How to spend 2 or 3 days in Barcelona
Spend a weekend in Barcelona
So, you’re thinking of taking a weekend break in Barcelona. Great choice! Barcelona is one of the top European cities for a weekend city break. Whether you’ve got 2 or 3 days for sightseeing in Barcelona we’ve got plenty of things to see and do. So you can be as relaxed or as busy as you want to be.
Although I’ve focused this article on a weekend in Barcelona it’ll still work perfectly well as a midweek break. Or even as part of a longer trip. A few days in a city is enough to get a good taste of what it has to offer. However, it’s rarely long enough to really explore anywhere in depth. That’s particularly true in big cities such as Barcelona. Look on a weekend in Barcelona as an opportunity to get to know the city and find out why you need to come back.
Barcelona Weekend Itinerary
Firstly, let’s start with an itinerary outline for your weekend in Barcelona. Don’t feel that you have to follow it exactly Treat it as an illustration of what’s possible so that you can it mould to your own requirements. I’ve tried to cover the main Barcelona landmarks while still allowing plenty of time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. By all means, mix it up if that suits you better.
Your Barcelona Weekend
- Arrive late afternoon
- Settle into your hotel and relax with a welcome drink
- Take a stroll down Las Ramblas
- Enjoy the evening tapas
- La Sagrada Familia
- Gaudi House Museum
- Parc Guell
- Casa Vicens
- Casa Mila
- Camp Nou
- Picasso Museum
- Catalan History Museum
- Walk along the Beach
A weekend in Barcelona
How you spend the first day of your Barcelona weekend will depend on what time you arrive. If you get an early flight you’ll want to drop your luggage at the hotel and head out sightseeing straight away. On the other hand, if you’re taking a flight after a busy week at work you’ll probably want to take things a bit easier. Also, you may not arrive early enough for any sightseeing today.
When to arrive for your weekend in Barcelona
I think an ideal time to arrive in any city is after your hotel check-in time. This is usually mid-afternoon although it can be earlier in some hotels. Even though you may be tempted to get the earliest possible flight into Barcelona to get maximum time on your break, it’s not always the best option.
The first thing to remember is that if you catch a 6 am flight you’ll need to be at the airport by 4 am at the latest. Even an 8 am flight, which might seem reasonable when you book it, means a very early start from home. That’s not the best way to prepare for a busy weekend sightseeing. You’ll be exhausted before you even start. For this reason, I prefer to book a late morning flight if it’s from a local airport or closer to lunchtime if it’s Gatwick or Heathrow.
You don’t have to fly to Barcelona
Of course, there might be lots of reasons to ignore that advice. Early morning flights can be a real bargain, for instance. Then again, you might not be flying at all. You can easily get to Barcelona by train and it’s a great way to travel to the city. If you take a morning train from St Pancras you’ll be in Barcelona by early evening.
I’m going to assume that you’ll arrive in Barcelona by mid-afternoon and plan accordingly. Don’t worry if you plan on arriving later because it’s a gentle start to the weekend and you can catch up later.
Settle into your Barcelona hotel for the weekend
Head straight to your hotel, check-in and unpack. You’ll feel as though you’ve properly arrived then. Depending on your preference, grab a cup of coffee or something stronger and get ready to explore the city. Now, you’re ready to go you’ll want to get out and about into the heart of Barcelona. A good place to start is with a stroll down the famous boulevard, Las Ramblas.
Most of Las Ramblas is pedestrianised so you won’t have to worry about traffic. On the other hand, it can get very busy with tourists. On the negative side, pickpocketing is a big issue in this area. So, do be careful with your belongings. It’s not something to get paranoid about but take simple security precautions. For instance, don’t keep your wallet or purse in a back pocket, use a crossbody handbag or better still, a money belt or concealed pouch. I’ve been to Barcelona many times and never had a problem but it does happen. Whatever you do though, don’t let it put you off exploring this area as it’s a really fun place to visit.
Getting to Las Ramblas
If you’re not staying near Las Ramblas then it’s an easy place to get to. You can take the metro to the North end of the boulevard, Catalunya stop, on the green or red lines. Alternatively, you can get the metro to a more central stop, Liceu, via the green line or start at the southern end by getting off the green line at Drassanes. I’d recommend starting at the northern end as it’s a nicer area and a much better introduction to Las Ramblas.
