I love Barcelona – and hopefully after having read this series, so will you. It’s my favourite city, and one I’d love to show you. This is my recommended Barcelona itinerary for three full days, plus a little bit of time on your travel days. It’s geared towards the disabled traveller, and thinks about access throughout – from hotel to transport.
Planning your trip
When you’re planning a trip, figuring out where to stay is obviously central to this. I cannot recommend MICs Sant Jordi – a building of wheelchair adapted apartments that includes long-stay and holiday rental – more highly. I’ve also written a review about them.
They were able to provide me with (at no extra cost) a profiling bed with bars, an air-flow mattress, a rolling shower chair, and access to a hoist. Excitingly, they had a kitchen and fridge-freezer. This means you can buy all sorts of food and take a packed lunch with you if you’re so inclined. They are brilliantly located – right next to an accessible metro station – and were lovely and friendly throughout, and they even include free breakfast. They gave me a 5% discount on my stay to mention them on social media. I am certain though that that hasn’t affected my review – or how great I think they are.
This Barcelona itinerary
In my Barcelona itinerary blog I am assuming you need step-free travel, and that you are staying at MICs Sant Jordi. If you’re not then the days I recommend will still be an excellent itinerary, but the journey directions won’t apply to you. I used Citymapper Barcelona the whole time I was there. They have excellent step-free recommendations, and I took these directions from there . Please do your own research because access and routes might well have changed between me writing this and you reading it – and even by the time of day that you’re travelling. These are just a snapshot of the current situation according to Citymapper.
The recommendations this Barcelona itinerary makes can be done in any order – it’s three wonderfully self-contained days. The only thing to be aware of is that the beach wheelchair service with hoists, floating wheelchairs, and everything else a wheelchair user needs to swim isn’t year-round. It’s only run all week during peak season, otherwise it’s weekends only in Spring and Autumn, and closed in winter. They’re also not able to run if the lifeguard flags are yellow (as this means that swimming is advised against). You can always call them ahead of time to check if they’re open, which is what I did. If you don’t get to swim all holiday then you’ve been very unlucky. However, you can still be hoisted into a sun lounger and enjoy a day at the beach with a Changing Places toilet at Nova Icaría. Maybe even have a cocktail looking out at sea.
Barcelona itinerary: the day you arrive
Getting to Mics Sant Jordi
You will probably either arrive in Barcelona by plane or train. It can be hard to find an adapted taxi in Barcelona but that’s fine. Barcelona is well connected with an accessible metro system, so you’ll find it easy enough to get to the hotel.
If you’re travelling to MICs Sant Jordi from the airport, the easiest route is probably to get the Aerobus 2 as far as Gran Via – Comte Borrell. You can then go to Comte d’Urgell – Gran Via for the V11 bus, which will drop you at Ganduxer Alacant, a 9 minute walk from MICs Sant Jordi.
If instead you arrive by train, your best route is to get the V7 bus from Nicaragua – Josep Tarradellas. This is a very short walk from the station, and just get off at Els Vergós, with a 7 minute walk to the hotel.
A Spanish Supermarket
Once you’ve made it there and checked in, why not go to the supermarket and buy some nice bits to have for your packed lunches over the next few days. At MICs, which is self-catering, you might also want to buy some cleaning supplies, though they do come in and clean. You may also want dishwasher tabs and washing machine detergent of some kind.
There are plenty of nearby supermarkets, but two excellent supermarkets about 15 minutes walk away which both have good access. These are an Ametller Origen (a very nice organic supermarket) and a Carrefour Market – which is enormous. They are located on Passeig Manuel Girona, but are down a little alleyway with entrances in a small almost-park.
If you are planning to cook while you’re at the apartments (or whatever you’re staying) you may need things like olive oil (also great for adding to salads) and salt. There’s also a kettle there, so you can buy (or bring) tea, coffee etc. If you want to use the washing machine or dishwasher, you’ll also need the appropriate detergent.
Some common things to buy that seem to travel well and make a nice packed lunch include:
- Tortilla de patatas (a potato omelette) – con cebolla means with onions, sin cebolla means without onions. Shop-bought ones are often half-cooked so make sure you read the instructions and microwave it before you go out
- Sliced meats – which you can either buy prepacked or get sliced at a counter. Jamon serrano, chorizo and mortadella are all traditional
- Cheese – and if you buy something shelf-stable it will travel better. Vaca means cow – but there’s also excellent goat’s cheese (cabra), sheep’s cheese (oveja) and buffalo cheese (búfula)
- Gazpacho (and it’s thicker cousin salmorejo) are traditionally tomato based cold soups and are wonderful. There are all sorts of variations, e.g. ajoblanco uses almonds instead of tomatoes. You can also get gazpacho with all sorts of ingredients added. Most shop-bought ones will be vegan but not all. In a restaurant it traditionally comes with ham and egg, so if you’re ordering it out and are vegetarian, make sure you’ve told them
- Ensaladilla rusa is a cold potato salad. You can buy patatas con alioli cold for a packed lunch or hot in a restaurant. Both will be great as part of your picnic.
