We had an amazing time in Barcelona last summer! Here is my travel guide to three days in Barcelona, including Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Eat, as well as Our Full Itinerary.
Travel guides take a lot of time to put together to ensure that I include every detail. I’m excited to finally share our time in Barcelona with you. I shared What I Wore in Spain this Summer when we returned. Be sure to visit that post for ideas on what to pack.
Getting to Barcelona
Depending on where you’re located, there’s several ways to get to Barcelona. There are some direct flights, but most connect either in the US, London or in Madrid. You can fly direct from DFW airport to Madrid and then either take the train or a quick flight on Iberian airways. We connected in Philadelphia on American Airlines. I preferred to connect in the US rather than through Heathrow or Paris if possible. They are usually smaller airports and the flight to Barcelona is the long one and we can try to get a bit more sleep!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
I was so excited to stay in one of my very favorite hotels in the entire world, the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. My husband and I stayed at this fabulous hotel in the fall of 2018 when we cruise the coast of Spain with the Seadream Yacht Club. With 120 rooms and suites, the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is located on Passeig de Gràcia, the most exclusive shopping boulevard in the heart of the city and home to historical modernist sights and Gaudi’s architectural gems.
Everyone who works at the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, is absolutely amazing. The customer service is like none I have experience anywhere! One of the sweet valets remembered us from our first visit almost 4 years ago! The concierge staff was incredibly helpful with restaurant reservations and more. A funny story…One of our girls dropped her phone onto the balcony below. She went down to the concierge‘s desk and one of these fabulous concierges went and retrieved it for her! On our visit prior to this one, they secured us fabulous tickets to see an FC Barcelona playoff game where we were able to see Messi score 6 times!
An amazing full breakfast at their restaurant Blanc was included in our stay. It is truly beautiful and had a large, delicious offering. The Bankers Bar is one of the most beautiful in Barcelona and a cool hidden gem we met up with friends that were also in Barcelona at the same time. Perfect for a cocktail before dinner. Terrat is the rooftop restaurant where you can dine poolside. We loved this on our first trip with the beautiful view of the city!
Needless to say, this is my recommendation of where to stay in Barcelona!
WHAT TO DO
Walking Tour of Barri Gotic/Gothic Quarter – We booked our tour through Context Tours. Highly recommend! More details below.
La Sagrada Familia – The top of the must see sites in Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia’s construction began in 1882 and is still under construction. It is expected to be completed by 2026 and it will be the tallest cathedral in the world. One of the best representations of modernism in Spain and one of the great international symbols of Spain. La Sagrada Familia was the life’s work of world-famous architect Antoni Gaudi although originally begun by another architect. This is a MUST SEE! The facade details, story it tells and different designs and the interior are absolutely stunning. Gaudi is buried in the church’s crypt. We booked a tour guide through Context Tours again. He purchased the tickets or took us to the window to purchase them. I honestly can’t remember!
Park Güell – Park Güell is a public park with gardens and architectural elements located in the upper part of the city of Barcelona. Located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood, Park Güell is one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions and was originally designed with the thought of being a private residential area for wealthy Catalan families. Park Güell was also designed Gaudí, known for his modernism style and whimsical designs showcased in these gardens and the architectural elements here. Now a World Heritage Site by UNESCO , Park Güell welcomes thousands of visitors each day in its 20+ acres filled with whimsy and providing a beautiful view of Barcelona.
Casa Batllo – Located at 43 Passeo de Gracia, his private family home was designed by Gaudí over a century ago for the wealthy textile industrialist Josep Batlló. It is now a World Heritage site and a wonderful example of his work. It is absolutely a must when visiting Barcelona. It’s unique design and story are as entertaining as enlightening. We purchased tickets before we arrived and planned around these. Pro Tip: Purchase Gold tickets in one of two time after the First Look. You will have the home almost to yourself, access to a few special areas and will receive an iPad with that allows you to view the rooms as if no one else is there and as originally decorated with their furniture. Be sure to take a photo on the balcony at the end of the tour. It’s totally worth it! Casa Batllo is located across the street from the Mandarin Oriental.
Boat Day with This is Med – Spend a day on the water and see Barcelona from a different perspective. A great way to relax in while enjoying the city!
La Rambla and Boqueria Mercat – This long shopping boulevard is filled with both local and internationally know shops and boutiques. Be sure to visit the Boqueria Mercat for a meal or snack on the go or some of the best gelato in Barcelona.
