I think you’ll agree that having time for yourself is the reason you’re on holiday in the first place.
So why spend hours and hours planning the thing? That’s why I’m here. In 10 minutes I’m going to show you the places to visit in Barcelona in 3 days from the main attractions to local secrets.
And just how exactly do I know?
Well, for starters I’ve been in the city six years. So if you need extra advice please leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you with custom local advice within 24 hours.
Before You Arrive in Barcelona
When spending 3 days in Barcelona there is some essential information to know first.
You’re going to be inundated with options and there’s also a very good chance you’ll be standing in long lines and paying premium prices: with my links below you’ll make sure you get the best prices and skip lines.
Make sure you read:
- How to get from Barcelona airport to city center quickly.
- How to select the right discount travel card.
- Where to buy discounted attraction tickets and skip lines.
- How to find the best area to stay in Barcelona.
- My lists of best budget hotels, hostels and holiday apartments.
Barcelona Itinerary Map
A good part of any Barcelona itinerary is a map with all the attractions.
Here you’ll see how I’ve bunched them all together for your transport convenience and to make sure you don’t go more than a small time without some good food and a drink.
Still have any questions? Fire away below in the comments.
3 Days in Barcelona – Day 1
This art nouveau behemoth is called ‘the most extraordinary interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages’. I can’t disagree. Get there for 9:00 am since the average tour lasts an hour and a half.
Long lines? Most tourists on a 3 day itinerary get tickets as part of the Barcelona City Pass discount card. It includes skip-the-line access to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, airport transport, the Bus Turistic, and 20% discount codes to almost every other city attraction.
Time is of the essence so it’s great to hit up a place just a few steps from the Sagrada Familia at Enrique Tomas in Carrer Marina 261.
Here we try my favourite Spanish tapas dish: jamon iberico (Serrano ham/prosciutto). I recommend going for the Jamon Bellota Premium which is top of the line stuff. They’ll cut it right off the leg at the moment.
The best part? Spend 10 euros or more and mention Barcelonahacks.com for a free coffee!
Continuing our homage to master architect Antoni Gaudi we take the purple line (L2) and a few short minutes later get off at Passeig de Gracia.
Here we find the beautifully eccentric mansion called Casa Batllo and revel in its visceral, skeletal qualities. The tour takes an hour. This is my dream house and by the time you’re done with it it’ll be yours too.
We’re in tourist trap hell and will need to dodge a few bullets here.
La Pedrera (also called Casa Milà)
We’ve barely scratched the surface of things to see when we head to another gem in Barcelona’s architectural crown.
La Pedrera is another Gaudi work and is arguably his best.
You’ll see this wobbling limestone apartment block on all the postcards but don’t miss the view from the incredible rooftop. Get a photo of yourself and the haunting chimneys standing on guard.
I want to get you in great position for a late afternoon stroll and an amazing local dinner so we walk up about 15 minutes to the picturesque, bohemian neighbourhood of Gracia for one of Barcelona’s most underrated attractions: the newly minted Gaudi gem Casa Vicens.
This summer chalet mansion with its lush garden is more fairy tale than home and at less than half the price of its contemporaries it offers a tremendous amount of value for both Gaudi fanatics and budget travelers.
Let’s do this properly – leave a comment with where you’re staying and I’ll recommend you some of the best restaurants in Barcelona.
I would go for the paella tasting menu at nearby Bodega Joan since my readers get a pretty healthy discount 🙂
If it’s summer we’re heading to the even more historic La Boqueria Market for fruit smoothies and tostadas.
If you’re looking for something a bit more savory head to the market’s Bar Pinotxo – the classic breakfast here is blood sausage and garbanzo beans.
Get this breakfast in the earlier the better.
The Secrets of the Old City: Gothic Quarter Tour
From either breakfast spot we’re just a 15 minute walk to the meeting point of one of the most informative and fun walking tours going.
There’s no better way to learn about the current political situation, Gaudi, the city’s origins, and the future of Barcelona than with a 2.5 hour Gothic Quarter tour with a pro (video preview here).
That pro is one of the best guides in the business: local Texan Alvaro.
You’ll also get an old Picasso cafe haunt, one of Barcelona’s sweetest snack stops, and street art galore.
Tours run daily at 10:00 am and last around 2.5 hours.
