Barcelona Spain Sunrise at Parc Guell

What to Do in Barcelona for 3 Days: A Complete Guide

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days makes up a l-o-n-g list of things to do, see, and eat! It can be tough to decide how to plan your days balancing all the places to see in Barcelona with all the food you must also try while you’re there.

But planning a trip to Barcelona doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this complete 3 days in Barcelona itinerary, I’ve detailed everything you need to make your Barcelona vacation a success.  You’ll find:

  • what to do before you arrive in Barcelona,
  • a day-by-day itinerary mixed with top sights, experiences, and places to eat,
  • important Barcelona travel tips,
  • where to stay in Barcelona,
  • Barcelona day trips if you’d like to explore outside the city, and,
  • information about getting around and saving money.
What to Do in Barcelona for 3 Days: A Complete Guide
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What to Do in Barcelona for 3 Days: A Complete Guide

Whether you have a long weekend in Barcelona or it’s part of a larger Spain trip, you’re in for a treat! Barcelona in 3 days comes with an action-packed itinerary of world-famous sights, history, beautiful beaches, and incredible food.

It’s not a question of how many days in Barcelona do you need. (Although Barcelona in a day is just too rushed for my liking!) The city can be visited more than once and there’s always something more to discover.

What to see in Barcelona in 3 days is ultimately up to you. But in putting together this in-depth guide, I’ve tried to blend sights and experiences all in an easy-to-follow plan to maximize your time avoid too much overlap. So pack your comfortable shoes and get ready for an amazing city break!

What to Do Before Your Trip to Barcelona

Barcelona Spain birds-eye view
  • Book tickets in advance for Barcelona’s top sights!

You’ve booked your flights, hotel, and can’t wait for your trip to Barcelona! Just remember, lots of other people have too and they all want to see the Sagrada Familia, as well. Besides, if you have just 3 days in Barcelona, you’ll want to maximize your time and avoid waiting in lines whenever possible.

Booking in advance lets you choose a timed entry for places like Parc Guell or the Sagrada Familia. During the peak summer months, in particular, these timed slots go quickly! To be sure you can see everything on your Barcelona itinerary, book your timed-entry tickets as much in advance as possible.

  • Consider ways to save money on sightseeing.

City sightseeing passes bundle the cost of admission for popular sights, attractions, and experiences to absolutely save you money compared to buying each entry ticket individually. BUT, any city pass is only worth it if you intend on seeing the sights included with the pass. 

The Go City Barcelona Pass includes entry to 30+ attractions but does not include 2 of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. The pass does include access to Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (Casa Milà) in addition to a one-day hop-on-hop-off bus ticket.

This is a great way to do a sightseeing tour of the city and it’s the perfect way to get your bearings when you first arrive. It also gives you the option of stopping at one of the many popular sights along the way to get a closer look. 

The all-inclusive pass gives you the option of picking a 2, 3 or 5-day pass. Once you pick, you can download your pass onto the Go City mobile app and use it right from your phone.

To decide whether the Go City Barcelona Pass is worth it or not, take a look at the list of included attractions and see if it lines up with your itinerary. If the pass includes what you’re hoping to see and do, it will indeed save you money. If it doesn’t, it may not make sense. You’ll find more information on the Barcelona Pass below.

  • Book your airport transfer.

You can get from Barcelona airport to the city by bus, metro, or even taxi. Keep in mind, your arrival time and where your hotel is located. The metro runs from the airport but often requires you to transfer trains to get to most hotels in the main tourist areas. 

If you’d prefer to arrange your transportation, I recommend Welcome Pickups. I’ve used them myself for my travels in Europe and have always had a great experience. You can book your airport transfer in advance and your driver will be waiting for you when you arrive. I’m all for public transportation, but sometimes I want to make sure my trip starts off stress-free and in a positive way.

