Barcelona is one of those cities that keeps drawing people back with it’s buzzing nightlife, a wealth of culture, history and art as well as proximity to beautiful beaches with a warm climate. Spending 4 days in Barcelona will allow you to sample all of the best bits this beautiful city has to offer.
This 4 day Barcelona itinerary has been crafted by today’s guest author Andrea. She will show you how to make the most of Barcelona in 4 days.
I’ll hand you over to her now for her to share her Barcelona itinerary and tips with you…
What you can expect from this article...
- 1 Things to know about visiting Barcelona in 4 days
- 2 Four Days in Barcelona Itinerary
Things to know about visiting Barcelona in 4 days
Welcome to my 4-day Barcelona itinerary!
The second-largest city in Spain and the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is an exciting, vibrant destination with a wealth of attractions and rich history and culture. It is one of my favourite European cities and one that I return to again and again. There is always something new to discover, some hidden gem I haven’t come across before.
In this article, I will describe my perfect four days in Barcelona. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned returnee, this itinerary will give you a wonderful insight into the city and will leave you with many reasons to visit again.
An Overview of this Four Day Barcelona Itinerary
Day 1 Get to know Antoni Gaudí, the greatest Spanish architect.
Day 2 Complete your Gaudí education, discover Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter, and finish the day at the beach.
Day 3 See the city from different viewpoints – from an open-top bus, from the water, and from a cable-car – and take a tour of Camp Nou, home to Barcelona FC.
Day 4 Learn how to shop for ingredients and then cook a typical Catalan meal on a ‘Market to Table’ cookery course.
Keep reading for a more detailed Barcelona itinerary…
Reasons You Should Visit Barcelona
- You can discover 2000 years of history on a short walking tour of the city centre.
- Barcelona has amazing blue flag beaches.
- You will never be hungry – there are countless fabulous restaurants and delicious tapas everywhere!
- The city has a plethora of interesting museums.
- Gaudí’s influence can be seen all over the city.
- Barcelona has some of the best street art you will ever see.
- It is a very affordable city.
- It is perfect for strolling around, window-shopping or soaking up the atmosphere on Las Ramblas.
When is the best time of year to visit Barcelona?
Whilst Barcelona is a great year-round destination, my favourite time to visit is in spring. The city is still busy, but the crowds aren’t as dense as in the summer months. You can expect sunny days and perfect temperatures for sightseeing – not the stifling heat you get in the summer in Barcelona, but warm enough to sit outside to enjoy your tapas and vino!
How to get to Barcelona
Barcelona is very accessible – by land, by air, and by sea.
Getting to Barcelona by air
The city’s international airport, Barcelona El-Prat, is located just 12 kilometres from the centre. There are cheap and efficient transport links to town by train, bus, or taxi.
Top Tip! Be aware when booking flights that the low-cost airlines use airports like Girona or Reus which are located quite a distance out of Barcelona itself. Getting into the city from these airports can cost more than the flight!
Getting to Barcelona by sea
The port of Barcelona is one of the biggest and most important on the Mediterranean. It is a popular port of call for large cruise ships and private yachts, but it is also a ferry port which links the city to the Balearic Islands and to many ports in southern Europe. If you are travelling elsewhere in Europe, the ferry can be a fun way to arrive in Barcelona.
Getting to Barcelona by train
From Barcelona, there are direct train connections with the rest of Spain and several international cities. There is a high-speed train service which connects the city with Madrid, the southern coast of Spain, and destinations in France. Local services link up with other towns in Catalonia.
Getting to Barcelona by bus
It’s possible to reach Barcelona by bus from other Spanish cities, from all over Europe, and even from north Africa. The bus obviously takes longer than the train, but it’s a great option if you’re on a tight budget and time is not too much of an issue.
Getting to Barcelona by car
Road links to Barcelona from other parts of Spain and from France are very good. We have driven from our home in the Languedoc on many occasions. All I would say, if you’re going to Barcelona by car, make sure you book accommodation with parking. It is very expensive to park in the city centre and spaces are often hard to find.
How to get around Barcelona in 4 days
Barcelona is a very walkable city with short distances between many major attractions and clear signage to make sure you don’t get lost.
For travelling longer distances, the city has a very efficient, fully integrated public transport system which is super-easy to navigate. Tickets are valid on buses, the metro, trams, and local trains.
