BARCELONA: Guide and tips (2023)

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A guide and tips for the city of Barcelona, where you will find answers to the most common questions about travel and holidays in Barcelona.

Our Barcelona Guides

What is Barcelona?

Barcelona is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and, with 1.7 million inhabitants, the second largest city in Spain. It is known for its original architecture, sunny weather, good access to the sea, great food and the famous FC Barcelona football club.

Where is Barcelona?

Barcelona is located in the east of Spain near the French border. To the south, the Mediterranean Sea wraps around it, and the Pyrenees Mountains are 2 hours to the north. Its location makes it more easily accessible than the Spanish capital for many visitors Madrid .

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Barcelona. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in the Barcelona city guide. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

How do you talk in Barcelona?

Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, which has its own language and culture. The official languages in Barcelona are Catalan and Spanish. In the tourist areas you can usually speak English without any problems, although sometimes in rather broken English using your hands and feet.

What is typical of Barcelona?

The warmth and liveliness of the local people is something that is typical of Barcelona. With small children, you will be welcomed with open arms everywhere. Local children go everywhere with their parents, so even late at night you will see children on the streets while parents sit for dinner with friends.

Barcelona is known for its unique architecture. The most famous Catalan architect was Antoni Gaudí, who designed the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló and many other buildings across Barcelona. But you’ll also find traces of other creators, which you can read more about in the article, where to go in Barcelona .

When is the best time to go to Barcelona?

Barcelona is an ideal destination for a holiday or Euro-weekend all year round because of its mild Mediterranean climate. The peak season is in June and July. The best time to visit is spring and autumn, when temperatures are pleasant and there are fewer tourists (we’re still talking about Barcelona, though, which is alive with tourists all year round). If you want to save money, head to Barcelona between November and February (except Christmas), when flights are often on sale and accommodation prices in Barcelona are lower.

Barcelona City Guides and Tips

How to get from the airport to the centre of Barcelona?

There are 4 basic options to get from the airport to Barcelona:

  • The Aerobús shuttle bus, which departs from both terminals every 5-20 minutes. They don’t stop on the way, so you’re in the centre in half an hour. Children under 4 years of age travel free of charge on Aerobús buses. Older children then travel at full fare with no discount – a one-way ticket costs €5.90 and a return ticket costs €10.20. You can buy tickets buy in advance online (just show the tickets on your mobile phone at the airport) or at the ticket machine and driver at the airport. The buses and machines are light blue with Aerobús written on them.
  • TMB bus no. 46 – A red bus with the sign TMB of Barcelona’s integrated transport system stops at terminal T2 and then T1. This is not a direct connection, so the journey takes significantly longer than with Aerobús buses. The T-Casual card applies to the bus (not valid on Hola BCN). Children up to 4 years of age travel for free, older children pay full fare.
  • TMB metro – the orange L9S line leaves from the airport and takes you to Plaza España in 20 minutes. The Hola BCN card is valid for the metro from the airport (T-Casual is not valid). Children up to 4 years of age travel for free, older children and adults pay € 10.30 for a return ticket. Can be bought directly from the machine where you choose a special “airport” ticket or the metro is included Hola BCN cards .
  • the RENFE suburban train, which is not as frequent, but on the other hand it is fast and comfortable. The train is covered by both the Hola BCN and T-Casual cards.
T-Casual ticket and pass machines

How to get around Barcelona?

Barcelona is largely walkable. Where you can’t walk, you can take the metro or bus. The metro is made up of 12 colour-coded lines with route markings L1-L12. Metro stations are marked with a red M. Buses are another popular option – there are more than 100 bus routes to choose from in Barcelona, including night buses (night buses are usually operated by private companies and have a special fare). You can also use trams, suburban trains or cable cars (some cable cars have special fares).

Barcelona City Guides and Tips / Barcelona Metro
subway markings

Children up to 4 years of age travel for free, but there are no discounts for older children and they must pay full fare. You can choose from 4 options to pay for public transport in Barcelona:

  • Single ticket for € 2.40 – not valid for the metro from the airport (line L9S). You can buy a ticket from the red machine in the metro (see photo above).
  • T-Casual ticket for 10 journeys for €11.35 – 1 journey is valid for 75 minutes and a maximum of 3 transfers (none can be return). Valid for public transport in Barcelona except for the metro to the airport (line L9S). You can buy your ticket from the red ticket machine in the metro or at the entrance to the station at the airport.
  • T-familiar for 8 journeys for €10 – the whole family can travel on the ticket at the same time; 1 journey is valid for 75 minutes and there can be a maximum of 3 changes (none can be return). Valid for public transport in Barcelona except for the metro to the airport (line L9S).
  • Hola BCN is a card that allows you to travel unlimitedly for a pre-selected number of days. Unlike the T-Casual and T-familiar, the T-Casual and T-familiar also apply to the airport metro. The price of the card varies according to its validity – 48 hours for €16.40, 72 hours for €23.80, 96 hours for €31 and 120 hours for €38.20.
  • The Barcelona Card, which includes free entry to more than 25 venues in Barcelona and unlimited travel around Barcelona with the Hola BCN card. More about Hola BCN and the Barcelona Card in my previous article.
Barcelona City Guides and Tips / Barcelona Metro
Barcelona Metro Station

Where to stay in Barcelona?

