Barcelona is unlike any other place in Europe, combining beautiful architecture and art, amazing food and drinks, awesome beaches and nightlife, a unique culture, and so much more.
If you're getting ready to visit this beautiful and fun region, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when it comes to food, exploring the city, and getting to know the area. (Check out more tips and an overview of FTLO's upcoming trips to Barcelona 2019).
1. Carry Some Cash
This is probably a good idea when you traveling to any new city or country, because you never know when a restaurant or shop might only accept cash. But in Barcelona in particular, you'll find that some street vendors only accept cash and you might be able to even bring the price down on certain goods if you offer cash instead of card, since it often costs vendors a fees to process your credit card.
2. Utilize Aerobus
Between Barcelona and the airport, taxis can become an expensive option very quickly, so make use of Aerobus. This bus will get you from the airport the center plaza in Barcelona within a half hour. You can purchase a ticket at the pick-up location, about 5 euro (much better than 25 euro for a taxi!).
3. Research attractions / events - or risk missing out
Make sure to do some research ahead of time to decide which attractions you might be interested in seeing during your visit to Barcelona. If you want to see La Sagrada Familia, Guell Park, Camp Nou, or any of the city's amazing museums, you'll want to book tickets and plan ahead of time. The crowds for these iconic sites are unreal, but if you plan ahead of time, you can ensure that you'll get in with little hassle and also not risk missing out on visiting. That being said, some museums are free to visit on Sundays – so factor that into your planning if you can!
4. Know eating times - or again, risk missing out
Make sure to memorize Barcelona's breakfast, lunch and dinner times – or risk missing out! Not only will you find yourself walking into awkwardly quiet restaurants if you visit during odd hours, but you will also find that the best tapas are all gone and the ambiance is not great.
Breakfast: Is actually not a huge meal in Europe in general, and certainly not in Barcelona. You'll find that the locals prefer a coffee and maybe a slice of sweet bread in the morning, if anything at all. If you're a big breakfast person, consider buying some groceries to cook for yourself or stocking up on snacks.
Lunch: This meal is typically enjoyed between 1 p.m. (earliest) and 4 p.m. If you wander in any earlier, it will be weird, it you wander in later, it will be weird also, or the places will simply be closed.
Dinner: Late dinners are definitely a thing you'll learn to embrace. Take your siesta during the groggy afternoon hours, then come out and enjoy a dinner starting at 8PM or later.
5. Visit the beaches
Make use of Barcelona's popular beaches! Spend the day tanning and enjoying a mojito (you'll see lots of vendors walking up and down, selling ice cold drinks for a couple of euros), or bring some picnic items and make a day out of it. You'll find Barcelona's beaches have beautiful views and a fun ambiance that is definitely worth basking in.
6. Familiarize with tipping practices
Tipping is not huge in Barcelona and is not expected. Most people will tip 10% for restaurants if they had a great experience and will round up for tip on taxis.
7. Breakfast isn't really a thing in Europe in general
Again, know that breakfast is not a huge meal in Barcelona. Expect to enjoy a coffee and a pastry or some fruit.
8. Pintxos all day
An inexpensive and delicious option, pintxos (or tapas) are small bites that you can find most anywhere in the city. They cost as low as one euro and can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or main course if you want to try several of them.
Though not everyone is necessarily "napping" during siesta hours, you will find that the shops will close during the hours of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and at 8 p.m., which is when locals will go and enjoy lunch or relax and actually take a nap. You'll want to partake too, unless you want to end up wandering empty streets.
10. Fill up on water from fountains around the city
Water is a rather unnecessary thing to spend money on in the city, given that there are fountains all around where you can fill up a reusable water bottle for freeeeeeeee. Nice!
11. Walk to get around (bus, train, taxi, Uber available too)
Though there are many public transportation options in the city, you're better off walking around or taking the bus on occasion. Barcelona is beautiful and relatively safe to walk around in. You can easily get from one neighborhood to the next within 20 minutes, and you're more likely to stumble into cool cafes and shops when you're exploring the area by foot.
12. Public Squares and BYOB
Designated plazas around the city fill up with locals and tourists alike, who come out to hang, bask in the sun, and enjoy a beer or two with friends. Visit these during lunch or in the evening to enjoy the sunset.
13. Wine is cheap!
Wine is, in fact, cheap. Two euros for a glass of something that'll do. Any questions?
14. Enjoy Cava and Vermouth
Photo credit: Atrapalo.com
Cava and Vermouth are two popular local drinks that you'll definitely want to try! Vermouth is a sweet liquor, essentially a white or red wine infused with spices that give it its iconic crimson color. Spanish Cava is a sparkling white wine that is typically enjoyed with lunch or dinner.
15. Beware of Pickpocketing
As beautiful as Barcelona is, it is very crowded. Its population has surpassed more than 1.7 million in the last couple of years, which means there are lots and lots of opportunities for making new friends...but also lots of opportunities for potentially getting pick-pocketed amid large crowds and busy streets. It's better to have a bag that you can hold in front of you, or make sure your bag or purse is safely zipped or locked to avoid losing things.
If you're already planning a trip to Barcelona, then you're all set and hopefully these tips will better prepare you for an awesome adventure! But if you haven't gotten around to it, check out an overview of FTLO's upcoming group trips to Barcelona 2019 and join us for the trip of a lifetime!