What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? A First-Timer’s Itinerary

In my humble opinion, Barcelona must be on everyone’s must-visit list. The city is unlike any other European or Spanish city and there is so much to see and do. But what to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I help you explore the city and guide you with my balanced 3-day Barcelona itinerary for a relaxed time in this overwhelming city.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? A First-Timers Guide

My 3 Days in Barcelona

Exploring a new city can be exhausting and Barcelona is no exception. The broad avenues beckon you to stroll along with them but there is so much to see in Barcelona in only 3 days. I always try to find a good balance between some famous, must-visit landmarks of a city and some cultural immersion to get to the root of the culture. And I’d like to leave room for some spontaneous relaxation time because that is what Barcelona does best.

When you follow my 3-day itinerary for Barcelona, you’ll see the highlights of the city, experience what makes Barcelona so popular and have time to digest and take the city in. This guide is not for people with severe FOMO who want to cross off 36 things to do in Barcelona. You can apply my Barcelona 3-day itinerary for a more relaxed solo trip to Barcelona, a weekend with your mother or 3 days in Barcelona with a family of 6.

I was not paid on sponsored to write this post. All opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links to help you plan your trip to Barcelona. If you decide to book anything via one of my links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days?

A lot! Barcelona is quite big and has many interesting neighborhoods, museums, famous landmarks and exciting things to do. Add in the numerous interesting day trips around Costa Brava and you’ll need more than 2 weeks the explore Barcelona. But you probably only have 3 days in Barcelona so you want to make the most of your limited time.

I’ll guide you through Barcelona with an itinerary for three days and then I’ll share some valuable time and money-saving tips for your time in Barcelona.

Each day of my 3-day Barcelona itinerary is divided into 3 things.

  • Famous Barcelona landmarks
  • Barcelona/Catalan culture
  • Relax time

On each day, you’ll explore one of those famous Barcelona iconic features so you don’t have the fear of missing out. But you can’t spend all day in a museum, so I also recommend the best things to do in Barcelona to relax and take in the typical culture of Barcelona and Catalunya.

Check my Barcelona solo travel guide for tips and recommendations for solo travel in Barcelona so you'll have an epic time.
Enjoying springtime at Parc Guell Barcelona

Barcelona in 3 Days

Your time of arrival in Barcelona and the day of the week can influence your visit. What is most important is to choose a centrally located hotel in Barcelona.

At the bottom, I’ll share some Barcelona accommodations for all budgets, but my top recommendation would be to check out the Eco Boutique Hotel Grau in Barcelona. It is located 1 street of Las Ramblas, the main tourist artery of the city which connects it perfectly with all public transport. From the hotel, you can easily explore the neighboring areas on foot and have ample options for breakfast, lunches, and dinners near your hotel.

What I like about the hotel is their eco-friendly approach with natural materials, strong recycling, and energy-reduction policy. And free coffee and cake and friendly staff also did the trick.

Curious? Check rates and availability here.

Balanced 3-day Barcelona Itinerary

Now that you’ve booked your accommodation, our 3 days in Barcelona can start! The trick is to not rush too much but be very effective with our time. 

I advise you to plan any events with a strict time-slot at the start of the day. Early mornings, it is not that busy in Barcelona, because cruise ships and day-trippers have not arrived in the city yet. 

It is also easier to get up, have breakfast and begin your tour at a set time then to remember in the middle of the day that you have to be somewhere at a certain time. However, it is not always possible to avoid looking at the clock.

For my suggested 3-day itinerary, I assume you arrive early morning or late the night before. This way, we have 3 full days in the city.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
The amazing colorful glass of the Sagrada Familia is a must-see on your 3 days in Barcelona

3 days in Barcelona: First day of exploring

We’re going to start our Barcelona 3-day itinerary with a flying start. We want to visit some famous Gaudi landmarks and we’ll start with a big one.

After you had breakfast at the hotel or at a bread shop (panaderia) near you, let’s head out to Passeig de Gracia.

Casa Batllo or Casa Mila and walk Passeig de Gracia

For our first stop of the day, you need to choose between a visit to Casa Batllo and Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera. Of course, you can visit both but as the entrance is quite expensive and we want to not be overwhelmed, I’d advise visiting only one. I’ll discuss them below separately and also give you a tip on how to visit both.

Casa Batllo by Gaudí

The Casa Batllo is that famous pastel-colored house with the oddly shaped masqueraded balconies. You recognize it by the long line of people waiting in front of it. My top advice would be to buy your tickets in advance online. You can just enter and start exploring, without waiting in line.

Buy your Skip-the-Line Casa Batllo ticket here.

Once inside the Casa Batllo, you’ll find yourself immersed in the underwater wonderworld of Antoni Gaudí. The famous modernist architect who left such a clear mark on Barcelona. 

The Casa Batllo is surprisingly playful, without any unnatural forms, following the nautical theme. The blue staircase with the bright light pouring in from above is guiding you upwards to the roof where a colorful dragon awaits you.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
The colorful Casa Battlo blew my mind for sure! Never expected to have so many quirky little features behind that facade.

Casa Milà or La Pedrera by Gaudí

Nearly opposite of the Casa Batllo, you’ll find the Casa Milà by Antoni Gaudi. This building is also called La Pedrera, the stone quarry. When you stand in front of it, you’ll understand why. 

