3 days in Barcelona – delve into the heart of the city – day 1

To claim that you’ve ‘seen’ Barcelona may not be possible. As regular visitors and residents will tell you, this city offers something new on a day-by-day, and street-by-street, basis. But for those of you on a tight schedule, at Oh-Barcelona.com we’ve decided to put our heads together to attempt the nigh-on impossible task of distilling the best that Barcelona has to offer into a 3-day itinerary.

If you would rather take a guided tour, have a look at our suggestions.

Day One

Take a quick glance at a map of Barcelona and you’ll notice how the city fans out towards the mountains from a nucleus of entangled streets. This nucleus is the Ciutat Vella, the ‘old town’, and this part of the city will be the focus of your first day. The area provides an ideal starting point for visiting Barcelona, as it not only demonstrates the origins of the city, but is also brimming with iconic sights.

Crowds and stalls on Las Ramblas Barcelona Las Ramblas

09:00 – Navigate Las Ramblas

Make your way to Plaça de Catalunya, which sits on the edge of the old town and is the main transport hub. From here you can walk down Las Ramblas, the world’s best-known tree-lined avenue. This street is always awash with tourists, so it’s easy to be swept along by the crowds, past all the flower stalls and street performers. On your way down Las Ramblas keep an eye out for the pavement mosaics by surrealist master Joan Miró.

Your most important stop, though, will be the Mercat de la Boquería, Europe’s largest food market – the perfect place to pick up some local produce and a freshly made fruit juice to keep you going.

10:00 – Relax in the squares of Gótico

It’s time to take a left turn into the Gótico (the Gothic quarter). Just off Las Ramblas you’ll find the splendid Plaça Reial, a neoclassical gem that happens to contain Antoni Gaudí’s first work in the city – the lampposts by the central fountain. Take this opportunity to grab a coffee in one of the cafés that line this teeming square.

The Gótico has numerous one-off boutiques and galleries which are great for nosing around in. Carrer de Ferran is particularly good for window shopping and at the end of this street is Plaça de Sant Jaume, Barcelona´s civic square. Here you’ll find the Palau de la Generalitat, the seat of the Catalan government, with the city’s town hall opposite.

11:00 Meet the geese in the cloister

From this square, veer left onto Carrer del Bisbe, where you’ll see a much-photographed Gothic-style arch, and come out in front of the 13th-century Cathderal. (Or, Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia, to give it its full name). As the most prominent Catalan Gothic building in the city, the Cathedral is awe-inspiring on both the outside and the inside. Its numerous chapels, dedicated to individual saints, are all remarkable works of craftsmanship in their own right, and you’re likely to see devout visitors taking a moment with their favoured saint.

Arch in Gótico Gothic Arch – Carrer del Bisbe

The cloister also houses a surprising bunch of residents – 13 geese, one for each year in the life of Saint Eulàlia, the church’s martyr namesake. Particularly in the summer this part of Barcelona can feel a bit claustrophobic – to help you get your bearings above the warren of the old town, take a lift to the cathedral’s roof. If you’re keen to find a part of the Gótico for a moment’s peace and quiet seek out the haunting tranquillity of Plaça de Sant Felip Neri.

13.30 – Enjoy lunch like a local

Hungry? Well, you’re in the right place – there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to food in the old town. To avoid the more tourist-oriented eateries in the Gótico, you could head across Via Laietana to Born – eating here will give you a better chance of mingling with the locals. For tapas try Bubó or for plentiful, good-value portions of paella in an intimate setting try Mar de la Ribera. When eating out at lunchtime it’s a good idea to look for a set menu, or ‘menu del diá’, which can easily fill you up for a reasonable price.

15:00 Get some divine inspiration

After taking your time over lunch, begin to explore the Born district. For several decades the area has been buzzing with artistic activity and offers a quieter, more authentic alternative to the Gótico. However it’s just as steeped in history. In contrast to the cathedral you visited in the morning, the church of Santa María del Mar on Passeig del Born, is a more austere but equally inspiring piece of gothic architecture. The story of this church has inspired a prize-winning novel and the proportions of its interior are widely considered an example of medieval architecture par excellence.

