Barcelona is arguably the most vibrant city in Europe. It’s a place that will have you coming back time and time again, finding new areas to explore and fall in love with! There truly is something here for everyone. With modern art, rich history, delicious food, relaxing beaches, and incredible nightlife, you won’t get bored in Barcelona!
This three-day itinerary will help you to make the most of your time in the city. I’ll give you some recommendations on my favourite places to go, where to stay, and some travel tips for the area!
- Where to Stay in Barcelona
- Day One – Gothic Quarter and Park Ciutadella
- Day Two – Park Güell, Museums, and Nightlife
- Day Three – La Sagrada Familia and Relax at the Beach
- Other Activities – If you have more time
- The Barcelona Card
Where to Stay in Barcelona
If you’re reading this blog, I’ll bet you have an interest in three things- Barcelona, Budget Travel and Backpacking. With this in mind, your best bet is to stay in one of the amazing hostels that Barcelona has to offer! And if you’re looking to save money on a range of Hostels in Europe, I have just the thing for you!
Hostelpass is the ultimate budget travel discount card. With this card, you can get up to 20% off some of the best hostels in Europe! This pass gives you access to discounts on tours, experiences, museums, travel, and loads of other stuff! To make it even better, the card also covers private rooms.
The hostelpass card is essential for any budget backpacker in Europe, and costs only €24.99! After just two uses, my card has already paid for itself. Hostelpass are constantly adding new locations, tours and activities, so I definitely recommend checking them out! You can buy your hostel pass card here, use this link to check out their range of hostels, or view their growing list of experiences here!
My Top Pick – The Best Hostel in Barcelona
Hostel pass gives you access to three hostel chains in Barcelona, Generator Hostels, Hostel One, and Saint Jordi Hostels. The generator is my number one choice for a number of reasons, including:
- Location: This location is pretty close to perfect! The generator hostel is just a 5-minute walk to Casa Batlló and no more than 10 minutes to the metro station. The famous La Sagrada Familia is also only a 15-minute walk away!
- Comfort: Our room was spotless! The beds were really comfy and we had everything we needed. The rooms were a little small, as you’d find in any hostel. However, the large common spaces made up for this and were a great place to meet new people!
- Vibe: This hostel is the perfect combination of relaxation and partying. On the first floor, you’ll find a relaxed and quiet co-working space. On the bottom floor, there is a small bar which gets quite busy in the evenings! Your time here can really be whatever you make it, and whatever you want it to be!
- Friendly Staff: From the moment we arrived we felt very welcomed at Generator Hostel. The staff are super friendly and helped us with any queries we had. They even suggested some super places to grab food and helped us book a flamenco show (but more on that later!).
€21.86€19.66 with the Hostelpass card! Making it one of the most affordable options in Barcelona.
How to Get from the Airport to Barcelona Center
When you land, the most budget-friendly way to get from Barcelona Airport to the city center is by train. When leaving the airport, head towards T2 and follow the signs for the train. From here, you can get either the A1, A2, or R2N routes to the city center. You can buy your ticket on the platform, and it may be worth buying a 72-hour travel card while you are here!
Day One – Gothic Quarter and Park Ciutadella
Welcome to Barcelona! For day one of our trips, we’re going to get up somewhat early and explore the Gothic Quarter! But first, food.
Breakfast at Brunch and Cake
Brunch and Cake is a charming vintage café, which is just 10 minutes from our first stop of the day! Here you’ll find the brunch classics, acai bowls, French toast, breakfast burritos, and lots more! As well as that, Brunch and Cake also have some incredible, hand-decorated cakes that you won’t be able to resist!
If you’re on a budget, you might want to give this a miss and opt for breakfast at the hostel instead. Breakfast will set you back anywhere between €8 – €15 euros, depending on your taste. Check out their menu here for more info!
Free Walking Tour of Barcelona
The best way to see a new city is by walking around with a local. They will have insider knowledge on the best places to eat and drink, the best nightclubs and bars, and the tourist traps that you need to avoid. For this reason, my number one recommendation when you arrive is to do a Free Walking Tour!
You can book a free walking tour of the city here. You will pay €3 when you sign up to secure your spot, and you can choose to tip your tour guide if you want! The idea of a free walking tour is that you only pay as much as you think the tour is worth. This makes it the perfect activity when you’re on a budget!
The tour starts at Plaça Catalunya, in front of the Apple Store. It starts at 11 am and lasts for two and a half hours. The tour takes you through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. Along the way, you’ll visit famous sites like La Rambla, La Boqueria food market, and the Cathedral of Barcelona. You’ll also learn about the history of this city, including its origins in Roman times, legends and stories of warriors and queens, and stories of famous artists like Picasso.
