Highlights : Barcelona 3 days Itinerary
Gaudi and Modernista Barcelona
Modernista, Spanish art deco style, defines Barcelona. Admire Modernista buildings across Barcelona. Seven buildings of Gaudi, Modernista's most famous architect, have been declared as world heritage monuments. You can spend days in Barcelona on this topic alone, so a day for Modernista (or Modernisme) is surely worth it.
History and Catalan tradition
Stroll through the Gothic quarter, center of the old city of Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter is filled with history dating to Roman times when the city was called Barcino. Experience architecture, Catalan charm and traditional restaurants serving Catalan cuisine.
Urban beach and Barcelona nightlife.
Barceloneta is one of the world's most stunning urban beaches. Hit the Beach, and rent a beach umbrella or a bicycle. Remember, the beach of Barcelona truly comes to life after sunset, with pulsating nightlife.
3 Days in Barcelona - Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Barcelona Sightseeing and La Rambla
The hop on hop off bus is the easiest way to discover Barcelona. Sign up for a one day tour. In the evening go on a tapas walking tour. Most tapas tours terminate at La Bouqueria, the must-see local Catalan market place.
Stroll down to the nearby La Rambla, Barcelona's most famous boulevard. La Ramblas is full of tourists but you cannot leave without seeing it.
Day 2 : Gaudi's Wonders in Barcelona
Start your day at Park Guell, the Gaudi designed housing estate for the wealthy and now turned into a public park. Walk downhill through the village-like streets of Gràcia to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's most celebrated monument that is still under construction even after 100+ years
Day 3 : Gothic Quarter, Camp Nou and the Barcelona beach
Sign up for a free walking tour of Gothic Quarter, Barcelona's most endearing and historic neighborhood. Go on a stadium tour of Camp Nou. The self guided tour will take you through the locker rooms, the trophy room, and out onto the football pitch
Beach clubs of Barcelona are renowned for their nightlife . Make a reservation and hop in to one of the nightclubs.
Tips and Tricks for your visit to Barcelona
- Book your tickets to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell well in advance.
- At Sagrada Familia, make sure to climb one of the towers for spectacular views. Book the appropriate tickets in advance
- La Rambla is very touristy. To eat, drink or to buy a souvenir, head to one of the side streets.
- If you do not want to go for a performance at Palau de la Música Catalana, opt for the guided tour of the concert hall.
- Barcelona is a compact city. Buy the T10 transport card for economy and convenience.
Barcelona Attractions in your 3 day Itinerary
Overview of Barcelona : Video
For a good overview of Barcelona, I recommend this video by Rick Steves. The video captures vibrant street scenes, food and drink options at Barcelona and the quaint Gothic Quarter. The video also covers highly recommended side trips to Montserrat and Costa Brava. Though if you have only 3 days to visit Barcelona, it is unlikely you can indulge in a side trip.
There are lots of things to see and do in Barcelona. Three days in Barcelona is just enough to explore the main things that define Barcelona – Modernism architecture [Gaudi], Futbol and of course Catalan cooking.
Best Itinerary for 3 days in Barcelona
Day 1 – Gaudi’s Barcelona
Start at photogenic Parc Guell, designed by Gaudi to be a housing estate for the wealthy though it was never occupied. Parc Guell sits atop a mountain offering amazing views of Barcelona. At the park, do not miss the Monument Zone. Access to the Monumental Zone of Parc Güell is limited to 400 persons each half hour. So book tickets in advance for Parc Güell.
Walk downhill to La Sagrada Famila, passing through the homely neighborhood of Gràcia, a slow paced 'small town' within fast paced Barcelona. Gracia is home to many small authentic Catalan restaurants where you can stop for lunch.
Basílica La Sagrada Familia, is easily the most recognized icon of Barcelona. It has a completion date — 2026 or 2028, more than 140 years after it was started. At La Sagrada Familia, take the audio tour and do climb one of the towers, Nativity or Passion Tower. To avoid the rush book your tickets online, both for entry to La Sagrada and for the visit to the towers. If you can muster more energy, walk to Hospital de Sant Pau, another great Modernista architecture wonder.
