Plan Your Barcelona Itinerary: 3 Days Guide + Practical Tips

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Plan Your Barcelona Itinerary: 3 Days Guide + Practical Tips

How many days do you need in Barcelona? 3 days is good! Read the full itinerary of tips, details, and a map.

You’ve got your airline tickets. Your Pinterest boards are loaded with “things to do in Barcelona”. Next up: planning! But where to start? Well, I’ve created – for you – a recommended Barcelona itinerary: 3 days in the city that I’ve called home for the past 10 years. Check out the routes and recommended places to eat on the MAP at the bottom of this post!

What to see in Barcelona in 3 days

  • Sagrada Familia
  • Park Guell
  • Las Ramblas
  • La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
  • Casa Batlló
  • La Boqueria
  • Picasso Museum
  • Ciutadella Park
  • Arc de Triomf
  • Montjuic 
  • …and more Barcelona tourist attractions!

Save time and money in Barcelona

First of all, entry rates for many Barcelona attractions aren’t cheap. Sagrada Familia basic entrance costs 15 and Casa Batlló is 24.50€. If you’re thinking of entering some important sites, save yourself money and hours waiting in lines. Consider buying a Barcelona tourist discount card if you plan to enter more than five Barcelona attractions.

    • I recommend this one: The Barcelona City Pass, which costs 69.50€.
      • It includes a ticket to the Hop-On Hop-off Bus (called Bus Turístic, normally 30€), entrance to the Sagrada Familia (normally 22€) and Park Guell (normally 9€). It also includes a round-trip ticket using the Aerobus (normally 5.90€), the private bus from the airport to various points in Barcelona, which is convenient because they arrive frequently.
      • You also get a 20% discount on La Pedrera /Casa Milà (normal price 22€, with discount 17.60€), Casa Batlló (normal price 24,50€, with discount 19.60€), Camp Nou (normal price 25€, with discount 20€), and MORE!  Buy your Barcelona City Pass here
  • Alternatively, consider buying a Barcelona Pass. It’s 124.99€ for an adult ticket for a two-day pass. This includes a free ticket for Hop-On Hop-Off Bus, FC Barcelona tour, La Pedrera, Poble Espanyol, Casa Batlló, Las Golondrinas Barcelona Boat Tour, The Barcelona Aquarium, Barcelona Walking Tour, Gaudí Exhibition Centre, and Casa de Les Puntxes. So, to get your money’s worth, you’d have to see at least SIX of the attractions. My recommendations would be to use the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus (29€), La Pedrera (22€), Casa Batlló (24.50€), and FC Barcelona tour (28€), Las Golondrinas Boat Tour (15.20€) and the Casa de Les Punxes (12.50€), That’s already 131.20€. You’ll have saved 6.21€. They occasionally have 25%-off sales, so it might be worth checking out! See all of the attractions and buy your Barcelona Pass here.
How many days in Barcelona? 3 days would be just enough! Check out this detailed itinerary.

Castellers. Building Catalan castles in the sky: a local sport.

DAY 1

OLD CITY BARCELONA: Gothic Quarter, Born, Las Ramblas, Barceloneta. The first day of Barcelona sightseeing seems like a lot, but a few sights take just a few minutes to see. You’ll cover about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of walking. If you don’t stop at all, Google tells me it will take about 1 hour and 21 minutes. But with breaks, it’s completely doable to complete in a day without rushing. Wear comfortable shoes!

Morning

Start on Plaça Catalunya, the heart of Barcelona and head down Las Ramblas. This is the carnivalesque and iconic street that’s 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles). If you don’t stop, it takes about 20 minutes to walk Las Ramblas from end to end. In the middle to your right, you’ll see La Boqueria Market the famous colorful market that gets ultra-packed. It opens at 8am, so you can even have breakfast here at the famous Pinotxo Bar, whose owner, Juanito, you see smiling and giving the thumbs-up all over the Internet. Opt for breakfast here or move on.