Day 1

Sagrada Familia

3 days in Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia is the most famous Barcelona sight but that’s not why I put it at the beginning of this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary. This Gaudi masterpiece was his last architectural work. In fact, it’s still under construction with a completion date of 2026 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

By starting with Sagrada Familia and then seeing Gaudi’s other masterpieces throughout Barcelona, you’ll recognize how this cathedral was always inside of him and how each project brought him a step closer to this one-of-a-kind design that takes your breath away both inside and out. 

Sagrada Familia is a Gothic and nature-inspired design where the religious theme is on the exterior compared to the more typical cathedral style where the statues and monuments are inside. From the moment you first see Sagrada Familia, it’s difficult for your eyes to decide where to start!

For this reason, I highly recommend booking Sagrada Familia tickets with an included audio guide. There are so many Gaudi design elements I would’ve never known the meaning of, from the giant pillars inside to the different shades of blue, green, red, and orange light that comes through the stained glass windows depending on the time of day.

3 days in Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia

Guided tours are also recommended if audio guides aren’t your thing or the audio guide ticket time slots are already booked. I prefer the audio guide because you can see the cathedral at your own pace.

But no matter which you choose, book your timed-entry ticket as far in advance as possible. Yes, you can buy tickets there…if you’d like to wait in long entry lines. With just 3 days in Barcelona, however, it’s not the best use of your time. Remember, if you have purchased the Go City Barcelona Pass, the Sagrada Familia is not included.

Lastly, there’s quite a bit of debate online about the best time to visit Sagrada Familia. I’ve visited in the morning and late afternoon and they’re both equally beautiful because light streams in through the colored windows throughout the day in different ways. 

I also didn’t climb the towers. The views of the city are better from elsewhere, not to mention depending on the construction, scaffolding could partially block your view. 

Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

Barcelona Spain Casa Mila

Walk for about 15 minutes along Carrer de Provenca to see 2 of the most famous Gaudi houses, starting with Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera because of its stone exterior. You could also take the Blue L5 metro line from Sagrada Familia to Diagonal where Casa Mila is just 2 minutes away.

Casa Mila was Gaudi’s last private home design and has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the wrought iron and stone to admire from the outside, you’ll get to see the rooftop with it’s covered stairwells and famous chimneys, one of the most incredible features of the Casa Mila! The La Pedrera Essential ticket also includes access to the attic with its Gaudi exhibition, a tenant’s apartment, the Mila family apartment, and the Flower and Butterfly Courtyards. 

Barcelona Spain Casa Mila rooftop

Visits are self-guided and free audio guides are available with your entry ticket. As with many popular spots in Barcelona, get your Casa Mila tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines.

If you’ve purchased a Go City Barcelona Pass, you get free access to La Pedrera. 

Casa Batllo

Barcelona Spain Casa Batllo

Turn left onto the Passeig de Gracia and walk about 5 minutes to Casa Batllo.

Casa Batllo is one of Gaudi’s jewels! It sits on the “Block of Discord” along with 3 other buildings designed by other recognized modern-style Barcelona architects. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Finished at the end of May 2019, Casa Batllo’s facade underwent a complete restoration. The colorful glass mosaic pieces and the ironwork reflect their brilliant gleam and show off Gaudi’s genius. There’s also a brand new video SmartGuide which can help reveal the elements from nature that inspired the design you’re seeing, whether on the Noble Floor or the Roof Terrace.

Casa Batllo is 10% off with the Barcelona Pass. If you need, get individual tickets in advance so you don’t wait to enter. Plan to spend about 1 hour at Casa Batllo.

When your visit is complete, head into the Chocolate Shop in Casa Amatller just next door. It’s been selling artisanal chocolates for over 200 years. There’s also a cafe selling all your chocolate fantasies!

Passeig de Gracia is the place to walk if you want high-end shops like Fendi and Louis Vitton. It’s also lined with restaurants and tapas bars where you can sit and watch the people stroll to and from Placa Catalunya and Las Ramblas, your next stop.

