Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, not only in Spain but also in Europe. To begin with, the architecture of this city is unique (the style is called Catalan modernism and is a regional variant of Art Nouveau) and you can admire it in various buildings designed by masters like Gaudí and Domènech i Montaner.
And then, the very streets and squares of central Barcelona have a contagious energy and dynamic! Besides, I think it’s impossible to visit the capital of Catalonia without being influenced by its culture, art, history, and gastronomy. And of course, not wanting to go back once, twice, or more times!
So, do you want to know more about 3 Days In Barcelona: The Perfect Barcelona Itinerary? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of Barcelona
- Visiting Barcelona
- Barcelona Itinerary – Day 1
- Best Things to Do in Barcelona – Day 2
- Barcelona Itinerary – Day 3
- Map of the Barcelona Itinerary
- More Posts about Spain
- More Posts about Travel Itineraries
- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of Barcelona
One of the things that fascinate me most about Barcelona is the fact that it has more than 4,000 years of history. The first human remains found in the city date back to the end of the Neolithic period, which is astounding!
In general, Catalonia was a region where countless peoples passed through, leaving behind their historical, cultural, artistic, religious, and political influences. Among them are the Laietans, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Jews, the Visigoths, the Muslims, and the Christians, among others.
However, the successive invasions and occupations of enemy peoples generated wars that doomed the city to decline for several centuries. Barcelona only managed to recover economically in the 19th century, thanks to the Industrial Revolution. And with the dismantling of the old walls, numerous neighboring cities were grouped into Barcelona, some of which are now administrative districts.
It was also at this time that Barcelona began to gain prominence as a European cultural hub, a phenomenon that was driven by Antoni Gaudí‘s Catalan modernism and by events such as the Universal Exhibitions (in 1888 and 1929), the Summer Olympic Games in 1992 and the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004.
Did you know that the Works of Antoni Gaudí (in Barcelona) were part of Spain’s first set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 8th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Buenos Aires (Argentina), between October 29th and November 2nd, 1984.
Four other Spanish sites were announced in the session: Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada; the Burgos Cathedral; the Historic Center of Cordoba; and the Monastery and Site of the Escorial in Madrid.
Nowadays, Spain is the fourth country in the world and the third country in Europe with the most UNESCO sites, right after Italy and Germany, and tied with France. It has forty-nine heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization!
In the meantime, I’ve already had the opportunity to visit ten of them:
- Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzín, Granada (1984, 1994)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco (2000)
- Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
- Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984)
- Old City of Salamanca (1988)
- Old Town of Santiago de Compostela (1985)
- Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
- Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (2021)
- Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005) – Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Crypt of Colònia Güell, Nativity Façade and Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Palau Güell, and Park Güell
Like any major European city, Barcelona has a very complete public transportation system: 6 tram lines, 12 metro lines, more than 100 bus lines, and 17 railway lines, which serve not only the metropolitan area of Barcelona but also the entire region of Catalonia!
So, if you need to know timetables, prices, or maps, check out the TRAM (tram), Rodalies de Catalunya (trains), or Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (metro and buses) websites. And of course, I didn’t even mention the other public transportation more geared towards tourism, such as taxis, tuk-tuks, and sightseeing buses (or hop-on hop-off). Still, I recommend visiting Barcelona on foot!
Barcelona Itinerary – Day 1
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The first day of this itinerary in Barcelona may seem very short compared to the other two, but it’s also the longest for walking (about 9.5 km). This is because the route includes stops in 3 of the 10 administrative districts that make up the city: Horta-Guinardó, Gràcia, and Sants-Montjuïc.
Let’s start in Horta-Guinardó to visit the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (or Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul, in English), which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Designed in Catalan modernist style by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, this hospital complex was built between 1902 and 1930.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner was, along with Antoni Gaudí and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, one of the greatest representatives of this new architectural style that emerged at the end of the 19th century. And on your third day in Barcelona, you’ll have the opportunity to visit another masterpiece of his: the Palau de la Música Catalana.
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is open every day, from 10 am to 6:30 pm, with the last entry taking place 30 minutes before closing time. The ticket costs €16 (self-guided visit) or €20 (guided visit) and can be purchased in advance at the monument’s online ticket office.
