22 Useful tips for visiting Barcelona for the first time
Are you visiting Barcelona for the first time? Then read our top Barcelona tips to help you plan and make the best of this incredible city!
I have to be honest, our first visit to Barcelona was a bit overwhelming at first. What we did expect was a beautiful and vibrant city. But we certainly didn’t expect the sheer size and scale of the city.
With so much to see, do and explore throughout the Catalan capital, I’ve decided to put together this roundup of Barcelona travel tips. Advice and tips offered up by some of my fellow travel bloggers!
- 22 Useful tips for visiting Barcelona for the first time
- 1. Avoid eating in the tourist hotspot of Las Ramblas
- 2. Be sure to explore the gorgeous Barrio Gótico in the early morning
- 3. Planning a trip to Barcelona with kids
- 4. Getting from the Barcelona cruise port to the city
- 5. Barcelona nightlife tips – don’t discount a night out in Barcelona
- 6. Top tips Barcelona: Planning to visit Parc Guell
- 7. Plan your trip to coincide with a festival/concert
- 8. Tips for LGBTQ travellers visiting Barcelona
- 9. Travel tips Barcelona – How to get around in Barcelona for first-time travellers
- 10. Visit the lesser-known beaches of Barcelona and avoid the crowds
- 11. Savour traditional Catalan cuisine in Barcelona
- 12. Barcelona for gluten-free travellers
- 13. Barcelona tips for tourists – take advantage of Free Museum days
- 14. Book a hidden architecture tour
- 15. Planning a visit to the Sagrada Familia
- 16. Vegan / Vegetarian guide to Barcelona
- 17. Cheers your visit with a glass of Cava
- 18. Enjoy the best city views for free in Barcelona
- 19. Important Barcelona tips – be aware of pickpocketing!
- 20. Learn about local Catalan culture and traditions (instead of assuming Spanish stereotypes)
- 21. Plan a day trip from Barcelona
- 22. Plan a visit to the Palau de Musica Catalana
Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Spain Travel Essentials:
- Search & Book flights here on Skyscanner
- Book your car rental through AutoEurope
- Search hotels here on Booking.com, or on VRBO for apartment-style stays
- Click here to browse & book bus and train tickets
- Lastly, don’t forget about travel insurance for your trip!
Pssst…Ready to travel, check out our comprehensive packing list for your holiday to Spain, and make sure you’ve packed everything you need for your Spanish move or vacay!
1. Avoid eating in the tourist hotspot of Las Ramblas
By Vicki from Vicki Viaja
Visiting Barcelona for the first time? Don’t eat in Las Ramblas!
Barcelona is the perfect city for foodies from all over the world. Catalan cuisine has something for everyone, and there are hundreds of great restaurants in the city where you can try some of the many great Catalan dishes.
Despite everything, there is one place in Barcelona you should definitely not eat at, that being Las Ramblas. The restaurants here can easily be summarized as a total tourist trap! Even though Las Ramblas is a great area in Barcelona and a walk here should definitely form part of your Barcelona Itinerary, I really can’t recommend you enough not to eat here.
Not only is the quality delivered here far below that of other restaurants in the city. But the prices are a real scam as well. You are likely to pay twice the price of what the dishes and drinks are really worth.
If you sit here, you not only immediately outed yourself as a tourist, but are also often besieged by pickpockets and beggars.
But don’t worry, if you get hungry in this area, there are various ways to enjoy delicious food. Already on the side streets, you will find great alternatives. Take a stroll through the narrow streets of the Barrio Gótico and check where the locals eat. You will also find some delicious and fresh seafood near the harbour if you keep walking Las Ramblas up to the end (our favourite is La Barca del Salamanca).
2. Be sure to explore the gorgeous Barrio Gótico in the early morning
By Talek from Travels with Talek
Off the left of La Rambla is Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, a neighbourhood well worth adding to your list of things to check out in Barcelona.
This Medieval neighbourhood is best seen in the early morning to capture the first rays of the sun and avoid the crowd of tourists that are sure to follow later in the day.
