I’ve really wanted to write a post about Barcelona for a while now because it’s one of my favorite cities in Spain. I’ve been there 3 times before, and every time I left the city, I’m already thinking about when I would be returning. Because it’s a city that you’ll never get bored, there are a thousand things to do and new things to discover. 🙂
Here are some tips that you should know before visiting the city. And of course, we also included the list of best places that you can’t miss if you want to travel for a few days in Barcelona.
What you should know before visiting Barcelona:
Barcelona is a beautiful cosmopolitan city located on the north-eastern coast of Spain, facing the Mediterranean Sea. With a population of around 1.6 million within the city limits.
Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm to hot summers. The rainiest seasons would be in autumn and spring. Its average annual temperature is 21°C (70°F) in the daytime, and 15°C (59°F) at night.
As you can see, the weather is good at any time of the year, which is already a major plus, isn’t it?
The city offers a wide variety of cultural and leisure activities. It is full of history, art, and its very lively by nature. The people, the streets (some more modern, others older), the neighborhoods are different from one to another, its modernist buildings, its museums, its beaches and its gastronomy make you fall in love with Barcelona as soon as you get to the city.
A word of caution, just like any other big cities that are full of tourists, we must be careful with our belongings. There may be some opportunists that are dedicated to stealing wallets and mobile phones, pick-pockets. But as you’re now aware of this, if you pay some attention to secure your belongings, then you won’t have any problems. We’ve never had any incidents in any of our trips before. Phew!
Spanish is the official language of Spain and almost everyone in the city speaks it without problems. And Catalan is the second official language of this region of Spain. It won’t hurt to learn some basic words in Catalan to better integrate and please the locals. Otherwise, most people speak a little bit of English, so you’ll survive just fine.
Getting around the city
Barcelona itself covers an area of more than 100 square kilometres, thus using public transportation can be a good idea if you’re thinking about covering more areas of the city. Just so you know, the city is very walk-able. As you would already know, we always prefer to go anywhere on foot, walking is a great exercise… hehehe.
The simplest, economical and most used transportation is the Metro (tube-train). It covers most parts of the city. Price for a single ticket was about €2.20 (prices updated in 2019).
Another option we would recommend is the T-10 card. This card allows you to use it for ten-trips, in which you could also combine bus and tram for a price of €10.20.
Another good option would be the “Hello Barcelona card” to be able to have unlimited use of transportation during the days you are there. The price varies according to the amount of days you choose. They are between 2 to 5 days, price for two days is €15,20 and 5 days is €35,40 (prices updated in 2019).
What to Do in Barcelona: 15 Best Things to See in the City.
Ramblas Street (Las Ramblas)
One of the most popular streets located in the center of Barcelona. This street was meant for pedestrians only and its lined with trees, full of cafes and kiosks along the street.
Spanning about 1.2 kilometres (0.75 miles) long, it connects the Plaza de Catalunya with the Monument to Christopher Columbus in Port Vell.
La Rambla is quite a touristy area, so in high season, you should expect the street to be crowded with people, local and tourists. This area has attracted the attention of pick-pockets, so you’ll have to be extra careful with our belongings when you walk along this street.
Once you’re in Las Ramblas, you must visit The Boqueria Market located at number 91 of this street.
The market is full of food stalls of all of sorts: fruits, sweets, fish, meat… it’s an amazing place for a little adventure!
Snack Tip: A great time to visit is before the closing time, since many fruit-shake-stands reduce their prices by half in order to clear their fruits for the day. 😉
One of our favorite parts of Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter. It’s the center of the old city of Barcelona.
The neighborhood covers the oldest parts of the city and includes the remains of the Roman city wall and several medieval monuments.
It’s an authentic labyrinth full of small streets that connect with the cathedral and other squares. And in between these streets, you could find many old shops and restaurants. This is another must-visit area, the Gothic Cathedral.
The medieval Jewish quarter (El Call) is located within this area, along with the old Greater Synagogue.
One of the largest and most popular squares in Barcelona and its located in the center of the city.
It’s well known for its fountains and statues, its proximity to some of the most popular streets in Barcelona and the flocks of pigeons that gather in the center.
Paseo de Gracia Avenue.
The shopping street and one of the most important avenues of Barcelona for having the most important commercial and business areas.
This street also houses several of the most famous architectural pieces of the city, such as La Pedrera House.
La Pedrera House.
La Pedrera was a building built by the architect Antonio Gaudí on behalf of the Milà family.
This is the most iconic building of Antoni Gaudí. It is an authentic work of art. But we have to say that the entrance is a bit expensive and we skipped it. To check on updated ticket prices, click HERE.
The Barceloneta Beach.
