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.
- The list of the best hostels and holiday apartments in Barcelona.
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.
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.
For this reason I suggest lunch at El Nacional (24 Passeig de Gràcia). This multi-zone culinary space serves traditional recipes from nearly every region in Spain.
Fish lovers can’t go wrong at La Paradeta (Consell de Cent 318). Here chefs cook fresh fish that you’ve selected yourself from a market counter. Wash it down with a Blanc Pescador white wine.
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.
Any list of what to do and see in Barcelona 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 green metro line to Lesseps but then we’ll have a steep walk waiting for us.
Visiting the park in its entirety should take a couple of hours but fear not: the reward at the end (if lucky) is a fantastic panoramic view of the city sunset!
We deserve a good bite so 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.
For those with a little more energy I suggest we walk downhill to the picturesque, bohemian neighbourhood of Gracia and sit in the lively square called Plaça del Sol for some tasty tapas at Sol Soler (21 Plaça del Sol).
We night cap it with some drinks at any of the cafe-bars in a nearby square called Plaça de la Virreina.
3 Days in Barcelona – Day 2
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.
Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter
For more info check out my essential Rambla guide.
After we head into the heart of the old city and wander around the quirky Gothic Quarter.
If we feel like a beer (we feel like a beer) we’ll go to my favorite bar: Bar Jardi, a terrace oasis in the middle of the city chaos. It’s on 17 Carrer Portaferrissa. We look for the camel outside the bar and find it at the back of a store called El Mercadillo.
Before leaving the Gothic Quarter we go grab another Spanish culinary classic: pintxos!
These bite-sized toothpicked tapas are famous in the Basque region but El Pintxo del Petrixol (9 Carrer de Petritxol) holds the traditions dear. It’s also according to a Catalan friend ‘the only restaurant near the Rambla that doesn’t serve garbage’.
Another option nearby is La Fonda (10 Carrer dels Escudellers) which is a great place to get some of the best paella in the city at a great price.
Over Barcelona in 3 days you don’t think we’d leave out the beach did you? Let’s take a walk down the Port Vell (Old Port) and check out the Columbus Statue, the giant crab, and hundreds of anchored boats.
Feeling lazy? No problem, we hop on bus 59 from La Rambla and get beach-side in no time.
Barceloneta is a great neighborhood to explore inner alleyways where elderly residents sit outside playing cards while young people gather to socialize in kitschy bars.
It’s not one of the best beaches in Barcelona but we’ve only got a couple days so let’s be time-effective. A few hours suntanning here and now, finally, the holiday begins!
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.
There are quite a few options to eat in Barceloneta.
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. There’s also the ridiculously cheap wine bar La Champagneria at 7 Reina Cristina. We also can’t miss the minuscule fried fish restaurant Can Maño.
All places are fifteen minutes or less walking from the beach.
Optional After Dinner Night Out
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 at 22 Carrer dels Almogàvers. 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 am (though it runs all night on Saturday).
3 days in Barcelona – Day 3
Breakfa… Brun… Lunch.
If you’re feeling a bit rough after the night out pass on that hotel breakfast.
We need grease and one of Barcelona’s best burgers is just what the doctor ordered. Kiosko Burger (Avinguda del Marquès de l’Argentera, 1 bis) is a great place to start but it’s no tourist sin! Get the one with traditional manchego cheese.
See? We’re doing Spanish things.
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.
We get to Montjuic Hill with the 150 bus from Plaça Espanya or by cable car from the Parallel metro station. I’d recommend taking the bus, that way you’re left right at the top of the hill.
At the top we find the castle with its majestic view of the harbour, the Miro Foundation, the ’92 Olympic Stadiums and the botanical garden.
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 Concòrdia) for some authentic Catalan fare. Here it’s all about rustic charm, cask wines, rabbit, squid, and cod.
Looking for something a little cheaper?
Head for Calle Blai and its endless supply of one euro tapas and beer bars. I recommend La Tasqueta de Blai (Carrer de Blai 17).
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.
The bar is called Mariachi and is located at 14 Carrer Codols 14. Of course, I’ve been a little pushy with my ideas haven’t I? We’d actually be good going to any of Barcelona’s best bars.
That’s 3 perfect days in Barcelona down!
3 Days in Barcelona – Extras
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.
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).
When we get hungry we’ll fill up at one of my favourite tapas spots Bormuth (31 Carrer 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?
For those a little more rough and ready I suggest we go for a walk in the ‘gentrified gem’ El Raval.
It’s not as pretty as the Born but it has never claimed to be. There are tons of good value bars and ethnically diverse eateries here.
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 in my new Facebook group called I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, chat with fellow travelers, and more – anything goes!