An enchanting seaside city full of history, culture, and excitement, Barcelona is one of the best places to vacation in all of Europe. The energy here is contagious, which is perhaps why it draws millions of people to its streets each year.
With so much to do, it may be hard to decide where to start, which is why we put together this Barcelona itinerary to help you make the most of your time in this exciting city.
Whether you’re visiting for just 24 hours or have an entire week to enjoy, here is everything you’ll need when it comes to planning your Barcelona trip.
When’s the Best Time to Visit Barcelona?
The best time to visit Barcelona is either just before or right after the summer months. The second half of June, July, and all of August draws huge crowds to the city, meaning long lines, overcrowded restaurants, and just way too many people in general. It’s also when prices are highest for everything from transportation to accommodation.
As such, consider planning your trip to Barcelona during April, May, or early June. During this period, the weather begins to get really nice so you can enjoy the beaches. Another great option is visiting during the second half of September or early October when the summer heat is still lingering — without the massive amounts of people.
The rest of the year in Barcelona is generally pretty mild due to its Mediterranean climate, with the occasional rain and cloudy days. If you’re looking to score a killer deal on accommodation, think about planning your trip in low season which runs from November through February — just try to avoid Christmas time!
How Many Days to Spend in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a large and vibrant city, with a lot going on. You’ll definitely want to take your time exploring the different quarters and neighborhoods, admiring the unique architecture, lounging on the beach, and of course eating as many tapas as possible.
While it’s possible to see the best of Barcelona in a single day, it’s hard to truly get a feel for the city without a little bit more time. Three days is the perfect amount of time to see the most iconic Barcelona sights, enjoy a museum or two, and soak up some warm Spanish sun.
While three days in Barcelona is a good length for a trip, consider tacking on a fourth day at the end of your stay to take a day trip to somewhere amazing nearby. Girona? Montserrat? Sitges? You name it! With a large train station and bus network connecting Barcelona to the rest of Spain, you’d be hard pressed to miss out on visiting somewhere beautiful before leaving.
The Perfect Three-Day Barcelona Itinerary for the First-Time Visitor
If you’re headed to this beachside city for the first time, you’re in luck because we’ve put together the ultimate Barcelona itinerary to make the most of your time.
Whether you have only 24 hours or are there for a while longer, here are our suggestions on how to organize your days in Barcelona!
Barcelona Itinerary Day 1: The Best of Barcelona in 24 Hours
While 24 hours in Barcelona may go by in the blink of an eye, it’s still possible to see a good amount of the city and enjoy some of the most well-known sites. Whatever you do: start your day early and stay out past sunset to make the most of the little time you have!
If you only have a single day, consider splurging for cabs around the city to cut down on travel time in between sites. That way you can spend more time enjoying and less time sitting in the metro!
La Sagrada Familia
Start your day at La Sagrada Familia, one of the main symbols of Barcelona. Wake up early and head over before the crowds start rolling in for the day, so that you’re able to relish Gaudi’s most famous work in some peace and quiet.
The inside of the church features soaring columns and stained glass bouncing colorful light off every surface you turn to. It’s beyond remarkable and certainly one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
It’s best to purchase Sagrada Familia tickets in advance as it is Barcelona’s premiere attraction. There’s almost always a long line for tickets, so be a smart traveler and book online so that you can just waltz in when you arrive! This ticket includes a guided tour as well as priority access, while this one brings you to the top of the towers to enjoy panoramic views of the city.
To see the center of life in Barcelona, head to Las Ramblas, the most bustling and vibrant part of the city. Bordering the Gothic Quarter, this is the largest pedestrian boulevard in Barcelona and where you can find a ton of action at any hour of the day.
Las Ramblas is the most famous street in Barcelona, lined with tall shady trees and street performers everywhere you look. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes with alluring terraces, perfect for an afternoon drink. And at the end of the avenue, you’ll find the Columbus monument which has an awesome lookout point over the city.
Just be sure to keep your belongings close to you as this area is well-known for petty crime!
Mercado de la Boqueria
About halfway up La Rambla (towards Placa de Catalunya), you’ll find Mercado de la Boqueria, the best place to have lunch in the city. It’s the most famous market in Barcelona, and one of the most famous in the world as well, home to dozens of vendors serving up the freshest Spanish food imaginable.