El Nacional is just a few blocks from Casa Batllo and is a total foodie experience! There are different areas where you can taste traditional foods from the Iberian Peninsula.

I also love Tapas 24. It’s a popular (and delicious) place to stop for some tapas plates. Otherwise, grab a bite at La Boqueria after a stroll on Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas

Barcelona Spain Las Ramblas Flower Stand

Passeig de Gracia leads to Placa Catalunya and the top of Las Ramblas, the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Barcelona. Every first-time Barcelona visitor has to stroll Las Ramblas! Just expect it to be crowded, especially in peak season.

Along the way, you’ll pass by flower stands, artists, and hawkers selling cheap souvenirs and gadgets. Las Ramblas winds down to the end at the Christopher Columbus monument just in front of the harbor.

But, the real beauty of Las Ramblas is its central location and the must-see sights and streets to veer towards and explore. 

La Boqueria

La Boqueria Market in Barcelona Spain

About halfway down Las Ramblas, you’ll see the entrance to La Boqueria on the right.

La Boqueria is without question one of the best food markets in the world. You’ll find fresh foods like meats, cheeses, vegetables, and fruits and cooked food whether it’s a to-go snack or served at one of the sit-down counters. Just be prepared for many people walking through the market’s labyrinth-like aisles, but don’t miss the opportunity to walk through and sample some goodies.

La Boqueria Barcelona Spain

Taste some flash-fried peppers, have a slice of a Spanish tortilla, or taste a selection of local hams and cheeses. I’ve been lucky enough to grab counter seats at both El Quim and Bar Pinotxo. Both places serve up delicious local bites and specialty Catalan dishes.

The key is to linger and look for anyone who appears to be finishing so you grab their seat!

Gothic Quarter

Gargoyle Barcelona Spain Gothic Quarter

Exit La Boqueria back onto Las Ramblas and cut over to the opposite side towards Carrer de la Portaferrissa. This and the many other small streets on the side of Las Ramblas lead into Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

The Gothic Quarter has some of the earliest streets in all of Barcelona, some of which date back to the Roman Empire. Meander along the narrow streets and into the tiny alleyways. The district is full of shops, eateries, and hotels. You’ll also come upon popular squares like Placa Reial or Placa del Rei.

Placa Reial - Barcelona Spain

Placa Reial has a fountain at its center, palm trees lining the square, and cafes filling its perimeter. Stop for a photo or a glass of cava but skip eating here. The restaurants cater largely to tourists and the food reflects that in taste and pricing.

Just steps away, La Boqueria’s counters will be a much better meal if you need to grab a bite.

Barcelona Spain Gothic Cathedral

Along the way, be sure to visit the Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona. The Cathedral was built during the 14th century with all of the characteristic imposing arches and lofted vault ceilings. Go inside to admire the architecture and make your way out to the cloistered courtyard where swans swim among the palm trees.

Picasso spent his early years in Barcelona and, in his honor, the Picasso Museum houses one of the largest collections of his works anywhere in the world. The building itself is a series of connected medieval palaces with noteworthy architecture all on its own. If you venture this far, you’ll have veered into El Born, my favorite neighborhood in Barcelona and part of the Day 3 itinerary.

Similarly, the Barcelona History Museum takes you below the Placa del Rei to the archaeological remains of the former medieval city that now is Barcelona. History buffs will love seeing how the city was built step by step over the centuries.

Medieval Water Fountains in Barcelona Spain
As you stroll the Gothic Quarter (and other areas in Barcelona and Spain), you’ll see water refilling spots. Bring a water bottle so you can reuse it again and again. The water in Spain is perfectly safe to drink. No need to buy water over and over, especially on those hot Barcelona days.

Day 2 – Morning

Parc Guell

Barcelona Spain Sunrise at Parc Guell

Begin your 2nd day in Barcelona with another famous Gaudi sight, Parc Guell. It’s situated a bit away from the city center, and even taking public transportation still comes with some walking to reach the park.