First head to the Palau de la Musica Catalana to have breakfast in a spectacular architectural masterpiece.
Walk around the narrow winding alleys leading to wide squares surrounded by remarkably well-preserved medieval structures. Stop at the cute little restaurants and shops tucked into alleys or under bridges.
Don’t miss the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. One of my favourite things about it is that it has a pond full of ducks in its cloister! What other church has that?
Also, within the Gothic Quarter, is the Museum of the City of Barcelona covering the city from its Roman times to the present. Don’t miss the underground exhibits displaying the city’s ancient Roman streets, baths and shops.
3. Planning a trip to Barcelona with kids
By Joanne from Sunsets and Roller Coasters
Barcelona is a wonderful city for families. Don’t avoid adding some of the more popular sights to your Barcelona itinerary with kids. These popular sights of Barcelona are so unique that both teens and toddlers will enjoy them.
Whilst some kids might shy away from historical buildings and churches in other cities, the architectural works of Antoni Gaudi are fun, whimsical, and colourful. His amazing buildings and designs are filled with scenes from nature that kids will love.
Make sure to include a visit to the soldiers on the roof of Casa Mila, the colourful salamander at Parc Guell and of course, the trees and animals inside the Sagrada Familia. Challenge your kids to climb to the top of the tower but be warned, they’ll likely win! You’ll also want to visit the Barcelona Cathedral and say hello to the resident geese who live in the cloister.
The key to visiting these amazing Barcelona sights with kids is to make sure you buy your tickets in advance so you can avoid or skip the ticket lines. It’s also a great idea to hire a private local guide so you can take breaks or make changes to your plans as needed.
For a tasty midday break, visit Granja M. Viader for deep-fried churros with yummy warm chocolate on the side. Your whole family will thank you!
After visiting a few of the great historical sights of Barcelona, the kids will need to burn off a little energy. Consider wandering to the Bubbleparc for high flying fun in the Bungydome or stopping at Barceloneta beach for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
4. Getting from the Barcelona cruise port to the city
By Jenni from Cruise Mummy
Many travellers arrive by cruise, docking in Barcelona for a day of sightseeing and exploring. One of the top tips for Barcelona cruise tourists is to know exactly how to get from the port into the city.
When you look at Barcelona cruise port on a map, it looks like it’s located just a few minutes’ walks from the foot of La Rambla. It’s not. In fact, it can take well over an hour to walk from your ship to the city, which is not the best use of the precious few hours that cruise passengers get to explore.
The main problem is the length of the Moll Adossat pier, which accommodates four cruise ships. If your ship docks at Terminal D, you can be walking for 30 minutes and still be inside the port!
The best alternative is to take the free cruise shuttle bus, which is also known as the ‘blue bus’. It runs a circular route from the Christopher Columbus monument near La Rambla to all cruise terminals. In 2020, single tickets cost €3.00 and return tickets cost €4.50.
5. Barcelona nightlife tips – don’t discount a night out in Barcelona
By Marco from The Travel Boo
Let’s be honest, many travellers often plan for day time sightseeing and exploring when visiting a new place, but often neglect to consider what they should do at night.
Well, Barcelona is one of those incredible cities that doesn’t sleep and has so much to see and do after sunset.
Why not check out the Font Màgica light show, have drinks at Dr. Stravinsky, see an Opera at El Liceu or enjoy a night out in Barceloneta? Either way, there are lots of fun things to keep you entertained on a night out in Barcelona.
6. Top tips Barcelona: Planning to visit Parc Guell
By Melanie from Two Plus Dogs
Parc Guell is undoubtedly one of the most iconic sights in Barcelona and most of this beautiful public park is free to visit and offers spectacular views of the city after some really worthwhile uphill climbing.
The part of the park that you must pre-book is the Monumental Zone (€10) which is where you will see Gaudi’s beautiful mosaics but do make sure to book this as it is amazing.
The park is large so allow at least 3-4 hours for your visit and book online to avoid long waiting times as it is extremely popular.
