5 Days in Barcelona: The Ultimate Barcelona Itinerary

Perfect 5 day Barcelona Itinerary

Barcelona is one of my favorite destinations in Europe and it’s the city I lived in for 6 months. The city has an important place in the Mediterranean Sea region and is home to millions of residents, great beaches, perfect weather, a rich history and culture, and the incredible architecture of Antoni Gaudí.

You can visit this city for just a couple of days to get to know it but to really feel the culture of the city, you need to spend more than just a weekend here. I’ve heard several people mention to me that their visit to Barcelona wasn’t anything special or it just “didn’t click,” but I believe in the power of slow traveling and traveling “off the beaten path.” So here is my first tip for you: travel slow – that’s the way of Spanish life and Spanish culture and that should be the way of getting to know it. When I visited Barcelona, I didn’t fall in love with the busy Las Ramblas or standing in a line to see the Sagrada Familia. I fell in love with the people, with the Spanish language, with the Catalan traditions and even with the Spanish midnight dinner.

Where Should I Stay in Barcelona?

where to stay in Barcelona

If you haven’t found a place to stay in Barcelona, you should look outside of the city center in neighborhoods like Eixample or Gracia. Barcelona does have a good public transport system, but obviously, you want to spend more of your time sightseeing and less of your time on a bus or metro, so I wouldn’t recommend booking a hotel too far from the main attractions. Why not stay at the Gothic Quarter? I would say that this neighborhood is the most unsafe at night (a lot of pick-pocketing) and all of the restaurants in the Gothic Quarter are way more expensive. Look for a hotel on Kayak, it’s super easy to compare using the map function! 

How to Get to Barcelona from the Airport?

If arriving to Barcelona by train, you will most likely be already in the city center when you arrive. But, if you are flying in, you will probably find yourself wondering how am I going to get to Barcelona. First, I would like to discourage you from taking a taxi, seemingly the fastest and easiest choice will also end up being a lot more expensive. I believe that taking a taxi is one of the most common travel mistakes, however, if you’re there only for the weekend or flying in late at night, that still might be the best option for you. 

The Best Way to Get to Barcelona from the Airport – RENFE train

The cheapest and fastest way to get to Barcelona is by the RENFE train. It runs about every 30 minutes to and from Barcelona airport to the city center and the travel time will be about 25 minutes. If traveling from the airport to the city center you can get off at Barcelona Sants, Passeig de Gràcia or Clot. From those stations, you can change for the Barcelona metro system to your destination. 

To ride the RENFE train, you should follow the signs to Train (not Metro). If you are arriving into Terminal 1, take a shuttle bus to the train. and buy a T-Casual travel card (€11.35 for 10 rides) from the entrance to the RENFE train. You can then use that card for all of your metro and train rides in the city center. It is also valid on the following means of transport to the airport:

  1. RENFE train 
  2. TMB airport bus N46
  3. TMB night busses N16 and N17

It is not valid for the following:

  1. The airport metro stops Aeroport T1 or Aeroport T2 on Metro Line L9 Sud
  2. The Aerobus (the express bus service to the airport).

Overall, this is the best deal (about 1 euro per person) to get from the airport to anywhere in the city. And, you won’t even have to pay to switch train/metro to get to your hotel. 

Getting From the Airport to Barcelona by Bus (Bus 46)

This bus operates during the day from both airport terminals. The single ticket is €2.40 or you can use the T-card (see more above). This is probably one of the slowest ways to get to the city center as the bus stops a lot.

Getting to Barcelona from the Airport at Night

Use the NitBus N16 or N17 (the bus that operates between Barcelona Airport and the city center.) You can also use the T-Casual on this bus or buy a single ticket for €2.40. Operating hours: 21:55 – 04:45. 

Aerobus – Express Bus 

The Aerobus is an express bus that goes from Barcelona airport to the city center, you can catch it from outside of both terminals and take it to Plaça España or Plaça de Catalunya. It’s one of the more expensive public transportation options with a single ticket at €5.90 and a return ticket is at €10.20.

If you have any more questions about getting to and from the airport and are not sure what to pick, let me know in the comments below and I’d be happy to help! 

Packing for a trip to Europe? Use this Packing List!

The Ultimate Barcelona 5 Day Itinerary

 

As I’ve mentioned, you should spend at least 5 days here to truly experience this city. However, if the time is short, feel free to mix and match! With that in mind, I’ve put together an overview of some of the city’s main sights to make your stay in Barcelona perfect, whether it’s s part of a long weekend or a longer European itinerary like this.  

