Barcelona Travel Tips: What to Know Before Visiting

Barcelona was everything I expected it to be! From the architecture, to cheap food and drinks, and warm weather – Barcelona definitely gave Madrid, Seville and Cadiz a run for their money as my favorite place in Spain. Canary Islands is on a different level. I’ll definitely be back in Barcelona one day. Most likely when Sagrada Família is finally complete.


Getting Around

Everything in Barcelona is accessible through their public transportation. If you’re going to be in Barcelona for a few days, I’d recommend getting a travel card. They’re available for 2, 3, 4, or 5 consecutive days and can be used unlimitedly on their public transportation. If you’re not going to be there long, or don’t see the point in the travel card, I’d recommend buying the T-10 card at the metro station. This card allows you to ride their public transportation 10 times.

If you don’t want to ride the public transportation system, you can take taxis for fairly cheap as well. There are taxis all over the city, so you won’t have any problems getting one.

Since my hostel was close to Plaça de Catalunya, I didn’t need to use public transportation as frequently. I decided to walk to most of the local landmarks. You can also rent a bike, if walking and using public transportation isn’t your forte.


Food & Drink

Barcelona, like other places in Spain, is known for their tortilla española, paella, tapas/pinxtos and sangria. All of their food and drink options are relatively cheap. If you read my post about Barcelona, you’ll know that La Boqueria Market is the perfect place to go for fresh produce. It provides a preview of some of Barcelona’s best in one hub.


Money

Barcelona, and Spain in general, is a relatively cheap country. Although Spain is part of the Euro Union (EU), which can be stronger than the dollar at times, Spain’s economy is different than its EU counterparts. In Barcelona, you may potentially lose most of your money to entrance fees into the different works of Gaudí, which can be fairly pricey. For example, the basic entrance fee to La Pedrera is €20.50.


Interacting with Spaniards

Since I lived in Madrid for a while, I’m a bit bias when it comes to Spaniards. I find them to be extremely friendly people! When I was shopping around La Ramblas, I was leaving a store and beeped when passing the metal detectors. I was carrying my GoPro & digital camera in my purse, which is probably what made the detector go off. I asked the security guard “tu habla ingles”, to which he smiled and said “no“. Instead of making the situation uncomfortable for the both of us, the guard simply asked if he could look through my purse, which I obliged. He searched for 2 seconds, smiled and then let me go with no issues. Even though he didn’t speak English, and my Spanish isn’t the strongest, he was patient and had a smile on his face the entire time. Just one of the many times I encountered very friendly people while in Barcelona and can attest to how nice the locals are. There are many people in Barcelona who do speak English though, so don’t be disheartened or intimidated to go to Barcelona. Especially by yourself!


Safety

Barcelona is a relatively safe city, crime is very low. In retrospect, it’s a big city so be mindful of your surroundings like you would in other cities. The biggest thing to be aware of in Barcelona is pickpocketing. Barcelona is infamously known as the pickpocket capital of the world. I personally didn’t witness or experience pickpocketing while in Barcelona. But I did visit during its off-peak season, so the atmosphere is probably different in the summer when it’s peak season. Also, I remained vigilant while I was there, making sure I was aware of my surroundings and my personal belongings.


Other tips/advice

  • It’s fairly warm in Barcelona year round, so you don’t have to wear a lot of layers.
  • If you’re looking to get into the city from the airport, the Aerobus is a cheap and simple option. It’s a 45 minute ride to the city center. I ended up buying a return ticket for €10.20, a single ticket is €5.90. Also, the Aerobus runs every 5 minutes, so if you miss one they’ll be another one coming soon.
  • While many people in Barcelona speak Spanish, the official language is Catalan. You’ll notice this on the highway signs and other places which display: Catalan, Spanish then English – in that order.

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