Where to Eat
2254 Tapas Barcelona – Fresh and delicious creative Italian-Catalan Tapas located close to the Mandarin Oriental 335 Carrer del consell de Cent
L’Olive – Possibly one of the best meals we’ve ever had…anywhere! The food, service, atmosphere were truly amazing. We had dinner here with friends that were also visiting Barcelona at the same time and everything the 9 of us ordered was fabulous. I dream of going here again!
Luigi Ristorante – Fantastic Italian neighborhood Italian. This was a recommendation from the concierge team at the hotel. They handled our allergies so well and even had gluten free pasta. The food and service were wonderful.
Cuines Santa-Caterina – a farm to table type restaurant in the Gothic quarter. Great for a quick lunch or casual dinner. You can make reservations online. We just walked in. Our tour guide told us it is one of his favorites and we agree.
El Tros de la Rambla – Located on La Rambla, great tapas with fantastic sangria. We sat in the outdoor tables in the center of La Rambla. Great people watching. They were great with our food allergies, too.
El Nacional BCN – This is a very large multi-dining option restaurant with 4 concepts from fine to more casual dining, a huge bar and wonderful gelato stand. Definitely make a reservation as it is very popular. And stop in for gelato for certain!
We arrived in Barcelona at 10:30 AM and went straight to the hotel to check in and leave our bags. Knowing that everyone was going to be tired from travel, I planned a light but fun and mildly active day.
The concierge suggested Tapas2254 for us for lunch. It was at the block from the hotel, and just what we needed. It was very fun to start our trip sampling lots of a Spanish tapas and a fresh sangria.
We then set off in a taxi to Park Güell, one of Gaudi’s famous creations in Barcelona. Park Güell is a 20+ acre park filled with beautiful Gaudi mosaics and beautiful views of Barcelona. You can also visit Gaudi’s home here and get a small glimps into the famous architect life.
Next, we walked La Rambla the shopping district and La Boqueria Mercat. We grabbed gelato at La Boqueria Mercat before returning to the hotel to rest before dinner.
We had dinner at Luigi Ristorante on Via Laietana at the suggestion again of our fabulous concierge team. Great neighborhood Italian restaurant even has gluten-free pasta! It was just what our slap-happy tired group needed. The food and service were wonderful.
Our fabulous travel agent, Lisa Primmer, arranged a walking tour of El Barri Gotic (the Gothic quarter) of Barcelona. Our guide, Gabriel, was one of the best tour guide we’ve ever had. A history professor and musician, as well as native Catalonian, Gabriel took us from the Roman founding of the area and beautiful churches and squares up to the political climate of the Catalan region. It seems a bit like Texas…had been it’s own country and has it’s own mindset. (Insert knowing smile here!)
We had lunch at Cuines Santa-Caterina, a farm to table type restaurant in the Gothic quarter before our tour of La Familia Sagrada. La Sagrada Familia was the life’s work of world-famous architect Antoni Gaudi although originally begun by another architect. This is a MUST SEE! The facade details, story it tells and different designs and the interior are absolutely stunning. More details are above.
For dinner we went back to La Rambla to walk around and soak up the local culture. We had dinner at a great tapas restaurant, Los Tros. We sat in the outdoor tables in the center of La Rambla. Great people watching.
We began this day with first entry tickets to Casa Batllo another one of Gaudí’s famous creations. This was basically across the street from our hotel, which made the first entry tickets very easy. When you book a first entry ticket in the morning, you are part of a very small group that has early entry to the home. They’ve added some special exhibit since we visited several years ago. Be sure and pick up the iPad that provides, a guided tour and views of the room as if there was no one in it. This is such a cool way to see this sometimes crowded venue.
Next on our list was a boat today! We rented a motor yacht for the day from This is Med. Seeing Barcelona from the water was so much fun! They provided lunch that we selected from a menu, cocktails, and water toys. This was a fun and relaxing way to end our time in Barcelona.
We were fortunate to have our family trip overlap with some of our best family friends while we were in Barcelona and Madrid. We met for dinner at L’Olives. This beautiful restaurant felt like a Hidden gem. One of the best meals and best service we’ve received at any restaurant anywhere. I have a feeling this is a neighborhood favorite as well as top restaurant in Barcelona. This is another recommendation from the copiers team at the Mandarin Oriental.
I hope this helps you plan a trip to Barcelona. It’s such a great city and we loved being able to share it with our girls. I cannot wait to return! I will be sharing more of our trip to Spain last summer with a travel guide to Port Soller, Mallorca, and then finishing with Madrid over the next few weeks.
Let me know if you have any questions!
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