Barcelona is a Catalan city on the eastern coast of Spain. Known for its delicious food, awe-inspiring architecture, and crazy night life, Barcelona is the perfect destination for any type of traveler. Home to the Sagrada Familia, the Olympic Stadiums, hundreds of other famous sites, Barcelona has something to see on every corner. Exploring all that the city has to offer could take years, but if you are on limited time, the this itinerary will show you the perfect way to spend 5 days in Barcelona. There is a magic in the city that is truly indescribable, and there is so much that you don’t want to miss out on!
History of Barcelona
Besides being one of the most popular tourist cities in Spain, Barcelona is a city with a rich and varied history. It was founded as a Roman colony in the second century BC, and over the centuries it has been ruled by the Moors, the Spanish crown, and the French. In the late nineteenth century, Barcelona emerged as an important center of Catalan nationalism.
In 1924, Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games, and in 1992 it played host to the summer Olympics again which was a huge deal for the city and the country. Today, Barcelona is a major tourist destination and one of Europe’s most vibrant cities.
Barcelona and Catalunya
Barcelona is located in the Catalunya region of Spain which has heavily influenced its food, language, politics, and culture. The people of Catalunya have long wanted to become their own country, separate from Spain. Recently, there has been renewed interest in this idea, as the people of Catalunya feel that they are not being treated fairly by the Spanish government. They believe that since they have their own culture and language, they should be their own country.
The people of Catalunya argue that they contribute a lot to Spain’s economy, but do not receive the same level of benefits as other regions of Spain. For example, Catalunya pays more in taxes than it receives in return from the Spanish government. In addition, the Catalan language is not given the same level of recognition as Spanish.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Barcelona?
With so much to see and do in this vibrant city, three days is a good amount of time to get a taste of Barcelona, but five days to a week will give you more time to really experience the city. During your five days in Barcelona, you can explore the city center, visit some of the famous landmarks, and enjoy some of the local cuisine. If you have more time, you can also venture out to some of the other neighborhoods in Barcelona or take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages.
Day 1 in Barcelona: Iconic Barcelona
The first day of your five day itinerary in Barcelona is focused on seeing some of the most iconic spots in Barcelona.
Experience La Sagrada Família
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most iconic destinations in Barcelona and a must see on your 5 days in Barcelona. To avoid long lines, it is important to buy your ticket online in advance from the official website. If you are able, I would definitely recommend getting a ticket to one of the tower facades as well. The Passion side is newer while the Nativity Facade is in Gaudi’s original style (facade/tower tickets will come with a very specific time slot as they only allow a small group of people up at once).
Construction on this iconic church began in 1882 and is still ongoing today (although it is supposed to be finished in the next few years!). La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been called “one of the most extraordinary building in the world.” More than 2 million people visit this incredible cathedral each year. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí, who devoted his life to the project, and died in 1926 having never seen it completed.
The design of the Sagrada Familia is heavily influenced by Catalan Gothic architecture, as well as Islamic and Moorish design elements. The church features eighteen towers, each dedicated to a different apostle or martyr. Gaudi chose to use unique materials like stone, glass, and metal to create a one-of-a-kind structure.
Despite being unfinished, the Sagrada Familia is one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world. Its facade is covered in intricate carvings, and its interior features a number of beautiful stained-glass windows. Gaudí’s unique style is evident throughout, making it a must-see for anyone visiting Barcelona.
Take an Afternoon Stroll of Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter
One of the most famous streets in Barcelona is called “Las Ramblas.” This famous street is located in the Gothic Quarter of the city. La Rambla is a wide, pedestrian-only street that cuts through the center of Barcelona. It is lined with shops, cafes, and street performers. The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona and is home to narrow streets, churches, and ancient buildings.
When planning to stroll around Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to get lost and enjoy the sides. There are hundreds of side streets with shops and restaurants that are worth exploring during your five days in Barcelona, so don’t be in a rush when you go to the Gothic Quarter.