Casa Milá is still a functioning apartment block with people actually living in it. Those apartments are not open to the public but you can explore the Casa Mllà museum with interesting artifacts and a display of furnished apartments in Modernist style.

The exhibit also explains more about the building theories and progress of the work of Antoni Gaudí. The most spectacular feature must be the roof that offers nice views of Barcelona and the Casa Batllo. The odd chimney figures make for great photo opportunities.

Similar to Casa Batllo, the Casa Milà is also very popular and long lines form around the block. Because the Casa Milà can hold more people, it looks less crowded but it is always wise to buy your entrance ticket in advance online.

Buy your Skip-the-Line ticket for Casa Milà here.

See the best of Barcelona in one day with the Gaudi Pass. Save money while you travel around Barcelona the most efficient way. Who doesn’t want that? Read what the Gaudi Pass is and how to use it to optimize your one day in Barcelona.
La Pedrera seen from the streets

How to choose between a visit to Casa Batllo or Casa Milà?

I visited both the Casa Batllo and the Casa Mllà and found them equally interesting. I know it is very hard to decide which one to visit, especially if you’ve never been. But if you only have 3 days in Barcelona, then time is limited. Here is a short comparison between the two:

Entrance fee:

  • Casa Batllo is 25€
  • La Pedrera is 22€

For Instagrammability, the Casa Batllo is definitely the top runner with its strong colorful presence, both exterior as interior. The dragon on the roof and the special feature to have your selfie taken on the top balcony are social media gold. In my opinion, Casa Batllo shows the playful side of Gaudi.

La Pedrera on the other side is very intriguing from an architectural point of view. It was the last private house Gaudi built and it shows all the solutions he struggled with before. Because of its enormous size, it offers amazing angles for interesting views and photography. The museum also offers a deeper insight into Modernist architecture.

How to visit both La Pedrera and Casa Batllo?

If you don’t really care about a balanced itinerary, or you’re crazy about Modernist architecture and the works of Antoni Gaudi, then it will be impossible to decide which one to visit. As they are so conveniently located opposite the street of each other, it does make it easier to visit both. 

It is impossible to visit both houses and buy tickets on the spot, and not become mega cranky for waiting in line. I’d say the only way to visit both and keep a calm and collected composure is by buying the combi ticket for Casa Batllo and La Pedrera online in advance. The price is €79 and you get fast-track entry and a guided tour of the area and both houses.

Buy your combi ticket for Casa Batllo and La Pedrera here.

See the best of Barcelona in one day with the Gaudi Pass. Save money while you travel around Barcelona the most efficient way. Who doesn’t want that? Read what the Gaudi Pass is and how to use it to optimize your one day in Barcelona.
The amazing sculptures on the roof

Explore Passeig de Gracia

I’d say a visit to either Casa Batllo or Casa Milà will take you 1,5 to 2 hours, depending on how interested you are in architecture and how many pictures you take. For the remainder of the morning, I recommend exploring the lovely Passeig de Gracia.

This broad avenue is a perfect example of Modernist architecture. You’ll find numerous other famous houses here, like the Casa Amatller and Casa Lleó Morera close to Casa Batllo. Around the corner from La Pedrera, you’ll find La Casa Comalat and Palo del Baro de Quadras.

But it doesn’t matter if you find these houses or not, Passeig de Gracia is filled with grand houses, world-class designer brands, and impressive views. Even if you don’t go into the side streets, if you walk from El Corte Inglés or Plaza de Catalunya to Casa Milà, you’ll get a good impression of this amazing street.

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Eye-level views of the Casa Batlló and Casa Amatlar
How to get there?

From the hotel, it is a 1-mile walk to Casa Milà. But the Passeig de Gracia is so interesting, it might take all day to get there and back.

If you use the Metro, stops at Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia and Placa de Catalunya are good places to rise from the underground.

Metro Diagonal: at the end of Passeig de Gracia, closest to La Pedrera. Metro lines L3 (green) and L5 (blue).

Train and Metro Passeig de Gràcia: in the middle of Passeig de Gracia, opposite of Casa Batllo. Metro L2 (purple), L3 (green) and L4 (yellow). The train from the airport also stops here.

Metro and Train Plaça de Catalunya: at the main square at the start of Passeig de Gracia. Here you’ll find metro stops for L1 (red), L3 (green), L6 (lila), L7 (brown) and a whole bunch of train routes (R1, R3, R4). 

Bus: Passeig de Gracia has a huge number of regular bus stops. The Barcelona Hop on Hop off bus stops at both landmarks on the blue and the red route.

Food Tour of Barcelona

After a morning of experiencing the Modernist building style, it is time for some food. As this is your first day in the city, it will be hard to determine where to eat. I always recommend doing a food tour on your first day in a new place. This way, you get knowledgeable tips from locals about the eating culture and great tips on where to eat for the rest of your stay.

I recommend an afternoon food tour, but you can also swap it and do an evening food tour. Together with the guide, you’ll explore the area, learn the difference between tapas and pintxos, sample some wines and learn how to order and what to drink with it.

A food tour is a great way to interact with other guests and your guide, always a local, who can help make your 3 days in Barcelona tastier with valuable tips on where to eat.

