3 Days In Barcelona Itinerary: Culture, Art & Churros!

3 day Barcelona itinerary

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If there’s a city that has it all, it might just be Barcelona. Although I can’t guarantee you’ll see EVERYTHING during a weekend (in fact, I guarantee you won’t!), this Barcelona itinerary for 3 days will help you discover the highlights and get the best out of Barca during a quick trip.

Barcelona is that kid at school who has everything and does it all well, with minimal effort. Sure, there’s history and architecture galore but there’s also a beach, hiking and nightlife. Oh, and panoramic views from the mountain tops. What more could you want?

Oh, churros? Good shout, there are plenty, alongside other delectable Spanish desserts and general drool-worthy Spanish cuisine.

Im sharing my 3 day Barcelona itinerary in the hope you’ll enjoy your time in Spain as much as I did.

BARCELONA ESSENTIALS

Guidebook: Lonely Planet Barcelona

Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld

Activities: GetYourGuide / Viator

Food tours: EatWith

Getting there: flight (Skyscanner), bus (Flixbus), train (Omio)

Getting around: Metro, bus, tram

My best friend has lived in Barcelona for the last four years but because I’m always travelling, I haven’t visited nearly enough. However, for my birthday last month, I spent 3 days in Barcelona soaking up best friend time and exploring the city with someone who knows it inside out.

The only downside was that my brand new iPhone was stolen on my final morning meaning I lost a load of photos from the trip. I’ll be sharing all my Barcelona tips (safety ones included) later. Despite this drama, I loved my trip to Barcelona and hope it will be followed by many more.

Looking for Europe weekend itineraries? Check out:

sunny square spain
Sunny Barcelona

Planning your Barcelona itinerary

You’ll want to think about how long to spend, how to structure your days and whether to stick to the city or include additional day trips such as to Montserrat, Girona or a road trip in Costa Brava.

There’s no wrong or right answer but I’ll tell you this: there’s a LOT to do in Barcelona. It’s not a city where you can get up late, take a siesta like the locals AND squeeze all the main attractions and hidden gems into a flying 2 day trip.

How many days to spend in Barcelona?

You’ll find Barcelona itineraries for up to 7 days! Are they mad? Well, no, you could easily spend a week in Barcelona. But I appreciate you’re probably visiting on a shorter trip, hence I’m putting together this 3 day Barcelona itinerary.

In my opinion, 3 days in Barcelona is a happy minimum. You’ll see the highlights, soak up the culture and – most importantly – have time for at least three rounds of churros! It will be busy and some of the hidden gems may have to wait for a future trip. But it’s always nice to have a reason to return, right?

Towards the end of this guide, I’ll share some day trips in case you have the flexibility to stay slightly longer.

Getting to Barcelona

By air: Barcelona Airport connects cities around the world but is particularly well-connected with other European capitals. I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates.

By train: Rail may not be the cheapest mode of transport in Spain but it’s the quickest. Book trains using Omio.

By bus: Journies between Barcelona and other European cities like Paris, Brussels and Munich are super affordable thanks to Flixbus.

Use Omio to compare the duration and cost of any journey by bus, train and flight.

Getting around Barcelona

  • Metro: This is the quickest and easiest way to get around Barcelona. Save money with a multi-ticket pass. 
  • Bus and trams: these are also efficient ways to move around Barcelona. Journies are covered by multi-ticket passes. 
  • Funicular railway: connecting Montjuïc Park with the city, this fun mode of transport is also included in the ticket system.
  • Taxis: there’s no Uber in Barcelona but you can use regular cabs. These aren’t especially cheap so stick to public transport if you’re travelling on a budget.
  • Bike: Barcelona is a bike-friendly city like many in mainland Europe. Unlock one via mobile app or take a guided bike tour with a local guide.
  • Hop-on-hop-off bus: Sure, it’s touristy but hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Book your tickets
  • Getting to and from Barcelona Airport: take the 30 minute Aerobus to/from Plaça de Catalunya for €6.