Day 1 – Explore the Gothic Quarter and Ciutadella Park

Get Lost in the Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is one of the most famous (and one of my favorite) parts of Barcelona. Located in the heart of the old city, Barrio Gòtico (the Gothic Quarter) and nearby Ciutadella Park make the perfect first impression of Barcelona. You should start at Plaça de Catalunya in the morning and after taking a couple of pictures, take Portal de l’Àngel straight to Barcelona Cathedral. 

Barcelona Cathedral
At the cathedral, head down to the crypt to see the tomb of Saint Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona. Also, be sure to go to the roof, it’s open to tourists from 12:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., see more about your visit here.

After the Cathedral, take Carrer del Bisbe and Carrer de la Pietat to the Museum of History of Barcelona. This museum is one of my favorites in the city – here you will witness a whole network of Roman ruins underneath the heart of the city.

Then, take Carrer de la Llibreteria to the Plaça Sant Jaume, the administrative heart of both the city and surrounding Catalonia, where you will often find festivals and celebrations taking place. From there, keep going down Carrer de la Princesa to Parc de la Ciutadella. 

Shopping in the Gothic Quarter

Shopping in the Gothic Quarter - Custo

I love to shop in the Gothic quarter, because it has a lot of local Spanish brands, like Custo Barcelona, Ivori Barcelona, and Dolores Promesas and many big chain brands, like Zara or H&M.  

Note: I wrote a whole post on things to see and do in the Gothic Quarter, see more here! 

Lunch: Have an Authentic Neapolitan Pizza at N.A.P. 

A Picnic in the Ciutadella Park

A picnic in Parc de la Ciutadella

Running around Barcelona on foot can be tiring, to relax and have a snack, head to Parc de la Ciutadella, my favorite park in the city built over the previous site of a military citadel. The park is full of hidden surprises – some of my favorites: Cascada Monumental, the zoo, and Arc de Triomf! If you bring a few snacks with you (and a bottle of vermouth), you can easily spend a few hours here. (I think public drinking might be illegal in Barcelona, so do so at your own risk)

Picnic at Parc de la Ciutadella

Dinner: Have a Wonderful Greek Feast at Dionisos

Day 2 – Gaudi Architecture, Passeig de Gràcia, and Tapas All Day!

Tour Sagrada Familia

Tour Sagrada Familia

Start at Sagrada Familia, one of Barcelona’s symbols and is Antoni Gaudi’s most elaborate work. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona and you will probably spend most of your morning there – it’s breath-taking! It also often sells out, so get tickets online in advance and if possible, visit the towers (for an additional fee). Admission is about 15 EUR and 22 EUR for a ticket and audio guide.

Lunch: Try Some Tapas at Casa Angela

See More Gaudi Work at Passeig de Gràcia

Casa Mila by Gaudi
Casa Mila

After Lunch, take Carrer de Mallorca towards the city center and Passeig de Gràcia. On the way, you’ll see the Palau Macaya, Avinguda Diagonal, and in about 20 minutes of walking, you will arrive at Passeig de Gràcia. It’s also worth making a short detour on Avinguda Diagonal to see Casa de les Punxes.

At the corner of Carrer de Mallorca and Passeig de Gràcia, you will see Casa Mila, another Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece! If you have time, the inside is just as unique as the outside and the rooftop is so beautiful at sunset. Also, Casa Mila hosts a light show in the evenings with music and dancing lights bringing the building to life. Standard admission (which includes an audio guide) is 22 EUR.

Casa Batillo by Gaudi
A common theory about Casa Batillo is that the rounded pole on the roof represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

Next, look right across from Casa Mila and you will see Casa Batillo, I recommend visiting them on the same day.The façade of Casa Batillo is decorated with a colorful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles and the roof is arched like the back of a dragon. Best time to see it is on April 23rd, it will be beautifully decorated with roses, definitely one of the most beautiful Gaudí buildings.

Go Shopping!

If you have time (and extra money), check out stores like Anthropologie, Misako, or Zara in the area, or visit the high-end designer stores like Santa Eulalia, Gucci, or Bimba y Lola, and others. 

Dinner: Head into the local Gracia neighborhood and have dinner in one of the local streets or squares like Plaça del Sol, Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, or Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla. Have more tapas or Paella, and don’t forget about Spanish wine!

