There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (for which I am deeply grateful) at no additional cost to you.
Looking for the perfect 3 day Barcelona Itinerary? Well, this is it! You could easily spend weeks in Barcelona, but 3 days in Barcelona is just enough time to get a flavor of what this city has to offer.
Barcelona is such a wonderful city – the perfect place to travel to in order to experience the best of what Spain has to offer! It is a city known for its awe-inspiring architecture, delicious tapas, and all-year-round good climate. As if that isn’t enough, the autonomous region of Catalonia, Barcelona also has an incredibly distinct atmosphere which differs from other major cities such as Madrid and Valencia. Sounds great, right?!
This article will help you plan the most wonderful three days in Barcelona, including top things to do, insider tips, including where to eat and stay.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Getting around Barcelona like a local
- 2 Barcelona Itinerary for 3 days: What to see in Barcelona in 3 days
- 3 Day One
- 4 Day Two
- 5 Day Three
- 6 Where to Eat in Barcelona
- 7 Where to Stay in Barcelona
- 8 Discount Cards
- 9 Cautionary advice
Getting around Barcelona like a local
If you happen to be like me, and prefer to use public transportation to explore the city, just like locals do, I recommended you to get the Hola BCN transportation card. It is very useful if you’re planning to cover all or most of the popular spots in Barcelona. One highlight is that the train to and from the airport is included within the time frame of your pass. There are passes for 48, 72, 96 or 120-Hours. Get yours in advance here!
Note: There is no uber available in Barcelona at the time. It was suspended.
Another option, a more touristic approach that some visitors do love to book for big cities, especially when they have limited time or prefer only seeing the highlights, is booking a Hop-On Hop-Off Barcelona City Tour. You can choose from a 1 or 2 day tour and access 2 routes, with stops at the most popular sites in Barcelona!
Either way you choose, Barcelona is an amazing city to discover and soon you will find out why! Let’s move on to our curated 3 day Barcelona itinerary!
Barcelona Itinerary for 3 days: What to see in Barcelona in 3 days
Take a tour of Barcelona
There are many amazing tours to choose from in Barcelona. As I mentioned above some people simply prefer Hop-On Hop-Off Barcelona City Tour, but let me give you other alternatives to pick from.
City Sights Highlight Bike Tour
If you are an active person, I recommend this bicycle tour. Personally, I totally love going on bike tours. I feel that it is one of the best ways to discover the hidden corners of a new city, and burn off some calories for the delicious food you will be eventually eating!
A Private Tour with a local
Sometimes, I prefer to go at my own pace but I also want insider tips about a city. I feel this is hard to accomplish when I’m with a big group, but easier to do on a private tour. I recommend this one since it is with a local, plus it is still quite affordable.
Free Gothic Quarter Tour
Not sure what you think about free walking tours, but I find that they are a great way to discover a city, especially if you are only there for a few days, like a long weekend. Although there are lots of different types of tours on offer, the main tour, which comes highly recommended, is the Gothic Quarter tour. The Gothic Quarter is the historic heart of the city where you can see what remains of the Roman walls, as well as a number of incredible sights, such as Guell Palace, Placa Reial and Placa del Rei. There are many companies which offer free walking tours but Censored Barcelona are, in my opinion, the best. Their Gothic Quarter tour covers many important historical places, such as Las Ramblas, the city’s central and most famous boulevard, the Jewish Quarter which is nestled in the center of the Gothic Quarter and is home to Spain’s oldest synagogue and the famous Picasso murals. The tour takes around two-and-a-half hours, and doing this tour on your first morning in Barcelona is a great introduction to the city. NOTE: It’s customary to tip your guide. The tour is free so you can spare a few dollars/euros.
You might also like: A getway to Costa del Sol, Southern Spain
Spend the Afternoon at the Beach
The historic quarter of Barcelona is located pretty close to the city’s beach and it is a fantastic place to have some fun in the sun, while observing locals and drinking sangria. If you are visiting in winter, and the weather happens to be a bit too chilly for your liking, you can head to L’Aquarium, Europe’s second-largest aquarium. Here you can watch lots of cool marine creatures such as sharks, penguins, seahorses and hundreds of colorful fish.
When in Spain, it is absolutely obligatory to sample the traditional tapas that the country is so famous for. However, with so many tapas dishes, and places to try it, it can be tough knowing where to start. On your first night, you should definitely join one of the many tapas tours that take place around the city. These tours usually take you to three or four tapas bars, including both tapas and typical Spanish drinks for you to try and, as you are enjoying your night, your guide will share lots of facts about the history of tapas and how they’ve evolved over the years. The tours usually last about two-and-a-half to three hours, and then you are free to continue your night of tapas and drinks on your own until you’ve had your fill. There are also many amazing food tours in Barcelona to choose from.
One of the reasons why Barcelona is so famous is its architecture by Gaudi, the architect who was the greatest advocate of Catalan Modernism. His best-known structure is the Sagrada Familia, which is the best place to begin your second day.
