Barcelona is one of the popular places to visit in Europe. Located in the northern region of Catalunya, Barcelona is undoubtedly its crowned prince! If you are wondering how many days in Barcelona is enough, you are at the right spot. We will go over a few itinerary, sightseeing and accommodation options for you that (hopefully) will be useful in making your travel plans.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
How many days in Barcelona is enough – How to plan a trip to Barcelona in Spain?
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Barcelona is huge and although their metro system is very efficient and affordable, you won’t be able to cover everything in a short visit. And in all honesty, that is true for any city in the world and something that we all have to accept. We only have limited vacation days and budget.
So this travel guide to Barcelona will assist you in designing an itinerary depending on your travel goals. We will also share our recommendation in the end which should help – if you are unsure how many days in Barcelona should you spend as part of your Spain trip. We have tried to cover as many Barcelona questions as possible.
Is one day enough for Barcelona
The short answer is yes and no. Yes, because we will never discourage anyone from traveling or visiting a destination. If time and budget allows for one day – then one day it is.
To make the most of your ONE day in Barcelona, you have to narrow down to 2-3 MUST see attractions as per your taste and travel style and take a hop on and hop off sightseeing bus tour to skim through the neighborhoods for your visit.
So here is how your one day in Barcelona would look like, with 4 different sightseeing itinerary suggestions –
- History Lovers – Visit the Sagrada Familia (2 hours), take a hop on and hop off tour to head to Montjuic/1992 Olympics’ site – visit the Palau Nacional and MNAC (2-3 hours). In the late afternoon, arrive (or get down at the Gothic Cathedral via hop on and hop off tour), explore the Gothic Quarter lanes, Las Ramblas and Port Vell Area in the evening.
- Football lovers – Visit the Sagrada Familia (2 hours), take a hop on and hop off tour to head to Montjuic/1992 Olympics’ site – visit the Camp Nou (2-3 hours). In the late afternoon, arrive (or get down at the Gothic Cathedral via hop on and hop off tour), explore the Gothic Quater, Las Ramblas and Port Vell Area in the evening.
- Best of City Highlights – Visit the Sagrada Familia (2 hours), take a hop on and hop off tour. Make a stop at Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, then get down at Park Guell to see Gaudi’s creations. In the evening visit Las Ramblas for a stroll and dinner.
- Barcelona at Leisure (for half a day) – Spend it at Las Ramblas, Gothic Quarter and Port Vell area. You can explore the Barcelona Cathedral, Roman Ruins, take a sunset cruise, visit the Monument of Christopher Columbus and also dine/watch a flamenco show in the city center area.
Is 2 days in Barcelona enough – How many days in Barcelona for first time visitors?
A first timer in Barcelona can get a feel for the city in 2 full days. What we mean by this is – you can check out the prime tourist attractions (2-3 sites), have a relaxed dinner or evenings at the beach and also explore a few things based on your interests.
We have written a detailed post on two day Barcelona trip, with many sightseeing options to consider. READ: Our detailed guide to Barcelona in 2 days.
In essence, here is what you should be targeting for sightseeing in a 2 day trip to Barcelona.
- Day 1 in Barcelona – Utilise the hop on and hop off bus tour for a full day. Start with the iconic Sagrada Familia (2 hours), take the sightseeing bus tour and get down at 2-3 spots that you wish to explore at length. We did Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Montjuic/MNAC, we skipped the Spanish Villages and Camp Nou. But if these are your interests you can swap. But stick to 2-3 sites for in-depth exploration only. And in the evening visit Park Guell.
- Day 2 in Barcelona – Spend half a day at the touristy La Ramblas/Gothic Quarter or head to Gracia neighborhood (not a super touristy area). And spend half a day at the beach or Port Vell.
So you can combine the MUST visits, plus a little something of your own in Barcelona in 2 days. Because you can have 2 nights in the city, you can dine at local restaurants or hang out at less touristy areas, whilst checking out the city highlights.
Is 3 days in Barcelona enough?
