Colorful and vibrant Barcelona is one of the most popular cities to visit in Spain and Europe. There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona. Whether you are a foodie, a fan of architecture, a lover of museums or just enjoy a good paseo before or after dinner, Barcelona delivers on all fronts! I found 3 full days in Barcelona the perfect time to cover all of the highlights the city has to offer. This post contains an itinerary for 3 days in Barcelona.
Day 1 of this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary covers the sites around the perimeter of the Gothic Quarter.
The Picasso Museum is one of my favorites on this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary. This museum holds an extensive collection of the works of Picasso. It is the first museum dedicated to Picasso’s work and the only one created during his lifetime. The museum is also located in 5 palaces built for noblemen dating from the 13th century and 14th century.
You can buy tickets HERE
The next two sites on this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary are really pass throughs on your way to the site listed below them.
Arco de Triunfo
This Arch was built as the gateway to the Universal Exhibition held in 1888 at Parc de la Ciutadella.
Parc de la Ciutadella
This is where the 1888 Universal Exhibition was held. Today, this space consists of fountains, walking paths, lots of trees and figurines.
Palau de la Música Catalana
Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert hall is Barcelona. Designed in the Catalan Modernista style by the architect Luís Domènech i Montaner, this hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can actually see a live performance here but I opted for a guided tour. It’s totally unique and I highly recommend it if you love architecture. The stained glass roof and columned balcony were really beautiful!
Plaça de Catalunya
This square is considered the heart and soul of Barcelona. It’s both the city center as well as where the old and new towns meet. It’s also where locals gather and where some of the most important streets in Barcelona start from.
La Rambla is perhaps one of the most famous pedestrian streets around the world. This busy street stretches for 1.2 kilometers from the Plaça de Catalunya, all the way up to the harbor. The street is lined with shady trees, little kiosks selling various merchandise and flower shops. Notice the wavy tile work. It’s said to represent the streams that once flowed here.
Mercado de La Boqueria
This colorful covered market has existed since ancient times. You can find anything from prepared food to fresh produce here. It’s a little touristy but definitely worth a visit. Try some tapas from one of the tapas bars!
This colonial style plaza, dotted with shady palm trees is a popular hang out spot in the city. It’s lively any time of the day but especially at night.
This tower is a monument to Christopher Columbus and marks the end of La Rambla. It was created in 1888 in honor of Christopher Columbus’ maiden voyage to the Americas.
Day 2 of this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary starts at a couple of Gaudí sites and then comes back to the Gothic Quarter to explore all the sites there.
Passeig de Gracia, one of the famous streets in Barcelona is also home to some of Gaudí famous sites. Casa Batlló and the adjoining Casa Amatller are two of these houses. Along with its façade, the rooftop of Casa Batlló is really colorful and interesting. Casa Amatller was actually built for a chocolatier who still has his chocolate shop today. If you want to visit Casa Batlló, it’s best advised to buy your ticket in advance.
Buy your ticket to Casa Batlló HERE
Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Casa Mila or La Pedrera is another one of Gaudí’s works located just a few minutes away from the previous two buildings. Built in Modernista style, it was the last private residence designed by Gaudí and was built between 1906 and 1912.
Buy tickets HERE
Santa Caterina Market
This market hall was built over the ruins of an Old Dominican monastery. The roof of this building was inspired by Gaudí when it was renovated in 2006. This market is a lot more local than Mercado de La Boqueria. You will find a lot more locals shopping for their produce and grabbing a snack or meal here.
The two Roman towers on either side of this square used to be the entrance gate to the ancient Roman city of Barcino.
This gothic cathedral with it’s elaborate Gothic façade is impressive but what’s even more impressive is that this has been the holiest site in all of Barcelona for 2000 years! It started as a temple for Jupiter by the Romans and has seen a couple of holy sites before this cathedral was started in 1300. The current façade had an upgrade to the neo-gothic style in the 1800s. The church and the cloister is well worth a visit.
Wandering around the narrow alleys and cobbled stoned streets of the Gothic Quarter was one of my favorite things to do in Barcelona. Getting lost is almost the best way to explore this area!
