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Perfect Barcelona 5 Day Itinerary You’ll Love

So you’re planning a trip to Barcelona? Maybe you’ve heard whispers of Gaudí’s dreamy architecture, or perhaps you’re chasing the promise of sun-soaked beaches and plates piled high with tapas. 

Whatever the reason, you’re in for an epic journey. Stick around because I’m about to spill the beans on a five-day itinerary that’ll give you a taste of Barcelona’s best – from iconic spots to local haunts.

I live in Spain and have spent a ton of time in this vibrant city. That’s why I’m here to show you the lowdown on where to go, best things to eat, and how to soak up the local vibe. This 5-day Barcelona itinerary will work whether it is your first time in the beautiful city or if you have visited before.

Barcelona 5 Day Itinerary Day 1: Your First Steps in Barcelona

Morning: Arrival and Hotel Check-In

So you’ve finally arrived in Barcelona! The first order of business is getting to your hotel and settling in. 

Whether you’ve chosen a boutique place in El Born or a bigger chain closer to the beach, you’ll find that Barcelona’s public transit can get you pretty much anywhere you need to go. 

Take a moment to relax and freshen up; you’ve got an interesting day ahead.

Afternoon: Las Ramblas, La Boqueria, and Gothic Quarter

Once you’re ready to venture out, start with La Rambla. It’s a well-known boulevard running through the heart of the city center and, as one of the top things to do in Barcelona, it’s got a good mix of locals and tourists. 

Las Rambla barcelona
La Rambla Barcelona

Walk down the tree-lined street, and you’ll find outdoor cafes, flower stalls, fresh fruit, street performers, and some interesting architecture. 

(Just keep an eye on your stuff – pickpockets love it here as much as tourists do.)

Then make your way to La Boqueria market. You’ll see locals doing their daily shopping along with tourists snapping photos. 

It can be pretty packed but it’s definitely worth popping into. The entrance alone is iconic but I’d also suggest giving yourself enough time to wander around inside, so don’t let the crowds deter you.

La Boqueria Market inside
La Boqueria Market inside Source: Spain Inspired

Find anything from fresh produce to cured meats and a variety of local cheeses on display – the perfect place for a souvenir or to snack on when chilling out at your hotel later on! For now, don’t hesitate to try a small empanada or some fresh juice.

Alternatively, there are spots here for a great sit-down lunch. In particular, check out Ramblero which has seriously good seafood on offer.

As for the Gothic Quarter, it’s a maze of narrow medieval streets full of historic buildings. Barcelona Cathedral is one spot you shouldn’t skip as one of the main things that Barcelona is known for

The detailed façade is impressive, but what’s more interesting is the serene atmosphere of the cloister, complete with a pond and, oddly enough, some resident geese. Because, well, why not.

It is quite easy to walk around Barcelona and find some of the sites above. However, if you want to relax and get more of an expert view why not book a walking tour that covers La Rambla and La Boqueria?

Evening: Dinner in El Born or Gothic Quarter

By evening, consider heading over to either El Born or back to the Gothic Quarter to unwind with some tapas. Both areas have their own vibes: El Born is a bit more trendy and artsy, while the Gothic Quarter offers a sense of timelessness. 

Gothic Quarter passage
Gothic Quarter passage Source: Spain Inspired

In either spot, you’ll find bars and restaurants serving up a variety of tapas. I love La Plata in the Gothic Quarter and, in El Born, Bodega del Born has a similar vibe – super local, great value, nothing fancy but absolutely ticks the box of good tapas.

Pan con tomate (bread with tomato) is a simple but essential dish. Patatas bravas, fried potatoes with spicy sauce, are also a popular choice. And if you’re into seafood, the calamari here is usually pretty fresh.

After dinner, you’ll notice the city takes on a quieter, but still lively, atmosphere. People are out and about, chatting in cafes or taking slow strolls through the cobblestone streets. It’s a great way to wrap up your first day in the city.

So, day 1 is in the books. Take it easy tonight, you’ve got more to explore in the coming days. Barcelona’s got a lot to offer, and you’re just getting started!

Day 2: Deep Dive into Gaudí’s World

Morning: Sagrada Família

Let’s get your day started at La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s piece de resistance. Booking skip the line tickets online ahead of time will spare you a long wait, and I can’t stress this enough: early morning is the best time of day to visit as this is when the crowds are thinner. 

