Barcelona is a popular city to visit in Europe, and for good reason. When we found round trip flights from Orlando for $550 with Next Vacay, we decided to go to Spain and Portugal in November. We ended up spending one of those days in Andorra, an easy day trip from Barcelona. Barcelona in November is perfect as most of the summer crowds are gone. Plus, the weather is cooler and makes it perfect for walking all over the city.
With the three days in Barcelona we had, we found all the most Instagrammable places in Barcelona. Since most of the best things to do in Barcelona are easy to access and located pretty close to each other, having three days or a weekend in Barcelona is enough to see most of the best spots. Below you can find the practical information like where to stay in Barcelona and where to eat in Barcelona as well as a full three day itinerary for Barcelona and the best times to visit the most popular spots to avoid the crowds and get the best photos.
****This trip was sponsored by Next Vacay with flights to and from Barcelona paid for by Next Vacay. All opinions are our own. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Purchases made through these links earn us a small commission at no extra charge to you.
MAP OF THE MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES IN BARCELONA
The different layers on this map show the places we stayed and ate in Barcelona as well as the most Instagrammable places in Barcelona broken down by day. You can view them all at once or one layer at a time. You can save this map to your own Google maps to be able to add to it to plan your perfect trip.
Looking for additional options for hotels in Barcelona? Click here to search Agoda for the best prices of available hotels in Barcelona or here for the best prices on Booking.com.
DAY 1: Arc de Triumf, Sagrada Familia & Bunkers Del Carmel
We actually visited these three places on three partial days, but you could visit all three in one day. We had one evening in Barcelona when we first arrived before flying to Lisbon, and then we arrived back in Barcelona from Portugal with an afternoon to explore. Then we had an early morning before going to Andorra for the day, so we took advantage and visited the Barcelona Cathedral and the Arco de Triunfo before the crowds arrived.
VISITING BARCELONA’S ARC DE TRIUMF IN THE MORNING
The Arc de Triumf or Arco de Triunfo in Barcelona is similar to the more well known Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This one is made of red brick and is at the entrance to a park. We visited Barcelona Cathedral at sunrise (around 8 a.m. in winter more info later) and then walked over to the Arc de Triumf. It is about 3/4 of a mile or 1200 meters. It would make sense to visit Park de la Ciutadella at the same time as it is only a few minutes walk from this area, but we did not have time and visited later instead.
While it is beautiful from both sides, the better side for pictures is the street side. Then you get the park and the path lined with palm trees through the middle of the arch. If you go in the summer at sunrise, you probably have a better chance of not having people around. However, even around 9:30 a.m. in the winter on a Saturday, we were able to get some pictures without many people around.
If you wait until later in the day, the area is crowded. Look at the location tag on Instagram, and you will see crowds of people in most of the shots. If you get there and find it crowded, you can stand closer to the camera to stand out from the crowd.
VISITING SAGRADA FAMILIA & GETTING THE BEST PICTURES
If you plan to visit Sagrada Familia in the summer especially, make sure to get tickets ahead of time. When we went in November, the lines for tickets were not long, but in the summer they sometimes sell out ahead of time. You do not want to miss this architectural marvel, so it is better to be safe than sorry with these tickets.
Make sure you are in the area early as you only have a 15 minute window to go inside if you purchase your tickets early. There is a park across the street from each side, but the more well known side is on the Nativity side. You can wander through the park while you are there to enjoy the views and get some pictures while you wait to go inside. The entrance we used is on this side as well.
People line up at times next to the pond to get the shot of Sagrada Familia through the trees with the pond. However, if you walk along the edge of the pond, there are several spots for good pictures. You do not have to wait in line for the spot everyone else wants for their picture. This park is one of the most famous Instagram photo spots in Barcelona.
When it is time to go inside, you will pass through security first. There are metal detectors, and there is a dress code. Your shoulders and midriff must be covered to go inside. Of course, I happened to be wearing a sweater that had the shoulders open, but no one said anything.
Once inside, we marveled at the beautiful architecture and the years of work that so many have already spent on this place. Take your time walking around the inside. It is likely to be crowded most of the time. We went around sunset, but either sunrise or sunset tend to be better. The sunlight shines through better at those times, lighting up the stained glass windows. While we visited, the organ also played. This only added to the magic of the church.
You can climb the towers, but we did not because we visited with family with young children. Children must be 6 years old to go up in the towers. Instead of leaving our family to climb the towers, we decided to just enjoy the main parts of the church.
We exited the side with the Passion facade, and I liked this side more. While both sides are impressive, I really loved the symbolism found on this side and the more modern look. You must see both sides if you visit, whether you decide to go inside or not.
