If you’re fortunate to have 3 days in Barcelona to fill, you can look forward to an exciting mix of cultural attractions, beaches, and food.
Barcelona is one of those cities that impresses every visitor who sets foot in town. It’s the sort of city that has famous Barcelona quotes written about it. With an endless supply of architectural marvels by Antoni Gaudí filling the streets and an irresistible tapas bar on every corner, Spain’s second city stands out as a unique destination.
Besides the hundreds of museums, Barcelona has beaches, sprawling hills, and green spaces that will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.
This 3 day Barcelona itinerary will help you shape your time in the Spanish city and experience a little bit of everything.
How many days in Barcelona do you need?
Firstly, is 3 days in Barcelona enough?
You can – easily – fill an entire fortnight in Barcelona. The fact that the city is packed with attractions is one thing. But, you can also devote days to eating and hanging out at the city beaches.
Barcelona has enough museums and galleries that it could take months to see them all. With three days in Barcelona, you’ll only have time to tick off a couple of them. This itinerary includes suggestions but you should do additional research to make sure you choose the best museums to suit your personal interests. If you have a few more days, you can head take a few day trips from Barcelona to the Costa Brava for some incredible beaches and beautiful towns to explore. Planning a trip to other parts of Spain? Don’t miss out on our Madrid itinerary, the best tapas in Madrid, the best things to do in Malaga, and this Seville guide.
How to get to Barcelona
Barcelona Airport (BCN), or Aeroport de Barcelona-El Prat, is an international airport with fantastic connections to most European cities. Direct flights link major US cities to Barcelona such as New York, Washington, and San Francisco.
If you are already in Spain, you can connect to the city via bus from northern cities such as Madrid, Bilbao, and Valencia. Journeys are long but you will save money and get to enjoy the Spanish countryside on the way. Check fares and schedules at Omio.
Getting around Barcelona
This Barcelona 3 day itinerary is designed to be as walkable as possible. However, Barcelona is a huge city and you will need to use the metro, tram, or bus from time to time.
A single fare on the metro costs €2.40. However, it makes sense to purchase a Hola Barcelona Travel Card at the start of your visit. These are valid for 48 hours through to 120 hours and include the airport fee.
Keep an eye on your belongings while riding the metro. Opportunistic pickpocketing is relatively common in Barcelona so it’s wise to pay special attention.
Where to stay in Barcelona
Barcelona caters to budget backpackers, boutique holidaymakers, and travelers in search of luxury. There are so many wonderful places to stay in Barcelona. Seek accommodation in the central districts of Eixample, El Raval, the Gothic Quarter, or Gràcia to minimize travel time while exploring Barcelona in 3 days.
- True Design in Heart of Noble BCN offers compact, modern studios with self-catering facilities in Eixample. This is great if you want to save money and cook some of your own meals.
- Hotel Ronda Lesseps is a comfortable guest house in Gràcia with en suite rooms and the option to include breakfast to your booking. On the other hand, ME Barcelona has the luxury of a rooftop swimming pool and 5-star rooms if you are prepared to splash out.
- Hesperia Barcelona Del Mar is a great shout if you’d rather stay close to the beach without blowing your holiday budget on accommodation.
If you would prefer to stay in a luxurious, stylish, and centrally located apartment while you’re visiting Barcelona, don’t miss out on the incredible options available on Plum Guide here.
3 days in Barcelona itinerary
Read on to find out how to see the best of Barcelona in 3 days. The following guide includes links to where you can purchase tickets, Google maps locations, and recommendations for where to eat in Barcelona.
Day 1 of 3 days in Barcelona
During your first day in Barcelona, you’ll want to get to know the city center and see as much as you can. You only have three days in Barcelona, there’s no time for lazy mornings!
La Rambla/Rambla del Mar
La Rambla is a long street that connects Plaça de Catalunya with the Monument a Colom. You can expect to find vendors trading on the street and street performances. There are also several museums and theatres dotted along the thoroughfare.
