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Helpful guides for travel in Spain to help you get the most out of your trip, from first-hand experience!

Things To Know Before Visiting Barcelona, Spain

Things To Know Before Visiting Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a lively city filled with music, dancing, amazing food, and unique architecture. Before you take off to explore the city, be aware of these 9 things to know before visiting Barcelona to get the most out of your exploration.

Traveling to any foreign country or city can be daunting. But, with these tips, you will blend in more, and feel more comfortable as you explore! 

Table of Contents

1. Language

There are 2 official languages in Barcelona; Catalan and Spanish. However, most locals also speak English as well since it is such a well-visited location. If you were hoping to practice a bit of your Español while in Barcelona, you totally can! And the locals are happy to indulge in your language practice.

Just don’t be surprised or disheartened when there are signs or information that you can’t understand at all – chances are it is Catalan! 

Download offline translation for Spanish in Google Translate - check out other useful apps for navigating foreign countries!

2. Pickpocketers

While most locals love the tourism that keeps Barcelona’s economy booming, it also opens doors for others to prey on unaware travelers. Pickpocketing is a common profession in Barcelona, and you can be easily targeted if you don’t know what to look out for.

  • Keep your valuables safely tucked in your bag.
  • Keep your bags zipped and closed fully! If the bag won’t seal closed, use a different one!
  • In crowded areas, wear your bag in front of your body. You may feel like a tourist doing this, but they already know you’re a tourist so you might as well protect your belongings!
  •  Many pickpocketers will set up a ploy/distraction to catch you off guard, be aware!
  • Anyone can pickpocket, not just your stereotypical shady-looking man – keep your guard up!

Las Ramblas is especially notorious for pickpocketing since it draws in so many tourists! 

3. Buy Tickets In Advance

Many of Barcelona’s top attractions can draw a line that will have you waiting for hours. With a little bit of extra planning, you can skip the lines and spend your time enjoying rather than waiting!

Places like Park Güell have a limited capacity, so the line can take hours, or you will simply be told to return later in the day. You often can buy tickets online, and schedule your entry for a specific time. That way, you know you’ll be able to cruise in when it works best for you.

Check out some of the Top Things To Do In Barcelona and buy your tickets!

4. The Schedule

It may be surprising for tourists that aren’t prepared for the schedule in Spain regarding meal times and rest hours

Lunch is typically eaten around 2:30-3:00pm, and dinner isn’t eaten until 20:00-21:00! For those used to eating at 18:00 or will be surprised to see that many restaurants may not even be open until after 20:00! Be sure to eat a big lunch to hold you over for dinner, as dinner meals are often much smaller.

While ‘siesta’ started in Spain, it isn’t observed everywhere, especially in a city the size of Barcelona. However, there are still quite a few restaurants and shops that close between 14:00-17:00! After a few days in Barcelona, and a few late nights out, you may join the siesta life to catch up on some rest.

5. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

While the tap water in Barcelona has been confirmed to be safe to drink, it tastes a little bit funny. That doesn’t mean you have to buy wasteful plastic bottles to stay hydrated in the Spanish sun! Barcelona has taken a massive initiative to reduce plastic bottle use by installing refill stations in public areas.

Find public refill stations in parks, plazas, and more to reduce your single-use plastic & save money!

6. Gratuity

On the note of eating out, tipping isn’t expected in Spain. Unlike too many places, servers are paid a living wage here! If you enjoyed your meal, leaving 5-10% is greatly appreciated! For taxis, you can simply round up to the nearest €5 to keep it easy! 

If you do wish to leave a tip, you won’t be able to do so with your card. You won’t even see a spot to write a tip on the receipt like you can in the US! This leads us to our next point regarding cash.

7. Keep Cash On You

Not all stores and sellers can accept cards, especially some of the smaller local artisans. So, keep some Euros with you at all times for transport and food. 

And as mentioned above, tips can only be left in cash!

Hide cash in your wallet or bag for an emergency and never flash your money around. Protect yourself from being a target!

8. Free Museum Day

Many museums offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month! This doesn’t apply to all museums, but worth being aware of.

Some museums offer different free admission days, and almost all museums are free on May 18 (International Museum Day).

Check out the places you’re looking to go to and see when they have reduced rates or free entry! Many offer free entry in the afternoon or early mornings. But, do be aware that many people cash in on these free days, so get there early!

