TO DO AND NOT TO DO IN BARCELONA

With so many architectural sights to see, dining venues to visit and art to admire, a visit to Barcelona can easily seem overwhelming. NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine’s editors gather together some information on where to go and what not to do when visiting. Plan your next trip to Barcelona and save yourself some hassle with these insightful tips and recommendations

Words: Aleksandra Georgieva

Photography: Tomas Nozina, Lukas Neves, Max Kobus,  Ashwin Vaswani, Bernard Hermand

28 July 2019

One of the most iconic European destinations, Barcelona often holds a special place in the hearts of visitors. The world-class drinking and dining scene celebrate the long history of traditional Catalan cuisine that combines simple, local and fresh ingredients. From seafood taverns, market food and tapas bars to restaurants with Mediterranean views, avant-garde Japanese venues and even boutique chocolate shops, Barcelona has it all.

 

This seaside city filled with incredible Catalan culture hosts architectural treasures that date back to over 2,000 years ago. Ancient temple columns and stone city walls represent the Roman era. The 14th century cathedrals of the Gothic quarter mix aspects of the Middle Ages with the Modernism architecture creations by Gaudí and the major museum exhibits of masterpieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró.

 

Barcelona is among the best-connected cities not only in Spain, but also in Europe. It is accessible by train, car, boat and plane. The closest to the city centre is Barcelona–El Prat Airport so if you are planning a plane trip, consider choosing this landing location. Peak holiday seasons may increase transport prices, but you must pay this city at least one visit in your lifetime.

 

 

What you should do in Barcelona:

  • From shiny new hotels to wonderful Airbnb’s Barcelona has a wide range of accommodation options for visitors. If you’re looking for ‘modernity in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter’, the Barcelona Catedral Hotel and their rooftop pool will have you in for a treat right at the heart of the city. Closer to Plaça de Catalunya is the Pulitzer Hotel, offering guests access to their rooftop bar with an array of cocktails and weekend a DJ to spice up your evenings.

 

  • Wherever you may be from, the Barcelona nights are most likely going to be an upgrade from your usual party scene. Whether you choose exotic bars and panoramic terrace bars for sunset drinks to start of your evening, or you prefer the beach bars, expect venues to fill by midnight. The city soaks in music as darkness falls and before you hit the clubs, you can enjoy a vast musical entertainment by vintage concert halls, jazz basement bars, traditional or medieval taverns and the worldwide famous Spanish flamenco venues.

 

 

Where you should go in Barcelona:

  • One of many gorgeous parks in Barcelona is the famous Park Güell with its colourful gardens and glass-like lakes where visitors can enjoy a picnic in a relaxed afternoon. Designed by the globally notable Antoni Gaudí this is also the home of the Gaudi House Museum and the famous ‘El Drac’ terrace. Other of Gaudí’s world-renowned works in the city include Sagrada Família and Casa Milà, which you should plan to visit in advance as tickets may be pre-booked.

 

  • The lovers of art will find heaven at the Picasso Museum were on Sunday afternoons visitors can admire some of the artist’s best and most famous works without having to pay any entry fee at all.

 

  • Famous for the beautifully maintained gardens, the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, the castle and the hill it all stands on, Montjuïc is a must-see spot in Barcelona. Almost 500 years old, the Montjuïc Castle offers unforgettable bird-eye views of the city and cable car rides to Barcelona’s waterfront harbour.

 

  • Another famous hilltop is Tibidabo standing at 500 m height. The church at the top is among the must-visit spots in the city. It provides one of the prettiest views of Barcelona, especially at sunset when you can enjoy the rare opportunity of witnessing one of Europe’s most iconic cities transform as daylight slowly turns into night.

 

  • Platja de Barceloneta is the city’s beach where you can soak up the Mediterranean summer sun rays and enjoy a swim in the warm sea waters. For the more dynamic travellers there are small and license-free boats that you can hire for around €60-80 and explore the coastal waters around the beach.