- Jars of olives are very good quality here, as are fresh olives – so plan to enjoy those.
- You can buy lots of premade salad bowls, or you can make up your own depending on what’s in season. One of the things I love about Spain is all the in-season food). The Ametller Origen sells excellent salad leaves and you can just buy some vinegar or citrus juice to join your oil (or get a premade dressing). One popular Spanish salad involves thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, and tinned tuna
- The tinned tuna in Spain is far better than in England, especially if you get it in olive oil
Accompany these with some fresh bread and cold drinks. Alcohol free beer is great for electrolytes at any time of day. There are also far more types of it in Spanish supermarkets than most English ones. There’s also a great water called Vichy Catalan. I love it because it tastes very mineral.
Drinks like tinto de verano (red wine with soda water or lemonade) and premade sangria can be bought in both alcoholic and alcohol-free versions. These are very enjoyable, especially cold on the balcony in the evening.
If you want to enjoy wine during your stay, check the kitchen has a corkscrew before going out. We couldn’t find one – so don’t ruin your evening vino by making the same mistake.
Once you have finished your food shop, you’ll probably be pretty exhausted! If you want to make the best of tomorrow, why not consider having dinner at the rather lovely restaurant (with gorgeous hidden terrace and wine shop) attached to MICs Sant Jordi, or one of the tapas bars in the area.
Starting your days
Every morning, when you’ve woken up, pop downstairs for some breakfast – unless you’d rather pick something up en route. If you were lucky enough to be staying somewhere self-catering and want to bring a packed lunch, put that together, and plan to add fresh bread from a bakery en route.
Barcelona itinerary: the Art Noveau Day
Barcelona is known for the Art Nouveau that decorates the city, from La Pedrera and Casa Batllo to Park Guell . Sadly, none of these are as accessible as they should be. Part of that is because of the architecture certainly – La Pedrera and Casa Batllo would be very difficult to adapt. However, there’s a lot that could be done if they built hidden lifts and better surfaces to make Park Guell more accessible without losing any of its charm. It’s a shame they haven’t done this.
So, if you’re feeling hardy and your wheelchair is good at multi-terrain surfaces, definitely start the day at Park Guell. If not, I recommend going to the Sagrada Familia and the Hospital Sant Pau. The former is far more famous than the latter, but they’re both excellent – and nice and close together.
Sagrada Familia and Hospital Sant Pau
It may well be worth booking in advance for the Sagrada Familia and the Hospital Sant Pau. When you’re booking, remember to look for specific disability discounts. It’s well worth bringing evidence of disability (I usually use my PIP evidence). If you don’t book tickets, they usually let wheelchair users jump the queue.
The gardens at Hospital Sant Pau are a wonderful place to sit and eat your lunch. Depending on what time you got up, either plan to go there first, then onto the Sagrada Familia later, or plan to go to the Sagrada Familia first.
The Sagrada Familia is open from 9am according to its website, so you can have an early start. Remember that on Sundays opening hours will be different, because it’s an active cathedral, so services will be taking place. The Hospital Sant Pau is open Monday-Sunday from 10am according to its website. Whenever you’re making plans though, it’s well worth checking in case there’s another event that changes opening times.
When you’ve finished there, if it’s open, why not visit the Mercat de la Sagrada Familia? The website suggests it’s open Tues-Sat, but it closes for a siesta, so don’t get caught out.
When picking a restaurant, do make sure you’ve travelled a few blocks from the Sagrada Familia. Anything any closer will be very tourist-heavy and busy – and I really don’t recommend it. The food is better if you’re able to look at a bit of a distance. Check places out online before ordering if you’re not sure what you’re after, often you’ll find honest reviews there.
If you’re looking for food or some evening interest, rather than heading straight back to Tres Torres, why not go up the hill slightly into Gracia. When the Sagrada Familia and Hospital Sant Pau were built they were on the very outskirts of the city, and the neighbourhood of Gracia was a small village. It still has some of that sense to it, and is a nice place to have a wander through – plus it’s really easy to get back to Tres Torres for MICs Sant Jordi afterwards.