For 3 days in Barcelona, pick up a 72-hour travel pass for €20. This includes all your trains, trams and buses including the airport journey.

Best season to visit Barcelona

The great thing about Barcelona is that it’s a year-round city. Summer (June-August) can be scorching and although it’s a popular time to visit, would be my last choice due to how crowded the city becomes. Book attractions in advance and take advantage of skip-the-line tickets (GetYourGuide is good for these).

Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are lovely times to visit Barcelona with warm weather and fewer crowds. Winter (December-February) isn’t a bad time to visit, either. If you’re lucky, it will be mild and sunny with far fewer tourists.

Where to stay in Barcelona

Anywhere around Gracia or the Gothic Quarter is perfect. A few specific places include…

Budget hotel: To stay in the heart of the action, Praktik Rambla is a stylish and peaceful oasis inside a 19th-century palace. As well as comfy rooms, there’s a lovely terrace area with indoor and outdoor seating. Book from €70 a night.

Boutique hotel: For a 5-star hotel with a rooftop pool and uber-trendy bedrooms, Hotel Bagués doesn’t disappoint. Book from €160 a night.

Hostels: You can’t beat St Christopher’s for a colourful, clean and funky base with opportunities to meet other travellers. Bed & Bike is another stylish, centrally-located option with a fleet of bikes you can use to explore the city. Both have dorms from €14!

Browse all Barcelona accommodation on Booking.com and Hostelworld.

About this Barcelona 3 day itinerary

If you’ve read any of my travel itineraries before, you’ll know I love to start with the highlights and main areas on day 1. Here at WGR, we also LOVE a free walking tour.

For days 2 and 3, we’ll travel further out and find all the cultural gems that make Barcelona such a rich and unique city. Of course, we’ll be squeezing in plenty of fantastic eats along the way!

With no more ado, here’s how to see Barcelona in 3 days…

Barcelona itinerary – day 1

Take a free walking tour

Free walking tours are my favourite way to begin a trip. The guides are chatty and friendly, plus everyone’s new to the city so you can ask stupidly obvious questions with no shame. Tips aren’t forced but they’re encouraged; give €5 or more if you’re able.

Take your tour with Free Walking Tours Barcelona (11am and 3pm) or Sandeman’s New Europe Tours (11am and 2pm). I’ve taken Sandeman’s tours in several European cities and I’m always impressed. It’s best to book on their websites to avoid disappointment.

For a surcharge (around €14), they also run a bunch of more specific tours covering topics such as Gaudí, dark history and tapas. These are great value when you consider what many other tour companies charge.

Wander Las Ramblas & the Gothic Quarter

Gothic quarter

Explore this central area of Barcelona before or after your walking tour. Las Ramblas, the most famous avenue in Barcelona, may be busy and touristy but it’s the beating heart of the city. Spend some time wandering around but aim not to eat or shop: things are far cheaper elsewhere.

With over 2,000 years of history, the Gothic Quarter, not far from Las Ramblas, is another must for 3 days in Barcelona.

Once you’ve wandered the streets, admiring quaint balconies and sunny squares, you’ll understand why so many people rave about Barcelona. Knowing the area inspired the work of Picasso and Gaudí only adds intrigue.

Although admiring the architecture and soaking up the atmosphere could fill your time, there are plenty of things to do in the Gothic Quarter such as visiting the 15th-century Gothic Cathedral and Palau Güell, designed by Antoni Gaudí for Eusebi Güell, the tycoon responsible for Park Güell (more on this place tomorrow).

But the highlight of the Gothic Quarter for foodies may be taking a trip to…

La Boqueria Market

La Boqueria describes itself as the best market in the world and while they may be biased, I’m inclined to agree. You’ll find so many fresh, delicious ingredients and dishes to try, and while it isn’t cheap, it’s a must in Barcelona.

The market has been feeding the people of Barcelona since 1836 but there are records of vendors selling meat on this spot as far back as 1217. Today, La Boqueria boasts over 200 vendors serving everything from fish, meat, cheese, bread and olives to ready-to-eat frittatas, desserts and candies.