Book your Barcelona Food Tour here.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
Some delicious foods in Barcelona

Sunset view of Park Güell

Depending on what time of the year you’re visiting Barcelona, you can explore Park Güell during sunset. In summer, the park is open until 9.30 pm, in winter until 6.15 pm.

Of course, if you don’t feel like hanging around until sunset, you can leave earlier or swap this item of the itinerary with the food tour. It is your choice.

Whatever you do, please visit the Park Güell. Another work by Antoni Gaudi, this natural hill turned into a lush public space it a beautiful example of his ideas and architecture. 

The park measures 19 hectares and is divided into 3 parts. A woodland area that is open 24/7. A park area, measuring 12 hectares which is open from 5 am until midnight. This part can be visited for free year-round and is a great way to relax and see what Mediterranean horticulture can do. The highlight of the park is the restricted monumental zone for which you need a time-slotted paid ticket.

I tried the tourist bus Barcelona to see what the hop on hop off bus in Barcelona is like. Read my review and get your Barcelona bus tour discount now
Sunset view at Park Güell

Monumental Zone Park Güell Barcelona

The monumental zone of Park Güell is only 1,7 hectares big but is the highlight of the park. A 110 meter long colorful bench with an intricate mosaic pattern, runs along the edge of the overhanging viewpoint. This overhanging area seems to be studded by a forest of pillars, a maze of underground round arches and a spectacular staircase with the iconic lizard in mosaics. 

The monumental zone can only be visited with a time-stamped ticket. This is to prevent the area from becoming too crowded. The best thing is to buy your ticket online in advance and show up 15 minutes before your designated time slot. Although this measurement is to make sure a maximum of 800 people per hour visit this zone of the park, it is not regulated how long you’ll stay. 

Depending on how many pictures you want to take, calculate 1 hour for the monumental zone and 1 to 1,5 hours extra for the rest of the park.

You can easily visit Park Güell independently, but you can also take a guided tour to learn more about the park. Find your Park Güell tour here.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
The Park Güell makes for great photo ops

How to get to Park Güell?

I always found reaching Park Güell a bit difficult. Located in the north of the city, there are several transport options which brings you close to the park but all involve some minutes of walking (uphill). I’ll briefly list the best options:

Bus Güell: A shuttle bus service to Park Güell is included in your ticket. From metro station Alonso X (metro L4, BUS V19, H6), the free shuttle service will bring you in 15 minutes to the entrance of the Park Güell.

Regular buses: On the right side of the park, there is a big parking area for coaches and cars. Here, you can also find regular bus stops on the Ctra. Del Carmel, like bus 24 and V19. From here, it is an easy walk to the entrance of the park and the monumental zone.

Hop on Hop off Bus: The bus stop for the Barcelona hop on hop off bus (blue route) is located on Carrer de l’Escorial. From here, it is a 15 minute (uphill walk) to the lower park’s entrance.

Finishing your first day in Barcelona

Wow, although those 3 things don’t sound like a lot, I’m pretty sure you’re already feeling a bit overwhelmed. If you’ve followed my suggestions, you have received a lot of information for the first day. Wind down and return to your hotel.

Depending on your interests, you can go out for a nice drink.

Barcelona Itinerary: Day 2

Wake up bright and early for another great day of sightseeing. I hope you haven’t walked too much on your first day because day 2 is packed with some nice exploring.

Visit Sagrada Familia

We start the day at the Sagrada Familia, the famous Gaudi Cathedral. Just like on the first day, I recommend to get those time-slotted activities out of the way, so you can forget about your watch for the rest of the day. Also, early mornings, it is still a tiny bit less crowded than during the day.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
Still not finished but they are nearly there. In a couple of years, it will be done!

How to get to the Sagrada Familia?

Easy does it. Take the L2 (purple) or L5 (blue) subway to Sagrada Familia metro stop. You’ll emerge right next to the famous basilica.

The hop on hop off bus also has a bus stop here, so feel free to hop on the bus too. Use the blue route to get to the Sagrada Familia.

How to explore La Sagrada Familia?

I’m going to be completely and 100% honest with you: I don’t like the Sagrada Familia. I’ve now visited 3 times, in different stages of the building process. Although the exterior does slowly reaches her completion, I still find the building too much of everything. I recognize its uniqueness in religious architecture and the scale of the project. And yes, I too love how to light floods the interior and makes a colorful kaleidoscope of figures and shades. So yes, I understand why you want to visit it.

Even if you agree with me or not, you can only judge, when you’ve visited it yourself. I don’t have to like everything, right?

To best understand the Sagrada Familia and learn about the history, background and the building, as well as all kinds of nice little factoids that surrounds the building process, you need a tour of some sort. The least you can do is get an audio tour.

If you want a more guided visit, book your guided tour well in advance, for example, this one.

Visiting the towers of La Sagrada Familia is literally a highlight but they fill up quickly too. All tickets and tours can be purchased in advance.

Don’t wait in line and make the most of your 3 days in Barcelona and arrange tickets here.

Allocated roughly 2 hours to visit the Sagrada Familia, maybe 2,5 hours if you add in some relaxing time on the park benches opposite the cathedral.