At Christmas, there is a Christmas market across from Sagrada Familia on the Nativity side. It opened the night before we left, so we went the first night it opened. While we enjoyed seeing another Christmas market, it did not live up to the hype after visiting London, Scotland, Belgium, and France the year before. I think it got better after we left as there was only a handful of food stalls and many open spaces for more stalls.
BUNKERS DEL CARMEL FOR THE BEST SUNSET IN BARCELONA
If you visit Sagrada Familia during the day, you can make it over to Bunkers del Carmel for sunset. If you visit Sagrada Familia at night, make sure to go to Bunkers del Carmel another night for sunset. It was my favorite view of the city and the best place to watch the sunset in Barcelona.
To get to Bunkers del Carmel, you have a few options. Due to time, we took an Uber. However, the road had a blockade partway up to the top of the hill, so we walked the last quarter mile or so (400 meters). It was not a bad walk, but it saved time to take the Uber. You can also take the subway (Guinardo L4, yellow) and then walk the 30 minutes uphill. Another option is the bus. Take bus 22 to the last stop (Pl Mitja Lluna) and then walk the last 8 10 minutes. This is basically the path we walked from where the Uber dropped us off.
We walked down after the sunset to find dinner, and the stairs and path are easy to follow, even in the dark. They are spray painted with messages mostly telling tourists to go home, but that just lets you know you are in the right place to get to the Bunkers. You may want to take a flashlight, but most of it was light enough to see.
You want to get to the Bunkers del Carmel about 30 minutes to an hour before sunset. There will be others there, but many are locals. Some bring blankets and food and drinks to enjoy as the sun sets. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view, so make sure to wander around and not just take the first spot. Make sure to stay after the sun sets to watch the city light up.
The most popular spot to take pictures is a rock outcropping that looks over the city from the edge of the bunkers. We had to wait our turn for that spot, but there was only one group ahead of us and no one behind us. You will need someone else to take pictures of you there as there is not a great place nearby to put a tripod. You have to climb a small rock wall to get up to the spot, but there are some spots to put your hands and feet that make it easy. This is on the northeast side of the Bunkers. We entered from this side, so we found it easily as soon as we arrived.
DAY 2: Tibidabo, Cathedrals, Palau de la Musica, Casa Batllo
Day two of our three days in Barcelona was packed with lots of walking and exploring the city along with getting outside the city to Mount Tibidabo.
THE CHURCH AND AMUSEMENT PARK ON MOUNT TIBIDABO
I first saw the Tibidabo Cathedral del Sagrat Cor (Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) on Instagram and added it to my list of photo spots in Barcelona. We decided to head up to the top of Mount Tibidabo for sunrise. It is a ways outside of town, and the best way to get there was with an Uber. We spent about $25 to get there from the Diagonal area.
At the top of the hill is also an amusement park. The amusement park and church have different opening hours although you can still climb the stairs to the crypt any time of day. The crypt typically opens before the church which did not open until 10 a.m. the day we were there. The crypt opened an hour or two earlier. The hours are not easy to find, and we were told different hours for the church by an employee at the amusement park and the employee who opened the crypt.
If you want to get the view from above Tibidabo that is commonly shown online, you have to pay to go to the amusement park. Make sure you visit at the right hours and on a clear day though. When we went in the morning, the amusement park was closed (it did not open until 11 a.m. that day). In the afternoon when we came back with family, the wind and clouds forced them to shut down early. You have to ride the Ferris wheel to get the view of Tibidabo from above that I wanted to take. With the clouds, you could not even see the Ferris wheel from outside the amusement park that afternoon.
It was a good spot to watch the sunrise, but it is not worth the trip just for the sunrise. Because we could not find hours online (or get a straight answer once we got there for the church’s hours), we were hoping to do everything at once. We came back in the afternoon with family and saw the sunset from there as well. The sunset was a better view, and typically the amusement park would still be open then.
When we came back in the evening, you could not see the top of the church because of the clouds. We ended up being in the clouds at the top of the church which actually made it one of my favorite parts of the trip. The clouds cleared out off and on, allowing the sun to shine through and light up the clouds around us. It was beautiful. No matter the weather, I recommend a visit to the church. The inside is not all that impressive, but the outside is beautiful. In the clouds, it has an otherworldly feel. Without the clouds, you get amazing views of the city, making it one of the best photo spots in Barcelona no matter the weather.
When we went in the morning for sunrise, we planned to take an Uber to Palau de la Musica afterwards. We walked back down to where our Uber dropped us off and ordered an Uber. It said he would be there in 15 minutes. We watched him get closer to us, then turn around and drive away. As we watched, we tried to reach out to him, but we struggled with the language barrier. We continued watching him get closer and then turn around and go further away.
