Barcelona is a hip city, famed for its culture, architecture, fashion and the arts. One of the most popular cities in Europe, we’ve collated nine Barcelona travel tips to help you make the most of a visit to this vibrant corner of Spain.
The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona rests on the northern Mediterranean coast, offering visitors the chance to combine a city and beach experience in one.
With affordable flights and cost-effective ways to travel around when you get there, Barcelona is the ideal place if you are looking for a luxury experience without breaking the bank.
Plus seasonal rates at Barcelona’s hotels could find you saving yourself up to 73% just by travelling at the right time.
Barcelona travel tips
1. Consider travelling off-season
Travelling just slightly out of season can generate some serious savings, or give you a chance to upgrade your level of luxury.
We compared a three night break in June – prime season for city breaks – versus travelling in October and managed to save nearly 73% on the room rate at the Mandarin Oriental. What’s more, travelling in October would mean enjoying a deluxe suite, versus a smaller studio in June!
Barcelona is still a temperate 18 degrees in October, so you can see the sights without feeling the cold and with the city being a hive of cultural activity from galleries to churches – chances are you won’t be outside very much at all.
2. Research your airlines
Barcelona’s El Prat is a major international airport with flights from the east coast cities of New York, Atlanta (both direct), Miami, Philadelphia, in the US, and from the UK. Major low-cost airlines in the UK can offer great deals to Spain, but it also pays dividends to look at the national low-cost carriers of the country you are visiting.
Vueling flies to Barcelona from a number of major UK airports , with flights from €50 one way. And with a number of their weekly flights operated by British Airways, you can also enjoy a few scheduled airline extras onboard. See our story on how to upgrade your low-cost flights for more information on Vueling.
3. Hop on the metro to explore the city
If you’re planning a lot of sightseeing, a metro pass is an affordable way to get around, with the major sights just a short walk from most metro stops.
Alternatively zip through the city’s traffic and get around under your own steam with eCooltra Motosharing. The electric motorcycle rental service charges a flat rate of 24c per minute, but only for the time you’re actually driving one of the bikes.
4. Great value tapas and evening meals
A Spanish adventure would not be complete without a tapas lunch washed down with some sangria. With numerous restaurants offering lunchtime deals for around €15 a head, it’s also a great way to eat and drink well while saving.
If you are around the Las Ramblas area, head away from the promenade to discover more affordable and less crowded eateries with equally, if not more, delicious food offerings.
Alternatively combine dining with a local experience and book a cooking class with a Spanish chef. A fun activity and a chance to take your skills back home, learning to make paella or tapas with friends will be a memorable experience. At €32 euros it is a great value option for a delicious dinner, and many classes include a tour of beautiful Boqueria market.
5. Keep things safe
Las Ramblas is a key tourist hotspot, but as is often the case with large crowds, come pickpockets. Always be vigilant, and keep sight of your belongings. Perhaps consider travelling with a money belt to safely conceal your cash and cards from view.
6. Book in advance for Tickets
Tickets Bar and Restaurant is one of Barcelona’s hottest Michelin-star restaurants, so getting reservations is near impossible close to the date, so make sure you book at least a month in advance.
Offering a new and fun twist on gastronomy, dishes such as Tickets’ La Vida Tapa are prepared for entertainment, in a form of food theatre.
7. La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia should be on your list of things to see, and it’s hard to miss as it dominates the city skyline.
Begun by Antonio Gaudi in 1882, the cathedral is now entering its final phase of construction, and its final tower will make it the tallest cathedral in Europe.
Tickets sell fast, so be sure to book before you go. To make the most of your visit, book a guided tour for €24, or better still, upgrade your experience to the Top Views Tour for an additional €5 euros to enjoy panoramic views from the towers.
8. Shopping central
As a capital of fashion, Barcelona is a great place to discover luxury designer brands for less. La Roca shopping village is just 40 minutes outside of the city, with more than 130 boutiques for shopping bargains.
This summer, the outlets are offering up to 80% off some of their spring/summer collections from leading brands including Karen Millen, Hugo Boss and Ted Baker to name just a few.
Open seven days a week from 10am-10pm, La Roca gives you ample time to find a bargain buy. For convenience, they also operate a round trip coach service from Barcelona city centre for €20 per adult.
9. An evening of entertainment for less than €20
From July to early August every year, the impressive Montjuic Castle hosts weekly outdoor cinema events, combined with a live music performance.
At only €8 per ticket including deck chair hire, you can escape the summer heat and enjoy an evening under the stars. Visit the Boqueria market beforehand to stock up with a picnic of tasty local foods to take with you.
To get there, Sala Montjuïc is collaborating with eCooltra Mothosharing, the electric motorcycle rental service. Download the app and enjoy 30 minutes free with the code ALFRESCA.
From the city centre, a roundtrip will take approximately 40 minutes, you can enjoy a unique experience and only pay for ten minutes of travel.
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What are your top Barcelona travel tips? Add yours in the comments below…
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Some images here are licensed under Creative Commons 2.0: Robert Underwood, Hernán Piñera, Katherine Price, David Berkowitz, SBA-73, Jorge Franganillo and Kris Arnold
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Sagrada Familia is so worth it! We just couldn’t get over the detail and scale of the church. Just magnificent!
Kate | http://www.petiteadventures.org/
Sarah Lee says
It is Kate, just fantastic, and I’m sure it’s changed a lot since I was last there. That’s the beauty of something like that that’s still taking shape I guess.
Steven Kovacs says
Eat lunches at the university cafeteria – fresh, delicious and cheap
Jeff Dobbins says
Barcelona is without question one of my favorite places on earth. I’m always ruminating on a return visit.
Thanks for that great tip about the entertainment on Montjuic. I’ve been to the “dancing waters” (which I loved), but eager to check out the performances.
Shawn Rosvold says
We’ll be there in early October. It’s my first visit to Barcelona (and Spain!) and I’m so excited. Any autumn tips?
Jane Carter says
Thank you so much for sharing, really useful post and information. For most of the European top destinations people should always consider booking tickets in advance and skip the endless line.