El Pont del Bisbe (Bishop’s Bridge)
This stone crossing between 2 buildings in the Gothic Quarter was only built in 1928 but it looks a lot older and definitely adds to the beauty of the Gothic Quarter. It’s one of the most photographed locations within the quarter.
Barcelona History Museum (MUHBA)
The MUHBA is an excellent museum if you want to learn more about the history of Barcelona. This history goes back to Roman times and you will see some of the excavated ruins. The museum is housed partly in the former royal palace complex.
Roman Temple of Augustus
There was once a temple dedicated to Augustus here but these 4 giant columns are what’s left of this temple. It’s really cool to see Roman ruins in the middle of the city!
Day 3 of this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary covers some of the sites that are a little away from the city center. However, they are still in the city itself and can be easily reached using the metro, bus or taxis.
If you were to only see one site in Barcelona, Sagrada Familia is THE one, in my opinion. This masterpiece by Gaudí is currently the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction started in 1882 and is yet to be complete. In fact the proceeds from the ticket for entry is used towards construction.
The church is impressive both from the outside and in. From its columns and towers to the stained glass, Gaudí combines Christian and biblical stories with his signature and unique style of using geometric shapes, patterns and natural symbols.
This is also the attraction for which you would want to buy tickets in advance. Entry is timed, and tickets sell out well in advance, so buy your tickets as soon as possible. There are a few options to choose from. The basic ticket is 26 euros and then you can add on a visit to one of the two towers, the Gaudí house museum or add an audio guide or a guided tour.
If you are touring a tower, your options here are the nativity tower or the passion tower. The nativity tower has views of the city, while the passion tower has views of the sea. I chose the more joyous of the two and visited the nativity tower and it didn’t disappoint.
Another tip for making your visit enjoyable is to make this your first attraction for the day and to go at opening time. This will help avoid the crowds.
Tickets – Buy your tickets HERE.
Getting there – The closest metro stop is Sagrada Familia
Time needed – Carve out about 2 hours
Park Güell is another one of Gaudí’s famous works. The highlights here include a dragon guarding a whimsical staircase and a serpent like tiled bench with colorful tiles. It also includes a couple of ginger bread like houses in true Gaudí fashion.
Tickets – Buy your tickets in advance HERE
Getting there – The closest metro stations are Vallcarca, Lesseps, and Alfons X. I took a taxi from Sagrada Familia and took bus #24 back to Plaça de Catalunya
There is so much to do at Montjuïc from museum hopping, taking in the view from the castle, and seeing the Magic Fountains at night. You may not have time to do all this on day 3 and may need to decide from the list below.
- Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) – The national museum of Catalunya art from the 19th and 20th centuries
- Montjuic Castle – This castle used to be a fortress and a prison back in the day but is now a municipal building offering 360 degree views over the city
- Joan Miró Foundation – Modern art museum featuring works of art by Barcelona native Joan Miró
- The Magic Fountain of Montjuic – A light and music show featuring water fountains. This fountain puts on a display of color, water, and music several nights a week at night. Save this for last and when it gets dark!
- Olympic stadium – Used in the 1992 Summer Olympics. Don’t make it a priority as there is not much to see but step in if you have time
This site that talks about each attraction in more detail.
Hit the Beach
What better way to spend your last day in Barcelona than to hit the beach! There are a lot of restuarants and bars in and around the beach, making it an overall great last activity in Barcelona.
Getting Around on this 3 Days in Barcelona Itinerary
Barcelona is a big city and you will not be able to walk every site listed on this 3 days in Barcelona itinerary (especially the ones on day 3). The good news though is that Barcelona has a really great public transportation system, including a good metro system.
Learn more HERE.
Where to Stay
Since most of the sites are in and around the Gothic Quarter, Anywhere in that area (between El Born and El Raval neighborhoods) is a good option. Even better is if you stay at the upper end of that area (so near Plaça de Catalunya), this way you can even walk to the Gaudí houses listed here. This leaves you with only having to take public transport to the sites on Day 3.
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See my posts on other cities in Spain HERE.