Barcelona is one of the most popular city destinations in Europe attracting millions of tourists every year and we are indeed lucky to call this beautiful and vibrant city our home. We are amazed at how the city has a host of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered every single day. Yesterday we completed two amazing years of living in Barcelona. Ever since we moved in, we have been doing a lot of travel in and around Barcelona and we try to post it all here for our followers to read and plan their trips better. Before you check out this post, we recommend you read our articles on Top things to do in Barcelona and Best Instagram spots in Barcelona
In this blog post we share 14 essential tips for your first visit to Barcelona We think this article will be super helpful if you are planning to travel to Barcelona, Spain for the first time. Make sure to bookmark this article and read it before you visit Barcelona!
14 essential tips for your first visit to Barcelona
If this is your first time in Barcelona ,then here’s what to know
1. Free Museums on Sundays
Did you know about the free day in Barcelona? Many Barcelona museums have free admission every Sunday afternoon from 3 PM to 8 PM and some museums have free admission all day on the first Sunday of every month. If you wish to save some money on museum tickets then it’s definitely worth checking out the museums on free days. Try not to miss visiting the Picasso Museum and Barcelona City History Museum on free days.
2. Free Walking Tour
Barcelona is an extremely walkable city and what’s amazing is that most of the best tourist attractions can be reached simply by walking. Just make sure to wear comfortable clothing and good walking shoes and you are good to go! We recommend you go for a Free Walking Tour Barcelona Gaudi .There are several companies organizing these free tours but in our opinion the best free walking tour Barcelona is done by Runner Bean Tours .They have two free tours and we personally love the Gaudi tour a bit more.
3. Arrive to and from the airport easily
Barcelona’s airport is located about 30 minutes away from the city center and there are several options to commute to and from the airport with ease. We do not recommend you take the taxi as they are expensive and charge anywhere between € 30-45. Taxi prices fluctuate greatly on holidays, weekends and during night trips. Taxis also charge extra amount per baggage the passenger carries. Another option to commute is the bus. There are private buses called Aerobus that offer an express bus service to Barcelona city center from Barcelona Airport. Their schedules are convenient and they run every 12 minutes and leave from outside each of the two airport terminals. In our opinion, the best and cheapest option to travel from Barcelona Airport to city center would be to take the TMB Airport Bus no. 46. This is one of best travel tips for Barcelona that we have to share with you. These buses are far cheaper than the Aerobus and one can also use the T10 Ticket for the journey. The Frequency of the TMB bus is approximately 38 minutes but we still love it because it costs just €1 to get to Barcelona city center from the Airport.
4. Book early for entry to popular Barcelona Attractions
It is best you purchase tickets online in advance for popular attractions such as Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. By doing so you can avoid huge waiting lines. While booking your tickets online, do avail the discounts wherever applicable. Most Barcelona attractions do have ticket concessions for senior citizens (aged above 65 years) and children. So make sure to check on that before purchasing your tickets.
5. Visit Barcelona Cathedral for free
The Barcelona Cathedral is a stunning Gothic Cathedral that houses the Crypt of Santa Eulalia (co-Patron saint of Barcelona) and several monuments and chapels dedicated to more than 140 saints. Paid entry at the Cathedral is done by donation’ and you must pay €7 to enter inside. You can avoid paying the donation by visiting the Cathedral before 11 AM.
6. Give Sangria a miss
Would you be surprised if I told you that the Spanish do not drink Sangria? If you really want to try the local drink of Catalonia then we suggest you try Cava and Vermouth. Cava is a sparkling white wine that is popular in the Catalonia region whereas red colored vermouth is a white wine infused with caramel, cinnamon and some herbs. Enjoy the drink with some finger licking Tapas.
7. Take the Metro
Barcelona’s metro system is excellent. It is very well-connected and the frequency of the trains are very good too. One of the easiest ways to learn to use the metro system is by downloading a Barcelona Metro App. Our top tip for using public transport in Barcelona is to purchase the T-10 Ticket for €10.20 Instead of purchasing a one-way ticket for the bus, tram or metro, get a T-10 ticket from any TMB ticket machine to use for 10 75-minute rides between the first and last validation. These tickets can be used on metros, buses and trams. Another good thing is that the T10 ticket can be shared between more than one person. You can save a lot of money by buying this ticket rather than getting single tickets for every journey.
8. See Gaudi’s work at a cheap price
If you are a fan of architecture and in love with Antonio Gaudi’s work then we recommend you visit Casa Vicens. It is the first house designed by the Catalan Architect and is also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage. Entry tickets to most of Gaudi’s works are expensive in our opinion and when something is available for a lesser price , we surely want to share with here with our readers. Every Monday you get to experience Casa Vicens at just €10. We have been there and we totally loved it.
9. Shopping on Sunday
Most shopping streets, restaurants, supermarkets are closed on Sundays in Barcelona .This can be extremely frustrating if you’re a tourist and in the city just for the weekend. If you want to pick up some souvenirs then you can grab them from the small stalls that are put up in certain parts of the city. But if you want to particularly shop from a mall on Sunday in Barcelona, then Maremagnum Mall is your place to be. It is located in the center of Port Vell in Barcelona and has umpteen options for shopping, dining and entertainment.
10. Enter Sagrada Familia for FREE
If this is your first time in Barcelona, you cannot miss Sagrada Familia. This should be in your list of things to do in Barcelona. Almost every Sunday of the year it is possible to attend mass at the basilica of the Sagrada Familia. By entering the Basilica you will be able to see a small bit of Gaudi’s masterpiece and also the grave memorial of the Catalan Architect. You will have to go through a security check before you enter for the mass .We recommend you go inside only if you can maintain silence during the sermon. It is strictly prohibited to walk around and take photos during the holy mass. The Holy Mass is celebrated at 6:30 pm on Sundays.
11. Check the timings before you head to see the Magic Fountain
The Magic Fountain in Barcelona is beautiful and is a must see while you plan your trip. The fountain is located at Plaza Espana and is a spectacular display of colour, light, motion, music and water acrobatics. The magic fountain will appeal to people belonging to all ages. A quick tip here would be to check for the show timings HERE before going as the show timings keep changing according to the season.
12. Avoid eating at Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s most popular street. It is lively and bustling with local artists, florists, restaurants, souvenir shops etc. It’s a must visit while in Barcelona but do not eat from there as it’s a huge tourist trap. The food served on Ramblas is not that great in terms of taste and quality and is ridiculously overpriced.
13. Take it slow
The first time we came to Barcelona we were surprised to see how slow and laid back it is over here. Everything goes at its own pace and there is no hurry for anything whatsoever. If you are heading to a restaurant then remember that lunch is served usually around 1:30 -4:00 PM in the afternoon. And dinner does not start before 8:00 PM. It is very normal to find discos closed until midnight.
14. Beware of Pickpocketing
It is sad to say but the truth is that there are several cases of pick pocketing in Barcelona. We warn you to be extremely vigilant when you are visiting crowded and popular areas of the city such as Plaça España, Las Ramblas, Plaça de Catalunya.
We hope you enjoyed this post where we share some Insider travel tips for your first trip to Barcelona. Do you have any Barcelona travel tips and tricks to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.