Barcelona is a charming holiday destination, with endless culture, famous architecture and world class food and wine. The lively city is celebrated for its dining scene, high end boutiques and wild nightlife, as well as an infectious passion and energy!
Whether you’re travelling for a weekend away or a week-long break, here are ten things you should know before visiting Barcelona.
1. Barcelona culture
When visiting any country, it’s important to read up on the culture – it’s a sign of respect and understanding. Cultural sensitivity can go a long way and can ensure your stay is enjoyable. Barcelona is known for its vibrant culture and language, however there are a few ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts to be aware of!
- Do learn some catalan words and phrases. There are two different languages spoken in Barcelona, Spanish and Catalan. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, and you will hear locals speak Catalan in their daily lives.
- Don’t forget to learn the customs and schedules. For example, Spaniards tend to like eating late and also enjoy a siesta. Most shops will be closed at midday and on Sundays. Standard opening times are 9am to 1/2pm and 4.30 to 8.30pm.
- Do ditch the sangria and try a chilled glass of cava. Cava is the local sparkling wine, which is made with the same process as French champagne.
2. Helpful hack
Don’t buy bottled water – there are water fountains dotted all around Barcelona and the water is completely safe to drink. You can fill up your bottles as you’re walking around, so there’s no need to spend your money on bottled water or use wasteful plastic. There is even a water fountain app designed to make sure you’re never dehydrated in Barcelona! It’s a free app and locates the closest water fountain to you – just search for FONTS BCN in your app store.
Tip: Don’t forget to pack some cool sporty sandals for your Barcelona vacation!
3. Important words & phrases
As with any country, it’s worth learning a few friendly greetings and useful phrases. Here are some key Catalan words to note:
- Hola: Hello
- Bon dia: Good morning
- Bon tarda: Good afternoon
- Adéu: Goodbye
- Si us plau: Please
- Perdoni: Excuse me
- Merci or graciès: Thank you
- Parles anglès?: Do you speak English?
Things to do:
4. Barcelona Cathedral
A visit to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the city’s cathedral. This beautiful building (also known as The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia) is located in the centre of Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter and features stained glass windows dating back more than 500 years.
It’s important to note the cathedral’s tourist visiting hours:
|Monday – Friday||12:30pm-7:45pm|
5. Arc de Triomf
Known as one of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks, the Arc de Triomf features numerous sculptures and motifs, while it’s red bricks make it hard to miss. Built by architect Josep Vilaseca in 1888, the arch served as the main entrance to the Barcelona Universal Exposition (Spain’s First International World Fair). The arch is also embellished with a stone carving of the coat of arms of Barcelona, encompassing the region’s culture and history.
You pass under this exceptional arch via multiple modes of transport:
- Barcelona Card (free public transport)
- Segway tour
6. Attend a Flamenco show
What better way to celebrate your time in Barcelona than to indulge in one of the most iconic expressions of Spanish culture! This vibrant and passionate art form originated in the south of Spain in the 18th century, bringing together multiple cultural influences, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that flamenco grew in popularity in Europe. Today, flamenco dancing is practiced around the world.
Many locals will recommend ‘Flamenco e Ole’ at the Palacio del Flamenco, situated in the Eixample district. The theatre offers three daily shows at various different times and prices. An adult ticket costs around 35 euros, but make sure to purchase your tickets in advance.
7. Take advantage of the free museum entry
If you’re looking to delve into Calatalonia’s rich history, it’s definitely worth taking advantage of free entry to some of the city’s best museums. Whether you’re looking for an artistic or historical experience, you’re sure to find it in Barcelona, and with the added benefit of free ‘open door days’ on a weekly or monthly basis.
Barcelona’s Museu Picasso, Museu d’Historia de Catalunya and Jardí Botànic are all free on the first Sunday of every month, while the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona are free every Sunday from 3pm.
8. Getting around Barcelona
There are a few different ways to travel around Barcelona – the city boasts one of the best public transport systems in Europe, and is ideal to explore on foot or by bike. The most common ways for tourists to get around are the metro, buses and trams. All three are cheap, fast and easy to navigate, but if you really want to zip around with ease, a scooter is a stylish alternative.
9. Top tapas
Do you consider yourself a foodie? Well you’re in luck! Barcelona is famous for its tapas. These small dishes are designed for sharing, so grab your family and friends and head out to indulge. Restaurants including Quimet i Quimet, Jai-Ca, El Quim La Boqueria and Polleria Fontana are among the top rated tapas restaurants in the city, serving a huge variety of delicious dishes, from local classics to seafood snacks. It’s always worth checking out local guides to find the best hidden gems.
10. Expect a late dinner
If you reserve a table for dinner before 8:30pm, you’ll most likely be the only party in the restaurant! In fact, most restaurants won’t even be open for dinner before that time, so you should plan your daytime meals accordingly.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay on your travels, check out The Plum Guide’s directory for the best places to stay in Barcelona.