Updated Aug 31 2023
During the four days that you’ll spend in Barcelona, you’ll have time to do many things, but if you’d like to truly get to know as many sights as possible, and get a glimpse of what you could call the ‘authentic’ Barcelona as well as seeing what the rest of the tourists see, we’d advise you to roughly follow our suggested plan. Of course you don’t have to follow it to the letter! Depending on your interests and priorities, there will be places you’d like to dedicate more time to seeing, and some that you might prefer to leave out altogether. However, we still think that our routes will help you, however many changes you’d like to make.
First day in Barcelona: ‘Ciutat Vella’ – Barcelona’s Old Town
In the morning
To orientate yourselves, it’s best to start your day in the Plaça de Catalunya (Catalunya station, served by Lines 1 and 3 of the Metro, and many buses), where you can take the opportunity to pop into the square’s tourist information centre to pick up any maps and leaflets about attractions and forthcoming events that interest you. Then you can wander down the central part of the famous Rambla de Barcelona. After walking a short distance, turn left onto Carrer de la Portaferrissa, and then take the second right into Carrer Petritxol, where we suggest you take a ‘fuel stop’ in one of its traditional ‘granges’ or chocolate cafés (La Pallaresa y Dulcinea). Here you can enjoy a luxurious hot chocolate or coffee, accompanied by one of the freshly made pastries that are on offer – ‘melindros’, ‘ensaimadas’, ‘churros’ and croissants.
After this stop, keep walking down the narrow Carrer Petritxol until you reach the Plaça del Pi, where every first and third weekend they organize an artisan food market, specializing in local produce. It’s the perfect place to buy all sorts of gifts, including wine, cheese, chocolate, turrón, sweets, honey, nuts etc, and in wonderful surroundings, too – you’ll have the towering Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi in the background, which is famous for its huge rose window – the biggest in Catalunya. When you get to this point we recommend wandering through the streets of the Gothic Quarter, taking the opportunity to visit some of the most well-known sights of the area, whilst stopping to look in any of its historic shops.
The Carrer de la Palla will take you up to Barcelona Cathedral, which we do recommend visiting (it’s free to enter until 1pm and after 5pm). Don’t hesitate to take a peek into the courtyard of the Casa de l’Ardiaca (which is also free of charge). Its small entrance gate leads to a small courtyard with a central fountain and a surprisingly large palm tree, towering several metres high. We recommend going up to the first floor, from which you will get a different and very pleasant view of the area. When you come out of the Casa de l’Ardiaca, walk along Carrer del Bisbe and enter the Cathedral’s cloister (entry is free of charge until 2pm and from 5pm), where the presence of 13 geese is sure to capture your attention.
Then walk up to the tranquil Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, in which the fountain, the church and the imprints of bomb damage on its walls which remind us of its tragic history make it an interesting place to stop and look round, away from the hustle and bustle of much of the city (providing your visit doesn’t coincide with that of a group of tourists, of course!).
Barcelona Walking Tours Gothic
English guided tour
We then lead you towards Plaça de Sant Jaume, where you’ll find two of the city’s most important institutional buildings – Barcelona’s City Council and the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya (the Catalan government’s headquarters). The Carrer de la Llibreteria will take you up to the Plaça del Rei, which houses many historical buildings belonging to the MUHBA (Barcelona’s history museum).
If you haven’t filled yourself up in your visit to the chocolate cafés, you could stop for an ice cream or a cold drink at the bottom of the steps to the Plaça del Rei; you’ll be able to rest a while, whilst admiring the wonderful history and architecture of the surrounding buildings.
Return to Plaça de Sant Jaume by taking the narrow Carrer del Paradís. On your way you’ll pass the courtyard of the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, where you’ll be surprised to find three huge Roman columns from the former Temple of Augustus when you go down a set of steps.
Take the Carrer de La Boqueria, that will lead you all the way up to Las Ramblas, and just by crossing it you’ll come face to face with the famous Boqueria market. There are few places in Barcelona serving such fresh, good-quality food, and the setting itself is perfect too, surrounded by the wonderful market stalls. We recommend the small stalls of Bar Pinotxo, the El Quim de la Boqueria and the Kiosko Universal, all of which serve food at the bar whilst you perch on stools. Another option is the excellent nearby Casa Guinart restaurant.