See the best of Barcelona in one day with the Gaudi Pass. Save money while you travel around Barcelona the most efficient way. Who doesn’t want that? Read what the Gaudi Pass is and how to use it to optimize your one day in Barcelona.
The colorful glass in lead windows fills the church with amazing colors.

Hospital Sant Pau

Not far from La Sagrada Familia is, what I consider a hidden gem in Barcelona. Most of the time, this phrase is overused but sometimes it is really applicable. I first stumbled upon the old hospital at the other end of Avenue de Gaudi on my first visit to Barcelona.

I cycled around the city, discovering little markets and found the red brick facade of the old hospital of Sant Pau. On my most recent visit to Barcelona, I discovered it was now no longer a hospital but you can visit it.

Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau

The Sant Pau hospital is a stunning example of modernist architecture, mixed with colorful functionality. The whole complex consists of several pavilions, connected by underground passageways. Above the ground, you’ll find an idyllic courtyard with orange trees that match perfectly with the red brick buildings. You’ll find exhibitions about the hospital’s old function and colorful modernist examples.

The main building and entrance offer striking views of the area and the Sagrada Familia at the end of the avenue. The high ceilings, natural light distorted by colorful glass play with the staircase and grand halls. This oasis of tranquility sits in a very busy area but inside, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a wormhole to a different time and place.

You can show up and buy your ticket at the counter, or be smart and purchase your ticket online here.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
I absolutely loved the Hospital Sant Pau so I urge you to go and explore it, even if you only have 3 days in Barcelona

How to get there?

The Sant Pau hospital is only 10 minutes away from the Sagrada Familia on foot. You’ll walk along a broad pedestrian-only lane that links the two sights. The Avenue de Gaudi is lined with interesting shops, boutique stores, and small places to have a bite of tapas or a beer.

From Sant Pau hospital you can go underground at the Sant Pau Dos de Maig, L5 metro stop or at Guinardó Hospital de Sant Pau L4 (yellow). Or walk back to La Sagrada Familia for Metro L2 and L5.

Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas and Beachfront

After such a Barcelona highlight, it is time to unwind and do some regular sightseeing. I recommend heading to the center of touristic Barcelona.

Take the yellow subway line from Sant Pau Hospital to Barceloneta. This is at the beachfront and shows you lovely views of the harbor, shopping center, and the sea! You can spend all afternoon here, rent a beach chair or just deck out your towel at the beach.

If that is not your thing, head to the old town. The Mirador de Columbus marks the beginning of Las Ramblas where you can roam around for typical souvenirs or be entertained by street performers. This is a notorious area for pickpockets so be aware!

Follow the flow of the streets into the Gotic area and visit the Cathedral of Barcelona. If you’re getting the munchies by now, a good stop would be Xurreria on Carrer dels Banys Nous. This hole in the wall offers mouthwatering delicious churros for your sweet tooth.

Continue walking and cross into the La Ribera neighborhood towards the Ciutadella. Here you’ll find a lovely lush and green park with loads of options to laze in the shade or take in some remarkable sights, like the Castle of the Three Dragons, or the lovely fountain of Cascada Monumental.

Walk towards the impressive Arc de Triomf which was built for the 1888 exhibition here. If you didn’t join some men playing petanque in the park or spend the whole afternoon for aperitivo here, you can continue towards the Palau de la Musica.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
The front of the Basilica. You can also purchase a ticket to visit the rooftop tower, which gives great views over this part of Barcelona.

Evening Flamenco Show at Palau de la Musica

The Palau de la Musica or the Palace of Catalan Music is a grand feature in Barcelona’s modernist treasure chest. The exterior of the building is already stunning and offers a very interesting mix of modern glass side with an old brick facade. But the interior will wow you off your socks.

You can visit the Palau de la Musica with a guided tour but my top tip would be to submerge yourself in a relaxed evening of Catalan flamenco dance and music in such an iconic building. 

Of course, tickets need to be reserved in advance. Check for dates of performances here.

If for some reason, flamenco dance or sitting still is not your thing. Or all tickets are sold out, you can opt for an evening night tour to discover the dark past of Barcelona. Find evening alternatives here.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
The very passionate dancers of the Flamenco show at the Palau de la Musica.

Wrapping up your time in Barcelona: Day 3

Wow, can you believe you’re already in Barcelona for 3 days? I think we have covered quite some ground already and I think you have a good concept of Modernist architecture and all that makes Barcelona so great. For our final of three days in Barcelona, we take things a bit slow. No allocated time slots but just exploring in your own pace.

Morning market in Barcelona

I love visting markets. The food, the smells, the buzz of people. Barcelona has a few very good ones that are fun to explore on a morning visit. Most famous is centrally located Boqueria Market, just off the Ramblas. Some might argue it is a bit touristy so I want to take you to explore another area of Barcelona.

We’ll visit the Mercat d’Hostafrancs.

Hostafrancs Market

The Hostafrancs market is located on and along Carrer de la Creu Coberta. It is a covered market area and the oldest in Barcelona. Since 1888, the people of Barcelona come here to shop, stock up on supplies and gossip. The street is now full of market stalls and people going treasure hunting for knick-knacks and good food. I find it a lively area and very fun to roam around.

As always, be aware of pickpockets as it is a busy area and if you don’t pay attention, it can be an expensive visit.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
One of the stalls at the market.

How to get there?

