Barcelona is most surely one of the most exciting capital cities to visit in Europe. It boasts a really impressive offer, both in terms of culture and leisure. Still, there are certain things worth remembering if you don’t want to fall into a tourist trap (which are, unfortunately, common on a worldwide scale) and let the list below be your handbook of how to take full advantage of your stay in Barcelona and enjoy one of our unique apartments in Barcelona located throughout the city.
DO – fly directly to Barcelona and avoid Reus or Girona.
Before you set off to admire all the Casa Batllos and other Sagrada Familias, you need to first arrive to your destination and that may be harder than you think! Some tour operators or airlines advertise their flights as planned for Barcelona, but what you may get in reality is one of the ‘neighboring’ airports – Reus or Girona. Both of them can actually be enjoyable places – provided that you don’t mind spending a one-and-a-half-hour trip from either of them to the Catalan capital. If Barcelona is what you’re after, make sure it really is written black and white on your ticket.
DO – research museums and galleries offering free entry.
Barcelona seems to be a very tourist-friendly place, especially for all the art-lovers. The number of museums and art galleries that offer free admission is really impressive, and the diversity of themes covered by the free exhibition is absolutely spectacular. First Mondays or last Sundays of the month or after-hour free entries are just a few examples of the rich cultural offer of the city, aimed to attract the visitors to explore the local artistic treasury. When strolling along the lovely cobblestone streets of Ciutat Vella or Barri Gotic, be on the lookout for posters and leaflets – they provide the most up-to-date information you can get.
DO – use a discount card, but match it to your needs.
Since we’re on the topic of art, Barcelona offers a couple of types of discount cards which allow you to visit more for less. There’s something for everybody, though it doesn’t mean that anything is for anybody. Basically, there are three cards you should consider: the Barcelona Museum Pass, the ARQUEticket and the Barcelona Card. The first of them – the Barcelona Museum Pass – is quite cheap (€25; valid for six months from first use) and worth the price if you wish to get inside some of the best art museums in the city, including: National Art Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Joan Miró Foundation, Antoni Tapies Foundation, Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture, La Pedrera and Picasso Museum. The second one – the ARQUEticket – costs even less (€14; valid for one calendar year), but gives you access only to history-related museums: Barbier-Mueller Museum of Antiquities, Egyptian Museum, Maritime Museum, Archaeology Museum of Catalonia and Barcelona’s History Museum. The last one – the Barcelona Card – offers biggest flexibility and free public transport (priced €27.50 for one day to €45 for five days), though public transport is quite cheap itself; it grants you access to Museum Barbier-Mueller, Museu de Ceramica, Museum of Chocolate, Museu Cosmo Caixa, Museu Caixa Forum, Barcelona City History Museum, Museu Disseny Hub Barcelona, Museu Frederic Mares, Museu Jardi Botanic, Museu Monestir de Pedralbes, Museu Music, Museu Olympic, MNAC and Museu del Modernisme Catala. However, remember that more does not always mean better – it all depends on what you alone are after, so before you decide on any of these, go through the offer of each of the listed museums.
DO – keep your eye on your belongings.
Excitement may be not a good advisor when it comes to travelling. It’s easy to lose focus when you’re in a completely new environment, that’s why you have to be especially watchful when travelling from the airport to your point of destination, when sunbathing on the beach or when exploring the bustling La Rambla. Pickpockets are often on the lookout for their prey – try to stay away from anyone inviting you for a game of cards/chess/dice out in the streets, anyone approaching you to share their sympathy for Spanish football clubs or intending to help with apparent ‘bird mess’ on your shoulder – you take off your bag and it’s gone. Don’t let such misfortunes ruin your stay – all you need to do to protect yourself is to remain reasonably alert.
DO – look for large blue signs with a ‘W’
In case you wish to check in on Facebook, find some specific place or have some business to do, those blue ‘Ws’ mean that the area is covered with a free internet network. In general, Barcelona enjoys really good network coverage and some most typical Wi-Fi points include museums, libraries, parks and gardens.
DO – purchase a ten-trip metro ticket.
As mentioned before, the public transportation system of Barcelona is relatively cheap, but there are ways to make it even cheaper. Barcelona Card is one option, but another is a ten-trip metro ticket. If you travel as a larger group, this solution is more than welcome as you’ll be able to share one ticket among as many of you as you want. It is also valid on the bus network and on the train that will get you to and from the airport. Count the figures and it turns out that each journey is almost 50% cheaper than a standard fare, so this idea is highly recommended to groups of travelers.
DO – eat your lunch/dinner at lunchtime.
Just like with most of the bigger cities in the world, most bars, restaurants and cafés in Barcelona lower their prices around noon to attract the dozens of blue-collars looking for a bargain during their lunch break. Feel free to use this opportunity – the quality of food served remains the same. It’s a good move if you wish to try something typically local like tapas, for instance. And try to choose a different place for each day of your stay – this way you’ll have a broader knowledge of the local offer. Another tip – don’t judge the book by the cover; it’s a fact that the seediest-looking spots will often serve the best food.
DO – visit tourist information centres if you’re in need of a map.
Such places are usually full of free maps, though maybe not of the best quality. Still, Barcelona – and especially it’s central part – is quite easy to move around, but don’t be afraid to stay off the beaten track and get lost from time to time. Following the crowd is not always the best way. Explore the city on your own – this is the best idea to have the best memories, and to be able to see something more than what’s already covered a thousand times in all the guidebooks.
DO – collect club flyers.
If you’re in search for some quality nightlife, most clubs offer lower entry prices – and some grant even a free pass – if you get inside before 2 a.m. or if you have a flyer for a particular event; these are often distributed in the busiest parts of the city, so if you care for an afternoon walk, look out for those with a pack of bright-coloured leaflets in their hands (though they will probably approach you anyway). Nightlife starts a bit later than in the central part of Europe due to hotter and longer days, but the club offer is bound to keep you dancing until early morning. Some of the best places are found in the area of the Gothic Quarter, El Raval and along the beach.
Here’s the Dont’s:
DON’T – overpay at La Boqueria.
La Boqueria – the most famous market of Barcelona – is the pride of Las Ramblas, but also a quite effective bait for unaware visitors. The place itself is really exciting to explore – after all, it offers an outstanding selection of fresh produce. Still, beware, for here’s a little twist – the sellers from the stalls at the entrance from Ramblas will want to charge €2 for a glass of freshly squeezed juice, preying on your thirst. Resist the urge and move to the markets only ten meters to your right – you can get the same for half the price. We’re talking about savings in the amount of €1, but why pay double when you have the choice to pay the usual price?