Take a market tour with a local chef or better yet, a tour and paella cooking class.

Casa Batlló / Casa Milà

Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló windows Barcelona
Casa Batlló

From the Gothic Quarter, take a 20-minute walk or 8-minute Metro ride to discover some of Gaudí’s greatest masterpieces. You don’t have to visit a gallery: you can see them for free from the street!

Casa Batlló and Casa Milà can be found a 5-minute walk apart on Paseo de Gràcia.

Casa Batlló: This pre-existing house was given with full creative license to Gaudí who transformed it between 1904 and 1906. Its striking facade has earnt it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list and attracts more than a million visitors each year.

Entrance is pricey at €35 but includes the Gaudí Dome, Gaudí Cube and roof terrace views. Visit 43 Passeig de Gràcia between 9am and 6.30pm (open 7 days a week). Get your ticket in advance (audio guide included).

Casa Milà: Although not instantly as captivating from the outside, this second architectural gem also known as La Pedrera is worth a visit for the striking sculptures on the Warrior Rooftop and the resorted period apartment.

Book on the website for €22 per adult (saving you €3 on the door price). Visit 92 Passeig de Gràcia between 9am and 6.30pm (open 7 days a week).

Palau de la Música Catalana

Palace of music 3 days in barcelona

Just a 15-minute walk (or a quick bus/Metro ride) from the famous casas lies the spectacular Palau de la Música Catalana (the Palace of Catalan Music). Designed by architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner between 1905 and 1908, it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Palau de la Música Catalana

A ticket will gain you entry to the maze of rooms including the concert hall with a ridiculously detailed stained glass ceiling. Another highlight is the balcony of elaborate mosaic pillars. Saunter through them at your leisure.

Entry price: A ticket including a guided tour is €20 (or €11 for students).

Address: C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona.

Opening times: 10am-3.30pm daily and until 6pm from Easter-August.

Sunset drinks at 1881

View from 1881 Bar

To finish the first day of your Barcelona itinerary, head for a sunset view at 1881 per SAGARDI bar on top of the National History Museum of Catalonia. If you have time, pop inside the museum for €6.

It was my birthday so we didn’t mind splashing out on a 30 bottle of wine but ordinarily this place might have been a bit above my budget. Still, if you’re spending 3 days in Barcelona and feel like treating yourself, the views over the harbour are worth every penny.

Sunset view over Barcelona

Finally, seek out some tapas and hit the bars like we did. Keep reading for my rundown of your best food and nightlife options.

Barcelona itinerary – day 2

Grab ya trainers (sneakers, runners, whatever you call them!) for a bit of pavement pounding today. Although you’ll already have seen two majestic Gaudí buildings on day 1, we’re off to see two more. When in Barcelona!

Brunch & Cake

Chocolate pancakes at Brunch & Cake
Add brunch to your 3 day Barcelona itinerary!

If you want to experience a mind-blowing brunch while in Barcelona, you can’t do much better than Brunch & Cake. Not only will my life never be the same since discovering it, but no other breakfast will ever live up.

My friend and I shared the most delicious lobster and prawn benedict on a brioche bun and a stack of chocolate banana pancakes with a pineapple hat on top. The veggie burgers on matcha buns also looked fantastic.

We still paid less than €20 each including a bottle of cava as it was my birthday (I don’t know why I’m excusing drinking a bottle of cava – have it whatever day, I say).

Address: there are three cafes at 189 Carrer del Rosselló; 19 Carrer d’Enric Granados; and 5 Passeig de Joan de Borbó (beside Barceloneta beach).

Find upcoming food events & cookies classes using EatWith!

The Sagrada Familia 

Sagrada Familia

Now for a Barcelona hidden gem… Joking!

Many sights as famous as Gaudí’s unfinished cathedral are overhyped and can be a let-down. Not this one: I couldn’t get enough of the dreamy turrets, pillars and colouful details.

