15 things about Barcelona
In the classic travel guides they usually explain the tourist attractions or recommend the best restaurants for eating, but rarely give you good tips on how to act in the city or the things you really need to know so you are not surprise once you arrive to your destination.
In this post you have 15 tips that we think are key when visiting the city and you should consider when planning your trip.
- When you get to Barcelona we recommend you buying a T-10 before anything. The T-10 is a ten ticketsmultipersonal pass that can be used on the subway, bus, tram, railway and RENFE trains. In Barcelona there are six different price zones, but this doesn’t concern the metro, as all its stops are on te zone 1 (except the new airport stops), so it will be enough if you buy a zone 1 ticket.The price of the T-10 is 9.95€. In addition, you can transfer between all the transports included for 75 minutes. Note that you can’t buy a T-10 on the buses, you must buy them on the subways or on the railway stations.
- You should know that Catalonia has two official languages, Catalan and Spanish and in Barcelona we speak both of them. Although the two languages come from the Latin, they are quite different in som apsects. In Barcelona you will find that the name of the streets and most of the transports instructions are in Catalan, but do not worry, all is well explained, so you won’t have trouble understanding these things.
- Barcelona is a small city if you compare it with London or Paris, so many of the tourist attractions are on a walking distance between them. We recommend you take the subway only for specific times, like going to Park Güell, or if your apartment or hotel is not near the center. Along the walk do not forget to look up and appreciate the architecture of the city.
- The meal schedule in Spain is different than the rest of the world, so if you want a complete experience in Barcelona we recommend adapt to the schedule of the city. In Barcelona the lunch is usually between 13.30h to 15.30h and everyone stops to eat. We do not usually eat a quick sandwich,we sit down and spend at least an hour. Dinner is also late, between 21h to 22h. We recommend to ask for the ‘Menú del día’ during the lunch because it is what locals usually eat, and so you will have the opportunity to eat typical Catalan dishes. By the way, avoid Las Ramblas to eat, the food is expensive and has a very poor quality.
- In Barcelona one of the most common resident, besides the pigeons, are the cockroaches. Normally they are down on the subway and in the sewers of the city, but often come out to the surface. It is also likely to finde them at the downtown shops or maybe at your own home if you are staying in an old building. You may not see any during your visit, but be aware that this can happen, so do not be surprised.
- The siesta (nap in Spanish) is an important thing for Spaniards and affects the city life as you will be able to see. For us the main meal is on the lunch time and as we all know, a great meal is always accompanied by a slight drowsiness, so after lunch we usually rest for 20-30 minutes. Between the hours of lunch and nap the city gets very calm, lots of shops are closed and people are on restaurants or at home. As we said, you will notice it, especially on Sundays.
- Getting lost in the Eixample district is very easy, even though you are using a map. All the buildings look like the same and you can mix up the streets. To not get lost you have to check where are the mountains, which is easy to see where is located. When you know this, you will know that the sea is on the opposite side, so you will at least know where you areand which way to go, if left/right or u/down the street.
- If you want to visit the great monuments like the Sagrada familia or La pedrera with no queues is best to buy the tickets online before you arrive. This way you assure your visit and also you won’t have to stand in long queues on the streets. Buy the tickets on the official website, so you make sure you are getting the right tickets.
- Depending on the country you visit us you may need a visa and a health insurance. You must look very well this before leaving home as they can deny you entry into Spain or the healthcare. We recommend you look on the webiste of Ministerio del Interior the requirements to enter the country. For your insurance there are many companies although we recommend you IATI seguros for the travel medical insurance.
- You must consider the weather in Barcelona before your arrival. This is a logical thing to do, but many people didn’t and they end up being cold or very hot. In summer it is very hot in the city, so we recommend bringing light fabrics for long walks. In winter it’s not very cold and it doesn’t rain much, so you can visit the city without a thousand layers of clothing and without worrying about the rain. You have enough with a light coat and a sweatshirt.
- In Spain the sockets and the plugs are the type F. This type is used thoughout Europe, except in the UK. At the airports they sell very cheap adaptators. Anyway, the best is to bring it from home. For example this adapter with USB port and valid in more than 150 countries.
- Spain’s official currency is the Euro, as in many European countries. In Barcelona there are several exchange points at airports, stations and downtown areas, but we recommend to change in your country if you are not in the Euro zone, so you go with the security of having some money cash. In Barcelona you can pay by credit card in most places and there are also many ATMs in which you can withdraw money, but still we recommend you have some cash if any problem occurs.
- If you decide to visit a town near Barcelona and you want to catch a train (RENFE) note that is very likely they are late, so do no panic by thinking you have lost the train, maybe it didn’t even pass. Look on the internet for the schedules before leaving home and then ask at the station the platform and the time of the departure so you are sure about everything.
- Barcelona unfortunately is famous for its large number of pickpockets on the metro and on its central streets. You must be careful and be aware of your things and people around you. Another place where you have to be careful is at the beach. You should not leave your bags unattended, otherwise someone is going to steal them. The same happens in the airport and the train stations, watch your stuff.
- Barcelona is a very multicultural city, so it’s quite easy that many people with whom you can speak in English or another language. But you have to keep in mind that this is not everyone. It’s likely that in some places they are not going to be able to help you in a language other than Spanish. We recommend you to try a little to be understood and have patience. Or you can always learn the most used sentences in Spanish or even in Catalan. We would really appreciate that.
We hope this post has been helpful to prepare your next trip to Barcelona. Do you think there is any essential thing when visiting Barcelona missing here? Tell us your experiences!
Comunity manager and blog writer at Espai Barcelona. I was born in Barcelona, and I love this city. I enjoy showing to the new visitors my favorite places. I never get tired of Barcelona!