To get up to Gracia, you can just hop on the 33 or 34 bus from Mallorca – Marina, which is very close to the Sagrada Familia, and then take it up to Diagonal – Balmes. From there, you’re in the Gracia neighbourhood, where there’s lots to do.
When you want to return to MICs Sant Jordi, if you’re staying there, you can just get the H6 bus from Cap Lazard to Mitre – Ganduxer and then walk back to the hotel.
Barcelona itinerary: the Beach Day
I say day – spending the whole day at the beach with Barcelona’s sun can be quite challenging . That said, the fact that the assisted bathing service has an area with shade and (at Nova Icaría) even a Changing Places toilet makes this quite feasible.
The beach wheelchair service
In Barcelona, this an excellent service that provides wheelchair access to the sea for disabled people. I have had a lovely time there, floating in the sea. As a wheelchair user I haven’t been able to swim in the sea easily, because I would need a hoist, a beach wheelchair, and float. They have all of those at the adapted swimming service, which I think makes it my favourite holiday day.
They will only offer the service if the lifeguard flags are green. Yellow flags mean that swimming isn’t advised and the service won’t be operational. While you can call them (the number is on their website) I’m not sure how much English they speak. If you don’t speak Spanish, you may need to go down to the beach and look for yourself.
Choosing a beach
Forum is only suitable for people who can swim independently and who can transfer to a poolside chair that lowers them vertically. If this isn’t you (and it wasn’t me) I recommend Nova Icaría or Platja Sant Miquel. Of these, Nova Icaría is my recommendation, because it also has a Changing Places toilet.
Planning and booking
It’s important to book in advance (link on their website) if you anticipate needing their help in the water. If they’re busy they will only be able to support people who have booked. If they’re quiet, they’ll just fit you in, but not booking is a risk.
Your route there from MICs Sant Jordi is by bus, and takes about an hour – but there’s no need to have a really early start, because they don’t open until 10:30am. If you enjoyed yourself at dinner, why not have a lie-in today.
You will find it easiest to get the H6 from Mitre-Ganduxer to Rda Guinardó – Sant Quínti, then the V23 to Av Litoral – Arquitecte Sert. This puts you in a really interesting park a few minutes walk from the beach.
When you get there, you need to find the adapted bathing service. If you aim for the lifeguard tower, they’re very near that. They can be found by looking for an enormous red shipping container – inside which is their Changing Places toilet. If you use the app “What 3 Words”, you’re roughly looking for lateral.spin.brands.
How it works
The way it works at Nova Icaría is that once you’re ready and changed to swim, they’ll help you into one of their amphibious wheelchairs. They do have a hoist, but they seem to usually prefer lifting people – which felt safe to me. These wheelchairs are like comfortable, floating sun loungers. A group of people will tow you down the beach, and into the sea.
Once there, you’ve got lots of options – you can either stay in the beach wheelchair, or you can come out of it and swim. If you’re able to swim you might not need much support. If you struggle, they have lots of different floats they can offer you. I had my neck in a floating collar with another float under my arms. This kept my face completely safe and out of the water.
Be careful not to spend too much time in the sun. Anything that isn’t well protected from the sun will burn easily. If you’re lying on the sea in the wheelchair make sure you’ve got lots of suncream on.
When you are done swimming and want to leave the beach, it might be a good time to do some shopping. I recommend getting the H16 from Cementiri de l’Est to Metro Urquinaona. This leaves you right beside Placa Catalunya, which is my favourite area to shop in.
If you, like me, travel with what feels like an entire field hospital to use up, you may well have lots of suitcase space for your return. Why not fill that with luxuries to take back. If you’re fond of clothing, Desigual is a very well-known (expensive) Spanish brand with a store in Placa Catalunya. You can also find my favourite Spanish shop, El Corte Ingles – a fancy department store with an excellent supermarket there. It’s a very fancy one – not quite Fortnum and Mason, but far more than Waitrose. I recommend it if you’re looking for delicious gifts to bring back (whether for yourself or other people).
When you’re done, and heading back to Tres Torres and MICs Sant Jordi (or wherever you’re staying), it’s time for you to make plans for dinner. Why not try Casa Varela? It’s a small, market-based restaurant doing very high quality food, about half an hour’s walk from MICs Sant Jordi. To get there from Placa Catalunya, you only need to pick up the L7 metro from Placa Catalunya to Sant Gervasi / Placa Molina.