3 days in Barcelona is amazing. With 3 days you can definitely cover up-to 6 MUST visit attractions and more. You can experience different cultural nuances on each night and also cover a lot of ground in terms of exploring various popular and off beat neighborhoods.
The key here is to make the most of your visit. We would still say, if you don’t like history or museums, don’t visit one – use that time to do something you like – like a food tour, shopping, or go on a bike tour. You can also squeeze in a day trip on your final day if you prefer.
Ideally, your 3 days in Barcelona should look something like this –
- Day 1 in Barcelona – Utilize the hop on and hop off bus tour for a full day. Start with the iconic Sagrada Familia (2 hours), take the sightseeing bus tour and get down at 3-5 spots that you wish to explore at length. Top attractions include – Casa Mila, Montjuic/MNAC, Spanish Villages, Camp Nou, Joan Miró Foundation, leave Casa Batllo in the evening for dinner and stunning city views.
- Day 2 in Barcelona – You can also use a 48 hour hop on and hop off bus tour, and cover some of the other attractions not covered on day 1. Sites include Mount Tibibado/Tibidabo Amusement Park, Port Vell and World Trade Center Barcelona area, Barcelona Zoo, El Born Museum, Arc de triomf and head to the Park Guell in the evening. You can also enjoy the Magic Fountain Show at night, if interested (09:30 pm lights and fountain show).
- Day 3 in Barcelona – Spend the morning & afternoon at the Gothic Quarter (take a guided walking tour) and the Barcelona beach. The city center area (along with the Gothic Quarter and the Plaza Catalonia) has a ton of attractions like museums and music palaces to keep you busy. You can also skip the beach and just explore those if you like. At 05:00 pm or so, head to the Bunkers del Carmel – for picnic and city views (for free).
- READ: The list of scenic view-points in Barcelona
Is 4 days in Barcelona enough?
We feel that 4 days in Barcelona are enough. It is good enough to take 1-2 days of intensive sightseeing, where you explore all the major attractions plus more. Use day 3 to hang out at your favorite places like the beach, Las Ramblas, parks or even wander through the city to find hidden gems or eat your heart out.
4 days will keep you busy, yet you will find moments to relax and enjoy the many cultural experiences that Barcelona has to offer.
If you are undecided and have open plans about visiting Spain, we highly recommend visiting Barcelona for 4 days to make the most of your visit. If you are new to the city, as a first timer you will enjoy being here for 4 days – you will easily get acquainted with the metro systems and will pick up a few local favorites (we did too!)
And that will encourage you (hopefully) to re-visit Barcelona. READ: Our 7 days in Spain trip for Barcelona itinerary & list of sightseeing attractions
Is 5 days in Barcelona too long?
Now we stayed in Barcelona for 6 days during our first visit, our fifth day was a repeat and we hang out at the Las Ramblas and the Port Vell area and pig out at the La Boqueria food market. Once we explored the prime city highlights like the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Mila, Montjuïc, etc – of course we didn’t go there again. But there many unique things to do in Barcelona and you can try venturing into the lesser known neighborhoods or take a day trip.
If you are able to utilize (and maximize) your sightseeing time well in 3-4 days in Barcelona, you won’t need a 5 or a 6th day. The fifth or the sixth day is best used for a day trip.
On our 6th day we actually left for Andorra. It is a different country and we explored their capital – Andorra de Vella for a day. You can easily do that from Barcelona. Andorra doesn’t have an airport, so visiting while you are based in Barcelona for a few days, makes it easy.
If you don’t wish to leave Spain, that is also absolutely fine. There are a number of day trips from Barcelona to fill up your day.
Our recommendation – How many days in Barcelona is enough
Our recommendation for Barcelona is 4 days. 4 days is a good time frame to explore the MAIN attractions as well as enjoy a relaxed time in Barcelona without being rushed. There are a lot of affordable ways to relax in the city – from strolling parks and artsy boulevards to soaking the Spanish sun in the beaches, and experiencing their culture.
