WARNING. This is an itinerary for 4 full days in Barcelona. That’s not counting your arrival and departure day (unless you arrive super early in the morning or leave really late). If your stay is shorter or longer, you can check out my other posts:
WHAT TO SEE IN BARCELONA FOR 4 DAYS
After 2 months of confinement, finally Barcelona is entering Phase 1 of un-lockdown. So it’s time to start dreaming about travel again! How long would you like to spend in Barcelona? The longer the better, if you ask me! And a 4 days Barcelona trip will allow you to explore it really in depth.
Let me share my fail-proof plan to enjoy your time and get to cover as much as possible (without going back and forth all the time, like other blogs I’ve seen out there written by foreigners suggest).
This is the real deal: a well thought-out Barcelona 4 Days Plan for you:
DAY ONE - Old Town
MORNING: Start by discovering the origins of Barcelona: Head to the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) and use the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia as your benchmark and walk the streets around them to see Roman Ruins (like the remains of an aqueduct and a Temple), strange gargoyles, a scenic neo-gothic bridge, and lovely plazas such as Sant Felip Neri and Plaça del Rei. Quickly check out the City Council (Ajuntament) and the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat) before heading for gelato at Gelaaati di Marco if it’s Summer.
Next cross the enchanting alleys of the Jewish Section and if you are visiting in the winter, before getting there, stop by Petritxol street for a wonderful hot chocolate and churros stop. You are now a couple of blocks from La Rambla, a famous pedestrian boulevard… with lots of tourist traps! But we tell you where to find La Rambla authentic soul in this other post.
AFTERNOON: Next you’ll be exploring the gorgeous Boqueria Market, one of the best food markets in the world. It’s a great idea to eat here: either in one of its delicious (but pricey) market tapas bars or getting a bite from its many take away stalls. Dessert at Escriba down the street is the icing of the cake (pardon the pun).
Help digestion leisurely walking down Las Ramblas towards the harbor, passing the flower market, the Joan Miro mosaic pavement, the Liceu Opera House and maybe stop over for coffee at the terrace of Glaciar in Plaça Reial.
At the end of the La Rambla towers the statue of Christopher Columbus (you might want to take the elevator to the top for some awesome views). You can also hop on the classic Golondrinas boats for a ride along the waterfront, or cross the bridge over the water for some shopping in the Maremagnum mall (or if you have kids, take them to the Aquarium).
A relaxing walk along the Moll de la Fusta will take you to the colorful modern statue of the Face of Barcelona by Roy Lichtenstein: here is where you cross over into the city again – now onto the Born district. Don’t miss the beautiful stained glasses of Santa Maria del Mar, the cakes at Bubo, and the 165yo nut roasters at Gispert. You might want to visit the Picasso Museum, less crowded this time of the day, visit the ruins inside the old Mercat del Born or relax in the grass of the Ciutadella Park.
EVENING: Shopping the cool Born stores is another great way to make time until dinner time (great el Born restaurants here). Top your day with a concert you’ll never forget in the mesmerizing Palau de la Musica. Bonus if you can hit one of their Spanish Guitar concerts or Flamenco shows.
DAY 2 - GAUDI SITES
Today’s plan works for any day of the week. Just make sure to buy tickets in advance for Park Guell and Sagrada Familia.
MORNING: Start your morning in Park Guell (it’s a 10min taxi ride but plan 45 minutes if you are planning to use public transit to get to Park Guell). If hiking is your thing, now that you are in that upper area of town size the opportunity to reach the Carmel batteries from the Spanish Civil War for some impressive views (such a waste of time to come back another day like these guys suggest…).
Now take the shuttle bus (included in your Park Guell Ticket) down, and from there you’ll be just 10 minutes walk from a little known gem: Hospital de Sant Pau, a great alternative to visiting Palau de la Musica Catalana. And then one favorite of mine: walk down Avinguda Gaudi as you approach the highlight of your trip: the Sagrada Familia Church. Grab some food from a bakery in the area or one of these non-touristy restaurants: the lights inside the church are better right after lunch – so consider your schedule carefully when purchasing your tickets. If there’s a site you want to pay to see, this is it. Do it, or regret it the rest of your life.
AFTERNOON: After visiting Sagrada Familia it’s some 20 minutes walk to get to Passeig de Gracia, or just 2 stops on the metro to Diagonal. You’ll be at the top of the most exclusive shopping area – our Madison Avenue, but also an architecture haven. The tickets for Casa Batllo and Casa Mila (also called La Pedrera) are pricey, so you might just want to see them from outside – do treat yourself to a coffee break at the Cafe de la Pedrera. A visit of the inside of Casa Amatller, next to Casa Batllo, is a great alternative if you hate crowds and love chocolate.
Spend your afternoon shopping around the top Spanish fashion brands in the main street, as well as the smaller but cool shops in the side streets and the nearby Rambla Catalunya (it’s a different street from the one you walked the day before). There are plenty of cafes in the area, too.