Eat at La Boquería Market (Mercado de la Boquería)
Located near the center of the Gothic Quarter with an entrance on Las Ramblas is the Mercado de la Boqueria. Mercado de la Boqueria is a famous and amazing open air food market near the heart of Barcelona. This market contains hundreds of stalls and even more food options. I spent HOURS just walking around this market looking at all of the beautiful food options and tasting as much as I could. It was like walking into the most beautiful hallway of food in the world. I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Barcelona.
This is one market definitely to come hungry to. One interesting fact about this market is that it dates back to the 1200’s! There are remarks about the market in documents from that time and proof of it continuing on until now. Although it feels much more modern now, the history and culture is evident in this beautiful market.
It is open Monday-Saturday 8:00am-8:30pm (Closed Sundays). It is completely free to walk around, but come hungry as there are many shops and stalls that will have you salivating!
Sunset at Park Güell
The final piece your first day in Barcelona is to visit the famous Park Güell at sunset. Park Güell is one of the most famous sites to see in Barcelona and has recently been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because it is situated at the top of a hill, you are able to overlook the entire city as the sun sets. You could easily spend hours in the park so I recommend getting a ticket for around 2 hours before sunset (you will want to buy them in advance) and staying in the park until sunset.
Designed by the famous artist Antoni Gaudi (the same architect who designed the Sagrada Familia and many of the other iconic landmarks in Barcelona), this park began construction in 1900 and was designed to showcase Gaudi’s work while also recreating the “British” style gardens. Gaudi’s amazing modernist architecture can be found all around Barcelona, but this park resides at the top of Carmel Hill, making it the perfect viewpoint for the rest of the city. Gaudi is famous for his architecture and the mosaic craftsmen that he worked with to weave mosaic designs into multiple aspects of the park.
The park is made up of several distinct areas, including an urbanization area, a nature reserve, and a recreation area. The urbanization area is the most famous part of the park, and features buildings, gardens, and courtyards designed by Gaudí. The nature reserve is home to a variety of plant and animal life, while the recreation area includes a playground, a cafe, and a concert hall.
The park was originally meant to be a private residence for Count Eusebi Guell, but when the count ran out of money, he open the park to the public. The park is filled with beautifully designed gardens, courtyards, and fountains. It is also home to several of Gaudi’s famous architectural creations, including the Dragon Fountain and the Park Guell Palace
To get to this park, you will want to take a bus, taxi, bike, or a Vespa since it is located at the top of a hill. It is not a comfortable walk from the city center. The metro does not go up to the hill. The bus drops you off near Park Guell, but it is usually very packed as there is only one bus route that goes to Park Guell.
Fun fact for your 5 days in Barcelona: Cheetah Girls 2 was filmed here!
Day 2 in Barcelona
During your second day in Barcelona, you are going to experience what it is like to live in Barcelona. From being a local soccer (futbol) fan, to riding a bike around the city, day two of your five days in Barcelona is dedicated to embracing the city.
Tour Camp Nou
Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona, is a must-see for any football fan visiting Barcelona. It is the largest stadium in Europe and can hold up to 98,000 spectators. The stadium tour is a great way to learn about the club’s history and see some of the famous players’ jerseys from years past. There is also a museum on-site which houses trophies and other memorabilia from the club’s history. One of the most popular stops on the tour is the pitch where visitors can walk around and take photos. Soccer is a huge part of Spanish culture which means that no experience in Barcelona is complete without it.
If you’re not a fan of football, there’s still plenty to see and do at Camp Nou. The stadium is located in the heart of Barcelona, and is within walking distance of many of the city’s other attractions. There’s also a bar and restaurant on site, as well as a souvenir shop where you can buy all manner of FC Barcelona memorabilia.