Nevertheless, you’ll want to book a Parc Guell timed-entry for first thing in the morning to beat some of the crowds. This is one of the most popular Gaudi sights in all of Barcelona and, although at one point tickets weren’t necessary, they’ve been put in place to manage the flow of people.

Parc Guell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with mosaics and sculptures designed by Gaudi. There’s a green area of the park where you can still get into without a ticket, but the Gaudi works are best seen from within the monumental zone of Parc Guell.

Your timed-entry ticket allows you to stay in the park as long as you’d like, and if you go when the park opens, you’ll have a small window to admire the works of art in relative peace.

Casa Vicens 

Barcelona Spain Casa Vicens

Located in Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood and just 15 minutes walking from Parc Guell, discover Casa Vicens, the first house Gaudi designed. Having now seen later Gaudi works like Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera, you’ll undoubtedly recognize the first glimpses of how Gaudi was inspired by nature, his love for vibrant colors, and the symbolism he infused into all his work.

Casa Vicens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but unlike other Gaudi sites in Barcelona, it remains a bit of a hidden gem. It’s smaller and much less visited than places like Parc Guell or Sagrada Familia. Guided tours through the house are available, as are advance ticket bookings. Both help to maximize the time and make the most of your visit. 

Plan to spend about an hour to an hour and a half touring the 3-story Gaudi house, the exhibitions, and the lovely rooftop.

Explore Barcelona’s Gracia Neighborhood

Barcelona Spain Tapas

Gracia will feel far away from the busy Las Ramblas and Gothic Quarter areas of Barcelona. The neighborhood’s narrow streets, tucked away squares, and local cafes might even make you think you’re in a small village instead of a bustling metropolitan city. You wouldn’t be too far off because Gracia was its own town before it was swallowed up as Barcelona expanded.

Except for Parc Guell and Casa Vicens, there aren’t any other notable tourist sights in Gracia. And the neighborhood is just far enough removed from other popular Gaudi sites, museums, and the beautiful Barcelona waterfront, most visitors overlook exploring here and miss out on the peaceful, local charm.

From Casa Vicens, it’s best to set off on foot and go where your curiosity leads you. Rest in Placa de la Virreina with a beverage or some tapas. The pretty square has all the elements that contribute to Gracia’s cozy feel. Discover the clock tower in the Placa de la Vila de Gracia. Stroll along Carrer de Verdi to see the architecture and to do some (window) shopping.

Day 2 – Afternoon

Let’s split the 2nd day of this Barcelona itinerary into a “Choose Your Adventure” afternoon. Depending on your interests, you might like to incorporate a local food experience into your sightseeing itinerary.

There’s also plenty to see in Barcelona, so if you’d rather explore another area of the city and its sights, head up to Montjuic for the afternoon and finish up as the sun goes down with the Magic Fountain show.

If you want the best of both worlds, plan your afternoon to include food and a cable car ride later to see the city from the Montjuic hill or vice versa. Depending on your timing, you could easily do a bit of both!

Dive into Barcelona’s Food Scene

Barcelona Spain peppers

It may be difficult to take your eyes off of Gaudi’s imaginative genius but Barcelona’s cuisine will captivate your nose and taste buds. The city is all about food! You can’t come to Barcelona and not have “eating” as one of your MUST things to do. 😉

Whether it’s tomato-rubbed bread, paella, fresh seafood, local ham, or the Spanish omelet known as a tortilla, you won’t have had the complete Barcelona experience until you’ve tasted the food.

On my first visit to Barcelona, my friends and I arranged for a homecooked meal cooked by a local. Years have passed, but it’s still one of the first things we talk about when remembering that Barcelona trip. The local connection and the delicious, authentic food was the absolute best souvenir!

Barcelona Spain Paella

Perhaps you’d prefer a more active local foodie experience.

Discover the best tapas in one of Barcelona’s neighborhoods, tour the Boqueria with a chef, or even learn how to serve up authentic paella back home after taking a local-led cooking class!

