Planning 3 days in Barcelona is difficult, as there are endless ways to experience the city. The Catalan capital has so many dimensions, from its mountainous backdrop to its golden beaches on Mediterranean shores, from the unmistakable architecture of Gaudí to the expressive modern street art around every corner, and from its turbulent history to its delectable tapas and wine scenes. Where do you start? In this Barcelona 3 day itinerary, we combine the essential highlights with a few hidden gems to give you a broad experience and see a little bit of everything.
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Public transport for 3 days in Barcelona with the Hola card
Every second is precious if you only have 3 days in Barcelona! Thankfully, the city has a brilliant public transport system that is easy to use, and gets you quickly between the various districts and attractions.
If you take only one recommendation from this itinerary, it should be to buy a Hola Barcelona travel card before you arrive. The card gives you unlimited access to the metro, bus and tram networks. You simply tap in and out at stations, and you don’t need to worry about buying tickets – you can just focus on enjoying your time in the city.
You can buy the card for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours. Unsurprisingly, the 72-hour card works perfectly for spending 3 days in Barcelona! Read more about transport in the city in our first-timer’s guide to getting around Barcelona.
Have you booked your flights to Barcelona yet? We recommend the airline Vueling, which is our first port of call whenever we travel to the city. They have connections with cities all over Europe, and we’ve always had a good experience flying with them.
Access to multiple attractions with the Barcelona Card
Another way you can save yourself money and hassle on your trip is to buy a Barcelona Card. This gives you free entry to a range of visitor attractions around the city, and discounts on other experiences. Like the Hola Barcelona travel card, you can buy it for a 72-hour duration, and there are also options for 96 or 120 hours if you’re staying longer.
Many of the activities featured in our Barcelona 3 day itinerary are included in the Barcelona Card. If you do even half of the things we recommend below, you will end up better off! And it makes things easier too, avoiding the need to buy tickets at each attraction separately.
Barcelona 3 day itinerary: quick view
Short of time? Here is a quick view of what is covered in our Barcelona 3 day itinerary:
- Day 1: street art cycling tour, lunch at Viena Blanca, Barcelona History Museum, Picasso Museum, Chocolate Museum, dinner at Mescladis, Gothic Quarter and antiques market
- Day 2: Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, tapas at Gilda, vermut sailing experience, dinner at Casa Luz, Montjuïc Magic Fountain light show
- Day 3: Casa Batllo and Casa Amatller, Las Ramblas, lunch at La Boqueria food market, beaches, free time, dinner and night out in El Born district
Where to stay for 3 days in Barcelona
When you only have 3 days in Barcelona to explore, you want to stay somewhere that is conveniently located so you can get around quickly and easily.
On our last trip we were given a complimentary stay at Sonder Casa Luz, which could not be better placed for exploring. It’s right next to the Universitat metro station and less than five minutes’ walk from Plaça de Catalunya, the central square at the top of Las Ramblas.
The hotel also has a restaurant and bar on its top floor, with large windows and outdoor terrace areas looking out over Plaça de la Universitat. Beginning your day with a breakfast overlooking this view is amazing!
For more, see our complete review of Sonder Casa Luz.
Other top districts to look for accommodation for 3 days in Barcelona include:
- El Born, which has great places to eat, is famous for its nightlife, and also some excellent museums
- Gothic Quarter, full of medieval squares and alleys, and Barcelona Cathedral as its centrepiece
- La Barceloneta, great for beaches, food and drink, and ideal for families
Also take some time to see our very comprehensive best area to stay in Barcelona: a complete neighbourhood guide.
Self-catered apartments make a great option for a stay in Barcelona, whether on a city break or workation. We’ve compiled 25 of the best Vrbo apartments in Barcelona to give you some inspiration.
Look for the best deals and book accommodation securely in Barcelona using the booking.com map below:
Barcelona 3 day itinerary: the details
We have put together this Barcelona 3 day itinerary based on multiple visits we have made to the city, combining some of the most famous landmarks and attractions with a few under-the-radar ideas.