It’s the touristic heart of the city and is prone to crowds. It’s worth heading here early if you want to avoid too much congestion – especially during the summer peak season. Walking from either end takes 20 minutes but you should allow extra time to photograph the buildings and wander down the side streets.
Conclude at the Rambla de Mar, a modern walkway suspended over the sea.
Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)
Situated to the east of La Rambla, the Gothic Quarter is one of the oldest parts of Barcelona. Allow plenty of time to wander the labyrinth streets and visit the attractions that most appeal to you. It’s one of the few free things to do in Barcelona. So those on a budget won’t want to miss it.
The Catedral de Barcelona will warm you up before you visit La Sagrada Família later in your 3 days Barcelona trip. Meanwhile, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri contains a church that was damaged during the Civil War. Museums devoted to art, sculpture, and Spanish history flood the streets. You can also spot the ruins of the old Roman walls.
You could easily spend a full day in the Gothic Quarter and you might want to consider returning later in this itinerary. It’s worth coming back in the evening for dinner and drinks to experience the change in energy.
Mercado de la Boqueria
Mercado de la Boqueria is located on La Rambla. This massive covered market is a one-stop shop for fresh produce, seafood, meat, cheeses, and sweet treats. If you’re staying in self-catered accommodation – you’re recommended to stock up!
Otherwise, you can visit for the atmosphere and grab a bite to eat from one of the independent bars within the complex.
Bear in mind that Barcelonians dine later in the day in comparison with northern and western European countries. But, if you arrive ahead of the lunch rush, you’re likely to find a seat.
Now, over to the Gaudí-themed part of this 3 day Barcelona itinerary. Leaving La Rambla, you will follow another of the city’s emblematic streets – Passeig de Gràcia.
Casa Batlló (the House of Barcelona) is one of the most fascinating buildings designed by the Catalan architect. It features Gaudí’s intricate and colorful architectural style with whimsical shapes and a dragon topping the structure.
You can appreciate the facade from the street or purchase a ticket to tour the interiors. Admission includes an audio guide and you should expect to spend an hour inside.
Advance purchase is highly recommended at all times but is essential at weekends and during the summer. You can pre-book a ticket for Casa Batlló here.
Do also check out Casa Amatller which sits next door. This building was designed by another fabulous Catalan architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch. It contains a small museum, chocolate shop, and cafe – so factor in time for a coffee break here.
The walking distance to Casa Batlló from the market is 20 minutes.
Another of Gaudí’s treasures, Casa Milá, is located a 10-minute walk around the corner from Casa Batlló.
Casa Milá was originally commissioned by Pere Milà and Roser Segimon as the residence of the Milà family. They kept one floor to themselves and rented out the other apartments. Nowadays, it’s open to the public for tours and hosts art exhibitions, concerts, and other events.
The block is also known as La Pedrera as it resembles a stone quarry. Again, you have the choice of admiring the external architecture or venturing inside. As with Casa Batlló, you should book entry tickets online in advance.
Park Güell occupies a hill rising from the Gràcia neighborhood and is teeming with houses designed by Gaudí. Each building is unique and ornamented with lavish tilework and Gaudí’s signature textures and shapes.
Furthermore, the park is a joy to wander around and you’ll get incredible views that stretch as far as the sea. This is one of the best places to watch the sunset during a 3 days Barcelona trip. Although, as you can expect – the park is likely to be pretty full at golden hour.
Limited tickets per day are available and you must reserve an allocated time slot in advance. Book a ticket to Park Güell in advance here.
The walk from Casa Milá takes 30 minutes and lets you experience more of Passeig de Gràcia’s architecture. However, you can save time by taking the metro (L3) from Diagonal to Vallcarca.
If you’re hungry after the park, head down to one of the tapas bars in Gràcia. Sol Soler and La Bodegueta de Gràcia each specialize in authentic Catalan tapas in cozy environs. But, this neighborhood has countless taverns to choose from.
Day 2 of 3 days in Barcelona
I hope you packed comfortable walking shoes because there’s plenty more to explore on day two of your 3 days in Barcelona itinerary!