If you find that the bars and restaurants within the first option are full and you don’t want to wait, head up to the Raval quarter, and specifically the Rambla de Raval, where you’ll be able to eat outside in one of the many terraces (for example BarRaval, Suculent, LaPaciencia, Cafè de les Delícies) or in the restaurants on Carrer de Sant Rafael (La Cucchiarella or Casa Leopoldo).
Boqueria Market tour + Paella Cooking Workshop
In the afternoon
We recommend that you keep walking down Las Ramblas, and stop off at any of the sights that catch your eye, one of which will surely be the Plaça Reial, just off Las Ramblas to the left. You might also like to look at the stalls at the end (at weekends only), and of course you can’t miss the street artists and human statues, who will let you have your photo taken with them in return for a few coins.
You should try to find the time to have a drink at the Bosc de les Fades (‘The Fairies’ Forest’) at some point during your trip, or at least pop in to see the other-worldly décor. It can be found near the Christopher Columbus statue, at Passatge de la Banca, 5.
If you like, you can go up the Christopher Columbus monument from which you’ll be able to enjoy great views of the city’s coastline. Then you can cross over the Rambla del Mar, and if you have time, you can have a wander round the Maremagnum shopping centre, which overlooks the sea.
In the evening
For dinner, we suggest taking a walk along the seafront from the old port, Port Vell, up to La Barceloneta, which was the area where all the fishermen used to live, and which to this day still has a maritime feel to it. Don’t be afraid to get a little lost in its streets in search of one of the many good restaurants, the majority of which specialize in seafood.
It’s been a long day, but if you’re still up for one more drink you can head up to the Platja del Somorrostro (beach), which has several bars and nightclubs by the beach, some of which with live music (Shôko, Opium Mar, Ice Barcelona, etc.).
Weather: although it would be much nicer to enjoy today’s plan in the sun, out of all the days, this is the least affected by the weather, so if there’s one rainy or cloudy day forecast during your trip, that’s the day to do the plan for Day 1.
Day of the week: it doesn’t make a difference.
Second day in Barcelona: a bit of Gaudí, and a walk round Montjuïc’
In the morning
Like yesterday, today’s route begins at Plaça de Catalunya, but this time the walk takes you in the opposite direction. Head up the elegant Passeig de Gràcia, one of Barcelona’s most important streets, which has the reputation of being the most glamorous.
Many of the buildings will immediately catch your eye as you start to walk up the Passeig de Gràcia, but we recommend that you pay particular attention to the three most well-known façades – those of Cases Rocamora, Casa Lleó i Morera and Casa Amatller (this one can be visited).
Casa Batlló visit
Acceso sin colas
Casa Milà visit
Skip the line access and audio guide in English
Casa Amatller visit
Continue your journey until you get to Casa Batlló on the left, which you must visit if you have time, and the nearby Casa Milà, both works of the great Modernist architect Antoni Gaudí. After visiting these wonderful buildings, we think it’s time to find somewhere to eat.
Keep walking up the Passeig de Gràcia until you reach the Avinguda Diagonal, taking the opportunity to walk past another impressive Modernist building, the Casa Comalat de Salvador Valeri i Pupurull. You will end up in the Vila de Gràcia, which has many good bars and restaurants, for example on Carrer Verdi, in the Plaça del Sol and in the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia.
The nearby Rambla de Catalunya has many outdoor terraces where you can sit and eat. There’s a good variety of restaurants and bars, so you’ll be able to pick the type of food you fancy, and that best fits your budget.
In the afternoon
The plan for this afternoon will take you up to the mountain of Montjuïc. To get there, you can catch the metro to Paral·lel (Lines 2 and 3) and then take the Montjuïc cable car from there. Or, if you have a little more time on your hands then you could head down to Sant Sebastià beach (Barceloneta Metro station, Line 4), in order to take the Aeri del Port cable car, which will take you up to the same area.
Places to see in Montjuïc
Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera (gardens)
Mirador de l’Alcalde (viewpoint)
Camí del Mar
Mirador del Migdia (viewpoint)
The most recommended route is to arrive at Montjuïc on the Aeri del Port cable car, but if you’re short of time then you should consider taking the Montjuïc Funicular and missing out the first two stops on the list.
