Eclectic architecture, ancient history and a stunning seashore are the main ingredients for a perfect Barcelona vacation. Add in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and phenomenal gastronomy and it’s easy to see why the city entices visitors from around the world. We think 3 days in Barcelona, Spain is just enough time to feel the vibe of the city – and we packed our 3-Day Barcelona Itinerary with the top sights and attractions.
3 Days in Barcelona
Barcelona is more than a city of sights – it’s a city of culture, nature and experiences. Ideally, trips to Barcelona, Spain are approached as more than just a checklist. Visiting Barcelona in 3 days allows visitors the opportunity see the highlights, taste the cuisine and explore the neighborhoods.
Top Tip: This post focuses on how to best spend 3 days in the city, but we also have tips for travelers attempting to see Barcelona in a day or who only have a weekend in Barcelona. At the end of the post you will find alternative Barcelona itineraries – for spending more or less time in the city.
Barcelona Itinerary 3 Days
Our guide of what to do in Barcelona for 3 days covers the highlights of the city and more. Be sure to Pin, Bookmark or Save our Barcelona blog post so that you can easily access it during your trip!
Day 1: Experience The Best of Barcelona
On Day 1 of your three days in Barcelona, set off on foot to explore the historic city sights, then end your day with a classic meal.
Barcelona Walking Tour
Waste no time getting acquainted with the city! Explore the city on foot using our helpful Self-Guided Barcelona Walking Tour.
Walk down Las Ramblas – detouring into the iconic La Boqueria Market and into hidden squares revealing ancient history. Discover the dynamic waterfront on a stroll along La Rambla del Mar. Weave through the old fisherman’s quarter – now known as hip Barceloneta – and then visit the best green space in the city, Parc de la Ciutadella. From the park, ease into the tangle of cobblestone streets in La Ribera, wander through the iconic Barri Gothic Quarter and end your walk at the grandiose Barcelona Cathedral.
Stay in the historic center of the city for the evening and see the sights under the glow of streetlamps. For dinner, indulge in classic Catalonian cuisine, feast on seafood paella or get an introduction to the region’s famous tapas.
Top Tip: Join the wildly popular evening Tapas Tour that includes a guided walk through La Rambla, the Gothic Quarter and the La Boqueria Food Market. Find out more!
Day 2: Barcelona History, Nature and Art
On Day 2 of your 3 Days in Barcelona Itinerary, travel to the south side of the city to the Sants-Montjuic District for a full dose of history, nature and art.
The Sants-Monjuic District offers something for everyone – from architecture and nature to museums and malls. The following sights can be visited in the order they are listed for a full day of adventures!
A large and lively square, L’Espanya is a fantastic starting point to the southern sights of Barcelona. The current square was built in 1929 for the International Exhibition (but the site has a long history in the city – and was once used for public hangings during Medieval times).
Sights on the square include the Arenas de Barcelona – an old bullfighting ring that now houses a mall (and has an outdoor rooftop terrace), the twin Venetian Towers (which stand at 154-feet), and an elaborate fountain that sits prominently in the middle of the roundabout.
Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina
Marked by the Venetian Towers, the grand Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristian leads from L’Espanya to the city’s most famous art museum. The long, ornate road is part of the Fira de Barcelona fairgrounds – and the Magic Fountain sits in the center of the avenue. On weekend nights, the fountain’s water streams are choreographed with music and lights, displaying a beautiful (and free!) show.
Top Tip: Plan on ending your evening at the fountain…check show times in advance (which vary by season).
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
The National Art Museum of Catalonia – or MNAC, for short – features more than 5,000 paintings and Catalan art (including furniture by Antoni Gaudi). The gallery is housed in the Palau Nacional (the National Palace), which was the featured architectural centerpiece of the 1929 International Exhibition. Buy Your Ticket to MNAC in Advance!
1992 Olympic Village
Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics – most of which took place just south of the art museum. Built for the games, the Olympic Village is now a manicured and peaceful park. Sights within the park include the Olympic Stadium and Arena (both of which now host concerts and sporting events) and the iconic communications tower. There is a small museum on site as well.
