Recapping Barcelona With 21 Tips
Visa (US): No
Language: Catalan & Spanish
1 Euro = $1.15
Visit again? Yes
I have had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona twice. This city definitely grants you the best of both worlds: Bacchanal and Tranquility. Each time gave a different but wonderful experience and vibe. Overall, the climate did not affect my experience as much as I thought it would have. Other than needing a jacket and not being able to go to the beach, the enjoyment was still the same. I believe going during their off season is good for someone who would rather not want to deal with large crowds at every touristic destination. Of course warmer months would be ideal for most people because of the comfortable weather.
One could indulge in one or more of their sandy beaches and insane bar crawls. Most of Barcelona can be seen under a week. I also always suggest people to do their research to find what interests them so that they can decide how long they want to spend in a particular place. Let's be real, it doesn't make sense to stay a week when the things that interest you only takes up three days.
Below you will find tips and tricks to enhance your Barcelona experience and hopefully make it less of a hassle!
20 BARCELONA TIPS AND TRICKS
1. BUY YOUR TICKET WHEN THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Oppose to setting exact dates, like a birthday or anniversary. Save money by traveling during a not so popular event. With popularity comes unnecessary price hikes for accommodation and food. Also see my ultimate budget traveling hacks here.
2. THIS CITY HAS DIFFERENT SEASONS.
Check out the weather for your dates while planning so that you would know what to pack. You don't want to have on summer dresses during a rainy chilly January evening.
3. THE CURRENCY IS EURO'S
You may be thinking, "duh Abbey, it's in Europe". That is not always the case, the United Kingdom is in Europe and use Pounds and Switzerland uses Francs. It is good to know your exchange so you can have an idea of how much you will be spending.
4. FLY INTO EL PRAT LLOBREGAT (BCN) AIRPORT
This tip is more so for someone flying to Barcelona from another European city. Airlines may advertise the destination as Barcelona, but it can actually be an airport hours away from city center, so shady! Europe budget airline Ryanair is infamous for this. This mistake happened to a friend of mine flying with Ryanair to Paris. She assumed since it was advertised "Paris" that it would really be an airport in Paris. The airport Beauvais (BVA) was actually over an hour away and accumulated a hefty taxi fare. For example, they would advertise the flight as going to Barcelona, but you will arrive at Girona (GRO) or Reus (REU) airports. These airports are about 75 miles (120 km) away. avoid them at all costs because it just offsets the "discounted" price.
5. WHERE TO STAY
There are a few neighborhood to stay while in Barcelona. Safety is always a priority so choose somewhere that has excellent reviews. L' Eixample is like the whole touristic district. It is where all the attractions are. I am a shopping in food addict so I stayed in an Airbnb 2 blocks away from Las Rambla, the strip of Barcelona, similar to Broadway in New York City. I was in walking distance to shops and restaurants. It all depends on what you like, I always recommend staying walking distance to at least one thing that you would like to do. That will eliminate one form of transporation.
6. CITY TAX
You will be required to pay a city tax at all hotels. The new tax requires a contribution of 0.75 Euro per person per night for 3 star hotels, 1.25 Euro per person per night for 4 star hotels and 2.5 Euro per person per night for 5 star hotels. I stayed in an Airbnb when I went both times, and it was already included in my listing so I did not have to pay anything extra when I arrived.
7. BOOK IN ADVANCE
During popular season there are many tourists which turn into long lines. Pre-book ypur tickets so that you do not have to wait in the long ticket line, especially for top attractions like La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.
8. LEARN BASIC SPANISH AND CATALAN
Barcelona is a city rich with unique history and culture of their very own, apart from Spain. These natives speak Catalan. Though Spanish can have many dialects, it is good to know the basics, such as "hi"," goodbye", my favorite "where is can I find food?" , and "how much?". Luckily a lot of English is spoken in Barcelona so I didn't get to utilize my amazing Catalan skills lol, just kidding. It is still nice to show the locals you are in tune with them and say certain phrases in their language. They always smile when you surprise them with a few phrases and words. Traveling to more rural areas with less tourists will definitely make this tip come in handy.
The Aerobus to city center from the airport is less than a cab. It was about 15 euros round trip. You can even take the metro which is 10 euros round trip. I have never used the metro in Barcelona, but the bus was one straight ride.The metro has a variety of unlimited passes ranging from 2-7 days. Depending on your stay you can take advantage of this and save a lot.
They do not use Uber, but something equivalent called Cabify. It is very inexpensive once in city center, with rides as low as 3 euros. It was inexpensive and door to door service. I used this a lot while visiting with a combination of walking.
Walking can be time consuming and not preferred for most. A lot of attractions are within walking distance. I do recommend walking short distances because you get to explore and run into random interests on the off beaten path.
10. WIFI EVERYWHERE AND FREE
There's literally WiFi everywhere, the streets, the Aerobús and it works good! This is for anyone whose phone does not include international data. Luckily mine does, shout out to T-Mobile!