Gaudí began work on the cathedral in 1883 and was still in the process of bringing to life his vision when he died in 1826. The Sagrada is in construction to this day with the estimated date of completion set for 2026, a century after his death.

Interior of Sagrada Familia Barcelona
 View from Sagrada Familia Barcelona
View from the Nativity Facade

Honestly, if you do one thing in Barcelona, let it be admiring this beauty from the inside and outside. Since a basic ticket (€17) only includes the interior, I would recommend upgrading to a tower climb ticket that includes the Nativity Facade (€22). A close-up of the towers is fantastic, as are the views over the city.

To save time, get a skip-the-line ticket in advance.

2022 update – the towers are currently out of action and there’s a standard €26 ticket in place (€30 including a guided tour). Check their ticket page for the latest info.

Nearest Metro station: Monument, Verdaguer and Escants are all a short walk away.

Read next: tips for visiting Sagrada de Familia

Park Güell

View from Park Guell Barcelona
Mosaic lizard Park Guell Barcelona

Another essential stop on any 3 day Barcelona itinerary is Park Güell. Not only is this 17-hectare park one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona and a lovely place to wander on a sunny day, but the monumental area (a UNESCO heritage site) is full of world-famous modern art.

Construction of Park Güell began in 1900, the same year that art nouveau triumphed at the International Exhibition in Paris. Entrepreneur, Eusebi Güell wanted to create a stylish park for the aristocracy and so commissioned several architects to begin work on Park Güell. This included Gaudí who’d designed his house, Palau Güell on Las Ramblas, almost 20 years before.

For some of the best photo spots in the city, seek out the colourful dragon fountain, the mosaic seating area and Casa del Guarda, a fairytale-style gatehouse displaying photos and films. Other things to do in the park include touring the Gaudí House Museum (€7.50) and climbing to the Mirador for unrivalled city views.

Entry price: 10 general admission / €22 inc. guided tour.

Getting to Park Guell: It’s a 12-minute walk from Vallcarca Metro station on Line 3, or you can catch a bus near the entrance.

Bunkers del Carmen

View from Bunkers del Carmen Barcelona

See another sunset, this time from the Spanish Civil War bunkers perched on top of a hill. From Park Güell, you can walk 20 minutes higher through the park and emerge beside them.

Grab a picnic / some beers and admire the sky as it turns pink and orange.

Address: Carrer de Marià Labèrnia, s/n, 08032 Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona itinerary – day 3

For your final day in beautiful Barcelona, consider the following activities…

Morning – Relax on Barceloneta beach

To reward the busy last couple of days, head to Barceloneta for swimming and surfing (and swanky beach bars if you have cash to splash). There’s even an ice bar! It’s come a long way since its days as a quiet fishing village: today, it’s a hotspot for locals and tourists.

If you’re not in the mood for sunbathing, visit the Museum Of Catalan History, the aquarium or La Barceloneta Market. Return in the evening for sundowners and fresh seafood.

Afternoon – get a panoramic view

End your 3 days in Barcelona with a panoramic view of the city. I’d recommend heading up one of the following:

Montjuïc – there’s a castle on top of Montjuïc with incredible views of the city. In the summer they even put on open-air cinema nights, plus it’s home to the swimming pool where Kylie Minogue filmed Slow. To get there, catch the Funicular (included in your Metro ticket) or opt for the more touristic cable car (11), or simply the 150 bus.

Tibidabo – on top of this mountain there’s an amusement park with a giant Ferris wheel. It’s 28 entry but if you don’t want to shell out, you can visit the impressive church, wander the beautiful gardens (bring a picnic!) and check out the panoramic views. Jump on the T2A bus from Plaça de Catalunya.

Tipidabo Ferris wheel Barcelona
Tibidabo at sunset

Day trips from Barcelona

Got an extra day to go further afield? Consider upgrading your 3 day Barcelona itinerary to 4. You could visit one of the following:

Girona – this charming town is a great way to escape the busy city and only takes 40 minutes to reach.