Read my complete guide to the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
The second place of this visit is just over 1.6 km away, in the district of Gràcia. It’s Park Güell (in Catalan, Parc Güell), a large urban park designed by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1914. Here, you’ll find harmony between architecture and nature, very typical of this artistic period of the architect.
The idea came from Eusebi Güell, who wanted to build a condominium inspired by the English concept of a “garden city”. So, Gaudí projected an enclosure with 60 houses, besides streets, squares, viaducts, and gardens. However, the urbanization proved to be a failure and was converted into a public park.
Park Güell is one of three works by Antoni Gaudí awarded with UNESCO World Heritage status in 1984, to which another four were added in 2005. And since six of them are located in the center of Barcelona, I decided to include them in this itinerary!
You can visit Park Güell every day of the year, from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. As for tickets, these cost €10 (adults) or €7 (children aged 7 to 12, as well as those over 65). Children up to 6 years old don’t pay admission. If you like, you can buy them in advance at the Park Güell online ticket office.
Read my complete guide to Park Güell, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
Casa Vicens is about 1.4 km from Park Güell, so you can choose to visit it before or after lunch. In any case, the monument is a must-visit in Barcelona, as it was the first important work done by Antoni Gaudí. Furthermore, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005!
Built between 1883 and 1888 by order of the businessman Manuel Vicens i Montaner, this summer house combines tiles with brick in an expert way. Moreover, the revival of Mudejar art was very much in vogue at that time in Barcelona and Gaudí took the opportunity to incorporate several elements and materials of this style.
Casa Vicens is open every day from 10 am to 8 pm, but the last admission is at 6:40 pm. There are two rates available – general (€16) and reduced (€14, for students from 12 to 25 years old and seniors) – but you should check the official website for special discounts. By the way, children up to 11 years old don’t pay.
Read my complete guide to Casa Vicens, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
To end this first day in Barcelona, I advise you to travel by public transportation from Casa Vicens to Montjuïc, as it’s more than 6 km on foot! Start by taking the metro line 3 at Fontana station, heading towards Paral·lel. Afterward, you still have the option of going up the hill on the Montjuïc Funicular.
The Montjuïc Mountain is a fantastic viewpoint to contemplate Barcelona. Its name means “Jewish Mountain” in ancient Catalan, which matches the ruins of a medieval Jewish cemetery that were found here.
The top of Montjuïc Mountain was an important lookout post for several centuries, benefiting from a strategic location in the Mediterranean. From that time, survives the Castell de Montjuïc, a military fortress converted into a museum. However, all this “green lung” of Barcelona has been rehabilitated during the last 100 years, first for the 1929 International Exhibition and then for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Some of the buildings built for these two world events ended up becoming icons of the city, such as the Palau Nacional (which houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya), the Font Màgica, the Teatre Grec, the Poble Espanyol, and the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.
Read my complete guide to the Poble Espanyol, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
Best Things to Do in Barcelona – Day 2
Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
Visiting Barcelona and not entering the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is one of the biggest mistakes tourists can make in the capital of Catalonia. That’s because this temple is Antoni Gaudí‘s ultimate incomplete masterpiece and I think you’ve already realized the importance that the Catalan architect has in this city!
So, this second day is dedicated to the Eixample district, a central area of Barcelona where some of Gaudí‘s best creations are located. And of course, the day starts at the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, which is open from 9 am to 3 pm (Monday to Thursday) and from 9 am to 6 pm (Friday to Sunday).
Tickets cost €26 (with an app audioguide), €30 (with a guided tour), €36 (with an app audio guide and access to the towers), or €40 (with a guided tour to the towers), when purchased on the official website. Still, there are discounts for students, people under 30, and seniors (€16), besides free admission for children up to 11 years old.
Read my complete guide to the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
La Monumental is, basically, Barcelona’s Bullring (in Catalan, Plaça de Toros Monumental de Barcelona). But nowadays, this open-air arena is mostly used for live concerts, sports events, and circus shows.
