Visiting Barcelona in 3 days is possible! Even if you obviously won’t have time to see everything, it’s a good way to get a first glimpse of the Catalan capital. To make it easier for you, I put together a program that includes the main places to visit in Barcelona.
Day 1: old town and Barceloneta
Plaça Catalunya is the place where the most emblematic streets of Barcelona meet: Las Ramblas and Passeig de Gràcia. It is surrounded by huge buildings and has two monumental fountains. It is a good starting point for visiting Barcelona as it’s close to many tourist sites and it connects the old town and Eixample districts.
Stroll on Las Ramblas
It’s probably the best known avenue in Barcelona. Start your tour down the Ramblas from Plaça de Catalunya. You’ll discover many stalls and an incredible number of street artists. The avenue is also lined with shops and restaurants, but I advise you to check the prices before going there: they are often high on this tourist artery.
La Boqueria market
Stop at the Boqueria indoor market. This is an opportunity to taste local cold meats, cheeses, and tapas. You can also find smoothies and freshly squeezed fruit juices there.
Plaça Reial is the perfect place for a break. Many cafes and restaurants are located under its magnificent neoclassical arcades. The palm trees and the fountain in the center will almost make you feel like youree in Seville! Don’t forget to take a look at the two lampposts that line the fountain and were designed by Antonio Gaudi. Day and night, it is a very lively and pleasant place.
Visit the Gothic district
After visiting Plaça Reial, go to the Gothic district, or “Barri Gòtic”. It is the oldest district in Barcelona. You can stroll through its alleys, discover many small shops and of course Gothic architecture buildings. La Seu cathedral and the alleys that line it, the Bisbe bridge that connects the Palace of the Generalitat and the house of the canons, Plaça del Pi and its imposing church are some of the magnificent monuments that you’ll discover in the gothic district
You will then arrive to the Barceloneta district which is the Seaside district of Barcelona. It abounds with small restaurants and bars. For a tapas break, I recommend the Bodega Fermín and El Vaso de Oro. There are also many restaurants serving seafood. At the Barceloneta, you can enjoy the beach which is very busy but still very pleasant, close to the city.
You probably won’t have time to make multiple visits if you want to take the time to explore these neighborhoods. I therefore propose you two options: visit the Guell Palace or the Picasso Museum.
Option 1: Guell palace
A stone’s throw from Las Ramblas, I suggest you visit the Guell Palace. Designed by Antonio Gaudi at the request of the industrialist Eusebi Güell, it is a particularly luxurious mansion. It is also one of the only examples of domestic architecture produced by Gaudi. The interior is breathtaking, with magical light effects, colorful stained glass windows, beautiful ceilings, fine materials everywhere … in short, you won’t be disappointed with this visit! It might seem redundant with those of day 2 already dedicated to Gaudi but this palace is really apart.
Option 2: The Picasso museum
The Picasso Museum is located in the El Born district, right next to the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. You will discover more than 3,500 works by Picasso, from his early works to some of his masterpieces. The building itself is beautiful, in Catalan Gothic style with a beautiful little interior courtyard. The narrow streets of El Born near the museum are also worth a visit with their many designer and artisan shops.
After your visit, you could go for a walk in the Ciutadella park. Located in the El Born district, it is a huge green space where it is pleasant to spend time when it’s hot. The park is famous for its lake and its waterfall.
Day 2 : Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi
Passeig de Gracia
For your 2nd day, go to Passeig de Gracia to see its incredible buildings. They bear witness to the modernism and noucentism that marked Catalan architecture at the start of the 20th century. You’ll discover Casa Batllo at 43 Passeig de Gracia. Designed by Antonio Gaudi, it is a magnificent building both inside and out. Its facade recalls an aquatic world populated by fantastic creatures.
Close to Casa Batllo is Casa Lleó Morera, at 35 Passeig de Gràcia, built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Casa Amatller is located at 41 Passeig de Gràcia. These are three very different buildings that stand out in the middle of the other buildings of the street. Not far from there, make a small detour to go see La Pedrera, also called Casa Mila. Like Casa Batllo it was created by Antonio Gaudi. It is located at 261-265 Provença. Its white facade is wavy and its wrought iron balconies stand out with their strange shapes.
Visit Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia is the emblematic monument of Barcelona. It was designed by Gaudi who in his lifetime could only see the crypt and the façade of the Nativity finished. He had planned this pharaonic project so that the following generations would participate in its realization. Plan to buy your ticket in advance as the queue is often long on site.
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
After visiting the Sagrada Familia, make a stop to see the Hospital de Sant Pau. It was designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It is a very impressive building and a fine example of Catalan modernist architecture.
Take a walk at Parc Guell
Then, go to Parc Guell. Designed by Gaudi for Eusebi Guell who wanted to create a luxurious garden city, it includes both a free part with the gardens and a paying part including the monuments made by the architect. You’ll discover Gaudi’s incredible architecture that seems straight out of a fairy tale. The place is colorful and decorated with numerous mosaics. You can also stroll through the gardens, which offer great views of Barcelona.
If you’re visiting Barcelona during a period of heat, you can change the program and visit Park Guell in the morning and the Sagrada Familia in the afternoon!
Day 3 : Montjuic and Camp Nou
For your 3rd day in Barcelona, take the cable car from the port of Barcelona or from Miramar and go to Montjuic hill. You can easily spend the day there if you want.
In Montjuic, you’ll find the Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum that incorporates architectural elements from many Spanish villages. Many art and craft shops are located there.
You can also visit the Montjuic Castle, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, the Olympic Stadium, the CaixaForum art center and the Joan Miró Foundation. Another activity in Montjuic could be to take a tour of the botanical garden and watch the sound and light show which takes place every day at nightfall on the large Montjuic fountain.
Optional: Camp Nou stadium
If you’re a football lover, you can dedicate your afternoon to the visit of Camp Nou stadium. At camp Nou, you’ll discover the FC Barcelona museum, the changing rooms, the chapel, the tunnels, the press room, the presidential gallery and you will finally arrive at the sidelines to get as close as possible to the field.
Plaça d’Espanya and Las Arenas
If you’re looking for a break at a good restaurant or you want to do shopping near Montjuic, you can go to Plaça d’Espanya or Las Arenas shopping center. This impressive monument is in fact the old bullring of Barcelona, converted into a shopping center. The place is worth the detour for its Mudejar architecture but also for its 116 shops spread over more than 100,000m².