Once you’ve finished the tour, you might want to stop at La Boqueria for something to eat. Here you’ll find a wide range of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and restaurants! Here you can find some more information on the best restaurants in the market, or why not ask your guide for their recommendations?
Visit Ciutadella Park
Once you’ve finished the walking tour, you’ll spend the afternoon relaxing at my favorite park in Barcelona. Spend a few hours exploring Ciutadella Park, a calm oasis in the heart of Barcelona. The walk starts at Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona, one of the city’s must-see monuments. From here, you will walk down the Promenade Passeig de Lluís Companys. This small section of the park often features street artists and skaters. This is one of the most fun, vibrant parts of the city. You’ll find people chatting, puppeteers, and other performers lining the street.
The highlight of this park is undoubtedly Naixement de Venus, a large monument set on a lake. This monument depicts the birth of Venus and is surrounded by statues of horses. By this monument, you will often find artists drawing the sculptures, and it is a great place to sit and relax.
Another great activity to do in the Park is to rent a boat and row along the small pond. This will only cost you €6 for half an hour, and is a great activity to do on a budget!
Get a Glass of Sangria with the Best View in Barcelona
The most iconic, breathtaking view of La Sagrada Familia can be found at Ayre Hotel. This hotel has a gorgeous rooftop bar, where you can enjoy a glass of Sangria and soak in one of Gaudi’s most impressive works of Art.
Because this place is so incredible, it is also extremely popular and hard to book! To secure a booking, you’ll need to reserve a table on this site. This is where it gets difficult. You can’t reserve a table more than 7 days in advance, and the rooftop bar tends to book up very quickly.
With that in mind, I’d recommend setting an alarm on your phone and reserving your space at midnight as it becomes available. If you want to go on the 8th, you need to be online at 12 am on the 1st, ready to book your slot. Seems excessive, but it’s worth it for this view
Now we’ve already established the view is good, but what about the drinks? Not the most amazing Sangria I’ve ever had, but also not too bad! A small jug of Sangria cost about €9 and was enough for two to three glasses. There’s only one thing that’s a little odd! You order your drink on the ground floor and bring it upstairs with you to the terrace. On the roof, you won’t find any waiters!
If this isn’t your scene, or you simply can’t get a booking, I recommend going to the Bunkers de Carmel. This spot is very popular with locals, and has a panoramic view of the city! Bring a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down over Barcelona. Be warned that it takes a long metro ride and an uphill walk to get here, but the views are totally worth it!
Get Dinner at El Nacional
For dinner on our first night in Barcelona, we’re going to head to a truly unique dining experience. El Nacional is almost like a fancy food court, and it’s located in Passeig de Gràcia. Here you will find a wide range of Spanish cuisine, including tapas and fish dishes. Most of the tapas are about €6, which is quite affordable for Barcelona! One thing to keep in mind is that El Nacional gets super busy, and if you want to avoid big queues you’ll need to make a reservation!
Day Two – Park Güell, Museums, and Nightlife
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because day two in Barcelona is going to be busy! Today we are going to explore some of Gaudi’s finest work at Park Güell, visit a museum or two, and get a great view of the city at Montjuïc before sampling some of Barcelona’s best nightlife!
Breakfast at Sabio Infante
This morning we are heading to a cozy café near the generator Hostel. Sabio Infante is a really cute café with some delicious breakfast options! While I was in Barcelona, I tried both the breakfast sandwich and the pancakes, and both were delicious! The prices are also super reasonable, with breakfast and a coffee costing only €6. The staff is so friendly, and the décor here is adorable! This has to be the perfect way to kick off day two in Barcelona!
I did mention you’d need comfortable shoes because our next stop is a 20-minute walk away!
Park Güell is one of the most popular sights in Barcelona. This park is one of Gaudi’s greatest works, featuring incredible mosaics, unique architecture, and amazing views over Barcelona. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site, and can get extremely busy in the summer! For this reason, I’d recommend trying to visit as early as possible to avoid crowds. It is also really important to book your tickets in advance, which you can do here. Tickets are €10 and give you full access to the park. I’d recommend spending at least an hour and a half in the park. You can also check out this site for more information on the different routes you can take!
Head to some of Barcelona’s best Museums
Once the home of aristocrat Josep Batlló, Gaudi took inspiration from marine life to create this incredible house. Casa Batlló is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and you won’t find anywhere else quite like it in the world! On this tour, you’ll explore the home, understand Gaudi’s inspiration, see the roof terrace and there is a cool immersive video piece at the end!
