12 of your main Doubts Uncovered: Our Advice to Visiting Barcelona

Here are some useful bits of advice to make your trip to Barcelona as enjoyable as possible.  We want you to take advantage of your time here and see all that our wonderful city has to offer with as much ease as possible. Here is some safety advice, tips on transportation, practical information about Barcelona, and answers to a few FAQ´s.

1) Currency Exchange

Spain´s currency is the Euro.  It is always cheapest if you pre-order Euros from your bank in your home country. If you were unable to get Euros before arriving in Barcelona, no need to stress — there are plenty of currency exchange offices at the Barcelona El Prat airport.  You can also go to the “Correos,” or post offices to exchange money for a good rate.  You also have the option to go to regular banks such as La Caixa, Catalunya Caixa, BBVA, Deutsche Bank, etc.  Banking hours in Spain are typically Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm.

2) Public Transportation

Barcelona is extremely well-connected by public transport.  By staying in the city center you can quickly and easily arrive from one end of the city or the other by metro or bus.  You can also get to the main tourist attractions such as the Sagrada familia, Park Guell, and Plaça Espanya in under 10 minutes from the Ramblas building.

  • To buy tickets:  go down the metro stairs and you will find large yellow machines that sell tickets.
  • You can purchase T-10 tickets (10 journeys on the metro or busfor 10.30€) or single journey tickets for 2.15€.  If you plan to stay in the city for a few days, we highly recommend purchasing the T-10 ticket for ease and affordability.
  • English options are available: look for the British flag in the upper right corner on the screen.
  • You cannot buy a T-10 on the bus.  You have to go down to the metro to get a T-10.  However, if you have money, you can pay for a single journey on the bus.  
  • The Ramblas Building Apartments are located off of L3 Green line: Liceu. We are within a few minutes´ walk from the metro stop.  From the Green line you are very well connected with the rest of the city.

3) Bus Turístic

The Barcelona Bus Turístic is a hop-on hop-off bus tour that allows you to see all of Barcelona with an audio guide.  The audio guide is available in 11 languages.  It runs daily and has 3 main routes going through different districts of the city.  It offers you the flexibility to hop off the bus when you so choose, to see any of the chosen sights you wish to see.

  • The first departures are between 9 and 9:30 AM from any given stop, until 8pm in the evening.
  • The frequency of buses at each stop is anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes depending on the season.
  • Ticketing: 27€ for 1 day or 35€ for 2 days (consecutive); 16€ for 1 day children aged 4-12 or 20€ for 2 days (consecutive).  0-3 years are free.
  • You receive a 10% discount for purchasing tickets online.

4) Taxis

Taxis line up at Plaça Catalunya, the true city center.

Taxis are very easy to come by in Barcelona.  If you cannot flag one down, visit one of the many taxi ranks dispersed throughout the city.  In Plaça Catalunya, cabs line up and you can get one there.  To catch a cab from the airport, just follow the signs for taxi´s and this will lead you directly to the taxi rank outside.  A cab from the airport to the city center is just under 30€ with a charge for each bag.  Taxis in Barcelona are very safe and there are very low odds that you will be cheated.

5) Pharmacies

Pharmacies are generously dispersed throughout Barcelona, especially near the center.  You will have no problem finding pharmacies as they are indicated by a giant illuminated green cross outside.  Normal operating hours are 9.00h to 20.00h.  Many pharmacies across the city are English-speaking and you will find the most English-speaking pharmacies near the center, by Plaça Catalunya and on Passeig de Gracia.  There are also a few 24-hour pharmacies near the center.

6) Grocery stores

One of the largest supermarkets in the center is the Carrefour on La Rambla, just a five minutes´ walk from the Ramblas Building.  It has 2 floors and a pharmacy upon the entrance.  Normal operating hours are daily from 10h to 22h but closes on Sundays.  There are a plethora of supermarkets in the center and corner shops that stay open on Sundays.

7) For which tourist attractions do I need to purchase my ticket ahead of time?

You must buy your ticket ahead of time for the Sagrada Familia to avoid excessive queues.

