Barcelona is the perfect city to escape for a long weekend in Europe. Barcelona has such a youthful and fun vibe with beautiful beaches, plentiful palm trees, new-concept restaurants, and tons of great night-life.
La Rambla is the major thoroughfare in Barcelona that runs from Plaza de Catalunya and ends at the Mirador de Colom statue near the beach area known as Barceloneta.
The major areas of Barcelona where you will spend most of your time are El Born, Barrio Gotico (the Gothic Quarter), Barceloneta, and El Eixample.
In this post, I’m going to show you the absolute best way to spend a long weekend in Barcelona, including a 72 hour itinerary, the best places to eat, and where to grab a drink with a view!
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- Top Barcelona Quick Tips
- A Long Weekend in Barcelona – 3 Day Itinerary
- Day 1 Barcelona Weekend Itinerary – Gaudí & Gothic Quarter
- Day 2 Barcelona Weekend Itinerary – Explore El Born
- Day 3 Barcelona Weekend Itinerary: Half Day Trip to Montserrat
- Additional Restaurant Suggestions in Barcelona
- More Places to Grab a Drink in Barcelona
- If you Have More Time in Barcelona…
Top Barcelona Quick Tips
- Everyone eats late in Barcelona – make dinner reservations for 9PM to experience the lively restaurant atmosphere.
- Most shops and restaurants you find right off of La Rambla will be very touristy. You must watch your purse and pockets carefully when walking around here. It is just a reality of traveling in Southern European countries, petty theft is high, so be alert.
- I would not suggest having a rental car in Barcelona. The Metro system is very easy to use, but it does not run 24 hours. You can always take a taxi back to your hotel if you find the metro has closed for the night.
A Long Weekend in Barcelona – 3 Day Itinerary
Day 1 Barcelona Weekend Itinerary – Gaudí & Gothic Quarter
Gaudí was known for his one of a kind creations under the style of Catalan Modernism. La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló are some of Gaudí’s most famous works around Barcelona.
However, there are many more less known pieces to visit around the city. If you have more time in Barcelona and a passion for Gaudí architecture, just know these are only scratching the surface.
9AM: Breakfast at Brunch and Cake
First before you start exploring for the day, you definitely need to fuel up. I love starting my day off with an extravagant breakfast, and that’s exactly what you will find at Brunch and Cake.
Have you ever tried eggs benedict on waffles? Or loaded pancakes with fruits, honey, chocolate, cream and jams?
Even better, Brunch and Cake‘s main location is located in the El Exiample neighborhood, right around the corner from Casa Batlló. So do yourself a favor and fill up on some breakfast this morning so you won’t get hungry!
930AM: Visit the Casa Batlló
Originally owned by the prominent Batlló family in Barcelona, Gaudí was hired to renovate the house with complete architectural freedom. The result is the stunningly unique, exceptionally modern, family home that you see today.
You will also notice that multiple houses on the same street are similarly modern. During the same time, many architects in Barcelona were commissioned to reform other houses owned by prominent families that were competing for the urban awards convened by the Barcelona City Council. The Casa Batlló is now open to the public to tour and to even host special events.
If you have time also visit the Casa Milà (La Pedrera) or the less well known Casa Vicens for more example of Gaudí commissioned works around Barcelona.
10AM: Visit the Famous La Sagrada Família
One of the most iconic and recognizable Gaudí pieces of work is the Sagrada Familia, which should not be missed during your weekend in Barcelona. The cathedral has been under construction constantly since 1880 and when you see it up close you understand why.
All the four side of the cathedral are extremely intricate and symbolize a different biblical event or time period. Just walking around the exterior of the church you can see biblical events playing out as carvings into the facades. You can purchase your tickets in advance here.
I would suggest you to choose a ticket with an entry time in the early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the busiest times.
There is also a small park across the street, Placa de Gaudí, where you can get a better wholistic view of the cathedral. Again, get here early to avoid people in your pictures. You can also see a reflection of the cathedral into the pond which is better in the morning light!
12AM: Walk around Park Güell
A little bit of a trek outside of the city you can find Park Güell (take the L4 line on the metro) which is another Gaudí masterpiece in Barcelona.
Park Güell is a beautiful park with pops of color from both the flowers and the mosaic tiles that line the benches. There is also a spectacular view of the Sagrada Familia from miles away, giving an entirely different view point than you saw earlier.
The park used to be free, however recently they have implemented a ticketing system, so buy your tickets in advance here. I have read that if you go before the park is open or at sunrise, there will not be a need to buy an entrance ticket. I have not tested this myself, but if you can confirm – drop me a comment below!