Las Ramblas: one of the most important things to see in Barcelona, Spain

Step on the art: A famous floor mosaic on Las Ramblas by Joan Miró.

WHERE TO HAVE BREAKFAST OR A SNACK: Pinotxo Bar for traditional Catalan breakfast (not cheap)Granja Viader for churros with a suizo (hot chocolate with real whipped cream).

Continue on Las Ramblas. On the left, turn left on Carrer de Colom, and you’ll see the charming Plaça Reial. This is a large square surrounded by bars and restaurants with an iconic fountain. Notice the light posts – they were designed by a young Antoni Gaudí! Get your butt back on Las Ramblas.

Head towards the sea, and you’ll hit the Christopher Columbus monument, incorrectly pointing at the New Land. Want to go up? It costs 6 euros. But buy it online now and save 10%! Buy your Christopher Columbus monument tickets here

Cross the street on Passeig del Colom, and you’ll see the Rambla del Mar, a wooden bridge and breezy port area. (If you cross, you’ll see the Maremagnum Shopping Center and Barcelona Aquarium. If you’re planning to go on the Las Golondrinas Boat Tour, you can take it here also.)

Walk toward Carrer d’Avinyó, a street of local design and fashion. Pick up some classic Catalan shoes called espardenyes at La Manual Alpargatera. The displays are beautiful! Now go towards the Plaça Sant Jaume, a square used for events and demonstrations. It used to be the center during Roman times! when Barcelona was called Barcino. It’s flanked by buildings of the Barcelona City Council and the Palau de la Generalitat. No need to hang out here long. See it and move on!

Go towards the Plaça de Sant Felipe Neri, a historically famous square where Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco ordered an air raid in this plaza, killing 42 people. It’s dark and beautiful – the dents in the church walls are haunting. Head towards the large Plaça de la Seu, a large square where you’ll see the majestic Barcelona Cathedral. Hungry yet? You should be – since you’ve just walked 4 kilometers, or 2.5 miles *throws glitter*. It’s time for lunch!

Barcelona plan tripper: the must-see of the city!

The Barcelona Cathedral, where the city’s action happens in the Plaça de La Seu

WHERE TO HAVE LUNCH NEARBY: 7 Portes for paella, Euskal Etxea for Basque pintxos (tapas pierced with a stick), Llamber for creative tapas, or La Paradeta a seafood restaurant with a built-in “fish market”, Bar Brutal for tapas and natural wines

Afternoon / Evening

After lunch, cross Via Laietana towards the Mercat de Santa Caterina, a food market with a beautifully-colored, undulating roof. Then go towards Carrer Montcada, and you’ll see the Museu Picasso housed in a medieval palace. It showcases Pablo Picasso’s artworks during his formative years – before his famous cubist masterpieces were created. If you’re into art, see this! If not, skip it. Lines can be suuuuper long here, depending on the season. But save your time, just in case, and buy your tickets in advance. Also, the Picasso Museum is CLOSED ON MONDAYS. Buy your Picasso Museum tickets here

Keep going down Carrer de Montcada, and you’ll see on your right, the hefty Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, a somber church built in the 1400s with a unique Catalan Gothic structure. People transported boulders all the way from Montjuic to build it! Nearby is the Plaça del Fossar de Les Moreres, where you can pay homage to the fallen Catalans following the Siege of Barcelona in 1714. It’s a sacred memorial for locals and is built over a cemetery. Now head down the Passeig del Born, a leafy promenade with bars and restaurants. It comes alive at night, ironically, as it used to be execution grounds during the 16th-century Inquisition. In front of you is the Born Cultural Centre, a gorgeous iron and glass structure, which used to be a food market. Enter for free to admire the excavated Roman ruins smack-dab in the middle.

Santa Maria del Mar: one of the best Barcelona places to visit

A church built by the people, Basilica de Santa Mar broke many backs.

It’s time to reward yourself and chill at Ciutadella ParkBarcelona’s largest and most central city park. Row the boats in the small lake and take a photo in front of the Cascade. Relax on the grass and have your siesta.