There is quite a lot of activity packed in, while still allowing some space to breathe and take it at a steady pace. We’ve also thrown in some food recommendations that fit with where you will be during the itinerary.
Afterwards, we put forward some additional ideas for things to do in Barcelona in 3 days if you want to mix it up a bit. (This is where we suggest things like Camp Nou, for example, as we know that football isn’t for everyone!).
So, let’s get started…
Day 1: getting to know Barcelona’s creative side
The first day of our Barcelona 3 day itinerary is all about finding your feet. It’s geared towards finding your bearings, learning about the city’s creative heritage, and seeing some of its most historic architecture.
Morning: street art cycling tour
Whenever we arrive in a city for the first time, we like to take a guided tour of some kind. Often we will choose a free walking tour, as these are usually fantastic for seeing the highlights, and you can get great tips on hidden gems and food recommendations from the guides, who are usually locals.
For Barcelona, we’re suggesting something a little different – a street art cycling tour with Bamboo Bike Tours. Creativity is in Barcelona’s genes, and you can see it around every corner you turn in the form of murals, graffiti and mounted wall sculptures. Street art in the city is simply ubiquitous.
We took this tour with Florent as our guide. You traverse the city on sustainable bamboo bikes and learn the background stories and the context of the many different street art works and styles. It’s a fun and compelling way to take your first glimpse of the city, and afterwards you’ll start recognising the artworks that you encounter while exploring.
The tour starts at 10am from the By-Cycleo cycle shop on 6 Carrer del Notariat. If you would rather try a more traditional tour to see the city’s highlights, you can try a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter instead, which also starts at 10am.
Lunch at Viena Blanca
The street art cycle tour finishes at around 2pm, depending on how far off the beaten path the guide takes you! You will probably be hungry for lunch when you return to the cycle shop. Luckily there is a great little hidden gem called La Viena Blanca just around the corner, which Florent recommended to us.
La Viena Blanca is run by a Filipino family that moved to Barcelona, and specialises in Catalan cuisine. There are menu deals for lunch at very reasonable prices – much less than you’ll pay if if you walk closer to Las Ramblas.
The food is great too. I had a delicious goat’s cheese salad and a solomillo con salsa de champiñones – slices of sirloin steak in a mushroom sauce. Cooked to perfection!
Afternoon: a trio of contrasting museums
After finishing lunch at La Viena Blanca, you are on the doorstep of one of Barcelona’s most beautiful and historic districts: the Gothic Quarter. Filled with quaint walkways and fairytale medieval buildings, it is also home to some of the city’s most captivating museums. This is where we recommend exploring for remainder of the first day in our Barcelona 3 day itinerary. It’s an especially good place if you get unlucky with a rainy day in Barcelona, as there is a lot you can do indoors.
We have picked out three museums to visit over the course of the afternoon. The museums we’ve included in the itinerary are deliberately contrasting – you will get a bit of history, a bit of art, and a bit of chocolate! Depending on how long you like to take absorbing museum exhibitions, you might only have time for one or two of them – in which case, take your pick.
All three of these museums are included on the Barcelona Card. If you go to all three, the 72-hour card has already more than paid for itself!
The Barcelona History Museum (MUHBA) is a good place to start. On the basement floor you can walk among the 2,000 ruins of the Roman city of Barcino, which was the precursor to the modern city of Barcelona. There’s even a millennia-old winery among the ruins! Back upstairs, you can walk through centuries of history and learn about the city’s journey through the ages.
Less than five minutes’ walk from here you will reach the Picasso Museum. Pablo Picasso spent a decade of his formative years in Barcelona, and he grew to have a special affection for the city. So much so that before he died, he bequeathed several hundred of his early works to Barcelona. You can see many of these on display at the museum.
A short walk will take you from the Picasso Museum to Museu de la Xocolata, the Chocolate Museum. I wasn’t quite aware of how big a thing chocolate is in Barcelona. Back in the 18th century it was here that the world’s first mechanical chocolate production was pioneered.