And if we go to Barcelona we must visit the coastal district of “The Barceloneta”.
On a good-weather day this area would be flooded with tourists sunbathing and swimming in the sea. And there are also surfers as it is a good area for this watersport.
The whole beach is lined with seafood restaurants and outdoor bars where you can enjoy the delicious traditional tapas.
We also recommend walking through the streets of the neighborhood since they are very unique from one to another. The neighborhood has many narrow streets where you can find old buildings, churches, shops and restaurants that looks just like when they first opened many years ago. Such a nostalgic place.
The Port Vell.
The Port (Port Vell) is the old part of the port of Barcelona and its currently used for recreational boats and tourism.
This coastal walk takes you to the Palau de Mar, the Maremágnum shopping center and the Colón viewpoint. This area is filled with palm trees and it’s a good area where you can enjoy walking with the sea breeze, or sit on at one of its benches to rest listening to sounds of the ocean, the seagulls floating in the winds.
Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
and of course we can’t miss the Roman Catholic church -La Sagrada Familia!
Designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. His works began in 1882 and its still ongoing until 2030/2032. But its never completely finished, ever, haha!
It is an authentic work of art both outside and inside. The endless construction works with all the scaffolding and cranes that surround it spoil much of its charm when we got there…
Click HERE for the updated ticket prices.
And if you love the architecture of Gaudí, you can’t miss the Güell Park.
It’s located in Carmel Hill. To get there you have to hike up some fairly steep streets, but don’t worry about this because there are escalators… hehehe! 😉
It consists of several gardens, buildings and other elements of the Gaudí architecture. This is a good area to spend a morning exploring the place. Click HERE to check for the updated ticket prices.
Arc de Triomphe and Ciudadela Park.
The Arc de Triomphe is the gateway to one of the best known parks in the center of Barcelona: La Ciudadela. Yes, its called Arc de Triomphe just like the one in Paris. This city has some French influence.
The park has extensive landscaped areas, monuments, groves, a lake, a greenhouse and the Barcelona Zoo.
Its a great place to go for a walk, to rest or to have a picnic if weather permitting. In spring and summer, the green areas are filled with both tourists and locals enjoying the good weather.
The Bunkers is a view-point where you could see the whole city of Barcelona in panoramic view (360º).
It’s located in the upper part of Turó de la Rovira, in the neighbourhood of “El Carmel”, with an elevation of 262 meters.
The views are stunning from above. Watching sunrise or sunset from up above is amazing!
A few years ago it was not a very popular spot, but now many tourists start to visit and also to get some of the best photos of the city.
El Born Quarter.
The district of El Born is another part of Barcelona that every visitor should explore.
This neighborhood is a real gem. This is a more modern area and is characterized by its narrow medieval streets that offer designer boutiques, cafes, and cocktail bars with good music at night.
These streets have a lot of life, full of people, and where you can find something new in every corner.
In this neighborhood houses the famous church “Santa María del Mar”, the Picasso Museum, and the Born Cultural Center (space for events in an old market building).
As we’ve mentioned before, the Picasso Museum is located in El Born quarter, so if you are in this area and you like arts, you can always make a point to visit this museum.
The museum houses one of the most extensive collections of works of art by the artist Pablo Picasso. With 4,251 artworks exhibited by the artist, the museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of his artworks.
Snack Tip: If you travel on a tight budget but you like arts, just so you know that the first Sunday of every month, most of Barcelona’s museums are FREE to enter! including the Picasso!!
Montjuic and The Magic Fountain.
Montjuic is a hill that covers the area of port of Barcelona, also one of the natural highlands of the city.
This is another of the most visited places of interest in this city.
Here you can find the Castle of Montjuic, gardens, museums, sports facilities, and of course, other incredible views of the city.
Snack Tip: Don’t miss the light show of the Magic Fountain of Montjuic!!. This is undoubtedly one of the most incredible shows in Barcelona. A beautiful display of water, lights and music, and it’s FREE!! 🙂
Click HERE to check on the display schedule as it varies by seasons.
How to get to Montjuic:
– Funicular: Connects Montjuic with the Metro transport system at the Paral-lel station, lines 2 and 3. This is the fastest and easiest way to get to Montjuic when we travel by metro. The journey is about 5 minutes from the Paral-lel station and is already included in the metro ticket.
– Cable Car: Next to the funicular, It’s the Montjuic Cable Car. It stops directly at the Montjuic Castle.
– Barcelona Port Cable Car: This cable car service is located in the Barceloneta Beach. The ride is about 10 minutes, being the fastest way to get to the highlands from the beach of Barceloneta. The view of the seaport and the beach from 70 meters high is definitely -priceless.