Walk down the wide and relaxing Passeig de San Lluis Companys toward the monumental arch, Arc de Triomf. You’ve completed your 7 kilometers or 5.5 miles of sightseeing Barcelona for today. High five! Click here to jump down + See what you can do in the evening.

Day 2

GAUDÍ AND MODERNISM DAY: Today, see fewer Barcelona sights and spend more time understanding and absorbing Gaudí’s complicated buildings.

Morning

Head to a Barcelona must-see icon, the Sagrada Familia, first thing in the morning. It opens at 9am. (You bought your tickets online, right? If not, buy them here via Ticketbar) You’ll be glad because it will be much less packed. Should you go up the towers? I say yes, because of the view, but mostly so you can see the intricate details on the building. You can spend one hour or up to 4 hours in La Sagrada Familia, exploring the main, visiting the crypt, or going up the towers, then climbing back down. 

Seeing La Sagrada Familia is a serious must-do in Barcelona

The cranes are pretty much a permanent part of the basilica

OPTIONAL: Afterwards, walk down La Rambla de Gaudí and heads toward the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. It’s about 900 meters away, which takes about 12 minutes. This is the world’s biggest art nouveau complex with colorful mosaics and stained glass windows. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is often overlooked by tourists!

Recinte de Sant Pau, one of the underrated best places to see in Barcelona, Spain

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau: The largest art nouveau structure in the universe

WHERE TO EAT FOR LUNCH: Els Pollos Llull, a home-feel Catalan restaurant with tasty roasted chicken, La Paradeta for fresh seafood, Singular for locally sourced dishes (Note: I’ve eaten at a few restaurants on Rambla de Gaudí, the street that connects Sagrada Familia to the Recinte de Sant Pau. I can’t recommend any there – they were mediocre.), El Nacional, an upscale food hall near Casa Batlló

Afternoon

From the Recinte de Sant Pau Modernista, take the L5 blue metro line, or the 47 or H8 bus, to Passeig de Gracia stop. Get off and walk down Passeig de Gracia, the elegant moderniste street of fine shopping and attractions. Visit Gaudí’s other wonders like La Pedrera or Casa Batlló. Both are incredible masterpieces. But if I had to pick one to enter, I’d choose the Casa Batlló. From either of these buildings, take the 24 bus or the L3 green metro line up to Park Guell. From there, you’ll have to do a bit of an uphill climb, strengthening those glute muscles and working on that sexyback. There are a few escalators to give you a rest in between strides. Depending on the season, the park can be crowded, so be sure to buy your tickets online first because you can only enter during a time window. Buy your discount tickets on Park Guell  You’ve done well today! Click here to jump down + See what you can do in the evening.

One of the best things to do in Barcelona, Spain, is to visit Park Guell

Overloaded with sightseeing: tourists rest at an outdoor cafe area in Park Guell

Day 3

MONTJUIC and YOUR PICK (see below for ideas).

Last day of your 3 days in Barcelona! Head over to Montjuic, the hilly area of Barcelona. Take the L3 green metro line towards Parallel. From there, take the funicular, a zipper train, that goes up to the Funicular Station of Montjuic. When you get off, you’ll be a stone’s throw away is the Teleferic, the Montjuic cable car. (Buy your discount Teleferic tickets here for 11.43€.) If you hop on, you can get a panoramic view of Barcelona and go directly to the Montjuic Castle. If you want to take amazing pictures from here, forget it – as the glass usually isn’t that clean. Just enjoy the view! 

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days: A complete, detailed itinerary written by a local.

I want to get away…I want to fly away. Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Lenny Kravitz

The Montjuic Castle used to be a fortress and prison and is now used for events. From here, you can get sweeping views of the city and the port. To get down from Montjuic, you can take the same 150 bus all the way to Plaça Espanya. (If you want to hang around Montjuic, you can also use the 150 bus which stops at the Olympic Stadium, the Fundación Joan Miró (a relaxing minimalist-y museum with beautiful views), or the Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum that’s scaled-down replica of Spain’s villages. Oprah even celebrated her 50th birthday here! See the 150 bus line map.)

