Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world. It is full of magnificent art and architecture, lovely beaches and a vibrant Catalan culture. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the city a few different times and each time I am there, I always find something I haven’t experienced before. Wondering what to do in Barcelona for 3 days?
Beyond that, three days in Barcelona will give you even more time to explore things just beyond its border like Montserrat.
What to Do in Barcelona for 3 Days
Take a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
One thing that we love to do when we first get to a big city is take a bus tour. Barcelona is spread out and a bus tour makes navigating an unfamiliar city easy.
The Hop on Hop off Bus tours of Barcelona will take you to all the most important landmarks in the city. There are three different bus lines, each taking you to different parts of Barcelona, including stops along the Mediterranean sea.
If you took my advice and purchased the Barcelona Pass, you will get to use the Hop on Hop off Bus as part of your pass.
If you are going to Barcelona without the Barcelona Pass (and I don’t know why you would ever do that) you can purchase a ticket for the Hop on Hop off bus.
See the Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudí and this Gothic Basilica is one of the most beautiful in all of the world. It is the most famous landmark in all of Barcelona.
It has been a work in progress since 1882 and is still not complete (although completion is set to be done by 2026).
The Sagrada Familia is unlike anything you have probably ever seen and thus is my top pick of what to see in Barcelona.
While the exterior is an amazing artistic design, the interior of Sagrada Familia is what will really astound you.
When you learn more about Anton Gaudi you will see how his love for nature and whimsical design is ever-present in this basilica.
The columns appear like trees reaching to the ceiling and the stained glass bring enough of light to overwhelm the entire space inside.
The focal point of Sagrada Familia is the High Altar. The canopy of trees appears to converge into an opening at the top of the church through which it can be imagined that Jesus is ascending to heaven.
While there is an audio tour that you can use, I found that the Sagrada Familia Visual Guide book to be an amazing tool to help with understanding the different aspects of this symbolic Basilica.
Look for it in the Sagrada Familia gift shop as it is ridiculously priced on Amazon.
Admission for Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia is on the Barcelona Pass which allows you to skip line & get free entrance. If aren’t getting the Barcelona Pass, make sure you purchase your tickets for Sagrada Familia before you go to avoid the line!
- Adults: €20
- Seniors: €16
- Students & adults under 30: €18
- Disabled & Children 10 and under are FREE
Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso)
Pablo Picasso is one of the most well-known of the Spanish artists and Barcelona was once his home. If you love art, the Museu Picasso houses the most extensive collections of Picasso’s art~ 4,251 pieces!
The museum does a wonderful job of showcasing his work from different periods of his life so that you get to see the progression of his art.
Audio guides are available for additional €5 but we found that they are not necessary. There are plaques throughout the museum that give a fantastic description of each piece.
Admission for Museu Picasso
Museu Picasso is on the Barcelona Pass
- Standard Admission: €12 (you can purchase online)
- People between 18 and 25 years old & People 65 years old and over are €7
- Thursday afternoons from 6.00pm to 9.30pm and First Sunday of each month, from 9am to 7pm are FREE
This Art Nouveau mansion designed by Gaudi is one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona and is just off La Rambla.
Palau Güell was designed for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell in the late 1880’s and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site nearly 100 years later due to its use of space and natural light.
It is the only building Gaudí fully designed & completed and is the best preserved in Barcelona.
This is one tour where you will want the audio guide so you can understand what you are seeing.
Palau Güell Tickets are Free with Barcelona Pass.
You can save money by purchasing tickets online for you can purchase tickets next to Palau Güell’s entrance. Audioguide included in the ticket price:
Students 18+ : €9
Children 10-17: €5
When you are spending 3 days in Barcelona, you have to go to La Rambla at least once. It is a great spot to go for dinner and since it is so pedestrian-friendly~ you can walk off your dinner to fit in some Gelato!
Spend time enjoying the market-style shops, open-air dining, street performers, and live music.
Visit Roman Ruins at the Museum of History
It is pretty interesting to see glimpses of the times of the Romans in Barcelona! At this museum, you can explore this extensive collection of Roman ruins that lie beneath the city.
It is actually the largest Roman site outside of Rome and has produced more than 35,200 different objects from the Roman period.