Huge piles of fresh seafood await, gobs of colorful fruit, legs of ham suspended from the ceiling, and the sweet smell of churros in the air…
Besides all the vendors, there are also some small cafes and bars scattered throughout the market. If you don’t feel like preparing a picnic from all the goods, perch at one of these little spots to enjoy a quick but delicious meal while the market flows around you.
If you have a little more time, consider taking a market tour where you’ll visit La Boqueria with a chef to collect ingredients for a cooking class afterwards!
When you finish strolling around La Ramblas and feasting at La Boqueria, walk over to the nearby Barri Gotic, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
Here, you’ll find a maze of enchanting streets and twisting roads leading this way and that. They’re lined with age-old stone houses and hold many of Barcelona’s secrets within the walls. Take some time to stroll around the area and see what mysteries you can uncover! It’s a truly magical area of the city.
Passeig de Gracia
After exploring the Gothic Quarter, head up past Plaça de Catalunya (definitely worth stopping to snap a photo or two) until you reach Passeig de Gracia in Eixample.
Passeig de Gracia is another one of Barcelona’s famous avenues, great for an afternoon stroll to admire architecture. Along this road, you’ll find some of Gaudi’s most famous constructions like Casa Mila and Casa Batlló, along with tons of other funky houses lining the street.
Casa Mila and Casa Batlló are both open to visitors – be sure to purchase tickets in advance! – but if you’re running short of time, you can always admire the facades from the street and continue on with your walk.
If you’re particularly interested in Gaudi, consider taking a full tour to see the best of his works in Barcelona!
To finish up your day, make your way to Park Güell, another one of Gaudi’s marvelous contributions to Barcelona, for a stunning sunset over the entire city.
As one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions, you can bet there will be crowds (especially for sunset), but it’s a gorgeous experience and one that must be had if you only have 24 hours in Barcelona.
The park is lined with “gingerbread cottages” seemingly straight out of Hansel and Gretel and full of plenty of places to explore. But the most remarkable part is the view spanning over all of Barcelona, reaching out towards the sea.
Park Güell is set a little bit outside the city, but easily accessible by metro. Once you arrive, you’ll be met by giant escalators which take you up the hill towards the park — how cool is that?
Purchase a skip-the-line ticket beforehand so you can waltz right into the park when you arrive instead of waiting in a long line!
Gorge on Tapas
After a long day of exploring the city, you’ll certainly have worked up an appetite for an enormous dinner and a tall drink. Good thing there’s an unbelievable number of restaurants in Barcelona serving up fresh, local fare.
Whether you want to eat around the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, Eixample, or along the beach, you’ll have your fair share of eateries to pick from.
For some unbeatable suggestions, check out this list of the 50 best restaurants in Barcelona right now and be sure to eat some patatas bravas for me!
Barcelona Itinerary Day 2: Museums & Gràcia
After your first day in Barcelona, your head will probably be swimming from all the outstanding places you visited… But wait, there’s so much more!
On your second day in the city, take the chance to visit some of the greatest museums in the world, and explore new neighborhoods outside of Barcelona’s center.
Plaça de Catalunya
Start your day at Plaça de Catalunya, which you may have wandered through the day before. This is one of the most important places in Barcelona as it’s where many of the most important streets and avenues in the city meet.
The plaza itself is simply stunning, with intricate tile work, fountains, and lush greenery surrounded by Barcelona architecture. It’s a great place to sit down for a coffee and a quick breakfast in the morning as you can really feel the city’s energy swirling around you as people get their day started.
After fueling up on espresso and pastries, it’s time to see some art!
Visit World Famous Museums
Barcelona is home to some of the best museums in the world, all ranging in artists, art type, and period. No matter what kind of art you prefer, you’ll be able to find a museum in Barcelona that caters to your interests. From history to modern to contemporary to Old Masters, you can find it all here!
While you won’t have time to see every museum in the city, here are some of the best ones for you to choose from.