Day 3 – Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya and Plaça d’Espanya

Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya and Plaça d'Espanya

You may have noticed how I split up Barcelona into sections! Now, it’s time to visit another beautiful area of Barcelona, Plaça d’Espanya and Montjuïc! And the best day to visit this area is on a Saturday or Sunday, as Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya is free on Saturday evenings and first Sundays of the month, and Montjuïc Castle is free on Sundays! I know, a lot to look forward to, it’s one of my favorite parts of the city!

Start at the Montjuïc Castle

In the morning, I recommend starting at the Montjuïc Castle, a beautiful 17th-century hilltop fortress & former prison, housing a military museum with impressive city views. The best and the cheapest way is to get there by bus #150 from Plaça d’Espanya (about $1.50 if you have the 10 ride ticket), the most exciting way is to take the cable car (13,50€ there and back from the Parallel L2/L3 stop). I would recommend taking the cable car there and then the bus to Plaça d’Espanya afterward. General admission to the castle is 9 euros, but the first Sunday of each month and Sundays from 3pm are free! Read more about the Montjuïc Castle here, it has incredible history, and as I’ve mentioned, amazing views!

Lunch, Plaça d’Espanya, and Arenas de Barcelona

As I’ve mentioned above, after a tour of the Montjuïc Castle, you should take the bus to Plaça d’Espanya. Here you will find more lunch options and you can enjoy a little rest or shopping. You can have lunch at the shopping center food court at Arenas de Barcelona. Here, you can also take the escalators to the rooftop to see the views of Plaça d’Espanya, relax, or do some shopping. Other great options for lunch are sushi at Dumplings, empanadas and pizzas at L’ Empanada de Papá, or traditional Spanish food at Grupo Silvestre

Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya 

Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya 

After a tasty lunch, start your hike to the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya. You will pass the Font Màgica de Montjuïc (Magic fountain of Montjuic), but it’s ok, it’s truly magical in the evening. Spend the rest of the afternoon at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, a museum of the 11th- to 20th-century Catalan art with an amazing Romanesque collection. Here you will see art by famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Marià Fortuny, Antoni Caba, and Salvador Dalí. And yes, if you visit on a Saturday evening (check the time) or first Sunday of the month, you will be able to get in for free!

The Magic Fountain 

The magic fountain is a spectacular display of color, light, motion, music and water performance. If you’re in the area, stay for a couple of hours to see the show. The shows usually start at 8 pm or later, see the schedule here. (Note, last time I was there, it was incredibly crowded and definitely not worth it.)

Dinner: Have an Italian dinner at Ristorante Meraviglioso, traditional Catalan food at L’Amfora, or fixed menu at Criux or Cinc Sentits

Go Clubbing in Barcelona?

Go Clubbing in Barcelona

I am usually not the one to go clubbing, but when in Barcelona, a party is a must! There are several clubs on the beach, including Shoko or Pacha and many people also love Wednesday nights at Razzmatazz

Day 4 – Visit Park Güell in the Morning and Climb Tibidabo

Day four will consist of amazing views of the city and mountains outside of the Barcelona city center. 

Take a Walk in Park Güell

Barcelona Park Güell

Park Güell is one of the most impressive parks in the world, and if you were to choose 2 things to see in Barcelona, I would recommend Park Güell to be one of them. There are only 400 tickets available every half-hour and they sell out well in advance. As with Sagrada Familia, you should book your tickets online. Admission is 7.50 EUR, with discounts available.

Note: you can see the park for free if you come before it opens or after it closes. Early morning is my favorite time to visit Park Güell to enjoy it without big groups of tourists, enjoy the sunrise  at Park Güell for free!

Lunch: This part of Barcelona has a lot of options for Menu del Dia – a lunch menu that includes a first and second course, plus drink and dessert for a fixed price, usually between 10 and 15 euros. Or, have a quick stop at La Terrasseta del Lesseps for a more affordable option. 

See the Views from the Tibidabo Mountain

Tibidabo Cathedral del Sagrat Cor
Tibidabo Cathedral del Sagrat Cor

After lunch, head to L7 stop of Avinguda Tibidabo and use the cable car to get on top. Once you’re on top, be sure to visit Tibidabo’s retro theme park and, of course, the Cathedral del Sagrat Cor. This is the cathedral that you see from almost anywhere in the city and it’s even breath-taking up close. Spend the rest of the day exploring the beautiful area. 

Related: See Europe Travel Tips for 2020

Day 5 – Relax on the Beach at La Barceloneta and Have Romantic Picnic with a View

Barceloneta Beach
You will find so many fun things on Barceloneta beach!

The perfect way to end your trip – relaxing and soaking up the sun!