Tapas and wine
Afterwards, you’ll want to find somewhere to eat, and perhaps a nice glass of Spanish wine. The Spanish tend to eat dinner comparatively late. If you prefer to eat earlier then tapas is an excellent alternative. Traditionally, a tapa is an appetizer or snack which is served either hot or cold. However, it’s easy to make a good meal out of several small portions and it’s a great way to sample the local cuisine.
Try some local Catalonian wines
Before you order a bottle of Rioja to accompany your tapas consider one of the local wines instead. I love a good Rioja and it is Spain’s most famous wine but Barcelona is actually in Catalonia and they have some pretty fabulous wines of their own. For instance, Priorat is produced on the steep hillsides south of Barcelona. Another nearby wine growing community is Penedès, which produces both red and white wines. While, the unique climate in Montsant allows them to produce some excellent young, fresh red wines.
Let’s dedicate today to the famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi. You can’t come to Barcelona without seeing some of his work and in fact, that also means seeing some of the cities most famous landmarks. Gaudi was influenced by neo-Gothic and Oriental artistic techniques and he is sometimes referred to as the architect of Catalan Modernism. Like many artists, his work wasn’t fully appreciated when he was alive but he’s become one of Spain most renowned artists. Even if you know nothing about Gaudi or art, when you walk the streets of Barcelona you’ll be drawn to his amazing designs. I think you’ll agree that his architecture is quite unique and absolutely stunning. Perhaps that why no fewer than 7 of his works have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Getting around during your Barcelona weekend
Before we get started with the itinerary let’s think about how you’re going to get around. I’d always advise using public transport and in Barcelona, the metro is the obvious choice. It’s cheap, efficient and will get you everywhere you need to go. You can buy a 2-day travel card which covers transport on the metro, bus and the funicular. Either buy at a metro station or purchase one online before you go. They cost 15.20 Euros per person.
I like to use these unlimited travel cards as I think they’re useful for a tourist. Sometimes we get lost or take the wrong train and it’s easy to just hop on a different one. Also, you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve bought the correct ticket for your destination. All stops in the city are covered. If you’re staying longer than 2 days then you can buy passes for 3, 4 or 5 days.
Otherwise, you can pay as you go. Buy a T10 ticket for 10.20 Euros. Just use one ticket for each journey. Whichever ticket you choose make sure you validate it before you use it.
La Sagrada Familia
Firstly, head to La Sagrada Familia. Here you’ll see what is probably Gaudi’s most famous piece of work. He drew up the plans for the Basilica in 1883 and construction began shortly afterwards. However, it was never completed and in fact, construction continues to this day. Hopefully, it will finally be completed in 2026. One of the reasons for this is that Gaudi insisted that it was built from the proceeds of donations alone. He wanted it to be a church for the people.
Practical Info to plan your visit to La Sagrada Familia
Opening times vary throughout the year. The Basilica is open from 9 am to 6 pm all year but open later during the summer months. To get here take the metro, either L2 (Purple) or L5 (Blue) lines to Sagrada Familia station. Depending on your budget there are a number of ticket options. For 17 Euros you get entry to the Basilica to tour on your own. Pay a bit extra, 25 Euros, and you get the self-guided audio tour. I would suggest paying 27 Euros to include the Gaudi House museum as well if you want the audio guide. Alternatively, for the fitter amongst you, there is an option to climb the tower for 32 Euros.
Gaudi House Museum
Linger at La Sagrada Familia and take it all in. Afterwards, head to the Gaudi House Museum where the great man lived from 1906 to 1925. It aims to give a glimpse into Gaudi’s life to show more than just his architecture. Inside you’ll see personal items such as furniture, documents and religious artefacts.
Getting to the Gaudi House Museum
If you don’t already have a combined ticket from La Sagrada Familia then the entry is 5.50 Euros. The easiest way to get there is to walk from the Basilica to Passeig de Sant Joan – València and take the V19 bus. Walk through the park opposite La Sagrada and take the opportunity for a great photo of the Basilica. Take the V19 bus towards Pl. Alfonso Comín and get off at C N Catalunya (9 stops). Then it’s a 5-minute walk to the Gaudi House Museum.
From the museum, you can walk into the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Parc Guell. This is one of the highlights of Barcelona for me. You can spend hours wandering around this amazing 45-hectare park. One of the things I love about Gaudi’s work in Barcelona is how innovative and unusual it is. This park is the perfect example. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere else quite like it. You do have to pay 10 Euros to get into the main decorative part of the park but this fee does go towards maintenance of the site so it’s money well spent. You can book online in advance and you really should in the summer as it’s a very popular landmark. The outer park is lovely but you really do want to get inside the regulated area.