Rent a Bike
Barcelona is a HUGE city, and seeing it all is quite a large task. The best way to see everything on your Barcelona itinerary is to rent a bike! The weather in Barcelona is truly beautiful and there are so many beach and pier areas to explore. A bike allows you to go anywhere in the city without completely killing your feet! There are many different shops, especially around the beach, that rent you these bikes for cheap. We loved them and they made for such cute pictures. We rented bicycles early in the day and used them to travel around the city. Prices start around 6 euros for two hours. You can find more information about renting bicycles in Barcelona here.
Parc du Ciutadella
While biking around Barcelona, I would recommend taking your bike to Parc du Ciutadella. The Ciutadella Park was my absolute FAVORITE part of Barcelona, a city with so much to love. Located at the center of Barcelona, this giant park includes a zoo, the Catalan Parliament, a museum of modern art, and so much more! It is a huge park near the Arc de Triomf that boasts ping pong tables, bike paths, beautiful fountain, and even a mammoth statue. The park itself depicts a Roman influence in its beautiful fountains and statues.
This park was created in the late 1700’s and has been added to ever since. Now it even includes a Geological museum and a beautiful little bond that you can rent boats for. Entrance into the park is free although the museums may have their own entry fees. Your 5 days in Barcelona would not be complete without visiting this amazing park.
Arc de Triomf
Many of you have probably heard of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It is a famous Roman gate that is now a famous national monument. The story behind the Arcs de Triomphe is that every time the Roman Empire would conquer a new major city, they would erect an Arc to show that they have came and conquered. Pretty savage to think they killed a lot of people just to expand their empire and build a landmark.
However, this arch was actually built in the late 1800s as an entrance to the International Exhibition that was being held in Barcelona. Even though Rome did conquer Spain, this arch was harmless and designed to bring more attention to the beauty of the city. Now, there is a park that surrounds the arch that you can spend the afternoon hanging out in, watching children blow bubbles, and enjoying some sangria.
Relax on the Barceloneta Beach
When in Barcelona, there is no better place to enjoy the sun and sand than at the Barceloneta Beach. This famous beach, while crowded with tourists, is one of the best places to people watch, enjoy a mojito, and play some beach volleyball The beach is located in the Port Vell area of the city and is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the views. There are also a number of restaurants and bars in the area, so you can enjoy a drink or a bite to eat while taking in the scenery. If you’re looking for some excitement, be sure to check out one of the beach volleyball games that are often played on the sand.
Night Out at Opium
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular clubbing destinations. There is no shortage of clubs in the city, with something to suit everyone’s taste. The most popular clubs are located in the Ciutat Vella district, near the harbor.
One of the most popular clubs in Barcelona is Opium. It is located on the beachfront and features a large dance floor and a VIP section. Another popular club is Razzmatazz, which is spread out over five different rooms, each with its own style of music. For those looking for a more intimate setting, there are plenty of small clubs scattered throughout the city.
Clubbing in Barcelona can be expensive, especially if you want to drink alcohol. Most clubs charge a cover fee and drinks can cost up to €10 each. However, there are some cheaper options available, especially if you are going with a hostel tour.
Day 3 in Barcelona: Eat, Shop, and Enjoy
Take a Paella Cooking Class
One of the best things to do during your 5 days in Barcelona is to take a paella cooking class. Paella is a famous dish that originated in the Valencia area of Spain which includes Barcelona.The Valencia are of Spain is famous for some of the best food in the world, and let me tell you, the food lives up to the hype. It is the most famous dish to order in Barcelona, and you need to be prepared. Paella isn’t just a meal, it’s a feast. It is made in a massive skillet. It consists of rice, vegetables, spices, and generally a type of meat.
Being right on the coast, Barcelona has amazing seafood so seafood paella is the most popular. However, there are also other meat options as well as vegetarian options. Paella is generally made to order in the biggest skillet you have ever seen. It is a group dish that is designed to be shared among friends so come prepared to order a paella to share. Even if you’re not a foodie, you can’t go to Barcelona and not experience this traditional dish.
