The Ultimate 4-Day Adventure: Barcelona & Beyond
Maria Teresa Carrasquero
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Road Trip Travel
I have been living in Southern California (Los Angeles and now Orange County) for a few years now and whenever I go to Barcelona, I find so many similarities that I always say that Barcelona is the Spanish equivalent to Los Angeles in the US. The chill vibe, the beach, the prominent art culture and La Barcelonata can be a combination of Venice and Santa Monica and the beach and cliffs in Costa Brava would remind me of Orange County (the view from S’Agaro’s Hostal La Gavina reminds me so much of Laguna Beach.) And now, getting married near Barcelona in September 2023, the connection has become more special, and have learned so much about this vibrant city and the beautiful region that is Catalonia.
The Fora Difference
Book with Maria to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.
Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you
Customized travel planning for your style
Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there
Where to stay
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
This grand hotel on the Passeig de Gràcia combines global luxury with authentic Catalan sophistication.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
An architect-designed hotel on the Barcelona Boardwalk, with 473 rooms and suites and a hotspot rooftop lounge and bar.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Quintessential Dutch elegance in the heart of Amsterdam. Nestled in beautifully restored 17th and 18th-century canal houses, with tranquil inner gardens, and in an unbeatable location: this is a Dutch masterpiece.
$100 hotel credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Maria to book your trip.
Day 1: Touristing Around & Local Bites for Dinner
The Journey Begins Assuming you arrive at Barcelona-El Prat Airport, you can reach the city center by taking the Aerobus or R2 Nord train. Alternatively, you can consider Uber or arranging a private transfer to your hotel.
Start your Barcelona adventure by visiting the iconic Sagrada Familia. Book your tickets online in advance to avoid queues and consider a guided tour or audio guide for a deeper understanding of its history and symbolism. The entrance fee is €26 for adults and €22 for students and seniors, with an additional €6 for tower access.
Experience the local lifestyle by heading to Bar-Terraza at Ayre Rossello for drinks and incredible views of the Sagrada Familia. When it's time for a meal, try Puertecillo for seafood or Anauco for hamburgers near Sagrada Familia. If you're up for a short walk, explore Las Ramblas boulevard and stop by Plaça Catalunya.
Visit El Nacional for upscale dining and head to Boqueria Market for a taste of fresh local products. Explore Passeig de Gràcia for high-end shopping, visit Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló. Take some time to unwind, check-in to your hotel and consider a spa experience at Aire Ancient Baths.
For dinner, explore nearby dining options based on the area you're staying in La Pubilla for traditional Catalan dishes with a modern twist or Somodó for Michelin-starred creative tasting menus with Japanese influences. L'Eixample: Season for gourmet tapas with Mediterranean flavors and international influences or Cocina Hermanos Torres for avant-garde cuisine in an open kitchen. Note that Cerveseria Catalana is also a great spot, but be prepared for potential long lines as they don't usually take reservations. Poble Sec: Mano Rota for hip and casual fusion dishes or Poblenou for innovative and sustainable organic cuisine with a transparent kitchen. Barceloneta: La Cova Fumada for authentic tapas and the famous "bomba" or Somorrostro for refined Mediterranean dishes with creative twists. Gothic Quarter: Sensi Bistro for charming fusion tapas with French and Asian influences or Hofmann for Michelin-starred haute cuisine with Catalan roots and a pastry shop.
Day 2: Artistic Treasures and Beachside Bliss
Start your day with a visit to Park Güell, a masterpiece by Antoni Gaudí. Consider booking a guided tour for exclusive access to restricted areas and in-depth information. Alternatively, purchase timed-entry tickets to explore the park's public areas. Marvel at the colorful mosaic sculptures, such as the iconic dragon fountain and the whimsical salamander bench. Don't miss the opportunity to soak in panoramic views of Barcelona from the main terrace. The entrance fee is €10 for adults and €7 for students and seniors.