A note on Lunch during your weekend in Barcelona
You’ll notice that I haven’t specified a time or place for you to eat lunch. There’s a good reason for this. I haven’t just forgotten, honest! Mainly, it’s because it’s impossible for me to know how long you’re going to take to explore a place or when you’re going to get hungry. We tend to grab a sandwich as we go. If we get hungry and we see a cafe or restaurant we like the look of then we go in. I think it’s a better strategy than trying to specify a particular place. I don’t want you to feel you should be looking for a specific cafe or restaurant. You’ll find plenty of time in the schedule to take a long lunch if you choose to or spend more time exploring the sights.
Also, remember that you can bow out of the sightseeing whenever you want to. We all tour at our own pace. So, if you’re tired and want to go back to the hotel for a rest, then do it. If you take longer at each attraction and run out of time then that’s actually great. You’re enjoying the places I’ve suggested. If you don’t get to see it all you know what that means, don’t you? Indeed, you’ve got to come back for another visit!
You can walk to Casa Vicens from Parc Guell in about 20 minutes. Less, if you’re a fast walker. Otherwise, take the number 116 bus to Gran de Gràcia – Lesseps. Casa Vicens is really significant when you consider Gaudi’s buildings in Barcelona because it was his first important work. It’s also one of the first Art Nouveau buildings anywhere in the world. Gaudi designed the house for the owner of a ceramics factory and he incorporated tiles into the buildings to reflect this.
Casa Vicens is open from 10 am to 8 pm in the summer and 10 am to 7 pm in winter. On Mondays, in winter it closes at 3 pm instead. General admission is 16 Euros but children under 11 are free. I like museums and houses where you are free to visit on your own and at your own pace and Casa Vicens is one of these places. If you prefer a guided tour then you can add one for an extra 3.50 Euros per person.
The Essence of Casa Vicens
They also offer a slightly more unusual guided tour called ‘The Essence of Casa Vicens”. The tour was created by the perfumer and artist Ernest Ventós/Nasevo. It aims to take you on a tour to awaken the senses and highlights the smells of Casa Vicens. It is only offered on a few days a week so if you’re keen then you should book ahead. At 22 Euros it’s quite expensive but it is something rather unique. In addition, children under 11 are still free on the tour which is great for families.
If you still have the appetite for more Gaudi architecture then head to Casa Mila. Even if you just take a look at the outside as you make your way back to the Las Ramblas area, it’s worthwhile. You can easily walk from Casa Vicens to Casa Mila and it’s a good way to take in the other sights and sounds of Barcelona as you go. If you’d rather not walk then hop on the metro, it’s a quick trip on L3 (green).
Casa Mila was the one building I wanted to see the first time I visited Barcelona. It’s the one I’d seen photographed most and I couldn’t really believe that such a distinctive building could actually exist. So, for me, Casa Mila personifies Gaudi’s Barcelona. It’s not as pretty as Calas Vicena, although the overall effect is quite amazing. However, its curves and smooth lines look as though they’re actually moving. There’s a kind of flow to it that is actually quite mesmerising.
Casa Mila is also known as La Pedrera or the stone quarry due to its limestone facade. One of the most exciting things about a visit here is that you can walk about on the roof. Trust me, it’s like no other roof you’ve ever been on.
Opening hours and tours at Casa Mila
You can visit Casa Mila from 9 am to 8.30am in summer or until 6.30pm in winter. They also offer a night tour from 9 am to 11 pm in summer and 7 pm to 9 pm in winter. They offer various admission options. The basic daytime entry ticket is 22 Euros, 11 Euros for children and under 6 go free. This includes a free audio guide. They also offer a premium daytime ticket which allows you to jump the queue for 29 Euros. If you want to tour Casa Mila at night then you need to purchase the ‘Day and Night’ pass which, at 41 Euros allows the usual entry during the day plus a guided tour at night.
Relax and enjoy dinner in Barcelona
After all the walking and sightseeing today, you’ll want to relax this evening. In Spain, it’s traditional to eat later but you’ll still find plenty of places to eat if you prefer an earlier dinner. Here are a few suggestions for you:
For a good value restaurant near Las Ramblas that is open all day, try Pasta Market. When you go in they give you a sheet to fill in with choices of pasta, sauce etc. The food is made fresh to order and they have vegetarian and vegan options.
