34 Essential Tips to Know Before Visiting Barcelona for the First Time
If you are planning to visit Barcelona for the first time or even you have already visited but wish to go back and spend your next holiday there, here is a very helpful list of Barcelona tips and hacks. Learn everything you need to know, to plan the perfect trip to Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelonaaaaa...are you hearing Freddy Mercury and Monserrat Caballé singing? I do, every single time I think about this fantastic Spanish city (if you don't know what I am talking about, please look for this song on YouTube, it's spectacular).
I have visited Barcelona three times and I have the feeling that one day I am going to visit it again (trust me that after visiting Barcelona, you will feel exactly the same).
Barcelona is a vibrant city, full of colours, music, history, arts, delicious food and friendly people. Basically like everywhere else in Spain.
You will love to explore this city, Barcelona is the perfect city for every traveller in every season. It all depends on what you are looking for, so check out my list of essential tips of Barcelona so you will plan your travel in the best possible way.
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1. Plan your visit to Barcelona on Shoulder Seasons:
I don't recommend you visit Barcelona during the summer unless you want to spend some time at one of the beaches nearby or maybe catch a flight and go to spend some days in one of the Balearic Islands as I once did. Because Barcelona can be very crowded, extremely hot and much more expensive during summertime.
Winter in Barcelona can be pretty nice and cheaper but also cold (January/February temp. max 15º-min 8º celsius).
Barcelona is on the east side of Spain, so the temperature is lower than in the south. You will enjoy a warm temperatures in May, June, September, and October.
You can already swim at the beginning of June. The water has already the perfect temperature, the weather is nice and sunny most of the days, there are obviously many tourists but not so crowded as during July and August.
2. Book your flights and accommodation in advance:
Barcelona is a top-rated destination in Spain, mostly during summer, so I advise you to book your flight as soon as you decide to visit it.
You can find accommodations for every budget. Barcelona has excellent Hostels for young people and backpackers, budget accommodations, mid-range hotels, and fantastic luxury hotels where you can enjoy a morning swim on the hotel's swimming pool terrace.
3. Book your accommodation in the city centre of Barcelona:
The centre of Barcelona, where all the most important sights are, is not very big and it is mostly flat so you if you book accommodation in the centre as I always did, you will be in the middle of all the attractions, the best option to save time and money on public transports.
Do you want to know more about Barcelona?
Check out all my articles in the "Most Complete Guide of Barcelona" and get all the information you need to make your next travel a success.
4. Book everything in advance to save time and money:
As I previously said, Barcelona is very popular among travellers. The lines to see museums can be crazy long, like waiting for two hours at a boiling temperature (Barcelona can be very hot during summer) to see the Sagrada Familia or the Picasso museum.
Who doesn't hate to queue for hours under the sun to enter a museum?
I don't. That is why I always book the attractions in advance.
5. Check out my Most Complete Guide of Barcelona articles:
My mission is to give you all the information you need to plan a wonderful trip where you will enjoy every moment. There is no need for you to look further.
All the info you need, from how to go from the airport to the city centre, what to see, how to book it, where to eat and what to eat and drink, where to stay, how to move around etc.
I wrote everything on "The Most Complete Guide of Barcelona" so you won't waste time looking at twenty different websites.
Just collect all the information I found for you and enjoy your travel.
Do you want to see everything Barcelona has to offer and save money at the same time?
Check here all the activities and tours available. You won't regret it!
6. Plan ahead a good Barcelona travel itinerary:
There are so many places to see, so many things to do, delicious food to eat, excellent wines to drink that a good plan trip is always a good idea, save time, money and enjoy it as much as you can.
Looking for Accommodation?
7. Plan to visit other beaches instead of staying a La Barceloneta Beach:
La Barceloneta is the most famous beach in Barcelona. Therefore it is very crowded and most of the time dirty.
I was there in April, and it was pleasant, not crowded at all, clean, the water was crystal blue, but of course, April is not summertime, so the water was fresh.
This famous beach gets so crowded, noisy and dirty that I don't recommend it as a place where to enjoy your summer holiday. I know it because I went to Barcelona also in June and at the end of August, so I saw how crowded and dirty it could get.
Beaches around Barcelona
Suppose you are looking for a nice, cleaner and quieter beach. In that case, I advise you to check out: Sitges, San Sebastia, Bogatell, Sant Pol de Mar, Montgat Nord, Nova Icaria, Garraf, Badalona, Mar Bella (to don't confuse with the town Marbella) is a nudist beach.