Explore the Montjuic Area

Barcelona Spain Port Cable Car

If you choose to visit Montjuic, end your Gracia stroll at one of the nearby metro stations. Fontana, Joanic, and even Diagonal depending on how far you walk will all work. Take the Barcelona Metro to Paral-lel station along the purple L2 line and the green L3 line. Follow the signs to the Montjuic Funicular.

Alternatively, you can take the yellow L4 line to Barceloneta and make the short walk to the Port Cable Car which you can ride up to the Montjuic area. Along the way, you’ll be treated to sweeping Barcelona views, including the coastline and a birds-eye look of Las Ramblas. Once you arrive, there’s also a great spot to take photos overlooking the city.

Montjuic is the hill that overlooks Barcelona and its port. There are several things to do up in this area, so it’s possible to dedicate the 2nd half of Day 2 in Barcelona to exploring the Montjuic area.

If you’ve taken the funicular from the Paral-lel metro station, you’ll exit just near the Montjuic Cable Car. This cable car, which is different from the Port Cable Car, takes you up to Montjuic Castle. x

If you’ve taken the Port Cable Car up to the Montjuic area, you’ll arrive just near the Hotel Mirador. Take a couple of photos of the city views from here and then walk up the hill about 5-7 minutes to the Montjuic Cable Car.

The Montjuic area has plenty of things to do. It’s unlikely you’ll see everything in a half-day so plan to choose a few sights that are of interest to make the most of your time in Montjuic.

Montjuic Castle

Barcelona Spain Montjuic Castle

This 17th-century castle has been a military outpost throughout Barcelona’s history. With one look, it’s easy to see why the sweeping views of the city and the harbor were the best way to spot invaders. In fact, you’re not likely to find a more stunning view of the city and the sea. The castle also has well-kept gardens and a small museum to learn more about the castle throughout Barcelona’s history.

Joan Miro Foundation

Just a 5-minute walk from where the funicular leaves you or from the Montjuic cable car station, the Joan Miro Foundation houses work by the artist himself, as well as exhibitions of other contemporary artwork. What makes this museum different from other Miro museums is Miro created this space himself for what was originally his private collection. The works of art here are extensive. Art lovers and Miro fans can easily devote a couple of hours to seeing it all.

Catalonia National Art Museum

Barcelona Spain Catalonia Art Museum

Your visit starts with the museum building, which is a landmark in its own right. With pieces of art dating back to Medieval times up to the 19th century, history and art lovers will enjoy the museum’s large collection.

Catalonia is proud of its cultural identity which is clearly on display as you admire the works by various Catalan artists. There are also noteworthy Roman and Gothic tapestries and frescoes and fantastic views from the museum terrace.

Poble Espanyol

This open-air museum highlights the unique cultural characteristics and architecture of the different regions of Spain. The museum is like walking through a village where you can shop, eat, and watch local artisans make pottery, dance flamenco, and create other handicrafts.

There’s also an audio guide to walk you through the village to learn more about the history, culture, and geography of Spain. If you have the Go City Barcelona Pass, you get free access. 

Barcelona Olympic Stadium

Used for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, this Olympic Stadium is free to go inside for a quick glimpse at the stands and the arena. It’s a great photo-op if you have a moment to spare and is just a 10-minute walk to the Magic Fountain.

ProTip: Sports fans (especially soccer enthusiasts) might like to include a visit to nearby Camp Nou. It’s the largest stadium in Europe and home to FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most widely supported teams.

Magic Fountain of Montjuic

Barcelona Spain Magic Fountain

The Magic Fountain puts on water and light shows several nights a week throughout much of the year. (The fountain is typically closed shortly after New Years in January through the end of February.) The shows are choreographed to go with different styles of music and last about 20 minutes long with a 10-minute break before the next show.

The shows are immensely popular so arrive early for a good spot so you can relax in a comfortable spot and watch the show.

