The Perfect 3 Day Barcelona Itinerary for First Time Visitors

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If you’re traveling to Spain, you might be wondering: how do I plan for 3 days in Barcelona? This guide has you covered! I’ve put together the perfect 3 day Barcelona itinerary to help you plan your first visit to Barcelona, Spain. Read on for all of the best things to do and places to visit in Barcelona in 3 days!

barcelona travel guide itinerary

Before your First visit to Barcelona…

Important Packing tip for Spain: Don’t forget to pack a power adapter! I love this power adapter for Spain because it has an outlet AND two USB ports. AND it’s less than $15!

And if you’re traveling to Spain for the first time, don’t miss these 10 Essential Spain Travel Tips for first time visitors!

Where to Stay in Barcelona for First Time Visitors

If it is your first time visiting and you only have 3 days to spend in Barcelona, the best areas to stay are Barcelona’s most central neighborhoods.

It’s relatively easy to get around Barcelona via metro, bus, or taxi.  Nevertheless, if you stay in a central location, you’ll be walking distance to many of the places in this itinerary.  Here are my top choices:

Most charming hotel in Barcelona (and rooftop bar!): Hotel 1898

Best Barcelona hotel for using Marriott points: Le Meridien Barcelona.

Both of these hotels are located on La Rambla, a popular pedestrian street, and a perfect area to stay in Barcelona if it’s your first time.

top of a building in park guell

Pro Travel Tip: These days, travel can be more uncertain than ever. Check for any COVID-related restrictions at your destination, and never travel without travel insurance! I recommend SafetyWing, because they have flexible + affordable insurance plans, and also cover COVID-related impacts on your trip (not all companies do)!

First Day of The 3 Day Barcelona Itinerary: Welcome to Barcelona!

Start off your 3 day Barcelona itinerary by being one of the first to arrive bright and early at Barcelona’s Park Güell (pronounced “gway”).

Visiting Park Guell is One of the Top Things to do in Barcelona

A masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, Park Guell is series of buildings, gardens, and gorgeous tiles.  Park Guell is also one of the most photographed sights in the city, and it is one of the top things to do in Barcelona. 

Although you can visit Park Guell by walking about 25 minutes from the nearest metro station, it’s all uphill!  So I’d recommend taking a cab directly to the entrance of the park.

With Only 3 Days in Barcelona, Buy Your Park Guell Tickets Online Ahead of Time

Make sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time to guarantee your entry time.  It’s best to go right when the park opens, because as the day goes on, it’ll get more and more crowded.  Like, REALLY crowded.  After all, Park Guell is one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona.

An early bird arrival means that there’ll be fewer people to dodge when you’re trying to take photos.

park guell

Visit La Boquería Market and La Rambla

Next up on this 3 day Barcelona itinerary is La Rambla.

After you’ve explored Park Guell, make your way back down to central Barcelona, either by cab or metro (the walk on the way back is downhill).  Head La Boquería, Barcelona’s biggest market, and a great spot to stop for lunch.

After lunch, spend some time meandering La Rambla, the widest street in Barcelona, along with the some of the side streets that connect to the main drag.  There are tons of cute shops and great people-watching!  

Just make sure you stay very aware of your belongings, because this is a prime area for pickpockets.  I never felt unsafe walking on La Rambla, but just make sure you keep your bag close to you.

Relax at The Best Rooftop Bar in Barcelona

After exploring La Rambla, head to the nearby Hotel 1898 for sunset cocktails and tapas on their rooftop terrace, where you can look out across the sprawling city.  No 3 day Barcelona itinerary would be complete without rooftop tapas!

Dinner in El Raval

For dinner on your first day in Barcelona, you can walk through the trendy boutiques in El Raval and take your pick of delicious places to stop for a meal, stopping to check out the shops along the way.  

A Tip for First Time Visitors to Barcelona – Dinnertime is Late!

If this is your first visit to Barcelona, you should know that dinnertime in Barcelona is LATE compared to most other parts of the world!  

Most locals don’t head out to dinner until around 10pm.  For that reason, if you show up at 6 or 7pm, you’ll be the only one in the restaurant.  It took some getting used to for me!

Barcelona Itinerary Day 2: Explore the Gothic Quarter

For your second day in Barcelona, spend your time exploring Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the center of old Barcelona and one of the best preserved medieval areas in Europe.

