Those who have been to Barcelona will agree that it is a stunning and fascinating city. It is one of Europe’s most visited cities and has everything you can ask for in a holiday destination – a colourful history that dates back centuries, marvelous architecture, lively atmosphere, pleasant Mediterranean climate, and yes, a mouthwatering cuisine that’s deeply rooted in the Catalan culture.
Before you arrive in Barcelona, please remember that it is a relatively big city. And even if you have 3 to 4 days to spend there, you need to have a carefully planned itinerary so you don’t miss out on the most important sights and activities. The capital of Spain’s Catalonia region has an excellent public transport system but its main attractions draw very large tourists crowds. Therefore, it is also advisable to book ahead and arrive really early for a more enjoyable sightseeing experience. Consider getting premium passes to main attractions in the city so you’ll enjoy skip the line admission, discounts, and other perks.
Let’s take a look at this 4-day itinerary in Barcelona that covers the main attractions and things to do and even includes a day tour to a famous mountain getaway.
Day 1 – Sagrada Familia, Recinte Modernista Sant Pau, Park Guell, La Rambla, La Boquiera, and Columbus Monument
Start your day in Barcelona with a visit to the Sagrada Familia. This stunning Basilica is a must-visit and one should never leave the city without admiring this exquisite piece of Gothic architecture. It’s definitely one of Antoni Gaudi’s greatest works although he tragically died without completing it. Construction is still ongoing and estimated to be done by 2026
From Sagrada Familia, proceed to Recinte Modernista Sant Pau. Inscribed in the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage List, the sprawling art nouveau structure is actually a series of buildings that was originally constructed as a hospital. Take time to explore the attraction and check out the beautiful mosaics inside some of the buildings as well as the gardens within the complex.
Next, head to Park Guell, another masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi. The magical park consists of many beautiful gardens, ornate buildings, and eye-catching structures. Park Guell is one of the world’s most beautiful public parks and is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s highest point is marked by a large cross and offers spectacular views of the city and beyond.
After Park Guell, it is time to explore Barcelona leisurely on foot. There are a lot of local secrets waiting to be discovered. Give yourself a few hours to explore La Rambla as the boulevard is literally brimming with dining and shopping options.
Also check out La Boquiera – Barcelona’s oldest and most popular market – and have your fill of the wide array of refreshments you’ll find there. Fresh juices, smoothies, tostadas, and tapas like jamon iberico are excellent choices.
Continue along La Rambla until you reach the Columbus Monument. Dedicated to the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, the monument is a landmark attraction in Barcelona. Ascend to the viewing gallery at the top of the monument to take in magnificent aerial views of La Rambla.
For dinner, there are many places you can try along Passeig de Gracia. Stick to local restaurants for the opportunity to try out authentic traditional dishes.
The Fast Track Guided Tours of Sagrada Familia and Park Guell is the perfect tour to take if you want to save time during your first day in Barcelona. The tour includes admission tickets and guided visits to Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia Basilica and Museum, transfers between the two attractions, and access via elevator to the Sagrada Familia tower. Should you wish to explore the city at your own pace, purchase the Barcelona City Pass to enjoy free admission to more than 25 attractions that includes the Sagrada Familia, Mirador de Colom, and museums. The city pass will also entitle you to a free walking tour, free harbour cruise, free hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tours, free public transport, and reduced ticket prices to attractions and events, in addition to discounts at shops and dining options.
Day 2 – Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, and the Gracia Neighbourhood
Your 2nd day in Barcelona will be spent discovering more of Antoni Gaudi’s creations. Make your way towards Passeig de Gracia where two of his most popular works are located. The first on your list is Casa Batlló. The house, with its skeletal design, is one of the most unique buildings in Barcelona.
After your tour of Casa Batlló, go to nearby Casa Milà or La Pedrera. The residential building is another of Barcelona’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just like the architect’s other masterpieces, it features Catalan Modernistic elements, particularly the uneven and undulating grey stone façade, the twisting wrought iron balconies, and the rooftop terrace that offers breathtaking views of Barcelona. The structure is Antoni Gaudi’s last major creation.
It is time for you to explore the lovely Gracia neighbourhood, one of the best places to stay in the city. Featuring postcard-pretty streets and tree-lined squares, the area has a more relaxed, less touristy vibe. Wandering around the neighbourhood and getting lost in its backstreets is an adventure in itself. There are also many galleries, pubs, restaurants, shops, and bookstores to check out.
What could be a perfect way to end your 2nd day in Barcelona? Yes, a food tour! Indulge in mouthwatering tapas and refreshing wine on a walking food tour that will take you to the best wine and tapas bars in the city. A food tour is a great opportunity to learn more about the city’s history and wine and food culture.