Day 3 

Gothic Quarter/ Palau Guell

Barcelona Spain Palau Guell

Start your last day by heading back down Las Ramblas and into the Gothic Quarter. If you missed the Picasso Museum or the Barcelona History Museum on your first day and would like to go, now’s the time to visit.

If you want to see another Gaudi-designed house, I highly recommend stopping to see Palau Guell, a hidden gem just off Las Ramblas. Commissioned by a wealthy family to design their home, Gaudi created a one-of-a-kind living space complete with horse stables and colorful rooftop chimneys that’ll remind you of the Casa Mila rooftop and some of the spire tops on the Sagrada Familia.

Barceloneta

Barcelona Spain Christopher Columbus Status Las Ramblas

Walk to the end of Las Ramblas to the Christopher Columbus column and cross over to Barcelona’s harbor and waterfront. Turn left onto the promenade to stroll along, exploring the pier with restaurants, shops, and if you’d like the Barcelona Aquarium. (traveling with kids? Get your Aquarium tickets in advance to avoid the lines) Continue along the Passeig de Colom until you can turn right into the Barceloneta neighborhood and toward the beachfront. 

Barcelona Spain Beach

On warm days, you can sit on the beach and swim in the waters along the coast. There are hawkers selling beach towels, beach sheets, and even mojitos to ensure you enjoy your time at the beach. The area also has some of the best seafood restaurants in the city. (Just be sure to save your appetite for dinner…there’s a treat in store!)

Whether you sit on the beach or watch the water from a nearby cafe, don’t miss taking in the scene. For city beaches, the sand and surf are quite nice! 

Barcelona Spain Harbor

If you have the Go City Barcelona Pass, you get access to a 90-minute Las Golondrinas Boat Cruise. Get out onto the water to see Barcelona’s beaches and city sights from a different perspective!

You can also opt for a Catamaran Cruise with a drink to admire Barcelona’s beautiful position along the water.

ProTip: If you’ve somehow missed the Montjuic area altogether, you could use the Port Cable Car in Barceloneta to take a quick round trip for some photos overlooking the city and perhaps a quick stop at the Montjuic Castle before heading back to the waterfront.

Parc de la Ciutadella

Unlike other big cities, Barcelona lacks in urban green space. Parc de la Ciutadella makes for a great transition from the beaches and Barceloneta to El Born. The park has a boating lake, a fountain, and paths to stroll. 

El Born

Barcelona Spain El Born

From the park, wander into El Born. I confess this is one of my favorite areas of the city to walk, shop, and eat! You’ll also find good nightlife here. You may have already stumbled upon part of the neighborhood if you visited the Picasso Museum. El Born and the Gothic Quarter melt into each other.

This medieval area of the city has kept its historic feel. But, the tiny streets and alleyways are lined with historic sights, boutiques, some of the city’s best restaurants, and wine bars.

Barcelona Spain Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral

Santa Maria del Mar is a Gothic Cathedral built in the 14th century. Take a moment to stand in the small square just in front of the Cathedral. Surrounded by buildings dating back to the Middle Ages it’s easy to be transported back in time. 

Visit inside the gorgeous Cathedral and, if available, take the guided tour. Not only will you learn more about the Cathedral’s history, but you’ll also get access to the rooftop with views over the city.

Dinner at Cal Pep in El Born

Barcelona Spain Dinner at Cal Pep

I hesitated to put this restaurant stop at the end of this three days in Barcelona itinerary. If there’s ANY doubt about making it to Cal Pep tonight, move it to another night just to be safe! You don’t want to miss it!

Time your arrival for when Cal Pep opens. (Yes, it defies all the rules about eating dinner late in Spain but you’ll wait outside in line otherwise.)

Cal Pep is a popular restaurant where small groups sit at the counter and bigger groups go to sit in the back room. The guys at the counter ask you about your likes and dislikes, allergies, etc. and then bring you what’s best. What follows could be one of the best eating experiences of your life and certainly a favorite meal in Barcelona.

