Barcelona. To this day, Catalunya’s capital remains my favorite European city. And for good reason. It’s a vibrant city, full of diverse neighborhoods, delicious foods, dramatic architecture and really, ridiculously good looking people. Barcelona has a beautiful way of merging the moorish with the modern and art within its architecture. While I hope you have all the time in the world to visit, here is a day by day breakdown to devour as much Barca as you can in 72 hours or less. In each section, there will be places to see along with food and drink stops you’ll undoubtedly need along the way.
For a quick, save-able list of my top recommended places, here’s the Barcelona List Guide.
Passeig de Gracia, Ramblas, Barri Gotic, Barceloneta
One of the best ways to see a ton of landmarks, local culture and the diversity of its districts is to start in the center. Passaig de Gracia also happens to be one, if not THE most popular drop off point from the airport. It’s also a huge metro station. So basically you can’t miss it. What I love about starting here if all you have to do is walk down towards the water and you will hit nearly everything below. The districts melt into each other, and although you will get lost, you will eventually make your way out and find some great spots along the way.
Options for getting around:
Yes, they have uber.
The metro is clean and very cost effective with a simple map that makes it easier than most other cities on where to switch lines.
Bicing: The original bike share that can be fun for getting around in closer, less crowded neighborhoods
Passeig de gracia
See some of Gaudi’s private residence work right on the main strip. There can be lines, so best to knock these in the morning. If you only want to do one, I would recommend Casa Batllo, it’s considered to be one of its masterpieces and if my memory serves me right, has no right angles.
- Casa Batllo
- Casa Mila
- La Petrada
Nearby Eats + Drinks
- El Nacional: International chain that was converted from an old parking garage
- Dry Martini: A famous martini bar. Enough said.
- Boca Grande: great for late night food
- Tapas 24: Traditional, busy tapas joint open 9am to midnight
- La Pepita/La Cava: one part restaurant, one part bar
- Hemingway Gin & Cocktail Bar: Gin and tonics are amazing in Barcelona and come with an incredible variety. You can choose your gin, the herbs it’s infused with as well as the tonic mixer.
As an ex New Yorker, the best comparison I can make to Las Ramblas is unfortunately Times Square, but you have to take a stroll through the streets as a right of passage. Touristy, yes. Pickpockets, you bet. Pop in and out of local stores, admire the street performers (pictures warrant payment), and keep you eye on characters hanging out in the building balconies above.
Nearby Eats & Drinks
Mercado de la boqueria: Officially known as the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, this famous open air market is rows upon rows upon rows of tapas, cheeses, liquor infused candies, seafood, ham, more ham, fruits, nuts, oh and ham.
El Bari Gotic (aka Gothic quarter)
- Picasso museum
- Arc de triomf
- Ciutadella Park
- Palau de Música Catalana
- Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar: beautiful old church to walk through that connects to different courtyards in the neighborhood. Lots of local action to take in.
Nearby Eats & Drinks
- King Kong Lady Bar at Libertine
- La Xampanyeria: Famous for its cava, this place is not for the faint of heart. It’s tiny, claustrophobic, loud, and there are bottles of cava being opened every minute. Definitely worth a step in, so if you can’t take the heat, just grab a bottle or five to go.
- Cerveseria Vaso de Oro: Great beer hall
- Milk: Tapas bar
Long stretch of beach boardwalk that feels similar to Venice Beach, full of restaurants, bars, beach volleyball and some characters. Recommend to have some sunset drinks and then head to W Hotel for more drinks.
Sagrada Familia, Gracia District, Parc Guell, Tibidabo
Take the metro or whatever transportation you’re using to Sagrada Familia. Huge cathedral that looks like a melting sand castle, can’t miss it. This is one of the most fascinating of Gaudi’s work. An unfinished cathedral that has incredible detailing on every inch. There are 4 facades that all relate back to Jesus Christ.
Park Guell: Beautiful, sprawling back in the center of Gracia district that’s fun to wander and get lost in. There are several entrances, but the main entrance is the most famous with its life size mosaic animals guarding the entrance. To see some of the more protected areas of the park, you will need to buy timed tickets in advance.
Tibidabo Amusement Park: On top of Tibidabo hill, there is an old amusement park that has incredible panoramic views of all of Barcelona, not to mention a ferris wheel and other rights to bring out your inner child. There is also a castle looking structure at the top that appears as if it’s in the clouds called Sagrat Cor (Sacred Heart). It is a Roman Catholic church that stills offers masses.
Nearby Eats + Drinks:
- Gata Mala: casual tapas joint, great service, and fun atmosphere, not to mention a local favorite
- La Bodega De Sol: stop in for some wine and tapas between site-seeing
- Bar Mut: old school tapas and vermouth
Poble Sec Tapas Tour + Montjuic
I love the poble sec. Originally an undesirable place to live due to the lack of water. Literally, it’s very name means Dry Village in Catalan. It is now an up and coming area with some of the best tapas and restaurants in town. Get walking and take a self guided tapas food tour – recommend 2-3 tapas per spot.
Nearby Eats & Drinks
- Casa de Tapas Canota
- Tickets: One of the recent trendy restaurants owned by Albert Adria and has a Michellin star.
- Quimet i Quimet: An OG tapas restaurant with standing room
- Lolita Taperia
- Bodega La Tieta
- Pulpería A Gudiña
- Espai Kru
For the finalee, you must see the Barcelona Magic Fountain at Montjuic. Without giving two much away, it is an incredible light show choreographed to famous classical composers as well as contemporary artist. The show happens every evening at varying times depending on what month you go, so definitely consult the google for a quick search. I recommend arriving early to get a great spot. Pro tip: Look out for sellers in the crowd who will hook you up with iced cold beers to add to the magic.
This is just a handful of things to do, see and eat in Barcelona with more and more places opening each year. You could spend a day in every district just soaking it all in. Venga. Un besito. Ciao.