Boasting a reputation as one of the most attractive cities in Europe, Barcelona celebrates its role as the capital of Catalonia. The city’s cosmopolitan and international vibe makes it a favorite city for many people around the world. The city is especially known for its architecture and art—travelers flock from around the world to see the iconic Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Gaudí. These Barcelona travel tips just scrape the surface of what can be found in the vibrant city!
What to Expect in Barcelona
Barcelona is an amazing city but, as with any big city, you need to use your street smarts and follow basic travel safety. Pickpocket and bag snatching is a common issue, so do your best to secure your valuables, blend in, and don’t look like a tourist.
Language: While people in the city do speak Spanish, visitors who go the extra mile and learn a few words of Catalan will certainly be made welcome in this hospitable city.
Currency: The Euro is used throughout Spain and in seventeen other European countries. Check out my tips on How to Travel to Barcelona on a Budget!
Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs are a regular sight throughout the city, while major hotels and restaurants and many smaller retailers will accept Mastercard and Visa.
Climate: The Mediterranean climate means that Barcelona is mild even in winter, while the majority of visitors enjoy the temperatures in the city between May and October. Read more about The Best Time to Travel to Spain!
Cold season: From December to February, the average lows in the city are around five degrees Celsius
Warm season: June until September, with July enjoying an average of ten hours of sunshine every day
Getting Around in Barcelona
Barcelona is separated into many different districts and neighborhoods; each offering a unique flavor of the city! The most popular Barcelona neighborhoods worth visiting are:
Ciutat Vella: Also known as the Gothic Quarter or heart of Barcelona, this is the oldest part of the city incorporating the popular area of Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is usually filled with tourists, as it is the central boulevard that cuts through the heart of the city. Visit the museum, showcasing the first Roman foundations, and enjoy the superb seafront with its boardwalk and beach.
L’Eixample: Outside the original city walls, this area of the city is where many of the best modernist architecture is to be found. It is also home to many of the best bars and clubs in the city.
Gracia: Having once been a Catalan town on the outskirts of the city, the growth of Barcelona has seen the area become a suburb, with a significant student population and the beautiful architecture of Gaudi’s Park Guell.
Eixample: Some of Barcelona’s best shopping is found in this area, and it is home to Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia. There are tons of bars and restaurants in this district as well.
Sants-Montjuic: A nice open area with several lovely parks, this area offers amazing views of the city when you get to the top of the mountain. It’s also close to many of the Olympic facilities and is home to the high-speed train station with links to the rest of the country.
Renting a VRBO apartment or flat is a great way to explore more local areas, and can be more affordable than hotels in some cases!
Metro: Barcelona currently has eight metro lines that can get you pretty much everywhere in the city. However, it is a popular spot for pickpockets. If you're traveling on a budget, it's a great option—a single ticket will cost you 2,20€ but a T-10 Card, good for 10 rides only costs 10,20€.
Taxi: Barcelona's licensed taxis are easily identified by their yellow and black exterior. They have to charge you the amount displayed on the meter. Taxis here are said to be the cheapest in Europe so if it's more convenient, I'd recommend a taxi over the metro.
Walking + Biking: Barcelona is very walkable and accessible to bikes. Save your money and get some fresh air!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city, but the main tourist sights are central and lend themselves well to those who like to explore on foot! There are different neighborhoods to explore, each with its own vibe and hidden gems—the most popular being La Barceloneta, Grácia, and L’Eixample. Here are the best places to stay in Barcelona!
H10 Madison is a stunning 4-Star hotel located very centrally, and only a 5-minute walk from Las Ramblas. The hotel features a beautiful rooftop terrace with a swimming pool and great views of the city. The service and breakfast here are top-notch!
Hotel The Serras is near Las Ramblas but far enough to feel removed and able to enjoy the luxurious property. The rooms are very comfortable and spacious and the stunning rooftop bar + pool are a great way to relax after a day of exploring.
If you’re traveling on a budget and looking for a social atmosphere, Hostel One Sants is an excellent option. They offer organized activities, bar crawls and FREE dinner nightly. And they’re only a 12-minute walk from Sants Station (easy access from the airport). An epic hostel option in Barcelona!
This highly-rated boutique hotel is in a prime central location—next to Las Ramblas and walking distance to Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia! It’s a must-stay if you’re looking for a unique, design hotel on your trip to Barcelona.
The spectacular views of the Mediterranean from The W Hotel are best enjoyed with a cocktail by the pool. It is the only hotel with direct access to the beach, but you will pay big bucks to stay at this luxurious property!
