There is no city in the world quite like Barcelona. This vibrant, coastal city in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain has long been a source of inspiration, experimentation, and refuge for some of the world’s greatest artists, writers, and creatives, so it is no surprise that today, Barcelona is a top tourist destination with so many completely unique points of interest. However, oftentimes travellers aren’t quite sure how many days in Barcelona are necessary before moving on to other parts of Spain. There is so much to see in the city and the surrounding areas that it can be difficult to determine what is possible to see within 2 to 4 days in Barcelona.
In between the incredible innovative architecture, historic sites and museums, bustling tapas food scene, beautiful Mediterranean beaches, and buzzing nightlife, there is truly something for every type of traveller to experience on a visit to this legendary city. If you are planning a trip to Spain and aren’t quite sure how much day to spend in Barcelona and allocate your time, look no further- this itinerary will provide you with the ideal way to spend 2 to 4 days in Barcelona.
How Many Days In Barcelona?
At the absolute minimum, you should plan on spending 2 days in Barcelona, in order to visit all the major sites, eat delicious food, and perhaps spend a night out on the town, but if you want to truly experience everything the city has to offer, 4 days in Barcelona is ideal.
If you give yourself 4 days to explore the city, you’ll be able to get to know the neighbourhoods off the beaten path, visit a few unique sites outside the city centre, and get a better grasp of the lifestyle and energy of Barcelona.
Getting To and Around Barcelona
Since Barcelona is such a popular tourist destination with a large international airport, you’ll have no trouble finding affordable fare into the city. Many budget airlines fly directly into Barcelona Airport El Prat from major European cities for under €50, which means getting into Barcelona should be a breeze. There are also some flights that go to nearby Girona. You can browse schedules on Skyscanner.
There are also many connections via train and bus from other cities in Spain or nearby countries – click here to browse schedules.
Upon landing, you’ll find getting around Barcelona to be similarly stress-free. You can take a bus from the airport to the city centre for only €5.90, and once you’re in the city, most of the sites and activities you’ll likely be doing are within walking distance. If you prefer the convenience, you can also book a private transfer.
There is a very efficient and easy-to-navigate metro system you can use if you’re going from one side of the city to another, but walking is truly the best way to get to know the city and take in the unique and beautiful architecture. If you do opt to take the metro during your time in Barcelona, a single journey costs €2.15, or you could elect to buy an unlimited transport pass if you anticipate using it frequently with different time lengths available from 48 hours to 120 hours.
2 to 4 Days in Barcelona Itinerary
If you are on a strict travel timeline and wondering what to do in Barcelona in 2 days, don’t fear! Seeing the major sites and destinations of Barcelona in 2 days is definitely possible, and while the days will be packed, this 2-day itinerary will ensure that you have the essential Barcelona experience.
Day 1 in Barcelona – City Centre Highlights
Day 1 in Barcelona is dedicated to familiarizing yourself with the layout of the city and the most popular neighbourhoods and getting acquainted with the unique Modernist style of Antoni Gaudí, the famous architect whose works and influence are defining characteristics of Barcelona.
The Houses of Gaudí
Begin your first day in Barcelona with a visit to Casa Batlló, the incredible and colourful building designed by Gaudí and considered one of his masterpieces. A visit to this house will give you a taste of the eclectic style that Gaudí is known for.
If you elect to go inside and take the tour for €25, you won’t be disappointed. Starting your Barcelona trip with this tour will give you a good foundation of information regarding Barcelona’s history and the influence of Gaudí on the city’s aesthetic.
Just a five-minute walk from Casa Batlló, you’ll find Casa Milà, another iconic building designed by Gaudí that highlights his refusal to adhere to the status quo. Casa Milà was also the architect’s private residence and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Finally, there is also Casa Vicens which is the first house of Gaudi and you can buy skip the line tickets here.
Las Ramblas and La Boqueria
Next, amble over to La Rambla, a bustling pedestrian street in the city centre. La Rambla is incredibly crowded and touristy, but still worth seeing. La Rambla is home to a plethora of outdoor cafes, street performers, souvenir shops and top-notch people watching, but make sure to stay attentive and keep an eye on your belongings!
This street is infamous for pickpockets because of the abundance of tourists, so make sure to keep your important belongings in a bag that zips completely and consider a cross-body bag rather than a backpack.