The Chocolate Museum tells the full tale of the city’s chocolate heritage, and you can also join a chocolate-making workshop if you want to devote more time here. Even the ticket for the entry barrier is a chocolate bar! When you’re done, grab a tasty hot chocolate to drink in the café.
Dinner at Mescladis del Pou
Another food recommendation we were given on the street art cycle tour was a place called Mescladís, which happens to be just three minutes’ walk from the Chocolate Museum. Mescladís is a non-for-profit social enterprise that aims to foster multicultural cohesion in the city.
The café at Mescladís del Pou serves homemade tapas that is sourced from ethic suppliers that use fair trade and organic produce. All proceeds made through the café are put back into social cohesion initiatives, such as open-space workshops across the city to combat stigmas and artwork projects that break down cultural divides.
So, with dinner at Mescladís you are getting more than just a delicious meal, you’re also contributing to a highly worthy cause.
Evening in the Gothic Quarter
Early evening is an atmospheric time to take a wander around Barcelona’s stunning Gothic Quarter. We loved getting lost among the mazy alleys surrounding Barcelona Cathedral, to the background music of guitar-playing buskers on cobbled corners.
On Thursday evenings, the Gòtic Antiques Market is in full swing in the square in front of the cathedral. It’s fun to browse the stalls selling old trinkets, ornaments and jewellery, and see the Gothic Quarter at one of its liveliest moments.
If you time your itinerary slightly differently you can opt to take the Gothic Quarter walking tour that runs at 6pm every day. For example, you could come along to this after a few hours in the museums, and then go for dinner afterwards. The tour is great value and will give you an insider’s view of one of Barcelona’s prettiest neighbourhoods.
Day 2: Gaudí’s greatest hits and relaxation at sea
When visiting Barcelona you absolutely must make time to explore the works of the legendary architect Antoni Gaudí. Many people come to the city for this reason alone, and it’s definitely one of the features that keeps bringing us back.
Early visit to Sagrada Família
The most famous and impressive of Gaudí’s work is the cathedral of Sagrada Família. Construction of this masterpiece began in 1882, and it is still not quite complete. It is due to be finished in 2026, but the completion date has already been moved back several times!
Despite its incompleteness, the cathedral is still a dazzling sight to see, with its bejewelled turrets, incredible ornamented detail and all-round storybook aura.
The majesty of the building does come with one downside, though: as the most popular tourist attraction in the city, it’s also the most crowded. The best way around this is to visit Sagrada Família as early as possible after it opens, which is at 9am each day.
A few years back we visited Barcelona with a couple of friends. Lisa and I got up early to visit Sagrada Família when it opened, and our friends had a lie-in and came an hour later. When we met later for lunch and compared notes, it was clearly a lot quieter at 9am than 10am!
To see inside Sagrada Família it is strongly recommended to book your entry ticket in advance. Otherwise, you may end up queueing for a long time or not even be able to see it at all.
An entry ticket alone allows you to explore at your own pace, but as this is such a unique building, it’s definitely worth taking a guided tour as well. A one-hour guided Sagrada Família visit runs at 9am each day, which leaves ample time for more exploring.
For a little extra, you can take the 9am Sagrada Família tour and tower visit, which allows you to ride the elevators to the top of the building for spectacular views of the city.
Park Güell and city views
Set a little higher up on the Barcelona hillside, Park Güell is a sculpted park and gardens that lays bare the mind-boggling imagination of Gaudí. Layers of platforms and column-propped terraces are draped with vegetation and intermingled with mesmerising tiled sculptures, curved walls and patterned buildings.
Park Güell never fails to blow our mind. It’s incredible to believe that it was completed more than 100 years ago! The beauty of its design is elevated even further by the magnificent views of Barcelona you get from its high-up setting.
As with Sagrada Família, it’s a good idea to take a guided tour of Park Güell. The tour begins at 11am, which is just about possible to make on the metro if you did the 9am/9:30am tour at Sagrada Família. However, if you don’t want to rush between them, maybe choose which you’d prefer to explore independently, or allow more time over the day to take a later tour.