If you want to be within walking distance of most attractions, I recommend staying in the old centre around La Rambla, in the chic Eixample district or around El Born, which is a short walk from the city’s beaches. I am attaching some tips with a great price/quality ratio:

  • Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella – one of the best hotels in Barcelona and at a good price; strategic location near the Arc de Triomphe and Ciutadella Park
  • Residencia Universitaria Campus del Mar – apartments including a kitchenette a short walk from La Barcelonata beach
  • Hotel River – cheap hotel a short walk from La Rambla
  • Hotel Ronda House – cosy and modern hotel with good quality service and just 10 minutes from La Rambla
  • Hotel Medicis – cosy hotel next to the Art Nouveau Sant Pau Hospital and 5 minutes from the Sagrada Familia
  • Hotel ibis Styles great value for money; ideal accommodation for couples and families with children (family rooms and children’s play area)
  • Hotel Acta Voraport – modern and newly furnished hotel a short walk from Bogatell beach
  • Hotel Arya Stadium – Clean and modern hotel with an outdoor pool a short walk from Camp Nou Stadium

For accommodation in Barcelona, I’ve put together a detailed guide with tips on the best areas and hotels in Barcelona.

Airbnb accommodation is at your own risk – frowned upon by locals in Barcelona because it increases rental prices. According to recent reports, the city is preparing for significant regulation.

Barcelona City Guides and Tips

What you must see in Barcelona?

The Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are on the list of almost everyone planning a trip to Barcelona. And it’s definitely worth it. Still, there are plenty of other must-see places in Barcelona. The modernist buildings of La Pedrera, Gaudí’s Casa Batlló or Casa Vicens, the model of the Spanish village of Poble Espanyol, the Picasso Museum, the Barri Gotic district with Barcelona Cathedral and much more. For inspiration on the most beautiful places and things to see in Barcelona, check out these articles:

The articles also include information about entrance fees, opening hours and how to get there + a clear map with routes.

Barcelona is full of tourists almost all year round (it’s quietest in January and February). Crowds flock to the most popular places and long queues form (Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló). If you don’t want to wait in queues or risk running out of tickets (not uncommon in Park Güell), book in advance. On the spot, just show your mobile phone with the ticket, or. you scan and move on. Tickets can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance. For information on booking tickets, see the articles, things to visit in Barcelona (see above).

Would you like to save money in Barcelona on entrance fees to the sights? Check out the options, how to save in Barcelona .

Are there beaches in Barcelona?

If you are planning to combine swimming in the sea and sightseeing, Barcelona is the ideal destination for you. Barcelona has great city beaches that are free to access. Some may not be the cleanest and with the whitest sand, but generally they are of a good standard. Even if it’s not swimming weather, you can walk along the promenade around the beaches (bike rental stations are also available). The easiest beach to reach is La Barcelonata, which is also the most visited. For families with children, the beaches of Nova Icària or Bogatell, a little further away, are ideal, as they are less crowded and the sand is finer.

Barcelona City Guides and Tips
Bogatell beach

What to Eat in Barcelona?

Paella and tacos are among the typical dishes to try in Barcelona. There are plenty of great authentic restaurants and taco bars scattered around Barcelona. A better choice are the places in the back streets where the locals go. If you really want to enjoy your meal (and save money, as the prices here are quite inflated), avoid the restaurants on La Rambla.

For dessert, try the churros (although for locals, churros are a snack and never dessert). These are fried sticks of yeast dough coated with sugar that you dip in chocolate.

Churros are a popular snack in Barcelona and Madrid

What to do in the evening in Barcelona?

Step out into the swirl of the big city as Barcelona comes alive after the afternoon siesta. Evening is the perfect time to meet friends for dinner, which is served here between 9-11pm. Some restaurants are closed in the late afternoon and evening. They reopen between 6-8pm, so you’d better check opening times beforehand. In more touristy areas, it is open all the time and it is no problem to order dinner early.

Or stroll around the monuments, which are beautifully lit up in the evening. The Sagrada Familia or Casa Batlló have their own charm in the evening. You can also visit some of the sites on an evening tour with dinner. Late-night tours are available at Casa Milà – La Pedrera. In the evening, there are also popular flamenco shows or the Magic Fountain light and sound show at the foot of Montjüic Hill.

We will never miss an evening walk around the sea. And not just in Barcelona. But be prepared for the beaches of Barcelona to be alive in the evening. Locals and tourists alike sit in the sand, play volleyball or stroll along the promenade.

A final tip for things to do in the evening in Barcelona is to head out for the best views of the city. To Tibidabo? Montjüic? Guëll Park? While all the places have great views of Barcelona, my pick is Bunkers del Carmel. These are former bunkers used during the Spanish Civil War. They are popular with young Catalans and tourists, who gather here in the evening to drink or picnic.

Bunkers del Carmel

Where to go with children in Barcelona?

Barcelona with kids is a perfect idea as there are plenty of places that kids will love. From the colourful Park Güell to the aquarium with the largest sea tunnel in Europe, where sharks, rays and moonfish swim around you. Read more in this detailed article, where to go in Barcelona with children .

Is Barcelona safe?

Barcelona is a safe city. What to watch out for in Barcelona are petty thefts. These are especially common on the pedestrianised La Rambla, in the evening in El Raval or on public transport. Pickpockets may pose as tourists or try other tricks to rob you. Be vigilant and keep your valuables with you.

Which sockets are used in Barcelona?

In Barcelona, like most other countries in Europe, there are 230 V type E sockets.

The Most Common Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Barcelona

How can I pay in Barcelona? Cash, ATMs, tips

Spain is part of the European Union and the local currency is the euro (€). In Barcelona, you can normally pay by card. This can be a problem at smaller retailers or markets where it is better to carry cash. It pays to withdraw money from ATMs rather than exchange offices. ATMs are located throughout the city, including at the airport. Just be sure to check the foreign withdrawal fees and your bank’s exchange rates before you travel.

As for tipping, sometimes it can be part of the price, but it is not the rule. If you are satisfied with the service, about 10% of the cost is given.

Articles about Barcelona

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