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So, you’re planning a beautiful adventure in Spain and have 5 days in Barcelona coming up. Perfect! You’re making the right decision as far as length of time is concerned. I seriously could’ve stayed in Barcelona for weeks on end.
All in all, 5 days in Barcelona leaves plenty of time to dive into this city, while still seeing most of the major attractions. Even though you still won’t see everything (you’ll just have to come back, right?), this week-long introduction to Catalonia’s capital will leave you feeling exhilarated and eager for more. Barcelona’s warmth and energy excites visitors, no doubt, and makes them feel truly at home.
I can’t express my feelings well enough in a blog post. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world. Hands down.
And, sure, weekend getaways are delightful, especially if you live close, but personally, I feel like Barcelona deserves much of your time and attention. Like I said, I could’ve easily stayed here for two weeks and not run out of things to do and see.
Furthermore, Barcelona is perfect for couples and groups of friends. Solo travel in Barcelona is also wonderful and highly recommended. And my attached itinerary works for any type of trip.
In this itinerary, I will break down how I would spend 5 days in Barcelona. I’m relatively specific with my recommendations, but at the same time, I wanted to leave this city guide open enough, so you’re able to add your own touches to your journey.
Additionally, I’m going to briefly touch on how to get around Barcelona, as well as where you should stay and what to pack for 5 days in this magnificent city.
And, of course, if you’re planning to travel solo to Barcelona or any other city in Europe, feel free to book a 1:1 Zoom call with me or send a travel planning email, so I’m able to cater to your specific needs.
Let’s get started!
Barcelona Travel Tips
Barcelona is a large city with tons of attractions, so a visit here might feel overwhelming. For me, I would fall into a rabbit hole on the internet. I read about all the incredible places to eat tapas and nearby day trips, and then felt sad that I couldn’t possibly see and do it all in one meager visit. You will also need to prioritize for 5 days in Barcelona.
So, in order to jumpstart the planning process, I’ve written a couple of travel tips for places to stay and important items to bring for a week in Barcelona.
Afterwards, we’ll discuss a flexible itinerary that will hopefully work well for you.
Best Time to Visit Barcelona
Honestly, go Barcelona whenever you’re able to. I loved this city so much that I’m not going to talk anyone out of visiting if they can only manage a trip certain months of the year.
However, if you have flexibility in your schedule, I thought that spring was a beautiful time to visit Barcelona. The temperatures were comfortable, the sun was bright and shining most days (just one day of rain!), and all the flowers were in full bloom adding colorful splashes to Barcelona’s already vibrant architecture.
Summer is a wonderful time to visit Barcelona if you want to hit up the beaches in the city. Beach activities are abundant here. As for me, I personally enjoy immersing myself into the culture and history of a destination, so spring was perfect as I think it would be a tad too hot in the summer for all the walking that I did in Barcelona.
Getting Around Barcelona
Getting around Barcelona is not as challenging as it first seems. I promise, I promise, I promise.
Yes, you might worry about getting around Barcelona since it’s such a large and bustling metropolis. The panoramic views from the airplane made my jaw drop. Never fear, though! Barcelona has a fantastic public transportation system that will take you from Point A to Point B in a flash!
You won’t need to rent a car either. Actually, I don’t recommend renting a car for a visit to Barcelona. Driving is … intense here. Very fast and hectic, and if you’re not used to those driving conditions, having your own car will add more stress than necessary. Stick to public transportation unless your plans take you deep into the countryside of Catalonia.
However, you will want to use the metro. Frequently.
I personally suggest buying a T-Casual Metro Ticket which will give you 10 rides on the subway system. This is a million times easier than messing around with the ticket machines every time you need to board the metro. You will save both time and money. What could be better?
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Ugh, an easier question would be where not to stay in Barcelona.
Barcelona has so many delightful neighborhoods to stay in. Where you will stay depends on your needs as a traveler. Regardless, the most important thing to consider is how centrally located your accommodation is in relation to the major attractions.