3PM: Explore the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
The Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city of Barcelona and got its name because it used to be a Roman village and a few of the architectural features from that era remain today in this neighborhood. However most of the architecture here got an update in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the Gothic Quarter you can find some of the most aesthetically pleasing structures as the Pont del Bisbe and the Caterdal de Barcelona.
Just wander the streets of the Gothic Quarter and happen upon cafes and restaurants as they peak your interest. The Gothic Quarter neighborhood is best for getting lost down labyrinthine streets and discovering new treasures in the form of quaint courtyards.
7PM: Sunset Drinks at a Rooftop Bar
Two of the best hotel rooftop views in Barcelona are from Terraza at Sercotel Rosellón Hotel with a view of the Sagrada Familia or the Hotel Colón with a panoramic view of the Barcelona Cathedral.
The rooftop bar at Hotel Colón does not take reservations. I would get here earlier before sunset to get a good seat. The Terraza at Sercotel Rosellón requires reservations which you can book here for a reservation within 7 days of today’s date.
9PM: Dinner at Ziryab Fusion Tapas Bar
Dinner is commonly eaten very late in Spain. If you get hungry before 8 – 9PM, that is the perfect excuse to grab some tapas in the city.
Ziryab is a cozy two story restaurant in the nearby El Born neighborhood with a Mediterranean flare on the traditional Spanish tapas. We always make a stop here when we are in Barcelona, even if that means having some tapas at 6pm before dinner at 9pm.
You will need to make a reservation here for prime dinner times as the restaurant is small and people usually take their time to enjoy the atmosphere. However, if you haven’t made a reservation, you can drop by early or late in the night to grab an open table.
Reference below for other restaurants and after dinner drink recommendations
Day 2 Barcelona Weekend Itinerary – Explore El Born
There is no better way to get a real feel for Barcelona then to explore the El Born neighborhood. This is one of my absolute favorite places to find unique bars, restaurants, and trendy new shops.
El Born is a very artsy neighborhood and is full of life and vibrancy. The streets here are more narrow and windy than in other parts of Barcelona. It’s fun to get lost in the alleys a find new local spots to explore.
9AM: Visit the Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural masterpiece in the heart of El Born. You can visit by attending a concert, a guided tour, or simply booking a self-guided tour to admire the beauty of the interior architecture. Not necessary, but you can book your tickets in advance here. We did the self-guided tour and completed it in about 30 minutes.
I do suggest getting here early as it was getting crowded by the time we left. In addition, any type of concert later in the afternoon or evening will impact your ability to tour. If you enjoy architecture it is worth a trip at least once!
Don’t skip out on the balcony of the Palau de la Música Catalana (see below). This is where you will find the most beautifully colorful tiled columns that you can see from the street-level.
11AM: Shop at the Santa Caterina Market
The Santa Caterina market in El Born is a less touristy option to the famous Boqueria market off La Rambla street. It has a more local feel where it is more comfortable to come shop for produce to make some dinner. They also have better priced produce and local finds as compared to the inflated prices at the Boqueria.
12PM: Lunch at the Santa Caterina Market
At the back-end of the Santa Caterina market you will find a tapas restaurant with bar seating that and a really great tapas menu. The dishes are made with fresh produce obtained from the market daily. I still have dreams about the ahi tuna tapa!
3PM: Explore the Museu Picasso de Barcelona
Escape some of the afternoon heat at one of Barcelona’s many museums. The Picasso Museum is located in the Born neighborhood and houses some of his most famous works. If art isn’t really your thing, you can also find the Museu de la Xocolata or the Chocolate Museum in the Born neighborhood.
5PM: Attend a “Born to Cook” Cooking Class
Born to Cook is one of the best and most authentic cooking classes we have ever done. We booked the market tour and cooking class option which started out with a tour of the Santa Caterina Market in the El Born neighborhood with Chef Alex. He is born and raised in Barcelona and is extremely knowledgeable about the local cuisine. Chef Alex walks you through the market, and explains local ingredients traditionally used for cooking in this region as he purchases ingredients that you will use for cooking later.
Back at the cooking school in Born you will get hands-on making appetizers, seafood paella for the main course and of course, dessert. At the end you will come together and enjoy dinner that you created. Also, did I mention unlimited wine all night? If you have a trip to Barcelona in the future, make sure you book this incredible cooking class here.
Update: Since originally posting the market tour plus paella cooking class is no longer offered over dinner time. However the same course that we took is now offered during lunch time instead Monday through Saturday from 10:30am – 3pm. There is also still a dinner tapas cooking class option, check them out here.
