72 Hours in Barcelona
The sparkling Mediterranean Sea, lovely beaches, rich history and a vibrant culture are just some of the reasons tourists flock to sunny Barcelona. This beautiful city is one of the most visited in Europe and reached nearly 9 million tourists in 2017.
Barcelona has a wealth of tapas eateries, lovely cafes, stunning architecture and a fascinating history. With everything there is to explore and experience here, narrowing your top choices down can be a challenge.
This guide is meant to assist you in your planning to ensure you make the most of your adventure.
Arrive Barcelona airport!
This airport is not right in the city. You can book a ride with us, which will take between 15-25 minutes to arrive into the city. There is also a bus that takes about 30-40 minutes.
Barcelona is known for its sunny, balmy weather. It is a wonderful walking city year-round. Walking is not only great exercise, but it is a fabulous way to get up close and personal with everything Barcelona has to offer.
The Picasso walking tour is perhaps something you wouldn´t think of doing, however it is absolutely worth considering. The tour is two hours in length and takes you through Barcelona from the eyes of Picasso when he lived here.
Picasso´s career really took off in Barcelona; some of his greatest work was created right here. See the Bohemian, artsy side of Barcelona with this tour. The tour concludes at the lovely Picasso museum. Due to limited places, it is important to book this tour in advance.
Fun Facts: Picasso completed the entrance exam for the School of Fine Arts in a week. This period of testing typically took a month. He was only 13 years old when he was accepted to this institution. Picasso´s first word was a shortened version of lápiz, which is the Spanish word for pencil.
Late Lunch at La Boqueria
There are countless cafes and restaurants to choose from in the Gothic Quarter. I encourage you to be spontaneous in your quest for the perfect Spanish lunch.
I would avoid Las Ramblas for eating, however because the prices are very high and the quality may not match the euros you are cashing out.
I highly recommend walking on this iconic, bustling street for the interactive market stalls and the people watching, but I would skip it for dining.
Off of Las Ramblas is an iconic market which is a perfect place to excite your palate. La Boqueria is as colourful, vibrant and stimulating as Barcelona. You can try local delicacies, drink fresh juices, observe the market culture and take some memorable photos.
Fun Facts: The roots of this famous market can be traced back to the 13th century. Despite the ebb and flow of changes in Barcelona, this market has stayed in the same place as a hallmark to the old city. Its neighbour, Raval has completely transformed over the years, yet the market is still there as a staple and representation of market culture.
Raval can be an overlooked neighbourhood, however its historic significance is paramount to Barcelona as a city. Take a stroll around this neighbourhood, bustling with eclectic markets, international food, and unique bars.
You must check out Bar Marsella, which is claimed to be Barcelona´s first bar. Allegedly frequented by Picasso and Hemmingway (and likely other artists), this bar looks and feels like it hasn’t changed since 1820 when it opened.
While for some, it may seem like a dilapidated space desperate for renovations, I promise it has charm and history that will win you over.
As in any city, hold onto your purse/bag and make sure to keep an eye on your things. Raval and many neighbourhoods in Barcelona have pick pockets as you would expect in any big city.
Stick around this bar to people watch or journey around the neighbourhood to many of the up and coming cocktail bars and beer watering holes. https://www.facebook.com/Bar-Marsella-148097715525039/
Fun Facts: This is an absinthe bar. Even if absinthe isn´t your thing, it may be worth a taste. Have you ever seen the movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”? There is a scene from this movie filmed right here at Marsella.
Late night snack
Everything in Barcelona runs late. You certainly won´t be the first tourist finding yourself still out at 2am looking for some late-night grub. The locals tend to hit the bar scene after midnight, which means there are plenty of snack options, whatever you fancy.
The Box is a great place to stop for some Latin American comfort food. If you are still up for a drink, they make delicious and tasty cocktails: https://www.facebook.com/theboxbar
Before you go: bring a backpack or some sort of bag for your day (explanation later). In addition, it is recommended that you wear comfortable clothes and sneakers for today´s adventures.
You may notice that a typical breakfast here is a sandwich with a few simple ingredients. Soak up the absinthe with a hearty sandwich from a local café. Pair it with a café latte or an espresso and feel like a local.
Today is the day you will see one of the most fascinating, picturesque and awe-inspiring pieces of architecture that has ever been crafted. While this is a tourist hub, it can´t be missed.
The famous work of Gaudí is sprinkled all over Barcelona with his trippy, colourful masterpieces.
Sagrada Familia will give you chills the first time you lay eyes on its massive, detailed and sprawling presence. Regardless of who you are and where you come from, this masterpiece will evoke feelings and emotions, even if you only decide to see it from the outside.
You can simply go and admire this on your own or choose from the many and varied tour/ticket options: https://www.bcn.travel/guide/sagrada-familia/
If you decide to get tickets, make sure to purchase them online first.
Fun Facts: This church´s construction began in 1882. Gaudi was not originally the architect in this project. Francisco Paula del Villar had plans to create a Gothic style church, however he resigned after a year. Gaudí took over and drastically changed the plans. The Great Pyramid took less time to construct than Sagrada Familia.
Although it can be tempting, it is recommended to avoid the restaurants and cafes around Sagrada Familia. These are touristy and likely boasting high prices than eateries a bit further out.
Try out Restaurant Sant Joan, which is about 12 minutes by foot from Sagrada Familia. It is close enough to be convenient, but far away to still enjoy a local feeling.