Metro stop Hostafrancs is on the L1 (red) line. Nearby Placa de Espanya serves L1 (red), L3 (green) and L8 (pink) as well as trains R5 and R6, and S3, S4, S8, and S9.

Explore Montjuïc

After the market visit, you can cross the street and explore nearby Montjuïc. This hilltop area offers great views and houses the 1992 Olympic venues.

If you walk towards the Font Magica de Montjuïc, you can climb the stairs along the waterfalls to the top at the National Museum of Catalan Art. From here, you’ll have a fantastic view of the area, the waterfall and it a great spot for pictures and to listen to some street artists.

If you walk around the Museum (or visit it), you’ll find several botanic gardens, pavilions and Olympic stadiums at Montjuïc. I now visited this part of the city twice and spend the whole afternoon here. Although it is visited by a lot of tourists and the hop on hop off buses go here too, it doesn’t feel as crowded as downtown Barcelona.

Even after only 3 days in Barcelona, it can be nice to escape the crowds a bit and Montjuïc is a good place to do so.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
A nice place to refresh a little bit as the fountains are a cool spot in Barcelona.

How to get there?

There are several ways to access Montjuïc, depending on where you want to be or do next. You can walk up via the Font Magica or use the following transport options:

Cable Car to/from Barceloneta: You can take the Teleferico from Montjuïc down to the harbor to the beachfront of Barceloneta. You can buy a one-way ticket or do a return journey. Find your ticket here.

Montjuïc Funicular: This inclined train brings you within 5 minutes up the hill from Parallel metro station, L2 (purple) and L3 (green). The funicular is included in your metro card.

Hop on Hop off Bus: The Barcelona Bus Turístic also serves this part of Barcelona on the red route.

Font Magica Barcelona

Depending on if you have a full day left in Barcelona, or you need to catch your flight home or to another destination, I recommend sticking around for the Font Magica show at the Montjuïc mountain. 

This show of music, light, and water takes place Thursdays to Saturdays throughout the year, adding Wednesday evening in the month of June to September. Usually, around 9 pm or 9.30 pm (8.30 pm in winter), the show lasts for an hour and offers a great, free night time activity in Barcelona.

With the backdrop of Montjuïc hill and the Museum of Catalan Art, the fountain spurts outbursts of water, waves, and figures, all carefully choreographed and displayed.

Alternative: Day trip to Montserrat

If you feel like you’d rather escape the city of Barcelona completely on your third day, I understand. One of the best day trips from Barcelona is to Montserrat. This hamlet is located in the Montserrat mountains and offers a famous monastery, spectacular mountain hikes or just a simple change of scenery.

Trains depart from Placa de Espanya each hour during the day and Montserrat is roughly an hour’s journey away. You will take a train to Monistrol de Montserrat where you can take the cable car or funicular to Montserrat Monastery. 

I did this day trip once and absolutely loved it.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
Montserrat Monastery

Looking for more suggestions on what to do in Barcelona for 3 days?

As you can read above, I wanted this 3-day itinerary for Barcelona to be relaxed and balanced. If you feel there are some holes in this itinerary or you like a quick-paced city trip, then here are some further recommendations that can be squeezed in effortlessly.

Palau Güell and Casa Vicens

Discover more of Gaudi. He did not only make the Sagrada Familia, but also other houses. His first one was the Casa Vicens followed by the Palau Güell. 

The Palau Güell (Güell Palace) is located just off the Ramblas, it can easily be visited on a tour of the center. Allocate half an hour to an hour to explore. Purchase your entrance ticket here.

Casa Vicens was only recently opened and is located in the Gracia neighborhood. You can reach it via L3 (green) metro. Stop at Fontana or Lesseps. Buy your tickets online here.

Check my Barcelona solo travel guide for tips and recommendations for solo travel in Barcelona so you'll have an epic time.
On the roof top of the Palau Güell, enjoying the views.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Also located at the Ramblas, the Gran Teatre del Liceu is a great alternative for the Palau de la Musica. They offer guided tours of the music hall and a great insight into European opera houses. The story of the fire that destroyed the whole room (twice) is remarkable. See prices here.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
Amazing ceiling of the Liceu Theatre of Barcelona.

Other Modernist Architecture

It wasn’t just Antoni Gaudi who defined the face of Barcelona in modernist times. It was a whole movement of architects, inspiring and rivaling with each other. The Sant Pau Hospital is one of them but recently opened Casa de Les Punxes by Josep Puig I Cadafalch is another impressive modernist house you can now visit.

Take metro L3 (green) or L5 (blue) to Diagonal or L4 (yellow) or L5 (blue) to Verdaguer to reach Casa de Les Punxes.

Family-friendly fun in Barcelona

If you have some little ones to entertain on your trip to Barcelona or just have enough of the museums and houses, then a visit to the Barcelona Zoo or the Barcelona Aquarium are very family-friendly and fun!

Check for tickets to the Aquarium and prices for the Zoo here.

Chocolate Workshop

At the Museum of Chocolate you can learn everything there is to know about chocolate, both in solid form as the famous chocolate drink. But you can also get hands-on and partake in a chocolate-making workshop. See if they are available during your visit.

What about the Picasso Museum?

I visited the Picasso museum on my first visit to Barcelona. It is located in La Ribera neighborhood, close to Jaume I metro stop L4 (yellow.)