The Picasso Museum is the holy mecca when it comes to this famous artist’s works. The collection consists of more than 4,200 art pieces by Picasso, most of them from early in his career.
Picasso spent a lot of time in Barcelona as a young artist, and the city served as a great source of inspiration for his creative mind. At the museum, you can find all sorts of interesting works, from paintings to engravings, sculptures and more.
Museum of Urban History of Barcelona
If history is more of your jam and you’re curious to explore Barcelona’s past, time travel back 2,000 years and explore a massive archaeological site that lies below the city.
Museu d’Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA for short) has five different museums scattered throughout the city, the most captivating being the 4,000 square meter site under Placa del Rei. On a visit here, you can wander among remains from the Roman colony and see how Barcelona became the city it is today.
Other MUHBA sites include:
- Museu Casa Verdaguer, a 19th century poet’s home that’s open to visitors;
- Espai Santa Caterina, another archaeological site located under Santa Caterina Market that shows Barcelona’s evolution from prehistoric times;
- Centre d’Interpretacio del Call which is the best place to learn about Barcelona’s Jewish history and see relics from the past; and finally
- Refugi 307, an air-raid shelter used during the Spanish Civil War.
What was once Barcelona’s most strategic defensive point is now a haven for art and culture in the city. This grassy hill overlooks all of Barcelona and atop Montjuïc, you’ll find plenty of museums to visit, making it a great place to spend a jam-packed day.
One of the most lovely museums in Montjuïc is Fundació Joan Miró, an outstanding collection of more than 14,000 pieces from the late Spanish artist’s work. It’s colorful, funky, and a very fun place to explore.
Also worth a visit is the National Museum of Catalan Art, home to an unbelievable permanent collection spanning centuries from Roman times up to the 20th century. The real highlight here are the works from the early 20th century by Gaudi, Picasso, and other big names, proving how important Catalan art is in the art world as a whole! The museum is free every Saturday past 3.00pm and on the first Sunday of each month.
One last place to enjoy Spanish artwork at Montjuïc is the Caixa Forum. Once a factory, it has since been renovated to become a gallery that displays rotating exhibitions. The building itself is worth seeing as it was designed by Puig i Cadafalch, a Catalan architect who contributed greatly to the development of buildings in Barcelona and the city’s unique Catalan qualities.
Besides museums, Montjuïc is home to a great deal of other attractions, from the majestic botanical gardens, to the former Olympic Stadium and Olympic Ring (which has its own museum – perfect for any sports lover!), to Montjuïc Castle, an old military fortress watching over Barcelona.
Also worth a gander is Poble Espanyol, a mock Spanish village, and the Magic Fountain which displays spectacular light shows during the weekend.
When you’ve finished at Montjuïc, grab a seat on the famous cable car, which will carry you over Barcelona with remarkable panoramic views and deposit you at the Old Port! You can purchase a round-trip cable car ticket here.
You’ll probably find that visiting Barcelona’s museums takes a good chunk of the day, especially if you make it to Montjuïc. But once you finish up, hop on the metro or grab a cab to the neighborhood of Gràcia to break away from the tourist crowds you’ve been around all day.
Gràcia is a quieter area of Barcelona and more residential. Since it’s set outside of the city center, you’ll find there are less crowds and lower prices as well.
One of the best things to do in Gràcia is visit Casa Vincens, a summer chalet designed by Gaudi that opened to the public in 2017. It’s one of the famous architect’s earliest works, boasting splendid colors, ornate details, a stunning garden, and a terracotta-tiled rooftop with glorious views.
Gràcia is also one of the best places to eat in Barcelona, so consider taking a food tour that brings you to the best local spots in the neighborhood. Even if you opt to find a place to eat on your own, enjoy a break from the English speakers on a chilled-out terrace with a large glass of sangria before heading back to the city center.
Barcelona Itinerary Day 3: Live Like a Local
After covering the city and the surrounding neighborhoods over two days, you’ve earned some well-deserved rest on day three. Today is all about soaking up some good old Spanish sunshine and relaxing by the sea.
Santa Caterina Market
Before heading to the beach, stop by Santa Caterina Market to load up on beach snackies (because let’s be real, what’s a beach day without delicious food to munch on!).