If you have a little spare time when you’re finished at the park, try taking the rear exit to walk up to Mirador de Joan Sales. This is an amazing vantage point where you can enjoy one of the most breathtaking panoramic views across Barcelona.
Lunch at Gilda
Barcelona is home to literally hundreds of tapas restaurants, but one of the best is definitely Gilda. This excellent restaurant fuses traditional Barcelona tapas with Belgian cuisine, and the results are astounding.
Gilda is located within a short metro ride of either Sagrada Família or Park Güell, so it fits perfectly for lunch on the day when you’re visiting those landmarks.
Afternoon: Barcelona sailing experience with vermut
Now for something a little different. The last thing I did before leaving Barcelona on my most recent visit was to take a vermut sailing experience.
Among all the sightseeing in this captivating city, you should definitely also allow some time to enjoy its Mediterranean waters. This short sailing excursion gives you time to relax while seeing the city from a completely different perspective – out on the water! And to complement the view you get to sip on vermut with constant top-ups, as well as some tasty nibbles.
Sailing trips last about 90 minutes and run four times a day. Try and aim for the 2:30pm departure, and it segways neatly between your morning’s sightseeing and some more time for relaxation and exploration in the evening.
Dinner at Restaurante Casa Luz
If you are staying at Sonder Casa Luz, make sure you treat yourself to at least one meal in its rooftop restaurant. It fits neatly at this point in our itinerary, when you’ll probably want to unwind and relax a little too. So, take some time out in your room and then enjoy a meal with a view. Booking ahead is required, as it’s a very popular place to eat!
The food I had at Restaurante Casa Luz was some of the best we’ve had during any of our visits to Barcelona. Local tapas of the highest quality, paired with delicious wines from the nearby Penedès and Priorat wine regions. Outstanding.
Evening: Montjuïc Magic Fountain light show
The wooded, castle-topped hill of Montjuïc looms over Barcelona Harbour on the south-west side of the city. Standing 173 metres high, the hill is an ever-present sight and a stunning place to visit at any time of day. Around its slopes will you see the park and stadium from the 1992 Olympic Games. My friend who lives in Barcelona likes to come here for a morning run with a view among the trees and pathways.
Montjuïc springs to life every evening with a light and colour show at its Magic Fountain, which is free for the public to attend. It’s one of the best free things to do in Barcelona, and you definitely need to experience it at least once during your stay! The site is easy to reach from central Barcelona on the L1 metro line.
The timing of the Montjuïc Magic Fountain light show alters through the year to fit with seasonal daylight times. Check the schedule to get the timings right on your visit.
Day 3: museums, beaches and an evening out
The final day of our Barcelona 3 day itinerary is a little looser in timings, giving some more space for you to take it a bit slower. Your feet may be hurting a little by now after all the exploration so far, and you’ll probably want to take it easier.
We suggest having a slow morning, and then ambling over to Passeig de Gràcia once you’re ready for a little more sightseeing. Maybe stop for a breakfast pastry on the way at an El Fornet café.
Casa Batllo and Casa Amatller
Two of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings stand next to one another on the so-called ‘Block of Discord’ on Passeig de Gràcia. This row of buildings was given this name due to the contrasting styles of its modernist buildings, built by different architects with competing visions.
Casa Batlló is perhaps the most striking building on the row, built by none other than Antoni Gaudí. This stunning house was originally commissioned in 1877, but later redesigned by Gaudí and bought by the Batlló family in 1903, who were prominent in the city’s textile industry.
Inside Casa Batlló you can meander up and down its several floors and learn the intricate details of each room, many of which feature pioneering architectural designs. We loved the room shaped like an animal’s ribcage! At the highest level you emerge onto a rooftop view of Barcelona, where there is also a café. For an enhanced exploration of the house you can also book the Casa Batlló 10D experience.
Standing next to Casa Batlló is Casa Amatller. This striking building was designed by Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch and was the residence of chocolatier Antoni Amatller. The name Amatller is still synonymous with Barcelona’s chocolate industry today.