I didn’t buy a ticket in advance and waited 1 hour outside. Once inside, I roamed the rooms of the former Picasso house but I mainly found sketches, etch drawings and a few minor pieces. I wasn’t impressed at all and therefore I recommend to not visit it on your 3 days in Barcelona. Unless you’re a huge Picasso fan of course.

Camp Nou visit

If you have any soccer fans, or as we Europeans call it: football fans, in your party, then a visit to Camp Nou is probably a must-do. I didn’t do the stadium tour but instead, I visited a match of FC Barcelona against FC Bayern München for the semi-finals of the Champions League (the highest European soccer league). 

Barcelona lost but it was a true sensation to socialize with the inner crowd of Barcelona fans. To see the stadium in its full glory and hear the roar of the crowd. And I am not even a soccer fan!

If you can’t get tickets to a match, do the Stadium tour and Camp Nou experiences.

Find your tickets for Camp Nou here.

What are the things to do in Barcelona at night in winter when you're not a party person? I give you the best cultural winter night activities in Barcelona.
Not yet dark at the semi-finals of the Champions League

Where to stay in Barcelona for 3 days?

In case the Eco Boutique Hotel Grau isn’t available or you’d rather stay somewhere else for your trip to Barcelona, then I offer here some other options for your 3 days in Barcelona.

Barcelona Budget Options

If you travel on a budget but you still want to be comfortable during your 3 nights in Barcelona, consider these hostels and budget accommodations.

Sant Jordi Gracia: located in Gracia neighborhood this is a hip and vibrant hostel. They offer 8-bed mixed dorm from €15! That is an absolute steal. Check if they have a bed for you here.

Black Swan Hostel: Situated in the Eixample area, this hostel offers 14-bed shared dorm rooms from €22 a night. They also offer 8-bed female-only dorm and 3-bed dorm. Check for prices here.

Hostal La Palmera is located just off Las Ramblas but offers bright twin rooms with shared facilities for €45 a room, or doubles with private ensuite of €60 a night. Check all rates here.

What are the things to do in Barcelona at night in winter when you're not a party person? I give you the best cultural winter night activities in Barcelona.
The amazing Palau de la Musica theatre is a great backdrop for the Gran Gala de Flamenco

Mid-Range Hotels in Barcelona with value for money

Usually, I book hotels in this bracket of the accommodation list. I like to get a lot for my money and still be comfortable. I selected these options for their location and some extra charm.

Hotel Suizo: You can find this hotel in the heart of the Gotic area. Combine swanky luxury with an affordable price and I’m sold. A double room starts from €92 upwards. The rooms have free Wifi and AC. Some even have a balcony overlooking the charming Gotic quarter. Check for prices here.

Hostal Marenostrum: Warmly decorated rooms overlooking the Ramblas. But all rooms are soundproofed so you can enjoy the location, minus the noise for only €92 a night. Check out this warm hotel here.

Casa Mathilda: Only a few 100 meters away from Passeig de Gracia, this charming hotel combines excellent location with a warm welcoming and stylish decor. A double room starts at €114 with an excellent breakfast included. Check for availability here.

High-end and Luxury Hotels in Barcelona

If you feel like splurging then the high-end hotels in Barcelona help you get rid of your money easily. Epic locations matching stellar views and luxury treatment are what makes these hotels stand out for your 3 days in Barcelona.

Hotel 1898: Located right on Las Ramblas, this hotel is from the 19th century and has an outdoor and indoor pool, as well as spa facilities. Their classic room can be yours for €140 a night. Check out if they have room for you here.

Duquesa de Cardona: Location, Location, Location. And grand design in a historic building. This hotel is located just of the Barcelona Marina, has a stellar rooftop view and 2 pools. For less than €200 a night, you can enjoy this luxury. Check availability here.

Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento: Who doesn’t want to sleep in a real Modernist historic monumental building? It is a Unesco World Heritage site! Wow! This hotel offers luxury rooms, a rooftop terrace, a pool and excellent breakfast for €215 a night. And the are located right at the head of Passeig de Gracia. Make sure to check this hotel out here.

A luxury section is not complete without mentioning the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona Hotel, and the W Barcelona.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
the famous Arch near the Parc de Ciutadella.

How to get around Barcelona?

As you can see from my Barcelona 3-day itinerary, I send you all across town. In three days you can see a lot of Barcelona and you don’t want to limit yourself to only one area. So you need to use the transport system to cross the city efficiently.

Transfer from the airport to Barcelona

Barcelona has one city airport, El Prat airport. The train will take you within 30 minutes to the center of Barcelona. Located north of Barcelona is the smaller airport of Girona, south of the city you’ll find Reus airport. Transfer to the city will be 1 hour or more.

Getting around Barcelona for 3 days

Barcelona is very pedestrian-friendly. There are several broad avenues with a lot of traffic, but also wide sidewalks and car-free neighborhoods. I once walked from downtown Barcelona to Park Güell so everything is possible.

But, there are faster and less tiresome options:

Barcelona Metro

If I need to go to the Sagrada Familia in the morning or you want to get home from Park Güell, the metro is a perfect way to cover a lot of ground in little time. Quick, convenient and cheap. You can buy the T10 Zone 1 carnet with 10 single journeys for €10,20 and use them for your 3 days in Barcelona. One ticket is valid for a journey of 75 minutes on the metro, bus, and local trains.

