barcelona 3 day itinerary
Last Updated: March 30, 2021

Barcelona: 3-Day Itinerary For The Catalan Capital

You get to spend three days in Barcelona? You’re so lucky! The city is utterly stunning in every way, the people are incredibly friendly, and the food in Barcelona is delicious. But it is quite a big city, and three days is certainly not enough time to see every corner of Barcelona.

So, where should you go and what should you skip if you only have three days in this charming city? We’ll tell you that! Our three-day itinerary includes all the must-see places in Barcelona, from Sagrada Familia to Tibidabo. And I’ve included an optional day trip if you’re okay with leaving Barcelona for a few hours.

Getting Around Barcelona

Barcelona Aerial

The public transport in Barcelona is well developed, so you don’t need to rent a car to get around the city. Most of the top tourist sights are within walking distance of one another, and buses will take you everywhere else. There are also trams, night buses, funiculars, and metro, and they will take you to all the major attractions mentioned in this itinerary.

Barcelona is generally considered a walking city, and that is true even for our itinerary. Apart from Tibidabo and Parc Guell, you can reach every single attraction on-foot, and it won’t take more than half an hour. Also, walking is a great way to see more of the city. Barcelona is very beautiful, and your time is better spent admiring the architecture than staring at the back of someone’s head in the metro.

Nonetheless, I’ve included public transportation options wherever possible, for those of you that don’t want to waste any time.

Where To Eat And Drink In Barcelona

Anywhere you want! Barcelona has everything from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants – so whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a culinary adventure, we’ve got you.

One thing to note is that pretty much all of the restaurants in Barcelona serve tapas – a group meal consisting of lots of smaller portions of different foods. This is a great way to try multiple new things, so it’s perfect for those times when you’re not sure what you’re in the mood to eat. Tapas is the most popular type of food in Spain, right up there with Paella.

I won’t dwell too much on the locales themselves, but I will list the most popular restaurants in the city.

Tapas

Tickets is a fine-dining restaurant that’s thought to be the best in Barcelona, but it’s almost impossible to get a table here. You can try, but it’s unlikely you will succeed.

Els Pescadores is the best place in the city to try authentic Catalan seafood. It’s expensive and it’s outside the city center, so it’s a journey of its own just to get to the restaurant.

Burger And Beer

ChocoVail Beer Hall Barcelona is a bar/grill, so the best place to go if you’re in the mood for burgers and beer.

Accés is one of the most popular restaurants with Mediterranean cuisine, while Cera 23 remains one of the best options if you’re specifically looking for Spanish cuisine.

As for the vegan options, Vegan Tulsi Restaurant is the highest rated option in the city, and it’s close to the Barcelona University.

Barcelona is full of rooftop bars and restaurants, and all of them feature spectacular views of the city. Some are excellent and expensive, others are average and overpriced, but there are a few hidden gems that serve amazing food at reasonable prices.

When To Eat In Barcelona

Barcelona Lunch

Here’s the thing – the people of Spain eat their meals late. Dinner is served at 9-10 PM, and nobody eats lunch before 2 PM. This is important to know if you’re planning on eating at fancy restaurants – there’s no point in booking a table at 7 PM since you won’t be served a meal before 9 PM.

A lot of restaurants in Barcelona remain open throughout the day, and this is especially true for tapas and fast-food restaurants. But it’s important to know what the customs are, so you have at least a vague idea of what to expect.

The Spanish Love Their Siesta

La Siesta

Siesta is a thing all over Spain, and Barcelona is no different in that regard. Not to be confused with a fiesta, siesta is midday rest, typically for a couple of hours after lunch. What this means in practice is that most of the businesses are closed between 2 PM and 4 PM – if you’re looking to do some shopping, you better not think about doing it during siesta.

Most restaurants will stay open though, so it’s not like the entire city goes on stand-by during this time. But if you’re trying to visit a museum or a church and the door is closed, don’t expect it to open before 4-5 PM. Only the largest tourist attractions will stay open during Siesta and if you’ve already seen all of those, you might as well partake in the siesta! When in Rome Barcelona…

Day 1: The Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Sagrada Familia

Barcelona Cityscape

The Gothic Quarter is the heart of Barcelona, and it’s one of the highlights of this amazing city. With the narrow streets and trendiest bars in the city, you could spend an entire day roaming around the neighborhood and exploring, and you wouldn’t be bored. How could you, with dozens of different museums that are inviting you to visit?

There’s everything from an optical illusions museum to one with exhibits on the history of hemp, including bongs from ancient times. And there’s no lack of historic and cultural museums here either. Frederic Mares museum is excellent if you enjoy medieval sculptures, the Barcelona History Museum is perfect for getting to know more about the city, and The Gaudi Exhibition Center is a great intro to the architecture you’ll be seeing for the next few days.

Barcelona Gothic

La Rambla is the main tourist street on the western edge of the Gothic Quarter. It’s lined with shops, restaurants, museums, cafes, and pretty much anything you could possibly need in Barcelona. A walk down this street can take just a few minutes, or a few hours if you’re popping in and out of museums and cafes, and stopping to admire the views.