La Sagrada Família
Despite being Barcelona’s most iconic attraction, La Sagrada Família tends to divide opinion. Some love it, others, not so much. Either way, the colossal church deserves a spot on any Barcelona itinerary.
Construction on Gaudí’s design started in the 1880s and continues to this day. Although this means that the church is always obstructed by scaffolding, you can still get a decent look at the exterior and tour the interiors.
Advance tickets are mandatory and it’s best to get the earliest slot on the day. This is usually 9 am. Opt to take the audio guide tour, a guided tour, and add on a trip to the towers if you wish. You can pre-book your tour here.
Take a stroll through the Plaça de Gaudí and the Plaça de la Sagrada Família for different perspectives of the church.
As you had an early start, pop down the side streets near the church and pick up a coffee and pastry before you continue. Camelia Art Café is recommended for health-conscious and tasty brunches and gourmet hot drinks.
Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau
Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is a special addition to your Barcelona itinerary as it occupies a former hospital. It’s the world’s largest Art Nouveau complex and comprises 12 pavilions connected via underground tunnels and green space.
Admission grants access to the old hospital’s emergency service hall, the gardens, and the mosaic and statue-clad Administration Pavilion. You can explore with or without the assistance of an audio guide or tour guide. Advance booking is still highly encouraged.
It’s lesser known which means that it tends to be quieter. Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is a 15-minute walk from La Sagrada Família.
Museu del Disseny de Barcelona
The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona is an alternative to the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. Unless you want to visit both during your 3 days in Barcelona!
This art gallery in Plaça de les Glòries Catalane is dedicated to historic and contemporary Spanish design. Items exhibited include home furnishings, product design, fashionwear, graphic design, textiles, and visual arts.
It’s located in a futuristic building set upon a series of public gardens where you can rest your feet afterward.
Plaça de les Glòries Catalane is also the setting for the shimmering Torre Glòries (designed by French architect Jean Nouvel).
Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella is one of the prettiest parks to include during your Barcelona 3 day itinerary. The park consists of landscaped gardens, a zoo, a striking fountain, and historic monuments. It’s also the setting of the Catalonian parliament building and a small chapel.
You can pick up a takeaway lunch from one of the nearby cafes or bakeries and enjoy a lunchtime picnic on the grass.
Parc de la Ciutadella is a 20-minute walk from Plaça de les Glòries Catalane
If you’re coming from the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, you can take bus 19 from Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret.
Day 3 of 3 days in Barcelona
It’s your last day in Barcelona (or have you decided to extend your stay after seeing what an incredible city it is?!). You’ll want to explore the last of the top Barcelona attractions that you missed on your first two days.
Montjuïc Hill towers above the port and offers a huge scope of viewpoints and cultural opportunities.
Beyond the hilltop castle, the botanical gardens, and the parklands, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is the star attraction. It hosts a vast collection of art from as far back as the 11th century.
If you prefer, there are also museums devoted to archaeology, ethnology, and sports history. Montjuïc Hill is the site of the 1992 Olympic Games so you can wander around some of the remaining sports grounds.
Expect to spend the full morning at Montjuïc Hill. You can reduce hiking time with a ride on the cable car (Telefèric de Montjuïc).
Wrap up your three days in Barcelona by experiencing the city’s gorgeous beaches. You can park up on the sand and turn this into a sunbathing session. Or, plan a long walk along the sand.
The most central and easily accessible beaches are located in La Barceloneta, with Platja de la Barceloneta being the main city beach.
On the other hand, the beaches of La Plata stretch northeastward and you can walk as far as Platja del Fòrum. If you’d prefer to cycle, you can rent a bicycle via the Donkey Republic bike share scheme. Passeig Marítim del Bogatell links the beaches and provides scenic views of the sand and surf.
Conclude your 3 days in Barcelona with sunset on the sand and a meal in La Barceloneta. There are heaps of restaurants and tapas bars in this neighbourhood and portside development. Head to the historic Bar Jai-Ca for exquisite seafood tapas fresh from the ocean and a stellar wine list.