Places to Visit in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

The architecture in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is incredible, and there’s plenty of delicious eats tucked away within the narrow streets.  

Go Shopping in The Born, One Of Barcelona’s Trendiest Neighborhoods

A fun neighborhood to wander in is The Born, where there’s tons of cool boutiques and trendy stores.  Check out the streets around Passeig del Born.  

In this area, you can meander through chic clothing and concept stores that are far less touristy than those around La Rambla.

gothic quarter in Barcelona

Bordering The Born neighborhood is the Gothic Quarter, and it’s a great place to get lost for an afternoon.  Enjoy the narrow streets and the gorgeous architecture.  

Or better yet – stop for a glass of cava (or two!) as you make your way through this beautiful part of the city.  Lookout for the Barcelona Cathedral on Pla de la Seu and the Pont del Bisbé on Carrer del Bisbe.

The Picasso Museum is One of the Best Places to Visit in Barcelona

If you’re wondering what to do in Barcelona for 3 days, you’ve got to include a visit to Barcelona’s Picasso Museum in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.  The museum is open until 7pm during the week and 9pm on Thursdays.  

It’s one of the most extensive collections of Picasso’s work anywhere!  You can buy your tickets for the museum online ahead of time, and you’ll save yourself a wait in line.

Wrap up your day in the Gothic Quarter with dinner at Bar de Pla, a local favorite for delicious tapas!

Barcelona Itinerary Day 3: Experience Antoni Gaudí’s Finest

Day 3 of your Barcelona itinerary is filled with Gaudi’s famous works, which are a seamless blend of nature and architecture.  Start your day early by being one of the first entrants into the Sagrada Familia.

Visiting La Sagrada Familia

Like Park Guell, Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s most popular sights, so it gets really crowded really quickly.  

You can buy your tickets online ahead of time, which I would highly recommend.  It’s optional to buy a ticket that allows you to climb up the tower of the church for a beautiful view across the city.

Taking a Tour of La Sagrada Familia is An Absolute Must!

You can take an audio tour of Sagrada Familia and learn more about its history (it’s been under construction since the late 1800’s – and still isn’t complete), or you can just absorb the beautiful light that enters the building via the multitide of stained glass windows that will dazzle you with their beauty.  

I’ve seen many churches in Europe, and La Sagrada Familia is without a doubt, one of the most stunning and memorable.

stained glass windows in la SAGRADA familia in Barcelona

Explore More of Gaudi Architecture in Barcelona

After La Sagrada Familia, it’s time to explore more of Gaudi’s masterpieces.  Head over to Casa Batlló (pronounced bay-yo) or La Perdrera.  You can choose one if you think you’ll be pressed for time, but it’s likely that you’ll be able to fit both of them in during the afternoon.

If you have to choose, personally I thought that Casa Batlló was a standout.  For both buildings, make sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time to avoid lines that can be incredibly long.

For Casa Batlló, you can do that here, and for La Perdrera, you can do that here.

For Your Last Night in Barcelona, Taste Some Modern Tapas

For dinner tonight, check out the adorable Mont Bar, a modern and sophisticated take on traditional Spanish tapas – the food is just incredible!

Are 3 Days Enough for Barcelona?

I am often asked the question: are 3 days enough for Barcelona? The answer is yes! You could easily spend more time in the city, but 3 days in Barcelona is plenty of time to see the top places to visit at a relatively relaxed pace.

If you’re trying to plan a trip to Barcelona and you’re worried that you may not have enough time there, don’t stress! 3 days is plenty of time. And if you follow this itinerary, that will make it easy to plan for 3 days in Barcelona!

If You Have More than 3 Days in Barcelona

Finally, if your trip to Barcelona includes a fourth day, you’ve got time for a day trip outside of the city.    Check out Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, go on a wine tasting tour, or check out Bogatell Beach, one of Barcelona’s most beautiful and popular beaches.

There you have it!  The perfect Barcelona itinerary for first-timers!

If you have more time in Spain, I highly recommend a side trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, one of the most magical places in the entire country. And to take in the charm of Spain’s Basque Region, you can’t miss a trip to San Sebastian.

Need help deciding what to pack for Barcelona?

Check out my top tips for packing for Europe, as well as my best packing tips for women!

3 day Barcelona itinerary

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