The house has been transformed into a museum, with original furnishings that have been immaculately preserved. Wandering through the corridors and rooms is like peering through a window back in time, and you can finish by perusing the chocolate shop on the ground floor.
You can get discounted entry to both Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller using the Barcelona Card.
Las Ramblas and lunch at Mercado de La Boqueria
The wide boulevard of Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s most famous street, carving a kilometre-long line from Plaça de Catalunya down to the harbour. Las Ramblas is always a lively place at any time of day or night.
Set aside some time to wander down Las Ramblas, stopping at market stalls along the way while being serenaded by street performers. Be particularly careful with your belongings here, as it’s a notorious spot for pickpockets.
Midway along Las Ramblas you will reach Mercado de La Boqueria, which is Barcelona’s largest food market. We like to stop here for a bite to eat at lunchtime. There are many local delicacies to be found inside among the fresh produce stalls, as well as some international classics. Look out for the stall selling amazing deep-fried pork burritos in a crispy batter.
From here, you can choose to take a stop off at Palau Güell to see another of Gaudí’s impressive works before continuing down towards the sea.
Free time around Barcelona’s beaches
Barcelona’s seafront on the Mediterranean is lined by some four kilometres of sandy beaches. Spending some free time along this beautiful stretch is definitely one of the best things to do in Barcelona in 3 days!
At the bottom of Las Ramblas you emerge onto the harbour, behind which is Barceloneta, one of the city’s most popular beaches. You could simply stroll down from here, or take the metro to a quieter spot. Generally, the beaches get less busy the further east you go. There are so many to choose from, but this guide to the best beaches in Barcelona may help you find one you like.
If you’ve still got the energy for another tour, then you can take a beach bike tour to explore a range of Barcelona’s coastal spots and landmarks on two wheels. One of the tours sets off at 4pm, which fits perfectly into our suggested itinerary.
Evening: dinner and night out in El Born
Want to experience Barcelona’s nightlife on your trip? El Born is the place to come! This lively district is packed with bustling cocktail and samba bars, pubs and clubs, and tons of great places to eat. Nestled next to the Gothic Quarter, its streets are also lined with picturesque medieval buildings.
I met a friend for dinner in El Born and he took me to a Mexican restaurant called La Hacienda. This colourful restaurant has loud, bright decorations and serves great Mexican food at reasonable prices, with good offers on drinks too. If you’d rather try something of a more local flavour, there are plenty of tapas restaurants around the neighbourhood to try instead.
When you’re done, it’s time to hit up some of the bars. Up for a long night? The doors stay open round here well into the small hours.
More things to do in Barcelona in 3 days
We have tried to make our Barcelona 3 day itinerary as varied and interesting as possible. But it’s a fact of life that you simply cannot see and do everything in Barcelona in 3 days!
In case you want to mix some different activities into your itinerary, here are a few ideas you can consider.
Amusement park and city views at Tibidabo
One of the best views of Barcelona is combined with bags of fun at Tibidabo, where there is a small amusement park on a high hill overlooking the city. We took the trip up here years back with some friends and had an absolute blast.
To get up to Tibidabo you need to take the L7 metro line to Avenida Tibidabo and then ride the tram and funicular up to the top. The journey up to it is all part of the fun! At the top you are greeted with those amazing views, which are free to enjoy. Alternatively you can book to go up to the viewing platform, which has unabated vistas from 500 metres above sea level.
The amusement park at Tibidabo was built in the 19th century, making it one of the oldest in the world. You can ride rollercoasters, ferris wheels and whirligigs all while enjoying that view. Tickets can be bought for each ride separately or you can have access to all of them with a Tibidabo Amusement Park ticket.
Take a tour of Camp Nou
Even if you are not into football, you still might be wowed by Camp Nou, the stadium of FC Barcelona, arguably the biggest club in the world. The club is a huge part of the city’s cultural identity and has been home to many of the world’s greatest talents, such as Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Leonel Messi.
