Planning a visit to Spain’s second largest city? Barcelona is fiercely proud of its Catalan heritage and while it welcomes travelers, it’s also keen to protect itself from the impact of global tourism. If you’d like to make this your next European city break, here’s how to travel like a pro with our Barcelona travel cheats.
Protect yourself from pickpockets
Spain’s a safe country in general, but Barcelona has something of a reputation for petty theft. To avoid being parted from your valuables, take a few sensible precautions. Make use of your hotel room safe to store your passport and spare cash. Out and about, keep your mobile phone and credit cards in a zipped pocket and wear bags across your body to make them harder to swipe. Be on your guard for distraction scams and be especially wary along the busy Ramblas or if travelling on the Metro.
Eat with the locals
If you’re used to eating early, you’re going to be dining alone. Many restaurants don’t open until mid-evening and it’s common for locals to eat their main meal at ten in the evening or later. Despite the late hour, it’s a social occasion, so go with the flow and adjust your body clock to fit in. After all, you’re on holiday, so a siesta’s no problem.
If your stomach complains, treat it to a plate of yummy pintxos, bite-size snacks perfect for washing down with a glass of cava. Don’t be tempted to eat on the Ramblas, however, which is not for Barcelona travel cheats. The area caters for a tourist crowd and has prices to reflect its transient clientele. Try the old town or one of the excellent market eateries instead.
Consider a hop on, hop off bus
If you’re a first time visitor, Barcelona’s sprawling districts can be overwhelming. Its sights are far-flung, so take the effort out of ticking off your guide book’s must-sees by purchasing a ticket for a hop on, hop off bus. They cover the key landmarks including the city’s iconic Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, FC Barcelona’s stadium Camp Nou and bustling Plaça de Catalunya. Some even throw in a boat ride. Once you’ve got your bearings, you can revisit the neighbourhoods that speak your language and explore them at a more leisurely pace. Don’t forget to buy your tickets in advance for the busiest attractions.
Time your museum trips and get in free
City sightseeing can get expensive once you add up all the admission fees, and Barcelona’s no exception. Savvy travellers will plan their sightseeing carefully to take advantage of times when they can get in without spending a cent. The Picasso Museum, for example, is free on Thursdays between 6 pm and 9.30 pm and the first Sunday of the month. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya won’t charge on Saturdays after 3 pm or on the first Sunday of the month. Many museums also offer what’s termed Open Door Days, so check websites before you travel to see if these free days fit your schedule.
Don’t forget your swimsuit
Barcelona’s a popular destination for a city break, but its
location on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea mean that you can combine it
with a beach holiday without heading out of town. The central Barceloneta beach
is great for people watching, and there are plenty of sun loungers to rent as
well as bars and restaurants nearby. The beaches of St Pol de Mar, Caldetes, Castelldefels,
Ocata or Sitges are an easy ride away if you want something a little less busy.