Long Weekend: Three Perfect Days in Barcelona

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Curated By

Doree Kovalio

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  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • Adventure Travel

  • Spain

  • Barcelona

  • Weekend Escapes

  • Solo Travel

  • Family Travel

aerial view of a bustling European city at dusk
Curator’s statement

Barcelona is on most people's bucket list, and rightfully so! Teeming with rich Catalan history, culture and foodie delights, there's something for everyone in this vibrant and eclectic city. Whether you're traveling solo, with friends or as a family, this three-day guide ensures you experience the true Barcelona vibe!

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay

Hotel Colón

Upscale property in the heart of Barcelona with refined rooms and suites offering cathedral views.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hotel Gaudí

A charming boutique hotel located in the heart of Barcelona, just across from Palau Gaudí, one of the eponymous architect's masterpieces.

Royal Passeig de Gràcia

A luxurious hotel on Barcelona's Passeig de Gràcia avenue, with elegant accommodations and unparalleled views of the city's iconic landmarks.


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Day 1: Explore Barcelona

Gothic cathedral

Day one is all about exploring Barcelona on a leisurely walking tour. Starting in the heart of the city - Plaça de Catalunya - walk around the central fountains and take in the energy of the crowds. Next stroll south down the center of La Rambla boulevard. This iconic, tree-lined street, stretching to the port, is popular with tourists and locals alike. It features many sidewalk restaurants, gelato shops, souvenir stands and street performers.

About half-way down the street, be sure to stop into Mercat de la Boqueria. This covered food market is a feast for all senses! Do as the locals do and order a tapa or two at one of the many bars and restaurants mingled between fresh fruit and seafood stalls.

For a break from the hustle and bustle, make your way to Plaça Reial, a regal gem tucked away off the southern end of La Rambla. Many restaurants line this palm tree-lined square, offering al-fresco dining or an afternoon cocktail in the shade. This large square often features live performances, artisanal kiosks and family-friendly installations.

Once you're ready to continue, make your way through the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter - the city's oldest and picturesque neighbourhood - to the Plaça de la Catedral. At the foot of the Barcelona Cathedral, you'll be sure to see many street performers and artists, and, on Thursdays, an antique fair.

Make your way back to Plaça de Catalunya as you stroll down Avinguda del Portal de l'Àngel, a wide pedestrian street with many top-brand stores. Once you've reached the main square again, you can call it a day, or, for an unforgettable view of the city center, make your way to Sky Bar, at the top of the Iberostar hotel on the north end of the square. The views are stunning both day and night!

Dinner recommendation

Check out Ciutat Comtal for some of the best tapas in town! It offers spacious and elegant indoor seating, and, for added people-watching, outdoor seating as well. This popular restaurant does not take reservations and is always busy so be sure to arrive early and expect to wait about 15 minutes to be seated. Make sure to try the "Torrija cremada de Sta. Teresa" for dessert - that alone is worth the wait!

Day 2: Take in Barcelona's architecture

artistic urban pillar

Barcelona is world-famous for its unique architectural style and iconic buildings and parks, designed by the architect Antonio Gaudî, over a century ago. His distinctive style, based on a combination of natural lines and his Catalan heritage can be seen throughout various parts of the city. His greatest works, among others, include Park Guëll, Casa Milá, Casa Batlló and the grand basilica known as the Sagrada Familia.

The best way to experience these is with an organized tour lead by an experienced guide. Book one - or two if time permits - of these on day two. There are many operators offering small group or private tours in various languages.

For families with kids, some guides offer specialized tours with scavenger hunts and other activities to keep the young ones engaged. Where available, upgrade to a fast-pass to avoid long waits. It's worth the extra few dollars and will save you precious time especially on a short visit!

Day 3: Explore Montjuic

fountains in front of a domed building at night

If you're spending a third day in Barcelona, expand your line of sight with a panoramic view of the city and sea with a cable car ride to the top of Montjuic. To get there, take the metro to Paral-lel metro station, and follow the sign to the Funicular de Montjuic, which can be reached from within the metro station. Take the funicular - a slanted mountain train - which drops you off directly next to the Teleferic de Montjuic base station from which the cable cars depart. You can purchase tickets online at a slight discount or directly at the station. Be sure to note when the last cable car departs, which will differ depending on the time of year.

Once at the top, the 17th-century Montjuic Castle is just a few steps away and tickets to enter can be purchased onsite. There are also many walking trails many with breathtaking views of the sea and port below. There are also many open air concerts taking place at the Castle and parks on the mountain so check local sites for show information.

Once back down at the Teleferic de Montjuic base station, modern art lovers can visit the Miro Museum located only a five-minute walk away.

For an unforgettable nighttime event, check out the Montjuic Magic Fountain. This free outdoor show combines sound, light and spectacular waterworks at the Font Màgica situated at the foot of the Palau Nacional near Plaça de Espanya. Show dates and times vary by season and can be found online.

And there you have it - the perfect first-time visit itinerary in Barcelona! For more information or to customize your perfect trip, feel free to reach out to me directly. Happy travels!

Doree posing on a ledge in a black dress with the Eiffel tower in the background.

Travel Advisor

Doree Kovalio

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Barcelona.