Barcelona City Guide | Barcelona in 3 Days

Tuesday 15 August 2017


barcelona 3 day city guide

I recently got back from probably the best vacation I will ever get to go on in my life. I had the chance to visit so many cities that I had always dreamed of visiting, and one of those places was Barcelona! I've felt a desire to go there for the last few years. Something about tapas, the beach, and warm sunny weather just really pulled me in.

barcelona 3 day city guide

I thought Barcelona in 3 days sounded better than Barcelona in 2-and-a-half-days, but 2-and-a-half-days would be more accurate. We landed in Barcelona from Malaga at about noon, and were in our hotel by 2:00 PM. We were exhausted and spend a few hours resting before venturing out to explore the city. I had actually wanted to take the train from Malaga to Barcelona, but we were travelling with friends and they had already booked the flight. We all thought it was easier since we only had one car if we were to all take the same flight.

Before getting into the rough overview of what we did each day, I wanted to take a moment to frame with you the mindset that we brought to this portion of the trip. In Southern Spain we visited many historic towns and attractions. In Barcelona we wanted to eat good food, spend time with friends, and enjoy the local culture. For this segment of the trip we were joined by my best friend, her boyfriend and my boyfriend's best friend. You can definitely pack more in to your time in Barcelona than we did. However we took it easy. Everybody was pretty exhausted from the previous week (if you would like a post about that let me know!) so we placed a higher value on doing less, and enjoying every moment rather than pushing to the limit just to check every box.


12:00 Our flight from Malaga landed. We took a cab from the airport for about 33 Euro.

2:00 PM We checked into our hotel and took a bit of a rest.

5:00 PM Tapas Tour

barcelona tapas tour

Our tapas and some sights we saw along the way!

We met at Tours, Tapas and Friends where we were assigned to a small group of fellow tourists and food enthusiasts. We started walking down La Rambla before visiting the famous Boqueria Market where we saw fresh sea food, and a sea of cured meats. Next we headed off to the Gothic Quarter where we stopped first at a restaurant that focuses on wine (hello!). At this restaurant our group enjoyed some "family style" tapas (the muscles were divine!). After a brief stop and a bit of a rest we headed along to our second restaurant where we had the chance to select some yummy tapas which I washed down with a glass of sangria. During the course of the tour we each had eight tapas and two drinks. Our guide told us that it didn't sound like much, but by the time we were done we did not need a "real" dinner! Along the way we stopped at a pastry shop, a sweet shop, and saw many of Barcelona's historic sights! Our guide Sebastian was energetic and approachable. He was able to answer any questions, and taught us some new facts about local cuisine. The most interesting thing we learned was the difference between Iberian Ham and Serrano Ham. Basically, Iberian Ham is darker and better tasting because the pigs get to live free range and eat a lot of acorns while living on an island.

I really like that we did this tour first. It gave us a bit of a bearing on where things were located in the city, and checked off a bunch of things on my to-do list. Bonus points because it was both a meal and an activity! We loved getting to know some of the other people on the tour. There was a really nice group of Americans who just finished off a cruise, and a really nice girl from Bahrain who was about my age!

You can learn more about this tour, and book tickets here.

7:30 PM

With the tapas tour over, we headed back to our hotel for a dip in the pool and an early-ish night. After two weeks of walking on cobblestone our legs are SORE and we needed the rest.


barcelona bus tour

View from the top of the double decker bus as we drove through Barcelona!

One of the decisions we made as a group was that we would all get bus passes for the Barcelona Bus Touristic. This is the original and official tour bus of Barcelona. We loved the idea of taking this bus because we would get to see everything, and it would be easy. No navigating public transit or stressing about missing things. This bus pas includes three routes: Blue (North), Red (Main) and Green (Beach). (The names in brackets are just my basic description of what they include).

On Sunday we did not have much of a set schedule. We decided to do the Blue bus route together and so we met our friends at the Plaza Catalunya in the mid-morning, boarded the bus, and began our day. Some of the highlights of the blue bus route include:

Barcelona in 3 days

Some of the sights we saw on the bus!

Barcelona in 3 days

Hanging out in Park Güell. Love the details!

Park Güell

Park Güell is a public park (with some areas you have to pay to access) including gardens and art in the north end of Barcelona. This park is about a 10 minute walk, up hill, from where the bus drops you off, so be ready for that! The park was designed by Antoni Gaudí and opened in 1926. My favourite part of the park is the mosaic wall. Not only does it make for an amazing photo stop, but every detail is just so pretty. Something to keep in mind: If you would like to access the paid area of the park you must buy your tickets in advance. If we had bought ours on the day of (we got there around 11 AM) we wouldn't have been able to access the grounds until 8 pm.

