Barcelona: 10 Things Travelers Need to Know Before Visiting

Barcelona: 10 Things Travelers Need to Know Before Visiting

Booked your flight and getting ready for an adventure to Barcelona, Spain? Saying that this capital city of the Catalan region is filled with culture is a bit of an understatement. From architectural wonders to world-class art, Barcelona is a must for any travel bucket list.

And beyond the fascinating history, culture, and art…comes the amazing food and lifestyle. This city is a place  where you can beach by day and drink and dine on cava and tapas into the night. Sound enticing?

But before the fun begins, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind for your trip. In this post we’ll cover all things Barcelona, like:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • How’s the wifi in Barcelona?
  • What are some important dos and don’ts when visiting Barcelona?
  • Amazing cultural experiences

Ready? Here are the top 10 things you need to know before visiting Barcelona, Spain.

How Hard Is It on the Wallet?

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

When it comes to travel costs, Barcelona runs middle of the road for Europe. It’s more expensive than Serbia but cheaper than France, which is why we’re giving it a 3.5 out of 5 on the travel costs scale. Here are the average costs for travelers:

Accommodation: We checked out the most recent hotel prices in Barcelona and found an average of around $150 per night (tax included) for a double room in a well-rated hotel in the city. You can also splurge and live it up for $200/night. If you’re on a budget, hostels are about $20-30 a night. Prices can go lower in the off season, however.

Food: Tourist prices in the center of town tend to run higher than in local dives and smaller restaurants outside of the city, so your food budget can really vary in Barcelona depending on your tastes and interests. A mid-range meal for two in Barcelona (drinks included) will set you back about 55 euros (around $60 USD).

You can also snag a cheap meal for 10 euros. For lunch, a typical menu del dia (daily menu) goes for between 9-15 euros.

Another must in Barcelona is sitting down for some tapas and wine at a local restaurant. To keep it legit, make sure you DON’T get charged for the tapas! Expect to pay about 10 euros for a glass of wine with some tapas.

Remember that the Euro and the USD are almost at par at the moment, making your travels costs potentially a little cheaper.

Transportation: A single journey ticket on the Barcelona public transportation system is currently 2.40 euros, which includes the bus and metro. Taxi fares in the city start at 3 Euros and then its 2 euros extra for every kilometer traveled.

Cheap travel tip: Get the Barcelona tourist card to save you some money on your trip!

Tourists and view of Barcelona beach on a summer day

How Friendly Are The Locals?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In general, Barcelonians are open and welcoming. It’s such a tourist-heavy city and most travelers feel very welcome here. And even though basic English is heavily spoken in most parts of town, try and learn a bit of Spanish and the local Catalan dialect – you will definitely make more friends that way!

Barcelona also rates well for LGBTQ travelers. Over the years, it’s actually become a major destination for gay travelers.

Woman riding bicycle through old street of Barcelona

Culture And Etiquette In Barcelona

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Barcelona.

  • DO beware of pickpockets: Keep an eye out for their impressive scams, whether you’re staring in awe at the Sagrada Familia, tanning at the beach, or traveling on the metro.
  • DON’T assume it’s just Spanish culture: Barcelona is home to Catalan culture is distinct to Spanish culture, so be aware of that as a traveler here.
  • DO learn some Catalan: On that note, learn some Catalonian. Your perfect Spanish in Madrid won’t fly as well in Barcelona.
  • DO respect the siesta: The timing in Barcelona might be a little different than what you’re used to if you live in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. – just go with it!
  • DO plan to eat your dinner pretty late in Barcelona. It is what it is. But if you’ve been snacking all day, a big meal at the end of the day won’t feel so necessary.
  • DON’T tip: There’s no need to tip, not the same culture as in the U.S. A few coins in Euro. High-end places will sometimes add a 10% gratuity.

And for reference, here’s a post we wrote recently on 6 laws in Spain that travelers must know. Some of these do come with pretty big fines, so the list might come in handy for your trip!

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Top Trending Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain

A city filled with world-renowned attractions, no list on things to know when visiting Barcelona is complete without a top things to do list. Here are some of our favorites to check off that bucket list:

  • Sagrada Familia: Barcelona’s most gorgeous attraction, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
  • Visit the famous markets: Barcelona is filled with amazing local markets where you can sample some delicious eats and amazing vibes. Start your adventures at La Boqueria and then head to Mercat de Sant Antoni and Santa Caterina Market.
  • Nightlife: Mouth-watering tapas and strong Spanish wine for days, Barcelona is a travel destination that comes alive at night, so adjust your inner clocks and get ready to party.
  • Park Guell: Barcelona’s most famous park and offers some of the best views of the city.
Fruits market, in La Boqueria,Barcelona famous marketplace

How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The main things that you have to be aware of when it comes to staying safe in Barcelona are pickpockets and avoiding some areas in and around the city at night. Barcelona has recently been rated as one of 10 destinations where travelers are most likely to be pickpocketed.