Shop on the Passeig de Gràcia
The Passeig de Gràcia is one of the most popular shopping streets in Barcelona. There are many high-end boutiques and shops, as well as restaurants and cafés. If you’re looking for something special, the Passeig de Gràcia is the place to find it.
There are also some great souvenir shops on the Passeig de Gràcia. You can find everything from traditional Catalan ceramics to modernist souvenirs. If you’re looking for a unique gift or a memento of your trip to Barcelona, the Passeig de Gràcia is definitely the place to go shopping.
Experience Casa Batlló (and Magic Nights)
Casa Batlló is a work of architectural genius by none other than Gaudi. When it was first built in 1877, it was called Casa Calvet. Gaudi remodeled the building in 1904, giving it its current name and iconic look. The facade of Casa Batlló is characterized by its colorful mosaic tiles and skeletal-like structure. The roof is also one of the most distinctive features of the building, as it is covered in curved ceramic tiles that resemble dragon scales.
Inside, Casa Batlló is just as fascinating as the outside. The walls are decorated with colorful mosaics and stained glass windows, and there are even ceilings that look like ocean waves. Casa Batlló is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist destinations and is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. It’s no wonder why this architectural masterpiece is considered one of Gaudi’s finest works.
In addition to visiting the beautiful house, I would recommend that you book a ticket for “Magic Nights” during peak travel season. Magic Nights is Casa Battlo’s evening music series that features different performances on the roof of the house.
Day 4 in Barcelona
Day trip to Montserrat and The Surrounding Wineries
When visiting Barcelona, it is essential to add a day trip beautiful Montserrat mountain range to your five day Barcelona itinerary. The mountain is located about an hour outside of Barcelona, and can be easily visited by train or bus. I do recommend going with a guided tour as there is so much history and cultural significance to the mountain and the monastery that a guide can inform you of during your visit. There are plenty of things to see and do in Montserrat, including hiking, visiting the monastery, and enjoying the views from the top of the mountain.
The history of Montserrat dates back to the 9th century when a group of hermits settled on the mountain. The hermits were joined by a monk named Ramon in the 12th century. Ramon built a chapel on the mountain dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Some say the Black Madonna was brought to Montserrat from Jerusalem in the 13th century, but many locals believe that the Black Madonna was actually found by a group of shepherds on the mountain, and that the monastery was built in the spot where the Black Madonna was mysteriously found.
Today, Montserrat is a popular tourist destination for its natural beauty and religious significance. The Black Madonna is an important religious relic and the monastery at Montserrat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If visiting the mountains and a monastery is not an appealing day trip for you, you can also take a day trip to Girona or Costa Brava to enjoy the beaches.
Day 5 in Barcelona
On your final day of your 5 days in Barcelona, you will want to take the time to visit any other sites in Barcelona that you’ve had your eye on. Below I’ve listed some more of the best things to do in Barcelona that are worth seeing so that you can choose a few to do on your final day.
Montjuic is a hill located in Barcelona that is famous for the fort that resides on top. The hill rises to 173 meters above sea level and overlooks the harbour of Barcelona and can be accessed by car or cable car. The name comes from the Catalan for “mountain of the Jews” because it was once the site of a Jewish cemetery.
Montjuic has a unique history as a fort during many different wars. The first fortifications on Montjuïc were built by the Visigoths and by the Moors when they occupied the area from 711-1238 AD. In 1414, King Martin I ordered the construction of a new fortress on the hill, which was named Castell de Montjuïc (Castle of Montjuïc).
In 1640, during the Catalan Revolt against Spanish rule, Barcelona was besieged by Spanish forces once again. The Castell de Montjuïc was used as a base by the Catalan defenders to bombard the city. The bombardment failed to dislodge the Spanish troops and Barcelona eventually fell to them on 11 September 1641.