Inaugurated in 1914, it has architecture in the noucentista style – a cultural and artistic movement that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century in opposition to Catalan modernism – with some influences from Mudejar and Byzantine art.
Avinguda Diagonal & Passeig de Gràcia
Did you know that Avinguda Diagonal (ie Diagonal Avenue) is one of the longest and most important avenues in Barcelona, about 11 km long? Its name comes exactly from the fact that this avenue “cuts” the city center in two, in a long diagonal.
The Passeig de Gràcia is another of Barcelona‘s main avenues and probably the most expensive as well. Here are located the most renowned offices, shops, restaurants, and cafés, as well as some of the city’s architectural gems.
Of all the buildings, Casa Milà (popularly known as La Pedrera) and the five houses that make up the so-called “Block of Discord” (in Catalan, Illa de la Discòrdia) stand out, as the most notable examples of Catalan modernism:
- Casa Batlló, by Antoni Gaudí (no. 43)
- Casa Amatller, by Josep Puig i Cadafalch (no. 41)
- Casa Bonet, by Marceliano Coquillat (no. 39)
- Casa Mulleras, by Enric Sagnier (no. 37)
- Casa Lleó Morera, by Lluís Domènech i Montaner (no. 35)
As I mentioned earlier, Casa Milà is located on the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona. Globally nicknamed La Pedrera (because of its similarities to a “quarry”), this work by Gaudí differs from the buildings that surround it because of the lack of straight lines – either in the structure or in the decorative elements (including the furniture)!
Casa Milà is open every day, from 9 am to 6:30 pm, and it also has night hours, from 8:40 pm to 10 pm (Thursday to Sunday and holidays). As for tickets, there are several types of tours, which you can check on the official website of Casa Milà. But the main ones are La Pedrera Essential (€24) and La Pedrera Night Experience (€34).
Read my complete guide to Casa Milà, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
Casa Batlló is undoubtedly the most interesting building on the “Block of Discord”. Also designed by Antoni Gaudí, it’s a brilliant work, which combines fanciful elements and eccentric details. Therefore, you can visit Casa Batlló on any day, from 9 am to 6 pm, or in the evening hours (from 6 pm to 8 pm) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Like Casa Milà, the monument has invested in new experiences, including Casa Batlló 10D Experience (€35) and Magic Nights (€49). Nevertheless, you can confirm all details and discounts at Casa Batlló’s online ticket office.
Read my complete guide to Casa Batlló, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
If you loved visiting Casa Milà and Casa Batlló and think you still have time (and energy) to visit another historic building in Barcelona, then I would recommend Casa Amatller. Built at the end of the 19th century for the chocolate entrepreneur Antoni Amatller, this is a monument full of exuberance and symbolism.
Just to illustrate, the façade with a staggered finish is reminiscent of medieval houses in Northern Europe. But, although the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch was inspired by the Romanesque and Gothic styles, Casa Amatller is a modernist building.
In terms of opening hours, Casa Amatller operates every day (except on December 25th), from 10 am to 6 pm. As for tickets, only guided tours (€15 for adults and €12 for children from 7 to 12 years old) or group tours (at €15) are available, as can be consulted at Casa Amatller’s online ticket office.
Plaça de Catalunya
The last three stops of this second day in Barcelona can be visited in a much more relaxed way and without time restrictions, as they are open-air spaces, which don’t require the purchase of tickets like the previous monuments.
The first is the Plaça de Catalunya, the square where the Passeig de Gràcia ends. It’s a central square, being also the largest square in Barcelona and the place where the Eixample district meets the city’s historic center (the Ciutat Vella, which I saved for the third day of this itinerary).
Arc de Triomf
The Triumphal Arch of Barcelona (in Catalan, Arc de Triomf) is different from the rest of the “triumphal arches” – like the one in Paris. If, on the one hand, the French Arc de Triomphe and its similars were built for military purposes, the one in Barcelona served as the gateway to the Universal Exhibition of 1888!
Designed in Neo-Mudéjar style by Catalan architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, the Arc de Triomf received decorative details from six sculptors, all of Casanovas‘ countrymen: Josep Reynès, Josep Llimona i Bruguera, Antoni Vilanova i March, Torquat Tasso i Nadal, Manuel Fuxà i Leal and Pere Carbonell i Huguet.
