I cannot convey in words just how wonderful a vacation spot Barcelona is. But like any cultural hub one is yet unfamiliar with, it has its own way of life which you and I may be unaware of. And that’s okay as long as you have some idea of what is acceptable conduct and what isn’t. On my visit, I learnt a lot about the Spanish way of doing things and now, I can proudly claim that even though I’ll never seem like one of their own to the locals, I’m not going to be the ignorant, first-time tourist here.
So if you’re headed to Barcelona, let me help you out with some tips and tricks to make your travel easier. This Barcelona travel guide focuses on do’s and don’ts of traveling in the city – tips you simply must not ignore.
Street performer at La Rambla
One thing I strongly recommend to one and all is to get a hotel as close to downtown Barcelona as possible. The deals at the far off hotels may be attractive, but you’ll have a much better experience if you’re closer to all the hustle bustle and activity. Sightseeing in Barcelona means a lot of walking, so book a centrally located hotel, make sure to throw in your walking shoes when walking and also consider doing a bike tour of the city when you don’t want to walk and the weather is good!
This is the very reason we chose to stay at Hotel Continental at the La Rambla for our holiday. It was easier for us to explore all the nooks and crannies without fuss on foot.
The first thing you must do before flying out to Spain is learning some simple, common Spanish words. Sí, Por favor, Gracias, Disculpe, No entiendo – yes, please, thanks, excuse me, I don’t understand – are all words you should keep in mind.
Trust me, they do come in handy when you have to ask a local for directions or conduct yourself gracefully in general.
Another important must-do Spanish typicality is visiting their wine bars and sampling delicious tapas as snacks.
If you’re going to buying souvenirs, go to the Museum shops. You’ll get a standardized price and authentic merchandise.
Now that was all you should do, but I guess the list of don’ts is going to be longer.
First of all, try not to disrespect the local timings and schedules. Don’t walk into eateries expecting dinner service at 6pm. The Spanish eat at 8pm or later and while in Spain, do as the Spanish do! Eat like locals in Spain to get the feel of it.
Another blunder to avoid is eating the local classic preparation – paella – for dinner. It is a lunch dish and too rich to be had at night, unless one has super metabolism or enjoys the midnight stomach rumble!
Also, when at a restaurant, don’t tip too generously. The norm is to leave a bit of loose change behind for the locals do not believe in lavish tipping.
One of the most common mistakes that first-timers make is actually quite an understandable error. When we visit new place, clicking pictures is almost a reflex action. But photography in market places and shops is looked down upon, unless you seek the owners’ permission. Thankfully though, most local store owners don’t object but make sure to ask before.
Also, I can’t stress enough how you mustn’t be careless with your belongings. You just can’t afford to be careless in the crowded areas of Barcelona especially Las Ramblas. Keep your purses, wallets, cameras and phones in close touch because pickpockets and con artists roam here freely. Now that’s not the kind of local talent you want to enjoy.
Barcelona is a place where fascinating spectacles arise in an unplanned fashion. You should leave room for impromptu merriment. I assure you, you’ll find plenty of it in this brilliant Spanish township.
Barcelona travel is more about hopping from one place to another and involves a lot of moving around. I fell while rushing down the slope of Park Guell, just because I was wearing flats. That is why I’d recommend it to one and all to be smart enough and choose some cool walking shoes for hopping around. Stick to shorts and cool t-shirts! Believe me; I carried none of it, to be disappointed later on. I had to buy a few t-shirts from Barcelona to wear to the soccer game.
As the bottomline, visit Barcelona with an open mind. This Barcelona travel guide is just for reference and hopefully will help you get around the city comfortably. Just keep your itinerary flexible. Embrace each moment of being in the city and you are surely going to have the time of your life.