Expect a few small tapas plates to share followed by an entree and dessert, again all to share. Groups less than 4 people have the advantage of sitting at the counter and watching everything be prepared. Along the way, expect the staff to provide some flirty comic relief.

Is the Go City Barcelona Pass Worth It?

Barcelona Spain Harbor and City View

The Go City Barcelona Pass does not include the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell but it does include admission to over 30+ attractions and access to a one-day Hop-on hop-off bus.  

You can skip the line at La Pedrera and a few other locations including the L’Aquàrium de Barcelona & Casa Museu Amatller. 

The Go City app is easy to use allowing you to use the pass right from your smartphone. 

Once activated, your pass will be valid for the number of consecutive calendar days (not 24-hour periods) indicated on your pass. For example, if you have a three-day pass and you visit your first attraction on Monday afternoon, your pass will be valid for the remainder of that Monday and the following two calendar days (Tuesday and Wednesday).

It’s best if you start early on your first day to maximize the number of attractions you can visit with your pass. Don’t forget to check the opening times of each attraction you plan to visit too so you don’t miss out on anything.

Are you planning to visit the Barcelona Aquarium and/or book a hop-on-hop-off bus? Would you like to visit the Gaudi Crypt? The more you see, the more you save but it’s best to do the math to make sure you’re getting the best value. 

Getting Around Barcelona

Metro sign, Barcelona

Walking through Barcelona’s neighborhoods is the best way to see the city. The metro can help position you from wherever you’re staying to the area you want to explore.

Barcelona’s metro system is easy to use and can get you nearly every place you’ll want to visit. You can buy single-ride tickets, a bundle of 10 rides, or even an unlimited day pass.

The Go City Barcelona Pass gets you access to a 1-day use of the hop-on-hop-off bus.

The mytaxi app (rebranding as FREE-NOW) can help you call taxis when need them. The credit card linked to the account is charged saving you from needing cash.

Barcelona Travel Tips

  • Watch your pockets and belongings.

The city has a reputation for pickpockets and with so many visitors, there’s no shortage of opportunities. Keep your phone and wallet in inside pockets and have the friends or family you’re traveling with watch your things. And, beware of the scams that target visitors under the guise of someone needing help or spilling their belongings right at your feet.

On my first Barcelona visit years ago, I was buying a small painting from an artist on the street and I noticed a guy nearby eyeing where I put my wallet. I stared him down and mouthed the word NO. He disappeared as fast as my wallet would have had I not been alert.

  • Wear comfortable shoes.

When you’re in Barcelona, the best way to see the city is to walk it! Even when you confine yourself to a specific area, you’ll likely walk thousands of steps before you realize it.

I wore my Allbirds Tree Runners or my Allbirds Tree Loungers for walking all through Barcelona and never had a blister or any soreness. Traveling or not, they are my go-to shoes for ultimate comfort!

  • Get an early start.

Barcelona has a lot of visitors, even too many visitors, especially during the busy summer months! If you want to avoid lines or take photos without crowds of people, start your day first thing in the morning.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Barcelona Spain Passeig de Gracia

Many first-time Barcelona visitors choose to stay in and around the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, and Placa Catalunya. These areas are central to Barcelona’s top sights, many of which are within walking distance. The Barcelona metro also has stops throughout these areas making it easy to move around the city.

Whether you stay at a Barcelona hostel or a 5-star hotel, my top tip about where to stay is near a metro station. This is by far more important than which neighborhood you choose. You’ll be able to navigate around the city with metro access and easily get back after a long day of sightseeing.

Barcelona’s main tourist center isn’t enormous, so areas like the Eixample, Gracia, and even in and around the Sagrada Familia are not more than a short metro ride from Las Ramblas or the Gothic Quarter.

Check Current Prices in Barcelona 

On my trips to Barcelona, I stayed at an apartment rental just near the Sagrada Familia, which was convenient to the metro and a perfect size for the number of friends on the trip.