Admission is €7 (note that the museum is closed on Mondays)
The Temple of Augustus in Barcelona was once a Roman temple.The only trace left of the temple are four columns. It sites in the the oddest of areas in the Gothic Quarter and is easy to miss if you don’t know where to go.
Carrer del Paradís, 10, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
It is FREE to see.
Also found in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Barcelona Cathedral).
While not as grand as the Sagrada Familia, this cathedral is decorated with gargoyles, statues, pinnacles, and arches with tall bell towers.
The interior has a knave flanked with 28 chapels and beautiful stained-glass windows.
Casa Milà is the last private residence designed by Gaudí and another UNESCO World Heritage site.
Also known as La Pedrera or “The stone quarry,” you will discover more about how Gaudi’s architectural design was inspired by nature during this self guided tour.
Entry is FREE with Barcelona Pass. Otherwise, tickets are cheaper online than if you purchase them onsite.
Seniors & Students €16,50
Children 7-12 €11
Another must see attraction in Barcelona is Park Güell. This picturesque public park designed by Gaudí is filled with whimsical details.
You will find some parts very natural stone while others are full of beautiful colored mosaic tiles.
It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city while being able to get a bird’s eye view of Barcelona.
Looking for more Gaudi? We have a great list of Gaudi landmarks in Barcelona you will want to see.
Admission to Park Güell
Park Güell is on the Barcelona Pass. If you don’t have it, then you will definitely want to get your tickets in advance as this is a very popular place to visit!
- General 7.50€
- Children 7-12 5.25€
- Over 65 5.25€
- Children 0-6 FREE
- Disabled FREE
Day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat
Since you have three days in Barcelona, you really should take a trip out to Montserrat, a sacred mountain just an hour’s drive from the city.
Take a guided tour and learn about the history of Montserrat’s Benedictine Monastary that sits atop the mountain.
Here, you will get to see the famous Black Madonna statue in person, view paintings in the on-site museum, and shop for souvenirs at vendor stalls.
If you take the Green line of the Hop on Hop off Bus, you will find that it will take you straight to the beaches of Barcelona.
The most popular (and crowded) is Bogatell. You can spend time getting sun, playing a match of beach volleyball or strolling along the promenade.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The magic fountain is something you should best experience at night once the sun has set (usually between 8pm-9:30pm). It is a beautiful water show filled with movement, color and set to music.
Thing to get before you go to Barcelona
Get the Barcelona Card (SEE PRICES)
One of the best way to affordably see all the top sites while in Barcelona is to get the Barcelona Card.
This card will get you free admission into more than 20 of the best Barcelona attractions and discounted tickets to many others!
In addition, you get free use of public transportation (both Metro & city busses)! Your card also allows you to travel free on the train from Barcelona Airport Terminal 2 to Barcelona City. You will have to transfer between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 to take advantage of this service.
Pricing is based on how many days you intend to use the pass. Choose between 3, 4, & 5 days.
In addition to the free admission, you also get a free city metro map with more than 80 special offers at select shops, restaurants, and outlets.
It really is a no-brainer if you want to save money while in Barcelona!
When it comes to travel books, no one corners the market like Rick Steves. Do yourself a favor and get his Barcelona guide book. It is packed full of great tips and has great detailed neighborhood maps and a fold-out city map.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is a pedestrian-friendly city and you will find its metro system & buslines easy to use. Choose to stay in a place that has easy access to both.
These are some of the hotels that we recommend when staying in Barcelona:
- Arc la Rambla: Located in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter neighborhood, Arc la Rambla is in the city center and about a 10-15 minute walk from most of the desirable sites in Barcelona.
- Ayre Hotel Rosellon: Located in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood, Ayre Hotel Rosellon is in the city center and near a metro station. It is as close as you can get to Sagrada Familia and offers beautiful views.
- Olivia Balmes Hotel: In the city center, Olivia Balmes Hotel is in an area with great shopping and near to many popular landmarks, like Casa Mila. It is also steps from a metro station.
Barcelona is an amazing place to visit and while spending 3 days in Barcelona doesn’t allow you to do everything you would be able to do in a week’s time, it does allow you to see a lot!
For those of you that have been to Barcelona, do you have any tips to share on things others should be sure to see while in Barcelona for 3 days?