How you should spend 72 hours in Barcelona

There is a certain romance to a weekend break in a European city. It is allowing yourself to give into spontaneity and creates the excitement of adventure as you tick off a new destination on your bucket list.

And would you look at that, there are two long weekends on the horizon to take advantage of. The dual May bank holidays provide the opportunity to see one of Europe’s finest cities and where better to spend a spring time retreat than Barcelona. From the Gothic architecture to the bustling nightlife to the white sand beaches – this is a city that has it all.

So, you’ve got 72 hours in the Catalan capital and it’s a pretty big city with so much to do. Feeling a little daunted? Don’t worry as we’ve got a few suggestions of what you can do with your time here.

Day 1 – Gaudí and the Gothic Quarter


The excitement begins from the moment you touch down at El Prat Airport, your adventure starts here – Barcelona is your oyster. Check-in to your hotel and get ready to explore this incredible city. What better place to start than at a landmark which pays homage to a person that has characterised so much of this corner of Catalonia?

Walk past the designer shops lining Passeig de Gracia and stop by a building that looks somewhat out of place in this modern metropolis. Casa Batlló is one of the finest examples of Antoni Gaudí’s impact on Barcelona. When Josep Batlló allowed the architect free reign on the design of his home, he allowed Gaudí to make the building his masterpiece.

It has all the hallmarks of the visionary architect’s craft including the neo-Gothic art that earned him the nickname of ‘God’s Architect’. Wander around this incredible home before taking the Metro to another of his finest works – Sagrada Família.


You can’t help but stare in awe at Barcelona’s huge cathedral. This famously unfinished basilica is another of Gaudí’s labours of love and has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. Sticking to the original designs, it is expected to be finished in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

As the sun sets on your first day head down to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and sample Catalonia’s much-loved tapas dishes. The area is a maze of winding streets with restaurants at every turn serving food long into the evening.

Day 2 – Barceloneta, Picasso and late-night Martinis


Blow away the cobwebs of the night before by taking a walk down to Barceloneta Beach. This area has held huge importance to the city ever since it was a humble fishing port. It is Barcelona’s oldest and beloved beach and is now populated with tapas and seafood restaurants as well as a number of promenade bars.

Continue your cultural tour of the city by learning a little more about its origins at the History Museum of Catalonia. Situated at the Old Port close to Barceloneta, the museum tells the tale of Catalonia’s evolution from the time of hunters and gatherers through the Middle Ages, the rule of Franco and much more. Even better, there is a rooftop cafe which offers panoramic views over the city.

While your first day was admiring the work of one of Barcelona’s favourite sons – Gaudí – today is about another artistic luminary. Pablo Picasso spent much of younger years in the city and you can follow in his footsteps. Visit the Museu Picasso where a selection of his masterpieces are housed while you can have a drink at Els 4 Gats on Carrer de Montsio, a regular haunt of both Picasso and contemporaries such as Salvador Dali.


Photo credit: Dry Martini via Flickr.

After a spot of tapas, it’s time to sample Barcelona’s famous nightlife. See live music and dance until dawn at Razzmatazz, watch the legendary ‘Tablao Flamenco Cordobes’, take in a concert at the Gran Teatre del Liceu or enjoy a chilled-out evening in the Gothic Quarter. Barcelona has an excellent bar scene with everything from craft ale joints to achingly cool Martini bars.

Find out more about the best bars in Barcelona is in our blog post here.

Day 3 – Sights and shopping


Who says you need to wind down on the final day of your holiday? Why do that when you could be climbing to the heights of Montjuic mountain and take in the views? From here you will be able to see Barcelona’s port, the Olympic Village and then walk through the Laribal gardens, designed by French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier.

Pick up a memento of your trip along the most famous street in Barcelona – La Rambla. Start at the Christopher Columbus Monument in Placa de Catalunya and stroll down the tree-lined streets picking up a souvenir from one of the many boutique shops and vendors.

 It is the perfect way to cap off the final hours of your stay in one of the most cosmopolitan cities Europe has to offer.

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