With just 5 days in Barcelona, you don’t want to do an hour long trek from the suburbs to reach Barcelona’s city center. Pay a little more for location. You’ll save time, which is just as important as money.
I’ve listed a couple hostel and hotel ideas below to get you thinking about accommodation.
- Fabrizzio’s Petit: A highly rated hostel designed by travelers for travelers. If you’re traveling to make new friends in Barcelona, you will want to stay here. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Olivia Balmes Hotel: Want to treat yourself? Look no further. This 4 star oasis is right in the heart of Barcelona’s upscale Eixample neighborhood. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Violeta Boutique: This welcoming, centrally located guesthouse is perfect for travelers who don’t want to stay in a hostel, but aren’t thrilled about paying hotel prices. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Yeah Barcelona Hostel: One of the most popular hostels in Barcelona! Plenty of activities and comfortable, clean dorm beds for great prices. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
What to Pack for 5 Days in Barcelona
Barcelona is a large city, and you can find pretty much anything you need if you forget something at home. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and more stores are literally everywhere.
However, I personally recommend that you don’t forget these items for your wonderful 5 days in Barcelona!
Also keep in mind that lots of stores close on Sundays and holidays in Barcelona. You don’t want to forget an important item and then not suddenly not be able to replace it due to limited hours.
5 Days in Barcelona Essentials
- Barcelona Pocket Guide: As much as I love blogs, I also have a soft spot for traditional guidebooks too. Lonely Planet’s Barcelona Pocket Guide is compact, but thorough. You will have tons of great advice about this world class city to help ensure that you won’t miss anything!
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: You will walk a lot in Barcelona. For example, I was clocking over 20,000 steps every single day. It’s essential that you take care of your feet. I would invest money in a high quality pair of walking shoes for your trip.
- EU Adapter Plug: You’ll take a TON of photos in Barcelona. So keep those devices charged and bring an EU adapter plug with you!
- Mirrorless Camera: Smartphones take amazing pictures nowadays. However, if you want professional quality photos, then I recommend bringing a mirrorless camera like mine — which is the Sony Alpha 6400.
- Moisturizer with SPF: You’ll want to keep your skin happy in Barcelona, especially in the Mediterranean sun. Use a high quality moisturizer with SPF to keep your face safe from UV rays. I personally never let the sun touch my face if I can avoid it!
- Pacsafe Crossbody Bag or Backpack: I felt very safe in Barcelona, but this city is also known as the “Pickpocket Capital of the World.” You need to be careful of your belongings. I would personally buy a Pacsafe protection crossbody bag or theft-proof backpack for the extra peace of mind.
- Sunglasses: You’ll want to protect your eyes in Barcelona too, so don’t forget tossing a pair of adorable sunglasses into your bag!
- Spanish Phrasebook: In Barcelona, Catalan is the primary language. However, Spanish is still widely spoken and learning a few phrases is very helpful!
- Travel Insurance: Always, always, always buy travel insurance. World Nomads offers affordable plans that will protect you and your money in case of personal illness or trip interruption. Definitely worth the small investment!
Quick Glance: 5 Days in Barcelona
|1||Gothic Quarter, El Born, La Barceloneta|
|2||L’Eixample and Gaudi Architecture|
|3||Abbey of Montserrat and Montjuic|
|4||Explore Gracia and Park Guell|
|5||Markets, Museums, and More!|
5 Days in Barcelona: Detailed Itinerary & Guide
Okay, let’s now dive deeper into your 5 days in Barcelona. This itinerary is rather flexible in the sense that items are easily adjustable depending on your personal interests and needs in Barcelona.
Time to take notes.
Day 1: Gothic Quarter, El Born, La Barceloneta
Welcome to Barcelona. To start off your 5 days in Barcelona, let’s begin by exploring some of the most popular neighborhoods.
I would venture to the Gothic Quarter early in the day, before most of the tourists wake up. The Gothic Quarter encompasses the oldest areas of Barcelona. This beautiful neighborhood is so old that it actually used to be a Roman village! Wild, huh?
