3 Day Barcelona Itinerary: How To Plan the Perfect Barcelona Trip
This is the perfect 3 day Barcelona itinerary for first-time visitors. With so much to do in this giant city, I figured I’d make your life easier by building you a Barcelona itinerary. Three days is just the right amount of time to see the highlights of Barcelona. You can explore Antoni Gaudi’s famous buildings, meander through the Gothic Quarter, and see the Picasso Museum at a leisurely pace. After your visit to Barcelona, you may consider exploring some lesser-known destinations in Spain that have a lot to offer.
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Before you go
To make the most of your Barcelona trip, consider getting the Barcelona Card. You can use it to take any public transportation in the city and also get discounts on museums, Gaudi sites, and other attractions. You also get to skip the line at super touristy attractions, which will make your trip much easier. If you have a jam-packed itinerary (like the one I’m about to present), the Barcelona Card can save you tons of money on your visit.
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Day 1: Churros and Roman Ruins
Why not start your day with some delicious Churros? In Spain, Churros con chocolate are a favorite breakfast item. And who can blame them? This stuff is so good I had it basically every week when I lived in Madrid. You can also try Porras, which are bigger and fluffier than churros. I personally prefer them.
At the center of Barcelona, you’ll find a street called Calle Petrixol, which is lined with little shops and cafes serving churros. Here are two great cafes you may want to pay a visit:
Granja Dulcinea: Carrer de Petritxol, 2, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Petrixol Xocoa: Carrer de Petritxol, 11, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Las Ramblas is the main (and longest) pedestrian street in the city. It’s normally packed with tourists, no matter what time of the year. But it’s a good place to start your exploration. The street runs through a few neighborhoods so you can get a taste of the different parts of the city. Start your stroll at the central Placa de Catalunya and head all the way down to our next destination, La Boqueria Market.
La Boqueria Market
La Boqueria Market is probably the most famous food market in Barcelona. It’s located on Las Ramblas in the Ciudad Vieja area, right at the city center. At first, La Boqueria seems like a tourist trap: the food is overpriced and there are people in every square inch of the place. But I must say the seafood here is really good! I wouldn’t eat here every day, but I think it’s worth a visit.
I’d really recommend you try the sepia (cuttlefish). If you’re not into seafood, there are plenty of other options you. This place is packed with all types of food, from tropical fruits to Paella to Catalan specialties. That said, it’s more expensive than your typical market or eatery.
Port of Barcelona
Right down the street from La Boqueria market, you’ll find Port Vell, the Port of Barcelona. While there isn’t much to actually do here, it’s a great spot to snap take some photos. There are a bunch of birds swarming around the area that may end up photobombing you (in a good way.)
To wrap up day 1, leave the city center and take a journey back to the times of the Romans and Visigoths. To do that, you’ll need to head to the Gothic Quarter, one of the oldest parts of Barcelona. The Romans built the original structures, but the Visigoths invaded them and erected much of what you’ll see today. The Gothic architecture here dates back 2,000 years. The Gothic Quarter is a great place to wander aimlessly and get lost for a while. You can stroll through the alleys and narrow streets just observing all the details. Many movies, like Vicky Christina Barcelona, have been filmed here, too.
Day 2: Gaudi, Picasso, and Live Jazz
Passeig de Gracia
Passeig de Gracia is a long street in the Gracia neighborhood that is home to some of the most iconic Gaudi buildings. On this street, you’ll find Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, private residences that Gaudi built for wealthy families in the late 19th century. You can simply admire the buildings from the outside, or you can sign up for a guided tour. I think a guided tour of Casa Batllo, which is more colorful and whimsical than Casa Mila, would be worth your while. During the tour, you can climb to the roof, which offers a unique vantage point to view the entire building.
Once frequented by the likes Ernest Hemingway, Antoni Gaudi, and Salvador Dali, Bar Marsella is one of the most iconic spots for food and drinks in Barcelona. Founded in 1820, it is also the oldest bar in Barcelona. The most famous drink on the menu is the absinthe. This bar was also featured in the movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. At the bar, you can also order some gourmet tapas. This place gets busy so you may want to make a reservation.
