Barcelona is a must-see destination if ever you are on a tour of Europe. The many sights and things to do will overwhelm you, as I experienced during my trip to this fantastic city of Spain. Planning a Barcelona itinerary is very important, so you do not miss a prominent place or event.
Most travelers ask themselves, “How many days should I spend in Barcelona?” The ideal answer to that is the longer, the better given the many sites and activities. A week in Barcelona might be great, but most tourists usually have less time than that for a city visit.
I have read some recommending a three-day trip, but I feel that this is selling yourself short. Perhaps a good compromise is a Barcelona 5 day itinerary. I think this is a decent amount of time to give yourself a chance to see significant parts of the city.
Given that schedule, here are sites and activities that you should include in a five-day stay in this beautiful Spanish city. (Read How Many Days Do You Need In Prague)
To Visit – La Sagrada Familia
From the legendary Antoni Gaudí came this great structure known as the Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family). It is the most visited sight in Barcelona. The construction of this huge basilica began in 1882, and to this day, it remains unfinished, being three-quarters complete.
Once finished, it will be the tallest church building in the world. It adopts many architectural styles that will make your jaw drop.
To-Do – Eat, Eat Eat!
Barcelona is an incredible melting pot (pun intended) of international cuisine. It is all here from Japanese Ramen restaurants, Pintxos Basque-style bar snacks, or Catalan styled food. The gastronomically inclined will find Barcelona a food heaven.
A walking tour (some are free) is a smart way to discover the city’s many eating places.
To Visit – Camp Nou
Since you visited a Basilica, it is now time to visit a football shrine. Since 1957, Camp Nou is the home base of FC Barcelona. No doubt, it is one of not just Spain’s, but Europe’s football major venues, and it has a staggering 99,000-seat capacity.
If you are a passionate fan of football like most Europeans, this place is a priority visit.
To-Do – Walk Through Las Ramblas
Experience on foot these famous promenades that take you from Plaça de Catalunya to the Columbus Monument. As a first-time tourist, I did this and had no regrets mingling with crowds and saw street performances, bird mongers, flower vendors, and food stalls. (Read What is the Cheapest Month To Go On a Cruise?)
To Visit – Hospital de Sant Pau
Built in the early 1900s and designed by architect Lluís Domènec I Montaner, the hospital network spreads over several blocks. It totals 27 buildings and is one of the most modern hospitals of its era. The hospital is known for its hygiene conscious functionality with the ingeniously designed passage of light and air.
To-Do – Tour the Museo Picasso
Art enthusiasts will find an incomparable treat by visiting the Picasso Museum. It is the repository of his earlier efforts, totaling over 4000 works. A significant collection, it also shows the artist’s connection with the city.
To Visit – Casa Batlló
Antoni Gaudí’s flamboyance is showcased in Casa Batlló. It is a playful display of colors and shapes, and surprisingly is a renovation of an existing mansion at the time. The roof features patterns that resemble a dragon’s scales, along with a cross on the turret, a seeming nod to St George, patron saint of Barcelona.
Originally constructed in 1877, businessman Josep Batlló acquired it in 1903. He hired Gaudí to do a total renovation resulting in this Barcelona landmark.
To-Do – Walk Through Barri Gotic
The city’s old Gothic Quarter will have you meandering thru winding, quaint streets and historic structures. I consider this among the most beautiful parts of Barcelona and have many places you can visit on foot such as The Barcelona History Museum, The Grand Royal Palace, The Chapel of Santa Àgata, and The Barcelona Cathedral.
To Visit – La Boquería
Any city’s heart and soul is usually evident in a public market, and this is no exception. The many food stalls and restaurants in La Boquería dazzled me. This market has been here for hundreds of years and is an excellent place to pause for a bite to eat.
Choose from a wide selection of shrimp, fish, squid, octopus, oysters, and clams. The wide array of candy, wines, nuts, and tapas will satisfy any palette. You could also opt to have a nice classic peasant snack of bread, cheese, ham, and fruit as you enjoy the Spanish public atmosphere.
To Visit (and perhaps To Do) – Witness an Authentic Flamenco Dance Performance
No visit to Barcelona or any part of Spain can be complete unless you see a Flamenco dance in person. This solo dance performed by hand clapping, percussive footwork, complex arm, hand, and torso movements is uniquely Spanish. It is performed to a live guitar player and singer.
You can watch an authentic rendition at any of these places. Los Tarantos – Barcelona’s oldest flamenco venue, Palau Dalmases, Tablao Flamenco Cordobes, or The Tablao de Carmen. Who knows, you might try it yourself too.
To-Do – Hop On The Harbor Cable Car
You have seen everything so far from the ground, so why not change the vantage point. The harbor cable car is a 1,450-meter-long harbor aerial tramway.
It links Barceloneta and Montjuïc thru a 10-minute trip with an elevated visual perspective of Barcelona. You will see many landmarks and views of the city and the sea. (Read 5 Travelling Essentials for Backpackers)
Seeing Barcelona in 5 days will perhaps bring you the most satisfaction without rushing through places and activities. It is not very big, so a summer visit is ideal for a glorious outdoor experience.