Tips for Planning the Visit to Barcelona
If you have made the decision to head to Barcelona and have not yet purchased any flights, tickets or passes, read the following helpful tips that will help to ensure you make the absolute most out of your trip to the city…
Buy Plane Tickets in Advance: This is especially true for those who are traveling from outside of Europe. Tickets are typically the cheapest anywhere from 2-7 months ahead of time.
Be on the Look Out for Deals: If you are part of a frequent flyer program, credit card program or other group, you may find that there are a ton of deals out there. Sign up for email alerts on certain airlines and you may just snatch up a fantastic deal to Barcelona.
Book Accommodation Ahead of Time: During peak season, accommodation tends to skyrocket and the only possible way to try to avoid this would be by booking well in advance.
Check Local Events: Throughout the year, Barcelona has a ton of local events from concerts, festivals, open air cinemas and so much more that would make your trip there all the more special.
Make a List of Things to See:
Do some research before heading out on some of the best things to see and do while in Barcelona so you don’t waste time while there figuring out what to fill your days with. The list will likely be extremely long but highlighting the absolute must’s will save you loads of time.
Be Safe While There: Just like any other major city in the world, there are some people who will likely be looking to snatch up some of your belongings if you don’t pay attention. Though not necessarily dangerous, it could ruin your trip plans to find that your money and credit cards are gone.
When in Barcelona, you may want to consider avoiding these following things in order to ensure you are not ripped off or don’t waste time while there…
Overpriced Items: There are a ton of vendors placed in very specific areas where they tend to increase the price to almost 3 or 4 times the amount it would be anywhere else. For example, just outside Park Guel there will be plenty of people selling trinkets like fake sunglasses, jewelry and souvenirs. You will be better off heading to a more non-touristy place to get all of these things.
Take Taxis Everywhere: Taxis are extremely expensive in the city and are completely not necessary. For a fraction of the price, you can take the Metro and you won’t feel so trapped and penniless. It will cost you less than one euro instead of about 20-40 euro in a taxi.
Take Pictures of Statues Without Paying: This happens hundreds of times a day and although it may seem acceptable, it really is not. Entertainers spend hours on streets like Las Ramblas and if you really do want to take a picture with or of them, carry around some loose change and drop it in their box before going crazy with the camera.
Dress and Act Like a Tourist: Although this may seem a little harsh because you are in fact a tourist, it will only allow for you to be more of a target for scammers and pickpocketers out there, which is exactly what you want to avoid.
Explore Only Touristy Areas: There are so many more incredible places other than Las Ramblas and Barceloneta. Get out there, explore, wander and discover just how awesome the entire whole of Barcelona truly is!
If you are heading to Barcelona with your little ones and not sure what the most family friendly and entertaining activities there are to fill your days with, consider heading to the following places…
Travelling with children can be a challenge, however it can also be fun if you know the right places to go!
Barcelona Aquarium: What kid doesn’t love the aquarium? Enjoy an extremely impressive range of marine life and find yourself surrounded by colorful fish, interactive exhibits and plenty of activities that the kids are sure to love. The aquarium is the perfect day outing for a family looking to have some fun.
Tibidabo Amusement Park: A total funfair, your kids will be running around, going on thrilling rides, eating plenty of tasty food and getting the chance to let out all of their energy. Tibidabo is one of the main attractions and is definitely not a place to be missed when kids are along for the trip.
Camp Nou: If you are looking to give your kids a memory they will surely not soon forget, then head to the FC Barcelona stadium, Camp Nou. If you are able to, try to score tickets to a match but if it just isn’t possible, opt for going on the stadium tour where you and the kids can get a behind the scenes look at the history, the lockers and the field itself.
Poble Espanyol: Serving as a mock village, there are beautifully designed buildings that you will be able to explore along with watching craftsmen go at it at their workshops and if you are there on a Sunday, enjoy kids’ workshops and a fun family show.
Spheremania: If you and the kids are looking for a true thrill of a lifetime, then do NOT miss out on the city’s own zorbing experience. Hop inside a hamster-like blow up ball and make your way down a hill for an exciting experience you surely won’t forget.
