I’ve already mentioned it a few times on the blog and on my social media channels like Facebook but Barcelona is one of the coolest cities of Europe. Where else do you have a major city, warm weather, a lot of sun and beach together?
A few weeks ago I spontaneously decided to pack my things and moved into a beautiful apartment in Barcelona. Luckily, I don’t need that much: a laptop, external hard drive, smartphone and a few clothes. Our apartment was located perfectly right besides the Sagrada Familia and it was pretty cool to walk by this incredible church/temple/monument/building every single day.
In this post I want to show you everything that you need to know about the city. It doesn’t matter if you stay two weeks, like we did, or just for a weekend. Make the most of your time.
The Ultimate Barcelona Guide
Not only the proud catalans love their capital city but also hundreds and thousands of travelers and tourists come from all over the world to visit this great city at the mediterranean coast. Why they come here so often? Easy: No other city offers so much culture, design, happiness, delicious food, sun, great weather and lays directly by the beach!
Barcelona is, compared to other cities in Spain, pretty expensive. The reason for this is that Barcelona is the intellectual capital of the country. It’s always been more expensive than other parts of the country like in the south or in the north. But there still are some great places to that offer free sightseeing around Barcelona.
Free Sightseeing in Barcelona
Barcelona has much more to offer than only the Las Ramblas, Gaudis beautiful houses and monuments and the Park Püell. Many sights in Barcelona have been built thanks to the world expo in 1888 and still impress visitors today.
Arc de Triomf
What’s a city without its own triumphal arc? This huge monument used to be the entrance of Barcelona. Nowadays the city of course is much bigger and the triumphal arc now sits more or less in the center of Barcelona. The city grew tremendously in the last 100 years and today it is growing to the north and south due to natural limitations on the west and eastern side of the city. On the western side there is a big mountain range limiting the cities growth and on the eastern side there is the Mediterranean Sea.
The Barceoneta is an amazing place in Barcelona and is loved by locals and travelers alike. The perfect place to grab a longboard or go biking by the water. This little peninsula was totally refurbished for the olympic games 1992. Since then its an important place for locals to just kick back and relax. The Barceloneta also has the best beach in the city and is home to the iconic W-Hotel.
When there is a storm offshore, local surfers head out to ride the waves at the Barceloneta.
La Boqueria or also called Mercat de Sant Josep is said to be one of the best markets of Europe. The market lays directly by the Las Ramblas and next to the travelers and tourists its main customers are the locals that live in this part of the city. Here you will find everything that you are craving for: from the fresh fish, caught the same day, to delicious fruits from the province. Around the market you’ll find many delicious restaurants with fresh produce from the market.
The Plaça Reial also lays directly by the Las Rambals and is only accessible through a small side street. If you are coming from the east, from Plaça Catalunya, you’ll find the Plaça Reial on your left. If you are coming from the west, from the harbor, you’ll find it on your right. Antoni Gaudí also created a few things, like everywhere in Barcelona. The street lanterns are a creation of him.
Plaça Reial is a great place to kick back in the evenings with a nice glass of wine and to watch people walk by.
Crypta – The church under the Sagrada Familia
The entrance to the Sagrada Familia is very expensive. At 15 € per Person you have to think twice if you want to afford to see a big room of colorful glass and some columns. However, the crypta underneath the Sagrada Familia is for free. Yes, you read right. There is a church underneath the church and its free. In the crypta lays Antoni Gaudí.
Due to the ongoing contraction of the Sagrada Familia, the entrance of the crypta is moving constantly. Simply ask one of the employees running around and ask “La entrada del la cripta” he’ll show you the way. Most of the times, the entrance lays directly next to the cashier’s office.
Tip: Picasso Museum
Every first Sunday of the month the Picasso Museum is for free and on every other sunday the entrance is for after 3 PM!
Transportation in Barcelona: Getting around by Bus, Tram and Underground
The infrastructure of Barcelona is great. You’ll find buses everywhere, a big underground system and sometimes trams. And if you are totally lost, you’ll find plenty of affordable taxis.
Tip: Get yourself a 10-Ways-Ticket, this is the ticket with the best cost-benfit ratio when here for a visit of a few days. We used 10 rides in 9 days because we walked a lot. You can buy the 10-Ways-Ticket on any underground stop and can use it for all public transportation in Barcelona!
Underground in Barcelona
The underground system in Barcelona is very easy to figure out. You have to buy a ticket before entering the station or validate your 10-Ways-Ticket and pass the security barriers and you are good to go. Everything is automatic and there is almost no staff.