The walking tour ends in the heart of the Ciutat Vella (Old City) so we’ve got some options: if you wanna be quick it’s the bite-sized toothpick tapas at El Pintxo del Petrixol (9 Carrer de Petritxol).
According to a Catalan friend it’s ‘the only restaurant near La Rambla that doesn’t serve garbage’.
I disagree, sort of.
Every Barcelona itinerary has to include the city’s most beautiful park.
We take bus 24 from Passeig de Gracia and 30-40 minutes later we’re left at the gates. We could also take the yellow metro line to Alfons X and grab the free shuttle (with Park Guell tickets only).
Our reward at the end is a fantastic panoramic view of the city!
It’ll take 90-120 minutes depending on how much of the Free Zone we care to see.
Locals always have a drink in the early afternoon so… when in Rome.
In particular your travel tipple should involve either un vermut (vermouth, a fortified and spiced wine) or una caña (a small, refreshing glass of beer).
This is best done in nearby Gracia’s charming squares: especially Plaça del Sol.
Both will be just a 15-20 minute downhill walk from the park.
We go back to the hotel and put our feet up for a bit – Spaniards don’t typically eat dinner until at least 8 pm so this is a great time to recharge the batteries after our biggest walking day of the itinerary.
We’re likely staying central and have to ninja our way around a ton of tourist traps but luckily I’ve found the only authentic place on La Rambla: El Louro.
Spanish tapas classics are given a modern twist here and mains like the Galician beef filet and crunchy octopus are to die for.
The kicker? Some of the best original cocktails in the city like the legendary blackberry mojito.
You’ll also get a free glass of cava per diner by reserving no money down via the form below:
A Night on the Town?
I won’t pretend to know what kind of music you like but if you’re looking for a big night out I suggest checking out my list of the best clubs in Barcelona.
My first choice is Razzmatazz, a massive five room club. If this is the case we’ll be ‘pre gaming’ at Ovella Negra at 78 Carrer Zamora. It’s the ideal pub for all sorts of revelry and it’s easy to get to know locals playing a game of Spanish billiards.
The second choice is Sala Apolo, a former theater that’s been transformed into one of Barcelona’s most famous clubs! We take the green metro line to Parallel.
Pre-drinks in the area go down at Bar Marsella, a dusty ol’ bar that served Hemingway and Salvador Dali in the not so distant past. It’s located at 65 Carrer de Sant Pau. People go here for the absinthe, but if you’re not in the mood for the green fairy they have enough beer to get you through the night.
When we finish we head to bed: the metro opens at 5:00 am (though it runs all night on Saturday).
3 days in Barcelona – Day 3
Part of us came on holiday to relax, am I right?
We’re going to do just that after all that walking on day two – we roll out of bed at 10:00 am.
On day three of our itinerary we’re grabbing a quick breakfast like a Barcelona local: heading downstairs, finding the closest cafe, and getting a croissant and cortado (a coffee with a splash of milk).
Slow and steady will be the game today.
Shopping or Camp Nou?
We’ve got two choices now and I’ll leave it up to you, my distinguished guests.
There’s tons of world-class shopping in Barcelona city center. The largest shopping areas are Passeig de Gracia, Plaça Catalunya, Las Ramblas and Portal del Angel.
If we’re allergic to shopping (I really am!) we really have to ask ourselves what Barcelona itinerary wouldn’t include a tour of historic Camp Nou stadium – home of Messi and that little squad called FC Barcelona.
From Plaça Catalunya we get there in 15 minutes with the green metro line getting off at Les Corts.
Beach at La Barceloneta
When talking about Barcelona in 3 days you don’t think we’d leave out the beach did you? We get the metro from wherever we are and grab the yellow line for the Barceloneta stop.
It’s not one of the best beaches in Barcelona but we’ve only got a couple days so let’s be time-effective. For the early afternoon (like locals) you’ll want to work on that tan to make your colleagues jealous so lay down a towel and take it in!
After we can’t stop by without saying hello to Mrs. Leo, a little spark-plug of a woman in her 70’s who owns a bar where on weekend afternoons Andalusian flamenco and live Spanish guitar is the name of the game!
Bar Leo is at 34 Carrer Sant Carles.
We’re getting really local now by having a late lunch (around 3:00 pm) and for this I’d recommend going for quality tapas at Bitacora (at the back of the restaurant there’s a cool little terrace) at 1 Carrer Balboa.