After exploring Park Güell, venture to Tibidabo, Barcelona's highest point. You can reach Tibidabo by Uber, taxi, private transportation or bus (take bus 196.) At Tibidabo, you'll be greeted with breathtaking views of the city and the sea. Discover the charm of the historic amusement park, which dates back to 1901 and visit the beautiful Sagrat Cor (Sacred Heart) church. For a unique experience, take a funicular ride (€7.70 round trip) to reach the top of Tibidabo. The amusement park entrance fee is €28.50 for adults and €10.30 for children under 1.20 meters tall.
In the afternoon, immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter. Wander through its narrow streets, admire the historical buildings and soak up the charm of its picturesque squares. Visit the magnificent Barcelona Cathedral and take a moment of tranquility in the serene Plaça Sant Felip Neri, known for its peaceful ambiance and beautiful surroundings. Check out Ascensor Cocktail Bar for a unique vibe and drinks.
As the day transitions into evening, head to Barceloneta, the vibrant beach neighborhood of Barcelona. Unwind and relax by the sea, enjoying the sandy shores and the soothing sound of the waves. If you're seeking a fine dining experience, indulge in beachside cuisine at renowned seafood restaurants like Can Majó or Els Pescadors. For more budget-friendly options, savor affordable and delicious paella at local favorites such as La Cova Fumada or Can Solé.
Day 3: Mountain Majesty and Coastal Charm
To make the most of Day 3-4, it is recommended to rent a car or hire a private driver. Start your day by embarking on a day trip to Montserrat. Consider booking a private tour that includes transportation and a knowledgeable guide. If you're on a budget, you can reach Montserrat by train and then take the cable car.
Explore the breathtaking natural beauty of Montserrat, visit the abbey, and hike up to Sant Jeroni for stunning panoramic views. Take your time to appreciate the serene surroundings and enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the local cafes or pack a picnic to savor amidst the picturesque landscape.
After Montserrat, make your way to Sitges, a charming coastal town. Spend the afternoon strolling along the scenic beach promenade, exploring the charming old town, and unwinding by the sea. Sitges is renowned for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and cultural events. Along the promenade, you'll encounter elegant mansions and modernist buildings. Take the opportunity to relax at one of the inviting beaches, such as San Sebastián, La Fragata or La Bassa Rodona. You can also visit notable museums and galleries in Sitges, such as the Cau Ferrat Museum, once the home and studio of painter Santiago Rusiñol, or the Maricel Museum, which showcases artwork spanning from medieval to contemporary periods.
In the evening, return to Barcelona and savor a delightful dinner at any of the recommended restaurants mentioned on Day 1.
Day 4: Coastal Adventure along the Costa Brava
For a little bit of added luxury, hire a boat and embark on a scenic cruise along the stunning Costa Brava coastline. Explore hidden coves, swim in crystal-clear waters and enjoy onboard amenities like gourmet catering and champagne. You can also book tours that would stop in towns like Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar, and Cadaqués and Girona. All of them have different charms, so prioritize tours that visit some of this specific towns or rent a car or a private driver.
Blanes is a coastal town in Costa Brava known for its stunning beaches, such as Platja de S'Abanell and Cala Sant Francesc. The town offers a mix of natural beauty, historical sites like the Marimurtra Botanical Garden, lively festivals like the International Fireworks Competition and a vibrant nightlife scene, making it an appealing destination for all kinds of travelers.
Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar is a bustling town renowned for its long stretches of sandy beaches, such as Lloret Beach and Fenals Beach. It offers a wide range of water sports activities, vibrant nightlife, and a variety of entertainment options. Additionally, historical sites like the medieval Castle of Sant Joan and the beautiful Santa Clotilde Gardens add cultural charm to the town.
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is a picturesque coastal town with a rich history and a beautiful setting. Its main attraction is the Vila Vella, a fortified old town with narrow streets, ancient walls, and the 12th-century Tossa Castle. The town also features stunning beaches like Platja Gran and Cala Pola, making it a popular destination for beach lovers and those seeking a blend of history and relaxation.