Taking the bus in Barcelona
The bus network is great in Barcelona. There is a bus stop almost around every corner. Best is to inform yourself though Google Maps where you want to go and how to get there before leaving your hotel, hostel or apartment. Often you are faster and better off taking the bus than the underground!
Taxi in Barcelona
Taking a taxi in Barcelona is cheap compared to other prices in the city.
Daytime kilometer: 1,18 €/km
Nighttime kilometer: 0,93 €/km
A taxi ride from the airport to the center f.e. to the Sagrada Familia costs 35€
Is it worth it to get the Barcelona Card?
When I arrived in Barcelona I’ve been thinking a lot if it is worth getting the Barcelona Card. I ended up not buying the card but I’ve been reading a lot about it and think that it can be very useful for many people.
When is it worth to get the Barcelona Card?
The Barcelona Card has many advantages if you want to visit many museums but also if you think that you’ll use public transportation a lot!
Advantages Barcelona Card:
- Free entrance to over 20 Museums and Sights
- 30% Discount on guidances through Barri Gòtic the home of Picasso
- Up to 30% Discount on Restaurants, Bars, Clubs etc…
- Free travel guide in 6 different languages and free map of Barcelona
- Unlimited use of public transportation all over Barcelona (including underground, bus, tram and bus to and from the airport)
- More information about participating shops and free coupons…
2-Day-Pass: 34 € – Buy now!
3-Day-Pass: 44 € – Buy now!
4-Day-Pass: 52 € – Buy now!
5-Day-Pass: 58 € – Buy now!
Buy it now and get it delivered home before arriving to Barcelona and you’ll be able to take the airport bus to the city!
Security in Barcelona: Caution Pickpockets
Barcelona is a stronghold of pickpockets. Everyday hundreds of people fall for these idiots and police often can’t do anything. Even though it got better the last few years, this is a big problem for the city and it tries really hard to get it under control. I know many people that robbed in Barcelona and quickly had to run to the embassy to get last minute documents in order to make it back home. Not the way you want your trip to end in this city!
Where do you have to pay attention?
During Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
It doesn’t matter where we were, everywhere they told us to look after our bags and keep them on the chair next to us instead on the floor beneath chairs.
On underground, bus and train stations
Especially when getting in and out of the trains and buses it is difficult to pay attention to all your belongings. Pickpockets know this and use this to their advantage!
Especially at places like the Las Ramblas pickpockets are everywhere. Always keep an eye on your belongings.
When standing in line
A popular place is the Sagrada Familia, but also at other sights, it happens often that pickpockets will play the lost tourist and will ask for help while taking all the things out of your pockets. You think you would notice but you won’t! They are pro’s!
Sleeping in Barcelona: Hotel, Hostel or Apartment
I’ve mentioned already a few times that I’m a big fan of slow travel. Therefore I often prefer to rent an apartment instead of a hotel or hostel. I simply love to be part of the neighborhood and go to places where the locals usually go!
Here a few tips where you can sleep in Barcelona:
Apartment in Barcelona
Our 2-Bedroom-Apartment was at “Career De Valencia 465” und couldn’t have been better. It was laying in the perfect location. The apartment was exactly around the corner from the Sagrada Familia and we walked by the iconic monument every single day. The underground was only 4 minutes away from our door and a few great bakeries with delicious pastries were just around the corner.
I also bought myself a shortboard in Barcelona and from the apartment to the beach it only took me 7 minutes downhill. Good that Barcelona is so skateboard and biker friendly.
To get to Gracia or to other places in the city there were also multiple bus stops that took us anywhere in the city!
Hotels in Barcelona
Depending on what you are looking for in Barcelona, there are some really cool places to get an hotel in Barcelona. If you don’t mind the crowds El Born and the old city are nice places. Also the Barceloneta with the cool W-Hotel is awesome and offers incredible views. My favorite place to get an hotel is L’Eixample or Sant Martí because it’s a bit away from the crowds!
Book your hotels through our site and support Off-The-Path.com
Hostels in Barcelona
The last time that I slept in a hostel in Barcelona, I stayed at the TwentyTu (Book now). A cool, stylish and urban hostel near the underground station of Glories and Marina and not too far from the Port Olympic.
Restaurants in Barcelona
The food in Spain always is good and in Barcelona is very varied. Thanks to globalization you will find great food from around the world. We tried to eat as much Spanish food as possible in the two weeks we stayed there but also tried some other cuisine as well.
These are some of our favorite restaurants that we visited more often in the two weeks there:
Tapas Bar: Xanfrà Gaudí
Typical tapas bar down the street from the Sagrada Familia and just around the corner from our Apartment. Great Tapas and good wine and very affordable!