La Rambla highlights include Palau Moja, an 18th-century palace, Erotic Museum of Barcelona, featuring kinky erotic devices from times of yore, and Museu de Cera de Barcelona, a wax museum with various historic figures, plus a café in the middle of a fairy forest.

la segrada- familia barcelona

La Sagrada Familia is not in the Gothic Quarter, but it’s the most famous Barcelona sight, and it’s just a short walk away from the historic neighborhood. Head northeast to see Gaudi’s most ambitious work ever, which remains unfinished to this day, more than 140 years after the initial construction started. The sight of the basilica is awe-inspiring, whether you’re standing in front of it or admiring it from a viewing platform in the nearby park.

Sagrada Familia Interior

But the inside of the church is even more impressive. The ornate carvings, the decorated columns, the mesmerizing stained glass – La Sagrada Familia is a true masterpiece, and you shouldn’t treat it as anything else.

Another place worth visiting that’s just outside the Gothic Quarter is the Picasso Museum. With more than 4,000 works of art by Picasso, this museum has one of the largest collections of works from the famous Spanish artist. That includes some of Picasso’s earlier works, the most famous of which has to be Woman with Bonnet. The museum’s collection features works from all of Picasso’s different periods and styles, and it’s perhaps the best place in Barcelona for art lovers.

Barcelona Camp Nou

Something else you might want to visit while you’re in Barcelona – depending on your personal preferences – is Camp Nou. The iconic stadium speaks for itself, and fans of FC Barcelona are likely to head there as soon as their feet touch the ground in this city. Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe and the third-largest in the world, and it’s impressive by anyone’s standards. You can tour the stadium, shop all sorts of FC Barcelona memorabilia, and if you’re like enough, you could even catch a game.

End your first day with dinner and drinks – or rather with tapas and Sangria. I’d recommend one of the rooftop bars in the Gothic Quarter since a nighttime panorama of the city is the perfect way to end your first day in Barcelona.  

Day 2: Gaudi, Gaudi, And More Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi is one of the most famous architects in the world, and the largest collection of his works is in Barcelona. The buildings designed by Gaudi are unique and spectacular, and they’re definitely the highlight of any trip to Barcelona. A trip to La Sagrada Familia on day one was just to give you some idea of what you’re in for on day two – architectural masterpieces that will have you staring in awe.

If you’re staying in the Gothic Quarter, the first stop on the Gaudi tour should be Guell Palace. The ornate mansion is an excellent example of Gaudi’s early style, which is exactly why it’s the perfect first stop on the tour.

Barcelona Columbus Monument

Then head down La Rambla to the Columbus Monument, and make a left on Passeig de Colom. Follow the main road until you get to Pla de Palau lampposts – another quirky work of Gaudi that’s now considered a historic landmark. You can walk or take the bus – the latter makes sense if you have a multi-day ticket for public transport.

Casa Batllo

The next stop is Casa Batllo. It’s a 30-minute walk or a 10-minute metro ride to Passeig de Gracia – the ornate building is unmissable, and you’ll know you’re at the right place as soon as you see it. Take some photos of the façade and then head inside for a proper tour of the place. When you’re done with Casa Batllo, the next stop is Casa Mila, just a 5-minute walk up Passeig de Gracia.

Casa Mila

Casa Mila is another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, with a recognizable façade. This building also houses an arts venue, as well as a comfy restaurant. Grab something to eat if you’re hungry, and then head to Casa Vicens – it’s an 8-minute metro ride or a 20-minute walk.

Casa Vicens Gaudi is a 19th-century family home designed by the famous architect, featuring Moorish influences perfectly blended with his quirky style. Everything about this place is mesmerizing, from the mosaic façade to the ornate walls. Absolutely go on a tour of the home, but don’t take too long – you’re heading to Park Guell next, and that will take at least 15 minutes on a bus.

Parc Guell, Barcelona, Spain

Park Guell is quite far from the city center, but it’s easy to reach with public transport. And it’s an absolute must on any Barcelona itinerary – this is a system of multiple public parks with gardens, buildings, and other architectural elements. What’s so special about this park, you might be wondering? Well, the main architect was Antoni Gaudi, which will become obvious the moment you lay your eyes on anything in this park.

Crooked roofs, mosaic-covered buildings, and colorful towers are all very characteristic of Gaudi’s aesthetic – if you enjoyed seeing Casa Batllo and Casa Milo, you’ll absolutely love it in this park. And the best part is that entrance to 90% of the park is free, with an 8 Euro fee to get inside the monument zone. You can still have a great time here without paying, but it’s worth it to get a ticket and explore every single inch of Park Guell.

Park Guell

The final stop on the ultimate Gaudi tour of Barcelona is Bellesguard. The 20th century home is inspired by medieval architecture, with quite a few Gothic elements. Everything about it screams Gaudi, from the decorated fences to the weird shape and positioning of the windows. Docent-led tours are available, and they’re a great way to actually learn something about the famous architect and his works.