If you wonder about safety, normal safety rules apply. Keep your hand on your purse, wear a cross body bag, don’t put your bag down on the floor or on the seat next to you and always face the crowd. I rode the metro on several occasions as a solo female traveler, also at night and I felt safe.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
The lovely Parc Güell, so colorful and amazing views of the city.

Barcelona buses

The network of Barcelona buses is elaborate and the bus will bring you anywhere you want to go. But they do get stuck in traffic. And they stop at every stop when you want to go somewhere quickly. Luggage space is very limited and the schedule can be a bit tricky to figure out. Also, it is not a given that there is a bus stop in front of the tourist attraction you want to go to. 

But the bus is perfect to get to Park Güell or go somewhere where the metro doesn’t take you. And when you have time.

Barcelona Hop on Hop off Bus

If you do consider the bus, I’d recommend the Barcelona Bus Turistic. The hop on hop off bus that has convenient stops right in front of all major tourist attractions, all strung together on convenient planned routes (blue, red or green) through the city. They follow the main roads but also can take the fast lane from time to time. If you want to hop from one tourist attraction to the next, the hop on hop off bus is perfect. And they have commented audio in nearly all languages! Check for prices and discounts here.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
Visit all the tourist attractions in one go with the hop on hop off bus. Also, a good option to see a lot and not walk 10.000 miles.

Do you need a transport pass for Barcelona?

If you plan to move around the city a lot, a transport pass can save you a considerable amount of money. Some passes include discounts to attractions and sights, others are just a transport ticket. I have used a few, so I’ll quickly discuss them so you can decide which will work best for you.

T10 Zone 1 carnet

10 regular transport tickets for 1 journey in zone 1 on the bus, metro and local trains (not all airport transport is included). Not suited for journeys out of zone 1. The advantage is you can share the 10 tickets with people in your group and they are valid until the price changes (usually 1 year). 

Example: If you’re a family of 4 and you wish to ride the metro on 3 different occasions, you need 12 tickets in total. 1 single ticket is €2,20, so you’d end up spending €26,40 for 3 rides on the metro.

If you buy the T10 card, you only need 2 extra separate tickets and pay €14,60. As you can see, you can save considerably.

Traveling from the airport into the city centre can be expensive. Do you want to travel from Barcelona Airport to the city centre for under 1 Euro? Read how I've done it and how you can do it too!!
The T10 Barcelona Public transport card

Hola Barcelona Transport Pass

The Hola Pass is your unlimited transport pass for Barcelona. You can travel on local trains, metro and buses in Barcelona for an infinite number of times. Including to and from the airport. The pass comes in 2, 3, 4 and 5-day format, ranging from €14,44 (2 days) to € 33,63 (5 days). The pass is personal and can only be used by 1 person at the time. 

The 3-day Hola Pass is €21,09 and if offers unlimited local transport. If you plan to use the metro more than 10 times, also to and from the airport (normally €4,60) then this pass is cheaper than the T10.

See rates and rules for the Barcelona Hola Pass here.

Gaudi Pass Barcelona

The Gaudi Pass is perfect if you want to have the 1-day Barcelona Bus Turistic, entry to Sagrada Familia with an audio tour and the fast track entrance to La Pedrera and the Columbus Monument (with a glass of wine) all in 1 ticket.

The Gaudi Pass is valid for 1 calendar day and needs to be arranged 48 hours in advance. With the pass, you’ll save nearly €10 on the separate admissions but without waiting in line.

Read all about the Gaudi Pass here.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
Amazing view of La Pedrera, one of Gaudi’s famous houses.

Barcelona Card

If you want more than just a transport card and plan to visit loads of sites and attractions during your 3 days in Barcelona, then the Barcelona Card might be a good option for you.

The Barcelona cards offer free transport in the city on the bus, metro, local trains, and the airport shuttle. On top of that, it offers discounts or even free admission (including skip the line tickets) to a lot of the Barcelona attractions. Of course, you want to know what museums are free, click here.

As a bonus, show the card when you’re shopping and you can get discounts at over 80 stores in Barcelona.

A 3-day Barcelona Card will cost you €41,40 so you need to do a little bit of math to figure out if it is worth it to you. (If you’re into museums, then 100% yes!)

Get your Barcelona card here.

Barcelona Express Card

There is only 1 Barcelona Express Card and it is valid for 2 days. It offers unlimited transport in Barcelona and discounts to 80 museums and sites. It costs slightly more than the Hola 2 day Pass. See which discounts apply and if this pass is worth it here.

Combi Entrance Card

Not a transport pass, but I’m throwing it out there. There is also a 1-day combi ticket with tour of Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia, and Park Güell.

You read that correctly. Do all the highlights in one jam-packed day and cross those iconic Barcelona landmarks off your bucket list. This ticket includes skip-the-line tickets to all 4 attractions, guided tour of the site and a bus that takes you from Sagrada Familia to Park Güell!

It is not cheap but it does cover all your Gaudi basics in one day, without worrying about navigating the transport system. 

Check for prices and options here.