This is an authentic Catalan culinary experience in an excellent atmosphere. Expect warm, friendly service, tasty homemade food in an old school style restaurant.
Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are close enough to each other where it is best to make a day of these colourful and stunning sites.
You could do one of the combined tours mentioned with Sagrada Familia, see one and have lunch in between, or venture to both back to back then try out the recommended restaurant.
Park Guell was designed by Gaudi as a luxury housing site for Barcelona´s upper class. Although this was the original purpose, there was not much interest among the local aristocrats.
Gaudí was encouraged to live here with his family into one of the houses. This house is now a museum on the property. This park is tranquil, majestic, colourful and set on a mountain. The picturesque views of Barcelona and the sea are truly spectacular.
Many locals and tourists hang out at the park for a lovely afternoon in nature. You can go to certain parts of the park for free or buy a ticket to enter each section. Definitely book in advance, should you choose the ticket option: https://www.bcn.travel/guide/parc-guell/
Fun Facts: The name Park Guell derives from the count named Eusebi Guell, who was the brain behind establishing this luxurious area as homes for the wealthy. It was constructed between 1900-1914.
Sunset and Tapas at Carmel Bunkers
It is time for you to use that bag/backpack we talked about earlier! Pop into some markets or grocery stores for local delicacies and snacks. In addition, you will want to get some cava, wine or beer (or soda/water if alcohol isn´t your thing) to pack as well.
You will be heading to the Carmel Bunkers. This historic site is arguably the best place to view the sunset over Barcelona. These bunkers are located in the Carmel neighbourhood of Barcelona and give you a 360º view of the city.
This is one of the few places that isn´t crawling with tourists and gives you a feeling of peace as you overlook the city from afar.
You can reach this from public transport or walking, however please be aware that you do have to hike up to this destination. It is absolutely reasonable even for inexperienced hikers and I assure you it is worth the effort.
Barcelona´s weather is warm enough that you can enjoy this activity year-round. Now sit back with your friends or yourself, enjoy your picnic and get lost in mother nature´s spectacular show.
If you aren´t quite done with your evening and it is a Friday night, check out the hipster bar crawl: https://www.bcn.travel/tours/hipster-bar-crawl/
This tour takes you to fun, eclectic bars in Barcelona that you´d likely not find on your own. Why stress over where to go out when you can have someone doing all the work for you?
Today you will discover yet another district of Barcelona. A historic fishing village nestled near the sea, Barceloneta has its own charm and vibe.
For breakfast, go to Baluard Barceloneta, a lovely bakery using the traditions of Catalan baking styles to produce beautiful breads and croissants. Take your treats on the road while you explore this unique neighbourhood.
I recommend walking along the beach or winding around the small streets of Barceloneta. If it is summer, this place will be buzzing but it is still worth visiting and possibly taking a dip while you are there.
Unlike the market off of Las Ramblas, Mercat de la Barceloneta is much less touristy and crowded. This has a local vibe and specializes in fish due to its proximity to the sea. There are also plenty of cafes nearby if you want to stop for drinks or snacks.
Seafood Lunch at Can Sardi in Barceloneta
This restaurant is small, intimate and non-pretentious. You would walk right by it and not look twice if you didn’t know it was there. This restaurant has some of the best seafood dishes around, maximizing its location right near the sea.
This restaurant is run by Sardinians, but the delightful dishes are locally sourced. I recommend getting multiple courses because everything tastes amazing. The wine list is lovely as well. When you are finished, order an espresso and cheeses.
Fun Facts: Barceloneta´s beaches are man-made. The 1992 Olympic Games meant restructuring and remodelling within the city. This included the coastline and the construction of beaches. Tourists and locals now flock to this beach, as it is right in the city. If you are on a beach holiday and looking for more natural and less touristy beaches, simply hop on the metro, train or bike along the coastline where you will find white sandy beaches that are a product of nature.
Maritime Museum and Christopher Columbus Statue
These historic sites are both within walking distance from the restaurant and each other. Simply walk along the harborside and admire all of the sprawling yachts on your way to take in some history.
You can´t miss the Columbus Statue, which is located right near the entrance to Las Ramblas. If heights don´t make you quiver, head on up the statue and enjoy the beautiful view from above.
A few minutes’ walk from here is the Maritime Museum. This museum centres around shipbuilding between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. With its close proximity to water, Barcelona´s history is deeply rooted within this industry.
Fun Facts: Excavations performed in 2012 revealed a Roman graveyard. The Medieval dockyards housed here are the most complete and largest in the world.
As this article´s title indicates, you are only in Barcelona for three days. This means it can be challenging to figure out how to squeeze in everything on your list.
Thankfully there are so many fabulous tours and experiences offered, it leaves the work and planning to the professionals, allowing you to sit back and enjoy.
This tapas tour will take you to three different restaurants. Tapas are a quintessential culinary delight here in Catalonia, however it is easy to get sucked into tourist traps. The guides on this tour will be taking you to authentic eateries, where your taste buds will be dancing.
This tour takes place in the Sant Antoni neighbourhood of Barcelona. In addition to the tapas, there will be plenty of opportunities for local wines, vermut and cava. You can book this tour here
This is your last night! If the tapas tour is your last stop, I hope your time in Barcelona has been magical and filled with everlasting memories!