3 Days in Barcelona: How to Make the Most of Barcelona
You’ve just booked your dream holiday in Barcelona, Spain. You’re going to spend 3 days in Barcelona, nevertheless, you want to make the most of your time in Spain’s most visited city, right? The idea is to visit Barcelona, but avoid the tourist traps, trite attractions and boring stereotypes. We completely understand. Barcelona is a stunning city, which at first can seem overwhelming due to its magnitide and reputation as a bustling metropolis. Kim, who has been residing in Barcelona for over 3 years now, takes us on a journey through Barcelona in 3 days. Are you spending more than three days in this gorgeous city? Not a problem, you’ll be able to take your time while you also take in the Spanish sunshine!
Barcelona, Spain. Known for its sunny beaches, quaint and narrow streets, almost-perfect climate, and world-famous attractions. There’s always something to do, see, eat, and discover in Catalonia’s capital. For a city that has all of THAT going for itself, planning a trip there can have you confused about where to start, spiraling down google rabbit holes with no way out, and threatening to cancel Barcelona all together. So to help you shake off some that google frazzle, here’s a list of the top three must-do’s when traveling to Barcelona.
Day One in Barcelona: Go See the Unmistakable Gaudí
To say that Barcelona is Antoni Gaudi’s city, would be an understatement. No trip to Barcelona is complete without seeing some of his gorgeous work. The Catalan architect is internationally acclaimed and his buildings are scattered all around the city, in fact, in and around Barcelona is where nearly all of Gaudí’s projects live, with up to 20 works. He’s best known for the masterpiece, Sagrada Family Church, but there are many others to see, including Casa Mila, Casa Batlló, and Park Güell. Along with these stunning structures, there are museums dedicated to his life and work, such as the Gaudí House Museum (within Park Güell) and the Gaudí Experiència, which houses a 4D, audiovisual exhibit. These museums can give you an even greater understanding of his life, his work, and his mark on the city.
Day Two in Barcelona: Delicious Spanish and Catalán Food
Food is essential in the Spanish lifestyle and Barcelona is no exception. With the cuisine being as excellent as the architecture, the city is bursting with culinary talent and tons of places to chow down on delicious Spanish and Catalan grub, from tapas to food markets.
Insider’s Tip: Where to Get Tapas in Barcelona
Tapas are a great way to begin your Barcelona food quest. Although tapas are not traditionally Catalan, and unfortunately the free tapas culture got lost on its way to Barcelona, doesn’t mean that you can’t get your hands on some fantastic ones here. Three of the best tapas bars in Barcelona include Quimet i Quimet, Bormuth, and Bar de Pla.
Quimet i Quimet
Quimet i Quimet is one of Barcelona’s oldest and most popular tapas bars. It’s small with a tight fit (only enough room for about 15 to 20 people) and standing-room only, but it’s been around since 1914 and never fails to have a line outside the door. I know, I know, lines are never any fun, but trust, this place is worth the wait. This respected establishment is known for their montaditos: Pieces of bread topped with anything from Spanish tortilla to jamón ibérico. (Montaditos can be closed as well, like miniature sandwiches.) With over 30 combinations to choose from, classic montaditos at Quimet i Quimet are the smoked salmon with greek yogurt and the truffle honey and bacalao (codfish) with olivada (olive tapenade). Yum!
If you’re looking for some traditional Spanish tapas from all around Spain, Bar Bormuth is where you’ll find them. Right off the rambla (main street) in the El Born neighborhood, this popular spot has berenjena con miel (eggplant with honey) from Andalusia, patatas mojo picón (potatoes with spicy mojo picón sauce) from the Canary Islands, pimientos de padrón (fried padrón peppers) from Galicia, and buñuelos de bacalao (cod fritters) from Extremadura. And to top it all off, they specialize in vermouth, a fortified, sweet wine that you’ll see a lot in Barcelona. Bormuth is a great place to spend a lazy Sunday eating and drinking with friends.
Bar de Pla
If you ask any Barcelona local for their list of the best tapas bars in Barcelona, it’s inevitable that Bar de Pla will be on that list. Tucked away in the heart of El Born, it’s one of the city’s staple joints for tapas. You’ll know it’s good because when inside, you’ll see that it’s filled with locals. They're known for their patatas bravas and their croquettes de pollo (chicken croquettes) are addictive. Bar de Pla has everything a traditional Barcelona bar is known for, like tiled floors and wooden barstools; however, this also includes slow service. But while the service might be on the slower side, it is good—but if you’re in a rush, this isn’t going to be the place for you. It’s open all day, but it’s usually packed, making a reservation for two or more people is recommended.
Barcelona is chock-full of local, fresh food markets like Mercat de Santa Caterina in El Born and Mercat de la Llibertat in Gràcia, but the must-visit one is La Boqueria. Smack dab on las ramblas (the main street) in the city center, it’s one of Europe’s most well-known markets. On the outer edges of the market is where you’ll find busy bars to grab some food and drink and inside the market are stalls on stalls of shop owners selling local and national favorites like jamón ibérico, Spanish cheeses galore, and barrels of Spanish olives. Along with this, you’ll find tons of fruit shops selling the season’s freshest fruit and stands with fresh-squeezed juices. La Boqueria is the perfect place for any food lover to meander through Barcelona’s best or pick something up for a stroll in the park.
Day Three in Barcelona: Discover and Explore Catalan History
Spain is diverse with 17 autonomous communities like Andalusia in the south, Catalonia in the east, the Basque Country in the north, and Galicia in the north-west, just to name a few. The country is home to many regional cultures that are connected, yet individualistic, with histories that run deep. For example, did you know that Catalonia has a history that dates all the way back to the paleolithic era? The rich culture is worth exploring, and with its distinct history, language, and traditions, there’s no better place to dive into it than in Barcelona. The National Catalan History Museum seeks to preserve Catalan heritage and raise awareness. It showcases the history of Catalonia from the Stone Age to modern day and displays the political, social, and economic evolution of the culture. Take your time and get lost on the four floors with highly visual permanent exhibitions in addition to temporary displays and presentations. Note that it is closed on Mondays, but open every other day of the week, including public holidays.
Barcelona is truly a breath-taking city that’s filled with enough happenings to make your head spin. However, visiting is a real treat and a unique opportunity to plunge into its jam-packed culture and traditions. Hopefully, these three must-do’s will help get your journey into Barcelona started on the right foot. After 3 days in Barcelona, you may want to spend a lifetime there!
Kim is an American traveler and linguist on a mission to help women push past the fear of solo travel to see the world on their own terms and create unforgettable experiences. She was born in London to West Indian parents, lived in New York for ten years, and currently lives in Barcelona—where she’s been for three years. She loves all things essential oils, cats, and second-hand. Hang out with her on Instagram @krodcollective or her website: krodcollective.com.