After strolling from Casa Milà down La Rambla, you’ll come across the Market de la Boqueria, one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets. There’s a stall for nearly everything inside the lively market… fresh fruits and vegetables, roasted nuts, local meats and cheeses, homemade oils and vinegars, even full-service bars and small plate (tapas) style restaurants.
It truly is a mecca for food lovers, and a great spot to stop and sample some Spanish delicacies and indulge in a glass of cava: a sparkling Spanish wine that is very popular in Barcelona. After getting properly fueled up at La Boqueria, you’ll be ready to take on the rest of the day!
From La Boqueria, you’re just a ten-minute walk to the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. The Gothic Quarter is the oldest yet most trendy part of the city, complete with narrow, winding streets, beautiful historic buildings, plenty of amazing shopping and dining options, and a fun, artsy vibe.
Once in the Gothic Quarter, there are so many different options of things to do, including a visit to the Barcelona Cathedral. The Gothic style architecture of this building is stunning, and admission is donation-based, so a visit to the Cathedral won’t break the bank.
Additionally, when exploring the Gothic Quarter be sure to check out Plaça Reial, a picturesque plaza featuring a Gaudi-designed fountain and home to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Barcelona, including the famous traditional jazz club, Jamboree.
If you want to learn more about the history of the Gothic Quarter, it’s possible to take a 2-hour walking tour of this neighbourhood.
Once you’ve explored the Gothic Quarter, make your way down to La Barceloneta, the breezy, seaside neighbourhood right on the coast. Take a walk on the beach, visit the Marina, the Museum of Catalan History, the Barcelona aquarium (one of the largest and most diverse in Europe), or opt to take a cable car from the beach to Montjuïc hill for stunning views of Barcelona.
For dinner in the evening, dine al fresco in La Barceloneta if the weather is nice. There are so many seaside bars and restaurants you can choose from that provide stunning views of the beach and delicious Spanish food.
After dinner, spend this evening exploring the nightlife scene in Barcelona. If you’re into dance clubs and a high-energy experience stay in La Barceloneta, then visit the clubs that line the street nearest to the beach. There are so many unique ones to choose from and you’ll definitely get a taste of the wild nightlife Barcelona is known for. If you’d like a more relaxed night but still want to check out local bars, head back into the Gothic Quarter for a quiet drink.
Day 2 in Barcelona – Gaudi’s Barcelona
Now that you have a good foundation of knowledge on Gaudí and the basic layout of the city and major popular areas, Day 2 will be spent checking out the iconic masterpieces of Gaudi and exploring inland Barcelona.
La Sagrada Familia
Your first priority on Day 2 should absolutely be visiting La Sagrada Familia, the breathtaking yet unfinished Catholic church designed by Gaudí and considered to be his masterpiece.
La Sagrada Familia is a truly incredible feat of architecture and design, and it is unlike any other building in the world. Your trip to Barcelona won’t be complete without visiting it, so make sure to book tickets in advance. It is such a major tourist destination that if you don’t book tickets in advance, you’ll be waiting for hours. Try to get there as early as possible for the most manageable experience. You can also book a skip the line guided tour of La Sagrada Familia & Park Güell.
After spending a few hours taking in the incredible basilica, explore the area around Sagrada Familia a bit more. To see more Art-Noveau style architecture, head down to Sant Pau Recinte Modernista, designed by Lluís Domènech I Montaner and a UNESCO Historical Artistic Monument. Alternatively, you could rent bikes near the basilica for an hour or two and explore the neighbourhood on wheels.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes or restaurants in this part of town (I recommend Taverna el Glop for amazing and authentic paella) before embarking on the 20-minute walk to Park Güell.
Park Güell is another absolutely iconic site in Barcelona and the perfect place to spend the afternoon. This sprawling park combines elements of Gaudi’s signature whimsical design with the landscape’s natural beauty to create a truly unique sanctuary within the city. Explore the large park, and make sure to get plenty of photos! The colourful mosaic walls and the buildings that look like gingerbread houses will definitely be something you want to show your friends and family back home.
The Bunkers of Carmel
After visiting Park Güell, it should be early evening. Head over to the Bunkers of Carmel for a well-deserved rest and to take in an absolutely stunning birds-eye-view of Barcelona at sunset. The bunkers were built during the Spanish Civil War on top of the hill Turó de la Rovira, but today it is a viewpoint destination that cannot be matched anywhere else in Barcelona.
At sunset, it gets pretty crowded and many people bring up a bottle of wine or some picnic-style snacks to enjoy while taking in the view, so try to arrive at least 30 minutes before sunset to get a good spot to sit.