Some of the main charms of the mountain are the views themselves, the chance to walk round such a green area of land so close to the city centre, and the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset from the castle (make sure you check sunset times, so that you can be sure to arrive at the castle in good time).
When the sun sets, the spectacular son et lumière show at Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain starts, and you’ll be able to catch the number 150 bus down to the fountain, from just by the castle. Make sure you check the days and times of the son et lumière shows in order to plan your visit.
After watching the son et lumière show at the Magic Fountain, you could grab a sandwich and have a picnic on one of the benches in the area, whilst enjoying variations of the show from further away. In the nearby Carrer Lleida you’ll find various bars in which to buy a sandwich to take away.
If you’re visiting Barcelona over the winter months when the sun sets earlier, you might prefer to eat after watching the son et lumière displays at the Magic Fountain. In this case, you could walk up to Calle Blai (around 20 minutes’ walk) and eat in one of the many bars or restaurants. We recommend the pinchos bars, which are both of great quality and cheap, for example Blai 9, Blai Tonight, Blai Tonight 2 and La Tasqueta de Blai.
If sunset falls quite late, you can’t beat taking a picnic up to the castle at Montjuïc, or, if it’s closed, to any of the viewpoints that you’ve visited. You can buy sandwiches or snacks in the bar next to the castle, or in any bar before going up to Montjuïc.
After dinner, we advise you to have a wander along the Rambla del Raval and enjoy a couple of drinks in one of its many bars, or try one of the most traditional bars: London Bar (Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 34) and Bar Marsella (carrer Sant Pau, 65).
Weather: the forecast for the afternoon needs to be fairly good, but it’s also best if it’s not too hot.
Day of the week: it doesn’t make a difference.
Third day in Barcelona: Beach, Paella and the District of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera-Born
In the morning (summer option)
After two days of long walks and visiting museums and so many historic buildings, this third day is somewhat calmer, which will give you a chance to relax, whilst continuing to enjoy the charms of our city.
In the morning, walk up to the beaches of Nova Icària, Bogatell or Mar Bella (the last of which has a designated nudist area). To get there by Metro, depending on which beach you’d like to go to, you’ll need to get off at one of the following stops on Line 4 (the yellow line): Ciutadella / Vila Olímpica, Bogatell, Llacuna, Poblenou or Selva de Mar, then you’ll need to walk for 10 to 15 minutes. Another option is to take the bus, which should take you a little closer to the beach, and numbers 26, 41 and H16 all serve this area, amongst others. If whilst you’re on the beach you’re in need of refreshments, there’s always a Chiringuito (beach snack bar) nearby (for example, El Chiringuito de la Mar Bella, Chiringuito Relevant, Vai Moana or Inercia Xiringuito Beach). Here you’ll also be able to enjoy a bit of shelter from the heat of the sun.
After enjoying the morning sunbathing and swimming in the sea, it’ll be lunchtime, for which we have two options lined up.
Rambla de Poblenou
In this charming wide street you’ll find several restaurants (La Tertulia, Can Toni, Can Recasens o Els Pescadors – the last of which is in the nearby Plaça de Prim) all of which offer local specialties, as well as a great atmosphere.
By the beach: On the Passeig Marítim (boardwalk) at Bogatell and in the surrounding areas you’ll find a few restaurants (Restaurante Mango, L’Escamarlà, Xiringuito Escribà, etc.), where you’ll be able to eat whilst practically staying on the beach. These are ideal places to try dishes such as seafood, paella, fideuá and other varieties of our cuisine inspired by the sea. We suggest that before going to the beach in the morning, or while you’re there, it’s worth popping in to reserve a table, because you may have to wait some time if you don’t.
In the afternoon
After eating, we recommend a walk along the shaded Rambla del Poblenou, which has a great atmosphere – much quieter and more pleasant than on La Rambla de Barcelona.
To cool yourselves down, there’s nothing better than stopping off for a ‘horchata’ or a ‘leche merengada’ (both typical summer drinks) outside the historical bar Tío Ché. They also sell ice creams, but if this is really what you’re after, we suggest to go to the Sicilian ice cream shop Cosi Duci (c/ de Pujades, 218).
