Essential information when visiting Barcelona
Updated: May 3
Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia which is a region in Spain and is the largest city on the
Mediterranean coast and second largest in Spain. Barcelona is a captivating and energetic city brimming with architecture, medieval streets, skaters, stunning beaches and a banging street
Barcelona is a city that never sleeps and has something for everyone.
Best time to visit:
Barcelona is blessed with Mediterranean weather so all year around you can expect to enjoy your trip.
In the winter, the nights can be chilly, and the beach is out of the itinerary as its just not warm enough. In the summer months, Barcelona boasts highs of 30 degrees C plus, but it also attracts the crowds meaning longer queues, packed restaurants and overwhelmed beaches. We visited in June and honestly, we probably wouldn’t have wanted it to be much hotter for the sight seeing we had planned. Crowds were not too bad though, but we would definitely recommend you book the main attractions online if you plan to visit in the summer months. Online research suggests the best time to visit is May to June and September to October as there are less tourists, it’s still warm and the sunshine plentiful and you get that little more of this beautiful city all to yourself.
Barcelona is a very walkable city. But it is also a very large city with much of the various must see attractions being fairly spaced apart. We are always fans of walking as much as possible but when you are short on time and/or boiling hot sometimes you are better to bite the bullet and opt for an alternative method of transport. Barcelona provides many easy and cost-effective options so you will not get stuck whilst choosing to save your burning feet! If you do choose to walk, google maps seemed to work very well for us in the city.
This was our most used and favourite mode of transport getting around the city as it was so easy and so cheap. We had researched public transport before we left and knew that getting a T10 ticket for the metro and public transport was our best option. It costs around 10 euros for a T10 ticket and you can purchase them at any of the machines in the metro stations or the newspaper booths you see around the street. The machines in the metro stations are also in English so it’s really simple to buy them just before you jump on. The T10 ticket gives you 10 journeys; the clue is in the name! So, we bought one and shared it and when we had used them all we just purchased another ticket. Using the metro, you can get pretty much anywhere in the city and unlike some cities we have been to, the maps are really easy to read and navigate meaning we didn’t get on the wrong line once! Go us!
There are taxis flying around down the main roads but in all honesty, we didn’t use them much as the metro was so easy. They charge a 2 euro 50 charge from the start and then around 1 euro 10 per Km so financially it made sense to use the metro for us. But they are readily available and easy enough to flag down should you opt to get around in comfort.
So, this was an exciting discovery for us. Tuk tuks in Barcelona?? Who knew? Most of them will be hanging around down at the beach area but will take you to pretty much anywhere in the city. Prices generally start at 20 euro but they are open to negotiation and we managed to barter down to 10 euros and even got a photo on the lovely guys fun mobile! Winner! So if you are heading down to the beach and want to try something different getting back to your hotel or apartment, jump on one and enjoy whizzing in between carpet stalls, ice cream vendors and bustling tourists!
We didn’t opt for bikes on our trip, but we did see many people cycling around and it looked an easy way of getting from a to b. Barcelona has over 180km of cycling lanes and so is super bike friendly along with plenty of places you can chain them up outside attractions. There are bike hire shops a plenty especially in the gothic quarter and the good news is you can transport your bike on the metro on weekdays as long as its not in their rush hour. (7am-9.30pm and 5pm 9.30pm)
Do not make the mistake we made and hike Montjuic to get to the castle completely unaware there is a cable car service that whizzes you straight up there! Unless you love hiking or walking up around 10 millions concrete steps whilst puffing for breath and feeling as though the end is nigh. Honestly, we would have 100% preferred to cable car up and walk back down. Exhaustion was an understatement! You can grab the cable car at the beach which then takes you up to Montjuic or you can also jump on at Parc Montjuic and then take the shorter journey up to the castle. The views were stunning from the parc so I imagine from the comfort of a cable car, being able to see right across the city is pretty special. Don’t forget your camera. Tickets costs between 8 euros and 17 euros depending on which location you jump on from and whether you need a return.
Airport transfer time:
If you fly in to Barcelona’s El Prat airport you can be in the city within around 30 minutes depending on how you choose to get there. We chose to get a taxi as we were short on time and it was very efficient. The airport is a little confusing on which way you need to go to get a taxi (there is a specific exit for taxis) but once you find it its very well organised and we were on our way within 5 minutes. With a cost of 30 euros, for us it was completely worth the time saving factor. If you decide to take the aerobus the cost is just a fraction at around 5.90 euros pp one way and take around 40 minutes depending on traffic. The aerobus will take you into the centre where you can then walk or get the metro to where you are staying. We generally opt for taxis or transfers because our time is so limited. Most of our short breaks are three or four nights away and so the last thing we want to do is spend time on the train when we could be exploring but it really depends on your style of travel and budget.
The currency for Barcelona is the euro and this can be purchased either before you travel or once there. There are lots of currency exchange places and ATM machines are widely available, as well as nearly all shops and restaurants taking debit or credit cards. We also used our Revolut card most of our trip which is a travel visa card which has no fees attached to paying on card or withdrawals.
The power sockets in Portugal are type F and the standard voltage is 230 V. It is the European 2 pin plug adaptor you will need which you can buy here if you are from the UK or buy here if you are from the US. It’s also worth mentioning that the 230 v is compatible with all UK appliances but if you are travelling from America then you may need a transformer to step down the voltage in order for your appliances to work!
It is always advisable to get travel insurance no matter where you are jetting off to!
We have an annual travel insurance policy with Journeys Travel Insurance who have been very fair with their pricing for us and also have some good coverage.
The link is below if you want to try them for a quote:
Spanish and Catalan known more precisely as castellano or castilian
Some basic yet useful phrases:
Hello – O’la
Goodbye – a-dyos
Please – por fa-vor
Thank you – Gra-thyas
Yes – see
No – no
You can read about our city break and silly stories in Barcelona here