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3 days in Barcelona. How to plan a three day visit to Barcelona E-mail


3 days in Barcelona Spain. Plan your stay

3 days in Barcelona is perfect for seeing most of the top attractions in and near Barcelona. Here is a suggestion for how to plan your trip to Barcelona if you visiting the city for three days or 3 nights. You might also like our articles about best new hotels in Barcelona and where to stay in Barcelona

Best plan for 3 days in Barcelona

We suggest the following plan for 3 days and nights in Barcelona. You can mix the 3 days anyway you want, but remember that Barcelona shops are closed on Sundays and remember that day tours to destinations outside the city of Barcelona are best from Monday to Friday when there are fewer locals at the destinations and no sunday traffic issues coming back to the city. 

Day 1

1 day walking (or biking) in the Barcelona's old city centre, called Ciutat Vella, the ‘old town.” Ciutat Vella has three neighbourhoods worth visiting which have major attractions and charm. They are called El Gótico, El Born and Barceloneta. All have their own character and many historic sights. El Raval is also interesting to visit for it's bohemian atmosphere.

Day 2

1 day to explore the sights of the newer parts of Barcelona. We like Barcelona hop-on-hop-off buses which take you all round the city of Barcelona which means you get to see so much including the 19th century modernist Eixample area, the Sant Marti beaches and coastline, the Les Corts area where FC Barcelona's Camp Nou football stadium and museum is located, the Gracia area and Gaudi's Park Guell, the Montjuic hill parks and fort, Tibidabo hill with city views and also a vintage fairground and church. The best thing is that you can get an impresseion of the entire city of Barcelona and at your own pace. There are two hop-on-hop-off bus companies in Barcelona.  Both hop-on-hop-off bus services have an audio guide, not a human guide. Buy hop-on-hop-off bus tickets in advance or on the bus. There are two hop-on-hop-off companies to choose from and they are both pretty similar. Read more about them here Barcelona hop-on-hop-off buses. If you prefer personal guides, then look for private guides or places on small group group tours of Barcelona on tour sites like Barcelona's tourist office online shop or on Both list a wide variety of Barcelona tours from various tour companies.  

Day 3

1 day or half a day outside Barcelona on a day tour excursion to destinations outside Barcelona. There are many scenic and historic places near Barcelona, like a half-day tour to Montserrat monastery and mountain - or to medieval Girona - or to a winery in the Penedes region. Or you can even visit France and Andorra from Barcelona. We can recommend one of our partners who have specialised in offer tours outside the city for very small groups and with a personal pick-up. You can also find many great tours on Barcelona Tourist Office visitor BCNshop and Viator 

You can mix the three days anyway you want. Barcelona shops are usually closed on Sundays (except some Sundays in July and August,) so a walking day in the old city will be more fun on any day, except Sunday. For excursions and day tours outside Barcelona try to avoid the weekends, because many local residents leave Barcelona for the weekend, so beaches and towns outside Barcelona are more crowded and there is usually heavy traffic coming back to the city on Sunday evening.

Most of the Barcelona attractions and things to see are in three districts of Barcelona, which you can see on the map below. For the best places to stay in Barcelona see ourbest area to stay in Barcelona guide and check out ourBarcelona practical tips page

Ciutat Vella, which means "the old city" in the Catalan language, is the oldest district of Barcelona. This is where the city was founded as the Roman city of Barcino. The 19th century Eixample district is part of city which was developed after the old medieval city became to overcrowded in late 19th century. Eixample has most of the famous 19th and early 20th century modernist buildings.

Sant Marti is the former industrial area that has now been redeveloped with beaches, modern hotels, business and residential areas.  Sant Marti used to be the old industrial area of Barcelona, but has been modernised since the Olympics in 1992 with modern neighbourhoods including the Olympic village and very nice beaches.

Barcelona map 3 days in Barcelona

Take a closer look at the satellite map of part of Barcelona below. You will notice that the old city centre of Barcelona has many narrow winding streets. That is the “Ciutat Vella" - the old city of Barcelona dating back to the middle ages. Because of the narrow streets, the tourist hop-on-hop-off buses don’t go into the old parts of Barcelona. The hop-on-hop-off buses only stop on wide roads on the edges of the old city, so this part of the city is absolutely best explored on foot or on bicycle.

The Ciutat Vella consists of several neighbourhoods. The most central one is "El Gotico."  This is the gothic quarter, which expanded around the original Roman city of Barcelona called "Barcino." You can still see parts ofBarcelona Roman city walls and if you look closely at the map of the gothic area of Barcelona, you can still make out the outline of the old Roman city of Barcelona.

The modernist Eixample district, which means extension in the Catalan language, is outside and around the old city of Barcelona. This is the newer part of Barcelona which was built in the late 19th century. Read how Barcelona's Eixample area was created. There are many interesting tourist attractions to see in the Eixample area and they are best seen from the Hop-on-hop-off buses.