You can buy tickets as you need them, both for individual journeys or for ten trips, from every metro station or from certain bus stops around the city. Alternatively, you can get your tickets online in advance or by using the TMB app when you’re in the city.
If you intend to use public transport a lot, you will save money by buying a travel card which gives you unlimited journeys for a 24-, 48-, or 72-hour period.
Another option is to use open-top tourist buses to get around the city. These hop-on, hop-off services operate on three routes which cover every corner of Barcelona. They offer the best view and give an interesting commentary on the districts you are passing through. They also provide the perfect opportunity to rest your weary legs during this busy 4 day Barcelona itinerary!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also explore Barcelona by bicycle, either as part of an organised bike tour or by hiring your own. The city has almost 200 kilometres of clearly signposted and protected cycle lanes.
Where to base yourself for this 4 day Barcelona itinerary
The Gothic Quarter
For first time visitors to Barcelona, the central Gothic Quarter is an ideal place to base yourself. There is a plethora of hotels, guesthouses and hostels to suit all budgets. You will be in the centre of everything, within easy walking distance of the main attractions and with endless evening entertainment options on your doorstep.
Scrimp: Kabul Party Hostel
Splurge: Ohla Barcelona (just check out that rooftop pool..!)
If you’re looking for a more local, less touristy experience, base yourself in El Ravel. This historic, formerly run-down district is now a vibrant, fashionable area with an international feel. There are Bohemian bars, hip design shops and laid-back cafes. You will find cutting-edge exhibitions at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and it’s the best place in Barcelona to see street art. It is also home to a fascinating maritime museum.
El Ravel is located just behind Barcelona’s main thoroughfare, Las Ramblas, so it’s easy to access the more popular attractions. Some writers suggest that El Ravel is the most dangerous area of the city. We have never found it so. We love the relaxed vibe and the colour and creativity of the place. Obviously, as in any major city, you should take the usual precautions with your valuables and with the way you behave in order to lessen the risk of anything going wrong.
Scrimp: Hostal Benidorm
Save: Eco Boutique Hostal Grau
Splurge: Hotel 1898
Whenever we drive to Barcelona, we base ourselves in Fira, the business district on the outskirts of the city. There are several cheap, soulless hotels here which have secure, off-street parking. Whilst, it might not be at the top of everyone’s list, it is simply a place to sleep. It is at the end of a metro line with trains running into and out of the city until late at night. You can be in the centre within thirty minutes.
Scrimp: Bird House
Save: Magatzem 128
Splurge: Hotel Villa Emilia
Four Days in Barcelona Itinerary
Day 1 in Barcelona
In the morning…
Arm yourself with a 48-hour travel card to give you unlimited use of Barcelona’s public transport for the next couple of days.
Head to La Sagrada Família and start your day with a delicious breakfast of churros and coffee in one of the many nearby cafes.
It’s vital that you buy your queue jump tickets to see Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece well in advance of your visit in order to avoid the lengthy queues or risk not being able to get in at all!
I recommend that you get a ‘Sagrada Família with Towers’ ticket, which includes an excellent audio guide and a trip up one of the towers to see the city from a different perspective. You need to allow a couple of hours or more to appreciate this incredible building.
Eat lunch at…
Eat lunch at La Paradeta. This self-service seafood restaurant close to La Sagrada Família has been a firm favourite with Barcelona residents for the past twenty-five years. They buy the fish directly from the port every morning so you can be sure that your lunch will be fresh and delicious. We love La Paradeta for its casual, relaxed atmosphere and amazing food!
In the afternoon…
Make your way to Park Güell and admire the famous mosaic-covered structures. This failed upmarket housing project is now one of the largest green areas in Barcelona and is home to a famous Monumental Area designed by Gaudí and, also, to the house where he lived for the last twenty years of his life. The latter is now open to the public as the Gaudí House Museum.
From La Sagrada Família, you can reach Park Güell by metro or by bus. If you take the metro, you will have a long walk up a steep hill (there is an escalator for the last section!) to the park, whereas the bus drops you off right outside the entrance.
Whilst you can wander around the forested area of Park Güell for free, like La Sagrada Família, if you want to visit the Monumental Area you must book your timed visit in advance online. There are rarely if ever, tickets available to buy on the day.