Gaudi’s works may be all the rave in Barcelona, but the city also pays homage to other famous Spanish painters. The Picasso Museum is dedicated to the life and works of Pablo Picasso, considered the father of contemporary Spanish art. This museum houses a whopping 4,000 of Picasso’s works. It’s free on Sundays from 3 pm to 8 pm. Otherwise, you can buy a ticket for 11 euros.
Barcelona is well-known for its nightlife, but you don’t need to spend money to go to the club. There are free concerts at bars across the city. One of the best ones is at Jamboree bar. This bar, located right across from Placa Reial, has long been a hotspot for jazz, rhythm, and blues. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours enjoying live music before heading back to your hotel.
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Day 3: More Gaudi and City Views
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family) is arguably Antoni Gaudi’s most impressive work. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the most visited site in Barcelona and the second most visited attraction in Spain (after La Alhambra in Granada.) As you can imagine, this church gets pretty busy. That’s why you should book your ticket online at least a couple of days before you go. The best way to see La Sagrada Familia is through a guided tour that allows you access to to the towers. I highly recommend the Get Your Guide La Sagrada Familia Tour. It lets you skip the ridiculously long lines and tour the church at your own pace with an audio guide. I’ve done several Get Your Guide tours across Europe, and they are always well organized and informative.
Park Guell is another one of Gaudi’s must-see creations in Barcelona. This over-the-top, quirky park looks like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Along with Casa Batllo, it’s my favorite of Gaudi’s works. This is the type of place to go if you want to feel like a kid again. You’ll find a couple of gingerbread-looking houses and modern designs with pillars. Park Guell is an expansive park that’s free to the public. You only need to pay to see the main area, known as the monumental zone. The best way to experience Park Guell is to do a guided tour. The Get Your Guide Park Guell Tour allows you to skip the line and learn all about the park’s history and significance from a live guide.
Money saving tip: you can visit the monumental zone at Park Guell for free every Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm. Tickets are first-come-first-serve, and there is a cap to the number of visitors.
Tibidabo Hill is the highest point in Barcelona and possibly the best place to get a 360 view of the city. It’s also home to Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, a gorgeous church that gives La Sagrada Familia a run for its money. To get up to the church, you’ll need to walk up a mile of stairs or take an elevator. I’d choose the latter. Either way, the panoramic views are well worth the effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Barcelona a safe city?
Barcelona is generally safe, but you should be cautious and aware of your surroundings. This city is known to be a haven for pickpockets, who often steal people’s belongings in crowded metros and public places. Practice the same precautions you would anywhere else. I’ve never had any issue with safety in Barcelona, even when traveling solo.
Do they speak English in Barcelona?
Since Barcelona is such a tourist hotspot, you’ll find a lot of English speakers in the city center. That said, don’t expect the average person walking down the street to speak English. Chances are the locals you’ll encounter will only speak Spanish and/or Catalan. The taxi drivers and bus drivers normally don’t speak English.
How do you get around in Barcelona?
There are several options: bus, metro, train, taxi, and tram. You really don’t need to take a taxi anywhere unless, let’s say, you stay out really late at night. The public transportation options run frequently and won’t cost you more than a couple of euros per ride. You can also walk to many places. If you want to learn about ways to save money on transportation, check out the 20 essential tips for your first visit to Barcelona.
Can you walk everywhere in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a very walkable city so you can go from one place to another on foot. That said, the city is quite large so you’ll need to take public transport for longer distances.
What museums are free in Barcelona?
A few of Barcelona’s most popular museums are free on Sundays from 3 pm to 8 pm. These include the Picasso Museum, the Barcelona City History Museum, and the Maritime Museum. Lines can get really long so try to arrive before 3 pm. In addition to those, the El Born Cultural Center, which houses ruins from Barcelona’s medieval past, is free year-round.
What is there to do in Barcelona for cheap?
There plenty of free or cheap activities to do in Barcelona, from parks to festivals. Check out my list of 25 Free Things To Do in Barcelona for more details.
There you have it – the perfect 3 day Barcelona itinerary for your visit. Any questions, comments, or feedback? Just drop me a line in the comment section, and I’ll respond ASAP.
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