I recommend planning your visit for early in the day for a number of reasons; firstly, there are fewer people, and secondly because there is little shade in the park so it can get very hot. Some visitors also choose late in the day for the same reasons.
On this very practical note, make sure you have all your Barcelona essentials covered, that you dress for the lack of shade and don’t forget the sunscreen! Good walking shoes are also a must. Take your own food and drink with you as there are long queues and limited choices in the park, and also quite expensive.
Allow plenty of time to get to the park to avoid missing your pre-booked time slot. You can travel from the city by subway, bus, taxi or on foot depending on where you are staying.
It is about 4 km from La Rambla for example, so about an hour to walk – do check the Parc Guell website as they have lots of travel advice on there too.
7. Plan your trip to coincide with a festival/concert
By Vaibhav from The Wandering Vegetable
If you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time, then you’d want to explore it like a local and make the most of it. And one of the ways to do exactly that is to experience their vibrant festivals and concerts. Try planning your trip during specific months and get to see the festive side of Barcelona.
If you’re travelling with a partner and are a literature and romance lover, then visit Barcelona during the 3rd week of April to celebrate the free festival of Dia de Sant Jordi or Saint George’s Day. Fans of music concerts can visit Barcelona during the 3rd week of June to attend one of the biggest musical festivals in the city “Festival de Sonar”. You can check out the dates and tickets to the festival here.
Festa de la Merce is another famous festival in Barcelona that you can be a part of. You can attend it for free and be a part of the fire-run, the opening ceremony, human tower formations, concerts, etc. It takes place during September end so booking your tickets to Barcelona in the last week should be a safe bet.
You can also take a day trip to Tarragona and be a part of the colour, fun and music of the world-renowned Santa Tecla Town Festival. The festival continues for a period of 10 days from 14th to 24th of September.
- As much fun as it is to participate in these festivals, I’d advise you to be wary of pickpockets and not carry too much cash or your passport with you as the crowds can get a bit wild sometimes.
- Also, try carrying wool clothing with you as it is climate-appropriate and a safe option to wear in these festivals as most of them involve fireworks.
- If you plan to attend the festivals, then book your Barcelona flight tickets at least 2-3 months in advance to avoid steep-pricing.
8. Tips for LGBTQ travellers visiting Barcelona
By Jordan from Queer in the World
Many first-time travellers to Barcelona know about its beautiful beaches, delicious food, and amazing museums. But did you know Barcelona also has one of the most significant gay scenes in the world and is one of’ Europe’s gay capitals’?
Maybe LGBT travellers themselves don’t realize this, which is a shame as they miss experiencing one of the more vibrant and fun queer scenes out there.
L’Eixample or “Gayxample”, as it’s known, is the centrally located gay area of Barcelona – and is an excellent place to start if you are interested in meeting new friends, flamboyant drag shows, or all-night-clubbing-extravagance. Regardless of the day of the week, there is always a party here or something fun and exciting going on.
If nightlife is not your thing, there are several gay beaches to check out – San Sebastià and Barceloneta – which stretch for 1 km and are a popular choice for sunbathing or coffee dates. Then there is the annual Circuit Festival Barcelona, one of the world’s biggest international gay events and worth planning a trip around in-and-of-itself.
Being in a city as accepting as Barcelona is uniquely energizing and utterly liberating. LGBT or otherwise, this is a city that allows people to be their most authentic self – and love them more for it. And that is something everyone can appreciate.
9. Travel tips Barcelona – How to get around in Barcelona for first-time travellers
By Ana from Parenthood 4 Ever
Barcelona is very easy and transport accessible city. There is no doubt you will be able to figure it out on your first day. But still, it is better to know a few Barcelona tips and tricks in advance.
First of all, you can always get a bus ticket directly from a driver. All bus tickets bought from the driver count as single tickets. I suppose this is quite common anywhere you travel in Europe.
And yes, Barcelona has a metro. You can purchase the ticket at any metro and FGC Railway using the ticket machines. There is a possibility to choose public transport passes for one up to five days, including single tickets, tickets to the airport, and more.
