Hola Barcelona! As much as I like to go with the flow, it’s very rare for me to visit a completely new destination without even a quick search online (sorry printed guides). My search usually includes different places to check out, the basic language such as hello and thank you and only a while ago I realised that checking the ‘do’s and don’ts of a place is pretty important. The reason for this? Well… different countries and cultures have different traditions, different things they view as polite or the complete opposite. Some might be surprising even.
So before you visit the stunning city called Barcelona, I’ve prepared a list of the do’s & don’ts for you! I hope they will save you some time, money and most importantly… awkward moments!
Do take the Metro
The colourful bus, also known as the Hop-on, Hop-off bus, may look tempting and seem easy to visit all those famous spots, but it might not always be the best option. Why, I hear you ask? Well, the traffic. You may find yourself sitting in a queue for quite a long time, especially during peak hours. Now, as tempting as those open decker buses seem – imagine sitting upstairs, in hot temperature, stuck in traffic, breathing in all those delicious traffic fumes…nope. Sometimes you might want t0 try the Metro.
At 2,20 Euro for a metro ride you can’t go wrong. Plus, it’s nice to walk a bit as well, especially when exploring a new place. There is also a thing called ‘T-dia travel card’ which allows you to choose the zones you’ll be travelling in and can work out cheaper also, prices start at around 8 Euro per day.
Do Buy Alcohol Before 11 pm
This might not always be obvious, but you will find it pretty difficult to find shops selling alcohol after 11pm. So definitely stock up before if you’re planning a few drinks at night. There will usually be people selling beers at a super high price compared to the quality – so try to avoid that.
Do not Eat a Paella from Paellador
Tasting local food when exploring new destinations is one of my favourite things. But sometimes it takes searching a bit deeper to find the true, traditional dishes in order to avoid the tourist traps.
A good example is Paella in Barcelona. First of all, this isn’t the most typical dish in Catalunya, but what’s worse is that many restaurants serve a particular brand of paella called ‘Paellador’. Yes, it’s a brand, and the paella is not cooked from fresh products but from frozen. When walking in popular areas such as La Ramblas, you’ll most likely see quite a few stands advertising the Paellador Paella by showing different types of the dish. When you see it – turn around and walk the other way.
Do a quick search online (or ask the locals!) to find places serving traditionally prepared paella and see for yourself what the real deal tastes like!
Do not forget about the local customs and schedules
Don’t forget that Spaniards like to eat late and that siesta is an important part of the day. For many reasons, not just naps. Many shops will be closed during midday and on Sundays. The usual opening times for local shops are 9 am to 1 or 2 pm, and then from 4,30 to 7/8,30 pm. When it comes to dinner, the standard time is after 8pm.
Do not Treat the City like a Beach (Please)
For some reason, many tourists seem to think that if there is a beach – the whole city or in some cases an entire island becomes the beach. Try to wear bikinis when you can see the beach at least, but avoid walking around the city without covering up. It’s mainly out of respect to locals, but also you don’t want to stand out as ‘that tourist’.
When getting further away from the beach, definitely put some clothes and shoes on, especially when entering a restaurant etc.
Do Book Your Flight to the Right Airport
When possible, book your flight to the airport in Barcelona called El Prat airport. It’s a pretty common situation when people book a trip to Barcelona and don’t realise there is more than one airport. Avoid Reus or Girona if you can – which are further away from the city. Will cost you much more, especially when getting a taxi. This is especially useful when visiting the city for a short amount of time.
Do try to learn a few words in Catalan or Spanish.
Learning simple phrases such as hello and thank you go a long way! People will most likely treat you nicer if you show your respect towards their language and that you’re willing to learn a few simple words! It’s also fun to be able to ‘speak’ a different language, even if it’s only a few words!
Do not drink Sangria, Go for Cava
Similarly as with the Paella, Sangria is not the best choice in Barcelona. It’s a local drink in the southern regions of Spain including Valencia or Andalucia, where the fruit is freshly picked and mixed with delicious, local wine. But, that is not the case in Barcelona. Instead, what you’ll usually get would be something along the lines of leftover wine, fruit and lemonade or Sprite. It’s nowhere near the real thing. Of course, there are some places which do care about making it properly, but they’re pretty difficult to find.
A much better option is a glass of Cava! The traditional sparkling wine, very similar to Champagne – but not the same! It’s produced in the Penedès region, which is about 50 miles away from Barcelona. Meaning it’s the real, authentic, local, ‘unofficial’ drink of Barcelona. It’s also very delicious.
So here you go! Follow our Do’s and Don’ts and you’ll be doing just fine. You’ll be saying ‘Hola Barcelona’, and having a truly fantastic time. What more could you ask for?