Eat dinner at…
Eat dinner at Restaurant Tíbet. no, it’s not what you’re thinking! This restaurant serves (I think!) the best Catalan food in Barcelona. Located close to Park Güell, this family-run establishment specialises in simple local dishes. The starters include delicious snails and a fabulous cod dish. For the main course, we invariably have the rabbit which is always incredibly tasty.
In the evening…
End your first day in Barcelona with a flamenco show. There are many venues in the city which offer dinner and flamenco packages. From what I hear, the food is generally not very good in these places, so I recommend you take in a late-night show accompanied by a nightcap.
La Palacio del Flamenco hosts an hour-long performance starting at 10.30pm every evening. It’s the perfect way to round off your day.
Day 2 in Barcelona
In the morning…
I highly recommend that you get a two-day Barcelona Pass to use over the next 48 hours of this Barcelona itinerary. It will save you a lot of money on entrance fees and will give you priority access to certain attractions, saving you a whole lot of time standing in queues.
After breakfast, head to Casa Batlló (included in the Barcelona Pass) to learn more about Gaudí and his work. This apartment building with its crazy façade, known locally as the Casa del Ossos (House of Bones), is my favourite of Antoni Gaudí’s creations. It was here that I first began to understand him and his genius. The curved lines, tactile finishes and stunning use of natural light make me want to move in immediately!
From Casa Batlló, it’s a short walk across the street to another Gaudí masterpiece, Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera (included in the Barcelona Pass). These two apartment blocks connected around an unbelievable oval courtyard, form a striking white landmark on a street corner. The roof of the building is incredible! Functional objects like chimneys, stairwells and ventilation shafts have been made to look unusual and beautiful. Some are decorated with broken tile mosaics which catch the light and throw colourful shadows on the cream stonework. There are amazing views in all directions across the city.
In both of these places, the entrance fee includes a headset with an informative and entertaining commentary. Having listened to them, you will be much more knowledgeable about Gaudí than you were before and, perhaps, you’ll have a greater appreciation for his work. I know I did! Now, though, I think that’s enough of the great man!
Eat lunch at…
Eat lunch at one of the many tapas bars that line Passeig de Gràcia, the fashionable street which runs from La Pedrera back towards Las Ramblas. Sit at a pavement table and watch the world go by as you enjoy small plates of fresh sardines or pork with tamarind.
In the afternoon…
Head to the Gothic Quarter for your next Barcelona Pass activity – a guided walk through 2000 years of history. You must book your tour 24 hours in advance via e-mail.
You’ll see the remains of the old walled city of Barcelona and the columns of a Roman temple, as well as the ancient palaces of kings and queens. You’ll also get to explore the majestic Gothic Cathedral and find out why thirteen geese live in the cloister. The walk takes around two hours and finishes on Las Ramblas.
Continue your walk along this famous thoroughfare, pausing to watch the street entertainers and artists. Perhaps, you’ll want to have your portrait painted or to buy some souvenirs?
Half-way down Las Ramblas, you’ll come to the Liceu, Barcelona’s opera house. You can take a tour of this beautiful building with its 2300 seat auditorium which was constructed in such a way that, whilst you may not have the best view from every seat, the acoustics are perfect, so you won’t miss a note. You may get lucky, as we did on our last visit, and get to hear a rehearsal session.
After the Liceu, carry on to the end of Las Ramblas, turn left, and head to the beach!
Eat dinner at…
Eat dinner at one of the seafood restaurants in La Barceloneta, the city’s main beach. This area is the best place to eat paella in Barcelona. Take your pick from any of the versions of this classic dish. You won’t be disappointed.
In the evening…
Hang out at the beach, enjoying the last of the day’s sun, or listening to the buskers who line the promenade.
Day 3 in Barcelona
In the morning…
This is day two of using your Barcelona Pass and, by now, your travel card will have expired. The first thing to do, then, is to visit the tourist office near Plaça Catalunya to get a day voucher for the hop-on, hop-off bus service (included in the Barcelona Pass).
Take the blue route around the north of the city to Camp Nou, home to Barcelona FC. This activity is included in the Barcelona Pass, but you will still need to book in advance. Whether or not you are a football fan, the stadium tour is an amazing experience. You get to go behind the scenes and pitchside to get a real sense of what it must be like on match days.