• The currency in Spain is the euro
• There are local currency exchanges in the airport and around the city
• Though a lot of high street shops accept credit cards, the smaller restaurants and shops only take cash
• Tipping is not a requirement but if you do receive good service, a 5%-10% tip is always welcome and much appreciated
• Keep up to date on the currency exchange to avoid getting ripped off or scammed
• Only exchange money at a place that looks legitimate with the proper documentation shown
• Before heading to Barcelona, be sure to have several different means of payment (cash, credit, checks, etc.)
• Only head out of your accommodation with the amount of money needed for the day
• You may withdraw cash from local ATM’s and banks but you should know that the fee for doing so is sometimes extremely high, especially in touristy areas like Las Ramblas and Barceloneta
• When heading out for the day in Barcelona, put your different means of payment on separate locations (credit card in wallet, cash in front pocket and check in different pocket inside of purse, etc.)
• ALWAYS wear your purse or backpack in front of you to avoid theft and pickpockets
• If you are eligible for one, get a credit card that does not charge international fees, in order to save unnecessary charges during your trip
There are typically two different languages that are spoken throughout Barcelona and those are Spanish and Catalan. Because there are so many people that come to the city from all over the world, there will be a wide range of different languages you will here from French and Italian to Chinese and Japanese and everything in between.
In most accommodation places throughout the main parts of the city, the workers will speak fairly well English. This is the same for higher end restaurants and those located in the more touristy parts such as Las Ramblas and Park Guell. However, when you head outside of these areas, the use of the English language may dwindle a bit and you will be faced with locals who know only Catalan or Spanish or possibly both.
Many people wonder if they should learn a few key and common phrases before heading out to Barcelona and the question to ask yourself is what your purpose of visiting the city is. If you are hoping to only stick to the main attractions, visit high-end stores and shop only on Las Ramblas, the chances of needing to know Spanish or Catalan are fairly unlikely.
However, if you are hoping to truly dive into the beautiful and unique culture and traditions of the Catalan people, then knowing a few phrases will allow you to not only talk amongst the locals but gain from them a certain type of respect. Attempting to speak in their language will only allow better service and give them an additional reason to treat you better and maybe even help you out if you need it.
Learning the local language, if only just a few common phrases to use at a hotel or at a local restaurant can truly go along way while in Barcelona. For the most part, the Catalan people are very gracious and willing to help you out, which is just another reason to show them respect and attempt to speak to them in the local language.
• All European cellphone networks use GSM (Global System for Mobiles)
• If you already have GSM, then there is no need to do anything else with your phone while in Barcelona
• If you are unsure how to use your phone overseas, you should call your wireless operate and ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone account
• Buying a local prepaid SIM card are often the best way to go so that you do not end up paying ridiculously high per-minute roaming charges (they are very high in Europe)
• For those who are planning to stay in Barcelona for only a few days, you may want to consider renting a phone via local airport kiosks from the company “Rent A Phone” (Carrer Numancia 212 / tel. 93-280-21-31)
• If you plan to stay in Barcelona or Spain for an extended amount of time, then you may want to consider buying a phone as there are a ton of local kiosks who sell them very cheap (60 euro or less for a phone and SIM card)
• If you happen to have an iPhone, then you can enjoy sending iMessages using WiFi at local shops, restaurants, cafes and very likely your own accommodation. Internet is plentiful throughout Barcelona and if you don’t need your phone on all the time, this would be the cheapest option by far.
• If at all possible, avoid using the telephones in your hotel rooms as they impose a surcharge on all calls made from them
• If you are going to make an international call from Barcelona, dial 00 and then the country code of wherever you are calling to
Though you may not think the chances of an emergency during your time in Barcelona are very high, it is always better to be safe than sorry and well prepared for whatever comes your way. The following information should help you in being prepared before and during your trip to Barcelona…
Local Police: 092
Fire Brigade: 080
English-speaking police: +34-932-903-000 (headquarters) via Laietana 43
Lost and Found: +34 934 132 026
Hospitals Universitari Vall d’Hebron (University Hospital)
Address: Passeig Vall d’Hebron, 119-129 08035
Telephone: 93-274-6000 // 93-489-3000
Hospital Clinic I Provincial de Barcelona (University Hospital)
Address: Casanova, 143, 08036
Hospital Universitario de Bellvitge (University Hospital)
Address: Feixa Llarga, s/n 08907
Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalenes 680 (metro: Passeig de Gracia)