Note: Think of your accommodation location and things you wish to do in Barcelona before you decide what pass you need. For example, we were staying in the area of La Rambla, so purchasing day passes didn’t work well for us because all the sights were within walking distance. If you prefer walking, get single tickets when necessary.
Important: The transport we bought included the transfer to the airport. However, it turned out that the ticket contains a list of buses that go to the airport, there are some private bus companies that are excluded from the list. If your flight is quite early or late, you should probably get a ticket directly from the bus driver because private buses usually are the ones that operate very early, also buses in Barcelona tend to arrive late or not arrive at all (as it happened in our case).
Be sure to get there 15 – 30 minutes before departure and to have cash on hand too.
10. Visit the lesser-known beaches of Barcelona and avoid the crowds
By Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages
One of the main reasons that everyone goes to Barcelona is to visit the beaches. Of course, most tourists will all flock straight to La Barceloneta, the main touristy beach in Barcelona. But, I’m here to advise you to not fall for it!
Don’t go to La Barceloneta, instead, try to get slightly outside of Barcelona using public transportation to explore other lesser-known beaches.
For example, during my trip to Barcelona, I didn’t even see La Barceloneta once. Instead, I took a day trip to a town just north of Barcelona called Mataró. There was a beautiful beach here that was free to visit, and there was almost nobody there when I visited in March, besides locals!
There’s a nice little promenade that you can walk along as well, with cute restaurants and shops. The water is so incredibly blue here, and it’s nice because you get an unobstructed view of the beach here since it’s way less touristy.
Other less touristy beaches worth mentioning in and around Barcelona also include Badalona and Nova Mar Bella Beach.
11. Savour traditional Catalan cuisine in Barcelona
By Ruth from Tanama Tales
One of the top things to know before visiting Barcelona is how to enjoy the local Catalan fare!
A visit to Barcelona provides an excellent opportunity to try dishes from Catalonia. The cuisine of the region uses as a base, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, legumes, pork, poultry, lamb, and, of course, plenty of fish.
Some say there is nothing more Catalonian than Pa amb tomàquet (Spanish: Pan con Tomate, English: Bread with Tomato). This treat, consisting of a piece of bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled with olive oil and salt, can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer.
An Escalivada is prepared by roasting vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and onions. The result is served in olive oil and often accompanied with anchovies and olives.
When it comes to light and fresh dishes, and Esqueixada is a tasty dish to try. This salad is assembled by combining shredded salt cod, tomato, onions, olive oil, and vinegar. Toppings include olives or sliced of hard-boiled eggs.
A Suquet de Peix is a stew prepared with the fish (catch of the day, it can be a mix of sea bream, scorpionfish, and monkfish), picada (the paste used as the base for the soup), prawns, mussels, potatoes, and white wine. This is a dish to enjoy after spending a day at the beach.
Crema Catalana is one of the most popular desserts in the region. It is similar to a Creme Brulee but it is prepared with milk and aromatized with cinnamon and lemon zest.
Traditional Catalonian dishes can be tried at Can Culleretes (Gothic Quarter), Can Valles (Eixample), El Glop (Gracia), or 7 Portes (Ribera).
12. Barcelona for gluten-free travellers
By Jazzie from The Isreal Bites
Barcelona is an incredible city for Celiacs and gluten intolerants alike! Not only are there plenty of 100% gluten-free restaurants, but there are also tons of gluten-free products available at supermarkets.
I stocked up on snacks at both Lidl and Carrefour but you can find options at most places. If you’re in Barcelona you can’t miss Jansana Bakery, Messie Pizza, Flax & Kale, or Las Fritas. There is also a gluten-free Fish n Chips shop in Barcelona too!
My tip is to pick up some gluten-free treats at Jansana to carry with you and pair with your coffee at major tourist sites like Park Guell. Go early in your trip as you’ll for sure want to visit them more than once to stock up on treats.