In the Gothic Quarter, you definitely need to see the star attraction: Barcelona Cathedral! This stunning Gothic (of course) cathedral took two centuries to build. You will literally gasp once you step inside. The stained glass is stunning. For some nice views of the cathedral and square, check out the terrace bar at Hotel Colon, although I will warn you that the terrace gets crowded and you may have to wait in line.
After the Gothic Quarter, I recommend heading to the El Born neighborhood. If you’re interested in art, then you ought to check out the nearby Picasso Museum. This museum has one of the most comprehensive Pablo Picasso collections in the entire world. Art buffs should definitely prioritize a visit here!
In El Born, you should also see Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar — which offers a breathtaking example of Catalan Gothic architecture. I went to this basilica on Palm Sunday and had the pleasure of sitting through part of the service.
For food, I personally suggest heading to the nearby La Barceloneta neighborhood. Feel free to stroll the main street in front of the sea, but for an even better experience, go away from the sea and venture deeper into La Barceloneta’s winding tangle of streets.
This fisherman’s neighborhood still has a lot of local bars bursting with character. It seems like the tourists just stick to the sea, so by venturing into La Barceloneta, you could very well find yourself eating fresh seafood and only hearing Catalan spoken around you.
Day 2: L’Eixample and Gaudi Architecture
On your second day, you will fully embrace the colorful architecture that makes Barcelona so unique in comparison to other cities. Hometown boy, Antoni Gaudi, is well known for his incredible works of Modernism style buildings, many which are located right in Barcelona.
First and foremost, I suggest booking tickets to visit La Sagrada Familia. This basilica is one of the few buildings in the world that brought tears to my eyes. Book a morning slot. I went at 9:30 and was surprised at how few tourists surrounded me. A morning visit made for a much more imitate and touching experience.
As for this posting, La Sagrada Familia still isn’t finished. I hope one day to see the completed product in all its glory. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures from the outside, too.
Afterwards, you will want to check out some of Gaudi’s most famous homes (and envision what life would’ve been like if you had been a tenant). The two most popular Gaudi homes in Barcelona are Casa Batlló and Casa Mila. Both buildings are located within walking distance of one another, so you can easily visit both of them in one day.
However, the Gaudi homes provide thorough and interesting audioguides for your visits. So don’t expect to go in and out in a few minutes (really, why would you?). Visiting both homes will easily take a couple of hours. Take your time and enjoy learning about the history.
Afterwards, go get lost in L’Eixample. This sophisticated neighborhood is home to swanky boutiques, trendy tapas bars, and an incredible flea market. The streets are unique too, thanks to the fun geometrical grid pattern.
Day 3: Montserrat Monastery and Montjuic
But what about day trips? Never fear! Now it’s time to escape the city for the morning and head out to breathtaking Montserrat.
Montserrat Monastery is a stunning monastery high in the mountains of Catalonia. You can either take a train to the monastery or book a half day tour with a private driver.
My main suggestion is, however, to go to the monastery early in the morning. Why? Many people visit Montserrat to see the Our Lady of Montserrat. By visiting early, you can get a reasonable entrance time (for example, I arrived at 10:00 and didn’t get an entry ticket until 12:30), and while you’re waiting, explore the surrounding area.
On a clear day, you will want to take the funicular to the very top for sweeping views of the monastery tucked among of the jagged mountains. If the day is cloudy, you might want to opt for the nearby art museum or sample some Aromes de Montserrat instead.
Seeing Our Lady of Montserrat is a spiritual experience even if you’re not religious. My heart skipped quite a few beats when I approached her. For the faithful, pay a small fee to light a couple candles after your visit to the monastery.
Once you return to Barcelona, I recommend seeing some lovely views of the city from Montjuic. This scenic part of Barcelona has a lot to see and do, and what you decide to prioritze depends on your goals as a traveler.
For example, art buffs may want to go to the Magic Fountain and then climb up to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is a grand hilltop museum that is home for all of Catalunya’s best pieces of art.
