This blog post was originally posted on December 2, 2014 and was updated on January 10, 2018.
While Barcelona is a well-connected city that is used to receiving international visitors, part of the beauty of traveling here is that things are never quite the same as in your home country.
Whether it’s places to see, things you need to learn, or simply some handy hints, here are some easy travel tips for Barcelona to help make your stay in the city as smooth and enjoyable as possible!
1. Learn a Bit of the Local Language
There are two co-official languages in Barcelona: Spanish and Catalan. Though they have the same roots and are similar in a lot of ways, it’s important to note that their differences go far beyond linguistics. The people of Catalonia are very proud of their language and culture, and you will hear and see Catalan all over the capital.
If you can get by with Spanish that’s great because everyone speaks Spanish as well. However, picking up and using a few simple Catalan phrases can really help to make friends with the locals.
2. Explore Outside Barcelona
Barcelona has a wonderful geographical advantage: near the sea and the mountains. There is so much to Catalonia beyond its capital. Wooded forests, sandy beaches, rocky coasts and even snow-capped mountains, there are so many beautiful places to discover and help you learn more about Catalan culture.
Drive north along the coast and you will find the wild Costa Brava. Drive south and discover long sandy beaches of gorgeous towns like Sitges. Go inland and hike around beautiful Montserrat. Whether you enjoy being on the land of sea, relaxing or being active, in Catalonia there really is something for everyone!
3. Take a Walk on La Rambla Early in the Morning
La Rambla is without a doubt the most touristy area of Barcelona. It’s no wonder either, being a central vein that connects Plaça Catalunya with the city’s port. Combine that with its historical importance and you’ve got mass crowds, cheap souvenir shops and dozens of pick-pocketers. However, despite the fact that locals rarely amble along la Rambla, you can’t very well visit Barcelona without seeing it.
Despite the mass tourism, it is possible to have a pleasant experience! You just have to get up a bit early! Get down there in the morning and go have a stroll and you’ll discover that the tree-lined boulevard is actually quite charming.
And of course, don’t miss the emblematic Boqueria Market, which is also much more pleasant early in the morning. Have a look at the video below, if you can’t wait to get an insider look at one of our favorite places!
4. Buy Tickets Online
Barcelona is a small city with a lot of visitors, and the big attractions are guaranteed to have very long lines year round. What a lot of people don’t know, though, is that you can buy tickets online for almost all of the sites.
Usually, you will choose a time slot that you’d like to visit and when you arrive, you pick up your tickets and skip the line! More than anything, make sure to do this if you’re planning on visiting the Picasso Museum or any of Antonio Gaudi’s works.
5. Visit the Village of Gràcia
One of the trendiest neighborhoods in Barcelona also happens to be one of the locals’ best-kept secrets. Not many tourists get up to Gracia, or even realizes it exists. Once an independent village on the outskirts of Barcelona, it was swallowed up by the big city’s expansion at the end of the 19th century.
Nonetheless, throughout the years it has maintained this small village vibe, and today is a fusion of a charming, traditional Catalan town and a trendy neighborhood filled with artists, creatives, young people, and families.
The best thing is that if you like to eat, well, that’s just the icing on the cake. Join us on our Gracia neighborhood food tour and discover all the area has to offer, which includes some of the best Catalan ccuisinesin all of Barcelona.
6. Pick and Choose Gaudi Visits
Some of the top sightseeing destinations in Barcelona are works of the famous Catalan modernist architect, Antonio Gaudi. From the Casa Batllo to Park Guell, you could fill a whole week in Barcelona with a Gaudi-focused itinerary. All the same, tickets can be expensive and, especially during the summer months, it can get quite crowded.
We recommend that you pick and choose which monuments to actually visit or take a tour of, and others you may see in passing without actually going inside. The Sagrada Familia, after all, is absolutely stunning from any angle you look at it.