In 1808, during the Peninsular War, Spanish forces recaptured Barcelona from the French. The Castell de Montjuïc was again used as a fortress by the Spanish troops. A French attempt to retake Barcelona in 1813 failed and as a result all of Catalonia fell under direct Spanish rule. Later, the fortress, was used as a prison during Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975).
Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera, is a unique building in Barcelona that was built by Gaudí. It’s one of the most famous examples of Catalan Modernism and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction on Casa Milà began in 1906 and took six years to complete.
Gaudí was heavily inspired by nature when designing Casa Milà, and you can see his signature style throughout the building. For example, the roof features wave-like tiles that were designed to look like the ocean. The facade is also covered in twisting stone columns that resemble tree branches.
Casa Milà was originally intended to be a private residence, but it was later turned into a apartment building. Despite this change, Gaudí’s unique design still shines through. Today, Casa Milà is open to the public and is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist destinations.
The Torre de Glories or Tower of Glory is a skyscraper in the district of Eixample in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was designed by the architect Josep Lluís Sert and completed in 1968. The tower is 87 metres (285 ft) high with 22 stories. It was the first skyscraper in Barcelona.
The tower was built on the site of the old Palau de les Telecomunicacions, which was destroyed by a fire in 1965. The tower was originally planned to be 120 metres (390 ft) high, but this was reduced due to concerns about its impact on the skyline of Barcelona.
The tower has a reinforced concrete frame and a red brick facade. It is topped by a glass-and-steel pyramid roof. The tower has an observation deck and a bar on the top floor.
Casa Vincens is one of the lesser known masterpieces of Gaudi. It was one of his earlier works, built in 1894. Even though it is not as well-known as some of his later works, it is still a stunning example of his unique style. The building is constructed primarily of stone and brick, with a mansard roof and wrought iron balconies. Gaudi used an eclectic mix of styles in the design of Casa Vincens, blending Romanesque, Gothic and Art Nouveau elements. One of the most distinctive features of the building is the use of mosaic tilework, which Gaudi employed extensively in his later works.
Despite its early date, Casa Vincens is already unmistakably characteristic of Gaudi’s style. His use of natural forms and organic shapes would come to be synonymous with his work, and is clearly evident in Casa Vincens. The building has been called “the first flowering” of Gaudi’s unique architectural style, and is an important early work that helped to establish his reputation as one of the most innovative architects of his time.
The exterior of Casa Vincens is decorated with intricate mosaics and nature-inspired designs, while the interior features stained glass windows and wrought iron details. Gaudi used traditional Catalan materials like trencadís (a type of mosaic made from broken ceramic tiles) and wood in his designs, which gives the building its warm and inviting feel.
Sangria is an alcoholic drink that originated in Spain. It is fruity punch that includes wine and fruit and whatever else the maker decides to mix in. This is a very common drink in Spain and is especially common in Barcelona. There are usually two types of sangria: red and white. The type of sangria is based on the color of the wine that is used to make the punch.
One of the nice things about Sangria is that it is often cheaper than bottled water in Spain. If that’s not an excuse to drink it then I don’t know what is. It’s delicious and you deserve it.
Also if you are interested in trying some amazing wine while in the Valencia area, be sure to check out The Codorniu Cava Vineyards, Barcelona which offers an awesome selection of wines to try.
Go to a Futbol Game
Futbol is a BIG deal in Europe, especially in Spain. Between Real Madrid and Barcelona, everyone in Spain is a soccer fan. Be careful mentioning either team though as they have an intense and sometimes violent rivalry. Soccer is part of the Spanish culture and the game often mimics the politics of the time. While I was studying abroad in Spain, I was living in a small city outside of Madrid. Everyone in that city didn’t like Barcelona (the city, the team, or the people) due to Barcelona trying to annex themselves from the country of Spain. This intensified the rivalry between Madrid (the capital) and Barcelona.
