Spain for everyone is associated with Barcelona, the most eclectic city in the country. What is not to love there? Sun shining bright, sea a footstep away, delicious food, interesting history, loads of places to see and friendly people: this is Barcelona for me. I have been there several times, and quite often I think it is a perfect place to live 🙂 Anyway, there are some things to know in advance, so I made a list of travel tips for Barcelona based on my experience.
1. When to visit Barcelona
I visited it for the first time in the end of November – beginning of December, and the weather was not very good. Yes, there were some sunny days, but it mostly rained and was gloomy and windy and cold, so choose the time of your trip carefully: I think April till mid-May and the second half of September till the end of October are just perfect. Well, that depending highly on the fact whether you want to spend your time on the beach: in that case, any summer month will be good for you.
2. Check days off
This one is obvious, but we forgot about it. We went to the Pedralbes monastery on Monday, exactly the day it was closed. We didn’t even think that it might be closed, it is a monastery, after all. So, do not repeat our mistake, which was quite huge considering that it is far from the city center.
3. Subway tickets
You will need to use subway in Barcelona anyway, so instead of buying one ticket every time, better buy a T10 card that allows 10 trips in the Zone 1 (don’t worry, all main sights are in the center). A single ticket costs more than 2 euro, while you will pay 9,95 euro for the T10 card: it is more than 10 euro to be saved.
4. Barcelona card
Lots of cities issue the so-called tourist cards, and Barcelona is not an exception. The card offers free transportation, free entrance to some museums, possibility to skip queues and discounts to lots of touristic places. The price depends of the quantity of days you would like to spend in Barcelona, but do not hurry to buy it. First, make a list of places to see and entrance costs and compare it with the discounts offered by Barcelona card: I am pretty sure you will not visit every place included to the card, so it is nice to check if you really save something by buying it.
5. Eating at Las Ramblas
It is a bad, bad idea! The food is overpriced and the taste is far from delicious. And you will constantly be distracted by hundreds of tourists that pass by. Better try side streets: there are lots of places to eat and tourists do not go there. A local advised me to go to Romesco restaurant not far from Liceu subway station: the food is quite cheap and very delicious!
6. Drinking in Barcelona
No, I am not going to talk about alcoholic drinks here, I am not a fan of them. I want to tell you about an amazing place – Fruit Express in Barceloneta – on the crossroads of Carrer de la Maquinista and Marques de la Mina, where you will be served fresh juices of all imaginable fruits squeezed just in front of you. They have a list of juices they make, but they will mix for you the fruits you want. They have branches in other places as well.
Speaking of drinks: keep a bottle with water always with you. If you visit Barcelona in summer, the temperatures will be high, and you will get thirsty. If you are strolling along streets, you might find small stores to buy some, but you will not have the same luck on Montjuic – and here I mean the fountains, the castle, and many other places on the hill. When it comes to the Poble Espanyol, there are restaurants in, but they are overpriced, of course.
8. Boqueria market
Boqueria is a place that no tourist misses. The food in this market pleases the eye: seafood, fish, fruit, jamon, and everything is ready to eat. The food is sold in small packs, which is quite convenient. Let’s take jamon, for example: there are lots of types, and tourists can buy a pack of each one, taste and choose the one they like. But it is a touristic place, and everything is quite expensive: you can get the same stuff in supermarkets or less known markets.
If someone hands you a flyer, take it: you never know what is in. When we were at the Poble Espanyol, we were handed flyers that gave discounts for Picasso Museum and the ride on Teleférico.
10. Arenas de Barcelona
The former arena for corrida was converted into a shopping mall with restaurants on the upper level. There is a lift outside on the ground that takes people to the highest floor, and it costs 1 euro. There is a free option: you can take the escalators inside the shopping mall. The view from above is stunning!
11. Magic fountain
When searching for places to visit in Barcelona, one will inevitably come across the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. To fully enjoy the musical and light performance, it is better to watch it when it is dark. But this doesn’t mean you have to come as late as possible, on the contrary, come long before the first show to get yourself a nice spot. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. We were there in June, high season, and we came close to 9 PM when the first show starts, and all the spots where one could get a nice view of the fountain were already taken. In addition, it still was light, so I advise you to come early and stay till dark: in our case it was the second performance.
12. Park Guell
Several years ago tourists were allowed to enter the park free of charge. Now the park is split into two parts: the first one is still free, but the second one, which actually contains the masterpieces of Gaudi, is ticketed. The number of visitors is limited, so it is better to buy tickets in advance and online.
In addition, I would advise to visit the park in the morning, and start with the part that requires tickets to enter. The reason is very simple: if you travel to Barcelona in summer, the heat will be almost unbearable, and there is no shade in that part. The rest of the park is palms and other trees, so there is plenty of shade there.
13. Sun protection
I have been talking about heat so much, that you might be tired 🙂 But this means you will need sunscreen to protect your skin from sun rays. I get a red face usually after the first day 🙂
14. Funicular, Teleférico and Aeri del Port
I remember my first time in Barcelona, and how confused I was about the funicular, Teleférico and Aeri del Port. It took me quite some time to understand everything, so here it is.
Funicular is a train that runs from Paral-lel subway station till Montjuic hill. The ride, which takes several minutes, is part of the subway system, so if you already are in the underground, there is no need to pay for the funicular. At the final destination of the funicular get out of the station and turn to the right: here is the Teleférico.
Teleférico is the cable car that runs from the terminus station of the funicular to the Montjuic castle. And Teleférico del Puerto or Aeri del Port is the cable car that starts at the Miramar restaurant in the Carretera de Montjuic on the hill and ends on Passeig de Joan Borbo at the seaside (or, maybe, vice-versa).
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