You can learn all about the club’s tumultuous history, explore inside the depths of the ground and see interactive displays by taking a tour of Camp Nou. It takes less than half an hour to reach the stadium from Plaça de Catalunya and the tour lasts around 90 minutes, so this is a good activity to fill a morning or afternoon.
Try paddle surfing
Walking along the beaches of Barcelona you are likely to spot people on paddle boards out on the water. Paddle surfing is a popular activity in the city, and a fun way to experience the Mediterranean waters more actively than on a sailing cruise.
On a Barcelona paddle surf excursion you will have expert guidance in learning how to balance on a paddle board, all while enjoying that great city view from the water.
Explore Els Encants Vells flea market
Els Encants Vells is one of Europe’s oldest flea markets, dating back to the 14th century. It’s very easy to reach in Barcelona as it is situated right next to the Glòries station on the L1 metro line.
The market takes places on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. In modern times a huge mirrored canopy roof has been built over the market in contemporary style, and on market days hundreds of stalls gather underneath it selling books, antiques, clothes and general jumble.
This place is really one of a kind, and definitely worth checking out if you have some spare time.
Taste the wines of the Penedès region
A train journey of less than an hour from Barcelona takes you into the heart of Penedès, one of Europe’s most important wine regions. More than 95% of the world’s cava is made here, with production concentrated around the small village of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.
We paid a visit to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia to see one of its most prestigious family-run wineries, Recaredo. It’s fascinating to see the manual winemaking process first hand, and of course, try some of the wines!
For an all-round experience of the region, you can take a cycling tour of Penedès, which includes a winery visit and tasting.
Take a day trip to Sitges
The coastline surrounding Barcelona is dotted with many gorgeous seaside towns and villages. There is a world of options if you want to venture beyond the city and take a Catalonia road trip.
So, if you can spare some time in your Barcelona itinerary, consider taking at least a day out to see a different side of the region.
Sitges is a charming town with a whitewashed old town, beautiful coastal scenery and incredible seafood restaurants that you can reach in just a half-hour train ride from Barcelona.
See our guide to visiting Sitges for everything you need to know before planning a day trip.
Best times to visit Barcelona
If you haven’t booked the dates yet for your Barcelona trip, you may be wondering when is the optimal time to come. The best times to visit Barcelona depend on what you want to see and do while you’re here.
Generally, Barcelona has great weather all year round thanks to its Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot – it’s not unusual for temperatures to soar into the 30s in July and August – while winters are mild, with an average of 10°C in January.
We usually prefer to avoid the busiest months and the hottest weather. Barcelona is a lovely city to explore by foot, but it can get a bit overwhelming when it’s crowded and the sun is beating down. Winter is great to visit to, when it’s super-quiet! Check out our full guide to visiting Barcelona in winter.
Most of our visits in the past have been around March–April and September–October for this reason. You can still expect glorious weather in the ‘shoulder’ seasons, accommodation prices are typically a bit cheaper, and attractions will be quieter.
Spring and autumn also coincide with some of the best festivals and celebrations in Barcelona. The Sant Jordi Festival on 23 April is a huge city-wide celebration of books and flowers, with streets taken over by stalls and parties. In September, the wine harvest begins in the nearby Penedès region, and there are various celebrations of food and wine.
Winter in Barcelona opens up a different world of opportunity. The Pyrenees mountains are not far away for skiing, for example. And if you’re a shopaholic and want to hit up Barcelona’s legendary shopping scene, January and February is when you’ll find all the best deals.
Come back to Barcelona for a workation
Once you have been to Barcelona once, you will want to keep returning again and again. Trust us on that! If you are still hungry to spend more time in the city after 3 days in Barcelona, then why not consider coming back to work remotely?
If you have flexible arrangements for your job, Barcelona is a city that is perfectly set up to accommodate you. In addition to its excellent transport networks it has a great infrastructure for working remotely, including dozens of Barcelona coworking spaces and hotels with desks.
Our ultimate guide to planning a workation in Barcelona explains how to make the most of a short-term remote working trip to the city.
Do you have any more questions about planning a Barcelona 3 day itinerary? Let us know in the comments below.