Montjuic Hill and Castle
Winding roads and hillside trails lead up to the Montjuic Castle – and old military fort. The fortress, once surrounded by a moat, dates to the 1600s. The castle played a significant role in Catalan history – and was used as a prison during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. Visitors can enter the castle with a ticket (and there are guided tours as well).
Top Tip: Don’t miss the incredible viewpoints over the sea from the top of Montjuic! Follow the trails along the ridge for the best vantage points.
More Montjuic Sights
We didn’t make it to these sights – but other travelers might be able to fit them into their Day 2 Sightseeing!
We opted to hike up the hill, but there is also a fun (and convenient) cable car that transports people from the base of Montjuic to the hill-topping castle. Find out more!
Explore the lush nature and colorful landscapes of the Barcelona Botanic Gardens. Featuring Mediterranean plants, the park offers a moment of tranquility in the city. Entry fee required.
Joan Miro Museum
The small museum features the abstract art of famous Barcelona artist Joan Miro. Buy your ticket in advance!
Top Tip: On the first Sunday of the month – and every Sunday after 3pm – both the Montjuic Castle and Botanic Gardens are free.
An Evening of Tapas
Enjoy the art of Spanish tapas at three tapas bars, located just a short walk from Montjuic. Begin the evening with wine and signature tapas from famous Quimet I Quimet, then sample an array of Basque-style tapas from a popular restaurant on the well-known Tapas Street. Save some room for your final stop – Abirradero – a dedicated craft beer bar with fabulously paired tapas.
Get all the details – including specific tapas recommendations and a walking map – in our Barcelona Blog Post: The Best Tapas in Barcelona.
Day 3: Barcelona Architecture: Neighborhoods and Gaudi
Spend the last day of your 3 perfect days in Barcelona seeking out the city’s best – and most unusual – architecture. In a looping route, stroll through picturesque neighborhoods while taking in the Catalan Modernism marvels by Gaudi. Use this link to Google Maps for walking directions.
Considered to be Barcelona’s finest neighborhood, wandering through L’Eixample is must-do when in Barcelona! The wide-lane, grid-patterned streets are home to numerous Catalan Modernism dwellings that Antoni Gaudi is so famous for.
A Gaudi masterpiece, Casa Batllo is located on the main thoroughfare in L’Eixample, Passeig de Gracia. The house, which Gaudi renovated in the early 1900s, is often called the House of Bones. Casa Batllo is part of the “Block of Discord” – which includes three other architecturally intriguing buildings (not of Gaudi design): Casa Lleo-Morera, Casa Mulleras and Casa Amatller. Buy your ticket in advance!
Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Another landmark building designed by Gaudi, Casa Mila – or La Pedrera, which means The Stone Quarry – was built between 1906 and 1912. Visitors have access to the courtyards, the Espai Gaudi exhibition and the rooftop terrace. Buy Your Skip-the-Line Ticket in Advance!
Casa de les Punxes
Likened to a Medieval castle, Casa de les Punxes was designed by Modernist architect Cadafalch in 1905. The home was built for the wealthy Terradas family and is a recognizable city monument. Ticket required for entry.
Bohemian and hip, the Gracia neighborhood offers a glimpse into local Barcelona. Gracia features pleasant squares, boutique shops and hipster vibes.
Placa de la Vila de Gracia
The beating heart of the Gracia district, Placa de la Vila de Gracia is always bustling with activity. Even when there are not events – like Castellers (human towers) or Sardana dances – the square attracts both locals and tourists, who fill in the seats at the numerous restaurants and bars.
Casa Vicens was the first house built by Antoni Gaudi; he completed the Art Nouveau dwelling in 1885 for the Vicens family. The unique architecture spurred the Modernism movement that is so prominent throughout Catalonia. Buy Your Ticket in Advance!
Taking 14 years to complete, Park Guell was designed by Gaudi as a residential subdivision…but the project failed, and the city designated it a park in the 1920s. The playful artistic park reigns as one of the city’s top landmark attractions. Buy Your Skip-the-Line Ticket in advance!
Sant Pau Recinte Modernista
Somewhat of a hidden gem, the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista Art Nouveau complex functioned as a hospital until 2009. Built by architect Domenech I Montaner in the early 1900s (and opened in 1930), the hospital features opulent gardens and underground tunnels. Buy Your Ticket in Advance!