Day 1 in Barcelona
Walk round Barcelona's old Ciutat Vella areas

Narrow streets of Barcelona's el Gotic gothic quarter

The "Ciutat Vella", which means "old city" in the Catalan language, is one of the biggest medievel city areas in Europe. It includes the five neighbourhoods of La Raval, Barri Gotic, La Ribera / El Born and Barceloneta. You can spend 1 day walking or bicycling around the three most interesting neighbourhoods of the old city which are called El Gótico, El Born and Barceloneta, The pedestrian boulevard Las Ramblas cuts through the old city of Barcelona and should not be missed either. If you don't have a full day then start at Las Ramblas street and focus mostly on the Gothic part of the old city, which has the most historic sites in the old city. The gothic area is almost the most central because it grew around the Roman city of Barcelona called Barcino. You can still see parts of the Roman walls and four Roman temple columns in the gothic area of Barcelona. Other sights of interest in the Gothic area things to see are Las Ramblas street, Barcelona cathedral and the square Plaça Reial. Then head over to the Born/Ribera part of the old city, which has some lovely medieval streets, trendy small boutiques and cafes, and two big Barcelona attractions, which are the Picasso museum and famous gothic Santa Maria del Mar church. Then if you have time and want a lovely walk with harbour and sea views, stroll down to Barceloneta which is the old fisherman's quarter in Barcelona, which borders on Barcelona's beaches. 

Picures gothic quarter of Barcelona
Pictures and hotels Las Ramblas street

Day 2 in Barcelona
See Modernist sights of Barcelona on hop-on-hop-off tourist bus 

1 day on the hop-on-hop-off buses exploring the areas outside the old city including the Eixample area, Sant Marti, Les Corts, Montjuic hill and Tibidabo hill
Buy tickets Barcelona hop-on-hop-off buses

Barcelona's famous unfinished church by Antoni Gaudi - La Sagrada Familia in 19th century Eixample area

The Eixample is the area that was developed in Barcelona when the the old middle age city became too overcrowded and so in the late 19th century the old medieval city walls were pulled down and a new part of the city called the Eixample sprang up around the old city. This is where you will find most of the famous modernist buildings that Barcelona with one important exception which is the Palua Guell by Guadi which is in the Raval area of the old city. But most of the modernist architecture is in the newer areas of Barcelona and is best seen on a hop-on-hop-off tour, which will take you along the elegant shopping street Passeig de Gracia past Gaudi's Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, also to Sagrada Familia church and past FC Barcelona's famous foot ball stadium Camp Nou. There are several routes on the hop-on-hop-off buses and you can also go as far as the hills overlooking Barcelona which are  Montjuic hill and Tibidabo. The hop-on-hop-off buses also visit Plaza Espanya where you can see the famous Magic Fountain but this is best enjoyed at night when you can see the fantastic Magic Fountain light and music show. 
Sant Marti is the district of Barcelona that is on the coastline of the city. Prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics Sant Marti was the industrial area of Barcelona and called the "Manchester of Barcelona." For the Olympic games the area started a process of transformation that now has turned it into a new residential and business area of Barcelona. Sant Marti is somewhat off-centre, but is well connected to the city centre and the big attraction of the Sant Marti area is the close proximity to the beaches. The hop-on-hop-off buses will take your past this area, but apart from the beaches there are no major sights.

Day 3 in Barcelona
See attractions outside Barcelona on a Day Tour

1 day or half a day outside Barcelona on a day or half day group tour or small group tour.

Don't miss a visit to Montserrat Mountain - a UNESCO world heritage site close to Barcelona

Barcelona is a bustling, vibrant and cosmopolitan city. It can also be noisy, busy and hot, especially in the summer. So for Day 3 we recommend that you get out of the city and book a tour to one of the many beautiful spots, which are just one or two hours from Barcelona. There are many top class attractions outside Barcelona and you can choose between a wide variety of wonderful and interesting day tours from Barcelona to popular attractions like the Costa Brava beaches and coast area, Montserrat mountain and monastery, seaside village Sitges, Roman city of Tarragona, Girona - the city of sieges, world famous vineyards of the Penedes region, the pre-pyrenees and Pyrenees mountains and much more. We can recommend on of our partners who only offer tours outside the city for very small groups and with a personal pick-up. 

Here are some ideas forpopular day tours from Barcelona. You can reach some of them by the high-speed AVE train, by regular train, by regional bus or if you want to avoide the hassle of planning and cut travel time then book a small group private day tour. If you have a few days in Barcelona, then don't miss an opportunity to visit some of these lovely spots near Barcelona.

Best Day Trips from Barcelona
Top 10 tourist attractions in Barcelona
Book small group day tours from Barcelona
Book private tours outside Barcelona
10 things to consider when planning your trip to Barcelona
Where to stay in Barcelona?


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