Other practical tips for this Barcelona 3-day itinerary

Wow, we have covered a lot of ground. You know what you’ll be doing during your 3 days in Barcelona, where you’ll stay and how to get around. Here are some other practical tips for your Barcelona itinerary.

Places to eat in Barcelona

I’m not really a foodie and I can’t recommend 100 specific restaurants or bars. For me, food needs to be close to where I am at the time when I’m hungry, but here are some general rules for eating out in Barcelona

  • Go for a food tour to sample the best tapas and wine in Barcelona
  • Fancy something different? Go to Tacos Tacos in Sants-Montjuïc area, a Mexican taqueria with very good value for money food.
  • Avoid the bigger chain tapas restaurants with tourist menus. You’ll definitely pay too much for your small tapa
  • Avoid Las Ramblas for eating out. The prices are exorbitantly high and the service exorbitant low.
  • A nice area to stroll around at night and discover small local places is Vila de Gràcia
  • If you do stay at my recommended Eco Boutique Hostal Grau in Barcelona, next-door neighbor Centric Bar is an excellent option, if you can get a table.
  • Nearby El Club de la Hamburguesa offers juicy burgers in a vibrant crowded little place
If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
I love churros so I eat them immediately, but this is sort of what they can look like. Enjoy!

Be aware of pickpockets

Barcelona is notoriously infamous for pickpockets roaming the streets, looking for their next prey. Don’t make it easier on them and keep your valuables safely stored. Don’t flash your mobile around while walking the street, keep your cross-body bag always to your front or side away from the street and never put them unattended on the floor or the seat next to you. Not in the park, not in a cafe and certainly not on public transport.

Better safe than sorry? Get a casual looking, cross body anti-theft bag, like this bag.

I use a typical, normal, cheap, every day’s women’s handbag that I can close with a zipper. I don’t carry a big ass women’s wallet but a small, 1$ thrift shop little coin-purse with my euros and cards.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
Be aware of pickpockets on Las Ramblas, but do enjoy the street performers. Make sure to tip them if you enjoyed their performance.

Dress appropriately

Some people forget that the Sagrada Familia is most and foremost an actual functioning church and you should dress appropriately when visiting it. So please, no mini skirts, off shoulder dresses or bareback cocktail dresses. Men should take their caps or hats off too.

Barcelona also has a really nice beach area. Here, it is perfectly normal to strip down to your bikini or shorts and soak up the sun. When you leave the beach, your shirt and trousers or dress should be put back on. Seeing tourists walk the Ramblas without a shirt on is just infuriating me.

Don’t be confused by the language

Barcelona is part of Catalunya and people from the area (Barcelona included) speak Catalan. All official communication, like websites and museum information, should be given in both Catalan and Spanish (Castello). English is often spoken but don’t be surprised when that local, cute but small bread shop owner doesn’t understand your fluent English. 

Don’t panic and think you need to switch to Catalan, because that is hard. But a little Spanish goes a long way. Who doesn’t know ‘hola’ and ‘gracias’? But now we’re on the subject, add 2 more words: ‘gràcies’ and ‘per favor’ is Catalan for ‘thank you’ and ‘please’. 

If you want to steal the show, pick up this English to Catalan phrasebook, but it is not necessary.

If you plan a short trip to Barcelona you might wonder if it is enough? I found 36 amazing things to do in 36 hours in Barcelona Spain.
Hola works in both Catalan and Spanish.

Be considerate of locals

Barcelona is under a lot of stress, rent prices are through the roof and when a cruise ship docks at Barcelona, the city is flooded with quick half-day trippers who leave their mark all over the city. Some local residents are pissed off and they direct their anger to tourists. Some graffiti is sprayed over town, expressing those feelings.

I don’t think, not visiting Barcelona is the answer. But be considerate. You already made a wise decision and you’ll stay in Barcelona for 3 days. Stay at a locally run hotel, instead of an illegal run house-share-system where you don’t pay tourist tax.

Eat at the local small eateries and shop locally. Give up your seat on the crowded subway or metro car when you see that local mother and child looking for a seat. 

It won’t solve the cities problems with overcrowded and housing issues (city’s council should solve that), but it will make you less of a d*ck and prevent locals from hating you and all tourists. Be nice. Remember you’re a guest, so clean up after yourself.

Save money

Throughout this post, I have provided you with useful information on skip-the-line tickets and my advice would be to buy them in advance. This can be done on your phone or tablet the day before your visit or months in advance.

Wherever you buy your tickets, make sure they are refundable and you pay the right price. Only the official Barcelona ticket office sells tickets with an online discount. If you buy more than 2 products, the discount goes up to even 7%. Although it seems like a couple of Euros, they do add up at the end of your trip. 

Check for prices and discounted tickets in Barcelona here.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
The quirky rooftop dragon tail at Casa Batlló

3 Days in Barcelona

I hope I was able to show you what to do in Barcelona for 3 days and guide you in the right direction to have an awesome experience. If you’re anything like me, it took some time before I warmed up to Barcelona but with 2 more visits planned this year, I just can’t get enough of this surprisingly stunning city by the Mediterranean!

Are you planning a trip to Barcelona? How many days do you have in the city? Did you find this 3 day Barcelona itinerary useful? Feel free to share it with your friends by clicking the social share buttons. Or leave a comment in the section below, I’d love to hear from you.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
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What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
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