16:00 – Rummage about in the Born

Emerge from the light and airy interior and look for Carrer Montcada which starts just behind the church. This street is crammed with museums and galleries. It’s also interesting in its own right, with some of the best examples of secular medieval architecture in the city. The main attraction on this street is the Museu Picasso, exhibiting the painter’s earlier works, and is a must for fans of this incredibly influential figure. Montcada is also home to the Disseny Hub, with a fine collection of design and applied arts, and the Museu Barbier-Mueller d’ art Precolombí, a well-regarded collection of pre-Colombian works. Let yourself get lost in one of these great collections.

Palau de la Musica CatalanaPalau de la Música Catalana en el Born

17:00 – Gawp at Catalan craftsmanship

The Born district extends further inland, where its pedestrianised streets gradually become more residential and lined with small bars and fruit shops. Carrer Sant Pere Mes Alt has one of the best buildings in the entire city – the Palau de la Música Catalana . If you have time, a tour of this unbelievably decadent Modernista concert hall is worthwhile (although don’t forget to buy your tickets in advance). If not, just admiring the façade of this shrine to Catalan culture is an event in itself.

18:00 Cool down by the sea

That’s almost it for day one…

For the perfect tonic after a day’s pounding the city streets, hop on the metro from the nearby Urquinaona station on line 4 to Barceloneta.This will bring you out near the city’s stylishly renovated waterfront. The laid-back atmosphere of this area makes it one of the best spots in the city to sip a drink and look back at the old town. There are loads of options for dinner, particularly when it comes to seafood. Don´t forget that that in Catalonia, like the rest of Spain, people tend to eat dinner later in the evening. If your appetite returns with a vengeance, we recommend Rangoli, an excellent Indian restaurant (its tasting menu is a real treat). Otherwise, as you might expect, seafood restaurants predominate in this part of the city. Can Maño is a truly authentic Barcelonan place to eat – book ahead to avoid disappointment in this extremely popular and slightly raucous restaurant.


3 Days Barcelona - Day 1 auf einer größeren Karte anzeigen


What did you think of day 1? Feel free to post your comment below. Or, if you’re up for day 2, let’s go

Ready to look for accommodation?

Want to stay in the centre of the action? Well take a look at our great selection of apartments near Las Ramblas.

We guarantee you’ll pay the lowest price for your apartment that’s out there on the internet – or we’ll give you double the difference back. Just plug in your details below and away you go.

Your perfect Barcelona apartment Your perfect Barcelona apartment Your perfect Barcelona apartment Your perfect Barcelona apartment

Adults (>17)
Children Infants (<2)


    • Glad you found this useful! I think it’s important not to try to squeeze everything into a few days, if there’s any other tips or advice you might need for your stay here, feel free to ask here!



  1. I host food tours and just wanted to add to the food recommendations and say that at the beginning of any visit a food tour around the gothic neighborhood with The Barcelona Taste is a really nice way to try a few local spots and get great recommendations for further eating delight! Olé!

  2. Thanks for this fab itinerary. Just spent an anniversary weekend with my husband in Barcelona, for the first time. We followed it (almost) entirely and had a wonderful time. Walked till we dropped and really had a sense that we’d seen the city.

    Added a touristy flamenco evening on Friday night and a “4 Guitar” concert in a church on Sat eve. Perfect! Many thanks again,

  3. Very glad to have come across this website. Just arrived in Barcelona and intending to follow it. Just a quick question though: Could you provide a list of must-see museums and another for alternative ones? What is the best way to see them?- any discount offers/tickets one needs to be aware of…. and, in regards to mode of transport, which is better the metro, or the bus touristico?
    Now gotta crash, so can be at the placa de cataluna tomorrow at 9am!

    • Hi Mo,

      We’re glad you like the site!