Address: Carrer de Valencia 443
Mexikan: Chido One
Great Mexican food in Gracia. Portions a very small but very good. It’s located in the middle of Gracia in a very quiet street. Love that area!
Address: Torrijos 30
Fish restaurant: La Barca Del Samalanca
Directly at the harbor of the Port Olympic this restaurants offers everything that comes from the sea. We’ve had a great paella there. It’s about 50 % tourists and 50 % locals. This place has way too many waiters and little structure and therefore quickly annoying. The food is good though and the prices ok!
Address: Port Olímpic, Moll de Gregal 13-17
Bask Food: Bizkaia
This bask pinxos bar is located in the beautiful El Born and is recommendable when you are looking for a few bites in between with a good glass of wine or a beer. They have a big variety of pinxos and they always come with new ones, once a plate is empty. Every pinxo costs approximately 2 €. If you are really hungry it can quickly become expensive. The quality of the food is great!
Address: Vidriera 12
Institution: Cal Pep
This tapas bar is so popular it could be called an institution. If you don’t reserve a table, be sure to wait some time in front of the door or be there early. Doors open at 19:30 and it is recommended to be there at 19:00 to get a table immediately! The staff is very attentive and asks you for your preferences and likes and then recommends a little menu of 4 to 5 tapas. The food is great, fresh and delicious and the prices are very high. If you are two, you will quickly pay around 100 € for 5 Tapas and some drinks!
Address: Plaça de les Olles 8
Bars in Barcelona
There are so many small and great bars that it’s difficult to say which ones are the best. In two weeks we went from the cheap student bar to the expensive gin bar. These are some of our favorites:
I love this little place. Since year I come here every time I visit this city and I recommend everybody to go here. This little bar is not far from the Passeig El Born and hidden in a little alley. It’s small and cosy with an amazing atmosphere. Locals, Expats and tourists come here, drink, eat and hang out together and the prices are amazing. A bottle (1L) of Cava costs 9 Euros. Be ready for a great night and a big hangover the next day! 🙂
Address: Carrer de Montcada 22
Not far from the Las Rablas you will find a small entrance to a pretty big bar in the basement of a big building. This is a student bar and prices are accordingly. Half a liter of Sangria costs 2 €!
Mainly Students meet here to party and now Off The Path readers because this place is still a pretty well kept secret! 😉
Address: Carrer de les Sitges 5
Want a really good Gin Tonic in a Ballon Glas? Then make your way to Gracia to Bobby Gin. This place definitely isn’t the cheapest, but it is one of the most delicious Gin bars in town. A Gin Tonic starts at around 13 € but you also have to consider the amount you get. In a usual bar, this amount would probably be 2 Gin Tonics.
Very good and very recommendable!
Address: Carrer de Francisco Giner 47
How to get to Barcelona?
Are you convinced that you need to spend some time in this great city? There are many airlines that offer direct flights to Barcelona on a daily basis!
If you found this post helpful, you would help us a lot if you would book your flights through our site since we get a little commission from the airlines. You won’t pay a single cent extra but would show your appreciation for our efforts!
To be honest not my favorite airline (read why) but I recently flew with them again and it wasn’t as bad as my first experience. Still not a big fan though but it connects many European cities directly with Barcelona!
Book now and support Off-The-Path.com
Great airline and connects London with Barcelona directly.
Book now and support Off-The-Path.com
Very reliable and connects many German cities with Barcelona (f.e. Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich)
Book now and support Off-The-Path.com
I really love this airline. Flew with it many times already, except the little space between the seats, the service and price is great!
Book now and support Off-The-Path.com
You get what you pay for but Ryanair has improved many things lately like being able to
Ryanair connects Barcelona with many cities like: Birmingham, Bologna, Brüssel Charleroi, Brussels Zaventem, Budapest, Dublin ,East Midlands, Edinburgh, Fez, Fuerteventura, Glasgow-Prestwick, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Jerez, Lanzarote, Liverpool, London Stansted, Mailand Bergamo, Malaga, Manchester, Menorca, Milan Malpensa, Nador, Oslo Rygge, Palma, Paris Beauvais, Porto, Rom Ciampino, Rome Fiumicino, Santander, Santiago, Sevilla, Stockholm Skavsta, Tenerife North, Teneriffa, Turin, Valladolid, Venedig Treviso,Vilnius, Warschau-Modlin)
Connects many German cities with Barcelona like Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover, Düsseldorf, Köln and Stuttgart!
Germanwings is part of the Lufthansa network and you can book your flights via Lufthansa. Book now!