Cadaqués is a charming fishing village known for its bohemian atmosphere and stunning natural beauty. It has inspired artists such as Salvador Dalí, and you can visit the Dalí House-Museum nearby. With its whitewashed houses, narrow streets and scenic coves, Cadaqués offers a serene escape and a chance to explore its art galleries, relax by the sea and enjoy its laid-back ambiance.
Empuriabrava is a unique town known as "the Venice of Spain" due to its extensive network of canals. It offers a marina that is perfect for boating and sailing enthusiasts, along with beautiful beaches and waterfront dining options. The relaxed atmosphere, the opportunity to explore the canals, and the proximity to natural parks make Empuriabrava an interesting stop in Costa Brava.
Girona is a historic city with a well-preserved medieval architecture and a vibrant cultural scene. It offers a charming old town (Barri Vell) with narrow cobblestone streets, ancient city walls, and the stunning Girona Cathedral. Visitors can explore its rich history, visit museums and art galleries, and savor the local gastronomy in its renowned restaurants. End the night and your trip on a stunning rooftop bar in Barcelona.
Here are a few options:
173 Rooftop Terrace at InterContinental Barcelona: This rooftop offers one of the most exclusive views in all of Barcelona and belongs to the select group of terraces with 360º panoramic views of the city. You can enjoy a cocktail, a glass of wine or a beer while admiring the skyline, the sea and the mountains. You can also order some snacks or tapas from the menu.
Azimuth Rooftop Bar at Almanac Barcelona: This rooftop is home to both a beautiful rooftop pool and a stylish rooftop cocktail bar and restaurant. You can enjoy an inventive, seasonal and crafted cocktail menu, as well as plenty of gastronomic options, served in a sophisticated and low-key lounge vibe. You can also enjoy some panoramic views over the city from the main terrace.
The Pulitzer Terrace at Hotel Pulitzer: This rooftop is a urban garden that is perfect for relaxing on a warm night. You can sip a sweet cocktail while enjoying the tropical paradise around you, and as if that wasn’t enough, during The Pulitzer’s famous concerts and DJ sets throughout the week, dance the evening away for no extra charge.
OD Sky Bar at Ocean Drive Barcelona: This rooftop is a prime spot to enjoy the breeze and the city from above. It has urban lounge furniture, as well as a lovely rooftop pool and a sundeck. You can enjoy great cocktails and refreshing drinks, complemented with music from local and guest DJs every Friday and Saturday.
La Dolce Vitae at Majestic Hotel: This rooftop is a place of elegance, first-class service and exclusivity. It offers amazing views of the Sagrada Família and Montjuïc and an extensive culinary offer supervised by Michelin-star chef Nandu Jubany. You can enjoy some traditional Catalan cuisine or some international dishes, as well as some cocktails or wines from the extensive list.
The Rooftop at Sir Victor: This rooftop is an elevated and secluded bar in the middle of Barcelona, overlooking Gaudí’s Casa Milà and La Sagrada Familia. It has a lush and modern terrace, with comfy loungers and dining tables, as well as a sleek bar and a glittering rooftop pool. You can enjoy some cocktails, wines, beers or soft drinks, as well as some Mediterranean dishes or snacks.
El Cielo Rooftop at Sofitel Barcelona Skipper: This rooftop is a scenic and elegant terrace that offers amazing views of the ocean and the port. It has a chic and spacious terrace, with lounge sofas and dining tables, as well as a stylish bar and a stunning rooftop pool. You can enjoy some cocktails, wines, beers or soft drinks, as well as some international dishes or snacks.
La Terraza de Duquesa De Cardona Hotel: This rooftop is located in front of the port, a few minutes walk to Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter. It offers fantastic views of the Port of Barcelona, the Mapfre Towers, Barceloneta, Port Vell, Maremagnum and World Trade Center. It has a elegant and romantic terrace, with lounge chairs and dining tables, as well as a cozy bar. You can enjoy some cocktails, wines, beers or soft drinks, as well as some Catalan cuisine or snacks.
Need to Know
Get in touch with Maria
Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.
You can normally expect a response from Maria within a business day or so. You'll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).
This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Barcelona.