Montserrat – both times I’ve been to Barcelona I’ve toyed with going to this mountain-top monastery and not had a day to spare. It takes about an hour and a quarter to reach Monistrol de Montserrat (from Plaça Espanya, take the R5 line to Aeri de Montserrat) and from there you can start the adventure by hopping in a cable car. Alternatively, take a day tour.

What to eat and drink during 3 days in Barcelona

Tapas in Barcelona

There are so many excellent tapas spots and with Rosie as my guide, I ate like a queen! I highly recommend the following:

Best tapas in Barcelona

  • Can Condina – my first tapas of the trip was possibly the best. We had patatas bravas, chorizo, croquettes, cheese and Padron peppers. A good spot for beers in the evenings, too.
  • Jai Ca – here I had my first taste of snails which I actually didn’t mind. This cafe always has an authentic, buzzy vibe and a huge variety of affordable dishes. Great for a quick eat.
  • Samsara – this restaurant is a tad different: fusion tapas with some dishes you won’t have tried before (like seafood and white chocolate together!). Everything we had was frickin’ delicious especially the bite-sized salmon lasagne and the aubergine, goats cheese and balsamic salad. Even though it felt fancy, it was affordable at €25 for five dishes and wine.
Snail tapas Barcelona
Add some adventure to your Barcelona itinerary with caracoles…

Best brunch in Barcelona:

Obviously, Brunch & Cake steals the show but I would also recommend:

  • Granja Petitbo – breakfast here was divine. I can vouch for the eggs benedict which gave my hangover the kick it needed.
  • Alsur Cafe – we almost went here before choosing Brunch & Cake instead but the pancakes and waffles looked super tasty.

Best churros in Barcelona

  • Xurreria – it doesn’t look much from the outside but it’s an authentic stop for delicious takeaway churros.
  • Granja M. Viader – for churros AND ambience, this is a cute retro cafe serving some of the best churros in Barcelona.

Nightlife in Barcelona

For a night that’s fun if ever so slightly grimy (in all the right ways) head to Apollo or Razzmatazz, or opt for Bling Bling or Otto Zutz for somewhere slightly fancier. Moog is always a good time and has been operating as a club for a century.

Tips for 3 days in Barcelona

  • Factor in time to get around. Barcelona isn’t a city where all the attractions are right beside each other. In the above itinerary, I’ve tried to create sensible routes but sometimes a 20-minute journey between sights can’t be avoided.
  • Wear a handy bum bag with secure zip. My phone was somehow taken from my closed bag on a train, and during my visit in 2014 someone snatched my friend’s bag from under the table where we were having lunch.
  • Sangria is for tourists; try vermouth instead!
  • The official language is Catalan although the locals also speak Spanish. Grab a Catalan phrasebook or Spanish dictionary/phrasebook to blend in.
  • Don’t fancy feeling like a sardine at La Barceloneta Beach? Try San Sebastiá or Bogatell instead.
  • It’s not all about Gaudí! Urban art fans can explore the quirky Barcelona street art scene.
View from Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Have you been to Barcelona and do you have any other favourite hangouts / attractions? I’ll be adding to this guide whenever I next visit so I’d love to know… Shoot me a message in the comments 🙂

Thanks for reading my 3 day Barcelona itinerary!

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See you next time for more adventures,

Rose

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3 DAY BARCELONA ITINERARY

3 thoughts on “3 Days In Barcelona Itinerary: Culture, Art & Churros!

  1. Kerry says:

    I absolutely adored Barcelona! Such a gorgeous city filled with incredible food and architecture. Girona was absolutely incredible, and a day trip is so easy to make from Barcelona. Wonderful post! <3

  2. ps says:

    What a great blog – thank you – perfect for my planned three-day stay in Barcelona. Great tips, nicely organised, and charmingly written.

    • Rose says:

      Hello! Thanks for the comment, really pleased to hear you enjoyed the blog. Hope you had a blast in Barcelona, such a fantastic city

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