While planning my trip and during my recent first visit to Barcelona, I picked up a few tips and tricks that I both used during this holiday, and will be employing the next time I visit. While I loved almost every moment of my stay during this vibrant and lively city, I do wish I had known some of these things going in, and am glad that I learned the others. And so to make things easier for you when you visit this bustling Spanish city, I thought I’d share 10 of lessons these here today. Hope you find these tips for visiting Barcelona helpful!
- Check the Cathedral Roof opening times in advance. I’m sad that I snoozed on this and didn’t get to take in the supposed breathtaking view of the city. We arrived at 6PM only to find out that the roof was open from 3-5PM. Be sure to know the hours during your trip so that you don’t miss out.
- Walk walk walk. One of the best choices my travel buddy and I made during the trip was choosing to walk from the Sagrada Familia to Parc Güell. We saw so many extra architectural delights around Avenue Diagonal, and even discovered some super yummy ice cream this way.
- Buy a T10 Metro Pass. I know I just mentioned walking above, but buying this 10 use metro ticket right at the beginning of the trip seriously came in handy. It was only about 10 Euros (cheap), and was a life saver upon arrival, late night returns to our Air BnB, and hauls across town. And FYI in general, Barcelona has a great Underground system.
- Preorder tickets to the major sites. We learned this lesson twice, once after arriving at the Sagrada Familia only to find out we wouldn’t be able to get in until about an hour before closing time (for the full price), and once at Parc Guell, when we came back around sunset time (no regrets). However, I do wish that the first haul up the hill in the afternoon heat had been spared. That being said, buy the tickets to all the sites you want to see in advance. It will better allow you to plan your days and you can skip the lines.
- Visit Parc Güell at sunset. This only came about by chance after we were told to return at 6:30PM, but as I said, no regrets! Imagine bright tiles bathed in a golden hour light, people lounging around in the evening sun, and seeing the entire city laid out in front of you as the afternoon heat fades away. A dream!
- Get lost in the little side streets. Our favorite parts of the trip were wandering around the hilly roads leading up to Parc Güell, or getting lost in the maze of streets between the harbor and the Cathedral.
- Stay away from La Rambla. While many guide books sited this long street as a must see, it completely turned me off in every way. Masses and masses of people, tourists traps galore, and every other person standing around trying to sell you drugs. Not a fan, and not something I needed to see. If you do go see it, just don’t go expecting a beautiful tree lined street.
- Relax and take a nap during the afternoon heat. Doing this each day completely saved our sanity. By the time we found a place in a park/at the beach/in the harbor, we were always overheated, grumpy, and exhausted. Two hours later after the heat wave, we’d get going again refreshed to knock out a few things before dinner and generally just feeling much better (and tanner!).
- Find your niche! We focused on Barri Gotic during our trip, and are so glad that we got to know this one area so well by the end. Focusing small rather than running around the other city not only made the trip more relaxing, but also helped us better understand the culture and the people. We learned a lot about one place rather than barely grazing a huge surface.
- Know how much everything costs. Prices in Barcelona for visiting museums/institutions ended up being a lot higher than I expected, which was quite disappointing (especially coming from Paris where I can go basically everywhere for free). During my next trip I’m going to save up with a few specific places in mind. Prices are too high to just bounce from one place to the next (15+ Euros for the Opera house? I think not).
I hope you guys have found this post helpful and that you use it if you ever end up planning a trip to Barcelona!
I also wanted to apologize for my brief absence on here, something came up and I had to focus on my offline life for a bit. Things have calmed down and I hope to get back to more regular posting soon.