Take the Artistic Barcelona: The Best of Gaudi Tour if you want a more in-depth exploration of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces – Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila. The tour package is inclusive of the services of a multilingual guide and free use of an air-conditioned motor coach. Complement your sightseeing activities with the Tapas Evening Walking Tour. For 3 hours beginning 5 p.m., you will explore the Gothic Quarter and the La Boquiera market to learn about the local cuisine, savour authentic Spanish tapas and local wine, and visit some of the best tapas bars and cafes in Barcelona. The tour is also inclusive of the services of an English-speaking local guide.
Day 3 – Gothic Quarter, Barceloneta Beach, Camp Nou Stadium, Museums, and Montjuic Hill
One of the best things about Barcelona is that you’ll never run out of delicious things to try. For breakfast, try the churros con chocolate at Granja Dulcinea, one of the best kept secrets in the Gothic Quarter. Their churros are not so greasy and tastes absolutely divine when dunked in the rich chocolate.
After breakfast, prepare to discover the gems of the Gothic Quarter. This section of Barcelona boasts more than 2,000 years of rich history so you can just imagine what you’ll see there – from historic structures to museums and Gothic churches. Drop by the Chocolate Museum, the Picasso Museum, and the Gaudi Exhibition Center. The imposing Barcelona Cathedral is set in Gothic Quarter, too.
After the Gothic Quarter, you can go to Camp Now – home to F.C. Barcelona and Messi. You can do a tour of the stadium if you want to see the players’ locker rooms and the VIP seating area as well as enjoy a tour of the Camp Nou Museum.
Whether or not you’re born a beach bum, Barceloneta Beach deserves a spot in your itinerary. This very popular strip of powdery golden sand boasts clean, inviting waters, beachside dining options, and family-friendly facilities. It is a wonderful place to relax and unwind amongst locals after hours of sightseeing.
Head up Montjuic Hill to check out a handful attractions, namely the Poble Espanyol, Montjuic Castle, National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC), and the Magic Fountain.
Poble Espanyol is the place to visit if you’re interested in learning more about the architecture and culinary traditions of Spain’s different regions. The sprawling museum complex has about 117 buildings that are mostly replicas of actual buildings found across the country. The open-air architectural museum is also a favourite events venue and hosts concerts and food festivals.
Another must-see attraction is the Montjuic Castle, a military fortress that sits on top of the hill. It once served as a prison and a torture and execution centre.
If you’re an art-lover, the National Museum of Catalan Art is a must-see. The museum, one of Spain’s biggest museums, is home to a large collection of Catalan Modernist, Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance pieces. Gaudi’s works are also featured there.
Your last activity for the day is to watch the spectacular Magic Fountain light, water, and sound show. You can enjoy it from the steps of the National National Museum of Catalan Art.
If you’re looking to book a tour that will take you around the Gothic Quarter and up Montjuic Hill, then the Barcelona City Highlights Tour is for you. For 10 hours you will be visiting the sights the city’s historic centre, including the Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter, and then go up Montjuic Hill to see attractions like the Poble Espanyol, Montjuic Castle, and experience a cable car ride that offers unparalleled views of Barcelona. The tour is inclusive of transportation, free walking tours, admission tickets to Poble Espanyol, a free cable car ride, and the services of a multilingual guide. F.C. Barcelona fans, on the other hand, will love the Camp Nou Experience: F.C. Barcelona Museum and Tour. The inclusive entrance pass provides access to the museum on the first floor, the players’ changing rooms, VIP seating areas, commentary boxes, television studio, pressroom, and even the players’ tunnel that opens to the pitch.
Day 4 – Day Tour to Montserrat
Enjoy your last day in Barcelona by travelling some 50 kilometres northwest to experience Montserrat, an idyllic mountain retreat set on a gorgeous mountain range. Peaceful, scenic, and inexplicably beautiful, Montserrat is also home to cultural attractions and sites of religious importance.
Its most popular attractions are the 10th century Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey and the Basilica de Montserrat. Basilica de Montserrat is home to the Black Madonna, the image of the Black Virgin Mary famous for its healing and protective powers.
Montserrat also has several viewing platforms where you can marvel at magnificent views of Catalonia’s mountainous landscape.
You still have time for another activity so how about watching a flamenco show? Witnessing a flamenco show in Barcelona will allow you to delve deeper into Spain’s rich culture and heritage. To flamenco performers, the art form isn’t just about giving a laudable performance. The flamenco is all about passion and relationships and is deeply woven into the artists’ lives.
There are many flamenco shows in the city but one we would certainly recommend is Tablao Cordobés. The club, located in bustling La Rambla, has been running high quality flamenco shows since 1970.
The Montserrat Morning Tour by Bus will let you explore the magical mountain of Montserrat to visit the place’s main attractions – the Basilica and the Benedictine Abbey. Aside from the free bus ride, the guided our also comes with free liquor tastings and entrance to an audio visual exhibition about the pilgrimage site. Cap off your last day in Barcelona with the Flamenco Show at Tablos Cordobés. Spend 1.5 hours watching flamenco artists perform the dance on a platform. You can also book a show with dinner option so you can enjoy a buffet consisting of local delicacies, desserts, and free-flowing drinks.