Most recently, I stayed at the Hotel Constanza in the Eixample. The hotel was very comfortable and for anyone needing a family-sized room for 3+ people, it was nice to have two areas within our room so others could turn off the lights to sleep while I stayed up. The hotel was situated on a tiny street, only 3 blocks from the metro, and had a great little tapas restaurant next door. It was perfect for 3 nights in Barcelona.

Book a Barcelona Hotel on Booking.com or Hotels.com.

Barcelona Day Trips

Day trip to Montserrat hiking to Saint Joan Chapel

If you have extra time in Barcelona or would like to condense some of this 3-day Barcelona itinerary into 2 days in Barcelona and 1 day outside the city, you’ve got some fantastic day trips from which to choose!

Montserrat

Just 90 minutes by train from Barcelona, the famous Montserrat Monastery and Mountains await. For hundreds of years, religious pilgrims have trekked here to see the Black Madonna believed to have healing powers, Santa Cova Chapel, a cave where the image of the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, and to pray to various Saints whose shrines sit along the Montserrat mountain peaks.

Today, visitors still go to see the Madonna. But the hiking trails into the mountains offer breathtaking views over Catalonia that are sure to make you feel world’s away from busy Barcelona.

Use the in-depth guide above to plan your trip or consider a Montserrat tour.

Sitges

Sitges is a white-washed beach town along the Mediterranean coast less than an hour from Barcelona by train. Aside from the popular San Sebastian beach and strolling along the waterfront promenade, Sitges old town is a place to wander and get lost. The narrow, cobblestone streets are lined with cafes, shops, and museums. St. Bartomeu Church dates back to the 1600s where it has overlooked the sea for hundreds of years.

From Passeig de Gracia, the R2 train makes direct trips or book a full-day visit to Tarragona and Sitges.

Girona

Let’s start by saying, Girona is thousands of years old. For the history buffs like me, this is enough to book a high-speed AVE train ticket from Barcelona. In less than an hour, you’ll be walking through the pedestrian-friendly old town past sights like parts of the Forca Vella Fortress built by the Romans in the 1st century(!) and the Cathedral which was added to the ramparts in the Middle Ages. 

The ancient town is a confluence of religious and cultural remains from the maze-like Jewish Quarter streets and the Arab baths which were built by Christians in the late 1100s. Game of Thrones fans will recognize sites throughout Girona as it was used to shoot scenes from Season 6.

Girona’s narrow streets and alleyways are best discovered on foot. A walking tour through the old town will help you get the most from your day trip to Girona!

Where to Next on Your Spain Itinerary?

cool places in madrid in 3 days Royal Palace

Barcelona makes a great starting or ending point for your Spain itinerary. It’s well-connected to other cities in Spain and Europe by high-speed train. For example, travel from Barcelona to Madrid is just 2 1/2 hours away by train.

From Madrid, it’s possible to visit Toledo and even Cordoba, the gateway to southern Spain’s Andalucia region.

Barcelona’s airport also services international routes, flights within the EU, as well as to other cities in Spain like Malaga and Seville.

Barcelona in three days packs in a lot! But, with the right blend of sights and experiences, perhaps even a day trip outside the city, your 3 day trip to Barcelona is sure to be unforgettable.

What do your 3 perfect days in Barcelona look like?

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2 thoughts on “What to Do in Barcelona for 3 Days: A Complete Guide”

  1. Hey Julie,
    This is an incredibly detailed guide and so helpful.
    However, when I checked the inclusions of the Go Barcelona Pass, I found that it does include the La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell tickets, albeit guided tours. Could you please clarify if I have interpreted this correctly?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Mithila. I’m so glad the guide is helpful. You are right, they include guided tours for those attractions but not individual tickets. That’s the difference. If you want just entry tickets then the Go Barcelona Pass won’t be of help. The guided tour of the Sagrada Familia, in particular, could be a great way to see the sight. Hope that helps! Enjoy Barcelona!

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