What To Do In Barcelona For 3 Days – Perfect Guide For Your First Time
Our first time in Barcelona was an absolute blast! We spent 5 days there on our trip so it was a good amount of time to be able to check out the major attractions and sights and even more! You can still see and do a lot in Barcelona even on a 3 day itinerary. If you have 4 days to spend in the city, even better!
We wanted to share our guide and itinerary with those who are planning a holiday or vacation in Spain and want to take the guesswork out of what to do and see in Barcelona. Of course, you just want to make sure you don't miss places like Basilica De La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló. If you plan it right, you can enjoy even more in three or four days.
Cool Things To Do In Barcelona If It's Your First Visit
Just to simplify, here's the breakdown of the top things you want to make sure to have in your Barcelona itinerary:
Now, let's get into the timing of everything in the above list. It's also important to know how and when to book tickets for some of these places. Though, there are some cool things you can check out that are absolutely free!
There's also the issue of where to eat and where you should stay. If it's your first time in any city, it can be hard figuring out the basics and if you happen to make the wrong decision, things can go south quickly!
Don't worry, we got you covered there, too!
How To Plan Out Your 3 Day Trip
My best tip to travelers will always be to get on a tourist bus if you're staying 3 or more days anywhere. If the city you are visiting a city, riding around on the tourist bus is a great way to get an overview of what is available to you. Not only will you, typically, get a glimpse of the most popular places around the town but you'll get it fairly quickly.
And quick also means less tiring!
We got on the Bus Turistic as soon as we dropped our bags off at our Airbnb.
The routes available give you a great overview of Barcelona. You get to see so many different sides of the city, each with their own unique vibe. This will tell you exactly what your choices are based on your personal preference of what you want out of your trip. I was able to note, right away, what I wanted to go back to and see more in depth. It also gave me an idea of how far away things were compared to where we were staying. Needless to say, we just rode around on the bus until we got back to the starting point.
Also, there's free wifi on the bus!
On your first day in Barcelona, grab your ticket for the Bus Turistic. You can purchase them through the official Barcelona tourism website. We were given press passes that allowed us to utilize the Bus Turistic as a way to experience Barcelona and be able to tell our readers about it.
We loved it and highly recommend it as a way to get around and learn a bit as you go!
La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
With your Bus Turistic tickets in hand, hop on the Red Route and get off at the Passeig de Gracia (this is their first stop or the 3rd stop on the Blue Route) stop for Casa Mila. Sometimes referred to as La Pedrera (meaning quarry or stone mine), not-so-lovingly labeled due to it's resemblance to a "pile of rocks." Though now, fittingly, Antoni Gaudi's architectural and artistic designs have gained more respect and appreciation.
Want to save a HUGE amount of time waiting in line? You'll want to purchase your tickets for Casa Mila in advance so you don't risk not being able to get in on the day you want.
This place gets busy!
The audio tour walks you through everything from the "alien landscape" looking rooftop to the actual rooms of the apartments as well as the attic and courtyard.
It's really amazing to see the details in the designs and how the way things looked actually served a practical purpose as well.
Here's how to get your tickets for the tour:
La Rambla And La Boqueria Market
La Rambla is a pedestrian avenue that starts near the Plaça de Catalunya and finishes off at Mirador de Colom near the port. You can walk the length of it in one direction in about 15 to 20 minutes. However, I'd plan on a bit longet than that because there's a lot along the way that can distract/stop you as you make your way down.
I can tell you that I had to stop at the very beginning and get some gelato. You know, just to get some energy for the walk. Wink, wink...
Anyway, you'll find a bunch of souvenir and snack booths on either side of this wide walkway along with restaurants, shops, tobacco shops, even a grocery store.
As you walk down towards the water, keep an eye out for the covered market on your right. The market is called La boqueria and is a must visit for foodies! Eat your way around the market as they provide a plethora of snacks and drinks.
Pro-Traveler Tip: Grab some 'jamon' (cured ham) to take home for souvenirs. Oh, and the olives are divine as well!
Gothic Quarter And Barcelona Cathedral
As you make your way down La Rambla, somewhere around the halfway point before you get to the port, make a left to get into the Gothic Quarter. You can simply meander through the narrow alleys of this 'Barrio Gotico' neighborhood and get transported back in history.
The Gothic architecture is deistically different here compared with the rest of Barcelona, as the name of the area describes. We stumbled into this neighborhood almost by accident just to get away from the "touristy" area.
There are still plenty of touristy-type eateries and shops here but if you explore enough you can run into some hidden gems.