 Purchase ahead of time:

  • Sagrada Familia: you will queue for at least a few hours if you do not purchase your ticket ahead of time.  You will be given a time slot in which you can enter the church.  After entering, you have as much time as you please to visit.
  • Park Guell:  now using a time slot system as well, you may arrive there and be able to enter shortly or may have to wait a few hours until the next time slot is available.
  • Picasso Museum: again, purchase your tickets online and you will be assigned a time slot.  If not, you may have to queue for a while.  On Sundays, the museum is free to the general public, so be prepared for a queue.

No Need to Purchase Beforehand:

  • Montjuic Castle: show up to the castle at the top of Montjuic and you will pay and enter immediately.
  • Magic Fountains at Plaça Espanya: the show is free of charge.
  • Casa Batlló and La Pedrera: both of Gaudi´s works situated on Passeig de Gracia are not necessary to buy tickets in advance, for if there is a queue, you will move quickly along.  However, if you are going during the high-season summer months, you may want to consider buying tickets ahead of time so you don´t have to worry about a line.
  • Cathedral of Barcelona: tickets are not available online, but you shouldn´t have much trouble with lines.  Certain hours of the day are free, others are not.
  • FC Barcelona Camp Nou Experience: there are options to purchase your ticket before arriving to the stadium, but you shouldn´t have trouble getting a ticket when you arrive.

8)  Tipping?

Tipping in Spain is not necessary.  If your bill comes out to 3.75, you can leave the excess change, or take it.  There is no tipping culture, however, if you do go to a more expensive meal, some choose to leave a tip, others don´t.  It is as you prefer.

9) I have to wait until 14h to have lunch?

Well, not necessarily, but Catalans and Spanish have a drawn-out late lunch, and you won´t find many restaurants serving lunch until at least 13.30.  It is their biggest meal of the day, and is used as a time to rest, relax, and enjoy company with friends.  If you are out during this time, you will see “menus del día” which are generally 3 courses that include first and second plates, a dessert, and your choice of drink for generally around 9-13€.  If you have the time, indulge in a siesta (nap) to pass the afternoon when most stores and businesses close.

10) Siesta time!

Most shops and businesses are open from around 9h or 9.30h in the morning until around 13.30h or 14h in the afternoon, and then re-open around 16h or 17h for the afternoon until 20h or 21h.  Big supermarkets are generally open all day until 21h without closing mid-day. Keep in mind also that on Sundays, most local businesses and shops are closed, so plan ahead for this! In the city center, you will be able to find some restaurants and shops open.

You will find the streets a bit emptier around the mid-afternoon hours.

11) City Wifi

Barcelona Wifi allows you to connect to Wifi at certain access points throughout the city.  It is a free internet access service with different “stations” throughout Barcelona and you can hook up your device to the internet.

 12) Watch your belongings

To confirm what you have read on the internet, Barcelona is famous for its petty theft. The city is very safe in all other regards, with a very low violent crime rate.  You can walk around at night and feel comfortable without feeling threatened for your safety.  You will see police patrolling on the streets throughout the day and night.  In the summertime and high tourist season, extra police are assigned to La Rambla.  Regardless, in all areas of the city, it is important that you guard your personal items.

A busy day on La Rambla calls for you to take extra care with your personal belongings.

  • In restaurants, make sure to keep purses and backpacks on your lap, phones/cameras/wallets off of the tables, and any other personal belongings carefully guarded. Do not put your bag over the back of a chair, on a chair next to you or even under the table.
  • Never keep belongings in any pockets — front or back.
  • Take care of your belongings on public transportation.  If you are standing in the metro, be sure to always have your bag in front of you and take care if using your mobile device, as you are more distracted.
  • Do not carry out large sums of money in public.
  • If you do not need your passport for the day and can carry some other form of identification, leave it in a safe in the room.
  • When on La Rambla, be especially careful with your items while watching street shows.
  • The Barcelona El Prat Airport is a hub for pickpockets, so take care with your belongings and luggage.
  • Never leave expensive belongings in plain sight or items unattended while at the beach.

Photo Credits: Carlos Lorenzo, Moyan Brenn, JT, Petter Palander, Juan Salmoral, David Bailey, Xavi, Luis Hernandez

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