This market has a much more local vibe to it than the ever-busy and forever crowded La Boqueria. It’s more laid-back and easier to walk through as you don’t have to constantly push through crowds. Grab some delicious bites of jamon iberico, some local olive oil, bread, cheese, and fruit. And don’t forget something sweet!
Once you’ve loaded up on supplies, it’s an easy 20-minute walk to Barceloneta where the sunshine awaits you!
Hit the Beach
Barcelona has some of the most fantastic city beaches in all of Europe. Plush golden sand and a rolling ocean set to the backdrop of a vibrant city… I mean, what could be better?
The main beach in the city, and the most popular by far, is Barceloneta. Easily accessible from the city center both by foot and public transport, this massive beach has a fun boardwalk behind it and is a lovely place to relax. Just be sure to be there early to claim a good spot in the sun!
A little ways up from Barceloneta is Nova Icaria Beach, another fun sandy hot spot just next to the city center. It’s a little less crowded than Barceloneta and is also a hub for watersports, so if you’re looking to parasail or hop on a jet ski, this is the place to do it!
Mar Bella Beach is further up the coast from Nova Icaria and is popular among nudists and the LGBT crowd. It’s a fun and friendly place to be, less boisterous than the beaches in the city center.
There are plenty of sandy havens along Barcelona’s coast, so if you’re not impressed by the first beach you come to, continue walking and another will present itself in moments!
Bar-Hop at Passeig del Born
As the sun set starts to set and you’ve filled up on a tasty dinner, it’s time to hit the town. Barcelona has an awesome nightlife scene that should be experienced by anyone visiting the city, even if you’re not a huge drinker.
A great way to enjoy some of the hippest spots in town is by bar-hopping in Passeig del Born. Located just next to the Gothic Quarter, this area of Barcelona is where you can find the greatest collection of bars. It was once where citizens congregated during ancient times to share a drink or cheer on a sports match, so it’s only right that Passeig del Born stays true to its roots in present times.
For a cheap pub and a go-to place with a terrace, hit up Pitin Bar for cocktails and wine — just be sure to bring cash as they work on the traditional side of things! Bar Mercaders is an awesome choice for some classic rock and roll while sipping on a beer, and College Cocktail Bar is the best place to kick back on a vintage sofa and nurse a fancy cocktail.
That being said, you really can’t go wrong with wherever you choose in El Born!
Barcelona Itinerary Bonus: Day Trip to Montserrat
Have more than three days in Barcelona?
Then, it’s time to get out of the city and see the beautiful surroundings. Our top pick for a day trip from Barcelona is Montserrat, a stunning mountain range northwest of the city.
How to Get to Montserrat From Barcelona
Montserrat is only an hour ride from Barcelona, making it easily accessible for a quick day away.
You can reach the stunning peaks by train from the Espana rail station in Barcelona. Simply take Line R5 and it will carry you to both Aeri Montserrat (the cable car at the foot of the mountain) or Monistrol Montserrat (the Funicular at the foot of the mountain).
Train tickets from Barcelona on their own are around €5 each way, but you can also purchase a combined ticket at the rail station which, for a little more than €30, includes:
- round-trip transportation to and from Barcelona
- return ticket by cable car or railway to-and-from the Monastery
- use of the funiculars to get around the mountains
- access to an informational exhibit
Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour from Barcelona which will have all the details planned out so all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy.
This full-day Montserrat tour includes transportation to-and-from Barcelona, a ticket for the cogwheel train, a visit to Montserrat National Park and Sanctuary, a trip to a boutique winery, a wine tasting, and a tapas lunch!
If you’re looking to go the more active route, this tour from Barcelona includes transportation, a guided tour of the Abbey, tickets for the railway, fresh fruit, and a hiking tour of the Natural Park.
Things to Do in Montserrat
As one of the most spectacular parks and religious sites in all of Europe, there are plenty of things to do and see during your day in Montserrat.
Ride to the Top
One of the best parts of Montserrat is that you’re able to get to the top of the range with little to no work. Instead of heaving and sweating your way up the mountain, hop in a cable car or board the funicular to take in some unbelievable scenic views as you travel to the top.