After walking up the Rambla del Poblenou, head up to the Parc de la Ciutadella, either on foot (around 30 minutes) or in the Metro (to Bogatell or Ciutadella / Villa Olímpica). If you have time, try to walk round the whole park, and take the opportunity to sit on the grass for a bit, whether in the sun or the shade, enjoying the experience of being surrounded by greenery right in the heart of the city centre. You’ll also have the chance to rent a boat and paddle round the small lake.
Las Golondrinas boat
Boat tour (-10% online)
Barcelona Beach bike tour
English guided tour
After your visit to the park, immerse yourself in the Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and la Ribera-Born, the other quarter of the Old Town that you’re yet to discover. Delve into the streets that are so rich in history, see the beautiful buildings, the museums and the charming hidden corners. Depending on your interests and your priorities, you can take the opportunity to visit as many places as you wish.
There are usually long queues to get into the Picasso Museum, especially during the busiest times of the year for tourists (June, July, August and Easter). We therefore recommend that if you’re interested in visiting the Picasso Museum, you should spend less time in the Parc de la Ciutadella, which will allow you to arrive at the museum earlier. It’s important to check the opening times of all the places you’d like to see.
Picasso Museu with “ArticketBCN”
Picasso Museum + Fundació Joan Miró + Fundació Tàpies + CCCB + MACBA
Picasso Museum with “Barcelona Card”
Access to 25 museums in Barcelona and various discounts
Picasso Museum Guided Tour
Improve your experience visiting the museum
Which sights to visit?
Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
El Born Centre Cultural i de la Memòria
European Museum of Modern Art
Estació de França (railway station)
Palau de la Música Catalana
Barcelona Triumphal Arc
The only problem you’ll have when you’re ready for dinner is the huge variety of bars and restaurants in the area. The vast majority are very good, so we’re sure that you’ll be in for a good meal. Depending on your intuition (which we usually find is right!), your budget and how hungry you are, pick a restaurant to suit you.
You could finish off the night in one of the bars or fashionable nightclubs that are close to the beach of Somorrostro, or if you’re just after a quick nightcap then you can go to any of the bars in the Ribera-Born area.
And what if it’s not summer?
If you’re visiting Barcelona during one of the cooler seasons, we suggest that you do this entire day’s route in reverse, so in the morning start with the Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera-Born quarter, which will give you more time to see the indoor places that interest you (the Picasso Museum, the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, perhaps). During this walk you can also take the opportunity to check out bars and restaurants for lunch and dinner.
After lunch, keep discovering the parts of the district that you haven’t seen, then head up to the Parc de la Ciutadella. If you happen to be travelling with children, you might like to take them to the zoo within the park. As the sun sets, wander down the Rambla del Poblenou, where you’ll be sure to eat well in any of the restaurants that we’ve mentioned before (and added to that list, Els Tres Porquets). After dinner, for those who aren’t ready for bed, we recommend exploring one of the other areas of the city, as the nightlife in Poblenou isn’t what it used to be. You could go to one of the bars or nightclubs next to the beach at Somorrostro, or into the city centre where as you’d expect, there are some great bars that stay open late at night.
Weather: it needs to be a sunny day, at least in the morning, seeing as you’ll be spending the first part of the day by the sea.
Day of the week: it doesn’t make a difference, although weekends are busier on the beach..
Fourth day in Barcelona: Football, more Gaudí and an incredible sunset
In the morning
You can do the visits in whichever order you prefer. To get from Camp Nou to the Sagrada Familia or vice versa you should take Line 5 of the Metro (from Collblanc or Badal to Sagrada Familia or vice versa).
Visita Sagrada Familia
English audio guide
Sagrada Familia + Tower
English audio guide + tower
Camp Nou Tour and F.C. Barcelona Museum
Skip the line
Alternative plans if don’t like football
Jardins de Pedralbes (gardens)
Parc de Cervantes (park)
Park of the Labyrinth of Horta
After completing your visits, head up to the Vila de Gràcia (Fontana Metro stop on Line 4, and many buses go up there too) for something to eat.