The tour costs €35, and you can buy tickets here. This is a really immersive experience, which focuses on the root of Gaudi’s inspiration: nature.
Is it worth it? As mentioned, the tour is quite expensive at €35. If you are not interested in art and architecture, I think you would get quite bored here. You will get a sense of Gaudi’s architecture tomorrow, in La Sagrada Familia. So if you weren’t blown away and enthralled by Park Guell, you might give this one a miss!
If you’re feeling peckish after Casa Batlló, head to Dela Crem for some of the best gelato I’ve ever had!
Pablo Picasso is another very famous Spanish artist. This museum tells you about the life of Pablo Picasso, showcases some of his greatest works, and reveals his relationship with Barcelona.
This museum costs €12, and if you are under 25 you can get a reduced ticket for only €7. I highly recommend booking in advance! You can purchase the tickets on their website, here. You can also purchase an audioguide on arrival.
The Picasso museum is a lot of fun because the art is a lot bolder and more expressive! I’m absolutely no art expert, and I found it quite fun to look at the art and try and figure out what’s going on!
On Thursdays after 4 pm, entry to the museum is free. Check online to see if any other promotions are running during your stay.
If you’re looking for a snack after visiting the museum, I recommend heading to Demasié for a coffee and a pastry!
Catch the Sunset at Montjuïc
Montjuïc is the perfect place in Barcelona to catch the sunset! At the top of this mountain, you’ll find bars, museums, an ancient castle, the Olympic village and one of the best views of the city! Here’s everything you need to know before visiting.
How do I get to Montjuïc
The easiest way to reach Montjuïc is to get the funicular train from Paral-lel metro station. This will bring you to the side of the mountain which has the Castle, and within walking distance to the Olympic village and Juan Miro fountain. If you have already taken the metro to Paral-lel station, you won’t need to pay extra to take the funicular. If you haven’t taken the metro, you’ll just need to buy one ticket to go up. The funicular leaves every 10 minutes and only takes 2-3 minutes to reach the top.
The second option is to get the bus from Plaça Espanya, which takes about 25 minutes and will drop you at the Magic Fountain. And the final option, if you’re feeling super energetic, is to hike to the top! This uphill walk will take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. The metro is quite cheap here, so I’d recommend getting the funicular from Paral-lel and maximising your time at the top of Montjuïc.
What to do in Montjuïc
You could easily spend a full day visiting Montjuïc. There is so much to see and do here, boasting amazing views, stunning gardens, and incredible museums! In the summer, you can catch an outdoor movie here for free! Here are some of the highlights.
Head to Montjuïc Castle
The highlight of Montjuïc has to be the castle! This is a 17th Century Fortress, which is rich in history. The castle sits 173m above sea level, an ideal defensive site! However, in 1842, it was used to bomb Barcelona after the city rose up against the Spanish government in Madrid. From this point on, the castle was used as a prison and a place for executions.
Dark history aside, this is a really unique place! You can wander around the grounds, take the cable car to the top and even explore the old dungeons. If you’re interested in checking this out, you can get tickets for €14.20 here.
Explore the Botanic Gardens
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, the Botanical Gardens are just the spot. Here you’ll find over 1,000 species of Mediterranean Flora! Tickets are extremely affordable, at only €5. The mission of the park is to preserve these flowers. This is the perfect oasis in the middle of a vibrant city, a great place to sit back and relax for a few hours!
Visit the Olympic Village
The 1992 Olympic games were held in Barcelona, at the top of Montjuïc. You can’t enter the buildings unless there is an event, but the Olympic Ring is beautifully designed and a great place to walk around and take in the view.
If you want to learn more about the games, you can visit the Olympic museum. This costs €5.80, and you can buy tickets here. This museum is an interactive experience. In the simulator, you can compare your running to Carl Lewis, and improve your cycling by monitoring aerodynamics!
This is also the ideal spot for a swim, just look at that view!
Watch the Light Show at the Magic Fountain
The magic fountain is enormous! One of the most popular things to do in Barcelona is to see one of the incredible light shows here. From Thursday to Sunday, there are plenty of 15-minute light shows. At these shows, it’s almost as if the water is dancing to the classical and pop tracks playing! You’ll find both tourists and locals heading to Montjuïc to watch the fountain light up in all the colours of the rainbow!
