I have been wanting to visit Barcelona, Spain for some time now. I have already been to Malaga and Madrid. Those two cities were great, Malaga being my favorite of the two. They have helped make Spain one of my favorite places to visit, but Barcelona really made it even more so. With so much to see and do in this city, there are things you should know before heading there!
There are numerous ways to get around Barcelona. Bus, Train, Walking, Taxis, and the Hop On Hop Off Bus. Getting from the airport to the city center area you can take the Aerobus. The Aerobus runs everyday of the year, departs every 5 minutes, takes up to 35 minutes to get to the city center and as of March 2019, costs 5,90 Euros per person one way. The buses are also equipped with free WiFi and USB chargers.
Obviously another way is by taxi, which is what we did. The taxi took about 20 minutes to get into the city center. They drive very similar to New York taxis. They also tack on an airport surcharge of about 5 Euros. It will cost around 25 – 30 Euros. Getting around the city taxis are pretty cheap and don’t cost much. You can also find signs that will indicate where you can get a taxi or bus from.
We didn’t take the trains, but next time I may give them a go. Train tickets are a great price. For 10 journeys it will cost as of March 2019 10.20 Euros. You can walk the city, they say it takes about 30 minutes to go from one end to the other.
Of course there is always the Hop On Hop Off Bus, which we did take. We bought a 2 day pass for 36 Euros per person. Totally worth it as you have access to 3 different lines and they stop right at or very close to many attractions. There are two different HOHO buses. Make sure you take the Official Barcelona Bus Tour. It is great, you can learn a ton of stuff from the bus, and it had free WiFi although sometimes a tad spotty.
I hear summers are pretty hot. Especially with the city getting more and more crowded. We however visited during winter on the cusp of spring. It said it was going to be in the high 50s and low 60s in the day time.
Typically I would think that is warm, but it wasn’t. The air felt damp, it was pretty chilly, and the wind is not one to play with. If you stand in the sun long enough though it begins to get hot. Turn the corner out of the sun and that cold chill comes right back! Layers are your friend.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
I feel like I always say that, but it is true! If you plan to do a lot of walking you will certainly need it. Many of the attractions, especially that of Antoni Gaudi require going up or down steps. Very important to be comfortable.
We felt very safe while in Barcelona. We were warned by shop owners and even on the HOHO bus to watch your personal belongings. Picket-pockets are alive and well. Keep things out of your back pockets and be careful of jacket pockets. 98% of the women we saw had cross body purses, which I always travel with. Even the men had on fanny packs across their body or their book bags facing forward at times.
The official language of Barcelona is Catalan. It is a mix of Spanish, French, and Italian, but sounds less of Spanish and more like the other two. Don’t worry though they also speak Spanish and English in Barcelona. Just understand that they represent Catalonia to the fullest and you will see the Catalonian flag all over the city.
Making reservations, mainly for the attractions is very important. Don’t show up thinking you will just be able to buy them and get in immediately. The tickets will most likely either be sold out or you will have to wait some time for the next entry. Places like Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila are just some of the popular places with timed entries that sell out quickly. I would even suggest booking some a couple days or more in advance.
This is the most famous street in Barcelona. You will read about it, hear about it, and be inclined to go. With that being said every local told us to avoid it like the plague. They compared it to Times Square in New York City. As a New Yorker that is all I needed to hear to not want to go near it.
We did walk by part of it as it extended from Placa de Catalunya to the sea. This street is always crowded with tourists. There are also shops and restaurants lining the street with over priced items and food that are not even up to par. We were also told there are plenty of pickpockets there. Every local kept telling us not to bother and steered us in the direction of better places to eat.
We were told tipping isn’t a thing in Barcelona. Coming from the United States this took a bit to register. When we went out I would watch to see if anyone else would tip just to make sure. Sure enough no one did. However if you receive great service you can tip and 10% is suggested.
If you are into riding bikes Barcelona is a great place to do it. You will see plenty of people riding bikes and they have designated bike lanes. I noticed some were even two lanes wide which was pretty cool. You can also rent city bikes. Motorbikes are also extremely popular and you will see them all around the city.