If you’re looking for something a bit more traditionally Spanish, try Bodega Biarritz. It’s a tapas bar with a good reputation for friendly service and good food. Ask them to recommend something if you’re not sure what to try. Again, they have a range of veggie and vegan options.
Gran Viana is another local restaurant with a good reputation for great food and customer service. You can even book a table online. So easy! It’s a really nice place to relax and enjoy tapas and wine. Plenty of choices for vegetarians.
For somewhere a bit different you could try Teddy’s Barcelona. It’s a small restaurant which specialises in Lebanese and Middle-Eastern food as well as some Mediterranean options. The wraps get rave reviews and it’s very reasonably priced. They also cater for vegetarians and vegans.
If this is the last day of your weekend in Barcelona then try to make the most of it. Don’t book an early flight or train home. Even if you need to check out of your hotel early there will be somewhere to leave your bags while you get in some more sightseeing. If you’re staying another day or more then think about taking a day trip outside the city as well.
After spending the day yesterday exploring the fabulous architecture of Antonio Gaudi let’s have a change of scenery today. Although Gaudi is one of the big attractions in Barcelona there are plenty of other things to see and do.
We’ll start with a visit to the home of Barcelona’s famous football team, the Camp Nou. To get there take the metro Line 3 to Palau Reial or Les Corts, or Line 5 to Collblanc or Badal.
Barcelona FC’s stadium is an impressive sight. It’s the largest in Europe and can seat 100,000 football fans. During your visit, you can explore the stands, peek inside the changing room, tunnel and press room. You’ll get a close-up view of the field and even get to sit in the dugout.
The museum will walk you through the history of Barcelona FC. You’ll see memorabilia of many years of footballing success. Information on the players, trophies, matches are displayed alongside audiovisual and multimedia installations. You can see the four Ballons d’Or and two Golden Boots won by Argentinean Messi in the “Espai Leo Messi”, an area of the museum which is dedicated to the player. Even if you’re not a huge football fan there’s enough to keep you occupied here for an hour or two.
Tickets and Tours at Camp Nou
Tickets cost 25 Euros for the basic tour, 20 Euros for seniors over 70 and children. Under 5s go free. This gets you entry to the museum and a self-guided tour of the stadium. You can take a guided tour for an extra fee if you prefer. If you are visiting on a match day then be warned that the tour prices are much more expensive. Unless you are a football fan who wants to see the match then I would suggest avoiding match days. Of course, if you’re in Barcelona when a match is on and you’d like to see them play then you can tour the stadium and museum as well.
Gaudi isn’t the only person who has inspired Barcelona. Pablo Picasso lived and worked in the city and you can learn more about his relationship with Barcelona at the Picasso museum. The museum highlights the work of his formative years up to the Blue Period. You can also see important works from 1917, and the series Las Meninas (1967).
From Camp Nou, take the L3 Metro to Liceu. The museum is open on Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm, otherwise, it is open 9 am to 8.30pm (until 9.30 pm on Thursday). Entry is free on Thursdays from 6 pm to 9.30 pm and on the first Sunday of the month. Tickets cost 12 Euros, 7 Euros for seniors. Under 18s are free.
Catalan History Museum
Next, it’s a short 10-minute walk to the Catalan History Museum. I always like to find out more about the history of a city or region when I visit and the Catalan Museum is quite fascinating. The museum is housed in a historic building known as the Palau de Mer, in the old industrial port of Barcelona. It was designed to resemble the docks of London and Liverpool.
Throughout the museum, you can see exhibits which capture Catalonia’s history from pre-history to the present day. The main exhibition is called “The Memory of a Country”. It gives you an idea of the uniqueness of Catalonia within Spanish history and its sense of identity. Also, make sure you head up to the 4th floor during your visit to take in the spectacular views from the terrace.
Tickets and Opening hours
The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 7 pm, Wednesday from 10 am to 8 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 2.30pm. Tickets cost 4.50 Euros for the main exhibition, 3 Euros for seniors and students. Children under 16 are free. Visit on the first Sunday of the month for free entry for all.
Finish your weekend in Barcelona with a walk on the beach
So your time in Barcelona must come to an end. Finish your weekend in Barcelona with a walk along the wonderful beach. Maybe even dip your toes in the water or relax on the sand for a while. You can walk along the promenade and enjoy the sea air. Nearby you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants for a late lunch before heading home.