To get back to Tres Torres after eating a delightful meal there, you can easily take the 68 bus from Santalo – Mercat Galvany to Via Augusta – Doctor Roux. It leaves you a very short walk from MICs Sant Jordi and you can settle down for the night.
Barcelona itinerary: the Gallery Day
There are so many excellent art galleries to pick from in Barcelona it is almost impossible for me to make recommendations. There’s no way of doing Barcelona’s art galleries in a week’s trip, let alone a trip of a single day. This means you’re going to have to make some decisions.
In this review, I’m going to settle on three very different galleries. You might make it to them all, but two might be enough. The three I think are the most “do not miss this” are the Picasso Museum, MACBA (a gallery of modern and contemporary art) and the Fundación Joan Miro.
All of them have wheelchair access and adapted toilets, though it’s worth noting that the Picasso Museum does have a lot of cobbles).
Fundación Joan Miro
My advice for the best order to do this day, is to have a nice breakfast near your hotel, and then to travel to the Fundación Joan Miro first. This is because it’s a bit out of your way. If you’re coming from MICs Sant Jordi, your best bet is to take the V11 from Mitre – Ganduxer to Paral.lel Cabanes, then to go into Paral.lel metro station and pick up the funicular up to Parc Montjuic. This stops about 8 minutes walk from the museum.
The Fundación Joan Miro often has interesting exhibitions. Its primary focus is Miro’s art (as the name suggests) and the core collection is excellent. The building it’s in feels very appropriate for the art, and the access internally has worked very well for me.
The only challenge is that Montjuic is an area it’s very easy to get a bit lost in. There are few roads, and lots of large park. Make sure you’ve planned your route both there and back, and you know what you’re doing at each point.
When you’ve finished there, I recommend going down into the Gothic Quarter for lunch. You can get there by taking the funicular back down to Paral.lel, then it’s about a 20 minute walk – and a lovely one as well. There are lots of delightful small restaurants in this area, as well as plenty of places to eat picnics.
Picasso Museum and MACBA
When you’ve had your lunch, consider whether you’d rather go to the Picasso museum or MACBA first. You might manage both – but you also might not, so go to your preferred one first.
Forced to choose, I would definitely pick the Picasso museum. The Gothic Quarter can be a challenge to navigate, but it is a lovely place to wander in. If you lose your way, you will find yourself again, though maybe with assistance from a mapping app.
They also often have excellent exhibitions on, and the main collection is stunning, giving you a real sense of Picasso’s artistic journey and talent. This would be one of my favourite places in Barcelona, were it not for the frustration of the cobbles, which are not comfortable in a wheelchair.
MACBA, on the other hand, doesn’t have such a bad flooring situation, and is far more focused on individual exhibitions. This means that you’re able to explore the ones that interest you most. There’s a risk that some are better than others, but there’s usually something for everyone there.
The surroundings are also nice and spacious for the neighbourhood, and it’s a very relaxing space to be in.
Getting from MACBA to the Picasso museum, you can take the H16 bus from Ronda Sant Antoni – Placa Goya to Pg Luis Companys – Parc de la Ciutadella, or going the other way, you can also take the H16, this time from Pg Luis Companys – Parc de la Ciutadella to Sepúlveda – Muntaner.
When you’ve had your fill of exhibitions, you’re in a lovely area to wander around before heading back to the hotel.
If you’re aiming for MICs Sant Jordi, and you’re near the Picasso Museum, you can get L4 metro from Jaume 1 up to Alfons X, then the H6 bus back to Mitre-Ganduxer, which is a short walk (6 minutes) from the apartments.
If instead you’re nearer MACBA, your best route requires a 11 minute walk to Ronda Universitat Placa Universitat. From there, you can get the 67 bus up to Casanova-Paris, then the 68 to Via Augusta – Doctor Roux, which leaves you just a couple of minutes away from where you need to be.
And now your trip is over…
And this is the end of your three day Barcelona itinerary. Hopefully this has covered off at least some of the delights of this wonderful city.
Your final journey is back to the airport, or to Sants Estació.
If you’re going from MICs Sant Jordi to the airport, the easiest route is to the the V11 from Mitre Ganduxer to Villarroel – Sepulveda, then to walk to Sepulveda – Comte d’Urgell and pick up the A2 Aerobus.
If you’re going to Sants Estació, you can get the V7 from Els Vergós straight to Numancia – Av Roma, which drops you almost outside the station.
And with that, you’re heading home. Have I forgotten something incredible? Or have you got a better itinerary? I’d love to hear about it if so…