Barcelona is a city filled with exceptional culture, a plethora of museums, breathtaking architecture, and a world-class cuisine. No wonder tourists prefer the Catalan capital. In fact, Barcelona is reported to be among the top 20 most visited cities in the world.
Barcelona is the perfect city for creative souls, offering everything from outstandingly beautiful architecture and chic cocktail places to an impressive creative scene with multiple agencies and studios that promote art.
If you would like to experience this magical city and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here is an ultimate Barcelona travel guide.
When is the Best Time to Visit Barcelona?
Barcelona can be quite hot and humid in July and August. Therefore, we believe that the best time to visit is early summer – May & June. Fall (September & October) is also a great time to explore the city.
How Much You Need to Travel in Barcelona
In terms of price, Barcelona is neither too cheap nor too expensive. So, we recommend that you budget to spend €35-€80 per day. You can definitely spend more or less than this, but we believe that this is a good range.
Where to Stay
Barcelona has a lot of cheap hostels where you can stay. Most of these receive very good reviews from other tourists. Nevertheless, prices tend to be a lot higher during summer thanks to an influx of visitors. Therefore, you want to make your bookings as early as possible to make sure you get the very best options.
If you are driven primarily by creativity, you’ll most likely want to stay in a distinctive hotel that matches your vibe and pleases your eyes. If you prefer a budget-friendly option go for Chic & Basic Ramblas, a central hotel with vintage 1960s decor and a pale-green SEAT 600 car in the lobby that honors Barcelona’s gauche period. A bit more luxury, but still quite affordable is Praktik Rambla, a contemporary hotel in Art Noveau designed by the famous Spanish architect, Lázaro Rosa-Violán with a lovely on-site restaurant that serves delicious local specialties.
On the other hand, if you are willing to splurge on a fancy accommodation, Hotel Neri in the old Jewish Quarter with rustic stone architecture that channels pure aristocracy and a chic rooftop bar where you can sip cocktails in the evenings is the perfect place to rest your feet after a long day of exploring this magical city.
What to Eat and Drink
Offering a mix of Catalan and Spanish flavors, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to what to eat and drink in Barcelona. Taking inspirations from the sea and land, Barcelona’s food is simply scrumptious and diverse.
Read also: Top 5 Budget Tapas Restaurants in Barcelona
The food options in Barcelona are fit for any kind of budget. In fact, Barcelona has one of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita in Europe. Some delicious dishes that you can purchase include: seafood, cava, tapas, paella, sangria, crema catalana, and escudella.
What to See
There are a lot of things to see in Barcelona that you are going to find fascinating. However, be prepared to a lot of tourists and massive queues. Check out this guide, how to avoid tourist traps in Barcelona (Spanish). Las Ramblas is probable the backbone of any exploration trip to the city of Barcelona as it is the epicenter of all occurrences here. Stretching southeast to the sea, Las Ramblas’ tall and leafy trees offer shade to individuals strolling below, while enjoying some ice cream. At the end of Las Ramblas, you get a clear view of Montjuic, a green hill behind the city. If you can manage to go on a hike on this hill, you will be rewarded with scenic aerial view of the city. Back to the town, you can tour the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter or the Parc de la Ciutadella. This is a place where locals come to relax amid the beautiful gardens of this ancient citadel.
Architecture obsessives should definitely see Gaudi’s outstanding work by visiting famous sites like the glorious Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, the fairytale-like Casa Batilo, and the building with no straight lines La Pedrera. Art lovers should put Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró on top of their list, places where they can see their fine works of art.
Creatives with a special love for design, fashion, and visual communication who want to broaden their knowledge and skills on these subjects should pay a visit to the Instituto Europeo de Diseño (IED), a modern school that connects the academic and the business world helping its students keep up with the current trends on the labor market. For instance, IED Barcelona’s new bachelor course in transportation design combines theoretical knowledge about this sector along with practical education backed by leading companies in this industry where students get to work on complex projects with prototypes and real costs.
Other Things to Do
Some other fun things you can do in Barcelona include:
- Visit Barcelona History Museum
The Barcelona History Museum does an incredible job to show tourists the history, culture, and importance of the city. In addition, there are 4,000 sq. meters of roman ruins underneath the museum where you could walk through.