Visit the Spanish Village
My final recommendation for Montjuïc is the Spanish Village. This was created for the 1992 Olympics, and is almost like an open-air museum featuring some of Spain’s greatest architecture. This area gives a great insight into Spain’s culture, with flamenco shows, great bars, and artisan workshops. There is almost always something new on here. You can keep up to date with the latest events and purchase your tickets here for €9.
Dinner at Milk Bar
This is one of the most popular restaurants in Barcelona, and with good reason. Milk Mar and Bistro have delicious food, quirky cocktails, and a vibrant setting. The food is really unique and interesting, with specialties like Ramen burgers and a variety of tapas! They also have a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options. You can find their menu here, and I would recommend booking a table or arriving early to avoid disappointment!
Enjoy Barcelona’s Nightlife
If there’s one thing Barcelona is known for, it’s the nightlife. Whether you want a chilled bar, a busy nightclub, or just a drink by the beach, you’ll have plenty of choice in the Catalan capital. Bars stay open until 3 am, and most locals will head out after midnight. Clubs, on the other hand, start filling up around 2-3 am, and stay open until 6 am!
Some tips to save money on your night out in Barcelona:
- Have some cheap drinks before you go out (pre-drinks), this will save you a lot of money and can sometimes be the most fun of the night!
- Get on the guest list. Most nightclubs will waive the entrance fee if you arrive before 2 am. For me, that’s pretty late. But in Barcelona, the party won’t start until about 3 am!
What are the best nightclubs in Barcelona?
Razmatazz is Barcelona’s biggest nightclub. It has five floors, each playing a different style of music. They often have live music and DJ sets from famous artists. You’ll need to buy your ticket online before you arrive, as even with tickets there are huge queues at the doors! You can find out what’s on, and grab your tickets on their website.
During the day, Pacha is a lovely restaurant overlooking the port. At night, it becomes one of the most popular nightclubs in the city. It has two floors, as well as a terrace with a sea view. The dress code here is smart casual. Located right on the beach, this is a great spot to stay out until sunrise!
Sutton is one of Barcelona’s most exclusive nightclubs, and you’ll find a lot of VIP areas and champagne sparklers! The music is very mixed, some EDM, some throwback classics, and some pop! You can get dressed up or arrive in runners, the vibe is whatever your vibe is! You’ll also find dancers on stage and smoke cannons, a recipe for a good night if you ask me!
Also check out La Terraza! This nightclub is in an open aired castle in the mountains and only opens in the summer months. You can find more information about their lineup and events here.
Best Bar in Barcelona – George Payne
George Payne is an Irish bar that has different events running each night! My favorite, is Sunday for their Karaoke. Other events include Ladies Night, Cheesy Tunes Night, and Beer Pong night! You can check out the full list here.
Day Three – La Sagrada Familia and Relax at the Beach
Assuming you’ve had a busy night, we’ll take it easy enough today! On the agenda, we have to visit the most famous site in Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia. After that, we’ll spend some time relaxing at the beach before ending the trip with a Flamenco show!
Breakfast at Billy Brunch
For our last morning, we’re going to grab breakfast at Billy Brunch. This is a small brunch spot near the hostel. The food is delicious, and the menu has a great range of options! You can get Eggs Benedict, a Full Irish Breakfast, Pancakes, and loads more. The staff are so friendly, and will really put a smile on your face. If you’ve had a late night last night, this is just what you need to get set up for the day!
The queue can be quite long, so make sure to grab a coffee and a pastry from their stall while you wait!
La Sagrada Familia
We’ve definitely saved the best til last with this one. You can’t backpack to Barcelona and not visit the city’s masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. To get here from Billy Brunch, it’s about a 10-minute walk.
The Story of La Sagrada Familia
The construction of this basilica began in 1882, and it is one of Antonio Gaudi’s greatest works. The exterior of the building is lined with amazing statues, and you’d be surprised to know that the inside has no statues or paintings.
The tallest part of the church stands at 172.5m, which is just under the height of the surrounding mountains. Gaudi purposely did this as he believed that a human’s creations should never surpass God’s! At the moment, the cathedral is unfinished. Gaudi knew he wouldn’t live to see it completed, and left extremely detailed instructions on how to complete this work of art.
The Tour of La Sagrada Familia
If I could recommend for you to do one guided tour from the many on this list, it would be this one. I found the inside of this church fascinating. It is so completely different from the churches in Europe. Most are lined with impressive paintings and statues, with gold lining the walls. This church is inspired by nature, and the inside is simple but beautiful. I won’t ruin the tour by telling you all the fun facts now. But all you need to know is that I thought it was absolutely worth it!