This monumental cathedral is just as well known for being unfinished as it is for its intricate exterior and stunning interior. 137 years after the first foundation stone was laid, it is still only 70% complete and is estimated not to be finished until 2026, although the date of completion has been pushed back time and time again. La Sagrada Familia left me speechless! It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals, so beautiful that, when you see the light coming through and shining upon the interior of the cathedral, it’s just mesmerizing and breathtaking!
It is such a complex building, complicated by the fact that Gaudi’s plans were never fully finished, that once it is finally completed, it will have taken longer to build than it did the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt! Funnily enough, the Sagrada Familia was never intended to be a cathedral, but was planned to be a cathedral-sized building; however, it received basilica status in 2010. Not surprising, it is a hodgepodge of architectural styles, giving it the unusual appearance that it’s so famous for.
The most famous parts of the basilica are the spires and facades. There are 18 spires planned in total, all with their own significance. 12 of them will represent Jesus’ apostles, four the evangelists, one the Virgin Mary and the final one, the tallest of them all, will be Jesus Christ. And there are three facades to see: the Nativity, the Passion, and the Glory. The Nativity was finished by Gaudi himself, the other two added later. The Passion has caused the most controversy as many feel that the style in which it was done is too far removed from Gaudi’s vision, so it is something to look at and decide for yourself. While the Sagrada Familia obviously has lots of religious symbolism, Gaudi was not only inspired by the Bible. The natural world held a strong fascination for him and there are plenty of examples in the basilica to look out for, including the interior pillars, which resemble trees, held up by a tortoise (turtle) to represent the earth and the sea. You can also check out Gaudi’s tomb during your visit. The best thing of all about visiting the Sagrada Familia is that your visit will contribute to the continuing efforts to complete the building. Now that’s money well spent.
In the afternoon, you should head to another of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Park Guell. Originally conceived as a residential area, designed by Gaudi between 1900 to 1914 with the plan to have 60 homes built there, lack of interest meant that the area was turned into what is now known as Park Guell. While the majority of the park is like most other parks, what you are really coming to see is the monumental zone, which makes up 5% of the area, where all of Gaudi’s work can be found. The monuments you should definitely see while here include the Guard Museum, the Gardens of Austria, the Gaudi House Museum and Nature Square. Park Guell is also home to the world’s longest undulating bench, measuring 110 meters long. With its colorful mosaics, it is definitely a cool place to take a selfie.
While most of the park is free, you need to purchase a ticket for the monumental zone. While many websites recommend that you visit Park Guell in the evening, unless you have seen the park many times this is not recommended. As the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is limited artificial lighting so, once the sun goes down, you will not actually be able to see very much. The beauty of Park Guell is down to its amazing colors and landscaping, something which you will miss out on when it is surrounded by darkness. Also, as the monumental zone is free in the evening, lots of hawkers descend to try and sell tacky souvenirs to tourists, so there is a good chance you will get harassed to buy something if you visit in the evening.
Note: A good tip for both the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell is to book your tickets online before you go. As they are the two most popular attractions in Barcelona, queues for tickets can get extremely long, so booking online with save you loads of time. Personally, I booked in advance on GetYourGuide the skip-the-line tickets with a guided tour. Totally worthy!
Besides, if you are planning on taking lots of photos at Park Guell, you may want to switch this day around and go to the park in the morning and the Sagrada Familia in the afternoon; Park Guell does not get so crowded in the early morning, plus the morning light will help your pictures pop!
Another Favorite: Best destinations to spend Autumn in Europe
Check Out a Flamenco Show
Flamenco is the quintessential Spanish dance and Barcelona is a fantastic place to catch the best dancers. There are daily shows at the Palacio del Flamenco in the evenings which come with a variety of options. The basic package includes the show and a drink, but there are also packages available which include dinner and/or tapas.
Another alternative place to go is Los Tarantos Flamenco Show.
Insider Tip: If you would like to see a truly spectacular flamenco show, I would recommend for you to visit Seville, since flamenco originated in Andalusia. I am a flamenco lover and, in Seville, I watched one of the best performances I have ever seen!
Sports lovers? Here is an alternative idea:
Experience a tour of the Camp Nou Stadium
Why not treat yourself, or the soccer fan in your life, to a 1.5-hour tour of Camp Nou, the stadium with the largest capacity in all of Europe, and visit the accompanying museum. Retrace the footsteps of the Futbol Club Barcelona’s legendary players including Kubala, Cruyff, Maradona, Guardiola, and Ronaldinho. Experience Barça passion!
Visit More Gaudi Sights
The final morning of your stay is the chance to see some of Gaudi’s other extraordinary buildings. You should head to Passeig de Gracia, one of the main streets of the city, and visit Casa Batllo. It is an amazing house to see as there are no straight lines or right angles anywhere in the structure. Although many think that the Sagrada Familia is the best of Gaudi’s creations but, personally, I think Casa Batllo is just as impressive in its own right. It is possible to go inside, which is strongly recommended because it is so unique.
Right next door to Casa Batllo is Casa Amatller, so-called because it was designed specifically for the chocolatier Antoni Amatller. Although the outside is simply stunning, you should also head inside to the chocolate shop and cafe. It is a great place to buy some souvenirs for your family and friends – and, of course, yourself! If you book this ticket, gives you priority entrance + a Chocolate tasting.
