So far in our 3-day tour of the city we’ve soaked up the atmosphere of the old town and immersed ourselves in Modernista masterpieces. On our last day, it’s time for a change of pace. We’re going to head for the hills – the lush green area of Montjuïc, to be precise. Although not particularly high, Montjuïc rises up abruptly from the low, flat plain on which central Barcelona sits and as a result it provides the perfect hang-out for most of your final day in the city.
As a visitor it can be easy to forget that this metropolis is the capital of Catalonia, a region of Spain that sees itself as a separate entity to the rest of the country. However, if you want to try and understand this city, even at a glance, it’s important to bear this in mind. We’ve decided to provide two options to start the day – one distinctly Catalan and the other about as Spanish as you can get.
09:00 – Option one – Camp Nou
Let’s be honest, for a lot of people Barcelona means one thing – football and the stomping ground of the mighty FC Barcelona. Located in an uninspiring suburb of the city, Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe, with a capacity of just under 100,000. The stadium’s museum is the second most visited museum in Catalonia and offers different insights into why Barça is, to quote the team’s motto, ‘more than a club’. The experience includes a tour of the stadium with behind-the-scenes access and a major multimedia presentation on the team’s history. You can check the prices and details in its webpage here
Or option two – Poble Espanyol, the ‘Spanish Village’
If football’s not your thing, another interesting way to start the day is to head to the Poble Espanyol on the lower slopes of Montjuïc. Four times the size of FC Barça’s football pitch, the complex is a huge open-air museum made up of a whole village of buildings representing each region of Spain. For some it’s slightly kitsch, and can be thronged with tourists. On the other hand, now that its buildings have had a chance to age (it was constructed as part of the Barcelona International Exposition in 1929) the whole complex has a more authentic, ‘lived in’ feel. Check our Poble Espanyol article for prices and more info.
A major draw is the thriving craft market, with lots of little workshops that provide an original source of holiday souvenirs. If you’re travelling as a family, there’s also a treasure hunt around the village for kids to enjoy.
12:00 – the magic of Miró
If you decided on Poble Espanyol, you’re already in the part of the city with the greatest concentration of must-see monuments – this is the area surrounding Montjuïc, and it will easily keep you occupied for the rest of the day. A slightly more highbrow, though equally fun destination, the Fundació de Joan Miró is next on your list. Founded by Catalonia’s most influential artist, Miró himself, this gallery is dedicated to showcasing his greatest works.
You can easily wander around the bright and airy building taking in the playful and colourful character of Miró’s legacy. At the same time the gallery really excels at giving you a deeper understanding of this artist, and an excellent audio tour in various languages is well worth paying a little bit extra for.
13:30 – take in some culinary art
As you get further up Montjuïc, and away from the city, there are fewer opportunities to find restaurants. A really nice option though is to plan ahead and take a packed lunch with you – there’s nothing better than enjoying a picnic of tortilla and Cava on one of the grassy slopes. If you do fancy dining out, you could treat yourselves at the 5-star Miramar hotel, which sits imperiously at the eastern side of Montjuïc. For lunch in a Modernista setting, there’s La Font del Gat restaurant, which is just a little further down the hill from the Joan Miró museum. It offers a good-value lunch menu although the fountain it’s named after is a little underwhelming.
15:00 – a palatial perspective
The area around the Plaça de Espanya is like no other in Barcelona. Stand at the entrance to the sweeping Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, set between two sentinel-like Venetian towers, and you’ll see your next destination atop the hill. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is housed in the grandiose national palace, and its epic surroundings were created to host the 1929 International Exposition. Almost a century later it’s lost none of its grandeur.
MNAC contains an awe-inspiring collection of art spanning an entire millennium. It’s well worth taking the time to appreciate this world-leading collection and its magnificent home. The fresco ‘Christ in his Majesty’, which was painstakingly transferred from its original home in a Pyrenean church, is probably the main highlight if you’re pushed for time.
17:00 – get a sense of Olympic history
Montjuïc was also the focus of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and you can appreciate the legacy of this epoch-making event by walking slightly further up the hill from MNAC. The Anella Olímpica, the ‘Olympic Ring’ is the main collection of buildings, including the massive Olympic Stadium. Look out for the footprints of world-renowned athletes on the pavement outside. One sight you can’t miss is the controversial communications tower, which is one of the most iconic features of the Barcelona skyline. (Apparently it represents an athlete carrying the Olympic torch – judge for yourself.)
As you continue to climb Montjuïc’s slopes, take your pick from multiple routes that meander past several gardens to the castle at the top. (If that sounds a bit ambitious, you can always hop on the Telefèric cable car from the Avinguda de Miramar).
18:00 – the summit of your trip
Once you reach the castle, head inside and mount the ramparts (entrance is free) for a spectacular view over the city and port. The castle itself has a dark history for Catalans – repressive governments brutally asserted their authority from this base for centuries. However, given that it dates from the 18th century, it’s unusually well preserved. From the green Collserola mountains to the sparkling Mediterranean, you’ll be able to pick out most of the sites that you’ve visited over the past three days.
And for the grand finale? Try and time your descent back to the Plaça de Espanya to coincide with one of the evening shows at the Magic Fountain (they start around 9pm). The spectacle of music, light and water is surprisingly moving, and is a fitting way to round off your three days in this charismatic city.