They are all clean and quiet beaches not too far from the city centre (from 30 to 40 mins by train).
If you want to check out the trains' time schedules and prices, click here.
8. Book your ticket in advance to visit La Sagrada Familia:
I understand if you don't want to book all the museums in advance as I always suggest, but trust me that the Sagrada Familia queue can be so long, you will have to wait hours, and you will regret you didn't listen to me.
In Italy, we say: "a warned man is a half saved man", then it is all up to you.
My mission is to make your life easier, don't forget!
Click here to book your Sagrada Familia ticket in advance to save money and time,
9. Plan your visit during a city festival:
If you like Festivals, Barcelona is your city, but be aware that during those days the city is more crowded than usual.
These are the festivals to attend in Barcelona
Dia de Sant Jordi in April is a festival where the entire Las Ramblas get full of flowers so that men can buy a flower for their loved ones. Meanwhile, women have to buy a book.
Primavera Sound Festival is an alternative dance and rock festival you can attend around late spring and the beginning of summer in the Parc del Forum. There are always very famous music bands as guests. It is an unmissable party if you are going to be there at that time.
Sonar Festival in June is one of the most famous experimental electronic music festivals (or we can call it a rave party?) that happen in June. It is a massive event, so this is your week if you like to dance all day and night. Parties happen everywhere around the city, on the beach, bars, squares and then, of course, at the Sonar festival location. I didn't get the tickets when I went there in June but I had a lot of fun at some party at the beach and in the city centre.
Cruilla Festival in July is a music festival in Parc del Forum, where you can find every kind of music from all over the world, and it is fantastic.
Grec Festival between mid-June to early August is another festival to enjoy music and dances and theatric performances. It takes place in the Grec Teatre (the Greek Theatre) under the stars, where everything looks magical. There are also performances in English.
Sant Joan on the 23rd and the 24th of June is the most significant Spanish style night party you can attend. It is the celebration of midsummer where you can enjoy fireworks on the beach, food and drinks and dances all night.
Montjuic de Nit in July is a one-night festival on the famous mountain of Montjuic. There, you can attend movies and concerts in the amphitheatre. The entrance to the museums is free, and you can also dance by the Olympic swimming pool listening to famous DJs.
Sala Montjuic in July and August is an event on the Montjuic mountain where you can enjoy a picnic inside the fortress listening to a jazz concert followed by an open-air cinema. Movies are shown on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 pm, so you need to be there around 8.30 pm to enjoy the jazz concert and get an excellent spot for the movie. Please book your ticket in advance, or you will find it sold out.
Festa Major de Gracia in mid-August is the most famous district festival in Barcelona. For a week, the whole district is full of beautiful woodwork adornments, paper mache figures and lanterns to decorate the streets. There are many concerts every night in every square, and it is absolutely a great party. I have been to this one, and the locals made me feel so welcome. There were endless lines of tables where people who lived there were sharing their food, drinking and dancing in the middle of the streets.
Festa de la Merce around the 24th of September is a festival in honour of Our Lady the Virgin of Mercy that, after being prayed, saved Barcelona from a swarm of locusts in 1687 and became Barcelona's patron. During these days you will assist to parties, fireworks and a lot of fun and entertainment.
10. You can go almost everywhere by walking:
Barcelona is a city to explore by walking around.
If you book your accommodation in the city centre of Barcelona, you will catch public transport only to go up to the Montjuic, the Tibidabo and the Parc Guell.
For all the rest you can walk around as I always did (unless you have mobility problems, in that case, buses and metro lines work very well).
By walking around Barcelona, you will save money and burn all those calories you got by eating tons of Tapas and litres of Spanish wine, so see the positive side of it.
11. Be ready to live in the Spanish time:
Spanish people eat at a different time than other countries.
So be prepared to have Desayuno (breakfast) from 7 am to 9 am and then eat something light as Almuerzo (mid-morning snack) like a coffee and a muffin (Barcelona has delicious muffins) from 10.30 am to 11 am to keep your stomach calm till lunchtime.
Tip: Please avoid the tourist traps that are always open but serve warmed up frozen food.
Wait for a proper and delicious Spanish Comida (lunch) from 2 pm to 3.30 pm.
Then, Spanish people enjoy a Merienda (mid-afternoon snack) from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm. It is mostly just a coffee or an orange juice (drink orange juice while in Spain, they are fresh, delicious and full of vitamins) an excellent excuse to meet friends or have a short break from work.