I never intended to go to Spain for 3 weeks, but there I was.
The first city on my list was Barcelona.
I knew a little bit about the city before I arrived, but I learned so much more before I headed off to my next destination.
So here’s my “10 Things To Know Before Going To Barcelona” List.
1. THERE’S TWO OFFICIAL LANGUAGES.
Most people just think Barcelona is a Spanish speaking city like the rest of Spain; but Catalan is the other official language for this city and it is used proudly.
Although some words look and sound similar there are many that your average Spanish speaker will not know.
If you’re fluent in Spanish you still might want to ask a local Catalan speaker some of the basic saying’s like “Please”, Where is…?”, and “Good morning”.
You might be surprised how different they are from Spanish.
2. THE BEACHES CAN BE ANNOYING.
If you want to enjoy yourself on the beach your best option is to get in the water and swim away from the shore.
OR go to a beach that is farthest away from La Rambla.
I went to the beach with some fellow travelers and we all had to leave within an hour because of how many people would bother you by trying to sell you “HATS, SUNGLASSES, FRISBEES, WATER” and as they got closer they’d whisper “Mota?”
It was nonstop, one right after another.
Just shoo them away or ignore them, but after awhile you probably won’t be able to take it and you’ll just leave.
Don’t buy any of the marijuana(mota) either; I’ve heard some of those guys are undercover cops.
3. PARTYING STARTS LATE.
Dinner time in Spain is somewhere around 10pm.
So that means the drinking, the dancing, and the partying starts even later.
1AM seems to be the average time most people start to go to the bars and clubs in Barna(hip little nickname for Barcelona).
If you’re already starting your night of drinking around 6 or 7, you’ll be lucky to last as long as the locals do.
Most people don’t start going home till 6 in the morning.
4. PREPARE FOR SIESTA and DON’T SHOP ON SUNDAY.
The late night partying in Barna probably has a lot to do with this topic.
While most tourist shops, restaurants and bars will probably remain open there are some smaller shops that typically close between 2-4pm for Siesta.
It’s a time for rest or other chores to get done before finishing out the work day.
Sundays though, that’s a different story.
Besides the attractions, almost everything else is closed on a Sunday.
It is certainly the day of rest in Barcelona.
If you want snacks for a picnic or a nice lunch you better buy the stuff on Saturday because most places will be closed on Sunday.
5. EVERYTHING’S MORE EXPENSIVE ON LA RAMBLA.
This should be expected; La Rambla is one of the most popular streets in the world.
So with that being said; Don’t Buy Things Here, unless of course you want to spend more on what something is really worth.
Travel off this street and explore some back streets farther away.
Your chances are good that you’ll find the same thing you were looking at for a few euros cheaper.
6. TRAIN STATIONS SCAN YOUR LUGGAGE.
This was something I was not expecting.
When I was leaving Barcelona to go to Madrid I had to stop in a line, put my luggage on a belt, and have it scanned just like one does at the airport.
At first that struck me as odd because I’ve never seen that in any other country; but then I remembered the 2004 Madrid Train Bombings that killed 192 people and injured another 2000.
Although I went through the line rather quickly you should make sure to give yourself plently of time when you’re heading to the train station.
7. GAUDI ARCHITECTURE IS A MUST-SEE.
If you’re going to Barcelona for the 1st time you probably already know about the work of Gaudi, especially Sagrada Familia.
It is without a doubt one of the coolest buildings in the world.
Besides the church he has a few other buildings scattered around the city that are really cool to look at.
He also designed Park Guell which is a little out of the way from most things you’re probably checking out but it’s well worth it.
I’m not into architecture but these are some creatively built buildings.
Going on a little scavenger hunt to find these buildings will also introduce you to other neighborhoods you might not have visited during your time in Barna.
8. PETTY THEFT.
Be prepared to guard your pockets when you’re in crowded areas like La Rambla.
Petty theft is quite popular in Barcelona.
If you have pockets with zippers, wear them here.
If you have a purse, keep it in front of you with your hand on it at all times.
I highly doubt someone’s gonna run up on you and try to physically rip something from your grip, but they will certainly try to be sneaky about getting their hands into your stuff without you noticing.
Most of all; don’t bring anything of value with you to the beach.
If you want to take pictures try to have a waterproof camera so you can keep it on you while you swim.
The beach is an easy target with lots of people around and if you take your eyes off your stuff for a second it could be gone.
9. BUY ATTRACTION TICKETS ONLINE WHEN POSSIBLE.
There’s not really a low season in Barcelona.
It’s the Mediterranean, the weather is mostly great all year, and Barna is a huge tourist destination.
Expect there to be lines to most attractions.
The Picasso Museum, Sagrada Familia, and Park Guell are 3 places with horrible lines and it’s best adviced to buy your tickets online so you’re not waiting for up to an hour to see these sights.
Sagrada Familia is actually most impressive from the outside and you don’t need a ticket for that.
The inside is not nearly as impressive, so it might not even be worth your wait.
Park Guell is free to roam around but you need a ticket for the Monumental Zone, which is really the reason you came all that way.
Those tickets can be bought in online too.
If you plan everything out in advance you can speed right into a lot of the attractions.
10. YOU MIGHT FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS CITY.
Like I said at the beginning of this post I wasn’t originally planning on going to Spain, but plans changed and I had 3 weeks to visit somewhere else.
Spain was a great choice and Barcelona was a great city to start from.
I know whenever I go back through Europe again Barcelona is surely going to be on my list of cities to go back to.
The city and the beaches might be crowded, and petty theft seems to be everywhere; but the feeling of the city is very relaxed, free-spirited, cutting edge, and artsy(as you’ll notice from all the random statues and art pieces everywhere).
Great weather, awesome sites, amazing nightlife, and great food are just the tip of the iceberg as far as Barcelona goes.
Do you have any tips for going to Barcelona?
Let’s hear about them below.
My name is Jeremiah and I'm an Arizona desert rat in search of the next adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.