Barcelona in Catalonia, northeast Spain, attracts millions of tourists from around the globe each year. Some come to spend a few days shopping whereas others want to experience the laid-back vibes and enjoy the world-famous food. You can find something to suit any budget from the best villas for rent in Spain to budget hotels and a cheap bed in a hostel making it accessible for everyone. If you’re planning to visit Barcelona this year, keep reading to find out how to make the dream trip a reality.
Why Visit Barcelona?
Sun lovers will love Barcelona because of its all-year-round warm climate with hot and sunny summers and mild winters. When you visit in the summer, expect blue cloudless skies and temperatures that are hovering in the high 20s and low 30s every single day. And if you visit in the low season between November and March, the temperature is still a pleasant 16°C.
Barcelona also has several kilometres of sandy beaches within walking distance of the city centre, incredible architecture designed by Gaudi and a vibrant Catalonian culture. Regular events and festivals combined with some of Europe’s best gastronomical experiences make the city a top place to visit. And don’t forget the most famous football team in the world: Barcelona FC.
The Best Time to Visit?
There isn’t really a best time to visit a city that gets more than 30 million annual visitors if you want to skip the crowds. Tourists come all year round, and the city feels busy whichever month you choose to visit. Spring tends to see slightly fewer tourists compared to the summer months. May and June have beautiful weather along with several festivals. If you have your heart set on trying to skip the worst of the crowds, January and February are perfect times to come to Barcelona.
The Must-Do Things
Barcelona combines everything a tourist could dream of from charismatic neighbourhoods to beaches. Unless you return to the city several times, you’ll never have the chance to see and experience everything. For those of you in Barcelona with a limited amount of time, check out the following must-see attractions.
People around the world have heard of Gaudi for his beautiful styles of architecture. The Catalonian born architect designed several buildings in the city including the famous Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. If you want to experience Gaudi’s magnificence, either plot out a route on Google Maps and head off alone or join a tour. The second is a better option because guides can give historical overviews and explain the meaning behind the buildings.
The long Las Ramblas stretches through Barcelona attracting millions of tourists to stroll along the famous street. Several shops selling clothes, perfumes and souvenirs among other things are along here. Depending on the time of day, you may see a variety of street performers who are said to be some of Europe’s best. And after walking and soaking up the views and sights, head to one of the cafés and watch the Catalonian world pass by.
The Gothic Quarter with its long alleys and serendipitous squares is a favourite with tourists. And the district’s most iconic structure, the Gothic Cathedral, dates back to the 11th-century. For a small fee, an elevator goes to the roof of the cathedral for incredible views of the Gothic Quarter.
If you want to escape the tourists, you can take the bus or metro to some of the outer districts. Each has its own attractions, charm and character along with plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat. The best ones include Raval, Gracia and El Born.
Ask anyone who’s been to Barcelona and most will tell you that they were warned about pickpockets operating in both the Las Ramblas and Gothic Quarter. Gangs of criminals work together to try to lift the possessions of unsuspecting tourists. There are two ways to look at this. They’re not going to chase you down the street at knifepoint. And those who do fall victim are more likely than not being careless and naive. If you protect yourself and your possessions, the chances of becoming a victim are slim at best. Buy a money belt and tuck it under your t-shirt to store your cash and cards and always keep bags with you at all times.
The next thing to be aware of and avoid is something called Dynamic Currency Conversion. When you go to the ATM or pay with your debit or credit card, you’ll have the choice between paying in your home currency or Euros. Brits are asked to pay in pounds and Americans in dollars. Never accept and always proceed in euros. If you pay in your own currency, the conversion rates are terrible and the processing fee is high. You’ll pay much less by selecting euros.
And the final tip helps travellers who rely on the metro to get around the city. The ticket system can be confusing and expensive. A single ticket is valid for one journey only. If you connect to a different line, you need to exit, buy another ticket and go back in again.
A Perfect Trip to Barcelona
There’s a reason why millions of tourists visit Barcelona each year and millions of others around the world dream of one day visiting. Architectural and historical beauty combine with delicious food and a laid-back atmosphere. Expect to have a great time. But remember to look after your possessions and always pay in Euros on your credit card.