La Sagrada Familia
The most famous – yet unfinished – work by Antoni Gaudi is the incredible La Sagrada Familia. Construction on the church began in 1882 – and Gaudi was named lead architect on the project in 1883. He aimed to blend both Gothic and Art Nouveau styles into the church design – which has resulted in a bewildering and enchanting art-form.
When Gaudi died in 1926, the church was not even halfway complete. Following Gaudi’s instructions and style, the building is set to finally be completed in 2026 (100 years after Gaudi’s death). Buy Skip-the-Line Tour Tickets Now!
Evening in L’Eixample
The L’Eixample district is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in Barcelona! End your Barcelona, Spain vacation on a high note and dine in style at the famed Michelin Star restaurant Lasarte.
Barcelona Day Trips
Want to get out of the city and discover more of the region? With a little rearranging of the places to see in Barcelona in 3 days, you can squeeze in a little sightseeing outside of the city. Consider adding one of these Barcelona day tours to your itinerary.
Leave the city behind and head for the hills! Take the cable car up the mountain and visit the Montserrat Abbey. Afterwards, enjoy a 3-course farmhouse lunch. Find out more!
Costa Brava Kayak and Snorkel Tour
Escape the city and spend a day at sea! Discover the coastline at Costa Brava on a kayak tour then dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea for a swim! Get the Details!
Barcelona Guided Tours and Activities in the City
There are many Barcelona activities and Tours that don’t leave the city – but can significantly enhance a Barcelona trip!
Sunset Catamaran Cruise
Set sail at sunset and enjoy a relaxing 1.5 hours at sea. Listen to live jazz music aboard the ship as a perfect way to unwind after a long day of sightseeing! Find out more!
Watch a flamenco performance at the renowned Los Tarantos. The short – but epic – performance is a perfect pre- or post- dinner event. Reserve Your Seat!
Paella Cooking Experience
Accompany a local chef to the market to buy ingredients for tapas, sangria and paella. Watch – and help – prepare the feast and then indulge in the traditional meal. Book it now!
How Many Days in Barcelona?
Deciding how long to spend in Barcelona often comes down to three factors: Time, Money and Interest. Visitors short on time – or breezing through the city on a layover – can create an ideal Barcelona 1-Day Itinerary. Travelers who want to get immersed in the culture or explore the city in detail can easily spend 1 week in Barcelona. Check out our tips below for alternative itineraries – and then decide how many days to spend in Barcelona.
Itinerary Suggestions for How Long To Stay in Barcelona
Our Barcelona Trip Planner includes our top recommendations for things to do in Barcelona in 3 days. But what if you have more or less time in the city? We offer our top tips for planning a trip to Barcelona – whether you are trying to plan a fun Barcelona weekend or a week in Barcelona, we’ve got you covered!
One Day in Barcelona
There are numerous ways to create the perfect Barcelona One-Day Itinerary.
Barcelona One-Day Tour City Highlights
Visitors with 1 day in Barcelona will really need to pick and choose which sights to see. Our plan for Barcelona in One Day would start with Old Town exploration (using our Self-Guided Barcelona Walking Tour). Then, in the late afternoon, go to La Sagrada Familia (and don’t forget to buy Skip-the-Line tickets in advance!).
Barcelona Culinary Expedition
If you are less concerned about what to see in Barcelona in one day and more interested in what to eat, then we suggest focusing your trip on the best Barcelona food! Join a chef to make paella, go to Barceloneta for seafood snacks, then create your own Spanish Tapas Tasting Tour (using our guide to the Best Tapas in Barcelona) or join a guided tapas tour through the city.
Guided One-Day Trip
If it is too overwhelming to plan what to see in Barcelona in 1 day on your own, consider hiring a guide for an all-day tour that features the absolute best of the city. No pre-planning required! Learn more here!
2 Days in Barcelona
Visiting Barcelona in 2 days allows for a lot more sightseeing. With two days in Barcelona, we recommend using our 3-Day Itinerary for Barcelona…and making just a few adjustments.
