Barcelona Travel Tips You Need to Know
Traveling to Barcelona is unlike anything you’ll ever experience. As you explore the districts of Eixample and El Raval, you’ll feel the rhythm of a cosmopolitan city. Closer to the coast, things slows down to a beach town-like pace, with plenty of open-air eateries and street vendors on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Take it all in and discover the best of Barcelona one perfect sunset at a time.
Whether this is your first time visiting Barcelona or your fifty-first, you’ll find new favorites with our jetsetter-approved list of the top Barcelona travel tips.
Barcelona DOs and DON’Ts
Do visit the wild and wonderful landmarks designed by Gaudí.
Don’t forget to book your entrance to Sagrada Familia ahead of time, as tickets sell out fast!
Do eat tapas. No explanation needed.
Don’t skip coques. They’re basically Mediterranean pizzas that come with sweet and savory toppings.
Do be mindful of politics. Catalonia, the northwestern region of Spain, has not always been on the best terms with the Spanish government. Be sensitive to this history.
Don’t shy away from experiencing the culture. We describe some great pastimes, so keep reading!
Do be self-aware. Barcelona is a generally safe city, but popular attractions can gather crowds that are more susceptible to pickpockets.
Don’t miss out on the nightlife. Barcelona is both cosmopolitan and laid-back. Bars are a great place to gather with friends and let your hair down.
Barcelona travel FAQs
What should I pack for a trip to Barcelona?
There’s no need to bundle up in the winter months, but pack warm layers and a wetsuit for surfing November through February. Spring and summer are warm and sometimes balmy, so light layers and extra sun protection are a must. Of course, don’t forget your walking shoes.
How long should I spend in Barcelona?
This depends on how many sights you want to see in one day. Four to six days should be enough for you to see the city’s highlights, explore outdoor attractions, and spend time at the many beaches.
Do you tip in Barcelona?
Yes. Although it’s not always expected for patrons to tip at bars and restaurants (or other hospitality venues), generosity will endear you to the locals and may lead to better service and upgrades. Tip about 10-15% to let your server, bartender, or housekeeper know you appreciate their work.
Can you drink in public in Barcelona?
No. It is not legal to drink in the street in Barcelona. But there are plenty of open-air bars and bistros with patio tables where you can enjoy a drink outside.
Best places to visit in Barcelona
Looking for unforgettable places to visit in Barcelona? The landscape is sprinkled with famous architecture, natural landmarks, and cultural attractions. Make sure to visit these hot stops on your Barcelona vacation.
Hospital de Sant Pau
The current modernista buildings and gardens of Hospital de Sant Pau were designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Every dome, walkway, and stained glass window is a work of art. You won’t believe this place was once a hospital. Set aside a few hours to wander through the complex—it’s worth it!
Antoni Gaudí was one of Spain’s most prolific and creative architects during the 19th and 20th centuries. Gaudí played with interesting shapes and bold colors and didn’t shy away from the strange side of Catalan modernism. Seek out Casa Batlló in Eixample, Güell Palace in El Ravel, and Parc Güell in Gràcia. And do not miss La Sagrada Familia—it’s unlike anything you’ve experienced.
The Balearic Sea
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, I thought Barcelona was on the Mediterranean.” It is, but here’s a little Barcelona trivia for you: The beautiful teal water that touches Spain’s coast between Barcelona and Valencia is known more specifically as the Balearic Sea. It’s home to Mallorca, Ibiza, and several smaller islands, and is just one part of the majestic Mediterranean.
Pantà de Vallvidrera
In the northwestern district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, get to know Barcelona’s quiet side with a hike through Pantà de Vallvidrera. The route from Vallvidrera to La Floresta includes a peaceful reservoir and charming neighborhoods. Conclude your hike hear La Floresta train station, where you can commute back to the city.
Unique things to do in Barcelona
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain. Catalonians preserve and celebrate their history and breathe new energy into beloved traditions. In addition to sightseeing, add these things to your itinerary as you plan what to do in Barcelona.