Additional Cooking Class Options in Barcelona
I know traveling can be unpredictable – so all experiences recommended can be cancelled 24-hours beforehand for a full refund:
Day 3 Barcelona Weekend Itinerary: Half Day Trip to Montserrat
9AM: Getting to Montserrat from Barcelona
Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful Benedictine monk mountain about one hour from Barcelona by train. There are beautiful walking trails to explore, extraordinary views of the Catalonian country side and multiple religious sites to visit.
You can get to Montserrat by train from the Espanya rail station. The Espanya rail station is on the green and red metro lines making it accessible from any part of Barcelona city center. Once at Espanya look for Line R5 headed towards Manresa. A full return fare is 22 EUR per adult.
Once in Montserrat, you can either take the cable car ride up to the monastery (Get off at train stop Montserrat Aeri) or the Track Train ride up to Montserrat Cremallera funicular (Get off at train stop Monistrol). We took the cable car, and were afforded some amazing views!
4PM: Take a Sangria Break!
I think that it is acceptable to incorporate a sangria break into every day you spend in Spain. If you’ve never tried sangria in Spain, you are in for a treat. Some places that are said to have the best Sangria in Barcelona are Los Caracoles and Oviso in Barri Gothic (Gothic Quarter) and Arcano and Bar Celoneta Sangria Bar in the El Born and Barceloneta areas, respectively. It is your duty to try them all and decide for yourself who has the best sangria!
6PM: Walk along the Marina and Relax at the Beach
After your trip to Montserrat you’ll be ready for some relaxing. Walk over to the Barceloneta area and grab a spot on the beach. There are also plenty of restaurants along the beach to grab a drink and people watch. Enjoy a walk around the Marina around sunset before dinner
9PM: Dinner at the Restaurant 7 Portes
Since you are already in the Barceloneta area, tonight for dinner try the restaurant 7 Portes for the best paella in Barcelona recommended to us by a local.
Make a reservation ahead of time as this is a very popular dinner spot. Also while making a reservation you can request the table by the Pablo Picasso artwork so you can say you have dined with Picasso in Barcelona!
Additional Restaurant Suggestions in Barcelona
La Central Hamburgeseria – great for a lunch stop when you’re hungry. We suggest sharing a burger – they are large!
La Fabrica – great for a quick lunch stop. Grab 2 – 3 empanadas.
Quimet & Quimet – standing room only tapas bar
Bar Mut – another tapas bar with a secret invitation only speakeasy bar on top called Bar Mutis
El Vaso De Oro – small tapas bar in Barceloneta which is said to have the BEST tapas in Barcelona
Els Quatre Gats – a beautifully decorated bar and restaurant that has been frequented many times by Pablo Picasso
More Places to Grab a Drink in Barcelona
El Xampanyet – a cava (sparkling wine) bar with a select tapas menu in El Born neighborhood. Get here early to find a seat
Palau Dalmases – located in the El Born Neighborhood near to the Picasso Museum this bar also features Flamenco shows daily at 19:30 and 21:30 and opera performances every Thursday at 23:00
Casa Almirall – located in the up and coming El Raval district, this bar opened well over 150 years ago. However, it is impeccably kept up with its original wood accents and new marble details. They are famous for their traditional vermouth
Mirablau – perched atop Mount Tibidabo this is the best place for a drink with a view over greater Barcelona
Boadas – Supposedly the oldest cocktail bar in Barcelona, located in the Plaza de Catalunya, have a very extensive cocktail list
La Terrassa Del Duquesa – in Barceloneta, come here to watch the luxury yachts come in and out of the marina
Tandem Cocktail Bar – for a classy old school cocktail
Espit Chupitos – a shot bar in the Barceloneta area. Everything is 2 EUR and 50% of the shots are lit on fire
If you Have More Time in Barcelona…
Montjuïc – a hilltop close to Barcelona where you can visit the grand Castell de Montjuïc and an Olympic village from the 1992 Olympics. I came here on my first time every in Barcelona, and it was such a great activity for a nice sunny day. There is also a magic fountain show around 8PM or 9PM based on the time of year. From Barcelona, you can take the Funicular de Montjuïc from the Paral·lel metro station.
Mount Tibidabo – Want to experience an amusement park in the sky? Catch the T2A bus (TIBIBUS) from Plaza Catalunya for a direct route to Mt. Tibidabo for only 2.95 EUR. In addition to the amusement park, you can also visit the Temple of the Sacred Heart church, the Fabra observatory as well as many walking trails.
The Carmel Bunkers – another sweeping viewpoint over the city, but is gaining a lot of popularity these days, so can be very crowded.
Montasery de Pedralbes – an example of Catalan Gothic architecture just outside of the city. Come here for the quiet garden courtyard!
I truly hope you enjoy your weekend in Barcelona. It is one of my all time favorite cities. If you are currently planning a trip and have any questions, drop them in the comments below!