Certain parts of El Raval are said to be dangerous but many locals and expats will argue otherwise. Also, the train station in Sants can also get pretty seedy at night. Another area like this would be Las Ramblas, but because this Barcelona neighborhood is usually bustling with people that means it’s well lit and generally safe throughout the day. You may be more susceptible to pickpockets here, however.

To help yourself stay safe, just don’t flash anything expensive and make sure to keep your bags in front of you when sitting down at a restaurant or bar, rather than having it hang over the chair behind you. Other than that, travelers love Barcelona and say that it’s a safe place to travel to in Europe, but make sure to take the normal precautions.

For reference, Barcelona’s safety index is currently at a 51, which is considered moderate.

Tourists sitting outside at a cafe sidewalk in Barcelona, Spain.

Travel Insurance Tips for Your Trip:

Getting a travel insurance package is always a good idea when going on any type of trip. If you’re heading to Barcelona soon, you can get yourself covered (and, at a super low cost!) with the right health insurance just in case you get sick or if your travel stuff gets stolen or lost at some point during your travels.

Local Eats And Drink

Beyond the sights, beaches, and vibes, a big reason people travel to Barcelona is because of the amazing food and drink. A trip here means feasting on seafood paella (paired with sangria, Barcelona style) and sampling tapas at a streetside patio bar, and that’s just the start. For all you foodies out there, make sure to keep this checklist of the best local eats and drink in Barcelona. Let the fun begin!

Top Barcelona foods:

  • Bacalao: A type of salted cod that is a Catalan staple.
  • Arroz Negro: A paella made with squid ink risotto. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
  • Pa amb Tomaquet: Barcelona’s classic tapas dish, which is just a piece of toasted bread rubbed with a tomato sauce, oil, and garlic.
  • Crema Catalana: In the mood for something sweet? This is the Barcelona version of creme brulee, and this kind is topped with cinnamon and citrus zest.

Barcelona drinks:

  • Cava: A local sparkling wine that you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy in Barcelona (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?).
  • Cafe solo: Your morning coffee, which is just a small espresso. Pair it with a fluffy pastry and you’ve got your Barcelona breakfast.
  • Vermut: Vermouth served neat, on the rocks, or with a twist is Barcelona’s favorite day drink.
  • Merienda: Spanish-style hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.
colorful wall and art sculpture close up in Barcelona, Spain.

What Are the Top Apps to Use in Barcelona?

There’s an app for that, as the saying goes. Here are some apps to download to your phone that might come in handy for your trip to Barcelona.

  • Citymapper: Gives you the best routes to help you get to Point A and Point B whether it be on foot, by public transportation, or bicycle.
  • TMB: App for navigating Barcelona’s public transportation network.
  • Bicing: Barcelona’s shared bike system.
  • The Local: Spain’s English-language news publication.
  • Cabify: Spain’s ride-share app.
  • Duolingo: To learn some Catalan!
  • Barcelona Official Guide: Visit Barcelona’s official app.
  • Miniguide: Cool app that offers local recommendations for what’s happening in and around Barcelona.

colorful wall and art sculpture close up in Barcelona, Spain.

How’s the WiFi?

According to the site Nomadlist, Barcelona has an average WiFi speed of 36 Mbps. Barcelona’s currently has Spain’s largest free WiFi network, although many report it to be slow and it’s also not secure.

You can buy a local SIM card if you want your own network. The best providers in town are Movistar, Orange, or Vodafone and they all provide efficient 5G service for your trip.

Sagrada Familia Basilica from a distance in Barcelona. mountain view in the background.

What Are the Best Cultural Experiences in Barcelona?

It’s no surprise that some of the best cultural experiences in Barcelona are food related. Here are some of our top picks:

  • Paella making class: What’s a better experience than learning to cook one of Spain’s signature dishes with a local? Choose between small or large group classes where you can watch the magic happen while sampling some delicious food and drink.
  • Tour of a Cava bar: Don’t just head to a bar and sip Cava – go the whole nine yards and try a Cava bar tour! This local agency offers tours of Barcelona’s famed underground watering holes.

aerial view of Costa Brava beach and coastline during the day, gorgeous beach near Barcelona, Spain.

How Long Can I Stay?

Because Spain is part of the EU and Schengen Zone, all non-EU travelers can visit as a tourist for up to 90 days. The government website also mentions that international arrivals need to present a valid onward ticket, proof of accommodation and the ability to fund your trip.

The current guidance for entry to Spain states that “nationals of third States who travel to Spain for stays of up to 90 days (during any period of 180 days) for tourism with a duration not exceeding 3 months” must present all valid entry requirements for entering Spain.

And when it comes to Covid entry restrictions, know that there are still a few in place for international travelers, so make sure to check the latest official guidance.

Female Tourist Reading Map While Exploring The Latin Quarter In Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Whether it be for the beaches, the bars, the amazing food, or a bit of everything, Barcelona is definitely a city that makes an impression on any traveler’s heart. Just follow this guide on the top things to know before visiting Barcelona and you’ll be ready for an adventure.

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