Things to Do in Barcelona

Barcelona Spain

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia region in Spain and the country’s second largest city. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, further fueled by its hosting of 1992 Summer Olympic Games.

It has a wealth of modern architecture together with historical establishments. Being a huge city, there are so many places to visit here. So many that we could only feature few of them. Here are some vital tips that would help you travel comfortably around Barcelona.

Learn basic Catalan – Most tourists do not realize that Spain actually has 3 other official languages aside from Español. There is also Galician, Basque, and Catalan, which people of Barcelona speaks. Although the locals (especially in metropolitan areas) can communicate in English and Spanish, it is best to learn Catalan to show your appreciation about the city.

Besides, street signs around the city are written in Catalan. Streets are labeled "carrer" while avenues are called "avinguda." Remember that Catalan is a "language," not a dialect (it would offend people here).

Bring a transformer or adapter – Like the rest of Spain, electric supply around Barcelona is 220 volts with 2-pin wall sockets. It is best to carry a transformer or an electricity plug adapter depending on your need. Visitors from the United Kingdom would find it necessary to purchase an adapter to convert the 3-pin sockets their appliances like blow dryers usually have into a 2-pin socket.

Meanwhile, American tourists should bring along a transformer to prevent their 110-volt appliances to get damaged. We recommend buying an electric plug adapter in the airport rather than buying in stores around the city, especially if you are concerned about durability.

Bring your own bottled water – Although Barcelona’s tap water is safe to drink, you may find it unpalatable. Bring along an ample supply of bottled water while you travel around the city. Bottled water is available in many stores at a cheap price. However, do remember that you should purchase bottled water in a supermarket and not on stalls along streets, which may be sold at thrice the price.

Bring your identification – It is a requirement in Spain to bring a long a photographed identification of yourself. With the recent terrorist attacks in the country, it is best to bring a photocopy of your passport for identification and as a safety precaution. You can also bring along your driver’s license.

Low-cost international calls – One way to make low-cost international calls while in Barcelona is to purchase a calling card from tobacco shops (or "Tabac" as the locals call it), internet cafés and some newsstands. Each phone card provides you with hours of talk time, but be sure to choose your call cards wisely as some of them have preferential rates from specific countries making you save more

Dress appropriately – The dress code in Barcelona is mainly casual, conservative yet fashionable. However, if you are planning to enter exclusive night clubs, avoid wearing sleeveless shirts and trainers. Also, avoid wearing scant clothing when entering churches as well as shorts when walking around the metro (save that for the beach).

Do not wear your money bag around your waist – Wearing a belt bag could easily target you as a tourist, therefore an easy prey for thieves. If you have a money bag, do it like the locals do by carrying it around the shoulders.

Do not appear like a tourist – Just like what was mentioned, tourists who are not careful can be easily targeted by pickpockets and scam artists. If you are lost, don’t ask for directions to a random stranger on the street and instead go to a café and casually ask the staff. You could also consult your map inside.

If you are eating at a restaurant, do not leave your bags on the floor or hanging at the back of your seat. If a person approaches you in any way-asking a question, dropping money, or asking for donations-simply ignore him or her. If you are carrying a backpack, wear it in front of you. Do not carry your camera in a camera bag and instead put it in a small bag. Keep your valuables out of sight and your wallet away from your bag.

Join the feasts – Barcelona has different celebrations all year long. Their main celebration is Festes de la Mercè, a music and arts festival that is held around September. The city’s districts also put up their own festivals that tourists can dive into, such as Festes de Gràcia that is held every August in the Gràcia quarter. Another interesting holiday is Sant Jordi every 23rd of April. This is like their version of Valentine’s Day where people give roses and books around the streets.

Sample Catalan cuisine – Although you can get different cuisines from different parts of the globe when you travel in Barcelona, we recommend that you try out some Catalan food. Traditional Catalan cuisine relies much on the use of pasta and fish. One great Catalan staple is the "pa amb tomàquet," toasted bread that is smeared with tomato-and sometimes garlic-then seasoned with olive oil.

Eat on a budget – When dining on a budget, you may want to choose small bars-like those along Avinguda de Parallel-that offer "menu del dia" where it is possible to choose one tapa, a main dish, and a drink. This meal would cost between 9 to 11 Euros per person. Another recommended site is a buffet-style canteen located near Sagrada Familia on the Carrer de Provença. Here you get unlimited tapas, main dishes, drinks, tea or coffee at a really affordable rate.