Parc de la Ciutadella
The second day of this “3-Day Itinerary in Barcelona” ends with a very pleasant evening at Citadel Park. This city park was also built for the 1888 Exhibition, in this case on the ruins of the old Citadel of Barcelona – hence the name – built by King Philip V in the 18th century.
Citadel Park is open every day from 10 am to 10:30 pm. These days, it has a series of buildings and structures, which I recommend:
- Cascada – designed by Josep Fontserè i Mestre, with some parts of the then-unknown young artist Antoni Gaudí
- Barcelona Zoo (in Catalan, Parc Zoològic de Barcelona)
- Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona (in Catalan, Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona)
- Castle of the Three Dragons (in Catalan, Castell dels Tres Dragons) – designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, it was the former café-restaurant of the Universal Exhibition
- Hivernacle i Umbracle – two iron and glass greenhouses, designed by Josep Fontserè i Mestre and built by Josep Amargós i Samaranch
- Palace of the Parliament of Catalonia (in Catalan, Palau del Parlament de Catalunya) – the building was built in the first half of the 18th century, to serve as the Citadel‘s arsenal
Barcelona Itinerary – Day 3
Palau de la Música Catalana
The third and last day of this itinerary in Barcelona is entirely dedicated to the Ciutat Vella, the historic center of the city. And the morning begins at the Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music, in English), the only concert hall listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner for the Orfeó Català, the Palau de la Música Catalana was built between 1905 and 1908, in a modernist style. There are currently two types of visits to this music auditorium, as indicated by the official website of the Palau de la Música Catalana:
- Self-Guided Tour – from 10 am to 3:30 pm, with a duration of 50 minutes. The ticket costs €15 and all you need is to do is bring your headphones and download the free audio guide to your smartphone
- Guided Tour – from 10 am to 3 pm, it also takes 50 minutes. As the name implies, the visit is made by a guide from the palace and costs 19€
Read my complete guide to the Palau de la Música Catalana, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (in Catalan, Catedral de la Sant Creu i Santa Eulàlia) is the official name of the Barcelona Cathedral. Built between 1298 and the mid-fifteenth century on the ruins of an ancient Paleo-Christian basilica and the Romanesque cathedral that succeeded it, it eventually became the most important Catholic church in the entire region of Catalonia.
Despite having a distinctly Gothic style, the Barcelona Cathedral has a much more “modern” façade, which was added between the late 19th and early 20th centuries (during the architectural period of neo-Gothic or Gothic revivalism).
For now, tourist visits to the Barcelona Cathedral are operating every day (except on Sundays), but at different times:
- Monday to Friday – from 10:30 am to 2 pm and from 3 pm to 5:30 pm
- Saturdays – from 10:30 am to 5 pm
Tickets cost €9, but there are also guided tours in English (€15) and Spanish (€12). As always, I recommend that you consult all the practical information before visiting this monument on the Barcelona Cathedral‘s official website.
Església de Sant Felip Neri
I decided to include the Church of Saint Philip Neri (in Catalan, Església de Sant Felip Neri) in this three-day itinerary in Barcelona, not so much for the monument itself, but for the historical importance of its façade and square (with the same name) where it’s located.
That’s because this site was violently bombed by General Franco‘s air forces in 1938 – during the Spanish Civil War – and even today you can see the damage to the façade of this Baroque church! The Catholic temple has never seen its walls restored, precisely to recall the destruction caused by the war.
Las Ramblas & La Boquería
La Rambla is an avenue that begins at Catalonia Square and ends at the Monument to (Christopher) Columbus (in Catalan, Monument a Colom), at the entrance to the Old Port or Port Vell of Barcelona. Also known as Las Ramblas, the avenue got its name from the six groups of houses that were built in the area:
- Rambla de Canaletes
- Rambla dels Estudis
- Rambla de Sant Josep
- Rambla dels Caputxins
- Rambla de Santa Mònica
La Boquería is one of the oldest municipal markets in Barcelona and is located in the middle of this grand avenue. Officially designated Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boquería, it was inaugurated on March 19th, 1840 – St. Joseph’s Day.