ProTraveler Tip: Look for the plaque in the sidewalk at the entrances of some establishments that have been given special preservation status due to their history.
One of those major "gems" is undoubtedly the Barcelona Cathedral. It's beauty can be admired from benches out front. There is also a small outdoor market on that street and a general good vibe all around.
I could probably spend an entire day just roaming and exploring the Barrio Gotica. The architecture was my favorite part of walking around this place, but I also love visiting the Picasso Museum!
Basilica De La Sagrada Familia
There's no way you could miss a visit to Sagra Familia Basilica. If you've never heard of Antoni Gaudi, you're bound to learn a lot about him when you visit Barcelona. The city is oozing with his architectural masterpieces and this basilica is the dominant example of his work.
The story of this temple goes back to 1883 when Gaudi took over the project and built the crypt. To the day, the project continues. Seeing this "work in progress" is truly a magical experience. Walking around the building will take you through it's history and you can even see it in the changing shades, differentiating the "older" and the "newer" parts.
It's really magnificent.
What blew me away was the fine details and how they have changed and morphed along with the times.
Pro-Traveler Tip: Get here early in the day and make sure to purchase your tickets in advance. Our recommendations would be to grab the guided tour that includes access to one of the towers so you can see great views from the top!
Located on Carmel Hill, close to the Gracia neighbohood, Park Guell is the sixth stop on the Blue route of the Bus Turistic. Alternatively, you can pay around 15-20 Euro for a taxi to get your there.
Again, you should REALLY get your tickets beforehand, but I don't really think a guided tour is necessary here. Just walk around the park and check out the creativity used by Gaudi in all of the structures to give a natural and artistic look while maintaining functionality.
It's too bad that the original plan for the park didn't pan out as an area for people to build homes. However, maybe that's a good thing, as it led to it being preserved as a beautiful park with really colorful and interesting buildings and sculptures.
Barceloneta And The Beaches
The Barceloneta neighborhood starts where the Gothic neighborhood ends near the sea. This area has some of the best al fresco restaurants by the water serving seafood and tapas that are a must try!
Pro-Traveler tip: If you want to find a less crowded beach head a bit father down. We enjoyed the Nova Icaria beach the most.
For an epic way to get here, go to Montjuic (one of the stops of the Bus Turistic) and ride the Teleferico Del Puerto down. It's not cheap at 11 Euros a person, but you'll get some cool views as you make your way down.
Trending Tours In Barcelona
Pro-Traveler Tip: Most people would't think anything of the post office, but the one in Barcelona is worth going into. The interior ceiling has some frescos that are great to check out.
This is another one of Gaudi's works and, natural, a "must see" when in Barcelona. Check out how the balcony railing looks like the eye portion of the human skull and do you see the bone-like structures at the windows?
Trending Tours In Barcelona
Plaça de Catalunya
The city center and major hub of pretty much everything, Plaça de Catalunya, is always bustling with people and cars and buses. You'll find the metro here for getting around town as well as the Bus Turistic stop and the Tourist information center.
If you're in the shopping mood, this is probably a good place to start. As I mentioned before, it's pretty much at the start of La Rambla and a great area to stay in.
Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
On our last night, we got a nice "finale" with the Magic Fountain show at Monjuic. It's a pretty crowded even, so you do want to get there early and find a good spot. Don't worry if you don't, though, you can see it from across the street of the pedestrian bridges as well.
Travel Tips For Your First Time In Barcelona
Where To Stay: Our top recommendations would be near Placa Catalunya and Gothic Quarter. This is a great location and where most of the "action" is.
Where to Eat: We had two favorite breakfast spots in Barcelona. One is La Esqiona on Carrer de Bergara and the other is Citizen Café on Plaça d'Urquinaona. For other amazing tapas spots here are some we tried and loved: Cañota, Euskal Etxea, and Telefèric Restaurant. For fun and unique cocktails in a chill atmosphere, head over to Bar Sauvage.
Pro-Traveler Tip: Learn how to make delicious paella at The Paella Club. It was one of the most tasty dishes we had on our trip and we made it ourselves!
The fun in Barcelona can be seemingly endless. There's something for everyone in this city and just about any traveler is bound to have a great time on their visit. If your vacation includes a few days in Bercelona, we hope that you'll use our guide to make the best of your holiday!
If we can help with your trip planning or answer any questions for you, please let us know in the comments section below!
Want to see more of Spain?
Interested in Other European Destinations?
About the Author
Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!