3 large stained glass windows, showing rainbow colored light beam through the panes in La Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona Spain

9. The Best View

When the sky looks clear with only a few clouds in the sky, take that as the sign to get up to the Carmel Bunkers for sunset! Grab a jacket, some wine, snacks, music, and your favorite people, and get set up to watch the sunset!

This has definitely become more well-known, so be sure to get there EARLY! Like 2-3 hours before sunset early. Especially if you want a good place to sit to enjoy the views! Be social, and have fun – and even scout out some places to explore next!

Summary - Things To Know Before Visiting Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is. a lively city filled with music, dancing, amazing food, and unique architecture. Before you take off to explore the city, be aware of these 9 things to know before you go! It can be easy to fall into the tourist traps that are set up for unsuspecting travelers, but you can be smarter than that!

With these tips, you will blend in with the locals and get the most out of your experience!

What other destinations are on your bucket list? Find your Travel Inspiration here. 

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Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Spain, 0 comments
One Week In Barcelona, Spain

One Week In Barcelona, Spain

Any time in Barcelona will be time well spent. This city is filled with lively music, art, and history, sunsets over the Mediterranean, and a comfortable arid climate you can enjoy year-round. Check out all of the awesome things you can do and see in just one week in Barcelona!

This city has it all; world-class art museums, upbeat Spanish dancing, local seafood, and the friendliest people. This city is easy to travel to, easy to get around, and has so much to offer.

Check out what is waiting for you in the Catalan capital, with this guide to spending one week in Barcelona, Spain! 

Barcelona city skyline featuring La Sagrada de Familia, the Mediterranean Sea, and city blocks as seen from the Carmel Bunkers

Table of Contents

When To Visit Barcelona

Barcelona is beautiful year-round, with a mild Mediterranean climate that allows for your favorite activities no matter the season. The major factor in determining the time of travel is the tourist crowds.

May-September is peak tourist season when summer vacationers fill the city and beaches. 

January and February are the coldest months in Barcelona, and when the city experiences the lowest tourism. This isn’t a bad time to visit, but you may not fully enjoy a beach day or an outdoor adventure when it’s 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit (4-10 Celcius).

While October-December are decent times to visit, this is the rainy season in Barcelona, and the temperatures drop significantly after the peak of summer. 

In the springtime, temperatures are warming up, nature is coming to life, and you’ll still beat the summer crowds and prices. That makes March-May the best time to visit Barcelona due to the low tourism, low prices, and fair weather that won’t negatively impact your vacation! 

Where To Stay

Whether your style is a homey hostel filled with other foreign tourists, a hotel with a view, or an Airbnb in a neighborhood, Barcelona has options for every traveler. Since there are great options all around, the biggest decision is based on the neighborhood you want to be located in.

No matter where you stay, keep in mind the following things:

  • Check to see how far the nearest Metro Station is
  • Check the location on Google Maps street view
  • Be aware of the Barcelona Tourist Tax 

Gothic Quarter

Characterized by tightly woven streets, with a Gothic style of architecture, the Gothic Quarter is a central location for sightseeing and events. This area is more on the busy & crowded side, so you can expect some noise as well as a lot of action! These streets which were once filled with medieval events, are now hosting trendy restaurants, bars, and shopping.

Eixample

Pronounced: “eye-shampla”, this neighborhood hosts broad courtyards and boulevards, where trees line the streets. This is a large neighborhood that extends from La Plaça d’Espanya, all the way to La Sagrada Familia! There are excellent food markets, dining and shopping options all in close walking distance to the city center.

El Raval

Directly west of the Gothic Quarter is El Raval, a vibrant neighborhood with authentic restaurants and amazing second-hand shopping. This area is known to have a bit more crime, so be aware of your surroundings, and avoid suspicious areas. Don’t walk alone at night and wear your bags in front of you, pick-pocketers are professionals here!

El Barceloneta

Located right by the water, El Barceloneta has a lively scene at night, amazing fresh seafood, and sandy beaches! This area can definitely get crowded, touristy, and expensive, so it’s best to explore more of the other areas for your daily exploration, but who doesn’t love a view of the ocean?

Poble Sec

One of the most lively areas in Barcelona is Poble Sec. Located near the Montjuic Castle & Fountains, Poble Sec is less-touristy, allowing you to have a more authentic experience. This area is filled with green spaces, and parks and is close to the water! I highly recommend checking out Poble Sec!

Barcelona Tourist Card

Like every major city, Barcelona has a card you can purchase to get major discounts to amenities and attractions across the city. Barcelona has 3 options, based on the amount of time the card is active for.