- See Picasso Museum
Picasso was a phenomenal artist. If you are a lover of art, you would be certainly interested in learning more about the work of one of the most influential artists ever. With hundreds of pieces of art, there is definitely a lot to see here.
- Enjoy the Beach
Barcelona has wide, long, and warm beaches that receive tourists all year round. The water here is good to swim in. Also, there are incredible restaurants on the boardwalks where you can dine.
- Ride in the Harbor Cable Car
You could also take a ride in the 1,450 meter-long harbor tramway that connects Barceloneta and Montjuic. This cable with red cars starts at the top of 78m Torre San Sebastian Tower. It takes a mid-way stop at Torre Jaume I Tower, the second tallest tramway support tower on the planet. If love heights, riding on this tramway will provide an experience like no other.
- Take a Walk Through the Raval
Raval is an old literary district in Barcelona. Earlier on, it used to have a dark, edgy feel. However, it is now filled with trendy business shops. If you are touring Barcelona, you should consider taking a stroll around this area.
The Nightlife in Barcelona
Partying is one of the major reasons why people visit this city. Here, the night starts at 10pm, and you will find a lot of people walking around and eating even after midnight. Locals and visitors love hitting the clubs and restaurants until morning. If clubbing is your thing, Barcelona got you covered.
Bars and Restaurants
If you are looking for bars with high-end feel and menus full of signature cocktails, go to Solange and Dry Martini where you can sip fancy drinks prepared by award-winning mixologists. Those who prefer old-school cocktails should head over to Bitter Cocktail Bar, a place that makes all the classics using only natural ingredients.
As an ultimate destination for creatives, Barcelona also offers a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience from Cerveseria Catalana that serves the best tapas and fresh seafood to the elegant Spoonik and Santa Rita Experience where you can find many fancy fine dining options.
Transport in Barcelona
Apart from walking to your destination, you can cross larger distances by bus, taxi, metro, or bike. Metro travel is usually cheap but a bit overcrowded. Buses run around the major streets all the way to the downtown area. There are also buses that go out to the suburbs. If you don’t like public transport, you could hire a taxi. Taxis are in plenty here and quite safe.
The large population of visitors who flock in Barcelona attracts lots of pickpockets and scammers. Due to this, you have to remain vigilant, mostly on the beaches and in areas with loads of tourists.
Bustling Agency Scene
Barcelona’s thriving creative industries take up 11% of its workforce, which is a significant rise compared to the previous years which indicates that this bustling Spanish city is one of the best places for creative minds to build a stellar career in any area of design.
Some of the hottest design and illustration studios are Toormix, Solo, Hey, Brosmind, Folch, and Forma, while the digital game is led by Hommu which works for Disney, Audi, and Unilever, and Fragment that does creative work for SEAT and Levi’s.
Innovative advertising agencies include LOUD known for its commercials for Ted Baker, Nowadays and Maison du Monde, LOLA Mullen Lowe that’s behind the genius #PleasureIsDiverse campaign for Magnum and the “imaginary friend” commercial for SEAT LEON.
If you need an office-like space in Barcelona some of the best co-working spaces include RavalCo in El Raval which charges €15 per day, MOB, short for “makers of Barcelona”, which offers many helpful extras such as networking and relevant events, but there’s also a “mini MOB” package that starts at €20 and it’s perfect for those who are just visiting Barcelona, Take Betahaus is also open Monday to Friday and offers all the office essentials along with free refreshments for €25 per day.
Barcelona Travel Trips
- Most city-run museums are usually free on Sundays in the afternoon.
- The major language spoken in Barcelona is Catalan. However, Spanish is also spoken by almost everybody.
- If you can, always buy tickets online to avoid long line.
- The best way to explore the city is walking since the city is quite walkable.
- Beware of pickpockets.
- A lot of restaurants are open from 2-4pm and open back at around 8pm.
To sum it up
Being one of the largest cities in Europe, Barcelona is able to strike a balance between the hustle and bustle of any contemporary metropolis, and the laidback atmosphere, Spain is famous for. With the information in this guide, you should be now well placed to visit and explore Barcelona with as minimal hassles as possible.
Barcelona offers both opportunities for professional growth and places that will impress and inspire the creative souls. This bustling city is much more than its crowded tourist sites – it’s an entire experience for those who have a keen eye for art, architecture, and design, so don’t hesitate to visit and broaden your creative perspectives.