As always, I recommend you get your tickets in advance online here. The tickets are a bit expensive, at €26 each. This really is the most unique church that you’ll see in your time in Europe, and you’ll see a lot of churches, so I think it’s totally worth it. Don’t forget to bring your headphones, because the audio guide is given through an app on your phone! You should spend about an hour doing the tour and admiring the exterior of the building (and of course, stopping to get some pictures at Plaça de Gaudí).
Relax at Barceloneta Beach
You’ve had a busy few days! It’s time to relax at Barceloneta Beach! I’d recommend buying some lunch at a local store and heading here for a picnic! This is by no means the most beautiful beach in Spain, but it is a nice oasis away from the busy city! To get here, you’ll need to get the N0 bus or walk for about 45 minutes.
If you’re not feeling a trip to the beach, I’d recommend heading back to la Rambla for some shopping!
Finish your Trip with a Flamenco Show
Tablao Flamenco Cordobes is the main historical tablao in Barcelona. They only allow 100 or so people in their venue each night, ensuring that this Flamenco show is traditional. It is almost as if you are visiting someone’s house, and they are improvising with music, dance, and singing. You are so close to the stage that you can feel it vibrate as they dance! This is the most authentic flamenco show you can find, but it does come with a high price. At €45 for food and drink, this isn’t an experience for someone on a budget.
You can find cheaper options online. My top recommendation for anyone on a budget is this tour, which comes in at €18 and includes a drink. It is a less personal experience, but you will still enjoy some incredible dancing at a much more reasonable price!
Other Activities – If you have more time
Not quite satisfied and looking for more things to do? Not to worry, I have some more suggestions for you!
Visit Camp Nou
Take the bus out to Camp Nou, Barcelona’s football stadium. You can either come here to watch a match or do the stadium tour. Prices for the tour start at €28 and include entrance to the museum. You can find tickets and more information here.
Barcelona’s Aquarium is Europe’s largest and most important aquarium. It houses over 11,000 marine animals. Tickets are pretty pricy, coming in at €38. Although this is pretty cool, I don’t think it is worth the high prices. If you’re interested in visiting the aquarium, you can find more information here.
At Tibidabo, you’ll find a church on top of a hill, giving amazing views of Barcelona and the surrounding mountains. You can reach this area by bus, and take the funicular to the top. The view of the surrounding mountains is incredible! You’ll also find an amusement park at the top of the mountain, where you can ride the Ferris wheel over Barcelona! To access the church, you’ll only have to pay around €7 for the funicular. If you want to spend time at the amusements, it will cost around €30.
Another option is to make a day trip to Montserrat. This is an incredible monastery located in the mountains. It takes about 1 hour to reach Montserrat by train from Barcelona. This site has a lot of information on the route, timetables, and cost. You could also opt to do a guided tour, with prices starting from €39.
The Barcelona Card
If you’re looking to save money, you’ve probably heard of the Barcelona Card. This card gives you free metro access, as well as discounts on the city’s main tours and attractions. The card costs €48 for 72 hours. You can find more information on what is included on their website.
Is it worth it?
This really depends on the traveller. For me, it’s not. Let’s break down why.
The card gives you free metro access for €48, but you can also purchase a T10 ticket for €10.20. This ticket gives you 10 rides on the metro. As the city is small, you can (and probably will) explore most of it on foot, especially if you are on a backpacker budget.
Skip the Line
The card gives you discounts on skip-the-line tickets. I’d prefer to arrive early, when there are no queues, and enjoy the sites while they are quiet.
Free Museum Entry
You get a lot of free access to museums. Most museums are free on the first Sunday of each month, so if you are in the area at this time, you won’t gain many benefits from the card. To make the card worth it, you’d have to visit three museums during your stay. I don’t know how much you like museums, but one a day probably isn’t for me!
The card does not include any discount for Park Güell or La Sagrada Familia. In my eyes, these are the two must-do attractions in Barcelona, so I would find this pretty disappointing! Furthermore, a lot of the activities included on this list are free! Free walking tour, a free trip to the beach, free to visit Ciutadella Park…
The bottom line is that you will need to consider three things:
- What activities are you hoping to do
- When are you planning to do them (i.e., would being able to skip the line benefit you?)
- How often would you like to use public transport?
And that’s it!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this guide and found it helpful! You can find more tips on my Instagram, niamhxtravels. Have the best time Backpacking Barcelona, and I’ll see you in the next blog!
Pssst, if you’re hanging around Spain, why not check out my Malaga blog for more tips!