To take the cable car, get off the train from Barcelona at Aeri Montserrat and to take the funicular, stay on the train until reaching the Monistrol Montserrat stop.
Riding both the cable car and railway are highly recommended, so purchase a combined ticket to experience each of them!
Basilica of Montserrat
The Basilica on top of this rocky stretch draws travelers in from far and wide to pay their respects and admire the ornate religious site.
The Black Virgin of Montserrat is the biggest pull for people here, as it’s thought that she and her son have powerful healing powers. On a visit to this sacred place, be sure to touch the ball she carries in her hand and make a wish… She’s known to work miracles!
Santa Cova Chapel
Just below the Monastery sits the Santa Cova Chapel, where the Black Virgin was originally found.
As legend goes, in the 9th century, local shepherds saw a bright light coming from a cave and upon further investigation, found the prized statue. When they tried to move it to their village, they found it was too heavy to carry, taking it as a sign that the statue belonged on the mountain.
Today, the location where the Virgin was originally found is a chapel perched precariously on a cliff, open to visitors who have made the pilgrimage to this holy site. It’s easily accessible by the funicular and is a quick (but beautiful) walk down from the Monastery.
Montserrat Art Museum
To break away from the religious nature of Montserrat, pop in the museum to admire some great works.
Montserrat’s Art Museum is home to an outstanding collection of masterpieces, ranging from the 13th to 20th century. You’ll find the likes of El Greco and Carravaggio, Degas and Monet, and Dali and Picasso lining the museum walls, which goes to show there’s something for everyone at this museum.
The museum also boasts a large collection of antique Egyptian art and jewellery, as well as interesting rotating exhibitions.
Take a Hike
If you’re not into the religious sites and don’t feel like queuing along with the other tourists, spend your day in Montserrat hiking around, taking in the sights.
Montserrat is one of the most beautiful places in all of Spain (and Europe, in my opinion), and is best enjoyed by foot. There are plenty of walking paths with breathtaking overlooks, surrounded by natural scenery and epic mountain top views.
To pick out a hike that’s right for you, head to the tourist information center where you can pick up a map and ask about the trails in the area!
Want to check out other awesome day trips from Barcelona? Read our guide for more info!
More Fun Things to See and Do in Barcelona
While three days in the heart of Barcelona is a good amount of time, it’s by no means long enough to see everything the city has to offer. If you have a little more time or are searching for alternative attractions, here are more fun things to see and do in Barcelona!
Tour Camp Nou
For any futbol fans, a tour of Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona, is a dream come true. The stadium holds more people than any other stadium in Europe and this tour gives you insider access to see it in its entirety.
Spend an afternoon learning the ins-and-outs of the stadium, visiting player’s changing rooms, traveling through the tunnel on the pitch, spending time in the commentary boxes, television studio and more. Also included with this tour is a tapas lunch in the Camp Nou Roma Lounge — talk about a five-star experience!
Visit the Barcelona Cathedral
While the Sagrada Familia is the most famous religious monument in Barcelona, the city’s Cathedral is the most important one.
With construction beginning in 1298, this Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Barcelona, lying in the heart of the Barri Gotic. The main facade is marvelous, but the inside of the Cathedral holds real wonders. It’s filled with Gothic art, Gothic and Baroque altar pieces, and glorious stained glass everywhere you look.
The Cathedral has been an integral part of religious life in Barcelona and is worth a visit if you’re looking for more cultural history on your trip.
Take a Food Tour
Barcelona is without a doubt one of the best places to eat in the WORLD! While there are loads of restaurants throughout the city, it can be challenging to find the most local and authentic bites around.
One of the best things you can do while in Barcelona is to take a food tour! Food tours come in all shapes and sizes but are generally private or with a small group of people. You’ll be accompanied by a local guide who will take you to the greatest spots for the best food in the city. We’ve taken a Barcelona food tour and absolutely loved it!
There are evening tours, afternoon tours, and tours with lots of wine… No matter what you’re looking for, Barcelona is sure to have it! If you’re on the hunt for the best ones, check out our complete article on the Best Barcelona food tours!