Basílica La Sagrada Familia exterior
Basílica La Sagrada Familia exterior

The Sagrada Família isn’t just another cathedral. This UNESCO world heritage site and Barcelona landmark has spires that shoot up towards the sky like giant termite mounds and looks absolutely surreal.

Inside, you might feel like you’ve stepped into a forest. The columns branch out like trees and the light filtering through the multicolored stained glass fills the place with a rainbow glow. 

Basílica La Sagrada Familia interior
Basílica La Sagrada Familia interior

Don’t rush this visit; the devil is in the details, from the intricate carvings to the mathematics behind the architecture. And if you’re up for it, pay a bit extra to take the elevator up one of the towers for the best views of Barcelona from high above.

Book Your Skip the Line Tickets for Sagrada Familia

Afternoon: Park Güell

You’ll be hungry once you emerge, although don’t eat directly next to the Sagrada Familia as it’s too touristy. Instead, head nearby to El Señorío, a great Peruvian place that sometimes offers a menu del dia (daily menu). 

This is a common lunchtime offer in Spain where you get two dishes, dessert and usually a drink and coffee for a great price. It’s a very local thing to do to fill yourself up for the rest of your exploring.

Once you’ve fueled up, make your way to Park Guell. The park is a bit of a trek uphill, but public transport options are available if you’re not up for the walk. 

Tickets need to be booked in advance here too, which helps keep the place from getting too crowded.

Once you’re in, you’ll see it’s not just a park; it’s more like a dreamscape molded from ceramics and nature. The mosaicked lizard, known as “El Drac”, greets you near the entrance. 

Park Guell view over city
Park Guell view over city Source: Spain Inspired

The Serpentine Bench offers panoramic views of the city, and it’s one of the best selfie spots in Barcelona. But don’t just stick to the famous landmarks; venture into the lesser-known areas. 

There are forested trails, little fountains, and odd columns that make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale.

Book Your Park Guell Guided Tour with Skip the Line Ticket

Evening: Passeig de Gràcia

When the afternoon starts winding down, head towards Passeig de Gràcia. This isn’t your average city avenue; it’s more like Barcelona’s version of Fifth Avenue in NYC but with a Catalan twist. 

Here, luxury shops meet Modernisme architecture. Two Gaudí buildings in particular stand out: Casa Batllo and Casa Mila (La Pedrera).

Casa Batlló looks like it’s made from skulls and bones—the “skulls” being the balconies and the “bones” being the supporting pillars. Casa Milà, on the other hand, has undulating stone facades and twisted iron balconies. 

Casa Batllo front outside 5 day barcelona itinerary
Casa Batllo front outside Casa Battló. Source: Spain Inspired

If you’re interested, both offer an interior guided tour. Heading inside lets you see how Gaudí’s genius extends to functional living spaces, not just grand public landmarks.

Finally, settle down at one of the cafés or wine bars lining the avenue. It’s a great place for people-watching and reflecting on all the art and history you’ve soaked up.

(And for dinner, I’d suggest checking out one of the restaurants I mentioned at the end of day 1, so you don’t miss out on the one you didn’t pick!)

So, that’s day 2 for you. It’s a lot, but it’s also essential Barcelona. Take it all in, but also take it easy. 

There’s more ahead, but for now, rest up. You’ve earned it.

If you’re keen to know more about Gaudi and his amazing buildings why not book a Gaudi Tour?

If you’d like to read more about Spain check out my articles on the best wineries in Rioja, things to do in San Sebastian, Barcelona landmarks, most beautiful cities in Spain and Spain’s most famous landmarks.

Day 3: Sun, Sea, and Sky-high Views

Morning: Beach Choices and Paella Lunch

Day 3 is your chance to slow down a bit and soak up Barcelona’s famous sunshine. Start by deciding between two beach vibes. 

Barceloneta is the life of the party—think street performers, volleyball games, and a buzzing atmosphere. It’s touristy, but it’s a fun place to people-watch or dip your toes in the water.

Nova Icaria is a less frenetic option. The water’s a bit clearer, and the atmosphere leans more toward laid-back than bustling. It’s a favorite among locals and is closer to the Port Olímpic area, where you can find a bunch of waterfront dining spots.

Now, onto lunch. In Spain, lunch isn’t just a meal; it’s an event. 

While you’re near the ocean, it’s practically obligatory to try paella. However, make sure you steer clear of the too-good-to-be-true deals at the super touristy spots around Barceloneta. 

Instead, I’d suggest that you head to Pez Vela. It’s got a beachfront view and serves up some pretty solid paella.