For an excellent evening with family, reserve a table at one of Barcelona’s trendiest restaurants, Tickets Bar, run by Albert Adriá who used to be the pastry chef at his brother’s El Bulli (repeatedly rated the World’s greatest restaurant)
Day 2 - Old Barcelona (Ciutat Vella) and Football
Sign up for the 11 AM Runnerbeans walking tour of Old Barcelona. This free walking tour will take you through ancient streets of the Gothic Quarter and the synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. The two and half hour tour ends at Cathedral Santa Maria del Mar. For lunch head to 4 Gats, famous for being Picasso’s favorite corner in Barcelona.
In the late afternoon head to Camp Nou, the mecca of football. If you are lucky, you can catch a real match at Camp Nou. If there are no matches on that day, you can go for the stadium tour - Camp Nou Tour & Experience.
Day 3: Barcelona Beach and Montjuïc
Start the third day with a bike ride along the Barceloneta waterfront. For breakfast, head to the posh La Guingueta de la Barceloneta to try their super juices.
From the beach, take the thrilling cable car(Transbordador Aeri del Port) to Montjuic. Montjuïc houses a large number of attractions - Poble Espanyol, Castle gardens, Font Magica, MNAC museum.
Or you can skip Montjuic and instead go to La Bouqeria market, Barcelona’s famous food market. Go to La El Quim, one of the more popular mini-restaurants sprinkled throughout the La Boqueria market. Keep the evening on your third day reserved for shopping. Sorry, I cannot help you much on shopping; you could use the information here.
I have designed the itinerary keeping the interests of your foodie wife and your teenage son. There are many more activities and interesting sights that have been dropped from the itinerary. For instance: a visit to some of Gaudi’s other buildings and a visit to Picasso’s museum have not been suggested for want of time.
I did consider suggesting Montserrat, as an excursion on the third day. However, I thought Montjuic or Boqueria might be a better choice and ended up suggesting Montjuic over Montserrat.
Here is a 3 day Barcelona itinerary which I put together for my friend who visited us with his wife and teenage daughter. They enjoyed the trip, so maybe you can take some pointers from this 3 day itinerary.
1. Exploring Barcelona neighborhoods on Day 1
The best way to start exploring Barcelona is to start from the not so touristy Gracià district. Gracia is truly Catalonian with old cobbled streets and interesting squares. Go to Carrer Verdi, and then visit every square you can find (there's one every other street and famous ones are Plaça de la Vila, Plaça del Diamant, Plaça de la Revolució etc).
Exit Gracià through the Passeig de Gracià which leads to some of the most famous buildings celebrating Modernisme architecture and its greatest proponent – Gaudi. You should visit one of these Gaudi buildings and my personal choice is La Pedrera also called Casa Mila.
From Passeig de Gracià walk to Plaça de Catalunya, the big city centre of Barcelona and proceed on to La Rambla with short detour to Placa Reial. Placa Reial is a local-favoured square just off La Rambla with many restaurants where you can have a break for drink or meal.
Walk along La Rambla, the famous but touristy stretch that connects Plaça de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. Do visit La Boqueria food market, at about the centre of Las Ramblas - it is a tourist magnet.
2. Gaudi and Football on Day 2
My friend is an avid football fan. Luckily for him, there was a scheduled champions league game at the Camp Nou Stadium. You can never understand the frenzy of Barca fans till you experience it.
In the morning, I had arranged for a Gaudi tour. I opted for the Gaudí in Context tour. The tour led by a Gaudi scholar includes visit to Casa Batlló but does not include a tour of La Sagrada Familia.
3. Excursion out of Barcelona on Day 3
For the third day, consider seeing places around Barcelona. We went driving to Dali sites - Figueres and Cadaques. If you do not have access to your own private vehicle, you should plan to visit destinations connected by train.
I suggest Tarragona which is short train ride south of Barcelona.