This week, I am enjoying the fabulous city of Barcelona. Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and the second city of Spain. It is the fourth most visited city in Europe after Rome, Paris, and London. I’m excited to share with you my best Barcelona travel tips today!
I have found Barcelona to have everything that you need in a city as a traveler and tourist – museums, architecture, art, shopping, beach – Barcelona really has got it all. I first visited Barcelona in October 2015. It was less busy than in the height of summer, and the weather was milder, but we still saw some sunshine – the perfect time to visit. I returned seven years later (in 2022) with my friend Rachel from www.blondwayfarer.com at Easter time which is a little busier! But we are loving it and we are living it up as Barcelona travel bloggers!
Here are the best Barcelona Travel Tips that you have to read!
Top Barcelona Travel Tips from Barcelona Travel Bloggers
If you are spending time here in Barcelona, I hope that you will make use of my top travel tips. Here are the most important things that I wish I’d known before my trip…
1. Ask for the Menu Del Dia
This is one of the Best Barcelona Travel Tips! When eating out, eat out at lunchtime, because it is extremely cheap. Even expensive restaurants are affordable at lunchtime as they have the Menu Del Dia (menu of the day). It is a requirement by Spanish authorities, so even if you don’t see one, you can ask for it and very rarely will they say no. On average, you can get three courses plus a drink for between €10-15 Euros. This is around £10-12 per person for a starter, main, dessert and wine (or beer or soft drink).
In Soda Bus, I had a risotto starter, duck main and chocolate brownie for dessert. With drinks and three courses for three people, it was still less than €40.
2. Museums are free on Sunday afternoons
I missed out on this one! Museums are free on Sunday afternoons from 15.00-20.00, so make the most of it. Museums are free all day on the first Sunday of the month. Popular Barcelona Museums include the National Art Museum of Catalunya, the Picasso Museum and the Barcelona History Museum.
There are also some fantastic free activities in Barcelona if you are on a budget – I highly recommend the Montjuic Magic Fountain show.
3. Using Barcelona Metro – T10 Ticket
When you are using the Metro, all of Barcelona city center is zone 1 (this confused us greatly, as we wondered if we would need other zones, but we did not!). The T10 ticket works out good value for tourists, provided you are not making more than 3/4 journeys in one day. It costs €11.55 for 10 journeys on a ticket. The T-10 is also multi-person use, and so if there are two of you and you just want 5 journeys each then you can use it and then pass it back to your friend behind you!
Remember that if you are travelling to or from the airport then a separate airport ticket is needed – this costs €5.15. You can buy it at the ticket machines in any station, and you can also buy your Airport Metro ticket online here.
4. Language – Learn some Basic Spanish
The language issue was a little confusing at first because many locals speak Catalan as their first language, rather than Spanish. In some local restaurants, menus will also be in Catalan. However, if you learn some basic Spanish, you will be understood and be able to get by. I like to use Duolingo for learning languages.
It’s even better if you can learn a few Catalan phrases, but personally, I found this a little confusing! It does include some Portuguese and French vocabulary, so if you have a background in either of these languages it will help.
You might enjoy reading about My Spanish blunders!
5. Book Tickets Online and in Advance
We found that if you don’t book tickets online and SKIP THE LINE with specific time-slots, the main attractions may be full and you risk missing them. This was particularly the case for Gaudi’s art nouveau in Barcelona including Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. Just Google the official website of the attraction that you want to visit and book online in advance.
Book advance tickets for a private Gaudi tour.
6. Pack for a variety of Weather Conditions
In the summer, you are usually guaranteed decent weather in Barcelona. But it is still wise to pack for a variety of conditions, especially in the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October. Take two pairs of footwear – walking boots and a pair of cute flats or comfortable sandals. Take a variety of T shirts and the odd jumper. For your bottom half pack one pair of jeans, at least one pair of leggings and then perhaps a skirt or shorts. A fleece or cardigan would be great for chillier nights. A wind and rain proof jacket is also an essential, especially if you are walking up hills and using the funiculars – it can often be windy at the top! I really like Tog 24:
7. Plan for your Tourist Tax on Accommodation
In the city of Barcelona, there is a tourist tax of €3 a night on your hotel or accommodation. This money does not go to your host, but it’s a tax that they have to pay. Remember to factor this into your budget – it may just be a case of setting aside €15 or so in cash for the end of your trip, or even paying on check in. It’s not a lot of money and it’s completely normal, but it’s just something to be aware of.
8. Get up Early!
Barcelona can be very busy, especially in high season. An example is La Sagrada Familia – it’s literally always rammed! The earlier you go, the better your views will be and less people means less stress! I’d even be tempted to get to La Sagrada Familia before it opens – around 8am or 8.30am for photos with less people and good lighting.
9. Don’t flash your Phone around on the Metro or La Rambla
Barcelona is generally a very safe city. I have been twice now and never had any problems. However, pick pockets have been reported by some travellers on the Metro and on and around the Main Street La Rambla. Keep your phone and purse close to you, such as in a bum bag or in your backpack worn on your front rather than on your back, so you can see if any hands try to make their way into it!
10. Wear Good Walking Boots
There is so much to see in Barcelona that you should expect to be doing a lot of walking. Even if you plan to use the Metro, you will still be walking around a lot of sites and walking to and from the Metro stations. A good pair of walking boots is therefore essential. Choose a really good fitting pair and wear them in at least a week before you go if they are brand new. Mine are Karrimor weatherlite women’s hiking boots. I’ve also had Peter Storm ladies hiking boots before from Blacks, which were comfy. This is one of the most important Barcelona travel tips – blistered or hurting feet could turn a fantastic trip sour.
11. Check for Discounts
Look out for the Mini-Cards you will find in hotel lobbies and youth hostels. They give you discounts on restaurants and attractions around the city. You can also get a student or disabled discount at many attractions. Students usually have to be under 26 to be eligible, so if you are a mature student you might be disappointed! But it’s always something worth checking.
12. Take a Hop on hop off bus tour!
There is a lot of walking in Barcelona and so a good tip is to take a Barcelona hop on hop off bus tour. Book your ticket online as it’s cheaper that way (€26 instead of €30) and you will see some of the top sights of the city without spending too much energy. The starting point is Catalonia Square. The bus has 2 routes: the east/green route and the west/orange route of the city, with both routes taking around 2 hours in total. They run throughout the year from 9am-7pm (8pm in peak season).
13. Don’t Overdo it!
Our last and final tips is this – don’t overdo it!!!! Because there are so many amazing sites it is easy to push yourself too hard in Barcelona. Leave big gaps between attractions to hydrate and eat. Consider taking the odd afternoon or day off during your trip to recuperate. If you do something all day then give yourself the evening off by grabbing a pastry and a bottle of wine to have in your apartment. Or if you plan to go out on the evening give yourself the next morning off. Otherwise you will suffer greatly from a severe case of ‘Barcelona legs!’
*Many thanks to Katya from Sweet Home Abroad for her company and a stay in one of the beautiful apartments. Thank you also to Rik from Baja Bikes who took us on a fantastic tour to get some of these photos in Parc De La Cuitadella.
Further Reading on Barcelona
Whether you are a solo traveller or going with friends or family, you are always guaranteed an amazing time in Barcelona. It is one of the best places to visit in Spain! If you would like to read more about what to see and do in the Catalunyan capital, check out more of my Barcelona articles below….
- Visiting the Montserrat Barcelona Monastery
- Things to do in Barcelona at Night
- Cycle tour Barcelona
- Gaudi Barcelona – Discovering Art Nouveau
If you are spending a few days there, you might like to read this Barcelona 3 day Itinerary.