If you are visiting in a month where there are free events in the city, don’t forget to include that in your itinerary. For more details on monthly events in the city of Barcelona, visit their tourism website.
READ: Activities guide to Barcelona in the month of September
Sightseeing to cover in 4 days in Barcelona
Here are some sightseeing tips for 4 days in Barcelona and tours
Barcelona Day 1
- Start with the Sagrada Familia guided tour and then take a hop on and hop off sightseeing bus
- Hop on and hop off sightseeing tour to explore more of the city
- Explore Casa Batllo and Casa Mila
- Head to Montjuic hill – visit the 1992 Olympics stadium
- Montjuïc Fortress and Fundació Joan Miró (Joan Miró Foundation is a modern arts museum honoring modern art Joan Miró)
- Visit Palau Nacional and MNAC – National Arts Museum of Catalonia
- Camp Nou and Spanish villages
- Tibidabo amusement park and cathedral
- Magic Fountain Show at 09:30 pm
Barcelona Day 2
- Gothic Quarter Exploration – Roman ruins, Barcelona Cathedral
- Las Ramblas – Shopping, La Boqueria market
- Plaza Catalunya
- Palau de la Música Catalana (concert hall)
- Picasso Museum
- Port Vell area – Monument of Christopher Columbus, Maritime museum, WTCB, Old Customs Building
- Sunset cruise with drinks (depart from Port Vell)
- Dinner and Flamenco show in the evening
Barcelona Day 3
- Spend half a day at Barcelona beach – La Barceloneta beach
- Shop at Casa Milà – Le Pedrera Passeig de Gràcia or Plaza Arena/Plaza Espanya
- Head to Park Güell (late evening. You can also squeeze this in, on day 1)
Barcelona Day 4
- Use the morning for half day tour to Montserrat
- Head to the Bunkers in the evening, after your return to the city from Montserrat
Budget for 4 days in Barcelona – How much cash should I take to Barcelona for a 4 days trip?
Your flights and hotel bookings for Barcelona will account for most of your budget. Ideally, choose a hotel near the city center. But if budget is an issue, for a 4 day trip to Barcelona you can (if you want) stay in a neighborhood which is not close to the city center. Hotels in and around the city center/Plaza Catalonia area will be slightly expensive.
To save money, stay in an area where metro access is quick and easy.
We recommend buying a metro pass for 4 days (with airport transport) and sightseeing passes in advance and online. This way you can budget well for the trip, as well as avoid wasting time by standing in long queues.
For a 4 day Barcelona trip, here is what you will spend on sightseeing like tourist pass and transport
4 day Metro pass + 2 or 4 day Barcelona Card (includes hop on and hop off tour and free attractions access with a walking tour) + Sagrada Familia entry = From $235 USD+
- Barcelona Pass for 4 days: Free entry in attractions (Sagrada Familia not included) +hop on and hop off tour. If you visit 2 attractions + the hop on and hop off tour, you will get the value of the Barcelona City Pass (break even at $140 USD) = From $190 USD (Click to buy the Barcelona Pass)
- Barcelona Card Transport Only for 4 days: Includes unlimited transport (train/tram/bus) rides = From $32 USD (Click to book/read more about Barcelona Transport Card)
Carry cash for food, but they also take credit cards in restaurants and fast food chains, grocery stores.
Carry cash not more than 200-400 euros. Use them for food, tipping and at souvenir stores.
Best area to stay in Barcelona Hotels Recommendation
For your first trip to Barcelona, staying near the city center will be super convenient. All sightseeing tour pickups will be a breeze, you will easily find cafés and restaurants and access to metro and bus stations. Hotels will be little pricier in and around the city center area (also includes Port Vell and El Raval neighborhood).
Staying further away, will add commute time, but it is still doable – thanks to the BCN metro. Hotels will be slightly cheaper in those areas. Opt for a hotel with a restaurant on-site, in the event you are unable to venture out for food (which happened to us once – it was pouring like crazy and no umbrella to save us).
- For a 3 star Barcelona hotel, budget for $110 USD (outside of city center and in areas like Gracia or further away in the Horta-Guinardó district) and allot $150+ USD for a hotel stay near the center.