Despite the rivalries, Soccer is still considered the beautiful game. You would be missing out if you didn’t experience the energy of a live game in a stadium in Spain. Even if you don’t like soccer, you have most likely heard of Lionel Messi. Messi is considered one of the greatest players of our time. What’s cool is that you can actually see him play live for Barcelona! If you have never seen Spanish futbol fans in action, let me tell you, it is truly a sight to behold. There is nothing like the atmosphere created by crazed fans that fill up a stadium. If you are looking for more to do, try these 37 Unique and Fun Things to do in Spain.
How to Get Around Barcelona
Public transportation in Barcelona is extremely efficient and easy to use. The city has an extensive metro system, as well as buses and trams. The metro is the best way to get around the city, as it is quick and covers a lot of ground. Buses and trams are also a great way to get around, and can be used to get to areas that the metro does not reach. Tickets for public transportation can be purchased at any metro station or newspaper stand, and can be used on all forms of public transport.
Hop On Hop Off Buses
Barcelona is a city that can easily be explored by foot, but for those who want to see more of the city in a shorter amount of time, the hop on hop off buses are a great option. There are two different companies that offer these buses, and both have stops all over the city. If you go with the official hop on hop off company, there are 3 different routes that are offered during peak season. The buses run every few minutes, so it is easy to jump on and off as you please. The best part is that you can purchase a ticket that is valid for 24 or 48 hours, which allows you to explore Barcelona at your own pace.
Barcelona is a city that is best explored by foot, but there are times when taking a taxi is the best option. Taxis are plentiful in Barcelona and can be hailed on the street or called for by phone (I recommend downloading the Free Now app which is basically Uber for taxis). The rates for taxis are reasonable, and they can be a great way to get around the city quickly. I recommend having the exact address of the place that you are heading to so that the taxi driver can put it into their GPS.
If you are looking for a fun way to get around, try renting a Vespa! These little motorcycles can be CRAZY to drive around the Barcelona streets. It’s not easy, but it sure is fun. Make sure that you bring your international drivers permit though or they won’t let you rent one!
Where To Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city of neighborhoods. Each has its own unique personality and charm. From the bustling Las Ramblas in the center to the quiet, seaside town of Sitges, there is something for everyone in Barcelona.
The Gothic Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in Barcelona and is home to narrow alleyways, medieval churches, and trendy restaurants and bars. It’s a great place to wander around and get lost in the winding streets.
El Born is another charming neighborhood with narrow streets, beautiful architecture, and a lively nightlife scene. It’s a popular area for tapas bars and restaurants.
The Eixample is a more modern neighborhood with wide boulevards and stunningly designed buildings. It’s a great place to go shopping or take a walk on a sunny day.
Sitges is a seaside town about 30 minutes from Barcelona that’s popular for its beaches and nightlife. It’s a great place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hostels: St. Christopher’s Inn (they offer free walking tours and bike tours around the city and are in a nice location) or Generator Barcelona
Hotels: Sercotel Rosellon (For rooftop bar view of the Sagrada Familia) or Radisson Blu 1882 (wonderful, clean hotel with wonderful customer service).
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My plan was to go to Barcelona in June, but those plans are on hold for now. The architecture of the church is amazing! I love the idea of open drinks on the beach. Awesome!
Barcelona has been on my list for a while (along with most of the world). Now to just get the funds to go haha
I loved Barcelona more than I ever thought I would to be honest. La Sagrada Familia was under construction though when I went (like you could barely see the outside and you weren’t allowed in), but it’s so beautiful! I agree about Park Guell – such a unique park to explore.
LOTS of great tips here. Recommend La Sagrada Familia 100%. “Try Sangria” made me laugh!
I really like Barcelona, there are so many incredible things to se and do it’s hard to choose. I missed the Torre Glories at night. I went for a short walk on the beach but I didn’t even notice people were topless!
Sipping mojitos on the beach in Barcelona sounds dreamy. My husband would like the other thing you mentioned 🙂 I am so excited to head over one day and see all of this beauty and history. And taste the delicious food and drink. We will reschedule for next year.