Head to the Top of Tibidabo
One of the best places to enjoy views of Barcelona is from the top of Tibidabo, a hill that rises dramatically from the city.
As legend goes, Tibidabo is where Jesus was first tempted by the devil, so it’s only fitting that there’s an entirely indulgent theme park sitting at the top of the hill. Eat junk food, ride the ferris wheel and play games — all while taking in panoramic views of the city.
There’s also a magnificent skywalk for a hefty dose of adrenaline and an epic view of Barcelona.
Enjoy Rides at Turo de la Rovira
For a viewpoint without the chaos of an amusement park, head to Turo de la Rovira for sunset and 360° views of Barcelona.
This area was once a defensive site during the Spanish Civil War but is now a part of the MUHBA and a popular hangout place among young locals.
Pack a picnic and get climbing. Once you see the view at the top of the hill, you’ll never want to leave!
Explore Palau Güell
One of Gaudi’s earliest projects and a neo-Gothic masterpiece, this mansion was originally designed for Eusebi Güell during the late 19th century.
It sits just off La Rambla, and is absolutely worth a visit for anyone interested in digging deeper into Gaudi’s influence in Barcelona. You can wander the house or take a guided tour. Just prepare to be enchanted as you float through the halls.
While it’s not as whimsical as some of Gaudi’s other buildings in the city, it’s a great blend of style and culture, creating an interesting contrast everywhere you turn.
Chill Out in Parc de la Ciutadella
Barcelona’s most idyllic green space in the city, Parc de la Ciutadella is a much-needed oasis from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Stroll through the grassy fields or along the manicured paths, marvel at the fountains and ponds, visit the glass house, and snap a photo at the waterfall and lake. It’s a great place for relaxation and picnicking, popular among both tourists and locals alike.
You can also find the Barcelona Zoo in Parc de la Ciutadella, which is no wonder when you realize it takes up 18 hectares in the middle of the city!
Rent a Vespa
Finally, if you want to see it all but aren’t sure how to accomplish it, rent a Vespa so you can reach anywhere around Barcelona that your heart desires.
As you cruise through the city streets, you’ll feel like a local zipping around on your Vespa. Visit unmissable city attractions and venture out to far-flung neighborhoods and villages.
This is one of the best ways to explore Barcelona, all while feeling the warm air and wind whipping past you. Nothing feels as good as freedom!
Still want more? Read our complete guide to the best things to do in Barcelona!
Top Tips for Visiting Barcelona
Now that you exactly what the city has to offer, here are a few more tips to make the most of your trip to Barcelona.
Prepare for Crowds
As one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe, you should absolutely prepare for crowds on your visit to Barcelona. This is especially true if you’re visiting during summer months (peak season) when the city is swarmed with tourists.
If you hate the idea of waiting in long lines and pushing your way through crowds, consider visiting Barcelona during low season or shoulder season, on either end of the summer. There will still be plenty of people, but far less than during late June, July, and August.
Book in Advance!
Since Barcelona has so many visitors, it’s wise to book everything far in advance. Hotels, attractions, dinner reservations, you name it. Call ahead, book early, and thank me later when you aren’t stuck waiting in torturous lines.
Many of Barcelona’s attractions have tickets available online. Look for the skip-the-line options so that when you arrive you don’t have to queue!
Follow a Local Schedule
Your best bet to avoid the tourist crowd in Barcelona is to follow a local schedule. The biggest part to this is eating meals late (Spaniards often don’t eat dinner until 9.00pm or 10.00pm) when the foreigners are finishing up their evening and locals are just beginning theirs.
You’ll have a much more authentic experience this way and probably make some local friends, as well!
Be Prepared for Anything
Like with traveling anywhere, it’s best to be prepared for anything life throws your way.
You should absolutely purchase travel insurance before heading out on your adventures. It ensures that you’ll be well covered in case of emergency and oftentimes covers stolen gear as well! We recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on the type of traveler you are.
After making your way through this itinerary, are you ready to conquer Barcelona? This amazing city awaits you for the trip of a lifetime. From museums to the beach to mysterious neighborhoods and bustling bars, Barcelona has it all and is just waiting to be explored.
Have a wonderful time in Barcelona!
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