That’s it for the Gaudi tour! A spectacular day like this one deserves a spectacular end – head to another rooftop restaurant in the Gothic Quarter! I’m not going to recommend a specific place because there are dozens of rooftop bars and restaurants in this neighborhood, so just pick one that serves the cuisine you’re in the mood for. Enjoy a fabulous dinner with a stunning view of the Barcelona skyline, and then go get some sleep so you’re ready for day three!

Day 3: Tibidabo, Museums

Tibidabo Cathedral

From the moment you arrived in Barcelona you probably noticed the hill towering over the city, piquing your curiosity and inviting you to visit. Well, that’s Tibidabo and we’re heading there first thing in the morning!

The quickest way to get to the top of the hill from the Gothic Quarter is to get on a bus or the metro, and then walk for 10-15 minutes to the Tibidabo funicular. The funicular will take you to the amusement park at the top of the hill, and the ride to the top is quick and scenic.

Barcelona Tibidabo

The amusement park offers 25 different rides and it’s the best place in Barcelona to let go and have fun. Get on the Ferris wheel for the absolute best view of Barcelona, visit the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and get breakfast at one of the many different restaurants at the amusement park. Before you head back into the city, make sure to stop at the observation deck – it’s to your right if you’re looking towards the city. Snap some spectacular photographs, and when you’ve had enough of the scenic views, head back into town.

The funicular station is within walking distance of CosmoCaixa Barcelona, which is a science museum housed in a modernist building. The museum features a planetarium, quite a few interactive exhibits, and even a recreation of the Amazon ecosystem. It’s fun and educational for both kids and adults, and a great way to kill a few hours in the city.

Casa de les Punxes

Next, I’d recommend going to Casa de les Punxes. It’s another architectural masterpiece, but this one was not designed by Gaudi – shocking, I know. The modernist mansion was designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a local architect who designed quite a few buildings in the city but is not quite as famous as Antoni Gaudi. The mansion is exquisite with the tall spires and decorated roofs, while its interior is actually a museum.

From there it’s a five-minute walk to Museu Egipci de Barcelona. If you’re even remotely interested in ancient cultures, a trip to this museum is a must. It’s a small museum with a comprehensive exhibit on Egyptian culture, including everything from actual mummies to Egyptian jewelry.

Barcelona Venetian Towers

If you’d rather stick to art and culture that are relevant to Barcelona, hop on the metro and head to Plaça d’Espanya. The famous plaza features several stunning landmarks, the most famous of which are probably the Venetian towers.

From the plaza, go past those towards and towards the Magic Fountain. The huge fountain is an astonishing sight, but we’re not going to spend too much time admiring it right now – you can see it in full glory only when the night falls, so let’s pass some time until the sunsets.

Barcelona Magic Fountain

I know exactly what you can do in the area – go to the Museum of National Art of Catalonia. It’s situated in a hilltop palace, and it contains the most famous Catalan art from the 11th-20th centuries. Everything about it mesmerizing, from the grandiose architecture to the breathtaking art inside the building. Oh and one more thing – the hilltop museum offers beautiful panoramic views of the Barcelona skyline, so don’t forget to stop and admire the view for a second on your way out.  

When you’re done with the museum, head back to the Magic Fountain. Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to admire one of the marvelous shows and see the choreographed dance of water to the music, along with the spectacular light show. It’s an absolutely astonishing sight, and perhaps the best way to end your third and final day in Barcelona!

Bonus: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Barcelona Circuit

Formula 1 and motorsport fans know that Barcelona is home to a spectacular race track. It’s just 30 minutes outside the city, and it offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive a formula car on the track.

You can also drive your own car on select days, or rent a Ferrari or a Lambo and do a couple of laps around the circuit. It’s an expensive adventure, but undoubtedly worth it for avid fans.

Additionally, there are often events on the circuit, so you might even get to witness some racing. It won’t be a Formula 1 race unless you’re there in May, but it might just be the Barcelona Speed Festival or the Spanish Superbike Championship. In any case, check the track calendar and see if there are any interesting events while you’re in Barcelona.

Optional: Day Trip To Figueres

Figueres Dali Museum

If you’re open to going on a day trip from Barcelona, consider visiting Figueres. The town is the birthplace of Salvador Dali, and the entire place is like one big homage to the famous artist.

The trip will take you between one and a half and two hours (one-way), and the tickets are fairly inexpensive. Driving will not get you there much faster, so it’s not worth it to go through the hassle of renting a car.

Dali Museum

Figueres is home to the Dali Theater-Museum, which is the most popular attraction in the town. The museum was opened in the 19th century, and it was designed by the artist himself. Nowadays, it holds a vast collection of Dali’s art, including famous paintings, jewelry, and anamorphic art.

This museum is not just about the paintings – adjoining buildings hold other types of art that are even more unique. This includes stereographs, holographic art, and optical illusions – if you are a fan of Salvador Dali’s works, a trip to this museum is an absolute must. And don’t just see the paintings – the collections of jewels designed by Salvador Dali is utterly enchanting, and it’s included in the ticket.

There’s not much else to do in Figueres other than admire Dali’s art, so once you’ve seen everything that interests you, head back to Barcelona. If there’s enough time, you can still do part of the itinerary of the day you skipped.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: