If you want to see the best of Barcelona in 3 days then you’ve come to the right place! Barcelona is one of my favourite Spanish cities and I have explored it several times over. And so I have plenty of recommendations and tips to help you get the best from your visit.
I’m breaking down this guide to Barcelona into 3 categories. Ultimately, this post highlights all you need to know… what to see, where to eat and where to stay in a 3 day nutshell!
Let’s jump right in with our recommendations on what to see. The highlights of Barcelona that cannot be missed! We’ve put this awesome interactive map here to help.
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Table of Contents
What to See
First up, we recommend that use the metro for getting around Barcelona. We use the local public transport every time we visit, as it is super convenient. It connects all the main points of interest, with a little walking in between. And between buses and trains, they will have you ticking everything off this list without spending too much on taxis or Ubers.
Geek Out on Gaudí
Gaudí is one of my favourite elements of Barcelona if you have 3 days you will likely plan to see some of his work. His architecture and design is represented everywhere. You’ll have to trip around to see it, but trust me. His work is worth it!
La Sagrada Familia
Without stating the obvious La Sagrada Familia is at the top of that list. Arrive on the metro from underground and as you enter the street this sight is awe inspiring.
Still under construction, this incredible church is nothing less than a work of art. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk around the block, circumnavigate the exterior, and take in ALL the details and elements of Gaudí’s design.
Then cross the street to the small park opposite and here you can capture La Sagrada Familia in all her glory!
La Sagrada Familia is always extremely busy and I have visited when the queue to enter has stretched around the block. We recommend that you avoid any disappointment and book your visit and guided tour right here!
Casa Batlló and Milà
Another busy corner and street in Barcelona is right here at Casa Batlló. And this is because people flock to this destination for a glimpse of Gaudí’s unique apartments. This colourful, several story building is without straight lines and one of his most impressive designs. While it is generally always mobbed the visit is well worth it. Snap a photo and then head across the road for tapas or walk further up the same road for a glimpse of Casa Milà!
This location doubles as a gorgeous spot to catch a view of Barcelona from above. If you catch the metro, there is a pretty big walk involved which is mostly straight up. So for this destination we recommend you catch the bus for a more direct route.
There have also been recent changes to Park Güell in that the entire space has now become pay to enter. Previously you could enjoy the park for free, but this is no longer the case. You can still enter from the park side but you need to book your tickets online. In which case we recommend that you enter at the front in the main Park Güell entrance.
Wander and explore the grounds and take in the view overlooking Barcelona. There will likely be lots of visitors, but there are also quieter parts of the park, among the trees, if you decide to venture off the main path. Once again the unique lines and pops of colour of Gaudi’s design are something very special to see in person.
Mercado de la Boqueria
Do not miss this market! Situated right on La Rambla, this is a food lovers must see. Stop here for tapas, or grab some snacks for a lunch on the go. Wander passed the hanging legs of cured pork, rows of fruits and veggies, sweets and pastries. The Mercado de la Boqueria has something for everyone.
Cathedral of Barcelona
My favourite time to visit the Cathedral of Barcelona is at night. There is always something lively happening outside and around, the lights at night combined with buskers and the outdoor antique market creates a very cool atmosphere.
However, if you visit during the day a tour of the Cathedral inside is also very interesting.
CosmoCaixa Science Museum
The CosmoCaixa Museum is an easy way to spend a few hours. There is always plenty here to explore especially if you bring the kids. The Flooded Forest is very impressive and one of the highlights that shows a glimpse into life in the Amazon.
During our visit there was a very interesting exhibition of Tesla and the Tesla coil, but there are several floors to explore with some changing exhibits. Check the website here for more details on their current installations.
Las Ramblas is one of the most touristy locations in the city. People walk up and down the Las Ramblas at all times of the day. It’s a bit of a tourist trap in my opinion, but still an interesting stroll. Buskers, human statues and likely pick pockets too, will be out and about for any opportunity to get those Euros out of your wallet and into theirs.
Down the centre of Las Ramblas are restaurants and eateries enticing you to sit for a drink or tapas. And the atmosphere is exciting and you should do it. But also know that this is a very expensive place to eat and drink, and the food is mediocre. Read below for our recommendations on where to eat.
The Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter definitely tops my list for favourite locations in the city. You can literally get lost walking through the maze of small streets and lanes with shops selling anything and everything you can imagine.
My favourite streets to explore lead off Via Laietana. Start at either Carrer de la Boria or Carrer de la Princesa and continue walking the lanes until the shops no longer interest you. This is where you will find one of my favourite ethically made shoe shops Caboclo.
Likewise, on the otherside of the road leading off Via Laietana is Placa de l’Angel and which continues on as Baixada de la Llibreteria.
Here you will find an incredible and very old candle shop called Cereria Subirà and across the lane Papirum an exquisite handmade leather book or journal store.
Also check out Carrer dels Banys Nous, which runs parallel between Las Ramblas and Via Laietana.
Most of my fav shopping locations are listed above, but if you also love a bit of vintage shopping then you have to visit the street Carrer de la Riera Baixa. This street is a mecca for antiques, records, clothing and all funky things 70’s and 80’s!
Where to Eat
El Drac de Sant Jordi – Opposite the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi and not far from Las Ramblas. The tapas are good, the service is excellent and it won’t cost the earth.
Amades Resto Bar – A smaller intimate type of restaurant Carrer dels Banys Nous. Tapas with a twist and friendly service.
La Granota & Co – Near La Sagrada Familia, this destination is well known for their Spanish Tortilla (omelette).
Mercado de la Boqueria – Mentioned above. Right on Las Ramblas and a great place to grab a quick lunch.
For a street with small tapa bars and restaurants then in the Gothic Quarter take a walk down C/ de Salomo ben Adret. Here you will for sure find a few places to chose from.
Where to Stay
Hotel Catalonia Catedral – Hotel Catalonia is a 4 star accommodation in a beautiful building from 1910. The location is perfect in the heart of the city, with everything at walking distance. And the best part is the price. Hotel Catalonia has all the comforts, including a pool and won’t break the bank.
Hotel Sant Agusti – We can personally recommend this 3 star hotel in Barcelona which we used as a base for our first visit to Barcelona. Located just off Las Ramblas and around the corner from Mercado de la Boqueria, it is very well positioned!
AinB Las Ramblas Guardia – This is another great option if you are more than two people and need a couple of bedrooms. We stayed here in this self contained apartment, just a 4 minute walk from Las Ramblas. The benefits being space, a kitchen and two bedrooms should you need it.
Meeting Point Hostel – And last but by no means least, Meeting Point Hostel is a very comfortable and clean back packing option. I have also stayed here with my two kids and would definitely return if looking for budget accommodation. This hostel is further from town but conveniently near Barcelona-Sants, the main train station in and out of the city.
3 Days in Barcelona
And that is a wrap on our recommendations on what to do, where to eat and where you should lay your head for 3 days in Barcelona. There is plenty more to explore of course, should you decide to stay longer. But by my calculations this list should keep you pretty busy for a short visit.
Be sure to check our other posts in this series on places to visit in Spain!
Also, you might like to check out our 14 day itinerary for the perfect island hopping vacation in Greece!
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