Boqueria Market
I like to combine a trip to the beach with a visit to the Boqueria Market. Here you can buy fresh fruit, jamon, and cheese for your picnic and then head to Barceloneta, Barcelona’s famed beach.

Take a blanket, lay down and enjoy the sun, the sounds of the waves with the music hums – Barceloneta is all about the action. 

Lunch in Barcelona
Lunch: There are plenty of beach-side restaurants and bars with fresh seafood near Barceloneta or you can just picnic for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Explore a Secret Barcelona Spot – Bunkers del Carmel

Barcelona View from El Carmel
View from El Carmel

After the beach, take public transportation to Bunkers del Carmel, WWII bunkers and a historic landmark that arguably provides the best view of Barcelona. Seeing the sunsets here is a must-do while you are in Barcelona and bring your own drinks and snacks while enjoying the view. If you go, share your pictures with me on Instagram or in the comments below! 

Day 6 – More Things to Do in Barcelona

My Barcelona itinerary is just a small slice of this beautiful city
My itinerary is just a small slice of this beautiful city, and if you are studying abroad in this city or just have more time, there is a lot more to see.

See more exciting ideas below: 

Go on One of a Day Trip from Barcelona

A Day Trip from Barcelona to Girona
Girona, one of my favorite day trips from Barcelona

There are great destinations that are just a short train ride away from Barcelona! If you have more time, you should definitely take a trip to Girona, Montserrat, Tarragona, or Cadaques. And if you have a few more days, you should continue your trip to the south of Spain in Andalusia or Madrid.  

Are you going to Barcelona? What are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments!

 

Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!

13 Comments

  1. Helen Story
    March 22, 2020

    Great post, I’ve never heard of the bunkers of Barcelona. I’d love to make a visit when we are all free to travel again!

    Reply
  2. Pam
    March 26, 2020

    I don’t know why but I feel like Barcelona always gets the short end of the stick when it comes to places in Europe. Even when I was there it didn’t seem like it was a hyped destination, but I absolutely LOVED it. I am not an artsy person either, but I loved the ambiance and walking down the La Rambla. Also, the best paella I’ve ever had was in Barcelona!

    Reply
  3. Laura
    March 26, 2020

    Nice itinerary. I haven’t been to Barcelona.

    Reply
  4. Keegan McCue | Articles of Hope
    March 26, 2020

    I’ve never been to Barcelona, but it’s next in my list! Great post! Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  5. Cherrod
    March 26, 2020

    These are great tips to get from the airport to the city! I’ve been drawn more and more to Barcelona recently, so this was a nice post to read. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Audrey
    March 26, 2020

    I am such a fan of unique architecture! I must say, if I ever travel to Barcelona, I will definitely refer to your guide so I don’t miss any of these treasures! I also enjoy quite a bit churches, in my understanding, I would be pleased with the city 😉

    Reply
  7. Kat
    March 26, 2020

    I love Barcelona! It’s definitely my fave city in Europe, such great food and coffee and wonderful people. Your itinerary is well-thought-out, great job 🙂

    Reply
  8. Amber
    March 26, 2020

    Beautiful pictures. Spain has always been on my list of places I’d love to travel. Can’t wait to visit there someday! ♥️

    Reply
  9. Courtney
    March 27, 2020

    Hey Marina! Loved your post (as always!!) Your photos are gorgeous and I’m going to save this for when I head to Spain (hopefully sooner than later in my life!!) I hope you are staying safe in Chicago! 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  10. Lydia
    March 27, 2020

    I always feel so ridiculous when I think about how close Spain is to me and how little I’ve seen of it! This post has convinced me to go for a long weekend and explore! Some beautiful sites that I’m sure I will visit

    Reply
  11. Derek
    March 27, 2020

    Great itinerary, I’ve been to Barcelona twice and you cover so much and gave me some ideas for the next time. I always stay in Eixample, I love that neighborhood. Which day trip location do you think is the best for someone who only has time for one trip outside of Barcelona?

    Reply
  12. Kimberlie
    March 27, 2020

    Wow, what a thorough post on how to experience Barcelona fully. I love that you offer practical, money conscious and safe guidelines. Thanks for your tips on staying outside the city, not travelling by taxi and thanks for providing such a wide variety of things to so. Barcelona is on my bucket list, so I hope to cross it off soon, armed with your guidance.

    Reply
  13. alan @ morepassportstamps.com
    March 27, 2020

    i love the gothic quarter!
    camp nou is also worth a visit, but don’t forget it is football not soccer haha

    Reply

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