Plan Your Barcelona Itinerary: 3 Days Guide, Written By a Local


*This site contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission when you buy. See my full disclosure.

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 a recommended Barcelona itinerary: 3 days in the city that I’ve called home for the past 15 years. Check out the routes and recommended places to eat on the map at the bottom of this post. Read about your 3 perfect days in Barcelona!


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!


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 8 am, so you can even have breakfast here at the Quim de La Boqueria.

Las Ramblas to include in your itinerary Barcelona: 3 days
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 and get an incredible view? NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW YOU CAN DO THIS! It costs €7.20. 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 a breezy port area. (If you cross, you’ll see the Maremagnum Shopping Center and Barcelona Aquarium.)

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!

Plan a perfect 3 days in Barcelona, and include the Barcelona Cathedral
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.


Head to a Barcelona must-see icon, the Sagrada Familia, first thing in the morning. It opens at 9 am. (You bought your tickets online, right?) 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 of 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. 

OPTIONAL: Afterwards, walk down La Rambla de Gaudí and head 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


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 so far on your 3-day Barcelona itinerary! 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
Park Guell is a must see in Barcelona in 3 days

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.) 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

Drinking rose wine is one of the things to do in Barcelona 3 days
Have some rosé wine and delicious, cheap tapas at Can Paixano. Chin-chin!


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.


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 detailed post on the best Barcelona day trips.

3 Day in Barcelona 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!

If you like planning with spreadsheets, here’s how I use Google Sheets to plan a trip. Check it out!

Barcelona 3-Day Map with Routes and Restaurants

Need a visual of everything I’ve mentioned above? Check it out in this Barcelona itinerary map! Here you have the exact routes for your three days in Barcelona. (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!


By 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).


  1. Hi Justine

    I found your articke while searching for barcelona topic.. This article helps me to include interesting facts in my post. It almost took 15 days to write. It’s about “What is the best tipping policy in Barcelona Spain”. It wouldn’t have been possible without your help, so I just wanted to say thanks.



    1. Wow!! This is so fantastic, Ruma! I can’t believe I’m seeing this comment half a year later. Thanks so much, and I’m glad it helped 🙂

  2. Hi Justine! We are taking an overnight flight into Barcelona arriving Wed 9am. Love to follow your 3 day guide. If too tired to include Piccaso museum first day maybe on the last (Friday) with something else? Maybe go back to a favorite spot. I like that you provide us with the same vicinity places of interest! We took your advice and chose the Hoxton for our stay. I don’t see it on your site anymore. Is it still OK? Dori Frank

    1. Hey Dori! Yes, I remember recommending the Hoxton, and I don’t see it anywhere on my site either! Did you download my No-Bull Guide? Maybe it was in there. I will change it to include it on my site now – thanks! I am very jealous that you’re staying there. It looks sooo good. I plan to eat at the restaurant on the rooftop next month for my birthday. Now I gotta tell my family 🙂

      Yes, the Picasso Museum is good, but skippable if you’re short on time. The beach will be great at this time year (actually anytime in BCN). Have fun!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.