Hotel Curious is a small, budget hotel located about 2 minutes from Las Ramblas, and a 5-minute walk from the Mercado de La Boqueria. The staff are friendly, breakfast is included, and the rooms are clean and comfortable!
This eco-friendly hostel is located in the popular and bohemian Gràcia neighborhood and is perfect for those on a budget who want a relaxing atmosphere. They offer private and dorm rooms, morning yoga, and are only a 15-minute walk from La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Paseo de Gràcia.
Where to Eat in Barcelona
Spain is situated to have some of the freshest produce from land and sea, so it’s no surprise that Barcelona has a huge foodie culture. With its local Catalan cuisine and Michelin-starred hotspots, there are so many amazing Barcelona restaurants, cafes, and bars to check out.
When you’re in Barcelona, there are some authentic dishes you just have to try! I’m sure you’ve heard of paella (which is usually made to serve 4-6 people!) but there’s also pa amb tomaquet, patatas bravas, croquettes, Jamon Iberico, escalivada, and more. I’ve even rounded up the top tapas to try in Spain.
Here are the top places to eat in Barcelona—and if you have time, I highly recommend taking a cooking class to learn more about Spanish cuisine!
Pull a seat up to the counter at this locally-loved bar! They offer delicious tapas and serve with the best Cava, or Catalan sparkling wine. The bar atmosphere offers a great experience with visitors mixing with the locals!
Rao Restaurant & Cocktail BarModern Catalan
The style of cuisine here is authentic Catalan and Spanish, with a modern twist. The ambience, locally-sourced ingredients, and plating are fabulous, and the service was amazing. If you’re looking for an over-the-top dining experience that rides the line between casual and fine dining, this is it.
This popular market in Las Ramblas has the best fresh food that the region has to offer! With stalls offering produce, takeaway items, fresh seafood, wonderful varieties of olives, and superb cured meats, you’ll find all of the staples of Catalonian cuisine.
Bodega BiarritzTapas, Wine Bar
Amazing tapas, ambiance, wine, and service—Bodega Biarritz is definitely a must for dinner and drinks when you’re in Barcelona!
This place pretty much requires a reservation because it’s so loved, but if you can’t make one, still try to walk in! It is so so worth it. You’ll find some of the best, traditional tapas (try: octopus, oxtail, and patatas bravas) in the city and delicious sangria!
With a menu listing over two hundred different shots, this is definitely the place to get the night started. They typically don’t open until about 10:30 pm.
What to Do in Barcelona
Barcelona has a unique culture and vibe unlike anywhere else in Spain. Aside from the remarkable Gaudí architecture, you’ll find fine art, museums, iconic nature parks, beautiful beaches, performing arts spaces, and so much more.
I’ve shared the top places to see in Barcelona below, but you can find my complete list of things to do in Barcelona here! Additionally, here are some tips and tricks for traveling Barcelona on a budget.
Barcelona’s architecture is almost synonymous with Gaudí’s name and the spectacular Sagrada Familia is his most famous legacy. Other Gaudí sites around the city include Parc Guell, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo. They are all so unique and worth visiting!
The most famous street in the city is a pedestrianized, tree-lined boulevard that has many green areas, restaurants, and bars, with a range of market stalls and street traders too. It’s lively and typically full of tourists!
Voted the best city beach in the world, this stretch of golden sand faces on to the Mediterranean and is a great place to get a tan and to meet friends. It’s not a beach for those looking for a quiet spot as good weather draws in some major crowds!
Offering some of the best views over the city, this site was once a military installation protecting the city, but now visitors and locals gather to enjoy the view and see the sun setting over the Mediterranean.
Combining an excellent meal with a look at the traditional Flamenco dancing, this experience offers a great insight into Catalan culture and the passionate dancing which has been taking place here for over forty years.
This lovely area has a range of attractions including the wonderful Picasso Museum and the Placa Reial. The area also has several churches and the amazing modernist architecture of the Palau de la Musica Catalana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best way to see the city is by foot! To make the most out of your time, I’d highly recommend joining a Take Walks tour. I’ve been on tours with Take Walks all around the world and am always so intrigued by what they have to offer—plus it’s a great way to see the city in a whole new light!
Within easy reach of the city, either by train or car is the region of Costa Brava. Highlights include the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres and the superb white buildings and traditional atmosphere in Cadaques. Head out of the city for the beautiful beaches and fewer crowds!
Don’t miss my list of other amazing places to visit in Spain!
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