Barcelona Itinerary 2 Days
On your first day, follow Day 1 as outlined in our 3-Day Itinerary. Then, on day two, eliminate some activities from both days 2 and 3 to create a full second day of sightseeing. We recommend spending the morning in L’Eixample, mid-morning at La Sagrada Familia, the afternoon at Montjuic and – in the evening – go tapas-hopping.
4 Days in Barcelona
Visiting Barcelona in 4 days opens up the sightseeing possibilities!
Barcelona Itinerary 4 Days
Use our tips for what to see in Barcelona for 3 days and add one of the day trips from Barcelona on your last day. Alternatively, spend the last day lounging at the Barceloneta beach and feasting on fresh seafood instead of leaving the city center.
5 Days in Barcelona
There is a lot you can see in Barcelona in 5 days – plus, you can really get a good feel for the city.
Barcelona Itinerary 5 Days
Using our guide of what to do in Barcelona in three days, add one full-day trip from the city and one full day of relaxation (at the beach, if it is sunny, or neighborhood immersion).
7 Days in Barcelona
There are endless possibilities of how to spend one week in Barcelona – and many opportunities to experience the absolute best of the city.
Barcelona Itinerary 7 Days
Use our outline for 5 days in Barcelona for the beginning of your trip. On Day 6, take a second day trip out of the city to explore more of the region. On the last day, join one (or more) of the city tours where you can experience and understand more of the culture.
Alternatively, turn your Barcelona trip into a Spain vacation! Visit three of the best cities: Barcelona, Seville and Madrid – as outlined in our One Week Spain Itinerary!
Barcelona Travel Tips
Get ready for your trip with our top tips!
Where To Stay in Barcelona
With just 3 nights in Barcelona, you will want to be centrally located. There are hundreds – thousands – of places to stay in the city.
We have stayed in the L’Eixample District in an Airbnb apartment (which we loved for the extra space and kitchen, where we could prepare breakfasts). The neighborhood was excellent for seeking out local cafes and bars – and extremely convenient to exploring the Modernism architecture.
Not already a member of Airbnb? Create an account using our link and save money on your first stay!
Recently, we stayed in the Hotel Concordia Barcelona in the El Poble-sec district – which lies between Montjuic and the Old Town. The location was ideal for local transportation from the airport and within reasonable walking distance to the Old Town, Montjuic and the famous tapas street. The 4-Star hotel features modern rooms, an outdoor pool and a casual on-site restaurant and bar.
Start your search for the perfect Barcelona hotel on Booking.com!
Barcelona is a big city! However, the city is well-connected by a network of public transportation. Buy an unlimited public transport pass that allows you to ride buses, the Metro, trains and trams!
Thinking about spending the Christmas holidays in Barcelona? We highly recommend it! Get all of our top tips for enjoying Christmas in the city on our Barcelona Travel Blog: Christmas in Barcelona: Churches, Markets and Traditions.
What You Will Need
Just a few tips on things you will need for your trip!
Our Barcelona Itinerary covers some ground! Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. I like wearing Columbia shoes – which are good for the city and for trails – and Kris likes wearing his Merrell shoes.
Barcelona – like many big cities – has occurrences of petty crimes. Tourists are a pick-pocketer’s dream…so be sure to keep your valuables zipped up and out of the reach of sticky-fingered thieves. We have never encountered any issues in Barcelona, but we keep our phones and wallets tucked into money belts and in zippered pockets of a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag. Although we don’t own one, Travelon produces quality anti-theft bags and purses.
Don’t rely on your mobile phone camera to capture the sights of the city (besides, it’s not a good idea to wave around an expensive phone that can easily be snatched from your hand!). Instead, upgrade to a real camera (with a neck or wrist strap)! We use a Canon Rebel, but we also carry a slim Canon PowerShot that takes fantastic pictures and can easily fit into a zippered pocket.
Travel insurance is essential! Insurance can protect travelers from flight delays, lost luggage, theft and unexpected illnesses or injuries abroad. Check rates and coverage at World Nomads!
We Want To Know: Is there anything you would add to our list of things to see in 3 days in Barcelona? What were the highlights of your Barcelona itinerary? Give us all your tips and advice in the comments below!
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