Sagrada Familia

The Perfect Three Day Barcelona Itinerary for First Time Visitors

Disclaimer: This post might contain affiliate links, which means we get a small commission if you make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Three days in Barcelona is plenty of time to see the top sights and attractions in the city. We only had three days in Barcelona when we visited for the first time during our month-long European adventure. During our visit to Barcelona, we got to do everything that we wanted to and more! We got to tour Gaudi’s famous works, explore the Gothic Quarter, see a traditional Flamenco show, and thanks to making some initial planning mistakes, we discovered some awesome museums. Here is our sample three day Barcelona itinerary!

Three Day Barcelona Itinerary: 10 Best Things to Do in Barcelona

Here is your three-day itinerary including the top tourist attractions in Barcelona and what to visit in Barcelona! If you want to spice up your trip, consider one of these day trips from Barcelona by train!

Day 1: Three Day Barcelona Itinerary

Morning: Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia is probably the most iconic site in Barcelona. So it’s no wonder that it’s on the top of our top things to do in Barcelona list!

This unfinished basilica designed by the famed architect, Antoni Gaudi, wows thousands of visitors daily. Construction began for the church in 1882 under a different architect Francisco Paula de Villar. In 1883, Gaudi took on the project, combining his Gothic and Art Nouveau styles into a unique masterpiece. The 18 spires of Sagrada Familia represent the 12 Apostles, Jesus, Mary, and the Evangelists. Sagrada Familia has 3 facades each representing the passion, nativity, and glory of Jesus. Although incomplete, you can visit the church! Definitely book ahead of time, lines are long and tickets are limited!

Sagrada Familia

Parc Guell

Gaudi’s work is throughout Barcelona in many forms including Parc Guell. This park was designed for a housing development; however, houses were never actually built, aside from the home Gaudi lived in. Gaudi used bright colors from recycled glass and pottery, curved lines, and the surrounding vegetation to create a park that takes you into another world. Definitely purchase tickets ahead time while planning your trip to Parc Guell!

Parc Guell
Parc Guell
Parc Guell

Afternoon: Tour One of Gaudi’s Houses in Barcelona

Gaudi also designed many other buildings in Barcelona. Casa Batlló and La Pedrera can be easily spotted when walking down the street! In these buildings, you can see Gaudi’s remarkable use of forged iron, ceramics, and stone in the Catalan Art Nouveau style. The facade of Casa Batllo resembles something that is living, with bonelike structure.  Tip: Both of these homes look beautiful at night!

Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
casa batllo at night
Casa Pedrera
Casa Pedrera

Day 2: Three Day Barcelona Itinerary

Morning: Paella Making Class

Barcelona is known for its famed tapas and paella! Traditional Valencian paella typically takes a long time to cook (ie 40 minutes) so be ready to wait! Paella is a rice, seafood, vegetable dish all cooked in a cast iron skillet. The Moors in Muslin Spain during the 10th century began rice cultivation, which sparked the used of rice in casserole dishes. Over time, with sociological changes, the ingredients of paella changed, making it the dish it is today.

Tapas are Spanish appetizers. You’ll see all around the city advertisements for tapas at restaurants, so they are a must! Thankfully, Barcelona is full of great budget Tapas restaurants!

Afternoon: A Museum Underground- Barcelona City History Museum

The Barcelona City History Museum was one of the coolest museums we visited on our entire trip to Europe! The museum is an archeological site underneath the modern city! You go to the museum and take an elevator down below the foundation of the building to see ancient city ruins! It was amazing to walk the modern streets of Barcelona and be transported to the ancient streets below. If you didn’t know the museum was there, it would be very easy to literally walk right over it! The museum was not busy at all, making it a hidden gem for us!

Sunset: Parc de la Ciutadella and Arc de Triomf

You read that right, there is an Arc de Triomf in Barcelona too! And at first glance, it looks like the one in Paris. The Arc was built as the main gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair, where Parc de la Ciutadella served as the fairgrounds. There’s actually a lot to do near this park including a chocolate museum, natural history museum, and a zoo! Barcelona surprisingly has a lot of interesting museums!

Looking to experience Spain like a local? Consider booking a tour by a local guide!

Arc De Triomf
Arc De Triomf
Arc De Triomf
Fountain at Parc de Cuitadella
Fountain at Parc de Cuitadella

Parc de la Ciutadella is as a green oasis in Barcelona! The park was designed by Josep Fontsère, and was supported by the then-unknown architect Antoni Gaudí. The park features the waterfall “Cascada.”

Day 3: Three Day Barcelona Itinerary

Morning: Barcelona Cathedral and Gothic Quarter

If you want to see a more traditional Gothic cathedral, visit Barcelona’s! The original church’s ruins can be seen in Barcelona’s City History Museum. The present church is located in the Gothic quarter of the city and was constructed from 1298 to 1417.