Join a Sardana dance
When you travel to Barcelona, join a lively Catalonian circle dance known as Sardana. Community Sardana dances take place outside Catedral de Barcelona on Saturday evenings. Feel free to observe from the sidelines or pack your dancing shoes!
Go surfing in Barceloneta
Barceloneta is a popular surf stop near the city center. The waterfront is lined with casual tapas bars for your post-surf snack. Winter is the best time to ride these currents, which is awesome, because that’s also a great time to find the best travel rates!
Don’t miss the street fairs
Barcelona is famous for its epic street fairs, known as Festa Major. These fill the community with parades, dancing, food and fun every year. Sant Antoni starts off the year with their Festa Major in the middle of January. It’s a great way to warm up the winter months. Each district celebrates at a different time, so plan ahead.
Where to eat in Barcelona
When you plan a trip to Barcelona, eating tapas needs to be a priority. Food here is meant to be savored with friends, so don’t expect to eat and run. Many restaurants in Spain open for a late breakfast and lunch, and close between 4 and 8 p.m. for a pre-dinner siesta. Check out this mix of fine dining and cozy cafes.
People plan their entire trips to Barcelona around Tickets’ world-famous tapas menu. Once you taste Albert and Ferran Adrià’s delicious bites of molecular gastronomy you’ll know why. The menu changes as the chefs come up with new tricks, and reservations are recommended.
Hidden away on a quiet street in Sant Antoni, Sésamo is an all-vegetarian bistro and tapas bar with lots of vegan options. The seven-course tasting menu is a great way for herbivores and omnivores to sample amazing local flavors, including two drinks of your choice. Learn more about traveling vegetarian and vegan in Barcelona here.
Hidden Café Barcelona
Want to escape for a moment? Look no further than Hidden Café. The name says it all. The coffee is second to none, and simple sandwiches and pastries are perfect when you’re on the go or you need a little pick-you-up during the siesta hours.
Etapes is a place for food and friends. Affordable tasting and lunch menus make it easy to experience gourmet Spanish cuisine without breaking the bank. The wine list and cellar will impress even the most refined palate.
Where to stay in Barcelona
You’re on your way to an amazing city with stunning sites and rich cultural history. But how do you pick the best place to stay in Barcelona? That’s like eating just one tapa—next to impossible—so we’re here to help! These districts will keep you close to the best things to do and eat as well as gorgeous hotels in Barcelona.
- Gothic Quarter: Wake up in Barcelona’s historical center just moments from Catedral de Barcelona. This famous district is lined with the kind of architecture you’ve seen in fairytales and several galleries.
- Eixample: When you want it all—shopping, nightlife, and Gaudi for days—Eixample is the perfect place for you. Its wide streets are full of posh designer boutiques, and you just might pass the iconic Casa Batlló on your way to a night out dancing.
- El Prat de Llobregat: When you want to be near the airport, stay in El Prat. This quiet community is a short drive to the center of Barcelona, and you can catch a commuter train to and from Sant Antoni even in the wee hours of the night. Most flights to Barcelona can arrive at Barcelona International Airport, located right in the middle of El Prat de Llobregat.
Getting around Barcelona
Navigating a new city can seem daunting, especially one with lots of twists and turns. Here are your best options for getting around Barcelona:
- Metro and FGC: Barcelona is serviced by eight metro lines as well as three regional FGC lines. Single tickets cost 2,20€, T-10 cards cost 10,20€, and day passes are available.
- Bus: Zip around the city with the help of Barcelona’s 1,000 buses. Over 100 routes cover the area, so your feet don’t have to. Single tickets cost 2,20€, T-10 cards cost 10,20€, and day passes are available.
- Bike: Bike rentals are plentiful throughout Barcelona, and most of the streets have full bike lanes to keep cyclists safe.
- Driving: Barcelona traffic is very undesirable but renting a car can be a great option for day trips to nearby nature preserves, so don’t count it out!
- Taxi and rideshare: Traffic can slow down and rates go up during peak times and in the most popular parts of town. Because of that, taxi and rideshare transportation in Barcelona is not recommended.
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