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3 Days in Barcelona; struggling with itinerary

After 10 days in France, we are finishing our trip with 5 days in Barcelona. We are staying with friends, and they are taking us to the Costa Brava on one day and to Montserrat on another. For the other three days, we will be exploring during the day on our own. I have successfully planned so many trips, but Barcelona has me stumped. Maybe I am overthinking? In any case, these things are on my family's wish list: Parc Guell, Casa Vicens, Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, Casa Batllo, the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Montjuic, La Pedrera, Palau de la Musica, the Basilica of Santa Maria, the Barcelona Cathedral, Ciutadella Parc, and a market or two.

Are any of you able to help me make a 3-day plan? I tried grouping things in the same region, but places like Parc Guell are a little further out, take a few hours to see, and then I end up not knowing where to eat. After planning Paris where a restaurant or cafe is never more than a few steps away, Barcelona looks like food options are more limited and then I just get stressed out.

Help!

Posted by
6088 posts

We did Parc Guell in the morning and then took a bus to La Sagrada Familia (where we had advance tickets.

We did La Rambla and the market, the gothic quarter, cathedral and Palau de la Musica in an afternoon.

La pedrera and Casa Batllo are very close to each other. We did those two and walked Paseo de Gracia all together.

You will want advance tickets to most every place. We didn't go to the Picasso Museum. I think you have way to much for your three days and that is probably where your difficulty comes in.

Posted by
27409 posts

As Jules wrote, many of the Barcelona sights basically require advance purchase of tickets because the ticket lines are so long. They don't necessarily sell out way ahead of time, but no one wants to stand in line for over an hour (maybe a lot over an hour) five times during a short visit to Barcelona, only to be told the next available ticket is for 2 or 4 hours later. In most cases the tickets will be timed, though a few sights may permit you to pay extra money for a sort of wild-card ticket. (I've never done that and don't know for sure that it's an option; I just have a vague recollection that it may be, in some cases.) Timed tickets mean you can't fiddle with your sightseeing itinerary on the fly and stop for lunch just because you're hungry.

Everyone has figured out that Barcelona is a lot easier to plan if you grab a first-time-slot ticket for one of the tough sights each morning of your trip. That means--at least for those sights--you don't have to guesstimate how much time you'll spend at the previous sight and how long it will take to travel to the next one. Because everyone knows that little trick, the early tickets are usually the first to sell out. It doesn't take a lot of sold-out entry times to really cut into what you can accomplish in one day.

Your tough sights are these: La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila/La Pedrera, Picasso Museum and the Palau de la Musica (because you'll want an English-language tour, and they can sell out).

I wouldn't want to tackle your list in just three days. The entry fees in Barcelona are not cheap, so I wouldn't be happy if I had to leave Sight #1 before I had finished seeing it in order to be on time at Sight #2. Adding to that risk is that the problematic sights except for the Palau de la Musica tend to be extremely crowded, so you cannot necessarily move around at you preferred pace. You may also be held up a bit at the door, even with a pre-purchased ticket, for non-early-morning visits as the door-minder makes sure X people exit before X new people are allowed to enter.

Quite a lot of the Gaudi sights are open into the early evening, which may help you a lot.

Posted by
2233 posts

The timed entry thing may trip you up, but maybe not. We are currently in Barcelona. La Sagrada Familia requires pre-purchased time entry and they seem to honor entry time. Yesterday we ran into an issue with our timed entry to Casa Batilo for 3:00. Arrrived at 3:00 and the 2:30 & 2:45 people in line were still waiting to be let in (in the pouring rain). They hadn’t even started to let the 3:00 people line up. That threw our time schedule off. I don’t know if that is a one-off or common thing. We did not pre-purchase tickets for the Cathedral, and that was a 30 minute wait for entry. We’ve used coffee shops frequently for a quick lunch as they have sandwiches we are happy with.

