Travel tips by Coordle. We find and compile the information, so you don’t have to.
Let’s talk about Barcelona. Barcelona is a great city to visit. It’s gorgeous and walkable—with easy access to buses, trains, Hop on Hop off bus, and the usual taxis. With so many restaurants to choose from, you will want to eat as many times throughout the day as possible. Barcelona has enough to do to make everyone on the trip happy, whether it is museums, shopping, architecture, green spaces, urban life, and more!
Barcelona is in the Catalonia region of Spain, a region that has consistently fought for its independence. Read more about for the region’s recent push for independence in 2019 and why they put forward a new independent referendum in 2022.
All over the Catalonian region, you will see a few different types of flags. The flags that say “Si” mean yes to democracy. The flag of Spain is red/yellow/red with an emblem. The flag of Catalonia is striped red and yellow. The unofficial flag for Catalonian independence in the red/yellow striped flag with the blue star. You will see variations of these flags throughout the region. If you see the Spanish flag, it likely means those who live there want the region/Barcelona to stay a part of Spain. If you see the unofficial flag of independence, it likely means those who live there want Catalonian independence from Spain and be an independent country. Talk to a local Catalonian about their opinions for an even greater understanding of their country!
On to transportation logistics
AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) which is the fast train, operated by Spanish national rail company Renfe, constitute the top-end of Spain’s range of long-distance trains, running at up to 310km/h. Playing on the Spanish word for bird, “ave,” AVE trains use high-speed routes to connect major Spanish cities.
- From the Barcelona airport you would need to find a way to the city center to take the AVE. From the Barcelona airport, there are a few ways you can get to the city center. First you need to get to Terminal 1 via the terminal shuttle.
- From Terminal 1, you will take the train RENFE into the Barcelona Sants stop, which is the city center. This ride will take you almost an hour and is around 4-5 euros.
- You can take the metro from inside Terminal 1. From the metro, you will take the gray line to Torrassa and then the orange line to Barcelona Sants which is the city center. This will take about 30 minutes. The trains are nice and clean. Here is a great website about the different trains, costs, where they go, and other random information you might need.
- At this point you will have decisions to make on the type of pass you will buy. You can buy a T10 ten ride pass, a single, or the Barcelona card. I recommend the Barcelona card since it comes with unlimited use of trains and buses for the length of the card you purchase. The card can be purchased online, and the paper voucher taken to the Barcelona Card desk in the airport for redemption and immediate use.
- You can take the TMB Airport Bus 46 bus into the city center and it will take a T10 ticket for a few euros. You can use the bus system, but this will take a little longer and have a few connections.
- Lastly, you can take the Aerobus (Express bus service) to Barcelona City center from Barcelona Airport and it is 5.15 euros one way.
If you have any other questions about the buses, checkout the Guide to Barcelona Airport Bus Options to Barcelona City Centre.
The Barcelona Sants Station is where all the transportation methods meet up in the city center. If you love art, outside of the station is a really cool dragon art sculpture that has two slides on it. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been on a slide for a long time. I feel like it was made for grown-ups. However, be aware that one of the slides has a sudden stop and you might bust your butt a little.
Above I mentioned the Barcelona Card (GET THIS CARD). For 3 days it is around $40 US, and you will probably get your worth out of it on the first day. It allows you to get into several museums for free or at a discount, and provides unlimited access to buses, trains, and metros. The card is also worth it because you don’t have the pay the airport fee when traveling by train to the airport on your way out of Barcelona.
The Hop On Hop Off Bus Pass for three days does the same thing as the Barcelona Card. However, if you want to take the bus around to hear about all the interesting things about Barcelona, rest, and more importantly, use the free WIFI and power outlets then it is worth it! This bus gives you the chance to tour around Barcelona, check out areas that were a little too far to walk or roll. It may or may not be able to be used as a safe space place to take a small nap during the day… There is a huge variety of museums in Barcelona, and the Barcelona Card allowed me to go to the ones I wouldn’t have paid to go into. Here is a list of the attractions you can get into for free or with a great discount.
Onto touristy things!
Centro Comercial Arenasde Barcelona: For some amazing 360-degree scenic views of Barcelona go to Centro Comercial Arenas de Barcelona. It is both a mall and scenic lookout. It costs a euro to go up in the elevator and is worth it for the 360-degree view of Barcelona.
Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport Joan A. Samaranch: If you are a lover of the Olympics, then you need to immediately go to Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport Joan A. Samaranch. This place is a literal dream for me. It has all the Olympic torches, Olympic medals, Olympic uniforms, Olympic equipment, and videos of past Olympics that will make you want to sit for hours watching them. It gives you the history and background of the Olympics as well as lets you play some games while you are there. Don’t pull a muscle. 😊
Museu de la Xocolata or Chocolate Museum: This museum takes you on a historical adventure as it explains the history of chocolate from the beginning. It is free with your Barcelona Card. All the sculptures in the museum are made of chocolate. It is worth a quick tour, and they give you a free chocolate bar. Yes! There are many gorgeous buildings to look at while traversing around Barcelona. The architecture is amazing, and worth taking walks to see because when on a bus or in a taxi the buildings just do not get the justice they deserve.
Can’t forget about food
La Boqueria: Let me tell you about this market. La Boqueria is heaven. You walk in and you are hit with smells, tastes, urges, wants, and more. You see meat hanging everywhere, cups of fresh juice, candy, seafood, and whatever else you want to eat. This is the best place to get an afternoon snack, lunch, food for the next day’s adventures, or just a place to walk around. I had the most amazing chorizo baguette. Sandwiches will cost 3-4 euro, fresh juices cost about 1-2 euro. Do not buy anything at the entrance as it can be double, have some patience and go wander around. You will see the prices going down. Most only take cash so be prepared to have it on you.
Quimet & Quimet: This is a small, and I do mean small, tapas bar. Maybe 15 people can be in there at one time, and it is standing room only. They have a great selection of alcohol and tapas.
Paradiso: This speakeasy is worth the wait, but GET THERE EARLY, around 8 or 9pm. It is a true speakeasy, with the great drink menu, the vibe of being exclusive and a little different. This was a favorite bar of ours. The presentation of the drinks is worth the cost of the drinks! Such a great experience. They didn’t have that big of a food menu, just things to nibble on.
Dr. Stravinsky: a little speakeasy type of place. GET THERE EARLY, around 8 or 9pm. If you try to arrive later, you will be sitting outside not able to get in as it is small. Great drink menu that is worth the distance or the wait.
Thai Barcelona Royal Cuisine: Probably the best Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand. It was amazing. All the items we had were fabulous, I don’t think that you can go wrong with anything you pick.
TXAPELA: All the tapas you could want. The service is fast, the menu is good, and the food is great. I mention food, but I should just say churros. Churros will be an important part of your diet while in Spain. I believe they are the top, middle, and bottom of the food pyramid. They are delicious by themselves, but even more so when you add hot chocolate to it. Yes, I said hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is thick enough to be used as dipping for the churros, but you can drink it, too. I had churros at least once a day. AT LEAST! There are a ton of lists of the top churro places, but I feel that in this instance you should do your own fieldwork and gather your own data (it’s for your own good). But if you need a list here is one by LadyIronChef.
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