13. Barcelona tips for tourists – take advantage of Free Museum days
By Bisola from Bis to the World
If you’re someone that loves spending time in galleries or museums on your trips, it’s very helpful to know that certain museums do offer free entry on set dates & times!
Usually, entry into Barcelona’s museums are not free, and the entry fees vary between museums, however, many museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month, as well as on special days where entry is also free! As a first-timer in Barcelona, it would be very helpful to know which of these you can take advantage of so here are some to keep an eye out for!
Museu Picasso, usually €7, offers free admission on Thursday afternoons from 5 pm to 9 pm and the first Sunday of every month.
The stunning Botanical Gardens of Barcelona at the top pf Montjuic offers free entry every Sunday after 3 pm, all day on the first Sunday of each month and three other special days. It’s a great place to chill as it’s off the beaten track a bit and can be very peaceful!
If you’re a Gaudi lover (I know I am!) then you must visit Palau Güell, one of his earliest commissions! With it just off the Ramblas, it’s super easy to visit. It’s free to visit every first Sunday of the month and you have to pre-book online to get your free ticket, the same as Museu Picasso.
Final Tip: keep in mind that if you’re over 65 or under 16, most museums offer free entry but be sure to ask!
14. Book a hidden architecture tour
By Abi from Inside the Travel La
Seeing the works of Gaudi rank as one of the best things to do in Barcelona the first time around. The swirling cream chimney tops of Casa Mila on Passeig de Gracia speak to the architect’s genius and the museum itself provides a window into his mind.
Yet when this house is put into context, with the other hidden features along the same road, the Passeig de Gracia, it becomes even more impressive.
If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona, Spain, then be sure to fit an architectural tour into your Barcelona itinerary to discover secret details and greater perspective.
Companies like Context, run tours led by academics and you don’t even need to travel a great distance: the sights are right in the centre of town.
Sweep through the history of the Catalan resistance under Franco, the Spanish Civil War before that and centuries of struggles that earned Barcelona the nickname “the rose of fire” or “la rosa de foc”. And all through the buildings on one main street.
Book in advance as the guides are specialized – this way, you’ll also avoid the queues for Casa Battlo.
15. Planning a visit to the Sagrada Familia
By Lorenza from When I Roam
One of the highlights when we visited Barcelona, travelling from Mexico City, was seeing the amazing Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí more than 135 years ago, with three facades and a style that is uniquely Gaudí’s. Today, there are eight spires built out of eighteen totals, each a colourful representation of the twelve apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ.
Seeing the exterior is not enough. To really get to admire what Gaudí had in mind for this Catholic temple, is to see it from the inside, to see the forest of colours he created with the columns and stained-glass windows. I’ve been multiple times, and I am always at awe looking up and losing myself in its beauty.
Don’t miss seeing this incredible architectural wonder with these tips:
- Buy your tickets in advance. If it is high season (May-August) buy them at least a week in advance.
- Get the audio guide and tower access. It is not cheap (€29) but it is worth it.
- Choose the Nativity Tower. It was built under the supervision of Gaudí and has a bridge connecting two towers. In the afternoon, you have the sun in your back, perfect for taking great pictures.
- To climb up there is an elevator, but you have to use the spiral staircase to climb down.
- Observe the dress code. No bare shoulders, no see-through clothing, no hats, and at least hit mid-thigh length.
- Go on a weekday or before 1 pm or after 3 pm as there are fewer people visiting and you avoid the cruise ship tourists.
16. Vegan / Vegetarian guide to Barcelona
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
First-time vegan or vegetarian travellers to Barcelona might worry that they won’t be able to find anything to eat here, given Spain’s obsession with ham.
Not so! Back in 2016, Barcelona became the world’s first officially vegan-friendly city, as declared by the local city government. Since then, the number of vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants and businesses in Barcelona continues to grow, and it consistently makes appearances on lists of the most vegan-friendly cities in Europe or even throughout the whole world.
That being said, it’s still not at the point where you can walk into any random restaurant and expect a plethora of veg-friendly options. It’s definitely worth doing a little bit of research ahead of time to figure out where the best places are for a vegan or vegetarian meal.
