Barcelona: Ten Tips when Visiting the Most Cosmopolitan City in Southern Europe

by Jules on January 17, 2014

With its unique architecture, pleasant climate, and stunning location right on the Mediterranean, it is hardly surprising that Barcelona has become one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Below we list ten useful tips to help travellers make the most of their stay in the Catalan capital.

Transportation

Do as the locals do and get a T-10 travelcard (€10.30), which is valid on city trains, trams, buses, and the subway, and works out cheaper than buying individual tickets, which cost €2.15 each.

Barcelona Card

Starting at €30, you can get unlimited travel in public transport, free admission to 17 top museums, discounts at the city’s main attractions, restaurants, and shops, and even a free scenic ride along the waterfront.

Accommodation

Hotels in Barcelona are notoriously pricey, but fortunately, there are many apartments in Barcelona that offer a great alternative, especially if there is two or more of you travelling together. Book well in advance to increase the range of choices available.

Tapas bars

For an authentic experience, stay away from the tourist areas and head to neighbourhoods like Sants, Poble Sec, Sant Andreu or Barceloneta. You can also find great beach apartments in this area.

Safety issues

Pickpockets are on the prowl in areas like Las Ramblas, Plaza Catalunya, Sant Antoni, and the Old Town. Be especially vigilant while on the subway (lines 1 and 3 in particular), and don’t be fooled by ‘police agents’ asking to see your ID.

Parks

Park Guell is a must on every itinerary, but don’t overlook other beautiful green areas in the city, like Parque de la Ciutadella, the Botanical Gardens and Montjuic Park, Espanya Industrial, or the gorgeous Horta Labyrinth Park. They can all be easily reached with public transport.

Live music

Barcelona is known for its thriving cultural scene. From international electronic music festivals to the best classical music performances, the city offers something from everyone. Check the listings for the Liceu, the National Auditorium, the Palau de la Musica, and Sala Apolo to find out what’s on.

Sweet treats

After a hot and long day of sightseeing, ask where the nearest ‘horchateria’ is. Locals love the sweet and thirst-quenching horchata drink (made of tiger nuts). In the winter, keep an eye peeled for ‘churrerias’ or ‘granjas’, where you can get a comforting hot chocolate served with churros (sweet dough pastries sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes covered or filled with chocolate too).

Best views

For the best panoramic views of the city, take the ‘funicular’ tram to Collserola. On the way back, stop at Mirablau bar for a drink with views over this gorgeous city.

Day trips

Barcelona’s location is ideal if you need to get away from the city’s hectic pace. For a great day out, head to eerie Montserrat mountain, or visit the vine-making towns of Vilafranca and Sant Sadurni. Other options include the coastal towns of Sitges and Mataro.

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