- 4 and 5 star city or sea view hotels will be expensive, but for a short trip well worth it!
Hotel Barceló Raval – Contemporary hotel with amazing roof top views. It is a 4 star polished hotel with a restaurant, a rooftop pool and bar on site. It is located close to the city center area. On rare occasions, you will see this hotel priced at $90 per night or less. Check out Barceló Raval hotels : Barcelona hotel
Hotel Miramar Barcelona – Upscale 5 star hotel in a former palace, with amazing city views. It is located in the Montjuïc area. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, 2 pools and a spa on-site. Find out more about this city view hotel Barcelona Miramar
Mid range Hotel
- Hotel Grabi Milenni – This hotel is located near the main sightseeing attractions. We stayed here, during one of our visits and it was super convenient, as you can walk down to Las Ramblas and metro station. It is a 4-star hotel, with spacious rooms and modern amenities. Book your stay here.
- Hotel Alimara – This is another hotel we stayed in Barcelona. Hotel Alimara is located away from the center, but still conveniently accessible due to the metro. Nearest station Mundet (Mundet to city center took us about 35-40 minutes). Book your stay here.
Is Barcelona worth visiting?
10000% YES! Before visiting Barcelona, I definitely had a different perspective on the city. We are not huge on arts or landmarks around art – we are more of history and cultural nerds.
Barcelona’s history is long (Romans lived here since the 1st century BC), there was Spanish monarchy, followed by dictatorship and anarchy and the revival of the Catalonia regionalism. But the first 2 days in the city were mostly arts appreciation for us.
Gaudi is a creative genius and a Catalan hero – there is no debate here. And we do recommend visiting at least 2 of his creations to appreciate his works. However, a lot of the remnants and tourism talks are all about the new history.
The period from 1992 Olympics saw a massive rise in tourism as well as face-lifting of many structures (both old and new). But Barcelona is very different from your usual western European cities like Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels. It is tremendously spread out, but thanks to the metro it is still connected.
Medieval looking cobblestone lanes are few and far in between. But you will find many structures celebrating Gaudi, 1992 Olympics and trade exposition.
The way Industrial Revolution spread and picked up in Barcelona – cannot be compared to other cities in Europe. Barcelona center had railways and industries inside the city!
1888 Trade Exposition saw a growth in Spain’s economy. The city’s first street cars were opened and in 1888 with the Barcelona Universal Exhibition, many city’s landmarks were built including the Arc de Triomf.
The 20th century saw the rise of modernist buildings with the Sagrada Familia. In 1929 another World Exposition was held in Barcelona and the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc and the Columbus Monument were built.
Barcelona and Spain underwent an uneasy time with the Spanish civil war 1936-39. Bunkers del Carmel is a reminder of that period. This led to 4 decades of dictatorship and a stagnant economy.
The 1960s saw a dramatic rise in their economy. There was a creative outburst in the city and a sense of nationalism (regionalism) was taking shape. All things Catalan was revered. Free elections in the 1970s led to the restoration of democracy and encouragement of free will. National of Catalonia was first celebrated on 11th September in 1977.
1992 brought a glorious chapter to Barcelona’s history – when they hosted the 1992 Olympics. Every part of the city got a facelift.
Since the 2000’s, Barcelona is pulling people like a magnet – amazing weather, beaches, food, football, and affordable vacation and a carefree culture.
So, after this short lesson in Barcelona history – YES, this city deserves a place in your Europe travel plans!
We hope this guide was useful in helping you make a decision on how many days should you spend in Barcelona. Have a great time in Catalonia!
Read more travel posts from Barcelona: Barcelona Spain and Europe travel
Planning your trip to Europe – If this is your first-ever trip to Europe, consider reading our Europe 101 guide.
Schengen Visa – If you require a visa to travel to Europe, most likely it is the Schengen Visa (for those belonging to the Euro Zone or EU, doesn’t include the UK). Read our guide to applying for Schengen Visa.
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