11. GAUDI IS THE SUGAR HONEY ICED TEA!
Antoni Gaudi is the most famous architect is Barcelona. His work is all around. You can be walking by a premise and not know it was created by him. Appreciate his art without having to pay a dime by acknowledging his stunning architecture from the outside. The entry fees to some places can be pretty hefty up to almost €30. Pick your Guadi entries wisely!
12. PARC GUELL IS FREE
The Monumental Zone often seen is picture is 6 euros, and the rest of the huge park is free. Not bad, however this area is free before the park opens at 8 am. Yes, you may have to wake up early, but it is worth the non-crowded views and clear skies. From my experience you are not kicked out at 8 am.
13. MANY PLACES ARE FREE
I am a sucker for free things. I stated one place that is free above. There are free walking tours, you would just have to give a gratuity of your choice. Magic Fountain of Montjuïc beautiful water display is free and happens every half hour. Unfortunately this only happen during certain times of the year, To your right is the schedule.
With architectures by the great Gaudi, you can skip an entrance fee and admire his work from the outside. Attractions such as Casa Batllo, Casa Mila and many more. Many museums and Labyrinth are free on Sundays even Pablo Picasso's museum. The Olympic Stadium is free if you are a sports buff or the Olympics. See free exhibitions in one of the many galleries in the city. Enjoy a festival or free show.
14. Food AND TAPAS
Did you really go to Spain without eating Paella? Paella is a classic Spanish dish that originated in Valencia, Spain. It has a distinct combination of flavors such as parsley, lemon juice, garlic, paprika. The main ingredient in this classic dish is rice with saffron, which gives paella its unique yellow color. Some place may add seafood like prawns, calamari and clams or meats like sausage and chicken. Although paella has undergone many transformations over the years, it's remained one of Spain's most popular dishes that you MUST try.
Also check Groupon for great deals on food. I found this cereal bar for half the price!
15. HAVE A BEACH DAY
Barceloneta beach is the most popular beach of course. Maybe because it has the word Barcelona in it or because it is central, who knows the real reason? Either way, with popularity comes crowds, and with crowds come litter. There are many beaches in Barcelona and I would recommend going to a less crowded and quieter beach like Bogatell, Mar Bella, or Ocata Beach. Tis will allow you to sun bathe in peace and walk without worrying about stepping on a cigarette butt, ew.
16. FLAMENCO, NO BULL FIGHTS
Do not expect to see bull fights, in fact that has been banned for years. I was really expecting to see one when I first planned to visit. I do care animals I was more in intrigued by the beautiful Matador costumes. So opt for seeing a gorgeous Flamenco dance. Though Flamenco dancing isn't a part of Catalan culture like other parts of Spain, there are men options to choose from around town.
17. PICK POCKETING AND PETTY THIEVES
This is one of my top travel tips for EVERYWHERE, however it is very prominent in Barcelona. Knowing about things early can avoid them from happening. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times, explore with minimal items and hold them tight. Be keen of asking others to take a photo of you (they might take your phone and run) and avoid large crowds. Always count your change, math is the same everywhere in the world. Be aware of your surroundings.
18. NIGHTLIFE IS LIT, LIT LIT
Parties rarely get started before midnight or even 1 am. Locals rarely eat dinner before 9 pm and sometimes a restaurant wont even be open before then! So if you aren't from a major city like New York or Miami then this tip may be more for you. As for me this was right up my alley being that I am from New York and that's the appropriate time attend a night club. I had the time of my life partying at the clubs on the beach. The entire really never sleeps. I left a club at 4 a.m. and it was still in full swing. As I was leaving their were hustlers selling all kinds of things from street food to umbrellas. So if you need a sandwich to help absorb some of that excessive alcohol it wouldn't be hard to find.
There are tons of options! You can sign up for a bar crawl with I Survived Barcelona for €15-€20. You pay this one time fee and you are allowed to party every single night that you are there, yes you read correct. So if you are there for 7 days then you can party all 7 days with this one fee. You attend 3 bars and get free drinks and shots, then end the night at an insane club. The variation switches up so it's not the same thing every night.
Other popular bars and clubs that I can vouch for are:
Catwalk (for €15 I received entry and 2 drinks)
IceBarcelona (small but fun to experience)
Eclipse at the W Hotel (amazing cocktails, service and view of the beach)
Club Otto Zutz (a club that plays Hip-Hop and American music, YES!)
Once you are on Barcelona Beach you are surrounded by clubs and have a ton of options.
19. feeling frisky?
Meseu De L'Erotica is Barcelona'as erotic museum. Walking around I staggered across this treasure to kill time. We were given a glass of cheap champagne with entry for €10. It was definitely insightful and even had pieces by Picasso. This isn't for the prude or children as there are private parts everywhere.
20. St. Josep La Boqueria
With high rankings everywhere shows show great this market is. You can find so many things from fresh fruits, sweets, shakes, food and countless other eats. This market is pretty spacious and I promise you won't leave without buying something.
*Send a Postcard Home*
A beautiful reminder to the ones that you care about is showing that you are still thinking about them from miles away. Pick up an inexpensive postcard and stamp. Most shops have mailboxes and stamps on sight so you can do everything in one place. Don't forget to right a sweet concise note.