A good place to start is HappyCow, a crowdsourced directory of veg restaurants around the world. Be sure to download the HappyCow app before your trip, as it will help you find restaurants near you as you explore the city. Currently, there are 27 fully vegan restaurants in Barcelona and 59 fully vegetarian restaurants.
Another fantastic resource to help you plan your trip is the Barcelona Vegan Guide by Caitlin Galer-Unit, available as an ebook or paperback. As a vegan and a long-time resident of Barcelona, Caitlin offers tips on the best attractions to visit and where to find veg food near those attractions. The guide also includes packing tips, breakfast ideas, and where to shop for vegan and eco-friendly clothing, shoes and more.
17. Cheers your visit with a glass of Cava
By Lucile from Lucilehr.com
When in Barcelona for the first time, drink Cava, not Champagne or Sangria!
If you’ve been calling all sparkling wines Champagne or thought the only thing to drink in Spain was Sangria, this tip is for you! The method used to make this delicious sparkling wine is the same as Champagne, but the grapes are totally different, which makes for an interesting and tasty experience!
Cava is also typically from Catalonia, so don’t miss out on it when visiting Barcelona. There are many places where you can have a glass of Cava with a few tapas. I recommend keeping it simple pairing your Cava with a few bites of ham, or even with some seafood if you’re feeling more adventurous.
La Xampanyeria is one of these Cava-bars, with an old school atmosphere and a lively crowd. You can also try El Xampanyet, a smaller place that tends to get packed really fast. You will quickly see that Cava is truly a laid-back celebration drink!
18. Enjoy the best city views for free in Barcelona
By Mayuri from To Some Place New
One of the things to keep in mind while travelling to Barcelona is that the city is full of stunning viewpoints. And many of them are free, so ensure you pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and get exploring (no euros necessary).
The most popular attraction in Barcelona for sunset views is the MUHBA Turó de la Rovira or the Bunkers del Carmel. This was the site where the Spanish Civil War bunkers and anti-aircraft guns were installed. You can access the site for free, and it is open 24 x 7. From here, you can admire views out over the Sagrada Familia and the entire city of Barcelona from above. This spot is perfect for picnics, or just to hang out with friends whilst in the lap of nature, and historic sites.
We are sure you have heard of Park Guell, and to visit the Monument Zone, there is an entry fee. However, if you love to hike, you can soak in stunning views from Turó de les Tres Creus. It is the highest point of Park Guell.
There are other cheaper ways to access city views, however, which are not free. One of our favourite (and affordable) viewpoints is heading to the top of the Cristobal Colon. With an entry fee of €6, it is a steal!
Exploring Barcelona doesn’t have to be expensive, you can enjoy these free city views, and still make the most of your trip!
19. Important Barcelona tips – be aware of pickpocketing!
By Jennifer from World On A Whim
Pickpocketing is prevalent throughout Europe, and Barcelona is definitely no exception. This should absolutely not deter you from visiting — Barcelona is and will always be my favourite city in Europe — but you should use these key tips to decrease the possibility of being pickpocketed.
If you are bringing a lot of euros with you to Barcelona, wear a money belt under your shirt too and from the airport and disperse the money in hidden areas of your luggage/hotel safe once you settle into your accommodation.
There’s a popular hotel scam in Barcelona where pickpockets grab your purse or wallet when you set it down to check-in and out of your hotel so be mindful of that.
If you use a wallet, keep it in your front pocket; purse wearers should purchase an anti-theft travel bag to use each day while sightseeing. While I bring two “no foreign transaction fee” cards with me, one debit and one credit, I only carry one with me each day. If one card was to get stolen, I’d still have the other back at my hotel.
I also typically only bring around 20 euros per day to use for sightseeing purposes. You can use your card for most purchases in Barcelona, but if you want a cafe con leche or helado, it makes sense to use cash for those smaller items.