Afternoon: Ascend Montjuïc Hill

After a leisurely morning and a hearty lunch, it’s time to switch scenes. Montjuïc Hill awaits you. 

There are two ways to go about it: either take a cable car ride up or hike if you’re in the mood for a little exertion. The cable car offers the best way to get some great photo ops of the city, while the hike allows you to discover small gardens and hidden spots along the way.

Once you’re up there, Montjuïc Castle is the main attraction. It’s more military fortress than fairytale castle. 

Montjuic Castle
Montjuic Castle Source: Spain Inspired

But what it lacks in royal glamor, it more than makes up for with panoramic views. You can see the port, the Olympic Ring, and even as far as Tibidabo on a clear day.

Book Your Visit to Montjuic Castle

Evening: Magic Fountain Show

Montjuïc isn’t just about daytime views; it’s also home to the Magic Fountain. However, I should mention that, at the time of writing this, it’s been shut off for a while to conserve water. So, before you get all excited, maybe double-check that it’s running. 

If it’s on, the Magic Fountain offers a blend of water acrobatics, light displays, and music ranging from classical to pop. It’s mesmerizing to watch the water jets dance in sync with the tunes, all set against the backdrop of the Palau Nacional.

Whether you’re standing right by the fountain or viewing it from a distance, the spectacle brings a kind of communal joy. It’s common to see kids chasing the smaller fountains, couples taking selfies, and older folks simply sitting back and enjoying the show.

Once it’s done, you may still be full from your huge paella lunch. But whether or not you are, Barcelona has a million food options for big or small dishes, so head out and explore!

Day 4: From Picasso’s Palette to Catalan Plates

Morning: Dive into the Picasso Museum

Start Day 4 in the heart of the El Born district at the Picasso Museum. This museum isn’t just a room full of paintings on walls; it’s more like a journey through Picasso’s life, specifically his formative years. 

picasso museum interior
Picasso museum interior

Even if you think you know Picasso, the museum presents his work in a new light, focusing on his different styles, materials, and subjects.

You’ll also get to see how Barcelona played a role in shaping him as an artist. The city was more than just a backdrop; it influenced his themes and techniques. 

Make sure to check out the “Las Meninas” series, where Picasso gives Velázquez’s classic painting his own spin. It’s a set of 58 works that show off his range and creativity, and they’re all conveniently housed here.

Book Your Skip the Line Ticket for the Picasso Museum

Afternoon: History, Arches, and a Park Stroll

Keep that historical mindset going and wander over to the El Born Cultural Center. This isn’t your typical museum; the floor is transparent in sections, letting you look down onto excavations of medieval streets and structures. 

El Born Cultural Center
El Born Cultural Center Source: Spain Inspired

It’s an open window into Barcelona’s past, showing how the city has transformed over centuries. They even have interactive exhibits to help you dig deeper into the stories behind these remnants.

Fortunately, for lunch, you’re near one of the best tapas places in town here – El Xampanyet. You can also get fullsized dishes here, which is great, as you may just find that a small tapas plate of your favorite food isn’t enough!

After having all the food you can handle, head toward the Arc de Triomf. It’s not just a photo op; the arc stands as a symbol of modernisme, the Catalan take on modernism. 

While it once served as the entrance to an exposition, it now serves as a meeting point for locals and an entrance to Ciutadella Park.

Arc de Triomf Barcelona
Arc de Triomf Barcelona Source: Spain Inspired

And speaking of Ciutadella Park, as you enter through the arch, you’ll find yourself in a haven of green. The park is a sprawling space with a lake where you can rent a rowboat, a fountain designed with input from Gaudí himself, and even a zoo. 

As the sun starts to set, the park takes on this magical glow. It’s a great place to unwind, maybe even lay on the grass and do some cloud gazing or people-watching.

Evening: Feast Like a Local

By evening, you’ll be ready to eat. If you want a true taste of Catalan culture, go for local specialties like ‘escudella’ (a hearty stew).

But if you’re feeling adventurous, why not cook your own dinner? Several places around the city offer cooking courses where you can learn to make classic Spanish dishes. 

It’s not just about the cooking; it’s about understanding the culture through its flavors. The best part? You’ll be eating what you create (often accompanied by some great local wines), and let me tell you, food always tastes better when you’ve had a hand in making it.

