I recently took my first trip to Barcelona, and boy, did I fall in love. Barcelona always seems to be a top travel destination for people wanting to visit Spain (although who knows if Barcelona will be in Spain in the next few years), so here are some tips if you’re thinking of visiting the beautiful city.
1. Take the metro.
On a map, the city may look very walkable, which it is more or less, but my friends and I ended up walking over a marathon in two days. We were exhausted. The metro is the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city anyways, so you might as well spend 10 euros on the 10 trip pass, or if you’ll be in the city longer, one of the passes for several days. It’s definitely worth it and would save a lot of time and energy.
Also to note, the metro system is very easy to figure out, but my friends and I were a bit confused when we first stepped off the plane. Note that the train is connected to terminal 2 of the airport, so if you’re in terminal 1, then you can take a free shuttle bus over to terminal 2. Also note that there is only one train that enters and leaves the airport, so if you see it, get on! My friends and I didn’t know this and missed the first train. We then had to wait another hour for the next one (although they’re supposed to come every half hour). Other than that experience, the metro was very fast and easy. Trains throughout the city seem to come very quickly, within a matter of minutes.
2. Buy tickets for Sagrada Familia and Park Güell ahead of time.
Sagrada Familia and Park Güell were probably my two favorite places we visited. They’re also some of the top attractions to see in Barcelona, so make it easier on yourself and buy the tickets ahead of time. We bought tickets for Sagrada Familia beforehand but not for Park Güell, and we had to wait several hours to enter Park Güell (although this isn’t as much of a problem since part of the park is free).
For Sagrada Familia, I would also recommend buying tickets to go up into the Nativity Tower (for only a few extra euros). This is the tower that Gaudí worked on, and from up high in the tower, there are incredible views of the city. Don’t worry too much about the time you pick to go up in the tower – after visiting the tower, you can still walk around in Sagrada Familia as much as you want.
3. Explore Las Ramblas – see more of Gaudí’s work and drink from the fountain.
Las Ramblas is a very cool area of town with large streets filled with shopping. Be careful over here, as petty theft is more common in this area (although I felt completely fine while there). If you want to do some shopping, note that many stores are closed on Sundays or close earlier on Sundays. But even if you don’t want to do any shopping, this street, and Gracia next to it, are cool to walk along.
You also have to drink from a fountain there (at least if you want to return to Barça…). Legend has it that if you drink from the fountain located near the top of Las Ramblas on the section called Rambla de Canaletes (near Plaçca de Catalunya), you will fall in love with the city and will return! Note that there are several fountains that look like this one, so if you want to be safe, drink from all of them like I did.
4. Head over to Castell de Montjüic
This fort also has incredible views of Barcelona. Apparently it’s free for Americans (but even with a student discount, it’s something like four euros). To get there, you can either take a metro to the Parrallel stop and then the funicular to the gondola in Montjüic park or a cable car from the port area. If you take the metro, you can also take a cable car from metro exit to Castell de Montjüic, or you can save money and walk up to the Castell instead.
Also near Castell de Montjüic is the area where the 1992 Olympics were held, which was cool to see. Close to that is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is beautiful on the outside (and probably great on the inside as well if you’re an art lover). From this side of the area, it’s possible to walk back down and into the city.
5. Check out one of the many bakeries all over the city.
Having traveled to many different parts of Spain already, I was surprised to see the plethora of bakeries all over Barcelona. Many are cheap and have delicious sandwiches, croissants, French bread pizzas and more. I remember constantly walking past these places and wishing that I had eaten there instead of the crummy touristy places I ate at that were only convenient at the time (aka near Park Güell). These bakeries are very wallet friendly and many let you take the food to go, so why not take your food with you for a great picnic in Park Güell or by Castell de Montjüic?
Best of luck on your journey to Barcelona. I hope you find this information helpful as you explore this breathtakingly beautiful city.
What tips do you have for anyone visiting Barcelona? Please share in the comments below!