After waiting for 45 minutes, a taxi came by (the first we had seen), so we flagged him down. We cancelled the Uber, but it caused us problems at our next stop that we had waited so long. Be aware that your Uber may not be able to figure out how to get up to where you are. You may want to have someone at the amusement park direct you to a spot they are more familiar with or call you a taxi.
PALAU DE LA MUSICA
To visit Palau de la Musica without a tour, you have to go early in the morning. We looked at the hours on their website, but we arrived near the end of the times listed thanks to the Uber problems we had at Mount Tibidabo. They told us those times were wrong and that we could not go in. My brother-in-law and his family were already inside on an English speaking tour that had started 10 minutes before we made it there. We explained this to the lady at the ticket booth and asked to join the tour. By the time she understood us, the tour had started 15 minutes prior which is the cutoff for joining a tour. Because of that, she would not let us join.
Since the next English tour was an hour later and already almost full, we opted to take a Catalan tour. We only had four others with us on the tour which was perfect for pictures. Our family filled us in on the information we missed on the tour. Taking an English tour (or tour in a language you can understand) is better if you want to learn about the history. Because of the scheduling conflict, we opted for the smallest tour starting soon to at least go in and see it and get pictures without fighting a large group. It worked out, and another girl on the tour spoke English. She also kept us informed, and we took some pictures for her throughout the tour as well.
The music hall is one of the prettiest buildings in Barcelona, and I loved seeing all the colors used in the architecture. There are performances here regularly, and I heard from others that it is worth it if you have the time.
VISITING THE CATHEDRAL DE BARCELONA
If you want pictures outside the Cathedral de Barcelona, go early in the morning. The only others around were a few locals and the workers setting up the Christmas market. At Christmas, the Christmas market is outside of the church and is the best in Barcelona supposedly. Unfortunately, it opened a week after we left.
We visited the Cathedral twice, once in the morning and once later in the day with family. The inside of the church is beautiful, and I enjoyed walking through it. There is an area at the exit that houses some geese, and you can feed them if you have food for them or buy food for them. We just watched, but one lady gave my niece and nephews some food to feed them.
There is also a beautiful Gothic bridge called Pont del Bisbe on Carrer del Bisbe. If you are facing the Cathedral, take the little street that is on the right of the Cathedral. You can wander along these streets and enjoy the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona or even take a walking tour if you have time.
GAUDI’S CASA BATLLO
If you go to Barcelona, you have to see Casa Batllo at least from the outside. Going inside is expensive. When we went in the afternoon, a line of people waited outside to get in. Because of how much it would cost for all seven of us to go in, we opted to skip this. I have heard it is worth the cost though. Tickets are €25 for adults ahead of time and €22 for kids (kids under 7 years old are free). It is a few euros more if you purchase at the door.
DAY 3: Park Guell, Park de la Ciutadella, & Dinner by the Beach
We spent our last day in Barcelona on our own as family left to go back to Belgium that morning. We knew we had to visit Park Guell and spent the rest of the day wandering around the city.
VISITING PARK GUELL FOR FREE
You can visit Park Guell for free anytime. Most of the day you need tickets for the Monumental Zone, but you can visit it for free outside of those hours. Check out our complete guide to visiting Park Guell for free and what to see in Park Guell here.
Park Guell’s Monumental Zone is perfect for sunrise. We took an Uber to make sure we got there in time. The Uber dropped us off right at the gate, and we walked right in without a problem. I worried we would have problems getting in and that it wouldn’t be that easy to get in for free. It turns out that it is.
The sunrise lit up the sky in vibrant colors that morning. It made for a perfect start to the day to watch the sunrise and have the park so empty. About 30 or 40 other people were in the park for sunrise, but everyone stayed out of each other’s way. The bonus of going at sunrise is that it is the least amount of people you will find inside. During the winter, the opening hours when they charge take up most of the hours you have sunlight. In the summer, you have a little longer before the park opens and after the park closes with daylight.
Make sure to see everything inside the paid area before you leave. If you walk out of the paid area after it opens, you will have to pay to come back in. Make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time if you plan to visit during the open hours. If you wait to buy them at the gate, you may have to wait an hour or two to come in (it happened to my brother-in-law when they tried to visit before their flight home).
Once you have seen the paid area, you can leave and wander around the rest of the park. There are plenty of things worth seeing outside of the paid area.The area around Casa Museu Gaudi is a popular area with rock arches similar to those inside the Monumental Zone. We did not go inside the Casa Museu Gaudi which requires tickets. It sometimes sells out ahead of time if you plan to walk in.