For the really stingy, try Travel Bar near Liceu Metro station for meals as low as 1 Euro. Keep in mind that credit cards may not be accepted in these establishments. Also, many expensive restaurants around Barcelona offer lunch specials called "menu de dia" during siesta hours, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm local time. These special meals are offered at a fraction of the price during the day.

Eat Tapas as how the locals do it – When entering a tapas restaurant, ask for a plate before choosing your tapas that are displayed. Tapas are usually served with cocktail sticks (used to count the number of food you ate), which you should never pick up on its own as the food would most likely drop and would only cause you embarrassment. Instead, hold the base of the appetizer with one hand and support the cocktail stick with the other.

Steer clear from overly-expensive restaurants – There are areas in Barcelona where tourists can be so populated that restaurants there serve dishes at an overinflated amount, such as the Olympic Port and Las Ramblas. It is best to consider other places when dining in unless if you want to splurge.

Avoid restaurant barkers – The best restaurants in the city do not have to call you out. Some restaurant barkers would entice tourists to come in their restaurants that are most likely offering below-average dishes.

Marvel at Gaudi architecture – Antonio Gaudi is Barcelona’s pride. A pioneer of a type of modern architecture named after him, his structures are inspired from the way nature grows hence the "curvy"and "colorful" aspect of his works. Among the famous establishments he created include La Sagrada Familia along Carrer Mallorca, La Pedrera along Provença, and Park Güell located on the hill of el Carmen in Gràcia district.

Treat your children to Barcelona Aquarium – L’Aquarium Barcelona is a popular attraction among kids and children-at-heart. It has over 11,000 different animals from 450 different species. It is located in Moll d’Espanya in Port Vell (or the Old Port) district. If you have a Barcelona Card, you get a 10% discount on entrance. It is also right next to an IMAX theater.

Tour the whole of Spain in one visit – At the Poble Espanyol de Montjuic (or Spanish Village), located along Avinguda Marques de Camillas, you can treat yourself at seeing different architectures from various parts of Spain, buy some local handicrafts, and watch a performance of different cultural groups.

Watch Catalan flamenco – Among the attractions in Poble Espanyol is the highly-regarded Tablao de Carmen, a flamenco group that performs twice a night (depending on availability) in the open-museum’s Andalusian section. You can treat yourself to a glass of sherry or make it a date with a four-course meal with fine Riojan wine.

Get football-crazy – Like much of Europe, football is an obsession in Spain. And it isn’t much of a surprise that Barcelona also has their own football team, Barcelona FC. Their stadium, Camp Nou, is the biggest in Europe. This stadium also has a museum displaying the team’s history and achievements.

When you buy your ticket, you can either go around the museum or see the stadium or you can buy a dual ticket where you get to see the museum and get a behind-the-scenes look at the club like changing rooms, VIP lounge, press conference areas and the like.

Visit the Barcelona Zoo – The city zoo has hundreds of different species in different habitats. It also has a restaurant, picnic area, shop, electric cars, ponies, and a mini-train. To get there, go to Parc de la Ciutadella and follow the signs to the zoo.

Witness Picasso’s works of art – Located in Montcada, Picasso Museum is the home of Pablo Picasso’s many works arranged in chronological order. In this way, viewers get to see a fascinating insight into the development of the painter’s thinking over time and shows how he developed the distinctive designs that he is so famous nowadays. You get 50% discount on entrance if you have a Barcelona Card.

Watch magical fountains come to life – During summer and winter, the Magic Fountain of Montjuic comes to life with a blend of mist, light, and music creating a treat for the senses during the night. It is located in Plaça Espanya and is available during weekends.

Stroll along La Rambla – Barcelona’s most famous boulevard is a haven of hotels, shops, and various attractions such as live performances, human statues, portraitist, and the like. You could also check out its different museums such as the wax museum and Museu de’l Erotica where several kinky toys are displayed.

Take a tour of the city squares – Barcelona has a lot of public space such as parks and city squares like Plaça de Espanya, Plaça de Catalunya, and La Plaça Reial, each has its own attractions.

See the whole city from above – Tibidabo is located on the mountains of Barcelona and offers a spectacular view of the city at 532 meters. It is said that it was here that the Devil seduced Jesus Christ into worship him. It also has a wonderful church.

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