EVENING: Passeig de Gracia offers great dinner options. And after dinner you might want to enjoy the night at some cool hotel rooftop bar nearby or go for the night visit of Casa Batllo and Casa Mila.
DAY 3 - MONTJUIC HILL
Mondays the museums are closed. Friday and Saturday are best to hit the Magic Fountain Show, but do check their schedule as other days might be on too depending on the season.
MORNING: If you like heights, start your day getting to the Aeri del Port (Torre de Sant Sebastià) a bit before they open to avoid lines. It’s a breathtaking gondola ride over the marina that will take you to the Hill of Montjuic. From the exit of the gondola you’ll keep enjoying great city views as you walk 10 minutes to your next ride: the Teleferic de Montjuic (better buy tickets online to avoid lines).
This ski-resort-like cablecar takes you to the Castle of Montjuic. TIP: You may want to start your day here by taking a cab directly to the Castle. Enjoy more impressive views and take the cable car down or walk your descent across quiet Mediterranean gardens.
Five minutes walk from the bottom station of the cable car you’ll find the Miro Foundation – a must stop for art lovers. their cafe is a nice option for coffee break. And 5 minutes further you’ll reach the Olympic Ring, offering great photo options. When you are done, head to the impressive domes in the distance to find the escalators that take you to the Museum of National Art. The visit takes 2 to 4 hours, but the views from there are impressive. If you are an art lover, stay here for lunch (their restaurant in the Oval Room is surprisingly decent in quality and price).
AFTERNOON: If you’ll be visiting the MNAC, you’ll be spending the afternoon pretty much there: make sure to take the lift to the towers for more impressive views, and if you have some spare time go down the hill to check out the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion and the Caixaforum cultural center.
If museums aren’t your thing, walk down hill to Plaça Espanya and have a light lunch at the restaurants of the rooftop of the Las Arenas Mall, the former bullring of the city – shopping will be your afternoon time. Or if you prefer going off the beaten path, from the MNAC walk instead your way through the melancholic Laribal gardens and head back to the cable car lower station. There you can take the Funicular back into town to explore the tapas bars of the Poblesec and trendy restaurants of Sant Antoni districts.
EVENING: I have two ideas for you: If the Magic Fountain Show is on, time your dinner so you can attend the show either before or after. If there’s no show, plan to attend a Flamenco Show at Tablao de Carmen, inside the Poble Espanyol. The entrance to the enclosure is free if you have tickets for the show.
Some sites might be closed on Monday.
MORNING: Start your day taking the Subway to Palau Reial on L3. If you are a soccer fan, from there you can visit the FC Barcelona Stadium – it takes some 2 hours at least (make sure to get tickets online in advance to avoid lines). Alternatively, enjoy a lovely walk around the lush gardens of the palace (see if you can find two small Gaudi projects in there: a fountain and a pergola).
Next you’ll enter the exclusive district of Pedralbes, and half way up their main avenue you’ll find another gaudi work: the Dragon Gate of the Guell Pavilions – a fun photo stop. At the end of the street waits for you an unexpected site: a gorgeous medieval monastery well worth a visit: the Monastery of Pedralbes.
AFTERNOON: A short walk will take you to the Vila de Sarria, a well off neighborhood that has preserved its village-like feel. Eat some patatas bravas and other tapas at Bar Tomas and cake at Foix, or check out some other lovely restaurants in the Sarria.
From Plaça de Sarrià there are a couple of bus lines that continue along Passeig de la Bonanova and spare you the walk. Gaudi lovers will want to stop in Plaça Bonanova and from there walk to Torre Bellesguard. Otherwise you can continue to JF Kennedy square, and from there bus up Avinguda Tibidabo. With kids, stop for a visit of the Cosmocaixa Science Museum.
If the day is clear, at the top of the avenue you take the funicular to the Tibidabo Mountain top or walk up through a forest park. From the tallest point of the city you’ll get magnificent views. Optionally get the elevator inside the church or have fun in the Tibidabo Amusement Park until the night falls. Get back to your hotel to pack…
DAY 4 - Alternatively go out of town
Not too excited about the suggestions for Day 4? What about a day trip? There are many companies that will take you out of town, but if you aren’t afraid to navigate public transit, some of them are doable on your own. The Montserrat monastery is an all-times favorite.
Our Montserrat Tours can get you back home by lunchtime, but doing it on your own will take you an entire day (suburban trains depart from Plaça Espanya, then you’ll be taking either a cable car or a rack train to get to the monastery). Here are some hike ideas once you are there, and you might want to consider these Montserrat passes for good deals.
The other two destinations easy to get to are the Dali Museum in Figueres and the medieval town of Girona. Both are accessible by high speed train and suburban trains (but the suburban trains take more than twice longer). While we do both Girona and the Dali Museum in one day, trying to do both by train on your own is probably too ambitious: pick one place and stick to it.
What are you planning to do in Barcelona for 4 days?
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