When you make your way to Plaça Espanya, head to the bullring-turned-shopping center, Centro Comercial Arenas. The shops itself are meh, but the view from the very top floor is ace! It’s lunchtime – let’s get some food in that tummy!

HAVE LUNCH OR A SNACK AT THE NEARBY: Els Sortidors del Parlament great for some vermouth and tapas, Sirvent for a sweet snack and orxata (tiger nut drink). (In Barceloneta, next destination): Bar Jai-Ca for classic tapas, Restaurante 7 Portes for paella, Can Paixano for good times, classic tapas, and affordable wine

Planning a trip to Barcelona? Read how to see Barcelona in 3 days in this itinerary.

Have some rosé wine and delicious, cheap tapas at Can Paixano. Chin-chin!

Afternoon:

Next up: Head to the Barcelona beach area, La Barceloneta and the Port Olympic. La Barceloneta is kind of a chaotic, touristy beach, but its beauty is in the architecture surrounding it – like “El Peix d’Or” golden fish sculpture by Frank Gehry, The W Hotel sail-like building, and the twin towers.

How many days to spend in Barcelona? Three days is tight, but it's possible. Check out this Barcelona itinerary.

A trip without the beach is incomplete on your Barcelona trip. La Barceloneta, Spain.

Not into the beach? Here are other ways to spend this afternoon:

  • Feel cool at the intimate Gracia neighborhood. It doesn’t have any attraction in particular. Its attraction is the residential neighborhood itself with lots of charming squares, art galleries, and organic shops.
  • Spend time at the recently renovated food market, Mercat de Sant Antoni, and the cool tapas scene in the Sant Antoni district, which has a new hipster cluster of foodie restaurants.
  • MACBA and El Raval district: A stark white museum of contemporary art in the middle of a skater plaza. It’s within the tight, gritty, and multicultural neighborhood of El Raval
  • Go back to Day One sights and explore a bit more! Head over the Palau de la Musica Catalana, an intricately-detailed modernist masterpiece.
  • Camp Nou Experience and Audioguide: For the football/soccer fans. Buy your Camp Nou Experience tickets here

Evening and Dinner Options for Any Day

  • Magic Fountain is a huge fountain near Plaça Espanya with waters that dance to music and colors in the evening. It’s a fun spectacle to watch that’s free. See the schedule here.
  • Bunkers del Carmel is a fantastic and now-popular option if you want to get away from tourist crowds. Know that it’s still not the most isolated place anymore, but it is still significantly less. And also, there’s no other Barcelona sightseeing around there. Take your “sitting at the edge of the world” Instagram shot, and go! It’s reachable by 92 or 119 bus, or the L4 yellow metro line. Hike it up 25 minutes Find out more here.
  • Hit the tapas and bar scenes in the Sant Antoni neighborhood, as I mentioned above. Try Bar Calders, Fabrica Moritz, or Bodega Vinito.
  • The Poble Sec neighborhood is also a huge foodie haven where you can go bar hopping for dirt-cheap prices. Try the ones on Carrer Blai: La Tasqueta de Blai, Pincho J, or Blai 9.

JUMP BACK TO END OF DAY 1 | JUMP BACK TO END OF DAY 2

Where to stay in Barcelona

Check out my post on places to stay in Barcelona. If there’s one place I can recommend, it’s the Hotel Barcelona Catedral, a four-star hotel so dang near close the Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. Plus it’s in a prime location but is tucked away on a side street. If you want to know more, stay here! Check prices at Hotel Barcelona Catedral

3 days in Barcelona itinerary

Barcelona, from many views like this one from MNAC, you are beautiful, my love.