You can get a tourist card for 3 days (€48), 4 days (€58), or 5 days (€63), with discounts for children. Cards can be purchased on the website, and picked up upon arrival at any of the tourist offices listed here, including at the airport!

This card offers major discounts, including free public transport, free access to 24 museums and attractions (including Picasso Museum), as well as discounts to 33 attractions (including a few of Gaudi’s creations). 

Rather than listing them all out, check out this massive list of discounts and savings below!

 

Things to Do

No matter what interests you, Barcelona has it all. History amidst impressive architecture. Beaches and natural sanctuaries. Incredible (and secret) bars, and some of the best food in Europe!

Regardless of the amount of time you have in Barcelona, you will most definitely never be bored in this bustling city of color and art. 

Attractions

Things to see while exploring the city

Restaurants & Bars

Best places to eat and drink in the city

Day Trips

Best destinations that can be visited in a day trip from Barcelona

Attractions

1. La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s most famous and unique structure. It is often associated with renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, who transformed modern architecture with his unique style and ability to merge faith and nature in monumental ways.

Construction on this basilica first began in 1882, and it has been under continuous construction ever since! Plans for completion are estimated to be in 2026 after 5 generations have watched this temple be erected over the city of Barcelona. 

The ticket includes entry, a downloadable audioguide, as well as the option to add on the ability to access the cathedral’s towers for an extra €10. Tickets must be bought online before your visit, with a designated time for arrival. The towers are steep and narrow to come down (you take a lift up), and must book that at a specific time as well. Pro tip: Try to get the towers booked for sunset for incredible city views!

Time: 2 hours
Cost: €26 without towers, €36 with towers

Buy your tickets in advance, here.

3 large stained glass windows, showing rainbow colored light beam through the panes in La Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona Spain
La Sagrada Familia Windows
White tree-like pillars attaching to the lofted ceiling in La Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona, Spain
La Sagrada de Familia Ceiling

2. Casa Batllo

La Sagrada Familia architect, Antoni Gaudi is also the mastermind behind Casa Batllo. This is an example of living architecture, where different areas feature a multitude of immersive experiences. Unlike La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo is more like a museum, where the art is the building’s creation.

Casa Batllo was designed around Gaudi’s primary inspiration; nature. The spaces are designed to invoke various emotions by the experiencer and amaze the senses.

Time: 1.5 hours
Cost: Varies between €29 – €39
*Barcelona Tourist Card: €3 discount

Buy your tickets here.

Perspective of unique architectural facade of Casa Batllo in Barcelona Spain,
Casa Batllo | Source: Casa Vaganto

3. La Pedrera (Casa Mila)

You’d be right to think Gaudi’s creations didn’t stop there. Yet another of his impressive design is Casa Mila, only 5 minutes walk from Casa Batllo. This building’s most impressive feature is the self-supported facade of stone which can be enjoyed for free.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, it can be enjoyed in many different ways. There are 9 options to experience this architectural landmark, including a virtual tour, at sunrise before it opens to the public, or at night with a colorful show.

Time: 1 hour
Cost: €15- €43
*Barcelona Tourist Card: €3 discount

Buy your tickets here.

Unique facade of Casa Mila in Barcelona, Spain
Casa Mila | Source: Arch Daily

4. Güell Palace

Yet ANOTHER Gaudi creation, Palace Güell was Gaudi’s first true commissioned structure for entrepreneur Eusebi Güell in the late 1800’s. This neo-gothic-styled building features a basement that feels like you’re in a castle and a funky rooftop with mosaic spires. 

While this is an awesome attraction, that’s a lot of Gaudi! If you weren’t looking to do them all, I recommend that Güell be the first off your itinerary. 

Time: 90 minutes – 2 hours
Cost: €12, (discounts for students, people under 25, and over 65)
*Barcelona Tourist Card: 25% discount

Note: Free admissions on the first Sunday of every month!

5. Catedral de Barcelona

Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Catedral de Barcelona is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. This gothic cathedral is often overshadowed by La Sagrada Familia, but just as impressive, and of higher importance to the city.

Entry tickets will allow you access to the main temple, the cloister (an outdoor atrium featuring a pond and 13 geese), as well as the rooftops. For an additional fee, you can experience the rooftops at night to see the spectacular city skyline. 