We did stop by the outside of La Casa Trias for the view of the city and Turo de Les Tres Creus for another city view. Looking back, the view from Tres Creus is the better of the two. You look out over the city from the top of the monument and can see the beautiful church at the top of Mount Tibidabo from here as well. For more information on Park Guell, check out our full guide to visiting Park Guell.
THE FOUNTAIN IN PARK DE LA CIUTADELLA
With the rest of our afternoon free to wander the city, we headed back over to Park de la Ciutadella. While it makes more sense to visit when visiting the Arc de Triumf, we did not have time then. I expected the park to be crowded in the afternoon, but it was fairly empty. The main attraction is Cascada Monumental, a beautiful fountain at the north corner of the park. Make sure to walk up and around this fountain to enjoy the views from every angle.
You can also go for a boat ride on the lake, but that was not an attractive option in the cooler air in winter. Instead we just walked around the park some before heading back towards Sagrada Familia.
SUNSET ON THE BEACH IN BARCELONA
I did not have high expectations for the beaches in Barcelona for some reason. I guess I never thought of it as a beach city, but the beach we visited impressed me. We ended up at Playa Ciutadella Olimpica since it was the closest to Sagrada Familia (where we ended up after the park to get more pictures from the outside). We watched the last light of the day fade from the beach and felt the cold water before finding dinner.
The restaurants right along the beach here are expensive. There are restaurants, bars, shops, and casinos in this area. The restaurants near Port Olimpic are more reasonable in price, so that is where we went for our last dinner in Barcelona.
WHERE TO STAY IN BARCELONA
Because we stopped in Barcelona for an afternoon before flying out to Portugal, we needed a hotel for one night. We chose to stay near the airport at Barcelona Airport Hotel. The hotel included breakfast and is only a few minutes from the airport. The interior of the hotel is beautiful and the rooms are spacious, especially for Europe. Check availability and see prices here on Agoda and Booking.com.
When we came back for the rest of our three days in Barcelona, we stayed at Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal. This hotel is centrally located, and we could walk many places. There is a large shopping center nearby which made it easy to find food anytime we needed it. It is easy to find taxis, get an Uber, or take public transportation from this area. Our room had a view of Tibidabo and Sagrada Familia which made it even better. Check availability and see prices here on Agoda and Booking.com.
WHERE TO EAT
While we ate at more places than those listed here, these are the ones that stood out the most to us. We would highly recommend eating at any of these places during your visit to Barcelona.
The concierge at the hotel recommended Casa Alfonso as one of his favorite restaurants in town, so we headed there for dinner later that evening. I highly recommend the croquettes there (and pretty much everywhere in Barcelona), and we loved everything we tried. I especially loved the “Flowing Warm Chocolate With Vanilla Ice Cream” which ended up being similar to what we call a lava cake in the US.
This restaurant is located at the bottom of the road we took leaving Park Guell. After spending the morning walking around Park Guell, we built up an appetite. Store Cafe’s menu featured lots of options including a bakery full of amazing desserts. It made for a perfect spot to sit and relax after being on our feet all morning.
On our last evening, we wanted to eat near the water. While the weather was a little too cold for us to eat outdoors, we opted to eat inside at Barnabier by Port Olimpic. My husband enjoyed a plate full of seafood, and I enjoyed my last croquettes of the trip. The staff was friendly, and it was the perfect last meal in Barcelona.
HOW TO GET AROUND BARCELONA
Getting around Barcelona using public transportation is not as easy as other cities in Europe. The bus is the best option for getting around using public transportation. We did not take the metro at all because it was never convenient for where we needed to go.
My brother-in-law rented a van, so we used it to get to Tibidabo the second time. Parking was not easy to find near Tibidabo or near Park Guell. We did not use the van much in the city, mostly to get to Andorra and back.
Taxis and Uber were our main method of transportation. They cost about the same since there was a big battle between the two. In fact, Uber could not pick us up at our hotel near the airport because of it. We had to walk a little ways away to get an Uber. The front desk staff explained that it was part of the agreement reached between the taxi drivers and Uber. We typically found the taxis to be a slightly cheaper option, but both were about the same price.
If you plan to visit Barcelona in the future, you could easily spend more than three days in Barcelona. In three days though, you can still fit quite a bit into your trip. Combining Portugal and Spain made for the perfect trip for us. As a bonus, going in November meant we avoided most of the crowds.
For more of our trip to Spain and Portugal, check out our full guide to Park Guell + free entry and what to see in Park Guell, our day trip itinerary for Sintra and our guide to the most Instagrammable places in Lisbon. If you like the edits on the photos in this post, check out my preset page to find out more.
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