Book Your Barcelona Cooking Experience

So there’s your Day 4 – a day of cultural immersion, from walking through Picasso’s evolving art to strolling down historic streets and ending with a Catalan feast. 

Trust me, your senses will thank you. But get some sleep; you’ve got one more day to go!

Day 5: Montserrat Day Trip

Morning: Montserrat’s Unique Allure

So, on your last day, let’s venture beyond the city lines and head to Montserrat, just a train ride away. This mountain isn’t just a hill with a better-than-average height; its jagged, serrated peaks are downright unique. It’s like nature decided to put on an art show. 

Once you get to the base, you’ve got options for going up – you can either hike if you’re feeling energetic or take a funicular for a more relaxed journey.

Montserrat view closer
Montserrat view closer Source: Spain Inspired

At the summit, you’ll find the Montserrat Monastery, which is steeped in both spirituality and history. The monks here have been doing their thing for nearly a millennium, believe it or not. 

Within the monastery is the statue of the Black Madonna. People don’t just visit her; they make pilgrimages. She’s a big deal here in Catalonia, so if you want to get up close, try to beat the crowds.

Book Your Trip to Montserrat

Afternoon: Choose Your Own Adventure

After you’ve soaked in the spirituality and snapped enough photos to fill a digital album, your afternoon can go in several directions. 

If you’re one for hiking, you’re in luck; Montserrat’s got a variety of trails that range from light strolls to more intense treks. Each path has its own magic, whether that’s a hidden hermitage or a viewpoint where you can see for miles. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Pyrenees in the distance on a clear day.

If hiking isn’t quite your speed but you’re keen to learn more about Montserrat, the Montserrat Museum is a surprisingly diverse spot. You’ll find art pieces from big names you didn’t expect to see way up here, like Dalí and even some from Picasso. 

The museum also dips into history, folklore, and the geological aspects of the mountain.

For a really relaxing afternoon, how about a local winery? Many organized day trips offer this as a combo experience. It’s a sublime way to wind down – sipping wine made from vines that might just have the same view as you. And, fortunately, most of them offer lunch!

If you’re a wine lover check out my article on the best wineries near Barcelona for some alternative day trip ideas.

Evening: Farewell to Barcelona

As the day comes to an end, head back to Barcelona for one final dinner. This is your chance to revisit a place where you may have left a piece of your heart or try something entirely new. 

Whether you’re craving seafood, meat, or a medley of tapas, go all out. This is your last meal in the city, so make it memorable.

And of course, there’s dessert. Barcelona knows how to do sweets, whether it’s a simple yet oh-so-good ‘flan’ or the chocolatey ‘bunyols de vent’ (Catalan doughnuts). 

Your last dessert here should be something that rounds off your culinary journey in the city, just like a cherry on top.

So, there you go—a five-day whirlwind of all things Barcelona, ending on a high note with a day in Montserrat and a dinner to remember. As you toast to your Barcelona escapade, maybe you’ll even start brainstorming your next trip. Because, let’s be real, Barcelona isn’t a one-time deal; it’s the kind of city that keeps calling you back. Cheers to that!

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Barcelona has loads of cool boutique hotels. Check out Yurbban Traflagar Hotel. The rooms are bright with an industrial bent and it has a very cool rooftop swimming pool and bar.


Serras Hotel also has a rooftop swimming pool and bar and a fantastic location just a stone’s throw from Barcelona’s port. The rooms aren’t huge but they are beautifully designed in chocolate and white.

hotel serras barcelona 5 day itinerary

For a more decadent option check out The Mercer Hotel. Located in the Gothic Quarter, this 5 star boutique hotel has just 28 rooms. And of course they have a rooftop swimming pool!

hotel mercer

Final thoughts

And with that, you’ve got a five-day plan that takes you from Barcelona’s buzzing streets to Montserrat’s serene heights, hitting art, food, and beaches along the way. 

One thing’s for sure: Barcelona has layers, and each visit lets you peel another one back. Trust me, this city has a way of making you want to come back for more.

Because whether you’re in it for the Gaudí masterpieces, the food, or the simple pleasure of a beachside paella, Barcelona’s got something for everyone – especially when you follow an itinerary like this to make sure you discover all the highlights of the Catalan capital.

Author bio: Anna is the founder of Spain Inspired, where she shares insider tips and hidden gems to inspire visitors to take the road less traveled and explore Spain like a local. Now living in Valencia, Anna’s made it her mission to help fellow travelers experience the very best of this stunning country – with some great wine and tapas along the way, ideally!

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