Tips for visiting Barcelona
We have recently visited Barcelona and France and I know, I owe you some posts on them. I will start off with Barcelona as it was the first stop of our trip. It really is a beautiful old city and we enjoyed our stay. This post will be more informative with some basic tips in general, going forward I will focus my posts on specific places such as the Sagrada Familia, the magic fountain show, etc.
We landed at the airport and waited almost an hour for our luggage. This was quite strange; all of the luggage belts were standing still, packed with suitcases etc, not sure where the owners were. Most of the luggage were then taken off and placed next to the belt. Eventually everyone from our plain received our luggage once the belts started running again. I have never seen anything like it. We then took the Airbus straight to Plaza Catalunya which is quite central and rather close to where we stayed. I am happy to say this was very easy and convenient. The Tourist Information office is here as well as a Metro station should you have to travel further.
Our stay was warm, I think every day was in the 30 degrees Celsius, there would be a quick early morning thunder storm and rain before we would leave our accommodation, it would clear up and be sunny for the rest of the day. So weather was great in August.
We visited Italy last year and found the towns to be smaller, or all the sightseeing objects would be in a closer radius of each other. We enjoyed walking everywhere we went. In Barcelona we decided straight from the start to make sure we have good transport tickets. We bought T10 tickets; you buy them from the Metro station from the vending machines. These tickets allow you 10 trips on the Metro, buses or trams. I would still suggest walking around a lot as this way you really get to see the city and all the tiny details.
We decided before rushing off into a direction to first visit the tourist center and buy the tickets to the places we wanted to visit that was not available online. I am so glad that we did this as we saw there would be a Barca Roma game at Camp Nou during the time we visited. We obviously got tickets and as I will describe in a later post, it was an experience of a lifetime.
I will give more information about the different tickets when writing about the place of attraction. I will however mention that some tickets give you the option to buy and then use it within a year or 6 weeks depending on the ticket at any day or time for your convenience. It is a little bit more expensive, but makes life much easier and definitely something to consider.
The markets are lovely and really beautiful it is a must visit. They are quite expensive however. We found the local mall to be much cheaper; we bought bulk bottles of water, like a 6l bottle and just took the water for the day in a cooler bottle with us when we left in the mornings. As mentioned above it was really warm. The water in a 6l bottle cost us about 47cents. 500ml Bottles in the smaller shops would cost anything from 1€ to 1.50€.
I would suggest to try and stay at self-catering accommodation, the markets are expensive yes, but they (and the mall) have so many fresh, different and delicious meats, spices, veggies and ingredients that you will want to make something yourself. You would also want to go try some tapas and paella.
Plan your toilet trips. We walked around town quite a lot, but did not see public toilets even the ones that you pay for. I would suggest plan your day so that you visit an attraction with bathroom facilities, a mall, or eat at a restaurant or coffee shop with one. Or run by your accommodation if you are in the vicinity. They did have free public toilets at the beach.
Look up and down. Do not be one of those tourists that rush from one attraction to the next. Take everything in around you; look up at the amazing buildings, their roofs and details. Look down at the tiles, you will note several of the sidewalk tiles are prints that Gaudi used inside his houses, La Podrera and Casa Batllo. They will also indicate the walk of Modernism; see the red flower tile in the photos below.
Beware of pickpockets! Just like pretty much anywhere else in the world, you get pickpockets. Make sure you have your belongings closed or locked away in your handbag or backpack.
We found the people really friendly in Catalunya / Barcelona. We tried our best to learn how to greet and ask whether they can speak our language in their language and then settle on English. Speak to the local people and find out where they eat or drink coffee. It is such a diverse city. Barcelona is really unique and beautiful with such a great culture. You get a big city/metropolitan kind of feel when visiting. Take a little translate booklet or app with you so you can pin point if necessary!
Then if you visit on a Sunday, make sure to go view the Magic Fountain Show – it is beautiful and free.
- Transportation: Airbus – easy transport from the airport to Plaza Catalunya, there is a metro station if you need to travel further. T10 tickets bought at the Metro station – 10 trips on the Tram/Train or bus.
- On a Sunday evening go see the Magic Fountain show for free.
- Shop from the malls for cheaper food or water.
- Buy tickets that allows you access to places of interest at any day and any time (at a bit of a premium)
- Visit the tourist center – they give nice information, especially about events happening during your stay. We googled games at Camp Nou and saw nothing on the internet when planning our trip, but we got tickets for one at the tourist center that was arranged short before our visit.
- Stay at self-catering accommodation (if you like to cook) – that way you can try out the goodies you buy at the markets.
- Plan your toilet trips.
- Look up and down – take it all in and do not miss the tiles or the walk of Modernism.
- Beware of pickpockets
- Speak to the locals and also remember a language translate book or app to pinpoint when necessary.
AND OF COURSE try and visit as many Gaudi attractions as possible.
I am sure there are hundreds more tips that can be added to this list, but this is a good start for when you are planning your trip. Enjoy the city, it is beautiful.