Palau Reial de Pedralbes

Palau Reial de Pedralbes is located in the middle of a beautiful garden. It was once the residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they visited Barcelona. It now holds the Ceramic Museum, The Textile Museum and the Museum of Interior Design. We did not visit any of those museums (we were on a tight timeline) but did take some time to enjoy the gardens and the building.


We then took the bus back to the Plaza Catalunya where we stumbled across a restaurant that offered 1 Euro tapas on Sundays. So far nobody can remember the name of it, but it was really yummy!

Eventually we got back on the bus and headed to the Sagrada Familia. This is another place where you want to be sure you buy your tickets in advance. We bought ours online the night before and there were only evening slots left for a group of 6.

Barcelona in 3 days

Sagrada Familia inside and out!

Sagrada Familia 

The Sagrada Familia is a massive Catholic church that began construction in 1882, and is famously not complete. It is the most unique combination of artistic styles that I have ever seen, and I hope that one day I can see it completed. It relies on private donations, and the speed of construction depends on the rate of which donations are received. We learned that they are working towards a completion date of 2026-- 100 years after the death of its architect and designer, Antoni Gaudí.

Just as we were leaving the Sagrada Familia, it began to pour rain! We ran to the metro, went back to our hotel, and went to bed.


mosaic workshop barcelona

Mosaic Workshop

We started our morning at Mosaiccos where we participated in a mosaic workshop. My boyfriend and I both chose to make a picture frame. We thought it was the perfect reminder of our trip: something useful, something we made, something that participates in local culture, and a place we can frame some photos of our trip!Mosaics actually has a history in Barcelona, made famous by Gaudí. It was really cool to be able to make my own having just seen some of his work the day before at the park!

The workshop was really cool. It started off with us deciding what we wanted to make (picture frame or seahorse) (they have other options, it depends on how long your workshop is!). From there we were shown how to cut the glass down to tiny pieces and instructed in best practices. I opted to create a sun, sky and ocean inspired frame while my boyfriend wanted to have a warm to cool gradient. After we were done the instructor touched up our pieces and took care of grouting them. On the way out we had a chance to see some of the work that the experts created!

mosaic workshop barcelona

Mosaics by the experts!

This workshop is great for people of all ages -- even kids(maybe age 7 and up?). I was surprised that the glass cutting didn't result in cuts. So long as you follow the safety precautions laid out by the team at Mosaiccos you will be fine! We were able to pick up our piece about 5 hours after we made it. I suggest booking a morning slot and coming by in the evening, or doing it any time and picking it up the net day!

barcelona in 3 days

Some highlights from the red and green bus lines!

Bus Tour

After we were done with our mosaics we hopped on the Red line of the bus we took the day before. The Red line is more or less the main bus line. We enjoyed riding the bus around different neighbourhoods. I loved being able to hop on and hop off at our own pace. Some of our favourite stops included:

Plaça D'Espanya

We got off here and took some great photos. This famous square is just steps to one of the prettiest buildings I saw in Barcelona: The Palau Nacional. Home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia this building is quite a hike up. Just off to the side you can find outdoor escalators that get you up!I know it sounds lazy... but Spain is really hot in the summer!

barcelona in 3 days

Hanging out at the beach, or "platja" in Catalan

Port Olympic

We got off at Port Olympic to check out the beach. I wish we had time to spend a lazy afternoon here, but it was pretty cool to check out the beach for a few minutes and dip my toes in the sea.

Other Tips

Taking the metro in Barcelona is easy. We purchased a T-10 card with 10 one way rides loaded on it. The cool thing about this card is that it can be used by multiple people. It worked well for us because we just needed the card to get us to the main bus pick up and back to our hotel each day. If you were to pay for just one ride at a time you would pay 2.15 Euro. The T-10 card cost 9.95 Euro.

Go for tapas. You won't regret it.

If you have any questions about my time in Barcelona or are looking for suggestions please leave me a comment and I would be happy to answer it for you!

If you are thinking about travelling to Barcelona, check out Visit Barcelona's website. You can read my review of the hotel we stayed at here

Barcelona Tourism provided me a press card that included admission to many attractions and activities. Opinions remain my own. 

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