 

  • At the heart of the city stands the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona with the public square of Plaça Sant Felip Neri where tourists explore the architecture through the beautiful fountain and church. The cobbled streets will lead you to the small stores and pleasant cafes, while if you look closely at the stonework, you might still notice history’s fingerprints and the scars left from the Civil War.

 

  • The Old Fisherman’s Quarter is known around the city for its outstanding seafood restaurants and lively bars that both tourists and locals love to visit. However different and fresh food options you may find in the Old Fisherman’s Quarter, be sure to check out the unmissable Barcelona markets as well.

 

  • Europe’s largest food market is located right within the city of Barcelona. La Boqueria offers an array of fresh food options that have inspired the Catalan cuisine for decades. Indulge your senses into the delicious scents of fresh fruits, local cheese and sinful sweets. The exotic-looking seafood and ham stalls will draw your eye while the beautifully arranged market will impress you with the quality and options it provides, as the items change depending on the season.

What you should NOT do in Barcelona:

  • Do not chose Flamenco over Rumba Catalana: the flamenco dance originated in the south of Spain and to this day is considered very representative of the Spanish culture. In Barcelona you can find venues to enjoy the art of flamenco dancers, but the city has its own folk music shows, known as Rumba Catalana. This music genre includes rhythms influenced by Cuban music and derived from flamenco rumba. Rumba Catalana is incredibly entertaining to watch and truly representative of the Barcelona dance and music scene.

     

  • Aoid eating on Las Ramblas: alike other main cities on the planet, Barcelona has popular tourist spots and the overall rules there favour the chances of visitors paying double the price for worse quality food. Instead of eating an overpriced and most likely frozen paella on Las Ramblas, choose the local traditional restaurants in the area. While Las Ramblas is a great choice to enjoy Sangria or a cool beer, the nearby places such as Ciutat Comtal, El Bosco and Iposa will likely offer fresher products and better prepared dishes.

  • Don’t disrespect La Boqueria’s “please don’t touch” signs: we just mentioned the eye-pleasing food market that offers the most vivid and intriguing products you may have ever witnessed. Taking those beautiful photos and touching the vegetables before deciding what to buy may be tempting, but it is also inappropriate and disrespectful to the stand owners. Not only would you damage their products, but you are likely to cause too much hassle and drive away their actual customers. Take your photos at the entrance and enjoy looking at the stands, while buying respectfully.

  • Don’t treat Catalan as a dialect: Spanish people are usually bi-lingual depending on the region they live in. They are careful to preserve their language identity and Catalan is one of several co-official languages in Spain. It is similar to Portuguese, Spanish and French and your efforts in learning some common phrases such as ‘Bon dia!’ as opposed to ‘Buenos dias!’ will be appreciated by locals.

  • Avoid cabs: one of the best ways to explore Barcelona is on foot and you will not make a mistake even if you don’t have a pre-planned route to follow. The city is filled with charming plazas, small cafes, hidden restaurants, cobalt streets and beautiful buildings. Cabs may be a fast way to get around but so is public transport, which will give you the opportunity to explore more off-the-map locations and even entire neighbourhoods that carry such an essence of peace among one of the most visited cities on the planet.
     

  • Don’t buy a single metro ticket: the price for a one-way journey is €2,15 and you will likely need to return from where you’re going to. Consider getting a T-10 card which costs €9,95 for 10 rides on subway, bus or funicular. You can share the card with your travel partners and 5 rides later your purchase will already be worth the price.

  • Skip the Passeig de Gràcia shopping: while this may be Barcelona’s main business and shopping district, the famous brands are available anywhere else in the world. Barcelona is famous for its fashion and design pieces. Seek local stores for something Barcelona-exclusive to add to your wardrobe or find private consultancy in the Antiques & Boutiques, which offer professional fashion advice.

  • Avoid big tour groups: Barcelona is bursting with top tourist locations and seeking tour guides to take you around the city may seem tempting until you see the crowd of fellow tourists looking for the same. The double-decker bus rides will take you to the main spots, but you will likely miss out on the hidden corners and less popular city stops that smaller tour groups will likely visit.

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