Thank you for the detailed itinerary … I will follow your 3 day plan in Barcelona 🙂 … thank you …
Hi Yasir, Glad you found our guide useful! Enjoy your stay in Barcelona 🙂
What are you looking forward to seeing most?
I am looking for a 3 day trip to Barcelona from 19th – 21st Nov and I found your itinerary very useful. Could you let me know what would be the best place to stay to cover all the above mentioned places easily…and accordingly we can start looking out for accommodation!
Sure no problem! The itinerary covers a lot of the city, but don’t worry, public transport is cheap and easy to use – especially if you use the underground. As for the best place to stay during your holiday; I would recommend staying in central areas such as Ciutat Vella or Eixample. We have a good article about autumn in Barcelona which also has advice on accommodation, it may be worth you looking at! http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/tourist-guide/accommodation/visit-barcelona-autumn-8921
Hope this helps, enjoy your holiday 🙂
Hi I love your itinerary, I was wondering if I can get some kind of map with information about public transportation, also how can i book the bus you suggest?
Glad you like our itinerary – it’s really the best way to cram in everything Barcelona has to offer in such a short time 🙂
As for public transport, your best bet is nearly always to hop on the metro. The majority of Barcelona’s main attractions can be reached by foot or by metro, or a bit of both! Have a look at our Barcelona metro article: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/tourist-guide/transport/barcelona-metro-map-10568
We also have an article about the tourist bus we mentioned. The ticket for this is more expensive than the metro, but then you do get to enjoy the sights of the city whilst travelling: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/tourist-guide/tours/barcelona-tourist-bus-3155
Hope this helps and enjoy your stay in Barcelona.
The information you provided is so helpful.
Do you offer tour guide service? For just three days?
I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
We’re a holiday accommodation company so we don’t offer any tours ourselves, however we do have several tour partners which may be of interest to you. For a guided walking tour have a look at: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/tourist-guide/tours/barcelona-tour-5384
There is also the option of taking a hop on, hop off tourist bus which comes with an audio guide: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/tourist-guide/tours/barcelona-tourist-bus-3155
Or you can also buy and download an MP3 tour, which is pretty handy if you want to go at your own pace: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/tourist-guide/tours/audioguide-barcelona-3202
(Oh-Barcelona customers get discount from all of these partners!)
Hope this helps, if you have any further questions feel free to ask away! Have a lovely holiday in Barcelona.
Hi, I am going to Barcelona this week for four days, I will use your 3 days in Barcelona plan, i found it very useful. I know 3 days is not enough for Barcelona, but your plan still covers most of the places to see. Unfortunately I am going ALONE 🙁 I hope I will enjoy the trip 🙂 Thanks again.
Glad you plan to use the plan! Barcelona is a friendly place, so don´t be too scared about coming alone. I came here alone for a week once, made new friends and had one of the best holidays ever. There´s plenty to see and do, so the three days should fly by for you. If you want any specific recommendations or tips, we´re here.
Thank for your sharing, but I wonder that How did you categorize day by day. did you care that location? Is it usually posible to by walking?
Next week, I’m going to barcelona, I booked a hostel on Carrer Ample 24.. I wonder that, Is it useful to start same plan? what do you suggest me? Thanks
Thanks for your question. Well, The 3-day plan is a suggestion so don’t feel as though you have to follow it strictly. One of the best things about Barcelona is that you often come across things unexpectedly, so give yourself the flexibility to explore and wander off. Having said that, Carrer Ample is in the Gótico and quite close to las Ramblas, so you should be able to follow the three day plan starting with Day 1, if you choose to.
Enjoy your holiday,
Would you suggest doing Barcelona and relying on just the free walking tours?
It would certainly be possible, if you wanted to. Barcelona is quite a compact city, and walking around is the best way to get to know the streets and different neighourhoods. But don’t just stick to the tours – once you get your bearings, you’ll be able to go off and explore on your own. All you need is a map and a sense of adventure.
I am going to Barcelona this June. It will be my first time there and I has no clue where to go in Barcelona, your 3 days tour guide is very helpful, love it! But I wonder how do I get to every tourist spot? By bus or by cab? Is it possible to walk there?
We can certainly give you some advice!
Taking the Metro is one of the best ways to get around the city. A T-10 ticket will give you 10 journeys for less than €10.
And take a look at this helpful map, which combines the Metro map with a map of the main tourist spots. With this you should know which stops to get off at.
Enjoy your stay!
Any suggestions on where to stay?
I think choosing where to stay depends on the kind of atmosphere you are after.
You can find which district bests suits your tastes in our district guide here.
Hope this helps!
Me and my partner are coming to Barcelona this Saturday. shall arrive at about 12.30pm. We are still very young and are trying to fit in as much as we can at a low budget. What can we do on Saturday and Sunday please as i am finding it hard to plan. Monday we have booked illa fantansia however from 7pm onwards we are free. Our hotel is located in L’Exiample. Tuesday we shall be leaving at about 2pm and planned to fit in Camp Nou and what else do you think?
Well you’ve come to the right place!
There are loads of things to do in Barcelona even on a budget! On top of my list would be visiting Parc Güell, watching the Magic Fountain display at night and of course going to one of Barcelona’s many beaches.
For more ideas, check out Days 1 and 2 of our “3 Days in Barcelona” guide.
Have a great trip!