Planning a trip to Spain and wondering how many days in Barcelona make for the perfect trip? Discover how many days you need for every type of trip and traveler!
So you've decided to head to Spain for your next vacation. Excellent choice! I know you will fall in love with the Spanish culture, sights, food, and traditions just like I did.
Barcelona is an absolute must on any Spain itinerary. It's actually where I've chosen to spend three of my birthdays in the last decade. If that doesn't give a hint as to how much this city has to offer, I don't know what will.
When I'm planning a trip, step one is to decide which destinations to include in my itinerary. Step two is how long to spend in each city. How often do we trip planners agonize over whether we are spending too much or too little of our precious vacation time in a city? I know I do when I'm unfamiliar with the area or country.
Well, I'm here to help with step two and guide you on how many days in Barcelona are ideal. The answer depends on a handful of factors. What type of traveler you are, the style of trip you're looking for, and your overall budget.
We will consider all these things and more when discussing how many days in Barcelona will be right for you!
Short answer to how many days in Barcelona are ideal
If you want the quick answer for the average tourist, four days is the golden ticket. Continue reading for a more in-depth breakdown.
How many days in Barcelona for a first trip to Spain | 3-4 days
Barcelona is a great place to start if it's your first time in Spain. There's plenty to do from a tourist perspective. Cathedrals and museums to visit, plenty of walking tours packed with fascinating history, memorable day trips a train ride away, and restaurants that will have planning a return trip before you know it.
Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city and one of the most touristed cities in the world. This means there will be more than plenty to keep you busy for days on end and is why I strongly suggest four days at a minimum if it’s your first time in the city.
Every time I've visited Barcelona, I have chosen to spend four days here. I like to stay busy but not be rushed, and I feel four days is the sweet spot.
Will you be able to see absolutely everything? Probably not, unless you are a speed demon. Will you have time to see everything that is a priority for your sightseeing tastes? Absolutely.
Part of the Spanish culture is to slow down and enjoy yourself. Barcelona may be a bit of a quicker pace than other cities in Spain with it being the growing, thriving, metropolis that is it, but that doesn’t mean it should be rushed.
Four days in Barcelona will allow you to have relaxed dinners, rooftop drinks, evening strolls down Las Ramblas (the infamous tree-lined pedestrian street), see the works of Antoni Gaudi including the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and Casa Mila, hit the beach, eat your way through La Boqueria food market, join a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter, and snap some pictures at the Montjuic Magic Fountain.
You could technically see all the main sights in three days and then move on to your next destination if you’re really tight on time. If not, fit in all the sights in three days and save your fourth day for a day trip.
I can’t recommend Girona enough. This city was actually used as a Game of Thrones filming site and it’s not hard to see why. Girona seems a lifetime away. The streets are perfect for strolling and a photographer’s dream.
I have an entire blog post dedicated to the planning and details for a day trip to Girona.
Another fantastic day trip is to combine a day trip to Montserrat with a wine tour. Visit an ancient monastery rising high above Barcelona on the mountaintops. Continue to visit a few wineries and see a totally different side of Barcelona and the surrounding region. This is a great way to wind down after a few hectic sightseeing days.
Jake and I did this Montserrat, Tapas, and Wine Half Day Tour and loved it!
I highly recommend booking a walking or bike tour to learn the history and see the best areas of Barcelona.
How many days do you need in Barcelona to just see the highlights | 2 days
If you're short on time and just want to see the highlights of Barcelona to say you've been there and done that, then two days will be sufficient. Don't get me wrong, it will be an extremely rushed two days, but you'll be able to see the most popular attractions.
Walk down Las Ramblas, see the quirky designs of Antoni Gaudi at Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and Casa Mila, stroll the Gothic Quarter, grab a quick snack at La Boqueria food market, snap a pic at the Arc du Triomf, visit the Barcelona Cathedral, and give your feet a rest while you sip sangria and munch on tapas.
A two day itinerary means two very long and rushed days, but with some preplanning, you should be able to see the main sights before heading to your next stop.
Booking your attractions is a must on any length itinerary, but especially if you only have two days. You will not have time to wait in line to buy tickets. Book the most popular attractions, like the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell for first thing in the morning so you can bypass the crowds and large tour groups.
How many days in Barcelona for the budget traveler | 2-3 days
Spain, in general, is very cheap...especially when you compare it to cities like London, Paris, and anywhere in the US. If you're really focused on budget though, you'll find cheaper places in Spain. Southern Spain, for example, is without a doubt cheaper than Madrid and Barcelona.
See the main sights at lightning speed and then head elsewhere if you really want your dollar to go as far as possible. Personally, cost is one of the many reasons why I prefer cities like Seville, Cordoba, and Granada because they are so cheap.
Barcelona is cheaper than Madrid, but a tad more expensive when it comes to food and lodging in the smaller, Southern cities. An outstanding meal in Seville can easily cost €20 to €25, whereas in Barcelona it's more like €25 to €40.
It's also a lot easier to find affordable restaurants in Southern Spain. Barcelona has a lot more expensive places (and tourist trap joints), so it requires a bit more research if you're pinching your pennies.
It's not a huge difference, but you'll feel that your dollar goes farther in other cities.
How many days in Barcelona are ideal for the slow traveler | 5-7 days
If you've learned to love the art and pleasure of slow travel, you could easily spend five to seven days in Barcelona and feel that it was time well spent. Pick two attractions a day and save the rest of your time for shopping the boutiques, enjoying multiple coffee stops, leisurely meals, and time to relax in the beautiful parks and outdoor spaces.
Most tourists only see Barceloneta Beach as a quick walk by. Seven days in Barcelona will mean you have the time to bring a book and sit in the sand. Walk up to Montjuic Castle, an attraction most visitors don't have time for, and spend hours walking around the surrounding parks and green space.
You'll have plenty of time to explore all the main neighborhoods and return to your favorites.
A week in Barcelona also means you have time for multiple day trips including my two favorite, Girona and Montserrat.
Visit the Prado museum multiple times or take several walking tours focusing on different themes and areas.
Seven days in Barcelona will mean you leave truly feeling like you got to know the city and the surrounding areas.
**If you prefer to skip the day trips, then five days would be perfect for the slow traveler.
7 days in Barcelona means you have plenty of time for tours!
I hope this post helps you decide how many days in Barcelona are ideal for your upcoming trip.
See the highlights in two days on the quickest of itineraries, spend four days for the perfect mix of sightseeing and slowing down to really enjoy the culture, or try the slow travel method and spend a week to explore the city inside and out with a few day trips!
**BARCELONA HOTEL RECOMMENDATIONS**
- ME Barcelona - I just stayed here and LOVED it!
- Almanac Barcelona
- Ohla Barcelona
- Kimpton Vividora Barcelona
- Cotton House Hotel (Autograph Collection is a favorite of mine. I always book Marriott properties via Marriott to earn the most points and for loyalty perks).
- Yurbban Ramblas Boutique Hotel
- Room Mate Gerard Hotel
- Yurbban Passage Hotel & Spa
- Hotel Catalonia Magdalenes
- H10 Cubik