Barcelona Travel Tips

  1. Eating schedule: Pretty much, everywhere in Spain, everything starts later. Breakfast is 9am, mid-morning snack is 10:30am, lunch is at 2pm, late-afternoon snack is around 5pm, tapas can start at 6-9pm, dinner is at 10pm, and going out can be around 1am.
  2. Tipping: Rounding up to the nearest euro is not a sin. By all means, tip more if you want.
  3. Getting around: Barcelona is easy to travel by foot in the Gothic Quarter, Born, La Barceloneta, and El Raval. These districts form the Old City, and their streets are tightly knit. Outside of that, it’s better to take the bus or metro. You can easily reach Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia. The Barcelona transportation system (TMB.cat) is one of the best in the world: it’s reliable and easy to use. For a single trip on the bus, metro, or tram, it’s 2.20€, and you should have the exact amount of coins on the bus. (Transfers not included.) The most economical way to travel is by walking or buying a T-10 card (10.20€) from a ticket machine found in all the metro stops. This includes 10 trips on one ticket. Transfers all count as ONE trip as long as you do it within 75 minutes between the first and last validation when transferring between lines or mode of transport.
  4. Use Google Maps as the easiest way to plan your day. Estimated bus arrival times are pretty accurate.
  5. Taxis and Uber work fine in the city. Update: February 2019. Uber was forced to say bye-bye from Barcelona. 
  6. Tap water is safe to drink but it doesn’t taste good. If you can refrigerate it, it takes away the taste. I drink from the tap, and I haven’t grown an extra arm. Yet.
  7. The local language is Catalan, but most people can speak Spanish (also called castellano among locals). Not everybody speaks English. It’s likely that people working tour buses, tours, etc. speak English, but not in traditional bars. Either way, give your Spanish a go. I believe in you!
  8. Pickpockets: Watch your wallet or purse because pickpocketing is no joke, especially in the summer. Serious crime is rare in the city. I’ve taken my kids out til midnight, and I’ve never felt worried. Read my guide on how to avoid getting robbed in Barcelona. Also, consider buying an anti-theft purse. I use this stylish one every day and I LOOOOOOVE mine.

After hours: Bars, Clubs, and Flamenco

  • Flamenco isn’t typically part of the local Catalan culture. But there are some spectacular flamenco shows in Barcelona that I’ve seen, like the Barcelona y Flamenco at the stunning and decorative Palau de la Musica Catalana. You’ll see red-hot passionate dancing and machine-gun stomping. I highly recommended watching this 90-minute show! Book your flamenco show now
  • If you like to get dressed and go to nightclubs, put on your heels! (I’m over this phase. But go – for me -, please) Save money with the VIP Nightlife card which is just 29.50! Clubs are Shoko, Opium, Pacha, and other bangin’ clubs. The average entry price for a dance club is 10€-15€, so this is a steal if you want to club hop. A lot of the dance clubs with world-renowned DJs are concentrated around La Barceloneta. You could easily save money with the VIP Nightlife card if you hit 3 clubs in one night. The night starts around 1 or 2am, so if you go earlier, you won’t find many people up in the club. See the rest of the dance clubs and purchase your VIP Nightlife card now
  • For casual-dress bars for a fun good time without any fancy dress code, try…
    • Sala Razzmatazz for a world-renowned venue of music in 5 different spaces
    • La Ovella Negra for a relaxed rustic tavern and laidback beers, popular with students
    • Ale&Hop is one of the first craft beer bars, total classic
    • Barceló Raval with a 360º panoramic city view
    • Marmalade for cocktails with a beautiful, classy bar
  • For wine bars, see my post from my friend and local Barcelona food tour owner, Andre: The Most Unpretentious Wine Bars in Barcelona. Cheat sheet: Gran Bodega del Maestrazgo, Bar Brutal, Els Sortidors del Parlament, Agüita Vins, Viblioteca, Celler Cal Marino.

Buy these tickets online to save money and time

The Sagrada Familia always has a long queue. The rest of the attractions on this list may or may not, depending on the season. But don’t risk it. You only have three days! Your time is precious!