Posted by
27409 posts

I have a theory that the super-packed places in Barcelona (and Casa Batllo is definitely one of them) sell so many tickets they have to let people in only as others leave. Otherwise, conditions inside could become really unsafe (in the case of a fire, etc.). Normally, that probably doesn't lead to a huge delay--just enough of one that a prudent visitor pads his sightseeing schedule at each step to allow for some time in line. On a day with pouring rain, I bet a good number of people with earlier entry times weren't exactly in a hurry to leave Casa Batllo and get wet, so they stayed inside longer than usual, hoping the rain would stop. I've done that myself at museums once or twice. At Casa Batllo, hanging around like that means people with upcoming entry times will be held outdoors lest the building get too crowded.

Posted by
2233 posts

I would agree with acraven’s analysis about Casa Batilo, we just haven’t seen that at any other site. Even on other days, that particular site seems to require people to line up in large bunches before being allowed in. We haven’t hit Palace of Catalan Music yet, but every where else we’ve been times were honored and we walked in. It is good to plan on building space in between.

Posted by
1259 posts

I would take booking restaurants out of the equation to make planning easier. It would be additional stress to try to fit in, travel to and be on time for restaurant reservations. We found that there were so many places to eat in Barcelona. Whenever we got hungry, we just pulled out our phone and looked on Google Maps for a nice place within one or two blocks of where we were standing.

IMO, it will be difficult to see everything on your list in just 3 days.

Realistically, you can can probably only fit three of the big Gaudi attractions in one single day. In November 2022 (low season, less busy and small lineups), we visited Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, had a quick lunch and Parc Guell in one day and we were exhausted. If you are going in the busy high season, you may be limited to just two in one day.

We skipped the Sagrada Familia because we had already visited it in 2015. Even with five nights in Barcelona, we couldn't fit it in. You could visit SF and another big attraction or area in a second day.

It will be difficult to fit in the rest of your list into a third day.

FWIW, on our second day, we explored the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, the Barcelona Cathedral, went down to the beach and caught the cable car to Montjuic. On the third day, we had a time entry in the Palau de la Musica, visited the Basilica of Santa Maria and explored more of the Gothic Quarter (lots to explore) and La Rambla. And we spent the fourth day in Montserrat. Each day was long and tiring. We probably walked about 10 km each day, went back to our hotel for a quick nap and then a late dinner. Good luck.

Posted by
783 posts

In three busy days in 2019, we were able to see many things on your list except Casa Vicens, Casa Battlo (we saw the outside) the Picasso Museum, and Ciutadella Parc. However, we did go to the Hospital de Sant Pau for several hours and to Casa Amatller on the Block of Discord. If you can pare down your list just a bit, you should be able to see the rest. Here is what we did:
Day 1: Sagrada Familia (reserved for first time slot) and then the Hospital de Sant Pau, followed by the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona Cathedral, and Santa Maria del Mar.
Day 2: La Pedrera (first time slot) followed by the RS Eixample walk, including the interior of Casa Amatller. Then the El Born neighborhood, Palau de la Musica and the Barcelona Historical Museum in the afternoon.
Day 3: Park Guell (first time slot), followed by a long walk that took us past Casa Vincens, and then Montjuic from about 1 to 7:30 pm. At Montjuic, we focused on the castle, Olympic Stadium, and selected exhibits at the Museum of Catalan Art. We did not have time for the Miro museum.

Posted by
91 posts

We just got back from Spain 2 weeks ago. We first went to Barcelona . From the airport we dropped off our luggage at our hotel and then went to Casa Battlo for 6:45 pm. It was not that crowded.
The next day we went to La Sagrada Familia when it opened which I would suggest that you do because when we were leaving around 10:30 there were a lot of tour groups that descended upon the site and it became way too crowded too quickly.
After that we took a taxi to Parc Guell and spent a few hours there. We actually ate in the park's cafeteria and surprisingly the food was good. We then went to the Picasso museum for 2 hours after which we walked around the Gothic Quarter and went to the Arc de Triomf . The next day we went to Casa Pedrera at 10 am and then went to Palau de la Musica. The only place we didn't have advanced tickets for was the Palau de la Musica but there was no line and we walked right in.
I personally feel that what we did was very doable and we didn't rush through any of the sites.

Posted by
24 posts

You all are a blessing! Your advice has helped me SO much and my husband and I are sitting down right now to put together a final plan. We are so appreciative.