      In terms of the best museums in Barcelona, I think it’s easier to seperate them into categories then you can choose which of the many museums in Barcelona suit your taste:

      Art: Museo Picasso, Fundació Joan Miró, MACBA, Fundacion Alorda Derksen
      Anthropologist, traveller and ethnologist: Museu Barbier–Mueller d’Art Precolombì, Museu Etnologìc.
      Historic and archeologic: Museu d’Historia di Barcellona e della Catalogna, Museu d’Arqueología de Catalunya, Museu Egipci.
      Naturalistic, idyllic and bucolic: Museu de Ciènces Naturals, Jardí Botànic, Museu Agbar de les aigües.
      Photographer and designer: Fundació Foto Colectania, Disseny HUB, Museu Marítim de Barcelona.

      If you have booked somewhere to stay with Oh-Barcelona.com then you can enjoy a 10% discount on your Arqueo-ticket, a discount card for some of the top museums in Barcelona.

      If you are just travelling from one place to another then the Metro is the quickest and cheapest mode of transport. The T-10 ticket costs 9.80€ and allows you 10 different trips which should be enough for a short stay in Barcelona. However, if you want a full guided tour of the city, visiting all the best sites of the city, then I would recommend buying a ticket for one of the Hop-on Hop-off bus tours.

      Hope this has helped. Enjoy your time in Barcelona!

      • Thanx.
        I bought the Barcelona card and found it useless in terms of services. It is helpful with transportation, but perhaps the 10-trip option is better. There is a list of free “alternative” museums that I can go to for free, but so far found it hard to fit everything I wanted in…
        Currently finished your day 2 of the tour, and still enjoying it. Tomorrow, will be the last day- so will start at the camp Nou… will try to fit in some other activities.
        Just to update your list:
        it is possible to buy tickets for the familia sagrada from Caixa banks, in order to avoid the line.
        I found all the tapas restaurants good (including Bubos), whereas the paellas, were not that impressive- as I understand that they are not local specialty… having said that I havent tried your recommendation near the maria del mar…

        • Hi Mo

          Thanks for the update on your trip!

          You’re right it is possible to get tickets to La Sagrada Familia from Caixa banks, this is actually a very good tip!

          As for the food, there are many very good Tapas bars in the city. However to find the best Paella, you will have to go off the beaten track a bit to avoid the touristy spots and eat where the locals do.

          Hope you enjoy day 3!

          • Finished the 3rd day… Did the Camp Nou, and then decided to do some museum hopping: as we had free entries (via the barcelona card)
            museum of Catalan arts- GREAT
            couldnt do the the refuge 307 as needed to book first- but discovered a great local eatery just next to it.
            Museum of music was fun.
            Then went to boat trip 35 minutes (free again) at the harbour… which was refreshing…
            Decided after to go for a walk in the ramblas- bottom to top! bought some souvenirs and art, then found a tarantino bar- really cheap and good sangria with generous fruit portion…
            had a bit of a rest in our hotel- changed- and headed for more tapas at La Flauta (very busy bar)- On the way back stopped in an art cafe close to the university- great atmosphere.
            And finally- enjoyed watching the La manzana de la discordia- palau batlo at night (after having a quick look at the fondacion tapies)…
            (note: we also visited the museum of modernisme, which was very boutique and nice, but if poeple go to the catalan arts museum- they will find nearly everything…)
            We really enjoyed the whole experience, and thank you for the simple but effective itinerary- We are sure other travellers will find it useful and enjoyable.

          • Hi Mo
            Thanks for keeping us updated during your stay!
            We’re delighted to hear that the itinerary was helpful and that you had a great time. It’s difficult to cram everything Barcelona has to offer into just 3 days but it sounds like you did pretty well!

  4. We are going to be in Barcelona on Hispanidad. What is likely to be open on that day? Should we try to join the crowds or stay away?

    • Hi Carol,
      Usually Festa Nacional d’Espanya is a relatively low-key affair in Barcelona. There may be some Pro-Spain supporters and also some Pro-Catalan supporters but for the majority it is simply just a day of work in Barcelona. Normally shops will shut and museums will have shorter opening hours so my advice would be to work out where you want to go first and check the opening hours on their websites.

      Hope this has helped!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here