Traveling to Barcelona for the first time? Read here some practical tips for your stay!
AIRPORT TRANSFERS BARCELONA
The closest airport to Barcelona is called El Prat. To get from the El Prat airport to the city center, there are many ways. Some are easier and quicker than others. Once you enter the arrivall hall in th airport, you will see clear icons for the options. Follow the icon for the option you want and nothing can go wrong.
The aerobus leaves from airport terminal 1 and terminal 2 in El Prat and runs every 5 minutes. The bus drops you off in the city center (Plaza España, Urgell, Universitat and Plaza Catalunya) and is very quick. In 35 minutes you are in the town. A ticket costs 5.90 eur. This is our favourite option still. All stops have good bus and metro connections to get you to your final destination.
The metro line L9 is the one that goes from the El Prat Airport. The L9 is a comfortable, new line but the journey takes longer than the aerobus and you will most likely need to change once or twice to get to the center. This journey will cost you 4.60 eur.
Another option is to take the R2 train (Rodalies Cercanías Renfe) from Terminal2 to Passeig de Gracia, which is the center of Barcelona. This train ride will take you a bit longer than the aerobus, as it only comes every 30 minutes. But it has 2 big benefits. It is cheaper than the previous two options and it drops you off in the center as well. You can take a shuttle from Terminal1 to Terminal2 to get on the train.
If you have a lot of luggage or want to get quicker to your hotel, then a taxi is a great option. There is a big taxi line right outside of the airport and a staff member will assign you to your driver. Most of the taxi drivers accept payments by card. Not all of them speak English so it is best to have clear instructions with your address or destination, or to use Google Translate. If you want a private transfer with a driver picking you up in the arrivall hall, please reach out to us and we will happily help you out.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT BARCELONA
If you travel a couple of days to Barcelona and plan to stay most of the time in the city, the most affordable ticket is the T-10 metro-ticket Barcelona. This means you have 10 rides, you can share the ticket and it will not expire before you leave. You can use the same ticket for bus, metro, tram and some train journeys. The -t-10 card is valid for several people at the same time so you only have to buy one ticket and everyone can use it. This is not possible with other tickets. For example, a day pass is only valid for 1 day and must be purchased per person. The T-10 will cost you about 10 eur, what makes the price of a ride only 1 eur per person. You can purchase this ticket in all metro station or newspaper shops in town. You only need to buy a T-10 for 1 zone if you stay in town, or close to Barcelona. Ask help if you want to go further for example to Montserrat or to Sitges for a day. You will also get to main highlights such as Camp Nou, Park Guell and Sagrada Familia with this T-10 ticket.
If you are not keen on public transport, you can easily rent a bike. Our favourite bike shop in town is El Ciclo.
HIGHLIGHTS IN BARCELONA
For some major attractions you need to buy tickets in advance to avoid a long queue or even to be able to visit it during your stay. Definitely consider buying a ticket in advance for
We have set up a collaboration with our trusted partner Ticketbar and selected these top attractions. You can buy the tickets safely and quickly on this page here.
The hop on – hop off bus in Barcelona is a great way to get a first feel for the city and see the highlights. You can spend easily 6 to 8 hours on the bus. It gets you close to the monuments and the bus comes every 5 to 10 minutes.
It is a great idea to take a guided tour on your first day in Barcelona. Your private guide can explain you a lot about the different districts, give tips and recommendations for the rest of your stay. Please take a look here at the Barcelona tours.
Barcelona is a major city and unfortunately that comes with pickpockets. The main areas where you will find pickpockets are Las Ramblas, The Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter.
Our best advice : chose carefully what you take with you (for example leave your original ID in the hotel and only take a copy of it with you). Always pay attention to your belongings. For example don´t leave your purse on the floor while you have a drink. Many travelers use a Smart Wallet now to protect their credit cards from electronic theft. You can buy them here.
FINDING YOUR WAY
In the Tourist Information Center or in your hotel you can easily pick up a printed map of Barcelona. If you want a digital version, there are a couple of options.
For European travelers it is easy to use the roaming option of their phone and to be online whenever it is needed. Google Maps is the easiest application as it gives you the public transport and walking options straight away.
However for travelers from outside of Europe or travelers for with a limited data package, it is still useful to have an offline map on your phone.
You can easily download Google Maps offline or use the app Maps.me and add your your favorites on the map.
DISTRICTS IN BARCELONA
Each district in Barcelona has its charm and local market and special atmosphere. A short overview per neighborhood :
El Raval> hip, creative, multi cultural. For our 80 year old neighbor still a neighborhood to avoid, for the young crowd the place to be. Especially around MACBA, Nou de la Rambla and Rambla de Raval there are nice restaurants and places to discover. Also the Ramblas and Plaza Catalunya are never far away.
El Borne> Medieval district. Especially in the evening there is a lot of atmosphere here. Here you can enjoy hours on a terrace, even in the winter. Cozy alleys with boutiques in the Old Center. The crowd of tourists does also find their way to this district. The city park, Palau de la musica and the Picasso museum are nearby.
Gracia> our favorite neighborhood. Located at the top of the fancy Passeig de Gracia and under Park Guell. Here you will find far fewer tourists than in the other neighborhoods and the real local feeling. Love it.
Eixample> here you will find impressive big buildings, often full of Art Nouveau elements, both at left and right hand side. Here you can really find beautiful accommodation. The only drawback of this neighborhood is the traffic that sometimes gives you a less relaxed feeling than the other districts.
El Gotico> the oldest district of Barcelona. Many tourists come here because there is a lot of history to discover. The location is easily central> close to the Ramblas, the port and Plaza Catalunya. The Romans also immediately realised that!
Poblenou> a lovely quiet neighborhood by the sea. At the end of the Barcelona coastline lies Poblenou with its lovely Rambla de Poblenou, and Carrer Maria Aguilo. Hundreds of families live here and you can experience local life / just like in Gracia, but with the sea a few steps away from you!
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please reach out to us or comment below!
Con Mucho Gusto