Tapas and Flamenco show
After watching the sunset head back into the city centre, either by walking, metro, or taxi, for some tapas and a Flamenco show! Flamenco shows combine traditional Spanish dancing, singing, and musical performance into an entertaining and memorable performance. There are many different venues and groups that put on flamenco shows in Barcelona and you can pre-book some online to guarantee a spot!
Day 3 in Barcelona – Tibidabo & El Born
As you can see, in Day 1 and 2 you’ll have covered all the major points of interest and must-see tourist destinations in Barcelona, but if you really want to get off the beaten path and experience more of what the city has to offer, it is worth allocating another day or two to exploring the city and surrounding areas.
Day 3 in Barcelona will be dedicated to a visit to Tibidabo, exploring different neighbourhoods in the city centre, and some more incredible views!
In the morning, hop of the bus to Tibidabo, a hill overlooking the city and home to an incredible basilica, the Sagrat Cor, and a retro amusement park that provides amazing panoramic views of the city. After a few days of being a serious traveller and learning about Spanish history, Gaudí, and Catalan Modernism, spend the morning having some fun on the rides, taking in the stunning view you get on the Ferris wheel, and checking out the Sagrat Cor.
Explore El Born
After you’ve had some fun at Tibidabo, take the bus back into the city centre and head to El Born, an artsy district near the Gothic Quarter. In El Born, you can find cute cafes, trendy boutiques, galleries and museums, and great bars and restaurants. Explore this area for a few hours, and make sure to check out the Church of Santa Maria del Mar, the Santa Caterina Market, and the Picasso Museum, just to name a few of the things worth seeing in the neighbourhood.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
If it happens to be a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night, consider taking the metro to the base of Montjüic to see the Magic Fountain. On these nights for an hour (usually 8-9 p.m., but you can always check the website to make sure), the fountain becomes a spectacular show of water, light, colour, and music that is completely free to view. The Magic Fountain is such a fun and unique show, and definitely worth seeing if you’re able.
Day 4 in Barcelona – Montserrat
On Day 4, spend the day taking a trip to Montserrat, a beautiful mountain range and home to a historic and beautiful monastery just about an hour away from Barcelona city centre by train.
After the hour-long train journey to the base of the mountain, take the cable car to the very top, or consider trekking the last 5 kilometres by foot for a healthy dose of exercise.
Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find there are so many different options of things to do on Montserrat, and you can structure your day around the activities that appeal to you the most. However, make sure to visit the famous Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, an active mountain monastery that includes a stunning basilica and an impressive art museum that include the works of many famous artists, including Picasso, Monet, and Dali.
Additionally, you could explore the beautiful natural landscape by going hiking, dine on traditional Catalan food at some of the impressive restaurants, visit the local market, or attend a performance by Escolania de Montserrat, the famous boys’ choir that is one of the oldest in Europe. However you decide to spend your time, you’ll easily be busy the full day in Montserrat, and can return back to Barcelona via train.
It’s also possible to take an organised day tour to Montserrat if you prefer not to visit independently.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe and because of this, there are countless accommodation options to choose from. Whether you’re looking to stay in a hostel dorm or a luxe boutique hotel, there is something for everyone in the Catalonian capital. If you’re wondering where to stay in Barcelona, have a look at these suggestions:
Fabrizzio’s Petit — If you’re travelling solo or on a budget in Barcelona, then this small, locally-run hostel is an excellent choice. Centrally located within easy walking distance of all of Barcelona’s main attractions, they not only have both dorm and private rooms available but also include a great breakfast in their rates. Click here to see their latest prices
Room Mate Anna — This small boutique hotel is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for a quaint and romantic room in Barcelona. They have a range of lovely, comfortable rooms available and its location in the city centre means within easy reach of all of the best attractions in Barcelona. Click here to see their latest prices
Hotel Condado — This central hotel is another fantastic option for your 2, 3 or 4 days in Barcelona. Situated in a prime location for sightseeing, they have numerous spacious and comfortable rooms available and also include breakfast in the nightly rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Barcelona hotels!
As you can see, whether you decide to spend 2, 3, 4 or even more days in Barcelona, you’ll find there is no shortage of exciting and unique things to do. Use this itinerary as a jumping-off point to help guide your planning, and you’ll be sure to have an incredible experience in this amazing city.
When travelling in Barcelona, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you wondering how many days in Barcelona? Are you planning a 2, 3 or 4 days in Barcelona itinerary? Let us know in the comments!