Pay extra attention to your belongings in crowded places like Las Ramblas and at the train and metro stations. And, don’t leave your belongings on the sand while you swim at Barceloneta beach! Carry your items with you or take turns with your travel buddy keeping an eye on your belongings.
As long as you remain aware and vigilant of your surroundings, you will have the most fabulous time on your trip to Spain!
20. Learn about local Catalan culture and traditions (instead of assuming Spanish stereotypes)
By Elisa from World in Paris
Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya, a region with a very rich history and incredible cultural heritage quite different from the rest of Spain. When you watch on the TV that “Catalunya is not Spain” it has a meaning that goes beyond its claim for independence. Are you travelling to Barcelona for sun, paella, toros, and olé? Perhaps you will be disappointed (except for the sun of course!).
So if you want to enjoy Barcelona like a local, I recommend taking some time to read about the city and its culture, language, food, and traditions. Perhaps you will be surprised but hopefully, the surprise will be for the better.
Start with a “bon dia” instead of a “buenos días” to ask for directions, and you will be immediately welcomed with a smile. Ask where you can see dancing sardanes (the national dance), castells (human towers), or gegants instead of looking for the closest flamenco-club or tapas bar.
Ask the waiter for the Catalan specialities on the menu, order a bottle of wine from El Penedès instead of a Rioja…there are so many delicious local things to eat and drink in Barcelona that it would be a pity to miss all that!
Like the old song says, Barcelona enamora.
21. Plan a day trip from Barcelona
By Theresa from Adventures in Middle-Aged Travel
Planning a day trip from Barcelona is a great way to explore the surrounding areas. And one such day trip you can look to book is to Montserrat, which is definitely in order if you have any spare time.
Under the Columbus Monument at the Plaça del Portal de la Pau (at the beach end of Las Ramblas) there is a tourist office with tours available for booking, or you may opt to book a tour in advance too.
We paid approximately 150 Canadian dollars and chose the full day trip to Montserrat with lunch (late) and a wine tasting at Oller del Mas winery. It was a 10 hour day and we left (and returned to) Barcelona at 9 am from the Hard Rock Cafe at Plaça de Catalunya.
The ride to Montserrat took about an hour and we then stopped off at Monistrol de Montserrat to take the Cremallera de Montserrat (Montserrat Rack Railway) the 5km left to the monastery.
Normally this would have been a great opportunity to take some amazing photos as we climbed the mountain, but the powers-that-be determined that the day we were there would be extremely foggy. It had its own kind of beauty, though.
We toured through the sprawling monastery and were then set free to look about on our own to eventually meet up at 1:30 pm to get back on the bus.
Having been there before, my companion knew that when the famous boy’s choir, L’Escolania, started to sing in the basilica at 1 pm, the long line-up to see and touch the Black Madonna (one of the main attractions of the site) would disappear as people rushed to see them.
As soon as the singing began, we made our way up to see the Madonna and there were only about six people ahead of us. She’s quite lovely and definitely worth visiting.
As an added bonus, because the Madonna is located just above the basilica, we could hear the boy’s choir perfectly the whole time.
We climbed back on the bus at the monastery instead of taking the train back down again and made our way to our lunch and winery tour.
22. Plan a visit to the Palau de Musica Catalana
By Paulina from Paulina On The Road
If you are visiting Barcelona for the first time, you can’t miss the Instagram-famous Palau de Musica Catalana! Why? It is not only considered one of the most famous concert halls in the world but on top of that, it’s one of the most stunning examples of Catalan modernist architecture. Among others, the Palau has been the location for some of the best movies set in Spain.
The highlight of any tour is the main concert hall. The hall and the stage contain sculptures, busts, reliefs that fill the room with true magic. It’s the perfect place to get a unique photo.
However, if you want to get the most instagrammable shot, continue the tour to the Lluís Millet Hall, a gathering place for the audience with a small terrace with peculiar columns covered in mosaics.
My advice for first-time visitors is to bring a wide-angle camera and some patience to take the perfect shot. It’s also advised to book tickets in advance since the Palau as it is quite popular.