All places are fifteen minutes or less walking from the beach.
Looking for something a little closer to home? One of Barcelona’s best burgers is just what the doctor ordered. Kiosko Burger (Avinguda del Marquès de l’Argentera, 1 bis) is great place to start and it’s no tourist sin! Get the one with traditional manchego cheese.
See? We’re doing Spanish things.
At the top of Barcelona’s tallest hill we find the castle with its majestic view of the harbour, the Miro Foundation, the ’92 Olympic Stadiums and the botanical garden.
There’s also the option to experience the fantastic open-air architecture museum Poble Espanyol.
The Magic Fountain
Always high on the list of things to do in Barcelona, this beautiful fountain of towering water sprays to the rhythm of contemporary music – the view of Plaça Espanya is really something!
We find the fountain a short fifteen minute walk away at the foot of Montjuic. Make sure to check the Barcelona Magic Fountain show schedule first.
We’re looking to keep it local for the third night so we hit up Can Margarit (21 Carrer de la Concordia) for some authentic Catalan fare. Here it’s all about rustic charm, cask wines, rabbit, squid, and cod.
For something a little more upscale that’s a modern take on Spanish classics we go to Plata Bistro (23 Carrer de Sepúlveda), which is just a short walk from the fountains. You can book your table with a simple message on their Facebook page.
Looking for something a little cheaper?
In the Gotico area we’ll head to Manu Chao’s bar. This incredibly eclectic French singer who sings in 7(!) languages sometimes shows up to play guitar.
That’s 3 perfect days in Barcelona down!
3 Days in Barcelona – Day 4!
Yes, you didn’t think I’d stop there did you? Barcelona has so many attractions that I couldn’t sum it up in just 3 days.
This Barcelona itinerary is heading to day 4.
Let’s save some cash and grab the free breakfast at your hotel and get elevated!
Tibidabo (I will give you in Latin) is a 3 in 1: a basilica with a gigantic statue of Christ, the highest panoramic view of the city, and a retro theme park counting 25 rides. The latter is truly unique for the antique rides like the airplane one from 1928.
This is a must for Barcelona travelers with kids.
We get there in 45 minutes from Plaça Catalunya with bus T2A.
If we don’t feel like the long bus ride we can just as easily spend a few hours in centrally-located Ciutadella Park. The city’s largest green space has a zoo, a lake for row-boating, and holds a ton of events throughout the year.
We get back to the city with the same bus T2A and disembark at Plaça Catalunya. From here it’s just a 15 minute walk to another of Barcelona’s most popular neighbourhoods.
Despite its history of jousting this area full of unique bars and boutique shops is one of Barcelona’s best neighborhoods. We get there by metro getting off at Jaume 1 (yellow line).
We can’t walk through without seeing Barcelona’s second Gothic behemoth: La Santa Maria del Mar.
We could also check out the more than 4000 pieces at the Picasso Museum (15-24 Carrer Montcada).
When we get hungry we’ll fill up at one of my favourite tapas spots Bormuth (31 Carrer del Rec).
I haven’t mentioned it before but you should be drinking vermouth on your itinerary. This a red or white aromatised wine is a massive part of Barcelona’s drinking culture. We get a couple here with the tapas and boom!
This is so good, how can we ever go back home?
There are tons of good value bars and ethnically diverse eateries here – if you’ve skipped my tapas advice above there’s no shame getting a €5.00 curry lunch on the fly at Bishmillah (Carrer Joaquin Costa 22).
We round out the evening taking in a show of not only one of the most popular art forms in Spain, but the entire world.
The flamenco shows at the Palacio del Flamenco have been known to bring guests to tears, and you’ll find out if you’re one of them watching the intricate dances, passionate yelps, and spirited guitar rhythms.
Shows run daily at 6:30, 8:30, and 10:30 and can include drinks and dinner.
Fine Tune Your Itinerary in the Comments
We’ve done 3 days in Barcelona and it’s time to go home but wait! If you’re missing that special something that would really tie all of this together please get a hold of me in the comments below for custom advice.
As I said earlier if you need any extra advice fire away! And please let me know how your Barcelona holiday went by leaving a comment below.
Also don’t be afraid to join the 3 day itinerary discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.