Time: 1 hour
Cost: 9 – €15

Buy your tickets here

Gothic cathedral in Barcelona, Spain during sunset
Catedral de Barcelona | Source: Italian Trip Abroad

6. Picasso Museum

Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 and lived for over 90 years. In that time, he created an estimated 13,000 paintings and 100,000 prints and engravings. Picasso has distinct eras in his artwork, including his ‘Blue Period’ which showcases art with a depressing undertone, as well as the self-created abstract style of cubism. 

Over 4,250 of Picasso’s pieces live in this museum and are visited by millions every year. Take a walk through to halls and check out Picasso’s unique style and skill.

Time: 90 minutes – 2 hours
Cost: €12, (discounts for students, people under 25, and over 65)
*Barcelona Tourist Card: Free Entry + 50% discount on tour

*The Picasso Museum offers free entry on specific days, including every Thursday after 4 pm. For a full list of free dates of admission, click here

7. Parc Güell

Named after Eusebi Güell (owner of Palau Güell above), this park features unique art pieces and over 20 hectares of protected landscape. The space is limited to 1,400 visitors/hour to avoid overcrowding, as this is one of Barcelona’s top attractions (so book your spot online!)

This park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and fills up fast throughout the day so be sure to grab your tickets early ahead of time! There are large areas that are free to the public, however, the Monumental Zone is ticketed. Like many Barcelona attractions, there are days when you can access the fee area for free.

For free access, you can visit Parc Güell before or after when the ticket patrol is on the clock. This includes daily before 9:30, and after 20:00. This is even listed as an option on the main website, so it’s completely allowed!

Time: 2 hours
Cost: €10

Tickets can be purchased at the park, but they fill up fast! Buy tickets online here

Mosaic tiles fence overlooking the Monumental Zone in Park Güell, Barcelona.
Park Güell | Source: Viator

8. MUHBA Turo de la Rovia (Carmel Bunkers)

Located west of the city, these bunkers were constructed to defend the city during the Spanish Civil War. Boasting a 360 degree view, this is the perfect spot to take in the breadth of the city. 

Enjoyed by many, this is the best place to catch a sunset, so grab a jacket and some wine, and head out to the bunkers early to watch the sun paint the sky. This area is accessible by bus, with an easy walk up a paved road! 

Time: 2 hours
Cost: FREE

9. Montjuic Fountain

A spectacular show of color, music and water is found at the Montjuic Fountains. This fountain show compares to the famous Bellagio fountains in Vegas, and runs at various times in the day depending on the season. Be aware, it is closed in January-February, but it is completely free to experience any time after that! Shows are in the evening, and favor weekend nights, but a full timetable can be found here

Directly behind the fountain, there are stairs leading up to the National Art Museum of Calatonia with rotating exhibits. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online here

Located near the fountain is Montjuic Castle, an old military fortress from the 15th century. Tickets are usually €9 but admission is free every Sunday after 3 p.m., and free all day on the first Sunday of the month! Regular events and showings are held at the castle, as well as stunning 360-degree views of Barcelona! 

Time: 20 Minutes
Cost: Fountains: FREE | Art Museum: €12 | Castle: €9

Buy your tickets at the door, or online here

Large Montjuic water fountain erupting in front of the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain
Montjuic Fountain & The National Art Museum | Source: Rove.me

Take A Day Trip Somewhere Else!

While you could definitely fill a week seeing all the sights in the city, sometimes it’s nice to escape the city’s hustle and explore nearby. 

Popular day trips include taking a train up to the Abbey in the cliffs at Montserrat, a serene European experience in Girona, or a beach day in Sitges

Mallorca and Menorca are also two awesome options if you have a few days to spare to get out to the islands!

Summary - One Week In Barcelona, Spain

Depending on your interests, Barcelona has it all. While it may be a push to see everything on this list, not everything may be aligned with you! 

I highly suggest visiting Barcelona before Peak Season, between March and April. I went in March and it was starting to get a bit crowded, I couldn’t imagine it in the summer!

If you’re looking for accommodation, check out Eixample or Poble Sec. These neighborhoods offer easy access to the top attractions, which also maintain Barcelona’s authentic charm. 

There are plenty of museums to visit, but if museums aren’t your thing, I suggest Sagrada di Familia above the rest, and maybe next to the Picasso Museum. The Gaudi creations are listed in order of my priority suggestions.

Take the time to get outside, explore Parc Güell (in the morning before the crowds!), and definitely get up to the Carmel Bunkers for sunset. Walk along the wharf near Barceloneta Beach, but don’t eat here! The food is cheap in quality, but expensive in price.

 

What other destinations are on your bucket list? Find your Travel Inspiration here. 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Spain, 0 comments