Barcelona Cathedral

La Ramblas

Las Ramblas is a popular street in Barcelona for locals and tourists alike. Full of restaurants and shopping, you’ll be able to find something interesting along this pedestrian mall! You can see the Gran Teatre del Liceu,Barcelona’s opera house, which was opened in 1847. And the Teatre Principal is the oldest theatre in Barcelona and was founded in 1568!

Afternoon: Maritime Museum of Barcelona and Stroll along the Coast

During our two days in Barcelona, we made some mistakes in our planning. The Picasso Museum was closed on Monday, so we needed to quickly decide something different to do! We decided to explore the Maritime Museum of Barcelona. This unique, niche museum in Barcelona was an interesting find for us! The Museum is located inside the Royal Shipyards that were active during the Crown of Aragon. This historic shipyard was used for constructing and housing the Royal Galleys. Inside the museum, you can see a reconstructed galley! These galleys were used as warships during conflict! The museum was very interactive and showed you a different side of war and royal history that you might not think about!

Afternoon: Pablo Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is one of the most extensive collections in the world of Picasso’s work. Picasso lived in Barcelona during his pivotal years, making it appropriate that the museum is located here! The museum is designed so you can walk through a chronological collection of Picasso’s work. With this setup, you can see how Picasso’s style transformed over time. Tickets for this museum can be limited with long wait times, so get your tickets ahead of time online! We learned the hard way the museum is closed on Mondays! Photos were not allowed in the museum aside from these shots at the exit!

Evening: See a Traditional Flamenco Show

You will see a lot of flamenco shows advertised in Barcelona, the one we saw in our opinion was as traditional as it gets. Flamenco was developed as a storytelling dance with music by the gypsies. Using limited instruments, passionate singing, and intense footwork, flamenco is meant to make you feel the music and dance. The show we saw was Palau Dalmases. Our ticket included one drink and entrance to the show. The decor of the theatre was interesting! It made us feel like we were sitting in someone’s personal collection of art and sculpture.

Extending Your Barcelona Itinerary

If you’re lucky to have more than three days in Barcelona, you can easily extend this itinerary by adding more activities, or by adding some day trips from Barcelona. The cities, towns, and regions surrounding Barcelona are full of amazing history, attractions, and natural wonders worth visiting. During our visit, we were hoping to make it to nearby beach towns, but we ran out of time. So if you have the chance to take advantage of exploring more of Barcelona’s neighboring sites.

Practical Information for Visting Barcelona

Visiting Barcelona during the Summer

When we spent three days in Barcelona, we were there during the highest point of the peak travel season. Visiting during July is going to bring large crowds, warm temperatures, and longer wait times. So if you’re visiting Barcelona during the peak season, definitely purchase tickets ahead of time and plan ahead!

To be honest, we made the mistake of not planning ahead and it bit us in the butt when we wanted to visit the Picasso Museum only to realize they were closed on Mondays! So purchased tickets ahead of time for major attractions that are going to have lines.

Getting to Barcelona by Plane

Barcelona is accessible via bus, train, and airport. The Barcelona Sants Train Station or Barcelona Nord Bus Station are best for tourists! The Barcelona Airport is an international airport servicing many of the major airlines from around the globe.

Getting Around Barcelona

The best ways to get around Barcelona are by either walking or taking the metro. Using the metro in Barcelona was quite easy for us since we had experience riding subways systems in other cities previously. Depending on how much you plan to use the metro, you can either purchase single trip tickets for passes for multiple days.

Barcelona Sightseeing Bus Tours

If you’re planning on doing a lot of sightseeing in Barcelona consider grabbing a ticket for a hop on hop off Barcelona bus tour. It’s a great way to get around the city if you’re not looking to use the metro!

Barcelona City Pass

If you’re someone who is planning to see EVERYTHING in Barcelona, you can purchase the Barcelona City Pass. This pass offers perks like included admission to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, discount to other attractions, transit from the airport, and audioguide, and tickets for the hop on hop off bus tours.

Sagrada Familia

Hostel in Barcelona: Generator Hostel Barcelona

The Generator Hostel in Barcelona is great if you like hostels and you want to stay in a trendy, modern place. The only complaints we had were the breakfast and room sizes. The rooms could hold up to six people. Each room had a private bathroom with a separate shower and toilet room. The rooms were VERY small for six people. The entire floor was covered with our luggage pieces, making walking around in the room very difficult. Each bed was equipped with a lamp and a power outlet, which was a nice touch.

The hostel has free wifi and laundry rooms at an additional charge. Although we didn’t try it, there was a cafe, bar area. If you’re fine with walking 20-30 minutes to get to the downtown sights, this location will be good for you. If not, there is metro access nearby. The hostel is located near a lot of restaurants, which was really nice.

Who’s ready to spend three days in Barcelona?!