
We might be a little biased, but Barcelona truly is a magnificent city. It’s crammed full of beauty and charm just waiting to be explored. There is something for everyone here; from the stunning architecture to the bustling promenades. Although Barcelona is a huge city with several unique and beautiful districts, there are lots of great places so close to the airport that you can (and should!) see during your layover in Barcelona.
1. Skip the lines!
No visit to Barcelona would be complete without seeing famous sites such as the Sagrada Familia or the Picasso Museum. However many of these, especially in the summer months, can have seriously long and painful queues. Which is definitely not how you should be spending your layover in Barcelona. Fear not! Almost every single monument or museum sells their tickets online. Perfect if you’re short on time—you can show up and go straight to the entrance, without waiting in line.
2. Take in one of the many beautiful markets
Here in Barcelona, a huge part of the food culture are the many covered markets that populate each neighborhood. For many, these are the heart of the community. Not only are they filled to the brim with beautiful sights, smells and tastes, but also people, families, stories and soul! Don’t miss out on experiencing the famous La Boqueria Market. For a more local touch, stop off at the very beautiful Santa Caterina Market nestled in the heart of El Born. Take a look inside this beautiful place with our co-founder Lauren.
3. Pack a picnic
Take a trip to one of the many beautiful parks dotted around the city with all of your tasty purchases. Enjoy a picnic while lazing in the sun and soaking up the atmosphere. You may even pick up a healthy holiday glow by the time check-in comes around. Park Güell. A beautiful and unique park designed by Antonio Gaudi, is an absolute must-visit in Barcelona!
4. Go off the beaten path
What better way to spend a layover in Barcelona than wandering off the beaten path? From the beautiful tranquil rhythms and small town vibes in Gracia to the cobbled-stoned medieval winding streets of El Born and the Gothic Quarter. Barcelona’s lesser-known areas are gems. Strolling around the bustling side streets of the old fisherman’s neighborhood of Barceloneta is a great plan. Make sure to stop off for a perfectly chilled vermouth and some delicious Catalan tapas in one of the many charming local bodegas.
It can be hard landing in a new city and trying to figure out where you should (and definitely shouldn’t) eat. Food tours are an amazing way to gain invaluable knowledge about your surroundings in a very short amount of time. Not to mention you get the chance to meet fellow travelers while enjoying some delicious food and drink tastings. It’s the perfect way to get to get an authentic taste of Barcelona on a layover.
5. Shop ‘till you drop
Where else but on the most expensive street in Spain. Passeig de Gracia is lined with some of the priciest designer stores from top to bottom. Sprinkled with stunning architecture, mosaic tiles and some of the most stunning modernist architecture found in Barcelona. It’s no wonder this emblematic street was where the city’s elite would come to show off their wealth in the early 20th century.
A layover in Barcelona can be the ideal way to explore this incredible city and get a brief glimpse into its beauty and vibrancy. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend a few hours which will no doubt make you hungry to experience more. So when you do get to come back for a proper visit, make sure to give yourself enough time to explore the city and all of its wonders before you take off to the rest of the world!
Helpful airport information for your layover in Barcelona.
- Barcelona Airport-El Prat (BCN) is located about 10 kilometers from the city centre. It has excellent transport connectivity with the entire city. Directly outside both terminals you can easily take a taxi which will get you there in a cool 20 minutes.
- You can store your luggage at the airport luggage storage facility available at T1 and T2. The service is bookable in advance online.
- On average it takes 1.5 hours to pass through the passport control and security checks at the airport.
- No one enjoys that last minute dash and panic running to catch a flight! Especially in an airport as big as Barcelona. Try to always have a layover of at least 6–8 hours so you can enjoy your time in our wonderful city, however you choose to spend it!