Finally, you should check out Casa Mila, more commonly known as La Pedrera, the last of the civil houses Gaudi created. Like Casa Batllo, it is made up of uneven lines and curves and is just as stunning from the inside as it is outside. A great thing about Casa Mila is that it is generally not as popular as Casa Batllo, which is why you should visit it later in the morning rather than first thing; the queues for Casa Batllo will get really long as the day goes on, but if you arrive at Casa Mila a little bit later, you still will not need to wait too long to enter.
Boqueria Market (Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria)
After visiting the Gaudi houses, you can head straight to Boqueria Market. While the market has become somewhat of a tourist favorite in recent years, it is still possible to see locals buying their fruit, vegetables, and meat. There are also a few tapas restaurants here which are of excellent quality.
Note: If you love food, and would like to truly experience the market + learning how to make paella, I suggest you this tour I took called Paella Cooking Experience + Boqueria Market Tour. You will join a professional chef on an introductory tour of the world-famous Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, Barcelona’s oldest and best food market, dating back to the 13th century.
On your last afternoon, it would be great to get some panoramic shots of Barcelona, so make your way to Montjuic Hill – it offers some of the best views you could ask or hope for. However, the views are not the only reason to come here. At the top of Montjuic Hill is Montjuic Castle, which dates back to the 17th century and has been used as a fortress and a prison. Note: You can walk or take a cable car ride up to the top.
There are also lots of other attractions to enjoy in the area, particularly if you are a fan of art, such as the National Museum of Catalunya Art and the Joan Miro Foundation. The main reason why people head to Montjuic Hill in the afternoon and evening, however, is for the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. This spectacular fountain puts on a magnificent display of water, color and music, and is the perfect way to end your Barcelona trip. The times and days vary depending on the season, so it is worth checking online to confirm the schedule of shows.
Recommended: Where to go in Europe for the Christmas holidays
La Pedrera at Gaudi’s iconic Casa Milà Night Experience
End the night by skipping the lines to one of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings, Gaudi’s Casa Milà and watch an amazing audiovisual display on the roof terrace. Get a short introduction to Gaudi’s revolutionary building on the Passeig de Gracia, and see multiple projections in the stairwells.
Where to Eat in Barcelona
Lunchtimes are amazing in Barcelona, especially at the restaurants located at Port Olimpic. All of the restaurants do lunch menus with three to five courses, plus a drink, for around €15. Obviously, there are many restaurants across the city that offer the same kind of deals, but the ones around Port Olimpic also include some of the best views. For dinner, you should do as the locals do and enjoy numerous rounds of tapas over a few glasses of wine or beer.
A key thing to remember when eating out in Barcelona is that the locals tend to dine later than in many western countries. Breakfast is usually served until 12:30pm, and lunch menus will be available from around 1pm to 3pm, although some may go even later until 4pm. Dinner services normally start around 7pm, although some of the more touristy restaurants may decide to open slightly earlier to cater to many non-Spanish guests. It is completely normal to eat dinner way past 9pm and, if you are traveling in the height of summer, you may find that you do not actually want to eat dinner this late anyway.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona has so many great boutique hotels it can be hard to pick just one for your stay. There are also plenty of Airbnbs dotted around the city too. I would recommend staying in one of the central areas, such as Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter or Placa de Catalunya, to make the most of your three-day stay. Although Barcelona is not such a big city – it is certainly smaller than most people expect, with most outer districts only taking a maximum of 45 minutes on the metro to the center – if you are just staying for a short period of time then it is better to base yourself where all the action is.
While it might seem like a good idea to buy one of the city passes on offer, they can sometimes be a waste of money. The Barcelona Card, for example, has free entrance to some museums, but for the main ones you will only get discounted rates, and the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are not included. It does, however, include free transportation on the metro so, if you are planning on using public transportation, it may be worth it. The Barcelona City Pass does include free timed entry to both the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, plus discounts for many other attractions. Note: The transport included are the hop-on-hop-off tourist buses so, if you are not a fan of these buses, it won’t be a good buy.
Personally, if you are following this itinerary and happy getting around on the hop-on-hop-off buses, the Barcelona City Pass is worth it. However, you may save just as much money by purchasing any entrance tickets you can online and then buying a T-10 metro pass. These cost €10.20 for ten trips within one zone. Or as I suggested above, for a few bucks more you can have unlimited transportation tickets, including from/to the airport with the Hola BCN transportation card.
During your visit to Barcelona, be aware of your belongings. Consider getting anti-theft bags or a pouch to hide under your clothes because Barcelona, as many other large cities in Europe, is notorious for having lots of pickpockets. I’ve heard many stories frequently enough to know that it’s better to be safe than sorry although, fortunately, I did not encounter any problems myself.
Overall, as you can see, there are loads of fun activities in Barcelona to keep you busy for a long weekend. While you might not see everything that the city has to offer, you will certainly be able to see the best things in Barcelona in 3 days. You can always plan a return trip.