Likewise, outdoorsy travelers may want to hike all the way to Montjuic Castle for the sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea.
The choices are all yours!
Day 4: Explore Gracia and Park Guell
Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood is, without a doubt, one of my favorite places to explore in the entire city! Gracia offers a more local and relaxed vibe that you won’t find in Barcelona’s more central neighborhoods. I would honestly buy an apartment in this area if I had the disposal income.
Furthermore, Gracia is home to another Gaudi building that you must visit on your 5 days in Barcelona. Casa Vicens was actually my favorite Gaudi home out of the three houses in Barcelona. First of all, Casa Vicens was Gaudi’s first home and it was super interesting to see how his architectural design evolved throughout the years.
Secondly, you’ll encounter fewer tourists here, and the museum’s staff are more than happy to chat with you about the history of the home. I loved connecting with the workers here. They were knowledgeable and friendly, and made my visit very special.
Near Gracia, you will have easy access to another delightful Gaudi attraction Park Guell.
Park Guell is one of the largest green spaces in all of Barcelona. As you know, I adore city parks (Central Park in NYC is my self-proclaimed “happy place”), and Park Guell succeeded in taking my breath away. After all, this park is very unique with its magical and otherworldly statues, quirky homes, and rainbow colored tiles. Not to mention, Park Guell is a World Heritage Site. Exceptional, huh?
I honestly recommend taking your time in Park Guell, especially if you have beautiful weather. Immerse yourself into this fairytale park.
Afterwards, head back to Gracia for some tapas! I found that prices here were more reasonable than in “central” Barcelona. My personal recommendation is a trendy place called La Trini.
Day 5: Markets, Museums, and More!
Oh no! It’s your last day in Barcelona! Don’t worry. We will make it a memorable one. But first we need to find something delicious to eat. I recommend starting at La Boqueria Market.
This massive public market is located only steps away from Barcelona’s most famous pedestrian street La Rambla. In La Boqueria, you will discover dozens and dozens of food stalls. In addition to the food stalls, La Boqueria has many enjoy bars available for you to grab a quick lunch, with the most famous being El Pinotxo.
As a word of warning, keep a close eye on your belongings in La Boqueria and La Rambla, because crafty pickpockets do (sadly) exists and would love to separate you from your money or other valuables. Keep your wits about you, and you should be just fine.
After you have time to eat, I recommend checking out some more of Barcelona’s wonderful museums. My personal favorite museum was Palau de la Música Catalana.
This UNESCO music hall is a stunning jewel in Barcelona. Stunning. I promise I’m not exaggerating here. Your jaw will literally drop to the floor upon seeing the decorative stained glass windows, sculptures, and mosaics inside this gorgeous art nouveau building.
Of course, you can easily find plenty of other museums in Barcelona to visit. Time Out has a great list of 10 museums in Barcelona to visit to help you decide. Just make sure to check opening and closing hours in advance.
Last but not least, I highly recommend going to Tibidabo for Golden Hour. Reaching the top of Tibidabo is a bit of a trek, but I promise you that it is totally worth the adventure! The views are literally out of this world. If you don’t want the additional stress of navigating to Tibidabo, go on a hop on, hop off bus which will take you right to “Tibidabo” Tramvía Blau station.
Upon arriving at Tibidabo, pay for the funicular to go to the top. You may also pay to go to the amusement park, too, but honestly, unless you have kids with you, I don’t think the rides are particularly worth the extra money. However, the ferris wheel is very beautiful and worth taking a few pictures of.
The Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon is truly the star of Tibidabo. And luckily for you, this famous church is free for you to enter and explore (although it costs a fee to ride the lift and go even higher). Just remember that this is a place of worship and to show respect inside.
As you marvel at Barcelona’s skyline, you’ll smile and book your next plane ticket. I know I am already daydreaming about another visit to this majestic city.
I hope you reading reading this guide to 5 days in Barcelona! You will absolutely fall in love with this city! I’m very excited for your adventure! Feel free to reach out to let me know how it goes!