In recent years, La Boquería has established itself as one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. With around 300 stores and stalls, everything is sold here: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, groceries, meat, fish, seafood, etc.
Gran Teatre del Liceu
A few meters from La Boquería Market, you’ll find the Gran Teatre del Liceu, one of the most important opera houses in the world! The theater was built between 1845-47, under the supervision of architects Miquel Garriga i Roca and, later, Josep Oriol Mestres.
When it opened, the Liceu was the largest opera house in Europe (with 3500 seats) and the one with the most advanced equipment. Despite that, the theater suffered a series of fires and bombings, forcing successive reconstructions.
Finally, the Teatre del Liceu is one of the few opera institutions with resident musicians (Cor del Liceu and Orquestra Sinfònica del Gran Teatre del Liceu, the oldest orchestra in Spain). Besides, it used to have a ballet company, which was dissolved in 1990!
The Palau Güell (or Güell Palace, in English) is another work that Antoni Gaudí designed for Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi in the city of Barcelona. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, this building was built in just two years: from 1886 to 1888. And Antoni Gaudí designed a modernist six-story mansion, where each floor has a specific function:
- Basement – stables
- Ground floor – entrance / reception
- Mezzanine – office
- First floor – common rooms of the house
- Second floor – bedrooms and chambers
- Third and top floor – the attic
The Palau Güell is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 8 pm (April 1st to October 31st) or from 10 am to 5:30 pm (November 1st to March 31st). However, it closes on non-festive Mondays and on December 25th and 26th, January 1st to 6th, and January 15th to 22nd.
As for tickets, the fare is €12 and includes an audio guide and tour map. There are other cheaper rates – €9 (students aged 18 and over, as well as EU citizens over 65) and €5 (children & teenagers aged 10 to 17) – but you can confirm all the conditions on the Güell Palace’s official website.
Read my complete guide to the Palau Güell, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
Picasso Museum in Barcelona
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona opened to the public on March 9th, 1963, becoming the first museum in the world entirely dedicated to Pablo Picasso and the only one created while the Spanish artist was still alive. This is because, in the meantime, other similar art galleries have appeared in Europe, namely the Picasso Museum in Paris (in 1985) and the Picasso Museum in Malaga (in 2003).
With a collection of more than 4200 works, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona is housed in a complex of five medieval palaces in the heart of the Ciutat Vella, which are called Palau Aguilar, Palau del Baró de Castellet, Palau Mecca, Casa Mauri, and Palau Finestres.
As far as practical information is concerned, the museum’s opening hours are from Tuesday to Sunday (including holidays), from 10 am to 8 pm and tickets cost €12 (adults) and €7 (young people from 18 to 25 years old, university students, and seniors over 65) – which you can buy in advance on the official website of the Picasso Museum of Barcelona.
Read my complete guide to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar
The penultimate site of this “3-Day Itinerary in Barcelona” is one of the main churches in the region of Catalonia: the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. Constructed in the 14th century, this temple is one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic, as it doesn’t incorporate any other architectural style.
But if you think the main façade is impressive, wait until you see the interior! Although the decoration is quite simple, the breadth and grandeur of the naves leave anyone speechless!
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is open every day for cultural visits, from 10 am to 8:30 pm. As for tickets, there are two types: one costs €5 and gives access to the temple’s interior, the space/museum of the tribunes, and the crypt; the other is priced at €10 and includes all these visiting spaces, plus the towers and roofs.
Read my complete guide to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, a must-see tourist attraction on any Barcelona itinerary!
Platja de La Barceloneta
What better way to end a day (and an itinerary) in Barcelona than watching the sunset on the beach? Barceloneta Beach is one of the biggest, oldest, and most popular beaches in the city of Barcelona. Both locals and tourists love to come here to swim, jog, have a drink, or relax in the evenings!
In addition to the nearly 600-meter longshore, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars, and clubs along the Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta. So don’t miss out on trying the sangria, the tapas, the fish and seafood dishes, or even the famous paella!
Map of the Barcelona Itinerary
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