Barcelona Tours to save time

  • The hop-on hop-off bus tour is the best way to Barcelona in a snap – if you feel like soaking in the scene without having to plan much. Some cities really don’t need a touristic bus, but Barcelona if you want to see places that are more spread out (Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, and Montjuic), it’ll take you there easily. So relax, put on your headphones, and listen to your audioguide in your language of choice. This hop-on hop-off bus ticket is valid all year, but if you buy the 2-day ticket you have to use it consecutively. It’s just 27€!  Book your Hop-on Hop-off Tourist Bus tour
  • Opt for a thrilling bike tour if you like a more high-paced scene. I tried this and covered waaaay more ground than I ever could on foot. I’m not used to biking, but it hurt so good afterward. Read my experience with Steel Donkey Bike Tours
  • A food tour is a fantastic way to get to know a city – through its food and restaurants! One to try is Sips, Sites, and Bites comes as a highly recommended food tour from yours truly. Adrian is a fun, knowledgeable, and dynamic guide who knows Catalan’s history inside and out. He’ll also show you the local Catalan eating rituals (you get to do some funny ways of drinking wine!), and he’ll take you to the best places to eat that have are non-touristy and totally authentic. Book your evening tapas tour now
    What to do in Barcelona, Spain, in 3 days. See the best works of Antoni Gaudí.

    The beauty of the Sagrada Familia makes me want to cry

Day Trips from Barcelona

But what about seeing the magical beauty that is outside the city? Welp, seeing Barcelona in 3 days can be a challenge. If you realize that some places in this 3-day Barcelona itinerary aren’t for you, it’s worth seeing what’s outside Barcelona. The best day trips are Montserrat (an incredible mountain area) and Sitges (a whitewashed beach town). They are within an hour’s ride and can easily be accessed via train. See my further post on the best Barcelona day trips.

When’s the best time to visit Barcelona?

May and June are good months to visit Barcelona because of the 70ºF/21ºC -ish weather. The city also puts on lively outdoor events like Primavera Sound and local festivals like La Diada de Sant Jordi, Barcelona’s Valentine’s Day when locals give each other books and roses. Spring isn’t full-fledged hot beach weather, but you’ll see locals starting to wear shorts in late June. Summer is an exciting time to be outdoors on the terraces and beaches, but it’s hot and crowded in July and August. Fall, specifically September, is the best time because of La Mercè Festival, a citywide festival of hundreds of events, in September. Summer crowds have died down a little, and the local kids are in school. You can also enjoy some beach weather in September until late October. Winter isn’t really the best time to go to Barcelona – only if you want be around lesser crowds, but you’ll have to wear your winter jackets (no snow).

See the "gegants" parade during city festivals is one of the fun things to do in Barcelona.

Gegants, or “giants”, in Barcelona. A fun time to see these traditional Catalan figures is during La Mercè.

3-Day Cheat Sheet

Think of it this way if you want to see Barcelona in three days. Mix and match, baby!

Day 1) Old City: Gothic Quarter, Born, and La Barceloneta

Day 2) Gaudí buildings: Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Day 3) mountains (Montjuic) and sea (Barceloneta). Or other places of your choice!

Barcelona 3-Day Map with Routes and Restaurants

Need a visual of everything I’ve mentioned above? I’ve mapped out the routes for you according to day. (It looks like a mess now, but you’ll have to scroll in to see it clearly.) And I’ve saved a lot of recommended restaurants, which you’ll see in the orange icons. Save this Google Map on your phone:

Whew! Well, there are a few of the best places to visit in Barcelona, Spain! Now is 3 days in Barcelona enough? I’d say it’s JUST barely enough. Any questions? Should I make a PDF of this? Let me know! Leave a comment below!

What to see in Barcelona, Spain, in 3 days. A complete itinerary including Gaudi buildings, modernist architecture, and authentic Catalan food. Local tips, details, and map, written by a local.

About the Author Justine Ancheta

California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).

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