There are many squares with bars and outdoor terraces, which are perfect for enjoying a spot of lunch in the summer months. Strolling through the streets of Gràcia you’ll also find many more places in which you’ll get a good meal at a reasonable price.
In the afternoon
After lunch, have a walk round the Vila de Gràcia district, which used to be a separate town from Barcelona, but over the years with the sprawl of the city, it’s become a part of the city itself. If you have time, as you’re walking up to Park Güell, take time to have a look at Casa Vicens. Also a work by Gaudí, its beautiful coloured façade is well worth seeing.
After the uphill walk you’ll arrive at Park Güell, where you can visit the Monumental Zone of the park, one of the most admired and photographed of all Gaudí’s projects. Upon finishing your visit, walk down Carrer Larrard and stop off at the Gaudí Experiència on your right. Here you can see a free exhibition dedicated to Antoni Gaudí’s works, and the main attraction is a 4-dimensional film about the architect’s world, which you would need to pay to enter.
Casa Vicens visit
Skip the line
In order to reach the next destination, the incredible viewpoint of the Turó de la Rovira, you should walk down to the nearby Plaça Lesseps, where you need to catch bus number 24, and get off at the Carretera (road) del Carmel / Mühlberg stop (if in doubt, ask the driver). When you get off the bus you’ll see a bar, Las Delicias, which is a typical local bar of the Carmel district, and they do wonderful patatas bravas. You have two options – the first, if you’re already hungry, is to eat here (but note it’s closed on Sunday afternoons and evenings). If you’d rather wait, you could buy sandwiches and snacks to take away, and eat them when you get up to the viewpoint, which you reach by going up Carrer Mühlberg.
You’ll be able to see the incredible 360º view of the city from the top of the Turó de la Rovira, and it’s really worth the walk. Over the past few years it has become one of the essential places to visit in Barcelona.
Try to arrive at least 45 minutes before sunset, so that you can see the views of the city in the daylight, during the sunset itself and by night – we hope this will leave you with some fond memories of Barcelona to take home with you!
After this wonderful experience, take bus number 24 (and remember to check the timetable in advance), which will drop you off in the centre of Barcelona. From there you could return to your hotel, or if you want to make the most of your last hours in the city you could head to any of the bars in the city, for example those in the Plaça Reial.
Weather: ideally sunny weather, at least in the afternoon, as there aren’t many places to shelter from the rain in Park Güell and at the Turó de la Rovira viewpoint.
Day of the week: it doesn’t make a difference, although at weekends the viewpoint can be very busy, so we recommend going during the week if possible.
Travel advices and transport for 4 days
Barcelona Card 4 days + Gaudí Bundle
Given the amount of times you’re likely to use public transport, the likelihood is that buying a discount card will be beneficial. You just need to choose between the Hola Barcelona 4-day travel card (just valid for public transport), or the 4-day Barcelona Card (that includes entry to some museums and discounts to some tourist locations).
Price of 4-day Hola Barcelona travel card: €30.80.
Price of 4-day Barcelona Card: €56.
Cost of seeing the sights: it varies hugely according to which museums, monuments and tourist locations you’d like to visit.
Timetables and events: make sure you check the opening hours of the places you want to visit, and research the events that are taking place in Barcelona while you’re there.
What do I want to see?: thinking about this will help you decide whether buying a Hola Barcelona Travel card (Hola BCN!) or a Barcelona Card would be beneficial.
Enjoy every minute: in three days you’ll be able to fit so much in, so make the most of every minute because we’re sure you’ll leave the city with very fond memories of your trip.
Leaving shopping to the last minute: with a few exceptions, you won’t get the opportunity to go to the same place twice, so when you see a gift or souvenir that you’d like to buy, it’s best to strike while the iron’s hot!
The restaurants and bars on Las Ramblas: on the outdoor terraces on the lower part of Las Ramblas you won’t eat half as well as in the neighbouring streets. Avoid these places and venture just a little bit further afield in search of better places to eat.
Take care of your belongings: it might seem impossible to be watchful over your things 100% of the time, but do your best and take care, especially in the Metro, buses and tourist locations where there are crowds of people, for example on Las Ramblas and in queues for museums and monuments.