After the tour, continue on the blue route back to Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona’s main square.
Eat lunch at…
Eat lunch at Las Buenas Migas. This bakery and coffee shop, one of a chain, is a perfect pit-stop for lunch. They serve delicious pastries and focaccia, as well as fresh salads and desserts. Their coffee is good, and they also offer a wide range of juices and smoothies.
In the afternoon…
After lunch, get back on the bus – the red route this time. Head to Poble Espanyol, an open-air architectural museum with 117 full-size buildings which represent the evolution of Spanish architecture over the years. This is included in the Barcelona Pass, as is a ride on the Montjuïc Cable Car, a short walk away.
From the cable car, you get fantastic views of Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, as well as the rest of the city.
Following your cable car ride, hop back on the red route bus and continue past the World Trade Centre to Barcelona’s port areas – Port Vell and Port Olympic. If time allows, switch to the green route which goes further along the coast and returns through the new business district. If not, get off at Port Olympic and stroll back along the seafront to have dinner.
Eat dinner at…
Eat dinner at La Bombeta. This ‘spit and sawdust’ place is one of my favourite places to eat in Barcelona. It is hugely popular with locals but is largely avoided by tourists. Perhaps they are put off by the signs indicating that the staff only speak Catalan, there is no wi-fi, and they only take cash. Don’t let this stop you! Pointing goes a long way and you will be rewarded with the best food!!
This no-frills restaurant is always packed. In between customers, the tables are wiped, new paper placemats are put down along with a basket of bread, a jug of water, and small chunky tumblers for your wine. The menu is a single A4 sheet covered on both sides with lists of mouth-watering tapas dishes. Order a selection and a carafe of house red. Eat, drink, and, if you’re still hungry, order some more!
Our favourite dishes are spicy sausages in honey, patatas bravas with a sauce hot enough to blow your head off, Gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns), and Pulpo gallego (grilled octopus coated in sweet paprika sauce).
In the evening…
After dinner, take a boat trip around Barcelona’s port (included in the Barcelona Pass). Enjoy the illuminated city skyline viewed from the water as you sip a cocktail and imagine yourself living the high life on one of the superyachts moored in the harbour.
Day 4 in Barcelona
In the morning…
Begin your last day of this 4 day Barcelona itinerary by having breakfast like the locals do, perching on a barstool at one of the stalls in La Boqueria, Barcelona’s glorious food market.
Next, take a cooking class. I highly recommend the ‘Market to Table’ class by Bear on Bike. Shop for ingredients with chef Alberto in La Boqueira and then go with him to his school in El Ravel to cook what you have bought.
You’ll get a masterclass in choosing the right produce. Whether you’re a beginner or a keen home cook, you’ll pick up loads of tips on how to prepare your dishes and serve them with a flourish.
Mid-morning, you’ll stop to enjoy a tasting board of fresh figs, oak-matured ham, tangy goats’ cheese, plump olives, and rustic bread.
By early afternoon, the preparation will be over and you’ll sit down at a pretty table laid in a sunny conservatory and enjoy a delicious three-course lunch washed down with delicious local wine. If there’s a better way to appreciate the joys of Catalonian people and their cuisine, I don’t know what it is!
In the afternoon…
The cooking class doesn’t end until sometime between three and four o’clock in the afternoon. I would suggest that you don’t try to rush around and do much more. Instead, spend your final few hours in this stunning city strolling the streets, people watching, soaking up the atmosphere, and planning your next visit!
For a memorable end to your visit, take the metro to Plaça Espanya and join the crowds at the Magic Fountain. As the sun goes down, watch a fantastic show as the water bubbles and cascades in an illuminated display set to popular music. It’s not highbrow, but it’s great fun!
In the evening…
I don’t imagine that you’ll need dinner after such a sumptuous lunch, but there’s always room for some tasty morsels of street food as the evening wears on. Enjoy a final ice cream or a cone of sweet churros dipped in a chocolate sauce as you mingle with the crowds on Las Ramblas for one last time.
Many thanks to Andrea for this detailed insight into how to spend 4 days in Barcelona. Barcelona is still on my Europe bucket list but I will be sure to use this awesome 4 day Barcelona itinerary when I get to visit!
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